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Borrego Springs, CA

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Scratching the surface

Today was my first full day off since arriving at Tule Lake NWR last Monday, and I wanted to get out and about to learn something about the area I’ll be living in for about two months.  There’s actually a National Monument only ten miles down the road from my rig, so I headed out this morning to take a look at it.

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I thought Lava Beds NM might be very similar to Craters of the Moon NM in Idaho, but that isn’t so.  Each place has unique features.  Today’s journey was just a cursory visit to see what all was available.  After four hours in the monument, I just barely scratched the surface of what’s available to see and do.

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My first stop was a view of the Devil’s Homestead lava flow.  It’s hard to convey the concept of this huge amount of lava with a photo.  You just have to come here to see it to believe it.  I decided, after stopping here, to just drive on to the visitors center before looking at anything else. 

It’s a rather small VC, and the exhibits are minimal.  There is a movie on a TV that I found very informative about the monument.  This place has a tremendous amount of cultural and natural history.  In subsequent visits, I’ll get more into the cultural history and the story of the Modoc people, and their war for freedom.  There are also numerous caves to explore that were created by flows of smooth lava 10,500 to 65,000 years ago.  I picked up a pamphlet on the description of these cave hikes for future reference.  I’m planning on giving several a try.  What an adventure this place would be for families with children… exploring caves with a helmet and flashlight!

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While near the VC, I decided to take a drive to see the campground.  Quite a few sites have beautiful views of the surrounding terrain.  I’m guessing it’s at an elevation of about 5000’, and you’re looking over the basin.  There are no hookups, but there is water available and flush toilets.  Rigs up to 35’ can fit into some of the sites.  Only one class C was setting up in the two loops as I visited.

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I was pretty lucky today as much of the smoke from the surrounding wildfires had lessened.  This is Schonchin Butte.  If you look really closely at the top of it, you can see a little bump.  That’s a manned fire tower, and I’m hoping to hike up to it for a visit when it cools down a bit.  It’s at an elevation of 5302’, and I’m thinking there will be quite a view up there on a smoke free day.

_MG_2351As I drove to the trailhead for the fire tower, the view to the north was rather hazy.  Looking down and out, I could make out Tule Lake in the distance with the crop fields in front of it.  That whole area of crops used to be productive wetlands before the Bureau of Reclamation drained the marshes.  The size of Tule Lake and the surrounding wetlands has been drastically reduced over time.  Water, and its use, has been very controversial in this area for close to a hundred years. 

_MG_2354On the drive out, I stopped at Fleener Chimneys for a short hike up to hopefully get a view of Mount Shasta.  Didn’t pan out.  Sad smile _MG_2356

Fleener Chimneys pull off is also a picnic area, and the tables here, and I believe in the campground, were constructed by the CCC in the 1930’s.  The Civilian Conservation Corps is another bit of the history of this area that I will need to explore further.  This monument is quite a place.

When I got back to the rig, Emma and I sat outside for the rest of the afternoon in the low 90* temps.  There does seem to be a nice breeze each later afternoon, and it is a ‘dry’ heat.  While I haven’t been plagued by mosquitoes at this refuge, so far, there does seem to be an abundance of flies.  I have a flyswatter with me when I sit outside.  On a rather disgusting note, after I whack a fly Emma feels compelled to eat them.  Yuck! Smile with tongue out

I leave you tonight with a pic of my biggest victory for the day.  Skies were semi clear enough today to finally get a glimpse of Mount Shasta… more than 50 miles away as the crow flies:

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                                                                              THE END!!

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

29 comments:

  1. Yay, Lava Beds and the Mountain! great day, Judy! You are just tapping into the history and culture of a truly amazing place. Before you leave, you may have a clue why I love the Klamath Basin so much in spite of some things.

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  2. Looks like a wonderful area to explore, I just know you will enjoy it.

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  3. Great closing picture. If you can see 50 miles now, wonder how far when the fires finally clear? Sounds like a very interesting area to be in.

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  4. Mount Shasta is beautiful. We were really lucky when we visited that area. It was clear just about everyday, so we got to see that beauty.

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  5. And somehow I missed the previous post...so glad to know you are all settled in and enjoying your schedule. You will love the 600 lens even though it is a bit heavy...can't wait to see what you see!

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  6. Sounds as if you had a great day--your upbeatness--that isn't a word is it??--comes through in your writing! Hope you are able to get out and do lots of that hiking!!

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  7. ttYou must put a side drive to Glass Mountain on your too do list. I wrote about it when we were in the area, and will try to find the post when I'm using my laptop instead of the ipad.

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  8. That Mt Shasta photo is almost ghostly looking... Now... do you think 2 months will be long enough to experience all those new adventures?

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  9. I'm looking forward to seeing your adventures in the area. There seems to be all kinds of things for you to explore. Hopefully you'll have enough energy to do so after battling all those flies! ;c)

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  10. Isn't Shasta gorgeous! I remember having a very beautiful campsite at Lava Beds - probably more space than any others.

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  11. Oh, Judy, I love that you're at Tule Lake! Many years ago I lived in Klamath Falls. (My second husband grew up there and his family still lives there.) We used to take day trips to Tule Lake and the Lava Beds all the time. On some of those hot days be sure to go into the ice caves, but be careful at the bottom of all the stairs, the ice is very slippery!

    Lava Beds is a very interesting place. A fascinating spot to visit is Captain Jack's Stronghold, where the Modoc War occurred in 1872. You learn how the Modocs had a major advantage because they lived in the area and knew all the passageways through the lava.

    How long will you be at Tule Lake? It's on a major flyway so come fall you should have quite a slew of birds flying through.

    Don't worry, when the skies clear up, you will have awesome views of Mt. Shasta. It's particularly lovely in winter with its white coat of snow.

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  12. Seems like you found another great home for a couple of months. Again great pictures.

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  13. Hope your view of Mt Shasta improves soon. You are in a great place to see it.

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  14. What a great view of Mount Shasta!! WE are also waiting for the smoke to clear out here, and hope that it does so before we have to leave!!

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  15. Take really big flashlights (or better yet - a lantern) for those lava caves! They are absolutely black. I think the rules say bring two - have fun!

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  16. I just realized exactly where you are. Are you going to be staying there for the Eagle Festival? I ALMOST got to that when I was at Sacramento NWR. And bugs are rich in B12. Maybe Emma knows that. :) Hope you have a great visit there.

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  17. I'm looking forward to sharing your new, very interesting area through your posts. Glad you have such an adventuresome spirit. Great picture of Mt Shasta.....much more interesting than just a pretty picture on a sunny day,

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  18. Beautiful pictures. We also like exploring in the Klamath area. Viewing My Shasta is always amazing.

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  19. Maybe, just maybe the skies will have cleared somewhat and we can stop along there on our way home in a couple of weeks. Glad to see the smoke is clearing out some. Rain might be in the forecast.

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  20. Aja was talking with a RR man retiring this week who wants to full-time. As they chatted about options she mentioned you and the recent assignment on the coast. He smiled and asked if she was talking about Emma.... you know Travels with Emma :) .... hugs! We hope to come your way late Sept, how long you staying north?

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  21. The lava sure makes the landscape look bleak.

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