I had good intentions of blogging every day as Mike & I drove north to Alaska. But what I didn’t count on was the scarcity of Internet connectivity. So now here I am in the coffee shop in a Barnes & Noble in Fairbanks, Alaska, looking back on our three week journey.
We left South Lake Tahoe on April 15 and spent the next three days driving to Seattle, Washington.
Day 1: Travel 389.5 miles from South Lake Tahoe, California to Klamath Falls, Oregon
It was one of those cold but clear mornings in South Lake Tahoe that make the lake especially beautiful with the clear color variations according to depth: light tan where it’s very shallow, light greenish-blue where it starts to get deeper, and sapphire blue where it’s quite deep. The wind whipped up little waves and the lake was surrounded by snow-capped mountains against the clear blue sky.
We took our usual route of US-50 east to Carson City, Nevada, and then US-395 north through Reno and eventually back to California. At Susanville, California, we turned onto CA-44 west, also known as the Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway, which cuts through Lassen Forest. Then we merged onto CA-89 north.
At McCloud, California, we merged onto I-5 north and were treated to fabulous views of Mount Shasta!
“The way Mount Shasta explodes into windshield view and your hands steady on the wheel.” – Vienna Teng, Shasta (Carrie’s Song)
At the tiny (and amusingly named) town of Weed, California, we exit I-5 and start driving north on CA-97. The landscape here is much drier with juniper trees instead of pines.
We took a break for a walk at Grass Lake. The lake is very shallow and filled with grass-like aquatic plants.
We drove through Butte Valley National Grassland, crossed the Oregon state line, and ended up in Klamath Falls, Oregon, where we spent the night.
Day 2: Travel 259 miles from Klamath Falls to Eugene, Oregon
After a walk along the river that flowed past our KOA campground, we continued driving on OR-97 along the long and narrow Upper Klamath Lake.
On the spur of the moment, we decided to take a detour to Crater Lake National Park. I hadn’t been to Crater Lake since I was about 10 years old and Mike had never visited. The 37 miles to the south entrance took about one and a quarter hours to drive.
Once inside the park, the ground was covered in snow. It got deeper as we drove and in places it was piled up along the sides of the road higher than the top of the RV. It was like driving down a long white corridor.
When we arrived at Rim Village, parking was pure chaos. Mike had to navigate through some tight spaces with cars on one side and a snow bank on the other with inches to spare. But we luckily found a place to park when another RV pulled out. I changed into my Uggs and put on my hoodie – it wasn’t very cold in spite of all that snow. Then we walked to a place where we could climb up through the snow, stand on the rim, and see Crater Lake.
What an incredible view! The deep blue lake was surrounded by snow-covered cliffs that reflected in the still water. We just stood there and took in the breathtaking view. Truly, it was as awe-inspiring as my first view of the Grand Canyon and it brought tears to my eyes with its beauty.
After Crater Lake, we drove on OR-138 west, followng the North Umpqua River as it tumbles through a narrow, rocky, forested canyon with walls that tower impossibly high above us.
Near the town of Susan Creek, we stop at the Tioga Bridge, a pedestrian bridge that crosses the North Umpqua River, and take a short hike.
At the town of Roseburg, we crossed the South Umpqua River, which is much more sedate than the North Umpqua River, and get back on I-5 for the drive north to Eugene, Oregon, where we spent the night.
Day 1: Travel 278 miles from Eugene, Oregon to Seattle, Washington
Our goal for today was just to get to Seattle, but we did take time for a little sightseeing in Portland, Oregon. GasBuddy identified a gas station in a neighborhood near the Williamette River as having the cheapest gas around. The gas station attendant let us park the RV at the gas station and recommended the Thai restaurant across the street for lunch.
After lunch, we took a lovely walk in the warm afternoon sunshine past the Williamette Yacht Club and through a park with great views of downtown Portland.
When we started driving north on I-5 again, traffic was horrendous, which surprised us for an early Sunday afternoon. It seemed to take forever to get across the Columbia River (the Washington state line).
Traffic improved in Vancouver, Washington but got heavy again right after we passed Olympia. We expected to get to Seattle by 5:00 pm and don’t actually arrive until 6:30 pm. Mike’s brother Gary and his wife Rita live in their RV in a park by SeaTac Airport. They were waiting for us by the gate to let us in and guide us to the “guest” spot where we could park the RV.
We spent a lovely evening with Gary & Rita in their comfortable RV home, eating a delicious seafood dinner and just catching up. It was midnight before we walked back to our RV at midnight to go to bed.