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July 8, 2006


So this morning I awoke a little later than expected and took longer than expected to get ready. Oh well, I needed a rest. It was nice to shower and shave again too. Finally ready to go (it was around 11am) I took off and stopped shortly thereafter for breakfast (lunch). My meal over I made my way to the Golden Gate Bridge.

The Golden Gate Bridge is awesome. The entire area is great - I saw Alcatraz, Fort Point, and had a nice view of the city. I spent a little while wandering around below the bridge and exploring the Fort before finally departing. Next stop: the Redwood Forest.


I took US-101 all the way up and through the Redwood Forest. It was a nice ride. It started out okay and ended beautifully. Before entering the forest 101 went along the coast for a bit providing some spectacular views. After that it headed deep into the Redwood Forest. Redwoods are amazing - they're as impressive if not more so than Sequoias. They're not as big for the most part, but they are considerably taller. I spent the remainder of the afternoon cruising around the forest. I saw some Elk which was interesting and finally found a county campground where I setup for the evening.

At the campground a met an older gentleman who had been living with HIV since 1997. We had some interesting discussions, and he was kind to offer me some leftovers for supper. For that I am also thankful, since I was planning to skip dinner at that point. Anyway, we chatted for a while around his fire and I met his two dogs. Finally, again tired I returned to my campsite and went to sleep.

July 9, 2006


I awoke around 8am this morning and immediately packed up and hit the road again. Today's destination: Crater Lake. Or so I thought... I got sidetracked along the way. I saw a sign for Oregon Caves National Monument and so I followed it, wondering if my National Parks Pass (which has paid for itself many times over now) would get me in for free. As it turns out it did. The Oregon Caves are different from Carlsbad Caverns (and Mammoth Cave for that matter) in that instead of being formed of limestone it is instead composed of marble (marble is actually what you get when you add a lot of heat and pressure to limestone). It turned out to be a fun and interesting detour.

While on the tour I was reminded, unexpectedly, of how much of an impact mankind has on the environment. The ranger got into a discussion with one of the other people in the tour about how the old growth forest surrounding us was incredibly unhealthy. By unhealthy he meant full of disease and trees that should not be there. The reason for this, oddly enough, was the lack of forest fires. When we fight forest fires to save human homes we are in fact interrupting a natural process that essentially results in the rebirth of vast areas of forest - a process that is necessary and good for the development of all forests. Strange and disturbing...


Once the tour was over I continued on my way and finally arrived at Crater Lake - thankfully with plenty of sunlight remaining. I went to the campground first and setup camp and then took off to hike down to the lake. It didn't take too long, and the views were tremendous. Crater Lake is unbelievably blue. I have never seen anything like it. The ocean around the Keys comes close, but this is even better. I made it down to the lake, stuck my hand in it for fun, and then hiked back out of the crater (formed, I might add, by the shattered remnants of Mount Mazama, a volcano).


I might add too that this area still has a considerable amount of snow. In fact, part of the road that drives around the edge of the crater is still closed due to snow. It just makes me want to go skiing really bad. My exploration done for the evening I returned to the campground and went to the neighboring store to find dinner. As I was eating dinner I met a nice guy who was doing something similar to me though shorter in distance. He was from Alaska and was traveling on his motorcycle with his wife - camping most of the way too, even. We chatted for a while and following that I returned to camp where I decided I should probably update my sorely ignored journal. So, it's now updated. Tomorrow I'm off to Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Rainier - Surprise!! Good night!

July 10, 2006 9:46pm

I once again was able to stay on track in terms of time, at least for the most part. The weather has been great for the past couple of weeks, and for the past three or four days I've basically been driving through National Forests. Thus I have greatly enjoyed both the ride and the scenery.


Today I departed Crater Lake around 9:30am - not before discovering that my motorcycle battery was dead, however. I guess I spent too much time working on my journal last night. Thanks to a couple of neighboring campers that problem was remedied rather quickly and without too much trouble. I dropped by a couple of the overlooks once again on my way out, snapped a few pictures, and then was off to Mt. Saint Helens. It took me a while to get there, but I made it and shortly thereafter realized how glad I was to have modified my original route. Mt. Saint Helens is an amazing example of nature's reset button. The forest in the surrounding area is relatively young (considering the volcano blew in 1980) and there are still some stark reminders of how powerful the explosion was. I toured around the blast crater for a while taking pictures and checking out the sights before backtracking a little and heading to Mt. Rainier - another volcano still labeled as active in North America.


Before I made it to Mt. Saint Helens I actually explored a lava tube first down below the volcano. It was very interesting and somewhat trying. I only had my small flashlight with me and for the vast majority of the time (I walked to the end of the tube, about 1.2 mi in length if I remember right) I was alone. It's kind of interesting being in cold, dark silence for that long. After the first ten minutes or so you stop thinking about foolish things like ghosts and apparitions and just get used to it. Though the trying part was walking along the somewhat uneven floor while trying to shine the flashlight up at the ceiling (it looked more interesting up there). It took me a while to get into a pattern of shining up and then down and then taking a few steps in rhythm. It could be a new marching band dance move...

As I was saying though I then started off to Mt. Rainier. I got there fairly late (it was still light out, but it was close to dusk) and setup camp. Shortly thereafter I went to sleep.