Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Modoc County

Goose Lake, a dominant feature of California's northeast corner, averages only 8 feet in depth (and reaches a maximum of only 24 feet)

Rim Rock Motel, Alturus, CA

A room at this quaint little motel cost $42.00, tax included. (They "don't charge tax," I'm told.) It's clean and comfortable, and run by some nice folks. I just returned from dinner at Nipa’s Thai restaurant, a converted hamburger joint.

Afterwards, I stopped by a grocery where the locals were talking about the new street lights, about 160 of them lining the main boulevard. “It’s brighter than the airport. Truckers will think they’re in Reno.”


Up at 7:00 this morning. Ted and Jackie were up hours earlier. Quiet morning. Coffee and some Basque toast. Overcast but during the night, the rain had stopped. Ted still wouldn't let me clean up the pine needles, so I had run out of tasks.

Chatted with Jackie, continuing our conversation about their days in L.A.

At about 11:00, it was time to leave. Packed up and was on the road before noon. Chilly but not bad. My riding suit is tight! And another zipper gave out.

Followed Highway 70 through Portola and eastward to U.S. 395. I was surprised to see it’s less than 60 miles to Reno, and only about 100 miles to Alturus.

Along the shore of Honey Lake on the east flank of the Sierra, evidence of a recent range fire follows the highway. The damage stretches for miles, primarily on the east edge of 395. The narrow path of blackened ground attests to very strong winds that had been driving it.

It's a scrubby terrain out here, mostly sagebrush. It is very fragrant though after some rain. Bypassed Susanville, skirting eastward. It grew cold as the road climbed over 5,000 feet approaching Alturus. The town is interesting, but obviously suffering from a depressed economy.

31 miles north, I found Forest Road 30, an unpaved road providing access to the Warner Range on the east shore of Goose Lake. A mile or so up the road, a three-way fork left me confused. I had directions from a real estate agent, but he hadn't mentioned this junction. I followed a sign for Road 30.

Soon, I was into a pine forest, snow and ice covering the ground. Crept along at idle, about the pace of a fast walk. It was slow going. I realized that on this icy road surface, there was no traction to stop the bike should it start to fall. After a few miles, I still had not seen a gate that indicated the property.

The road continued its climb, while shadows lengthened and the afternoon started to freeze. I began to sense I had taken the wrong fork. It was time to turn around. I made a mental note of distances: the nearest town, Davis Creek 11 miles, Alturus 31 miles, Reno 212 miles. I noted the aircraft flight lane directly overhead. That's a negative in my mind.

Creeping back down the service road, the front wheel started to slide and the bike fell as if in slow motion. I didn't have much footing on the ice, and stood there wondering if I'd be able to pick it up. One option would be to slide it off the road and into the snow where the tires might bite into the ground more. I was concerned about the cold and my energy, so I wanted to make certain I lifted it correctly the first time.

I ventured out into the Warner Mountains northeast of Alturus, California to look at a 320-acre parcel for sale. It's somewhere out in these woods. With the sun fading and temperature falling, it became too slippery to continue. I snapped this photo after taking a little spill (my first in North America!)

Used "the handlebar method" to lift the motorcycle, struggling to get it righted, and barely succeeding. A work-out at this altitude! Knowing how powerless I was to prevent a fall once the bike started leaning, I was very anxious as I continued down the road. It was a relief when I emerged from the forest shadows with its ice-covered roads.

Lots of trees are being cut back in here, apparently for firewood. It's nice country, but winter access is a problem. (It's already a challenge, and it's only November!)

Took some photos of the area and looked at an old lumber mill site near the shores of Goose Lake. Barges were used to haul logs to the mill from the western shores of Goose Lake. By 1959, the once-thriving Willow Ranch and Crane Creek Lumber Companies closed shop.

Returning to Alturus after sunset, the dry air was getting very cold. It would drop to about 20 degrees tonight. In the twilight, deer emerged from shelter and freely crossed the highway. Stopped first at this motel on the fringe of Alturus. It had a nice feel, but I wanted to look further, price being my top criteria. Fortunately, they also had the best price of the three motels I checked.

Returned and checked in, dumped my gear in the room, then went to dinner at Nipa’s Thai and California Cuisine. Soup sounded good, so I ordered the tom kha gai (served in a sterno-heated pot.) It was quite good. It was 5:30, and freezing. I was the only customer in this restaurant. Business cards were tucked under the glass table top. One was from Ride West BMW in Seattle. A Thai restaurant seems a curious find in Alturus. Even more surprising, the restaurant has been in business here for 16 years and the owners have another restaurant in Redding.

Back at the motel, called Ted and Jackie to report I had arrived safely.

Then I turned on the TV, subjecting myself to a dose of Fox News ("Fox Entertainment" is more like it.). "Assholes!Sensationalists!" It's not the best way to relax before bed.

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