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Lava Beds National Monument

Tionesta, California: We blew out of Reno early, stopping for “cheap” diesel at TA. Cheaper than California fuel, but we still spent $600 to fill-up the Magna Peregrinus. The truck stop was simply disgusting and dirty. Most of the interior was a slot-machine casino, filled with smokers, puffing away, at 8:30 in the morning. The entire joint needed a good pressure washing.

We continued north on 395. A few good climbs, but our coolant temperature stayed below 200 degrees. Pretty views all day, except for far too many farm and ranch houses with years of junk piled around their properties. Dave and I have been watching the Tour de France each evening and have been awe-struck by the beauty of the French and Swiss countryside - as viewed from the overhead drones - with everything so neat and tidy. The French have a lot of rules though. It is illegal to eat your lunch at your office desk in France… maybe having rusting farm equipment and six years of beer cans in your front garden is also forbidden?

Dave chose a small rustic campground for the last night of of drive to Eugene. He told me to look for the small town of Tionesta, just south of Tulelake. Found it - on a grey-colored road in our atlas. After we made the turn, he told me to look for Eagle’s Rest RV Park. How about Hawk’s Nest RV Park, honey? Close enough. We had a long pull-through with 50 amp, water and sewer, but there was no way we were ever going to get level and there was between zero-to-no bars on our cell phones. Whatever. Just overnight. Our site was in the trees, but he was still able to get the DIRECTV dish to lock-on so the Tour de France would tape (from 5-8a). Not exactly roughing it.

So, one may wonder, why would he choose this particular place in the middle of nowhere to park? Because this campsite was less than a mile to the south entrance of Lava Beds National Monument, and there is nothing a Geologist likes more than volcanos, lava flows, lava tubes, and caves. All things covered at this National Monument. Which is how we spent our wedding anniversary crawling around caves and hiking up a crater.

My Driver assures me lava is official gemstone for the 42nd anniversary.

It was a 12 mile drive to the park visitor center, and we drove the entire route through remnants of a forest fire that destroyed this land less than two years ago. So sad. After touring through the visitor center and walking down to their “stunt” cave (Mushpot Cave it is equipped with a metal staircase and is lit throughout - none of the other caves have any of these aids, and most require headlamps and hard hats - we drove the cave loop to see a few more caves, and checked-out the campground. (Super small RVs or tents only, water, and a bathhouse with flush toilets. No showers.)

My Caveman in Mushpot Cave

Next we drove to Black Crater (a spatter cone), hiked to the base and climbed to the top. Not a difficult hike, more of an uphill walk - even if you are old and have a torn meniscus. I used a hiking pole though, as the pumice-like stones move under your step. Beautiful vistas from the top. Mt. Shasta’s snow-covered dome to the west and the the largest Shield volcano in the Cascade range, Medicine Lake Volcano, to the east.

Black Crater behind me - we saw so many wildflowers along the path
Black Crater
Dave, sitting in the crater
Terry, standing in the crater
Tip of Mt. Shasta in the distance from the rim of the crater

Dave explored one more cave, while I waited in the car. (Honestly, I had one bar of cell service, so was texting with our only child.)

Every tree is burned

We didn’t return to our bus until 6:30p, and were ready for showers (so filthy) and a cocktail… a bit of Brie, crackers, olives, and walnuts. Our anniversary dinner was actually kinda gourmet? Italian Short Ribs (made last week at home and frozen for just this very evening) and mashed potatoes - super easy. Romaine lettuce had been washed before we left Reno, so a Caesar salad was also served. The groom opened a nice bottle of Oregon Pinot noir and did the dishes.

Until my next update, I remain, your geologic correspondent.

Hawk's Nest RV Park: Rustic, and in the middle nowhere, but very close to the national monument. We paid $35. Pull-through and back-in gravel sites. Picnic table. Fire pits. 50 amp, full-service. No wifi (except maybe at the office?)

6 thoughts

  1. Happy Anniversary🎉
    I think you are both very blessed and trust this entire RV journey
    will be great pleasure!
    Thank you for sharing.

  2. Happy Anniversary!
    Speaking of geology, volcanos and lava tubes . . . happened upon a PBS show last night exploring an unmapped lava tube in Saudi Arabia. Show was called Expedition with Steve Backshall if you see a repeat on your future schedule. What I thought were stalactites, were really melted rock. I appreciate seeing your post this morning. Safe travels.

  3. Happy Anniversary. You are the perfect couple in my eyes. You have shared passions and ideas and tolerate with grace small inconveniences.

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