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Snow + Sweat

Red Bluff, California:  Dave had quite a varied Father's Day. The temperature was predicted to be 110° in Red Bluff... but Red Bluff is only one hour from his very favorite (at 7000+ feet elevation) National Park - Lassen Volcanic. Did I mention, ever, that My Driver has a degree in Geology from the University of Oregon? To a geologist, Lassen Volcanic is basically a candy store. Everything (ala Yellowstone) is still alive, bubbling, moving, steaming, growing, changing and stinking. But, unlike Yellowstone, Mt. Lassen last erupted in 1915 - nearly yesterday to a geologist. The area is alive with volcanic activity.

There is a highway (89) directly through the park, but, due to the amazing amount of snowfall received over the winter, the road is not yet fully open. We knew this but decided to explore what we could. Anything to avoid the oven of the valley.

Visitor Center

We drove east on Highway 36 from Red Bluff to the visitor center and continued just a bit to where the road was closed.

The small parking area at the road closure at the Sulphur Works was packed! We were happy so many people had decided to visit the park even though the through-route was closed. We met people from all over the US and all over the world! It was 76 glorious degrees at the Sulphur Works.

Bubbly mudpot

The Sulphur Works area shows how boiling water, deep underground, mixes with gases and rises to the Earth's surface. Rain water and snow melt combine with the gases and heat-loving microorganisms to break down the volcanic rock , turning it all into an acidic sloppy bubbling clay. Totally stinky, as well, due to the sulphur gas.

A short video for your enjoyment. Thankfully, you cannot smell the sulphur in the video.

The view from the road closure to the cleared road beyond

Though the road was closed to cars at the Sulphur Works point, the road was plowed for eight miles beyond. Visitors were free to walk, ride bikes or even snowboard (we saw this!) via the road.

We just started walking up the road! No idea where it was going, or what we would find. The sky was completely clear and such a deep blue! Water was pouring off the melting snow, filled with brown silt. Flowers were budding. It was a very enjoyable walk to nowhere.

After a mile or so, it was determined we had reached a good turn-around point. Cresting the top of the curve, the road would afford us no more mountain views. As it was, we did not see Mt. Lassen peak at all while in the park today.

The view south from the top of the road

We were only walking, exploring, (there were a few snow ball fights with fellow explorers!) photographing and enjoying ourselves for two hours, but it was the most amazing afternoon. If you are ever in the area (between June-September) please take time to visit this amazing park. 

Though it was not possible to traverse the park today, we back-tracked a bit and then took a right to meet up with the highway from Redding that enters the national park on the north side. We wanted to finally see the famed Sundial Bridge in Redding.

Opened on the 4th of July in 2004, the pedestrian bridge crosses the Sacramento River, while the base never touches the water and the floor of the bridge is made with glass panels - to cast as little shadow as possible - all to help the salmon spawning, swimming and living in the river.

The bridge is a major tourist attraction in Redding and is very easy to find/access. Not such a fun activity in 110-degree weather, though.

Sundial Bridge

Mt. Lassen is visible in the center of this photo

The Sundial Bridge is part usable pedestrian bridge, part art installation and an actual working sundial. On the summer solstice, the bridge tells time!

The white bulbs mark the hours

2p on June 21st

After exploring the top of the bridge, we went under the structure to see how the bridge was built. We found shade, a (not-working) water feature and a begging-for-food goose.

Really an amazing feat of architecture and quite a contrast to our earlier exploration of Mother Nature's architecture.

It was too hot to really enjoy the bridge. It was too hot to purchase a ticket to walk around the gardens, the museum, or the many other pursuits surrounding the bridge. I was most interested in the air conditioning in the Jeep after our one-hour visit to the bridge.

We drove 30 miles south on I-5 to our motorhome in Red Bluff and prepped dough to bake a very simple cheese pizza - and a Caesar salad. We dined outdoors, as the temperature had dropped to ONLY 100 degrees.

Dave video chatted with his Only Child, Lenny, and our adorable grandchildren. I spoke with My Dad (who had spent the day with Brother Rick at a logging museum in Central Oregon). My forester Father at a logging museum and my geologist Husband at Mt. Lassen. Perfect. Not a usual Father's Day, but a very nice day!

Happy Father's Day to all!

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

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That time (in 2001) when we hiked to the top of Mt. Lassen

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