We spent a relaxing four days at Collier Memorial State Park near Chiloquin, Oregon. We had been without internet or good cell phone service for over a week so we spent lots of time working on blog posts, doing paperwork and planning our fall and winter itinerary. It takes time to research places to stay and make reservations. Now that summer is over the parks will not be as crowded, but there is always the holidays to plan for, and the earlier the better. There are many snowbirds that come down from Canada and snap up spots in the nicer RV resorts.
Our second day at Collier we began to notice smoke in the air from four surrounding Oregon wildfires. Even though the fires were not that close, we could definitely smell the smoke. The smoke continued to worsen during our stay and when we left on August 29th for Weed, California, there was hazy smoke in the air.
We had a wonderful time in Washington and Oregon and the time passed by so quickly. Today we entered California again. We passed through farmland with cattle grazing and the beginning of irrigation and crops growing in the fields. We made a stop in Klamath Falls, Oregon at a Walmart to stock up on supplies and food. We wanted to take advantage of this last Walmart in Oregon since Oregon has no sales tax.
As we crossed the border into California we had to stop at an agricultural checkpoint where we were asked where we were coming from and if we had any fruits or plants. Bill told them we had just bought a bag of apples at Walmart in Oregon and they told us we could go. We thought as we traveled further south the smoke would begin to dissipate, but if anything it got worse. For most of our two hour trip the visibility was only about two miles.
We checked into a small, no frills campground in Weed, California (population 2,900), for a four night stay during the Labor Day holiday. Weed is a little spot in the road but we wanted to stay away from the craziness of crowded state and national parks during the final summer holiday.
We ventured out to Main Street to visit the post office. We did a little geocaching and it is always amazing to find some unexpected sites in these small towns! We came across this Alaskan totem pole where a geocache was located. Turns out this totem pole is at the beginning of Highway 97 which is the beginning of the Alaskan-Canadian Highway. If you stayed on Highway 97 you would eventually pass through Canada into Alaska. There is another totem pole at the end of the highway in Alaska.
Another wonderful find while geocaching was the “Living Memorial Sculpture Garden” located about fifteen miles from our campground on Highway 97. This garden, located with a view of Mt Shasta in the distance, was founded in 1988 by a group of Siskiyou County veterans to celebrate veterans of conflicts from the Revolutionary to the present. Dennis Smith, a Vietnam veteran, is a metal sculptor whose works are displayed in the garden. There is also a Memorial Wall and every Memorial Day and Veterans Day, new names are etched on the wall and read aloud. At the entrance to the area is “The Peaceful Warrior”, a lone figure with one arm raised, representing those who love peace and will fight aggression to preserve that peace. This sculpture honors those willing to step forward when asked to do so. There are nine other sculptures in the park where we walked through a labyrinth to see them. We took pictures of some of our favorites to share in the blog. “Those Left Behind” is a female figure accepting the American flag.
“Who can repay those who have lost loved ones in combat? What on earth can compensate them for the loss of life?” “The Greatest Generation” sculpture depicts the second raising of the flag on Mt Suribachi, Iwo Jima, on February 23, 1945. “The Nurses” sculpture honors nurses, Navy corpsmen, Army medics, doctors and pharmacists who bring healing. “The POW-MIA” sculpture was the most moving, showing a soldier in a cage. Outside the cage is a metal arch where over the years people have left POW and MIA bracelets, wreaths, flags, flowers and personal notes.
Our main reason for stopping in Weed was to see Mount Shasta, the largest composite volcano in the Cascades and the second highest peak in the Cascades, with only Mt Rainier being higher. When we arrived in Weed, Mount Shasta was nowhere in site due to the smoke and haze from the wildfires. We hoped the visibility would improve during the four days we were there and on the day before we left the smoke cleared enough for us to get some fairly good pictures.
We drove the fourteen mile Mount Shasta Scenic Mountain Drive which took us halfway up the mountain to an altitude of 7,900 feet. Many mountains are considered to be sacred places, especially to Native Americans, but we found Mount Shasta to be considered one of the most sacred mountains in the world. There are small sacred communities near the mountain offering spiritual energy and peaceful experiences as well as spiritual guidebooks of the area. At one viewpoint we found many sacred circles made of rocks. We took a hike on the Panther Meadow Trail which would have been prettier in the spring when the wildflowers were in bloom.
Bill spent the rest of Labor Day laboring with jobs around the RV like washing the tow car, checking the water in the RV batteries and cleaning the tanks.