Return from Mojave, Day 5

West Linn, OR to Seattle, WA

Start: 87767 miles

Well, shoddy record keeping the last few days, so let's catch up.

Thursday was primarily dedicated to exploring the underground lava tubes at Lava Beds National Monuments. Such a strange subterranean system. Now that I am biased from the experience, I do not recall what I expected to see underground, but it wasn't what I saw.

At first glance, all looks similar. The black walls, the rough textures, the stooping, the darkness. Similar. Then your eyes adjust. The differences stand out. The walls, all rough, display different characteristics, especially the ropy ribs of Hopkins Chocolate Cave. The ceiling of Golden Dome features the same "shark tooth" texture, but there is a noticeable golden shimmer in the reflected water droplets. Some require crawling and scooting while others could house a basketball court. The power of an open mind to see these various characteristics.

Friday, and the escape from the monument at sun-up. A vista over the Devil's Homestead, a lava flow still black and wretched on the surface as if it had poured out of the ground yesterday. Further down the road, Captain Jack's Fortress, the protective haven for Modoc warriors struggling to keep their native land. The fortress is a naturally occurring section of a lava flow almost designed with a protective wall and impassable terrain (at least under gunfire) outside. Further down the road, Petroglyph Point, a former island when Tule Lake was larger. It stores the writings of Modoc canoeists, perhaps also their predecessors, who would travel to the wall and inscribe pictures.

Passing out of Lava Beds, I enter Oregon for the rist time. Oregon is a funny land where there are no self-service gas stations and a real desert where I thought there should be trees. Well, there's a busted regional stereotype. The day's travels would lead me north on OR-139 to Klamath Falls and then on US-97 to Bend.

Prior to Bend, I discovered on the map a place called Newberry National Volcanic Monument. With a few free hours and knowing that there is no one to visit in Portland later, it is time to explore volcanic central Oregon. These explorations lead to the Big Obsidian Flow, an odd flow of lava that had such a high content of silica that it did a number of unusual things. First, true to its name, it has large deposits of black, glassy obsidian. Second, the high silica content means slow-moving lava, so the edge of the flow is sheer where it wsa deliberately pushed up into place by the flow behind.

A quick side trip to Paulina Falls, then onto the Trail of Molten Land behind the visitor center. Expecting a short, uninteresting trail, the variety of lava forms and the easily seen trails the flow took out of the butte -- clear channels for flow, strata in the sides indicating different eras of flow, dams, levees -- make for an interesting experience. Then the climax of viewing the 10-square mile stretch of broken, chunky lava flow in front of a wall of trees and distant snow-topped mountains comes into view from the topmost ridge. Also at this viewpoint, I meet a gentleman who graduated from the University of Illinois with a degree in geology in 1941 -- Perry Graves. Small world.

From Bend, it is a drive west on US-20 to OR-126 until Salem, then I-5 north to Portland where I will be staying in my Aunt Janet's house in West Linn. Unfortunately, she is in Fiji on vacation.


Gas: Chevron, Kalama, WA
$22.70, $2.299/gal, 9.874 gal
338.0/87834 miles, 34.23 mpg

Coffee, $0.74

Mt. St. Helens Visitor Center, $5.25 for patches and postcards, $15.00 for upgrade from National Parks Pass to Golden Eagle Pass

Ticket to see Star Wars Episode III in Seattle, $9.00

(Paid rent online, $260)

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