“Sort-of-Sabbatical” Day Sixteen, Monday June 18
I wake up to a vaguely familiar sound I can’t immediately identify… Rain! Make lemonade, They say, and since it’s a rare treat for me to luxuriate in the cozy soundscape of a rain shower, I make no hurry to climb out of my pillowy-billowy goose down cocoon. I’m not concerned about the delay, since, as is so often the case in this land so dense with must-see-ums, today’s planned destination is only a 200 mile hop away. My little rain shower is an especially friendly one, because it graciously moves off after a short while, allowing me to stay dry when breaking camp.
What Mother Nature hast giveth, She now taketh away. My happy rain shower is back, and it’s indubitably icy cold as I head east. But a sunny window opens briefly over the Rogue-Umpqua Scenic Byway, revealing a startling variety of shades of green. This is no camera trick!
By the time I reach Diamond Lake, the weather is simply Siberian. The only options around for food and fuel are at the Diamond Lake Resort* so I stop at the Cafe to stoke the metabolic fires. The place is packed with hungry and cold fishermen, seeking shelter and clutching cups of steaming coffee while contemplating the icy looking waves on the lake. It’s a good strategy for the moment, and I’m happy to join them, even if my burger isn’t a memorable one, and the restaurant itself is drafty and cold. I fill up and have so much coffee that I start asking for decaf, but no amount of food and hot drink will nudge my core temperature into the normal operating range. I’m thoroughly chilled and I simply can’t shake it. But I have things to see and trails to hike, so I move on.
It’s not any warmer at Crater Lake National Park. In fact, much of it is under 15 feet of snow, some of which fell yesterday. I’ve yet to pack snowshoes on my motorcycle**, so it appears I won’t be spending the rest of my day exploring the area on foot. Even riding around the lake is out, since the East Rim Drive hasn’t even been plowed yet. But this doesn’t mean it isn’t spectacular, and though I must briefly detach from my electric vest life line in order to do so, I can’t pass by the Watchman Overlook without dismounting and gawking with chattering teeth.
It takes some grit to convince my frozen arms to push the bars left and right hard enough to have a good sporting run, but the show must go on, ho, ho,*** and the road down to the campground, my final stretch of the Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway for the day, is a short but serpentine delight. The campground is at a lower elevation than the lake viewpoints, but a little math reveals that waking up to freezing rain is a very real possibility. I have no desire to test my two tires on ice in the morning, no, no, so I head down 40 more miles to even lower and blessedly warmer territory. The ride takes me through a fairyland of tall evergreens, almost certainly the stateside home of Hansel and Gretel, and on to Joseph Stewart State Recreation Area, for an amble by the Rogue River and its Lost Creek Reservoir and pleasant conversation with the friendly campground hosts.
Rain, cold, and an unsatisfying lunch, but all on two wheels. And though I don’t consider my day a bad one at all, motorcyclists aren’t lying when they say a bad day on two wheels is better than a good day anywhere else. I return to my plush cocoon and look forward to the morning, no matter what weather the day may bring.
*The word resort is a generous one, at least by my definition. Think grill, old school gas station, and and simple cabins. Not a complaint, just an observation and disclosure.
** Although I plan to this winter. And I like to think I’ll write about it, too.
*** In tribute to Hunter S. Thompson’s Sausage Creature.