The Pacific Northwest- Part 1

Mountain Gate RV Park, Shasta Lake, CA


We arrived yesterday to this lovely campground near Redding, CA which looks like a great place to explore if it ever stops pouring.  It has been raining steadily all day and the forecast is calling for rain over the next several days.  All it took for CA to find drought relief was for John and I to spend time here.  We’ve seen rain in every place we’ve been to in California with the exception of Palm Springs.

Campground in the hills near northern California’s town/city of Redding.

We aren’t far from the areas that were impacted by the horrible 2018 fires and the heavy rain can create major flooding and/or mudslide issues for those areas.  Our particular campsite is up on a bit of a hill so hopefully, we won’t float away.


We have been in this location for five nights and this is the first day that it hasn’t poured.  The reservoirs in California have to be doing very well at this point.   I can finally see the gorgeous snow covered mountains on the horizon.  To summarize what we have done in between the deluges so far, we have visited Shasta Dam, the Sundial Bridge (which is an actual sundial and a glass bottomed pedestrian bridge), and we hiked for about 4 miles on the Sacramento River Trail.  Today we visit the Shasta Caverns.

Shasta Dam and reservoir leading to the Sacramento River which irrigates a large swath of central California’s growing region, with a large osprey nesting near the parking lot.

ShstaDam 0419

A photo in the Shasta Dam museum/gift shop of a 2018 wildfire at night in the distance behind the dam. Also eerie reflections of ourselves taking photos of photos.
The Sundial Bridge over the Sacramento River – the tower’s shadow creates an operating sundial with the markers around the perimeter.  – Baker embarrassingly insists it was 12 oclock,  but was far off.
A trail and various other bridges along the Sacramento River downstream from Shasta Dam and  the mountain in the distance

Lake Shasta Caverns are incredible.  We have seen so many gorgeous places but I really have to consider that the scenery surrounding these caverns might be the most beautiful.  The lake is a pristine blue/green, the surrounding mountains are a mystical combination of gray rock spotted with just the right amount of greenery and the sky is a bright clear blue.  You see the “Trinity Alps”, a trio of snow capped mountains peaking out on the horizon.

Shasta Lake is one of several created by the dam’s construction. We took a ferry across as well as a tenuous bus ride up the mountainside to the entrance of the caverns.

The tour begins with a boat ride across Lake Shasta followed by a bus ride up the mountain.  The road was incredibly winding and narrow and our bus driver looked like a preteen.  There were times on the ride where there were sheer cliffs with no barriers.  Once we made it up the mountain, our tour of the caverns commenced and it was wonderful.  We had to climb hundreds of steps to a variety of “rooms” featuring fascinating rock/crystal formations.  It put Howe Caverns to shame.  I’m so grateful that we finally had a sunny day because the scenery in this entire area is spectacular in the sunshine.

Shasta Caverns – 200 million years old, but only discovered in 1868, now with an expanded entrance created with explosives and subsequently opened to the public in 1964


Today was a day of completing important business like servicing the truck and getting in our routine Planet Fitness workout.  We followed up with a rich, fattening meal at the Lumberjack Restaurant and a short hike with Baker.

Lots of animated type statues in northern CA


On our last day here in Lake Shasta, we took a fabulous hike up to Chamise Peak.  It was a five mile hike up and back with spectacular views at the top of Shasta Dam, Lake Shasta and Lassen Mountain.  Mount Shasta was shrouded in clouds but there were still incredible 360 degree mountain views.  Tomorrow, we head towards Oregon with an overnight stop at a casino near the border of CA and OR.

Some parting shots of Mt Shasta, Shasta Dam & reservoir, the Sacramento River, and a couple of scenes of fire ravaged (from 2018) mountainsides

Valley of the Rogue State Park, Rogue River, OR


We’ve been in Oregon for several days and I love it here.   As gorgeous as California is, Oregon feels more like home.  It looks like the Hudson Valley on steroids.  The drive into Oregon was incredible, going through the cascades of northern California and seeing Mount Shasta in all its glory along the way.  Mt. Shasta is always snow capped and it looks like a Swiss Alp right here in the USA.

But back to Oregon- We are in the southern part of the state between Medford and Grants Pass.  Our friend from PoTown has been living in Grants Pass for the last year and a half so we stopped here in the Rogue River Valley around 15 minutes from his home.  ‘Nick from Nowhere’ (as he was called at the Poughkeepsie Jazz Project sessions) is a fabulous stride piano player and was a regular at John and Ben Basile’s weekly jazz jam at the Derby (now at Mahoneys with Ben).

Our friend and fellow piano player ‘Nick from Nowhere’ now lives in SW Oregon, where the eastern landscape is dominated by Mount Hood

His daughter has lived in Grants Pass for many years and he is living in town in an investment property that she owns.  It is a lovely town surrounded by lush green mountains and nicknamed the Climate City for its beautiful temperate weather.  This is a place I could live and settle down in.  The people are ridiculously friendly and laid back and there are great shops and restaurants along bustling main streets.  Yes- there are also the big box stores that we have seen in every town across the country but there are also lovey historic districts with unique, wonderful eating establishments.

Nick’s friend, artist and RV travel blogger! Cate Battles. Some Grant’s Pass road scenery, and a giant redwood tree growing right in someone’s front yard in town

The first two days here were rainy but Nick showed us around a bit.  He owns a sporty jaguar so we drove around the area in style.  We spent time reminiscing with Nick and listening to some great music.  Nick introduced us to one of his friends, Cate Battles.  She is a talented young artist and we had the good fortune of visiting her studio and seeing her work.  She and her husband also have a travel blog because they travel all over the country in a 1970’s Airstream with their pet dog and pet goat named Frankie.  Cate hand painted the exterior of the trailer and it is amazing.

We took a ride into a quaint little town called Jacksonville and did some shopping along another lovely main street.  Jacksonville, Oregon reminds me so much of Rhinebeck.  Even the drive into the town was reminiscent of my drive from Poughkeepsie through Staatsburg into Rhinebeck.

Tonight we are having dinner at Nick’s daughter’s house.  His son-in-law, Chris will be cooking up something wonderful, I’m sure.


The last few days have been such fun with several dinners at Chris and Diane’s gorgeous home and a visit to the amazing Crater Lake National Park.  Chris and Diane have lived here for over 40 years and they are the nicest, most hospitable people, hosting us for two dinners including Chris’ famous homemade pizzas.  They introduced us to two of their closest friends, Lindy and Buck and it felt like we have all been friends for a long time.  Chris is a criminal defense attorney and Lindy is a retired judge so they worked together quite often over the years.

on the left is Nick’s daughter Diane and son-in-law  Chris (who cooked us 2! great dinners) , with their friends Lindy and Buck, – plus the beautiful view of the Grant’s Pass and surrounding area taken from their backyard deck.


Diane is a photographer and artist, and she hand painted us a good luck souvenir which now rests on our small display shelf in the RV



Crater Lake National Park was absolutely amazing.  John described it perfectly as magical.  Despite the fact that it was almost 90 degrees in Grants Pass, Crater Lake had around 10-11′ of snow.  It was 60 degrees there and people were wearing shorts with their snowshoes.  The lake was formed by the collapse of a volcano following an eruption and it is the snowiest inhabited place in America.  They get over 400″ of snow a year. We were lucky to be there on a bright, sunny, temperate day because the mountains and clouds reflect perfectly around the rim of the lake.  It truly is mystical.  Hopefully, John’s skillful photography will do it justice.

Crater Lake (snowiest inhabited place in the USA) with 10′ of snow while its 85 degrees down the mountain. Its pristine surface  perfectly mirrors its surroundings. Nick takes the opportunity to throw some snowballs.

We also visited Ashland, Oregon, a beautiful, mountainous college town south of Medford, OR.  The scenery is lush and the town has great stores (including a wonderful yarn store), breweries and restaurants.  It is supposedly a hippie haven similar to New Paltz, though we didn’t actually spot too many hippies which is unusual since it is 4/20 (get it?). We had a great meal at a local microbrewery and walked through Lithia Park, a gorgeous and quite large green jewel in the center of town.

The beautiful college town of Ashland, OR and its Lithia Park makes no bones about their social sentiments


Easter Sunday.  We had brunch at The Bohemian in Grants Pass with Nick’s friends, Hazel, Peggy, Cate, Chad, Helen and Tad.  Nick played piano and it was wonderful.  His daughter Diane and son-in-law Chris also stopped by.

‘Nick from Nowhere’ (aka Nick Lusito formerly of Hyde Park NY) is the featured pianist at the Bohemian Cafe in Grants Pass on Easter. Surrounded by new and old friends and family, Nick plays the ‘stride’ piano style favored by many famous players in the past, when live solo piano was ubiquitous. It is rhythmic and full sounding as well as technically demanding, and generally not well mastered by most younger players.

In the evening, Nick treated us to a wonderful farewell dinner at the Taprock brewhouse on the banks of the Rogue River.  It has been such a great visit with Nick and his friends and family.

Our last day in Grant’s Pass dining with Nick on the Rogue River and at the RV. 

We’ve shared incredible meals and sites together and the beautiful and temperate Grants Pass is right up there as a contender for us in terms of liveability.  Tomorrow we head a bit further north in Oregon near Eugene.


Next time  in the Pacific Northwest ———–   Eugene, Portlandia, Seattle and Tacoma!












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