Returning home from our Route 66 journey we drove along the Klamath River Road headed for Lava Beds National Monument.Highway 161 straddles the California/Oregon Border with farmlands on the north and two wildlife refuges on the south:Klamath Lake and Tule Lake.
The desert terrain at Lava Beds creates a spiritual atmosphere surrounded with looming black mountains and subtle hues.Here birdlife, geologic wonders and the echoes of history reign.It is a park filled with adventures in nature and history for adults and children alike.
It is rather daunting to drive along the Oregon/California coast and read signs pointing out tsunami escape routes.We began viewing the ocean with suspicion.On the coast from Gold Beach to just north of Crescent City the highway is bordered by the dramatic ocean on the west and a dense redwood forest on the east.
Susceptible to tsunamis, Crescent City has experienced tidal wave conditions 17 times between 1943 and 1994.On March 27, 1964 the Good Friday Earthquake off Anchorage, Alaska set in motion local landslide tsunamis, one that sped down the West Coast to the state of Washington killing 12 people.
Tsunami-ready today, Crescent City experienced a 7.0 earthquake in 2005 ninety miles offshore.Much of the city was evacuated in a matter of 20 minutes with the tsunami warning sounded.Fortunately no tidal wave occurred.
After traveling Route 66 to the Black Hills of South Dakota to Wyoming, Montana and Idaho, reaching the Oregon coast was like entering another world. First we dug out our jackets and umbrella.It is dreary, misty, cloudy, windy and cold.But it is absolutely beautiful.The rugged coastline, lighthouses, historic bridges, sea life and deserted beaches are extremely picturesque.
I’ll bet we are the first people to drive from California to Oregon by way of Route 66 to Chicago!
Oregon is renowned not only for the natural beauty of its coastline but also for its enlightened tradition of publicly owned and protected beaches.The coastline, nearly 400 miles between the Columbia River and the California border, offer picnic and day areas, campgrounds, hiking and biking trails, parks, forests, boat ramps, equestrian trails, interpretive centers, dunes, estuaries, crabbing, clamming, whale watching points, view points, and cultural attractions.
Opting to take the smaller Highway 12 rather than Interstate 90, we found ourselves on the long winding road through the natural beauty and history of the Lewis and Clark Highway in Idaho.This is the area where the Nez Perce people lived, hunted, gathered roots, camped and fished.We drove along the Lochsa, Selway and Clearwater rivers, all part of the National Wild and Scenic River System.This byway provides access to the Lewis and Clark trail in several areas.We were pleased to find a beautiful campsite which even had an electrical hook up.
We said goodbye to our short stay in Idaho and were disappointed with the change in scenery after entering Washington.Where is all the fog, rain and lushness of Washington State?Certainly not in the southeast portion.Everything was brown and stark and it was very hot.We passed through Walla Walla, briefly drove into Oregon, then passed over the Columbia River back into Washington.Fortunately we found a lovely campground on the river’s north bank.
Little did we know that the exciting part of this adventure was ahead.
Leaving the Black Hills of South Dakota we got wind of a rare bird sighting on the Iron Creek Trail in Spearfish Canyon.Hoping to get one up on my brother, Ornithologist Kimball Garrett, we grabbed our binoculars and headed to the trail.According to the local paper, the Orange-billed nightingale thrush, spotted on July 10 and several times since, is the only one known to have been seen in the United States except two reportedly spotted once in Texas.Birders from around the nation were flocking to South Dakota in hopes of adding this errant bird to their life list.A car in the parking lot sported a bumper sticker which read:“I’d rather be birding” so we knew we would be in good company.
Hiking the canyon we looked and listened.The clattering sound we heard did not mimic the flute like song of a thrush.It turned out to be a kingfisher.We spotted a redstart, a good bird to see, but no thrush.We met a birder sitting by the stream, binoculars poised.An elderly lady, she had driven by herself from Colorado in search of the thrush and planned on camping there until it appeared.Not as dedicated as this hard-core birder, we were soon on our way across the state line into Wyoming.