Collier Memorial State Park

… at least it was a pull through.

We parted ways with Linda and decided to head up to Oregon via Susanville. There we could stock up for another week and I could have enough service to join another meeting. You may have heard, but public education is in an inconceivably difficult position with regards to opening, or not, in the fall. So one of the specific areas of fallout is that there are a lot of educators who are still working to try to figure things out over the summer. Shopping in Susanville seems a fitting encapsulation of how much this all sucks. It was uncomfortably hot to start with, and we went to three different stores to try to get groceries. The first was an instant veto due to how many people were entering and leaving without masks. The second was a Walmart where people were required to wear masks on entry. However, as soon as they got inside the store, about half of them took them off. Plus, this was a Walmart with a very lame food section and no produce. Bail quickly. The third was a Safeway and that was pretty good. Almost all wearing masks and all the produce on my list. I got in and out just in time to join a meeting. After an hour in the hot parking lot, we started driving. Service eventually cut out, but I’d heard the important bits.

Site? Or loop road?

Our route took us along the top of Eagle Lake, along rolling hills and valleys, and eventually up past Klamath Lake. I was excited. The entry to the park was lovely, with blooming wildflowers and the sound of a nearby river. As we entered the first loop though, we noticed the sites were spaced pretty close together and the place was full to capacity. Our site, while given points for being a pull through with full hookups, was positioned such that it felt like it was right in the middle of the narrow loop road. People walking by came uncomfortably close to Dory, and the big rig pulling in next to us appeared as though it was going to take out a chunk of her while they were backing in. I started to feel panicked as the whole scene seemed unsafe. I looked up other places online where we could go instead, but ended up with choice paralysis. I allayed my fears with affirmations about how, with widows closed, Dory is like the ultimate hamster ball of physical isolation. Richard probably gave me some wine at that point because I slowly relaxed.

Water features always help.

The next day ended better. Richard went on a long bike ride while I started with a work meeting. When it was done, I was able to drive out and meet him at a tiny place called Sprague River. He threw his bike in the car so we could drive the rest of the 70-mile loop back to the campground. Crazily, there was just enough cell service that I was able to join yet another meeting while still enjoying the remoteness of the landscape. After dinner, I made the really smart decision to make myself a margarita (possibly two, I don’t recall). Then we went for a masked walk over to the river while everyone else was back in the campground having dinner. I decided at that point that the campground wasn’t so bad and that the trick was to keep windows closed on the road side and get out during the day. At least we had hookups and solid enough service with the booster that I could join all the week’s meetings.

And a walk in the woods never hurts.

So that’s what we did the next day, and the next. We drove up highway 140 to check out some of the other campgrounds and got in a hike. First we checked out the Rocky Point Resort campground on the north side of Klamath Lake. That looks like a fun place in non Covid times, with a store and restaurant, plus a little shore area for kayak launching. It was pretty tightly packed and the sites looked as though it would be a challenge to maneuver into them. On the upside, some had hookups and it would offer a boating opportunity in a nice and protected part of the upper Klamath Lake. Satisfied with the intel, we kept driving up into the mountain lakes area. We had thought to do a hike around Fourmile or Squaw Lakes, but that road turned out to be six miles of gravel and I wasn’t that excited. Fish Lake made for a good compromise. There are a couple of small forest service campgrounds there and a nice little trail out to a dam.

Lake of the Woods

After that, we checked out Lake of the Woods and oh my, that is a beautiful place. The Aspen Campground has reservable and first come sites. Some at the ends of the loops are pretty close to the water. There was cell service there for both of us and I noted sites 29, 31 and 41 in particular, but there were other nice ones too. Sunset campground is on the other side of the lake and feels a bit more crowded and less nice than Aspen. I noted sites 33, 34, 48, 49 and 51 as being well located.

Kayaking in lily pads FTW.

We debated the possibility of ditching Collier and trying for a first come at Aspen for our last night in the area, but instead chose to come back and just use the day use area so I could launch my boat. While I bobbed in the water, Richard went on a ride up highway 140, to Big Elk (97), to Dead Indian Memorial. I would love to come back and camp at Aspen. The upper part of the lake is filled with lily pads and ducklings; just the thing to put one at ease. My float and Richard’s ride timed nicely and he came rolling into the parking area just as I was packing up my boat.

Mt. McLoughlin

We stayed the full four nights of our reservations in Collier and it was fine. I think I just picked the absolute worst site, which made it feel a whole lot more exposed and crowded than if we’d been in a back in site, with Bruce between us and passersby. Still, it was a tightly packed campground, which does not feel good these days, and many, many people appear to be going about their lives with not a care, or a mask, in the world. We also saw some unsettling grandstanding in the form of political flag displays on our neighbors’ cars. That did not help to create a warm fuzzy feeling about this particular campground. Of course, that is not the fault of the state park and we did see a park ranger quietly speaking with the campers. And the rangers were all masked.

Total miles from Eagle Lake: 220.6, 16.2 mpg, 5 hours 6 min. Site b22 (the worst), full hookups. Stronger cell service for Verizon, but pretty good 4g most of the time for ATT.

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