Winter Break 2012


Saturday, December 22

I had dinner with Amanda and Stew and their newborn, Miles when I was up in Seattle for a conference in November.  I hadn’t really talked much to them, but when I got home Amanda called and asked me if I had anywhere to go for the xmas holiday, and if not, I was welcome to come back to Seattle for a stay with them. 

I wasn’t sure, but the timing all seemed to work out and up to Seattle I went.  As it turns out, the OR is closed for 2 weeks around the holidays, and our offices are closed on the 24th and 31st, so I had a lot more time off than I had anticipated.  So I took a single Friday off, and ended up having about 2 weeks off in total.  Winter break- I decided to make a trip out of it. 

Friday I got home from work and a notice in the mail that mom’s x-mas package had arrived in town, I had only to pick it up.  I called the USPS and scheduled re-delivery for the next day, deciding to wait to leave SF until I had the package.  I waited until 11:30 am when I head the mail carrier close my box.  It didn’t sound like she delivered a package...  So I ran out of the house and chased her down the street.  “Oh, no, it takes at least 24 hours before it’s re-delivered, but it’s at the post office on Hyde, so just go there.  They’re open until 1pm today.” 

So I put my already packed things into the car, and strapped the pug into the car seat and off we went.  First stop:  post office.  In hand 20 minutes later:  mom’s package.  Time to take off. 

I also decided to drive, mostly so that I could be flexible- not really have to be anywhere at any time with firm plans.  I did want to stay over in Medford, which seems to be a geocaching Mecca- trails and trails everywhere, so I booked my only stay there.

I drove up through Shasta en route to Medford with the dog in tow.  It’s about 5.5 hours from SF, according to yahoo maps.  The drive is boring, until you get to Shasta, which is amazing.  Although less amazing when it’s snowing and freezing and you’re trying to concentrate on the road through the snow and hail...


Winter Break 2012

Along boring I-5 in the northern part of midstate, the clouds that were covering the Sierras and obscuring Lassen cleared up for a rainbow.  I pulled off just to take a shot and let the pug walk along a completely deserted stretch of highway.

The next stop was painful to pass:  the exit to Lassen...  It was hard to drive past it without stopping, and even though it wasn’t visible with the low cloud

cover obscuring the peak.  Sigh, Lassen another time...  It just *hurts* me to drive by it...

North of Lassen, is Shasta.  You’re getting into the Sierras, and up at elevation in the winter where snow becomes an issue for passability.  Luckily for me, chains were advised- as in have them, but you weren’t required to put them on yet.  I was glad- mostly that i have a 4 wheel drive vehicle, although it dawned on me as I drive through here that I don’t know how to turn on the 4 wheel drive...

I tried to stop when we were in Shasta but there are NO turnout scenic overlooks!  Travesty!  What is California thinking??  This gorgeous view and no scenic overlooks in which you can turn out and snap a photo of the lake.  It was stunning.  The whole area is blanketed in snow, and it was falling when I was driving through in a moderate flurry. 

Even though it was overcast and rainy/snowy the whole drive, it’s still amazing how beautiful it is through there.  And then when you just drive past a turn in the mountainside, you get a glimpse of the jewel: Shasta Lake at the base of the peaks. 

I wanted to gawk, but no turnouts meant I had to press forward.  I got off at the nearest exit after seeing the lake, and turned toward a sign advertising a boat launch, but after driving 15 miles down a snowy mountain road, with no lake in sight, I turned back around and got onto I-5 toward Medford.  I stopped ever so quickly to let Charmey out to sniff the snow, he’s only seen it once when we were in Portland some years ago- and he loved it.  Apparently, it’s not the same when it’s wet, heavy and in rainy temperatures.  He has more fun when it’s light and fluffy.  He wasn’t enthused, so we kept driving.

Once past Shasta, Oregon wasn’t cooperative.  It was supposed to be about an hour and a half to Medford, but I think I wasted a lot of time on my side trip looking for the lake that I didn’t get to the Marriott until just after 6 pm. 

Why Medford?  It’s a bit less than half way to Seattle, and doing that whole 12-14 hour drive in one stretch is just insane.  So, break it up, and stay over somewhere.  I opted for Medford because of the extracurricular hobbies I could indulge there, and planned on spending a few hours in the morning caching before taking off. 

The Marriott seemed central, although getting

there, it’s not in a great locale.  Just kind of an ugly area.  I prefer a cute, boutique-type hotel, but it’s not easy to book online and know what you’re getting- especially when I have the dog with me.  That cuts the choices significantly.  The Marriott was inexpensive, serviceable, and close to a trail laden with caches. 

I checked in, bagged one right by the hotel entrance in the evening on my way back from getting some Subway for dinner.  At least now I can claim an OR badge :) 

I went to my room, ate my dinner after walking the dog, then stayed up watching bad movies on cable until I tried to go to sleep about 12:30am.  No luck.  Charmey doesn’t do well in strange places, any more than I do.  I was wide awake, tossing and turning all night, and probably got a solid 45 minutes of shut eye close to 6am.  Charmey was’t any better since he jumped out of bed about 10 times, barking at the door. 

Sunday, December 23, 2012

I got out of bed at about 6:30am, half an hour before my alarm.  The plan was to eat breakfast, pack the car, cache on the nearby riverside trail for a few hours in the early morning, then take off BY noon (or well before) to get into Seattle before 7pm. 

That was the plan, anyways.  When I pulled the blinds open, the plan was clearly not going to fly.  The sky was as dark as it was at 4am, and it was foggy- as if you were IN a cloud- and raining.  And cold. 

No go.  I packed up, ate a bagel and sucked down a coffee in the hotel’s breakfast bar, and was on the road by 8am.  It was, according to the map, about 7 hours from Medford to Seattle.  Even better, the 49ers were due to play the Seattle Seahawks at 5pm.  Tim was hoping I could make it to watch the game, and hey!  Turns out, I could!

At least I hoped so...  with breaks and stops and everything else, I was hoping to make it by 5pm.  That estimate was probably best.  I just pulled in about 4:45pm. 

The drive through Oregon *sucked*.  It was nonstop.  The whole state was a totally new experience- FOG at a level I have never known until now.  It was like you were literally in the center of a huge, dense cumulonimbus cloud, hugging the landscape.  I’ve never seen anything so grey.  It rained the entire time- sometimes harder than others.  Worse yet, I had a white-knuckle 60 miles through Grant’s Pass as temperatures hovered at 32-34 degrees in the rain.  It was more like frozen, sleety rain, with patches of hail.  It sucked.  Really sucked.  Down hills of an 8% grade was harrowing- going 40 miles an hour, not being able to see anybody’s headlights until you’re about 2 car lengths behind them.  Even with just the rain, it took time to focus and make sure I was paying attention, since you can’t see any of the cars on the road until you’re right on top of them.  After Grant’s Pass slipping on mountain side roads in the layers of slush coating the road, it was 5 hours of solid rain and fog. 

So, the drive sucked.  But at 5pm, I was with a drink in hand, at Casa Stewart, happily sitting down in front of the game with family.  My nephew was happy as a lark- his usual self- just cooing away sitting up playing with his toys.  A happy scene. 

Casa Stewart is lovely- a little complex in a village called Normandy Park south and west of Seattle proper.  The tree was all decked out, the stockings hung on the mantle, and presents wrapped and shining under the tree. 

We chatted, caught up on life, hung out with Miles for a while, and watched the Seahawks most unexpectedly SLAUGHTER the 49ers in a humiliating defeat like they did to the Bills last week...  I was wiped out from my sleepless night in Medford, so I crashed early, by 8pm.  Phew!