Day 14: Lakeview, OR to Crater Lake, OR

Thursday 9/22

We were folding up the tent this morning when we noticed it was wet. It was strange to have so much condensation in one corner. I gave it a sniff and realized that there was an odor to it…and a yellow tint. Could’ve been Simon, but it seemed to be a lot of pee for such a small dog.

We packed Maxima pre-oiled filters and today was change day. What was once bright blue was now a Shake-n-Bake brown.

We checked the inside to make sure it was doing what it was supposed to do and we were pleased to see a clean underbelly.

I might stick with these inexpensive disposable air filters. While I have a very high tolerance for menial tasks, cleaning air filters is in my top ten list of Undesirable Things To Do. The girly part of me that despises insects must also be responsible for my repulsion to filthy, tacky air filters.

Ready to leave behind the rocks of Nevada, we looked forward to getting into the Oregon forest. We started out on a twisty paved road that eventually transitioned into a gravel road. The change of terrain was a good time to give Simon his first break. He got his usual “test snack” to check his happiness level. I liked to make him work for it because if he was the least bit physically damaged or depressed, he certainly would not go the extra circus-style mile for half of a lousy peanut.

It didn’t take long before we came across logging activity. I heard that’s what Oregon’s all about: murdering trees*. (And, of course, not being allowed to pump your own gas.)

These chains looked wickedly heavy and expensive.

Soon after passing this, a logging truck came around the corner. Just as we had been warned, the drivers are CRAZY. Even though this over-caffeinated guy saw us, he never backed off the gas. Since he was hogging most of the road, I pulled over to stop and just as I had put my foot down the truck flew by. Had I stumbled at all and tipped towards the truck, I would’ve been instantly wound into his axle.

We experienced our first Oregon commuter bottleneck in the form of this clawed badboy.

The driver was on his phone, repeatedly looking out his window and over the side of the vehicle. The track kept catching and jerking the vehicle violently. Wayne took some hard looks down the side, but he could see that trying to pass a piece of heavy equipment having seizures would’ve only ended in tears. Thankfully, the driver eventually glanced back and saw us. He pulled over and let us by.

We made our way through the forest, enjoying the unrocky, unhot, unsilty environment.

Everything was going fine until we came upon the Sycan River which was the widest water crossing we had encountered so far on this trip.

Wayne did a little depth test with a stick and it didn’t look promising. We’d have to go at least waist deep to get through.

We walked along the bank to see if there was a better place to cross, but we only found more impressive ways to fail. With only two of us to deal with a water crossing gone awry, we decided to find another way out.

Just a little way down the road we came across some people on horseback and asked if there was a better place to cross the river. They told us that the easiest thing for us to do would be to take the main dirt road out to Beatty. Not wanting to drive around the forest all afternoon just to find out that other crossing points of the Sycan River were equally futile, we followed their instructions and made our way to Beatty.

We were enjoying some cheap pre-made sandwiches from the little market while planning our next move. A guy pulled up on a Harley and asked if he could share our picnic table. We were fine with it so he sat down.

He proceeded to tell us that he was just visiting his 57-year-old twin brother in the hospital, who was crushed by a vehicle that he had jacked up and then slid under without using jack stands as back-ups. He had broken ribs, a punctured spleen, and a whole menu of other problems I couldn’t remember. He was in a medically induced coma and had already come down with a case of pneumonia.

The guy started talking about how crazy people were nowadays because the economy was bad and how they were out of work and resorting to desperate measures. He mentioned that a transient had pulled a knife on him a couple of days ago which forced him to respond by pulling a gun on the transient. Perhaps he felt his story was lacking color so he did a re-enactment for us…

“The guy said GIVE ME YOUR WALLET!” At this point he reached into his back pocket and pulled out a handgun (something Glock-like), pointed it in the direction of the street, and stated loudly but evenly, “IS THIS WHAT YOU WANT?” He said this caused the transient to flee. Never in my life had I so badly wanted to take a picture, but I didn’t want the gun swung in our direction. I kept the camera pocketed. Sigh.

He added that he had taken a life before and it made him sick for days. He said he would never again hurt anyone… unless he had to.

He moved onto another story that took place decades ago in San Francisco, where his connections with underworld types gave him employment at strip clubs and massage parlors. It was there he met a Chinese girl that he really liked. The problem was that he was white and such a relationship would never be sanctioned. Her brother was a martial arts expert and at some point beat the crap out of him but they later became good friends; so good, in fact, that he studied martial arts under him for 13 years. He said that although he knew martial arts, he wouldn’t use it to hurt anyone… unless he had to.

He recounted how he was in a bar in Arizona. He didn’t drink — he was just having his usual soda. He said a drunk guy around 260 lbs had it out for him, adding “I knew he had to hurt him real quick.” So he did, taking the guy down in an instant with his honed martial art skills. He declared that from that time forward, nobody in that bar ever messed with him or his soda again.

And so he went on. The tales seemed a bit tall, but it was suitable entertainment as we sat there and ate our sandwiches. In hindsight, his tale weaved in a few details of the moment. The girl he liked was Chinese, as was (and still is) the girl sitting across the table for him. And about him beating up that guy in Arizona? He was drinking a can of Arizona Iced Tea… yes…Keyser Söze lives.**

He did give us one piece of information that might’ve been useful. He told us not to camp anywhere near Chiloquin, suggesting that the area was unsavory, even by his tastes. He said that people have disappeared from there, although I’m betting they were locals caught up in some criminal enterprise gone wrong and not motorcyclists with a dog. Still, it was touching to hear him say, “I don’t want to be reading about you two in the paper.”

On his advice, and because Chiloquin did seem a little funky when we got there, we pressed on to Crater Lake, where the Mazama campground had tons of openings.

————

* Yes, I phrased it as such just to get a rise out of you. I, personally, do not have a problem with murdered trees because without them we would not have toilet paper or chainsaw art.

** Please see “The Usual Suspects” if this reference is lost on you.

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Day 14 overview: 176 miles

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