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to Crescent City 17 September 2019

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Back in Cali. Miserable driving day, but mostly straight roads when there was traffic, and enough passing lanes. The stretch from Oregon Hill on One-Windy-Nine (US 199) was blessedly car-free right up until Hiouchi, but the deluge hit just as we reached US 101 – more about that below, I'm sure. 

The first two thirds of the ride today was down USS 97 to just east of Crater Lake, then across to the Crater Lake Highway, down Sam's Valley and along the Rogue to South Grants Pass and lunch.

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Almost all of this drive was through trees: skinny high desert trees, pygmy trees, Lodgepole Pines, and finally, once we were into the Rogue drainage, serious temperate  rain forest trees. The water is Lost Creek Lake, a catchment on the poor over-dammed upper Rogue River, much cursed with unnecessary “flood control” dams. The Russian Orthodox Church is just outside of the town of Rogue River ...and what would you say that crop is, there in the lower left corner? (Sorry, it's fuzzy, but we saw acres of the stuff duly fenced in here in Oregon. Grows like a weed...)

All through this part of the drive, the rain was merely annoying, coming in spurts requiring regular windshield wiping, the rest of the time some level of intermittent ...and just about the time the wipers were adjusted correctly, a change...

Right before Grants Pass, a triumphant story: the Rogue above the Savage Rapids Dam, built in 1921 and removed in 2009, is just beginning, a decade later, to look like a real river again. Long Live Salmon!

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Well before the trip, while trolling for a decent break to this long (272 miles) day, I'd spotted The Vine in Grants Pass, and noted that it was open all afternoon. Perfect: whenever we got there, lunch would be ready; a family run place specializing in locally grown produce and Italian preparations. Let's go there!

So we did. Not as special as last night, but quite adequate for little Grants Pass. A wonderful spring greens salad with pine nuts and  house prepared preserved lemons, not too sweet, almost meaty ...and a nice beef sausage lasagna. Rochelle said "You make better lasagna" and I'm afraid that's true, but the salad was worth the trip. The chef meticulously split the lasagna for us.

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From Grants Pass to the Cali border, the rain intensified, but the going remained smooth. A couple of Oregonian bozos hogging the road, but that's to be expected in these parts. Far as they're concerned, there's no one else on the road, so why hurry? Anyway, the road's slippery; Dum de dum.

Inexplicably and unprecedentedly, the road down the Smith River Gorge from the Inspection Station (where we said we had no fruit or vegetables) to Hiouchi, the road was my kinda road: nobody ahead of me. Even in the rain, a pleasure to drive through. Gorgeous, if you'll pardon the pun.

The rain crescendoed as we finished up 199 and rolled out onto 101 behind a tanker that was kicking up a veritable hurricane. But somehow, we survived, found our night's lodging in Helen's house's Angel Room, and as I finish these notes, Rochelle is making our last evening salad of the trip with the fruits and vegetables we didn't have.

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