US 395 at one time ran from San Diego to British Columbia. It lies on the east side of the Sierra like a divider. I would like to traverse more of it, having been fond of the California section in-between too foggy-cold and too hot. Dreams happen here. Ghosts and mysteries are allowed to speak. It takes me back to my girlhood when I could hear the calling of nature and even blindfolded see the wavering colors of trees, back when I could sense holes in the substance of day-to-day reality, the grown-up adult kind, where people don’t fly in their dreams and a road is no more than an engineered transportation device.

I’d left out the town of Burns, OR, before I’d reached the 2nd part of the 395 south of Hwy 20 and finding Lake Abert and the tiny town of Valley Falls.

Birding Country, Burns, OR

Birding Country, Burns, OR

I’d  spent the night at the Burns RV Park wanting a shower and a place to wander about, I never did explore the town. Turns out the area is known for birding with an annual festival and ongoing activities at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge on the Pacific Flyway. I’d missed the annual birding festival in April but could happily see myself seeking birds. There are many treasures along Oregon’s 395.

The land of birds

After passing Lake Abert the next day before crossing the California border I stopped in Lakeview, OR for a walk. It’s the County Seat of Lake County. I was pondering the downtown signage of churches near the administration center, taken aback that so many could exist in such a small place when a gentleman stopped to ask if I needed anything. Turned out he was the DA, he told me he loved knowing everyone in town and had returned after working in other locations, pointing out the building where he’d bought his first gun. Maybe he was a hunter, I don’t know.  As we conversed he lamented the young people leaving, there didn’t seem to be much to keep them busy, even the theater was defunct, needing extensive and costly repairs. I wished him well and continued my walk, lots of ranches in the surrounding area; the town would make a great backdrop for a movie.

How many churches does this small town have?

How many churches does this small town have?

Lake County Courthouse Lakeview, Oregon Post Office

Maybe a good movie set?

Maybe a good movie set?

On the way out there was a fellow herding cows on the road, he yelled at us motorist to go slow although no one was traveling faster than 5 mph, his voice was loud and stern! If you click the Lakeview link above be sure to watch the video, a true county town, with a big sign of a tall man waving his pistol. Seems there’s an National Antelope Refuge 65 miles north on Hwy 40. There are also petroglyphs in the area.

If you do any of this drive I’d suggest spending a lot more time than 2 days it took me and bring along some cash. The little town where I bought gas was super friendly, like Canada, however they had a terrible time making a phone connection for my credit card, they kept trying while I hung out for a while but in the end I offered cash, you might want to make sure you have a stash for times like that.

Alone at Goose Lake

Alone at Goose Lake

I crossed the border without noticing but I did notice a sign saying Goose Lake State Recreation Area so I turned around back to Oregon and took the short road to the campground. Lots of space, only 1 or 2 sites were being used. I almost camped there and would have if I’d had my dogs with; instead I drove to the day use area and parked.  Wow, there were my birds! Not a human in site. I had to talk myself out of nervousness of being alone, this time on foot. The lake / wetlands was low yet gorgeous and so alive!

Goose Lake, low water level.

Goose Lake, low water level.

Goose Lake wetlands

Goose Lake wetlands

Goose Lake vegetation

Goose Lake vegetation

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I went on to Susanville to spend the next night, no particular reason, there were many pullouts on the mountain road and campgrounds on side roads. I’m used to having my dogs, we go for long walks and they tell me if there’s anyone around, that’s my only excuse for rushing along and not choosing to stay longer and explore.

Drought is very evident in Oregon as in California. I’m more aware of its effect in areas where I know the general pattern of the land. It’s scary how dry and hot everything is, be super careful!  CA, OR, WA, Canada, NV, AZ are all short of water. It will be a tough summer, fires are already blazing. I pack a respirator and a few extra breathing masks for those times one has to drive through a fire area along with extra drinking water.

I used to love campfires when I was a girl, but they don’t make sense unless you’re truly need one and are practiced in how to build one and keep it from accidentally spreading. Watch out for equipment you might have that creates a spark, remember to check your propane for leaks.   Keep the basics right there with you, shovel, lots of water, bucket, fire extinguisher not a bad idea. Clear the area of all debris so that embers can’t catch and never walk away and leave a smoldering fire, re-think the whole thing if its windy.  I’ve been known to stop and put out smoldering campfires that others have left behind. If you smoke carry your butts out with you don’t toss them on the ground. Learn about lightning storms…  don’t pitch tents near the highest tree, etc.. if you enjoy a few drinks remember safety first …   let’s get through this summer as safe as we can.

There are 100 fires burning now in Alaska

 SONGS

Katie Melua – I Cried For You

Somewhere over the Rainbow – Israel “IZ” Kamakawiwoʻole

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