A Harley Davidson fired up outside our Bend, Oregon, motel room, rudely serving as our morning alarm clock. Despite the drapes being drawn tight and the room being as dark as a Dracula-approved dwelling, the incessant blap-blap of the soft-tail motorcycle combined with the rest of outside world scurrying about to ensure that we would be getting no more rest. After a quick shower it was time to search out some sort of more palatable food than the sugar-crusted snacks and caffeine-laden drinks that we had so frequently relied upon. Nothing immediately caught our eyes, so we packed up and figured something would present itself down the road.
Bend is known for relaxation, golfing, and rafting on the nearby Deschutes River. We, however, just gawked at the enticing lifestyle through the H2's side glass as we whizzed through town with the sole intent of racking up miles on the odometer. Just a few miles south, we stopped at a Chevron station in La Pine, and luckily for us there was a Taco Bell right across the street waiting to serve us some breakfast chow. While scarfing down a burrito we heard a gent utter, "Is that your Hummer? Oh, I hate you!" Not sure whether that was just friendly banter or a threat, we quickly packed up and headed out. Within microseconds of getting back on the highway, Kiwi remembered he had relatives living in La Pine that he hadn't seen in a coon's-age. Unfortunately, what was supposed to be a quick stop-off resulted in a multi-hour delay as Kiwi got to reminiscing about old times. Upon departure, however, we did score some gen-yoo-ine homemade turkey sandwiches and sun tea for later road gobbling.
Our main point of interest for the day's travels was Crater Lake, Oregon. About 7700 years ago, the volcano called Mount Mazama blew its top and left behind a huge five-mile-wide hole that eventually filled with fresh water--hence the origins of the current Crater Lake. At 1943 feet deep, the lake is the deepest in the United States and one of the deepest in the world. Unfortunately, the day we were there, the pristine beauty was choked by smoke from a sizable wildfire in central Oregon. Even the techno-wizardry infused in our top-of-the line Canon 1D digital camera couldn't X-ray-vision through the thick hazy muck, so we gave up on scenic photos and opted to drive the 33-mile narrow road that circles the caldera rim. The lure of the well-stocked Crater Lake gift shop was strong, but we were far behind schedule and opted to drive southbound rather than purchase a "I blew my top at Crater Lake" T-shirt.
On highway 97 just south of Klamath Falls (which, according to many locals, does not offer any actual falls to view), we saw our second incredibly horrific automobile crash in just 10 hours. While the first truck-versus-tree head-on crash was bad, the second crash was much more gruesome. Somehow, a southbound-traveling SUV was t-boned by a northbound-moving full-sized truck to create a crushing collision that left vehicle parts scattered everywhere. As we passed a shredded driver's door some 150 feet away from the main crumpled carnage, it seemed apparent that the SUV driver (and possibly others) must have been killed instantly. At this point, our goal of speedy travel seemed less important and, consequently, we backed off the H2's throttle and opted for a slower, safer journey for the remainder of the trip.
Our slow motoring eventually took us into California and past the snow-capped peak of Mount Shasta, through the lovely town of Weed, and back onto the super-highway of Interstate 5. Through the cover of dark we headed for the town of Chico where we were hoping to score free accommodations with some more of Kiwi's relatives. Serious late-night road construction on highway 99 had us pulling into town long after the family members were asleep, and consequently, we sought shelter at the lovely Thunderbird motel just down the street from our H2 fuel stop. After three buzzes of the night bell, a phlegm-hacking woman emerged and instructed us to fill out the most comprehensive "guest info" form we'd ever seen. Eager to get to our hotel room, we wrote as fast as we could to also avoid added contact with the obviously ill woman. Although the neon sign looked impressive, you always know a motel's classy when you have to "check-out" the TV remote control. The function of the gadget was irrelevant anyhow, as we opted for sleep rather than late-night channel surfing.