Etna 3-Day Ride
Words and Photos by Chris Weld
Dick Zunkel’s report and photos are here
Dick, having arrived after everyone else Friday afternoon, missed-out on the days activities. We were met at Pete’s Henny Penny (on time too!), by John Kearney who decided to see us ‘off’. Bill’n Chris rode the plan and met Mike and Merie Holl at Hwys 53 and 20 as planned. We were off for a stretch and food stop at Granzella’s in Williams. En route we spot two sleeping bags in stuff bags and a bed roll on the highway and nobody stopping. Whoa boy! We round this stuff up just as a motorist with a roof-rack mounted carrier arrives to claim the ‘finds’. Oh well! We beat a path for Red Bluff for gas and a market stop for barbeque vitals that evening, before climbing for the South entrance to Lassen Park. At Mineral we encounter a fresh hatch of butterflies, splatt, splatt, splatt-splatt and before we could say ‘that hurts’, we were all looking through yellow windscreens. Upon our arrival at the Park entrance we observed the brand new visitor center had just opened - a ‘must see’.
You could smell the paint drying! We took in a good film on volcanoes, their type and effect on the Park as seen today. This was followed by the ride through the park, past the furmeroles, the lakes (really large crystal clear ponds) en route to the summit and down to the North entrance’s visitor center arriving just in time to have the doors locked in our face.
We arrived Old Station circa 5:30 got the motors into the garage and were
deep into the first cocktail when there was a knock on the door. It was Speedy Zunkel! He followed the route from Red Bluff, through the park and into my driveway, having stopped for vitals too!
Saturday saw everyone up early, only mild headaches were the chief complaint. It was 33 degrees and I suggested breakfast locally - since we have a great place right here. We did as planned, McCloud, Gazelle, Callahan and then a back road tour of Scott Valley which took us several miles North of Etna, but on the East side of the valley. We crossed-over on many a farm road with it’s requisite 90 degree turn every quarter mile’er so. The pharmacy in Etna is famous for its soda fountain which still has a working 1900 vintage spigot. Bill’n Chris had a root beer float while Mike’n Merie went down the street to the local library’s book sale. Then it was the big ride to the brewery which is also a cafe. Everyone in the group raved about the food, both quality and presentation, not to mention the beer. I learned about IPA (Indian Pale Ale), but settled for a Blackberry Blonde myself.
We rode through Fort Jones and into Yreka, where I led the group into ‘old town’, where the 1880’s buildings are still standing and in use. The local Hospice group runs two gift/re-sale shops where Zunkel scored a brand-new, in the box 10X digital camera mounted with binoculars, this for less’n $20. Mike wanted and ice cream and we found a shop up the street which stayed open just for us, called the…the Local Grind, I believe. Made their own gellato - VERY GOOD!
We re-gassed in McCloud at the same place we’d gassed-up in the morning and it was off to Burney for Chinese food at the Dragon.
We crashed early Saturday night - everyone had had enough fresh-air and headache inducer. I started coffee at 0630 and everyone was packed-up by 8:00 am. Again, the morning dawned COLD. If we eat at JJ’s the temperature will rise…and we did! I wanted to lead the ensemble through Manton on a road I’d never been down but gave-up on that idea on seeing the ‘end-of-pavement’ sign at the first turn. We rode down to Shingletown, then to Manton on a very twisty, well paved roadway which dropped us 1000’ feet in what seemed like inches. Searching for roads others hadn’t experienced we gassed in Red Bluff before eating-up about 30 miles of I-5 before turning due West at Orland, riding around the Black Butte Reservoir, past Chrome (one house..) for Newell (a break here), then on to Stonyford and the road to Leesville (another one-house town), and the Leesville Grade. Hadn’t been over this road in 15 years and it needed re-paving then.
The Leesville Grade, if nothing else, is memorable.