Too Hot to Handle.... Phew!
We have spent the last week in Northern California, no I mean really Northern California (as in almost Oregon).
Our plan had always been to get to Oregon by August 1st and spend the month there. When I had trouble getting any beautiful spots near the 101 heading up the coast we decided to take the inland route to revisit a part of California we had thought beautiful, the Shasta area.
Two things I should have thought about when making this decision:
1. The word's "inland California" and "summer" normally mean only one thing- triple digit temperatures!
2. When we came here before for a few days one summer and it was hella hot - triple digit temperatures!
But my little inside voice said, it will be no big deal. We once lived in a city (Pleasanton, CA) where summer days were regularly over 100 degrees and it was fine. And the lows at night in Shasta are in the low 70's so plenty of time to cool down. But there were a couple of fatal flaws in my thinking. Firstly, when we lived in Pleasanton we actually spent most of the day working in an air conditioned office. Now our plan revolved around spending the days enjoying the outdoors. This can be tricky since it's difficult finding things to do to stay cool when the lake you are camping near has mostly dried up due to our horrendous drought. Secondly, my plan to cool down at night didn't take into account that the forecasted low of 70 degrees occurs at 5am! At 7pm it was still 100 degrees with not a hint of a breeze. Holy Smokes!
We were tempted to move the trailer to some higher elevation for cooler temps but we did have a nice parking spot in a quiet park (everywhere was quiet - more on that later). After sticking it out for a few days we decided we could make it a few more. So time to think of strategies to keep our cool. One day we went to the cinema in a nearby town. Being in the sticks has its merits: $11 for two movie tickets. What a bargain for a couple of hours of air conditioning, and comfy seats. The movie was good too - BONUS! The other days we headed to the Sacramento River for partially shady hiking and picnicking in beautiful riverside spots. Getting near to water was a big help in cooling down.
The lake (Shasta) was kind of a bust. The water level is so low many of the boat ramps were closed. Lake Shasta's beaches have become bluffs since the water level has fallen to reveal sheer cliff drops where the shoreline once was. Since it is a man made lake the shoreline is not the prettiest but when it is full the beautiful surroundings create scenic spots at every turn. With water levels like this it looks more like a weird moonscape. Such a shame for the local economy. Most of the local businesses seem to be struggling to survive everywhere we went.
The Mount Shasta area is truly a beautiful (see the photos in our Facebook Album). I definitely recommended it for a visit but check the mercury and water levels before you go.
Being too hot made us grumpy and too tired to really enjoy the outdoors. Our key learning is, that while we are not put off hot weather completely, it needs to start cooling down in the evening to be able to make it enjoyable. We will check the forecast more thoroughly for hourly temperatures in the future. Jane Austen's quote sums it up "What dreadful hot weather we have! It keeps me in a continual state of inelegance." Today we leave our California home behind and head to the foreign land of Oregon, seeking elevation and water. There, I am looking forward to regaining my elegance!