What a wonderful 24 hours I had in Klamath Falls! I admit I had some stereotypes in mind going into it. (“This is a conservative rural town. I won’t have anything in common with the people here. It’s boring, with nothing to do.” Etc.)
What I found were wonderfully engaging (and not at all conservative) Warmshowers hosts (they even had a James Baldwin quote on the guest bathroom towel!); a brilliant and hilarious dinner guest of theirs from Tucson (but originally from Oklahoma, and he had that particular kind of regional wit to complement his uncanny physical resemblance to Marshall Rosenberg); an adorable rescue dog and six(!) resident rescue cats; a charming farmers market with decadent locally made vegan chocolate-espresso doughnuts and a woman there wearing a Doe Donuts T-shirt (“Go vegan. Stay vegan. Eat donuts.”); an all vegan Middle Eastern restaurant (though sadly it’s closed on Saturdays, so I missed it); impressive bicycle infrastructure, such as physically separated, two-way bike lanes on several major streets; and lengthy and beautiful dedicated bike paths both along the canal in town and heading south out of town into California.
My lesson: check your assumptions, Maren.
And, enjoy the fact that people and places can surprise you in delightful ways!
I spent most of today getting to the OC&E Woods Line trail, riding it, resting under a rare shady tree there, and then returning from it. The paved section is 7.6 miles long; the whole trail totals 109 miles. (I had heard about it from my Salem Warmshowers hosts. All these hosts offer such a wealth of knowledge!)
So, my round trip was about 15 miles, plus about five miles each way to and from my hosts’ house on the northern edge of town. The weather was perfect: sunny and low-80s temps. And the scenery felt distinctly different from that of northwestern Oregon. This is desert country.
When I returned from the ride, I was tickled, to say the least, to see that my host had set aside a gift for me from her neighbor’s tree: a large bag of Italian prune plums. (I hadn’t even told her my plum story! The fruit magic is following me.)
And now, I’m sitting in my berth on the southbound Coast Starlight. (I’m posting this later, since there is no WiFi on the train.) I boarded at 10 pm—after another brief kerfuffle with station agents as to whether or not I’d be able to load the trailer, but I did it again without issue, same as before—so my bed was already made up when I arrived. I see that since my last overnight train trip in 2019, Amtrak has upgraded their blankets. (Pretty fancy, eh?) They look warmer than those paper-thin ones they used to provide; I guess I’ll find out when I try to sleep tonight, through the chilly mountains of northern California.
So… it’s goodbye to Oregon, now, for the coming year. These past two weeks have shown me the untold and amazingly varied beauty of the state I’ve called home for the past 31 years. When I return, I’d like to prioritize exploring more of the state.
But now… California for the next week, and then the Southwest!
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