GWL – Sundials, Shasta & Lava Beds National Monument

Day 37 - Sundial Bridge - Redding, CA

Though sunny, it was a brisk 47F when we arose this morning. All those RV generators were really humming. We took a short hike along the Lily Pond Trail, but the lilies were all tucked in, evidently awaiting warmer weather to emerge.

 Sundial Bridge - Redding, CA

Sundial Bridge - Redding, CA

It was time for showers and laundry and re-provisioning and Redding, California wasn’t all that far away. After the cold temps at Lassen, we weren’t quite expecting the 90F temperatures and high humidity in Redding and it took us by surprise. The highlight of Redding is the Sundial Bridge located in the Turtle Bay Exploration Park. This one-of-a-kind, glass decked pedestrian bridge designed by Spanish architect, Santiago Calatrava, spans the Sacramento River. It is the first bridge of its kind in the USA and the largest working sundial in the world. Its 217’ pylon acts as a sundial gnomon and casts its time-shadow on garden-edged hour lines. It’s most accurate on the solstices and was about 10 minutes off when we checked it out.

 The pylon acts as a sundial gnomon and casts a time shadow on the hour lines. It was about 10 minutes off when we visited. Not bad!

The pylon acts as a sundial gnomon and casts a time shadow on the hour lines. It was about 10 minutes off when we visited. Not bad!

This isn’t the only unusual bridge we’ve encountered. Take a look at our blog post, Bridging the Gap, from 2013.

After walking across the bridge and checking the time, we retraced our steps with the thought of exploring the nearby McConnell Arboretum & Botanical Gardens. We walked about 15 minutes and finally gave in to the heat and humidity, but not before photographing this spicebush swallowtail on a Chinese lilac.

 A spicebush swallowtail on a Chinese lilac

A spicebush swallowtail on a Chinese lilac

We trudged into the local WalMart and bought supplies, then headed to the hotel. After a long shower, I tackled the laundry, then relaxed over dinner and wine with David in a comfortably cool room. I think you call this ‘a vacation from our vacation’.

Day 38 - A Grand Dam, Mt. Shasta and on to Lava Beds NM

While perusing the tourist info at the hotel, I found a small leaflet offering daily free Shasta Dam Tours. Why not? With clean laundry and supplies for another few days, we set out to Shasta Dam. Now according to the brochure, ‘Shasta Dam is the second largest dam in the country’. According to Wiki, it’s the 8th tallest dam in the USA. Who can you believe and what’s the criteria for ‘second largest’?

 Three Shastas - Shasta Dam, Shasta Lake and Mount Shasta

Three Shastas - Shasta Dam, Shasta Lake and Mount Shasta

Completed in 1945 at a cost of $121M, this concrete arch-gravity dam was constructed to provide flood control and water storage for California’s agriculturally-rich Central Valley. We didn’t expect much, so we were pretty impressed by the upscale Visitor’s Center complete with an auditorium for watching an excellent video on building the dam, memorabilia, lots of black and white photos and huge windows to view the dam.

 My favorite picture of the building of the Shasta Dam ... I really don't like heights.

My favorite picture of the building of the Shasta Dam ... I really don't like heights.

We found to our dismay that a school group had just arrived and the regularly scheduled tour we'd planned on was canceled to accommodate the kids. We were encouraged, however, to take a self-guided tour across the dam. So as soon as the kids left, we did! The views of Mount Shasta, Shasta Lake and the dam were awesome. Take a look! Remember, you can click on a thumbnail to enlarge the photo.

We needed to get a move-on if we were to make it to Lava Beds National Monument and find a campsite for the evening. As we drove along the route, Mt. Shasta kept peeking (peaking?) out at us.

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We passed through Weed, California, a little lumber town with an interesting name, and though we were a bit time-challenged, we couldn’t resist a quick stop to buy postcards to send to a few appropriate people we happen to know.

 Folks in this little lumber town certainly capitalize on the town's name.

Folks in this little lumber town certainly capitalize on the town's name.

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We arrived at Lava Beds National Monument in the late afternoon and found a campsite with no problem. This is yet another national park/monument of which we were unaware. A quick stop at the Visitor’s Center confirmed we’d made a good decision to visit. There were lots of hikes, history and lava tubes to explore. Plus nearby was the Klamath Basin Wildlife Refuge and a WWII monument. We settled in for the evening, ate our dinner by the campfire and made our plans for tomorrow.

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Click here and join us as we continue our Great Western Loop adventure. We’ll do a little lava tube exploration, learn about Captain Jack, see some awesome petroglyphs, visit the wildlife refuge and discover a most odd WWII monument.