The morning after wondering what the dogs were thinking we roll out at 5:30, walk the ponds and close the curtains but it ‘s still after seven before we’re on the road..
At pavement the “check engine” light comes on for reasons undiscernible, so clear out the beginnings of a rat’s nest to no effect and drive the remaining hundred miles to Alturas Tire fretting to find that, in addition to finally coming up with the flatbed spare [which Rusty gives me after all this time], it’s just some smog control oxygen sensor in the depths of the exhaust, though what the thing does and whether it will hurt the engine remains a mystery.
Reset, the light vanishes, at least until I’ve run around town and made it back over Cedar Pass for gas, learning that the secret bug-dissolving ingredient in Rabbit Trax’ windshield-cleaning fluid is Dove Dishwashing Soap. At the Surprise! Cafe I get coffee and an absolutely perfect description of the road down the east side of Lower Lake from Adrien so head south, hazy country, first cuttings…
No surprises; cross the valley at Eagleville then halfway down the potholed airstrip locate a vague track stage left, follow same through boulder fields, washouts and alluvium to the sodden remains of Murphy Spring.
Abandoned ranch buildings and an indifferent bull ranging about the muck are what remain;
After Murphy’s the ‘track’ becomes ‘road’, a considerable improvement, reaching 447 at the valley’s south end before noon [a movie]…
Home before one; a hundred and four in the shade of the porch…flat light up the desert from California fires [in Alturas they say the fires are in Oregon].
Nice little trip, food for thought and paintings.