Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Happy in Weed

From Jedediah Smith State Park we took Highway 199 northeast. Our plan was to get to Weed, California. No particular reason except that it was our wedding anniversary and we had to spend it somewhere--why not in Weed? Actually, my travel plan includes Mt. Shasta and Redding and from there back to the coast for more redwood exploration.

The trip covered something like 130 miles, but took 4.5 hours over mountains and a quick side sweep into Oregon. Once we descended into Happy Camp, California, we were following the Klamath River. It reminded us of the Salmon River in Idaho a bit the way the road runs alongside the river. Happy Camp sure sounded appealing, until we discovered it was synonymous with Bigfoot. It is the home to many Bigfoot sightings. There were murals and signs and statues of Bigfoot all along the road through the tiny town. All this Bigfoot imagery spooked Allison who had her dose of Bigfoot stories from her father while we camped in the Oregon backwoods. As we were taking a quick rest stop along the river, I spotted a deer across the bank. I blurted, "Look, Allison, a...." And I turned to say, "deer," but she had already dashed to the inside of the Airstream. Poor child.

But on to Weed. You can only imagine the ribbing Weed gets: How many motorists pull off the road to pose, thumbs up, under it's signs. How many stupid stoner inferences. Weed Street, Weed Museum, City of Weed. How'd you like to be a graduate of Weed High? If you can get past the giggling stoner humor you'd learn that Weed is named for the founder of the lumber mill, Abner Weed. It is an historic lumber town and the mill is at the end of its main street.

Weed sits under the shadow of Mt. Shasta which makes for a dramatic backdrop. Tonight, the moon rose over the pinkish cast on the summit left by the sunset. It was beautiful. There is a lot to see nearby. We visited the fish hatchery (the oldest west of the Mississippi) and the Sisson Museum which was a homey little repository for the artifacts of the county's founding period. I particularly liked the homages to the early settlers who tackled climbing Mt Shasta back in the late 1800's. The first woman to do so was named, Harriet Eddy.

She'd migrated to Sisson with her brother after losing her husband and infant daughter to tuberculosis. I imagine she felt she had nothing else to lose. She never married again, but cared for her brother and other lumber workers. There was no sugar, but she baked pies anyway and sold them for a little cash. And when she climbed Mt. Shasta, custom dictated that she wear a dress. This little fact gives me pause: What little and incongruous steps society made towards female independence. There is a story there and I want to know more about this woman and her world.

Tomorrow--a walk along the McCloud River and a visit to the lumber mill.

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