Sunday, October 2, 2022

The Cocktail Hour: Oktoberfest Brews

We love Oktoberfest, the celebration of King Ludwig's marriage, here at The World on Wheels. We make it a point to attend one of our local celebrations each year.

We also love the special brews breweries make for this occasion each year.

One of my favorite selections from the 72 taps of T. Phillips Alehouse is the very well balanced Spaten Oktoberfest. Smooth, a tiny hint of sweetness, with just a hint of caramelly hoppiness, a pint goes down so well any time of year but it's of limited availability.

Recently, we had a barbecue over at my mother-in-law's house and tasted a few others to compare.

Widmer Brothers Okto was nice but a bit blander than the Spaten offering. OK but not worth the extra two bucks our local store charges for a six-pack over the other Widmer offerings.

Next, it was on to the Sam Adams Octoberfest beer (notice the Americanized spelling). This is better. Pretty tasty and I can drink it easily all night but noticeably sweeter than the standard-bearing Spaten.

Last was the Leinenkugel Oktoberfest from Wisconsin. With their overly sweet summer shandies, I wasn't expecting too much from this but it blew me away with just a tinge of caramelly sweetness finely balanced by a decent hoppy bite.  I'd like to find some more of this before the season's over.



Friday, September 30, 2022

In the Shadow of the Mountain: Water, Water Everywhere...Drought Be Damned!

McCloud is famous for it's very clean and pure drinking water. The town relies on three springs and pumps the water from it's reservoir to residents' taps with no treatment, only occasionally treating when tests reveal something that needs it.

This water comes from the mountain, Mt. Shasta, that looms over everything here. It gets a ton of snow each winter and the volcanic soil filters the meltwater that eventually comes out very pure in the area's springs.

Today, we're going to visit some of the features of this water in the area.

Just a few minutes out of town is the McCloud River. Our first stop is Lower McCloud Falls.

This is also a popular place as a well-known swimming hole for the town although no one was swimming the day we were there. It doesn't help that the Forest Service removed the steel ladder that the locals would use to climb back on top of the rock after jumping off the 20 foot or so cliffs surrounding the pool.

There were a few fishermen trying their luck.

It's an easy sight to see, only about 100 feet from the parking lot where wheelchairs can easily access the viewing areas above the falls.

If there's a lower falls, there must be an upper falls but, first, is the middle falls. About a mile away, it's a slightly longer but still flat and accessible hike to the viewing platform for the Middle Falls of the McCloud River.

These are a bit prettier, with a bit of a bridalviel effect, and a couple of swimmers. The viewing platform is a little farther away from the water than the first one but still offers great scenery of the cararact.

Finally, on this loop, we get to the Upper Falls of the McCloud river. 

These are the tallest of the three and the hardest to get to. The viewing platforms are about the same getting to from the parking lot as the middle falls are but the angle makes it a bit harder to see the falls.

Still, we find a spot where Tim can get a look. This is also the deepest canyon of the three so, if you wanted to hike down, it quite a ways, steep, and not wheelchair accessible.

Our final water spot for the day would take us over to Mt. Shasta. No, not the giant mountain looming over us at every moment of this trip but the town of the same name on the western slope of the mountain.

The Sacramento River is the largest river in California (the Colorado is bigger but is shared with other states and Mexico). One of the sources of that river is here in Mt. Shasta.

We drive through town to the City Park at the northern outskirts. As a reviewer on Tripadvisor said, it's "hippies as far as the eye can see." Many homemade campers house free spirits in this park.

We find handicapped parking at the visitor's center and follow a sign that says "Headwaters - 150ft."

At the end of the short trail is a jumble of rocks where thousands of gallons of water come rushing out of the ground. These are the headwaters (well one of them, anyway) of the Sacramento River.

Glacier melt on Mt. Shasta percolates through the porous volcanic rock. After an estimated journey of 50 years, the water emerges at this spring. It is exceptionally clear and pure water.

People come from all over the world to fill containers with this water the moment it emerges out of the rocks. We fill a few bottles ourselves and it is really good water.

Back in McCloud, we have some wings with one last dinner at the Axe and Rose Pub. We'll call it a night, relax in our nice suite at the McCloud Mercantile Hotel, and then head home in the morning.

Darryl Musick
Copyright 2022 - All Rights Reserved

Monday, September 26, 2022

In the Shadow of the Mountain: Burney Falls

Breakfast is a heap of pancakes with eggs and housemade sausage. We get a $30 credit ($10 for each person) at the White Mountain Cafe, which takes up the northeast corner of the building we're staying in.

It will help fortify us for the day ahead.

Hopefully, our spare tire will carry us through as we drive 40 miles east to today's destination, McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park. It should be fine as it's basically a new tire that's never been driven on before and it does seem to drive just fine.

After paying our $10 entry fee, we find a wide accessible parking spot right in front of the visitor's center front door. We go inside to get a map and talk to a ranger about the most accessible ways to see the falls.

It's a hard packed dirt path that leads to the viewing platform for the falls.

Unfortunately, this is as far as wheelchairs can go but the view is very good.

Letty and I take turns walking down the's a third of a mile to the bottom and a steep hike back get a closer look and take pictures.

The falls are spectacular, among the best in the state with maybe the falls of Yosemite giving them a run for the money.

In addition to the main two cataracts streaming over the cliff face, hundreds of cliffside springs also release their waters creating a very nice bridalveil effect. It's also noticably cooler here at the bottom.

It's National Banana Split Day and ice cream sounds good. We head back to McCloud to the Frosty stand we saw there.

They had soft serve ice cream, they made sundaes, but they did not make banana splits. Thinking on our feet, we quickly jumped over the the grocery store next door, bought a couple of bananas, some cherries, and nuts. Back over at the Frosty, we improvised and turned that sundae into a delicious split.

With that yummy dessert, we'll call it a day and do some more exploring tomorrow.

Darryl Musick
Copyright 2022 - All Rights Reserved

Sunday, September 25, 2022

THE COCKTAIL HOUR: Tasting A Trio of New Motherlode Wineries

Now that we're pretty much settled into our new digs in Northern California's Amador County, it's time to visit a few new neighbors. Specifically, three wineries that we've never visited a quick stop at an old favorite for a fill-up.

First, it's a short seven minute drive to Tanis Vineyards, run by Andrew and Jill Tanis. Andrew is manning the tasting bar today and we taste some exceptional whites...Sauvignon Blanc and his nice, dry Muscat Canelli.

Watch the Video!

The reds are very good, too. We especially liked his Petite Syrah and the Dynamite Red blend.

We take a few bottles and thank our new neighbor for his hospitality and move on just as a limo full of tourists amble into the driveway.

Back up on the other side of highway 124, the closest wine neighbor to Tanis is Convergence Vineyards. The wine is not quite in the same league as the similarly priced winery across the way.

We did enjoy their Killer Syrah, their port, and petite syrah. I asked for a bottle each of the port and the Killer Syrah but the overwhelmed lady at the tasting bar put in the El Diablo red blend instead of the syrah. I noticed when we got home...I'll drive back up tomorrow and trade it in for the one that I really wanted.

Before our next new winery, we pop up to the nearby Shenandoah Valley to one of our long time favorites, Bray Vineyards. Bray always keeps a barrel of a red blend handy that has a tap on it to fill growlers. I bring in two of mine for a quick refill and then we're on our way.

Our final stop is Avio Vineyards, up on a ridge overlooking Sutter Creek and Jackson near the Amador County Airport on Ridge Road.

It's slightly crowded in the tasting room but we get our samples to taste. We are pleased with the wines, they're very good and the icing on the cake is the pricing is 1/2 to  2/3 the price of the last two wineries we visited.

We ended up taking their zinfandel, barbera, and estate grown pinot noir home.

These three new-to-us wineries are great additions to our collection of frequently visited Sierra Foothill vineyards but we still have a long way to go until we visit them all.


Darryl Musick
Copyright 2019 - All Rights Reserved

Friday, September 23, 2022

In the Shadow of the Mountain: McCloud, California

Courtesy of Google Maps

You know when your driving through the mountains and you see the sign, "Watch out for Falling Rocks," and wonder how many people actually get hit by one? Well, I did, and it finally happened to us.

We were driving through Bigfoot country, along highway 299 near Willow Creek, California when we heard a loud knock on the side of our van. I looked in the side mirror and saw a rock, about 8 inches in diameter, spinning on the road like a top.

When I got a chance to pull over and take a look, only a small chip off of the fiberglass running board was what looked like the total damage. We're lucky it didn't hit a window.

It's about four in the afternoon when we pull into McCloud, sitting on the southern slopes of California's second tallest mountain, 14,162 foot Mt. Shasta and try to check into our hotel room. 

I say try because I can't find a checkin counter. We explore the bottom floor of the McCloud Mercantile Building...the home of our hotel...but don't see anything. We find an elevator at the far end and take it up to the second floor.

Exiting into a ballroom, we cross to the other side and enter a kitchen and living area. The doors on either side have room names and numbers, so we've found where the hotel rooms start but still no checkin area.

Back downstairs, I'm about to enter a gift shop to ask when I see a small sign "hotel guest register inside store." OK, this must be it.

Once I go to the cash register, it goes smoothly. We're given our keys and told we'll get a $30 credit for breakfast at the diner nextdoor.

Now, it's back to the other end of the building, back up the elevator, and across the second floor to our room, the Charles Miller Suite at the McCloud Mercantile Hotel. It's always the moment of truth when we walk through the door not knowing if the room we'd booked will actually be appropriate for us.

No worries here, the suite is stunning. A wall of windows perfectly frames Mt. Shasta in the distance, veined with late season glaciers. 

A massive king size bed sits next to a small table between two antique chairs. 

Tim will call the twin bed sitting under a roof nook in the next room home for the next three nights. An antique armoir at the foot of his bed will hold our clothes.

The washroom has room to roam, a jetted tub, and two roll under sinks. The next room is a wet room with a large roll-in shower, folding bench, and toilet.

No, there will not be any problems with this room at all.

After settling in, we find our only options for dinner are taco night at the American Legion, the local gas station mini mart, or a pub up the block from the hotel. We chose the pub.

The Axe and Rose is next to the town's other big hotel. Back in the day, McCloud was an honest-to-god lumber company town. Where we're staying was the company store (and theater, restaurant, clothing store, etc), while this one...the McCloud Hotel...used to be the single men's dormitory.

I think the pub is missing some marketing options by not putting an "L" after the first part of the name and pulling in the Guns 'n Roses crowd by calling it the Axel and Rose.

Still, the food was very good and we'll probably come here again before we leave. But...the server comes over and says "are you staying at the hotel down the street?"


"They just called and said you have a flat tire. Would you like some help changing it?"

Oh, darn. Maybe that rock did more damage than just the running board. Or maybe it's just a coincidence. In any event, no, we didn't need help. I just put in a call to AAA and they dispatched someone to change the tire.

I'm hoping it won't cause a kink in the rest of this trip. Tonight, we'll rest up and start exploring the surrounding area, hoping the spare tire holds up until I can get the flat one repaired or replaced.

Darryl Musick
Copyright 2022 - All Rights Reserved

Monday, September 19, 2022

North Coast Explorations: Heading for the Border

One more day in Trinidad. It's a tiny town and we've seen pretty much all we came to see. We've not been north of the Trees of Mystery so today we've picked a point on the map...the first town in Oregon, Brookings...and are headed there to see what's up there.

At the sleepy little town of Orick, we stop at the general store to grab a few sodas and keep going. Stretches of highway 101 go down to a narrow two lanes with giant redwoods pushing into the tarmac.

The giant Paul Bunyan and his blue ox, Babe, let us know we've reached the Trees of Mystery. Everything beyond here is virgin territory for us.

We drive through Crescent City, the county seat of Del Norte County. This is the farthest northwest county in the state. The city is named for the shape of it's beach and bay. This geographic anomaly also means it's susceptible to tsunami damage and has been hit a few times, most recently in 2011 when numerous docks and boats were damaged or destroyed when 8 foot waves originating from Japan from the earthquake that destroyed the Fukushima nuclear plant.

The city looks like a miniature version of Eureka and we'll make a quick stop here on the way back.

Next is the small town of Smith River and then the border which welcomes us with a big cannabis shop and hardware store.

Not long after that, we arrive in Brookings which is full of traffic and what seems to be more cannibis shop on each corner.

We can't really find anywhere we want to eat and the gas prices were actually cheaper at an Indian casino we passed back in Smith River.

I walk out to Chetco Point while we stop for a bathroom break. The scenery is very similar to Trinidad with rocks scattered about the bay except for the giant sewage plant taking up the space on top of the bluff.

Nothing's calling to us here so we head back. We stop for a rest at the friendly bar at the Lucky 7 Indian casino in Smith River and gas up with their cheap gas.

We look for a place to eat in Crescent City and end up at a hot dog truck, Shruggie's, in downtown. The food, while basic, is very good. 

A transient is sleeping on a nearby picnic bench. He soon rolls over and falls to the ground. EMT's show up to check on him. He yells at them to leave them alone. They shrug it off and join in by getting some hot dogs of their own.

I buy a few baked goods at a local Hmong club's bake sale then we get back in the van to go.

It's been a so-so day and drive to Brookings. We did enjoy the food in Crescent City and the little time at the casino.

One last thrill, though, was the traffic jam caused by a herd of Roosevelt elk crossing the road a few miles north of Orick. After that, it wasn't much longer back to the cabin where we spent one more night watching the wifi TV in our room.

Darryl Musick
Copyright 2022 - All Rights Reserved

Sunday, September 18, 2022

THE COCKTAIL HOUR: Oregon Ale Taste Off

It's Oktoberfest season and here at The World on Wheels we're celebrating by focusing our Cocktail Hours on beer...

Tim and I are back again, this time tasting two Oregon produced ales.  Why?  Because this is what I found in the clearance basket at Albertson's!

The first ale is Drifter Pale Ale, produced by the Widmer Brother Brewery of Portland.  They're more famous for their hefeweisen and I'd never even heard of this ale before.  According to the brewery, there is supposed to be notes of citrus in the flaver.  It's an amber colored brew with a slight off-taste, probably that citrus essence they're going for.

Watch the Video!

The second is Dead Guy Ale, produced by the Rogue Brewery out of Newport.  A cloudy, golden ale, this was made in celebration of the Mayan Day of the Dead.  The skeleton on the label makes it popular with Grateful Dead fans.  Smooth, and tasty, we liked this one the best.



Friday, September 16, 2022

North Coast Explorations: The Lighthouse Walk of Trinidad

Trinidad is very compact. As the crow flies, it's less than a mile from Trinidad Head Lighthouse to the freeway exit for the town. This will come in handy as we can just park and see everything we want today without a lot of driving.

Next to the foot of the town's pier are about a half dozen handicapped parking spots. We take the one closest to the pier, which is also the widest one, allowing us to deploy the lift to unload Tim.

There's a highly regarded seafood restaurant here, owned by the local Yuroc tribe. We'll come back and try that later. First, we're going for a hike.

Back at the entrance of this lot, there are accessible restrooms and what looks like the top of a lighthouse. This is actually a replica lighthouse, built in 1949, and now is a memorial to locals who were lost at sea.

A plaque with their names is attached to the back.

Next to this faux lighthouse is the trailhead for today's walk. We'll be heading out to the real lighthouse. The trail is about a mile and a half, each way.

A house sits here, overlooking the pier and the pretty bay. We find out it's a vacation rental. Not accessible, though, but you can see the details about it at this link. There's probably not a more picturesque place to stay in the area.

A few feet further on, a chain across the road blocks access. It's not locked, though, so I just unlatch it and let Tim through.

We stop for a minute to take in the view below.

Just a bit further up is an overlook to the beach on the other side of the point. Here is where the trail forks. A dirt path to the right and the paved (accessible) path to the left. They both meet up again later.

I should also mention that a lot of the trail (maybe a quarter mile) up to this point is rather steep. Tim had no trouble with his power chair but I can see manual chair users or their pushers having quite a go of it here.

We continue up the paved side, stopping now and again to take in the spectacular views of Trinidad Bay.

We're almost to the end, where the lighthouse is, and the last 50 feet or so of trail is loose gravel. Tim finds it easier to roll on the adjacent lawn.

The lighthouse is only open to the public for a few hours one Saturday a month, which is not today. It's rather small by lighthouse standards, only about 20 feet tall, so we take a few pictures and take in the view.

Going down is much easier than going up. We build up a bit more appetite by walking out to the end of the pier, waving goodbye to some fishermen as they head out on an afternoon party boat.

The Seascape restaurant sits right at the edge of the beach and we get a great window table in the patio.

I'm not much of a seafood lover so I get by with a bacon grilled cheese sandwich.

Tim ops for the fish 'n chips...

...and my wife goes for the crab salad and clam chowder.

It's all very good, satisfying, and relaxing.

Afterwards, we go back to the cabin, pop open some wine, and enjoy heaps of junk food while watching stand-up comedy on the inn's Tubi channel.

Tomorrow, we'll take a little drive up to Oregon. We'll see you then.

Darryl Musick
Copyright 2022 - All Rights Reserved