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Drive Tulelake to Coleville

If you asked Trinity, our cat, what her favorite drive has been to date this one would rank has her least favorite. Leaving Tulelake basin we drove 160 miles of up, down, left, right, and rough pavement all that combined to make her very car sick. Passing by Eagle Lake, visited during our early days of travel back in 2009, we finally made it to Susanville where we stopped for an hour to let the kitty calm her stomach.

From Susanville we followed 395 south towards Coleville CA. Different regions have different general habits and styles. Some are laid back and relaxed, others are fast paced and erratic, and some are just filled with stupid folks. Highway 395 travels from California into Nevada and through the Reno area. For whatever reason this area of the country is filled with some folks who fall into that stupid category. 395 out of Susanville and almost all the way to Reno is a two lane road. The speed limit is 65 with trailers limited to 55; there are a number of designated passing lanes and slow vehicle lanes to allow traffic to flow smoothly and generally it did.

Being a Sunday afternoon we found ourselves mixed in with folks heading home from the weekend and driving like speed was the only thing keeping them alive. On no less than 5 occasions a vehicle, or vehicles, passed us head on into traffic forcing us to both swerve and slam on the brakes to prevent a head on collision. In every case the vehicle that caused the incident was sporting Nevada license plates. This type of behavior was not limited to our immediate surroundings as we witnessed it occurring to several other vehicles throughout the drive. The craziness continued as we neared the Nevada border when we were forced to dodge a grass fire that leapt up the side of the highway as we passed. Overall a harrowing drive that finally concluded as we reached Topaz Lake and the California border… or so we thought.

California maintains agricultural check points at most major highway entry points into the state. Intended to prevent invasive plant and bug infestations the checkpoints are manned by hourly employees who are “administrative clerks” and not law enforcement officers. Usually polite and to the point it is a simple stop, question about plants and fruits/ veggies, and back on your way.

For most of the time that Dusty and Sharon have lived in this area the staff at this checkpoint have been pretty regular and polite. As we slowed the rig down to a stop a new gentleman emerged from the office and you could almost tell on sight that this was going to be interesting. His first question was “where are you heading?” Mark’s answer was “Coleville” and anticipating the next question volunteered “we are coming from Tulelake CA”. He responded “Oh well you don’t have a license plate on the front and your fifth wheel is covered with a lot of bugs to be traveling between these two locations”. His response was outside the norms and a bit beyond his “jurisdiction” so Mark replied “Oh yeah we have been travelling for a while, the truck has never had front plates… you want to clean the bugs off for me?” He didn’t like the response but waived us on; what a weird end to a weird trip.


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