Crater Lake To Stanley, Day 0 : Amusement

About ten minutes before the train pulls in, almost all the senior citizens on the train get up, gather their belongings, and file downstairs to wait in line by the doors. It truly is like my Dad says: “They have nothing better to do.”

As Dad is driving me up to Crater Lake, he regales me with some of his Baja stories.

“Did I tell you about the time I almost got robbed by banditos?”

“What? No, you didn’t.”

“Well, I heard stories about how bandits would sometimes line their cars up across the road and just wait for people to come along, and take all their stuff. So I thought I would try and fake them out. I got this little hand-speaker from a radio set, like the police use, and I put a holder for it on the dashboard, and just screwed the wire down under the instrument panel. I figured if I got stopped, I could pretend like I was talking into that and the banditos would think I had backup, and they would get in trouble if they messed with me.”

“That’s pretty silly.”

“Sure, but it worked! I was driving along, and ahead of me I saw a bunch of cars blocking the road, and four or five guys standing around. When I got close I saw a couple of them were wearing scarves and had guns. So I picked up my little handset and pressed the button, and looked at the guys with a very serious expression, and pretended like I was talking to somebody. The guy in the front saw me, and he looked over at his friend, and then he looked over at his other friend, and they talked for a minute, and then one of them got into a car and backed it up, and the guy waved me through.”

“Oh come on! You’re kidding!”

“Nope. Not kidding.”

“Did I tell you about the trip where I had giant tires on the truck? Big old balloon tires?”

“You know, I remember you mentioned it once but I never heard the details.”

“I had these huge tires. They were also very wide.”

“What did you do when a truck came along? Did someone have to go into the ditch?”

“Well there wasn’t usually a ditch but there was a shoulder. One of us – both of us, usually – would just climb up onto the shoulder, and go around.”

“But wasn’t the shoulder a lot rougher than the road? You’d wreck your tires.”

“Oh they would roll over almost anything.”

“How about cactus plants?”

“Well, I steered around those.”

“Get any flats?”

“Oh at least nine or ten.”

“Hahahahaha! You must have spent half your time fixing flats!”

“I got really good at it. I had this jack; very good design. Made it easy. Lift up the truck, take off the wheel, set it down, then lower the axle over the rim, and use it to lever off the tire. Patch the hole, lever it back, raise the axle, put the wheel back on, and drive.”

“You know, this bike trip of yours sounds exciting. If I was younger and had a bike, I’d want to come along with you! … Well, on the other hand, I’d have to look at your itinerary.”

“You can always do what La plans to do, and ride along as a ‘support vehicle’, meeting me at each destination.”

“That’s a good idea. But we’re doing this cruise right now. Maybe on your next trip?”

“Maybe. Ever since I saw that bicyclist doing the Alaskan highway, I’ve wondered if I could try something like that. But I’d definitely want a support vehicle, since some of the hills further up are really nasty. Are you guys interested in a return to Alaska some time?”

“Sure. Let’s talk about it. But we’re booked up for this year…”

We approach the entrance kiosk for the Crater Lake park.

“Huh, looks like they want ten dollars to get in,” I say.

“Oh yeah? Let’s see if my ‘Senior Card’ works.”

Dad digs around in his wallet and comes up with a dog-eared, somewhat blurry card. He holds it out to the woman at the kiosk window.

She waves us in. “Have a good visit!” Dad puts the card away and drives on.

“Well aren’t you Mr. Fancy Pants!” I declare.

Dad arches his eyebrows and sniffs aristocratically. “I know,” he says.

In a parking lot near the rim of Crater Lake, I get out my camera, so Dad gets out his:

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