Crater Lake To Stanley, Day 0 : Curiosity 1

My loop of piano music and my face-mask is giving me brief flashes of sleep, but the vet sitting next to me puts a stop to that by jabbing me in the ribs. I pull up my sleep mask and say, “Eh??” He points across me, out the window.

The dark triangle of Mt Shasta is sailing slowly across the horizon, east of the train. Graceful ribbons of snow still curve down from its near peak. As I watch, the mountain rotates a little more, and the second peak of Shasta swings into view. “That’s funny,” I say, “I didn’t know Shasta had two peaks.”

“Well, the near peak is usually the only one you can see from Highway 5, and the far peak is the one you can see from Klamath Falls,” explains the vet.


As we continue to skirt the mountain, we pass through vast hills of of sharp, porous black rock. No plants grow on it; no soil is mixed with it. It looks like the surface of an inhospitable alien world. “Man, I’d hate to trip and fall on that stuff,” I say. The vet chuckles.

I watch the hills for a while longer, then get tired of them and start looking around the train. In the seats to my left sit a sun-tanned man and his sleeping daughter. The man is slowly whittling the rough edges of a large rectangle of wood – a chain link. The link is attached to others, hanging down to the floor. Apparently he passed the night by carving a wooden chain out of a solid block. Perhaps he’ll sell it to a knickknack shop when he arrives in Klamath Falls.

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