After departing the Lassen Volcanic National Park area we backtracked 30 miles west to Redding; from there our route would take us north on I-5 then US-97 to Klamath Falls and Crater Lake, Oregon. Before leaving Redding, however, we decided to get a mechanic to take a look at an odd noise the motorhome had been making. It had started with an occasional definitive “click” near the front, left and below the driver seat. It had become more and more frequent such that now, after a few minutes on the road, it would click several times a minute. My efforts to identify the cause were in vane, nor could I correlate it to any other symptoms beyond road vibration from an oddly wearing front left tire.
After a couple of calls we were referred to R and R Auto, conveniently located a minute off our route on I-5. They could not promise to fit us in right away, but they did have space for us to stay over night if needed. Upon arrival we parked in their large repair yard and killed time until the manager came out to triage our case. After some discussion of the symptoms he had me open the front engine access and drive slowly forward while he walked alongside. He was able to very quickly pinpoint it to the exact same box of electronics containing the battery isolation solenoid switch that went bad back in 2017.
The electro-mechanical sound I had been hearing and the lack of any other symptoms suddenly made sense: when the switch had failed four years ago, Thor’s official recall “repair” was simply to “jumper” it, electrically isolating the switch by wiring around it, effectively removing its function and from having any impact on the system. After years of continued degradation, the switch finally progressed from unexpectedly, though rarely, opening under heat and stress, to the current, near continuous opening and closing once things warmed up in the engine compartment. It presented no problem, just a mildly annoying nose that could barely be heard at highway speed. Sometime down the road I hope to remove it, but until then I can live with it.
Relieved, we continued on our way towards Crater Lake, where campground options were even more limited than near Lassen Volcanic. The on premises campground within the national park had mixed reviews, with a lot of complaints about the site selection process, but the bottom line for us was that there were only a few sites with power, none available, and the dry camping spots were $31 a night. Outside the park proper there were a good number of “dispersed” campsites on public land, meaning boondocking pull offs from dirt and gravel roads similar to our spot in Sedona, but that would involve possibly hours of trial and error searching along unfamiliar mountainous roads. There was a single moderately expensive RV resort about 45 minutes from the park, and a tiny state park in the vicinity as well, but we elected to take a chance on Annie’s Creek Sno-Park.
That’s our rig up there in the Sno-Park. Photo from an Off Road Vehicle play area down below, on the path to Annie’s Creek.
The Sno-Park is a strategically placed equipment storage and prepositioning site for snow removal and other heavy equipment, which also serves as a cold weather shelter and unofficial RV campground. It consists of a modest sized paved but unlined parking lot, a log cabin style shelter, and a roughly 50′ enclosed garage. The place was well suited to our needs: a free site on level ground, surrounded by trees, a nearby mountain creek (Annie’s) and only ten miles from the national park. Damn near perfect, particularly with the beautiful weather during our stay.
Annie’s Creek. Cold, but refreshing on a warm day.
The national park has the usual hiking trails and creek side picnic areas, but the reason people visit, the reason you should visit, is the absolutely stunning namesake attraction, Crater Lake. Formed from the volcanic explosion and subsequent collapse of Mount Mazama nearly eight millennia ago, the resultant lake, at just shy of 2000′, is the deepest in the US. Fed entirely from precipitation and snow melt is is also one of the most pristine; the azure color is rather spectacular. Rosemarie had the added pleasure of no expectations before our arrival, apparently assuming that this crater would be about the same as the one we visited in Arizona back in 2015, i.e., probably fascinating to geologists, but from a visual perspective rather so-so.
The 33 mile perimeter road, or rim drive, circles the entire crater, but the northeast portion of it was closed due to snow, even in mid June. We greatly enjoyed the sections we could drive and the numerous overlook pull offs. The one thing I would have liked to do that we missed was hike the single approved trail down to the lake’s edge, but it was closed as well, though for safety reconstruction rather than weather.
Lady of the Forest, a well known local rock carving, and part of a geocache.
Though only there for two days, they were fantastic in nearly every regard, and I hope we can return sometime when the rest of the rim drive and trails are open. Our only negative for the visit was discovering a flat (another one!) on the motorhome the morning of our second day. We picked up a road nail somewhere, and the leak was slow enough that we did not notice until it deflated overnight. I was able to plug it with a tire repair kit, but with a tire this size getting it to take air is quite difficult without special equipment; I could not get the edge of the tire to seat against the wheel rim (or whatever the correct terminology is) and thus air just kept escaping out the gap.
It was the outside tire of our left pair of duallys, and we have been in this position before, and chose to nurse the rig back to Klamath Falls at low speed to get it fixed. An expert at the very large and quite active Basin Tire Center inspected my plug, found it sufficient, and with the assistance of a specialized tool or two managed to get the tire seated and filled. We were on our way in less than an hour, headed north.
Next up: Two more stops in Oregon before hitting our next “destination spot” in Washington. (It’s another national park.)