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  • Writer's pictureRobert Gidley

Herd of elk?

May 13, 2023 (Sat)

6:30 am Elk Valley Casino, Elk Valley, CA

It occurs to us that since we have no Wi-Fi in our parking spot, and the Casino has no coffee shop, and it’s way too early to start pounding $3.50 scotches, that we might as well hit the road and make some time.

This Casino was a bit off the fastest track (we sort of went SW to the coast), so we have more distance to make up, so that fits in well, too.

Gini wasn’t ready to get up, so she decided to just keep sleeping in the back (or trying to sleep—turns out that sleeping in the back of an RV while Robert careens down twisty turny roads isn’t the somnolent experience you might think).

We’re driving down Highway 101, which hugs the coast, so we get the occasional view of surf and sea and a healthy dose of fog and it’s nice and cool and not sunny, because even the sun isn’t moving too quickly at his hour.

6:45 am Elk Valley

Wait, what’s that off to the side of the road?

It’s a gang of elk (which, according to the U.S. Geological Survey is the proper name for a bunch of elk)! There’s certainly more than the 10 elk in Robert’s record-breaking sighting from yesterday. They’re all just munching away at the grass—probably wishing they had opposable thumbs so they could be drinking coffee, instead.

The gangs of Elk Valley

9:05 am Arcata, CA

Speaking of coffee, it’s time to caffeinate the driver and put some food in our bellies, so we decide that this is as good a spot as any. We’re turning off Highway 101 onto Highway 299 and according to our maps, there ain’t much of anything on Highway 299.

We have an alert on our checking account—whenever more than $100 is spent, we get an e-mail about it. The idea is that we’d go—“Oho! We didn’t spend $150 at Frank’s Fudge Factory—fraud is afoot!”

The price of gas is so high in California ($5.70 a gallon at the “discount” places) that when we fill Harvey’s tank, it now triggers a fraud alert. Once again, we contemplate what it would take to convert Harvey to an electric vehicle (answer: so many lithium batteries that we’d need to register with NATO as a weapon of war).

We miss the halcyon days of yesterday (literally) when we only paid $3.60 a gallon. They say you can’t go back, but we’re sure gonna try on the way home!

11:15 am Trinity River, near Cave Junction, CA

One nice thing about having survived the Yukon Territories (and their wonky “highways”) is that we’re not at all hesitant about turning onto a non-existent pathway and bouncing our way across a former riverbed to hang out next to a river.

Which is how we find ourselves next to the Trinity River, which is briskly flowing—not so much “burbling” as “screaming”—on a bright sunny morning. We are careful not to get too close to the bank. Gini heard this morning the tale of a guy who fell in the frigid river and drowned. She is careful to impart this story to Robert, along appropriate warnings (“Don’t you dare drown and make me drive Harvey down this twisty road!”)

Harvey taking a break near the Trinity River

1:20 pm WinRiver Resort & Casino, Redding, CA

As a consequence of getting started early, we are here early!

Our parking here is a cross between a proper RV spot and a parking lot. We have all the hookups (whew! We were getting worried about our black water tank!), but it has all the charm and style of a WalMart parking lot.

Harvey in his mildly charming spot

1:45 pm WinRiver Resort & Casino

When we took off, there were Dire Warnings about how the weather in Woodinville was going to get Very Very Hot and kill anybody who dared to venture outdoors. It might even get up to 90°! We were feeling pretty smug about getting out ahead of that Killer Heat Wave and instead being in nice, cool, California.

Well, it’s now 93° here and 88° in Woodinville, so it didn’t work out quite like we’d planned…

Which is why we wasted no time in heading to the pool and taking a refreshing dip in—Holy Icebergs! This pool makes the Trinity River look like a hot springs! I guess the casino folks want to encourage you to stay inside and keep playing those slot machines!

[By far the most space in every casino is taken up with slot machines. And not the old fashioned “One-Armed Bandits” from 30 years ago. These are all computerized flashy-flashy machines that are fairly difficult to figure out what the heck is going on. People push a button, a bunch of graphics go off and either nothing happens (you lost) or some random number appears (you won!). Everything is controlled by a computer and you can bet the computer isn’t on your side. Yet, people keep playing these and the casino can somehow afford to renovate every couple of years…]

3:00 pm WinRiver

Okay, time for today’s tale of treachery and betrayal (yeah, we’re getting tired of it too—partly because some of our ancestors were living in the U.S. at this time and voting for the creeps who made this happen).

This Casino is on what’s called the Redding Rancheria, which is home to three tribes (triple the misery!):

Wintu: Decimated in the early 1800’s by malaria, and then further weaken by settlers destroying this hunting grounds and poisoning the land with gold mining activities. Oh, and Kit Carson shot about 150 of them (oh, Kit—you were our hero!). There was a “friendship banquet” in 1850 where settlers served poisoned food to the Winto and killed about 145 of them. It goes on, but you get the gist.

Achomawi: The usual disruption of lifestyle from settlers and gold miners. At least Kit kept his distance and nobody invited them to a feast.

Yana: This tribe was unlucky enough to have the California Gold Fields smack dab in the middle of their territory, so they got chased, shot, and generally encouraged to get out of the way. One branch (the Yahi) got reduced to one guy, but nobody knows his name, because in his tradition, you never told your name to your enemy and the world was full of his enemies.

The Bureau of Indian Affairs bought some land in 1922 and encouraged these “homeless” natives to settle there, so they’d be out of everyone’s way. In 1959, congress decided this wasn’t a good strategy and so they gave them all nice homes in good neighborhoods! Just kidding. Congress took away the land and sold off the land and told the Natives they should try harder to be Good Americans.

Finally in 1983, the courts ruled that this was pretty serious bullshit and then the tribes got re-recognized, and were allowed to buy some of their land back. And they came up with a pretty neat casino (although the pool could use some warming…).

3:30 pm WinRiver Resort

We head back to Harvey and are very excited to turn on our air conditioning, which we had replaced last September after it got bounced to pieces on the “highways” of the Yukon Territory. We knew the heating part worked, but that’s propane powered, so that seems pretty straightforward (burn something, get warm).

We turn the thermostat to 74° and—woo hoo! We’re rewarded with cool air and happiness! Ah!

9:00 pm

We had dinner at the sit-down restaurant and ordered the Bison Tri-Tip. We discovered there is a reason that bison is not featured on steakhouse menus. Also, Natives must have had very strong teeth—this stuff is very chewy.

But the baked potato is not chewy, so on the average dinner was very masticatable and the evening is lovely, if a bit warm—but we have A/C! We sleep soundly…


Saturday Travel

Gini & Robert

Harvey Staff

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Stephen E. Moore
Stephen E. Moore
May 14, 2023
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