Operation Shasta Lake

85d2ec589a7e11e3bc1f1262c0026b68_8 Today I'm thinking about Shasta Lake. It's a bright-blue splash of water on the border of Oregon and California. Maybe you've glimpsed it on your way up or down I-5?

Anyway, the above picture popped up in my Insta feed last week (via natgeo). Due to drought, the lake's ancient submerged stumps now know sunshine again after 70 years under water. It's an odd scene—very empty.

It reminded me of a spring trip I took two years ago, when I left Portland and drove south with a cooler full of bread and brie—down across the flats of Salem and Eugene, up through the creaking trees of Grants Pass, down onto the parched plains of Redding and out onto the gray-green olive groves north of Sacramento. It was a journey involving pick ups and drop offs and one quick night camping in Yosemite.

On the way home, the car was hot, the air rushing past the window was hot, the dog was very, very hot.

Enter Shasta Lake—like a mirage ahead as we drove doggedly north. Should we stop? It's always hard to get off the highway when there're so many more miles to go. But we did! Thank god we did. The beaches very steep, dropping away quickly into cool depths. The  water impossibly clear and impossibly blue. The beach mud a bright volcanic red. And NO ONE THERE. A rope swing down the way dangling unused, waiting for us.

I often think about going back. It's strange to think that if I did I'd have to tromp down through the dirt to reach sad puddles of water.