Favorite Travel Quotes

"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts."
-- Mark Twain
Innocents Abroad

"Stop worrying about the potholes in the road and celebrate the journey." -- Fitzhugh Mullan

"A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving." -- Lao Tzu

World’s Eighth Wonder?

World's Eighth Wonder

World’s Eighth Wonder?

©Bert Gildart: Though most of us have probably never heard of Burney Falls, Theodore Roosevelt, probably our most noted conservation president, pronounced the hundred-yard long lip with its thousands of plunging rivulets “One of the wonders of the world.”

Our acquaintance with this northern California park, known officially as McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park, was purely accidentally. Tired from so much driving we pulled off the Volcanic Legacy National Byway and into the park.

The park is located on the Modoc plateau halfway between Mount Shasta and Lassen Peak, and we should have suspected that any area located between two such spectacular areas would itself be spectacular.


Still, it was the camping that initially lured us there, for with the exception of but two other campers, we had the park all to ourselves. Maintenance people said that’s the way it is before Memorial Day and then again after Labor Day.

After setting up our Airstream, we walked to the overlook and began taking in the scenery. The park offered a 1.25 mile long nature trail, well laid out with interpretive signs posted along the way. Geological conditions, we quickly learned, converted the 50- to 60-foot wide stream into wide basaltic plateau over which millions of gallons of water dropped each day.

Hundreds of mini falls cascade over 130 feet

Hundreds of mini falls cascade over 130 feet

Though water from this falls was primarily confined to two major drops, still there were hundreds of other mini cascades. Together they created a resounding roar and then, as they splashed almost 130 feet into the pools below, a mist swept up and then drifted over the trail below.


From the pool, the trail paralleled the creek and passed a number of yet other features the park celebrated with interpretive panels. One area that stopped us short was a talus slope created from black basaltic chunks of rock. The sign said that the slope was the result of erosion of the softer strata and that eventually that erosion caused the lava layer to collapse, leaving behind the near-vertical talus slope that descends into Burney Creek. The slope provides mute testimony that once-in the geologic past-the falls existed here.

Talus Slope plunges into Burney Creek

Talus Slope plunges into Burney Creek

Because it was spring in this part of the country, the trail was also lined with various species of vegetation now in bloom, most notably the greenleaf Manzanita, which in Spanish interprets as “little apple.” The species is fire resistant, and grows back quickly after a fire. However, it burns hot when ignited.

Several other species also flank the trail to include Mountain Misery (other names are bear mat and bear clover), and this is the northern extension of this species. Other species include Ponderosa, and there is a wonderful display of growth rings near the end of the loop trail. The tree was cross-sectioned and then historic dates included. Dates ranged from about 1500 and ended with the inauguration of President Reagan.

Manzanita or Little Apple flank trail

Manzanita or "Little Apple" flank trail

Unfortunately, travel obligations restricted us from staying more than a day, but if we could make it through the snow, sleet and rain we’d heard awaited us on several Oregon Passes, we’d be with good friends Sue and Eric Hansen , who live in Corvallis, Oregon. They’re the couple we rendezvoused with in Death Valley.


Obviously, we made it, then parked in their drive. Sue had a wonderful dinner prepared and then, today, we drove the final 40 miles to Salem, Oregon, site this year of the Northwest Outdoor Writer’s Conference. I’ll be working hard the next day or so preparing for a “What the Heck is it Contest” Janie and I provide for the several hundred participants.

The contest is for the enjoyment of all NOWA members and is intended to test their knowledge about outdoor items-and sometimes our ability to pull the wool over their eyes. Some of the more challenging (but fun) items from the past have included the bacculum (sorry, but you’ll have to look this one up) from a walrus, wolf scat; and ticks preserved in a bottle of formaldehyde. As well, the contest includes the usual assortment, such as fishing lures, and cartridges of various calibers.

This year we believe we also have a good assortment (in part because of much help from Eric) and will share with you our presentation–but not until after it’s over. Sorry, but if you check back in I’ll share with you items which are now classified as Top Secret. In fact, I’ll even have photographs of a few of our more interesting selections.

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