After Northern Arizona, I realized that if I wanted to meet the eclipse in Oregon, and with the general goal of driving no more than 5–6 hours per day, I needed to get going. I've made the drive from Arizona to the PNW 3 or 4 times going up the coast along highway 1, or through Utah and Idaho, so I wanted to do something different this time. I decided to drive up Eastern California.
I made my way up to Madras, OR over the course of 4 days, 2 days in motels, and camping a night each at Oh Ridge, near Yosemite, and Aspen Grove Campground near Eagle Lake in Northeastern California (pictured above.) My strategy for choosing campgrounds while on the move is to find a lake near a National Forest, and then searching Google Maps for "campground." This strategy is working great so far, because both of these were fantastic.
Oh Ridge was my first time camping in probably 10–15 years, and my first time camping on my own. I don't have many pictures because I was too busy marveling at the novelty of it. At one point, some deer wandered into the campground to munch on some tasty bushes, and I could hardly believe it. That took me into the evening, which I spent frantically trying and failing to get the campsite's grill hot enough to cook a hamburger for dinner. I eventually got it, and the burger was great, but my throat hurt from blowing on the coals, and it was dark and cold by the time I was eating.
After Oh Ridge, I drove up through Reno and then back into California to camp near Eagle Lake. The site I camped at was several miles of winding roads into the National Forest, right on the lake, and was tents-only (no RVs) so it was quiet and secluded, which I appreciated. The RV vibe isn't quite what I'm after when camping, although I get the appeal.
The next morning I was pretty tired, and in need of a shower so I drove a short day up to Bend to spend a quick night in a motel before continuing to Madras, where I'd again be camping. It was on that drive through miles of backcountry roads that I realized just how deserted this area of California is. There was almost no traffic, and the limited traffic I saw was mostly on the way to Oregon for the eclipse. I didn't drive through any cities, and even the towns were small. It made me think about how big and empty America is.