The Goat Tavern (Mt. Shasta, CA)


VIA magazine pointed us to a gem of a diner, Nancy’s Airport Cafe, in Willows, and also highly recommended the The Goat Tavern in Mt Shasta, 150 miles north. According to the article’s writer, a food critic for San Francisco magazine, “I found spiritual uplift less than a mile off the highway in a juicy burger.” These endorsements were part of an article about the great finds along I-5 between Sacramento and Portland. My wife and I stopped in Mt Shasta for the night because we wanted to visit the namesake mountain on the following day.

The tavern is a local watering hole, sort of an oddity in a town known more for its New Age commercial district of crystal shops, yoga studios, alternative bookstores, and the like. Entry was confusing, not through what looked like the front door on the corner of Mt Shasta Blvd and Chestnut Street, but rather on the side of the building through an outdoor eating area. The place was dark on the inside with customers standing along the bar that had several beers on tap. A picture of the Mona Lisa was on the side. The atmosphere was convivial, loud and laid back. I ordered the aforementioned burger with cheese and fried onions rings, my wife the fish tacos. As it turned out, my sandwich was a full half-pound Angus cheeseburger with lettuce, tomato, red onions and basil mayo. I knew from the beginning that I wasn’t going to finish it.

To my disappointment, the burger (☆☆½) was not the transcendent experience that the food critic had, but rather just a good enough one. The patty was lean and therefore a little dense, the bun a tad dry. The onion rings were great, coated in a fine crispy batter.

The grilled fish in the tacos (☆☆½) seemed a bit past its prime with a slight fishiness that announced it wasn’t absolutely fresh. Otherwise they too were tasty enough with seasoned cabbage and guacamole.

Angus cheeseburger with onion rings

Angus cheeseburger with onion rings

Grilled fish tacos

Grilled fish tacos

On the ceiling were mounts for all the draft beer handles, which the bartender could unscrew as needed to use when the beer selection changes. Nice touch.

Draft beer handles mounted on the ceiling

Draft beer handles mounted on the ceiling

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Burney Falls


Often described as one of the most beautiful falls in the world, 129-foot Burney Falls is accessible in a state park far removed from a major thoroughfare. Continuing northward along Highway 89 in California, we wanted to make the falls a stopping point. Meltwater from Burney Mountain makes its way down through the porous volcanic rock (basalt) down into underground aquifers. Some of the water is forced above ground about a mile up from the falls and forms Burney Creek, while the rest of it moves through the underground reservoir and out the openings in the cliff face. If you look squarely at the falls, the water seems to originate not only from above but also from the rock wall. Even when the creek dries up during the summer, water continues to flow because of these underground channels. The flow rate is estimated to be 100 millions gallons per day.

Subway Cave


Not far from the junction of Highways 44 and 89 above Old Station is an interesting volcanic attraction that you can walk through. It is a lava tube about 1,300 feet long that was created less than 20,000 years ago when lava flowed over this area. Tubes are formed when the top part of the flow cools and hardens but the interior continues to flow until drained, leaving behind a tube. Access into the tube are found in two places where the roof collapsed sometime in the past. You are warned to bring at least two sources of light (flashlights preferably) and warm clothing. Without illumination, it is pitch black down there.

 
Subway Cave
GPS coordinates: 40.684916,-121.422701
 

Quick Trip through Lassen National Park


If it hadn’t been for a comment made by my son-in-law, I might never have considered going to this national park in Northern California. He said that it was underrated and that it deserved to be visited by more people. I can understand his opinion because as a geologist, the park is a showcase for the volcanic upheavals that have wracked the Pacific Northwest, caused by the subduction of the Juan de Fuca plate under the North America plate. For vulcanologists, the park has within its boundaries all four major types of volcanoes. As if these weren’t enough, there are Yellowstone-like hydrothermal attractions, such as mudpots, fumaroles, hot springs and boiling pools. Highway 89 is the main driving route through the park with northern and southern access points.

We were originally going to visit the park yesterday, but the stiff winds and overcast conditions were enough for us to postpone the excursion until today. The sky in the morning was partially sunny with puffy clouds, so we exited I-5 at Red Bluff and took Highway 36 eastward for 50 miles to the park entrance. Much of the southern portion of Hwy 89 is surrounded by terrain littered with boulders from an immense flood created by an eruption that sent millions of gallons of instantly melted ice and debris to this portion of the park. From various clearings along this route, we could get a peak of Brokeoff Mountain, a remnant of ancient Mount Tehama.

Brokeoff Moutain from the southern approach on Hwy 89

Brokeoff Moutain from the southern approach on Hwy 89

Before long, the highway ascended in elevation and the fog started getting thicker. We would find that almost the entire section of the paved highway was shrouded in cloud cover, making it hard to see beyond 20 feet in some areas.

Fog made it difficult to see very far

Fog made it difficult to see very far

If it weren’t for the fact that the Sulphur Works viewpoint was close to the road, we would not have seen any of the hydrothermal features. The odor of hydrogen sulfide gas was very strong.

Boiling pool at Sulphur Works

Boiling pool at Sulphur Works

For the reason above and muddy conditions, we abandoned plans to hike the trail at Bumpass Hell, along which are the park’s most accessible fumaroles of venting gas and steam, reminders that the ground underneath is close to hot magma.

It wasn’t until we rounded Hwy 89 along the northern route that the sky became clear of fog. We stopped at Hot Rock, from where we could get a partial good look at Lassen Peak, still largely covered by cloud. An easy trail looped through part of the vast area that was devastated by the last eruptions of Lassen in 1915. The first explosion sent a lahar (mudflow of volcanic debris) down the mountainside that covered the ground on which we were standing. The second, only days after the first, was even bigger than the first, sending an ash cloud 30,000 ft into the air. Strewn along the footpath were giant boulders that were torn from the mountain and carried here.

Lassen Peak from Hot Rock parking area

Lassen Peak from Hot Rock parking area

Red dacite boulder carried here by a pyroclastic flow from Lassen Peak

Red dacite boulder carried here by a pyroclastic flow from Lassen Peak

All we managed to do was to take a drive through the park, knowing full well that we wouldn’t do it justice. What we saw convinced us to make a special trip back here in combination with stops along the Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway.