Northwest loop

This time, the road heads out of Reno in a north-by-northwest direction. Some long-time golf pals had informed me that my presence was required at the Bandon Dunes Resort, one of the most terrific places in the country for friends to revive old fellowships while whacking upon the small ball. A declination of the invitation was not an option. And so it goes.

About the charm and splendor of the place, I’ll just say this—what the Louvre is to the art kook, Bandon Dunes is to the golf kook. If you really enjoy the game, sooner or later, you simply have to go. (But if you eat lunch or dinner in the pub, don’t, for God’s sake, order the shepherd’s pie. The guy next to me looked over at my plate and commented, “Hey, that looks like barf.” Unfortunately, he was right).

Pit stop—Northeastern California boonies. Out here in the West, there are a lot of great mountains. I mean, how could there not be, after all these eons of gigantic land masses engaging in endless bouts of tectonic smashmouth? That said, I can’t imagine anyone having a problem with the point of view that Mt. Shasta must be, hands down, the greatest mountain of all. Now, I’m sure there are some proud Washingtonians who would predictably shout out for their beloved Rainier, and I can also imagine crazed Portlanders might want to sing the praises of their local favorite, Hood. And it must be conceded that strong cases could be made for both of these old volcanoes in terms of rugged, awesome, scenic power.

But for my dough, it hasta to be Shasta. It must be the way it so gigantically LOOMS over its immediate environment. (If ever a hill loomed in all caps, it’s Shasta). The great Mt. Whitney is a taller peak, as we all know, but it just doesn’t have the looming power of Shasta, surrounded as Whitney is by lots of other 14 and 13,000 footers in its southern Sierra home. Shasta, though, placed in its context of 4,000 and 5,000 foot hills, crashes into the skyscape of Weed and Mt. Shasta City in an almost Himalayan kind of way. The day we drove past, with the sun highlighting its snow-smothered slopes, and the wind driving diaphanous ice trails from its peak, Shasta packed an impressive visual wallop truly befitting its status as the Queen of Mountains. Small wonder so many choose to sell books and crystals within the boundaries of her pulsating power spot.

Pit stop—South Oregon coast. We encounter yet another reason why Oregon is the most progressive and intelligent state in this union. In many of its beautiful and beautifully maintained state parks, there are yurts for rent. And I’m not talking about some wobbly, slapdash unit you might find in the less desirable sections of Black Rock City, but solidly constructed yurts, erected on platforms, complete with heating systems, double bunks, futons and covered patios. Available for about 20 bucks a night. The ultimate in cool, classy camping; proof once again that somebody is thinking up there in Oregon, and thinking properly.