"The most important things are the hardest things to say. They are the things you get ashamed of, because words diminish them---words shrink things that seemed limitless when they were in your head to no more than living size when they're brought out. But it's more than that, isn't it? The most important things lie too close to wherever your secret heart is buried, like landmarks to a treasure your enemies would love to steal away. And you may make revelations that cost you dearly only to have people look at you in a funny way, not understanding what you've said at all, or why you thought it was so important that you almost cried while you were saying it." Stephen King, The Body
The city slogan of Dunsmuir, California is "Home of the Best Water on Earth" but it's unnofficial tagline is "the small-town home you wished you had grown up in". And you know what? They're not so far off on either count. With bubblers around town pouring out the clearest Shasta water and train tracks leading to swimming holes in the pines, it evokes a nostalgia for simpler times while allowing a person to believe that they might actually exist right then, right there. Of course all things summertime have a magic quality to them, and this adventure particularly so as it intertwined both the 4th of July and the novella that would make my summer. You guys want to go see a dead body?
And so it begins. Up the tracks to Mossbrae Falls.
Nothing like walking over a trestle bridge, joking about Vern Tessio and Gordie Lachance, and hearing a whistle blow around the bend. Back in the day, Dunsmuir was home to one of the most famous hobo jungles in the country.
The cabins at Cave Springs Resort were built in 1923 and I can't imagine they've changed much since (and they haven't changed a lick since our first visit 6 or so years ago). Two-burner gas rings for cooking, clawfoot tub for soaking and a fridge out back for keeping the meats and bottles cool.
In honor of the holiday, some words of wisdom from Will Rogers.
4th of July celebrations. More night shots here.
Spent a day at nearby Castle Lake, swimming out to the floating dock and avoiding the crowds by hiking to the end of the trail.
A man and his poncho, never the two shall part.
Ventured into the town of McCloud for a huge and tasty (albeit slow-moving) lunch at the White Mountain Cafe, a recommendation of folks we'd met the day before. Both town and restaurant were totally charming without being tourist-kitschy and there's square dancing at the Dance Hall that we'll have to come back for.
The icy McCloud River couldn't feel better on a hot day.
Nor the post-swim shade of a blackberry thicket for Eleanor the dog.
Frankie and Eli tacked the middle falls of the McCloud onto their respective jumping resumes, a feat that was likely as sketchy as it looked (though the jump was from the height of the waterfall, not the top of the cliff, thank God).
Ended things with a cold beer and a small exploration of the Sacramento River running below our cabins (where Cave Springs' namesake lies). Four days gone so fast.
Maybe it's something in the water? They say the waters that flow out of Shasta have magical powers that I'm not apt to deny. Or maybe it's just hard not to feel good when surrounded by happy friends, warm sun and a place that evokes the charm of a less frenetic time. The only thing missing was a game of baseball and I have a feeling that's not too far out of question (perhaps on the field where Babe Ruth played an exhibition game in 1922?) As expressed by thethe Sultan of Swat himself: "We don't know yet how to tell you what a wonderful time we had in Dunsmuir. We have been treated royally in little towns and big cities, but when it comes to beautiful girls, wonderfully fine fellows and the real two-fisted spirit of California - little old Dunsmuir gave us more laughs, more hospitality, more thrills and more things to remember than any place between Broadway & Shasta. We didn't expect to visit Dunsmuir, but believe us, we will positively be back (in person)!" As will we, swimming in those cold, refreshing waters and listening to the melancholy wail of locomotives in the night.