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Our Big Trip Across the Western US - September 2015

Travel Map

Our departure from Sausalito began at 5:45 AM when Brian brought Gary over from Sausalito and we loaded to go. It seemed like we had just gotten there and time is always too short, but it was time to head north and east so after our goodbyes we hit the road north on US Highway 101. Gary had mapped out a way for us to get to Missoula without going through the Nevada desert and we added a stop in Downieville, CA. Joshua D. Breyfogle (Dan’s First Cousin 5-times removed) traveled by wagon to this area in 1849 to pan gold at “The Forks” on the Yuba River. This photograph shows the town hidden between the mountains and trees.

Using information from the Sierra County Historical Society it has been determined that the Forks mentioned in JD’s gold rush diary is in fact the confluence of the Downie River and Yuba River. The Forks were located where the current downtown area stands today. The picture below shows the main street of this town of 282 people at an elevation of 2,966 feet.

This small town is made up of very narrow streets running on each side of the canyon with homes dug into the sides of the mountains. If we did not have a 10 hour drive ahead of us we would have spent more time exploring the town. On the way out of town we stopped for a picture of the Yuba River beside US Highway 49.

The rest of our trip on two-lane state and US highways went well. We stopped a few times but our primary interest was getting to Burns, OR so we pressed on. We did stop for a picture of this alkali lake called Lake Albert. Due to the alkali in the water the only thing living in it is brine shrimp that support a lot of water fowl. The lake is bordered by Albert Rim that is a steep escarpment 2500 foot above the lake surface. The lake was nearly dry, as were several others we passed earlier, and it seemed like we’d never get around the end of it. The very calm water provided a perfect reflection of the terrain to the west.

Tomorrow we will be in Missoula, MT and will spend the evening with Gary and his friend Lee before heading to Philipsburg on Wednesday.

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