National Geographic : 1950 Jul
You Can't Miss America by Bus color-were with us the whole journey. With its breathtaking turns and views straight up or down, the narrow road helps form the only highway across northern California. Arriving in Redding after a hard day of driving, Lima jumped from our bus into a private car and drove me another dozen miles to Shasta Lake. He showed me the world's second largest and second highest concrete dam, completed in 1945. Higher than the Washington Monument, it backs up three rivers and a creek to make a reservoir 35 miles long. Lima introduced me to Tom B. Riley, man ager of the Trinity Bus Line. From Redding, Riley and I went northeast to lacy Burney Falls, then drove south into and around lava strewn Lassen Volcanic National Park. Here rises 10,466-foot Lassen Peak, only living vol cano in the continental United States, but merely latent this day. At hot sulphur springs, however, boiling pools filled the glassy air with the heavy essence of bad eggs. On the way to Oregon the next day a fully loaded Greyhound stopped when I gave the signal. Driver and passengers waited pa tiently while I photographed the snow streaked head of Mount Shasta, 14,162 feet above the sea. At Medford, Oregon, I turned west again to see the coastline of this State. The car climbed heavily forested mountains, dived into deep canyons, and buzzed through com munities cut out of the big timber they milled. Emerging from an unspoiled redwood grove, the road hit the coast just above the California border. Oregon's high rocky shore drops abruptly into the Pacific and bounces up from the sea like schools of giant porpoises. Some off-lying islands resemble massive backs of black whales; others look like aircraft carriers; and a number take the shape of cathedral towers. River Teems with Fighting Salmon To me it seemed that all the anglers in Ore gon converged at Gold Beach. Scores lined both banks of the Rogue River mouth; hip booted dozens waded between; and fishing boats, lashed broadside, nearly closed the gap ing jaws of the river. Chinook salmon were running. I went as far as Coos Bay that day and headed for Portland the next. Although the bus hugged the shore for another hundred miles, fog and drizzle masked all. Without knowing it, I passed the only mainland sea lion rookery on the Oregon coast. But the sun brightened the inland port of roses, sawmills, ships, bridges, and buses Portland.* After seeing some of the 13,000 passengers and 355 buses that keep the Greyhound depot awake 24 hours a day, I walked to the Trail ways terminal close by. A waiting-room wall map showed that the National Trailways Sys tem serves more than 65,000 miles of Ameri can highways. On a Trailways bus from Portland to Seattle I sat next to the driver, Lawrence Price. "Bus driving gets you," Price remarked. "Once you're in this game, it's hard to let go. Personally, I don't think there's any other job that would suit me as well. "Funny thing how women passengers go for bus drivers," he continued. "Maybe it's the uniform; maybe it's because we're the captains of our ships and their fates, or something." Drivers Flash a Code of the Road Price waved to Greyhound drivers as readily as to Trailways mates. He told me that heavy commercial vehicles have a code of the road. If a truck broke down on the highway, a bus stopped to help, and vice versa. They also flashed lights on meeting to signal messages: once-look out, cops in the vicinity; twice- everything O.K.; three times-stop to talk; four flashes-road obstructions ahead. In some ways Seattle reminded me of San Francisco: water front and ferries, hills with steep streets, tall buildings in the fog, many hotels, most of them crowded; and again that western spirit of levity. Leaving the city, the bus bridged Lake Washington by a concrete and steel pontoon highway, largest of its kind in the world. Now eastbound on U. S. 10 to Spokane, the Hound humped over Snoqualmie Pass-no snow, no qualms. From rocky peaks we wound down to a coal-mining town called Cle Elum; then rolled out onto the broad Kittitas plains, as unlike my picture of central Washington as Vermont and Texas. We passed the Ginkgo Petrified Forest where a farmer passenger said he once raised sheep. "And I suppose they had to leave for lack of feed when the forest got petrified," a woman near him concluded. "Oh, the trees still had twigs," explained the farmer, "but I was afraid the sheep would get gallstones if they ate 'em." Crossing the Columbia River, the bus fol * See, in the NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE: "Oregon Finds New Riches," December, 1946, and "Washington, the Evergreen State," February, 1933, both by Leo A. Borah.