From Fortuna, the road winds eastward. Highway 36 connects the coast to the valley, bouncing and turning its way around the Klamath Mountains. My mother and brother worked at a summer camp here, and the names of the towns echo around the rocks from the distant past: Hayfork, Mad River, Hyampom, Peanut. It’s wild country: as much as California seems soft and luxurious, this land is rocky, unpredictable. The little towns along the road face inward; their residents look up at the approaching little white rental car, and scowl a bit, sense the intrusion, put up their guard. As usual, I realize I’m low on gas, and hope I will make it to Red Bluff or Redding to fill up, or it will be a long night, the sunlight already fading fast in the chasms where the river roars.