Thursday, August 23, 2007

Travelogue VI: Back to the Bay Area

Thursday, August 16, 2007

After visiting the Lassen County Offices of Planning and Development and Surveying, Bruce and I talked briefly to the realtor again about our plans for the land. Everyone was saying that we really, really should actually see the land because it is so beautiful. But it would mean about an hour and a half in the wrong direction. It was so frustrating that we did not know where it was when we were in Medford because we could have gone by it on the way to Susanville. Bruce and I debated, but only for a few minutes. It was already nearly noon. And we had to be at the Commonweal Gardens in Bolinas by noon the next day to pick N. up from camp. And we were already facing a 5 - 6 hour drive, depending on road construction. So we determined that we would drive out to Reno another time with no other obligation than to see our land.

A stop at the gas station for fuel--petroleum for Henry and caffiene for us, as we headed back up onto the Lassen volcanic field to the west for the drive. It was my day to drive. Bruce planned to nap, but he didn't do much of it really! Riding with a geologist driver in new country can be kind of exciting at times!

After only about an hour on the road, we came to one of many reserviors in Lassen County.

Actually, we didn't even know it was there, but there was a sign for a Vista Point, so we stopped to get still another picture of Mount Shasta. However, when we drove in, we saw the most beautiful mountain lake, surrounded by tall mixed conifers--including spruce and fir.
The waters of the lake were as blue as the sky, and the scents from the trees were indescribible. And there was a small picnic area there.

It was a little after one o'clock. That settled it.

It was time for lunch.

Bruce brought out the picnic basket and I got out the party mix. Sandwiches were made. It was lovely.

Then it was time to wipe off the dishes, put the cans in the recycle bin--California may be under the 'govenator', but it is definitely a recycle-consciousness sort of place. Maybe the two are not mutually incompatible.

I drove for another hour and more, twisting through the mountains and slowing down for a little mountain town. Then past the sample labs for Lassen National forest. And then we began to descend. Down, down, across the edge of the volcanics, across the faults, and through the foothills to the Central Valley.

In several places along our journey through California, I had become intrigued with the dry summer grasses on the foothills and the lovely open oak groves. Here the oak is not the small stands of Scrub Oak, but rather the full, spreading habit of actual oak trees, complete with acorns still green on the boughs. The lack of brambles and weedy plants on the floor of the community indicates a mature ecosystem. Beautiful. Marvelous.

As the driver, it was my perogative to stop for a picture.

Then it was on down the last ear-popping thousand feet to floor of the Central Valley. And another few hours down I-5 towards Sacramento. And I noticed something else. California drivers are fast, but for the most part, not agressive. Most everybody drives in the right lane and moves left only to pass. Turn signals are used. People move out of the way for faster cars. At least in this place on this Thursday afternoon. Population pressure does have its compensations.

By the time we reach the I-80 by-pass towards Vacaville, I was becoming tired. We had planned to try to camp at a state park near Olema. But as I pulled into Vacaville, looking for a gas station, Bruce realized that I could not continue driving. He told me where to get off the highway for a Nut Farm there, and we saw a wonderful sight. Fenton's had branched out to one of the 'burbs! So we ate dinner there, and while we sipped our raspberry swirl milkshakes, we looked in the AAA book for a reasonably priced motel. From a look at the book, it was apparant that it must be Vacaville. From there we would head back across the wine country and the coast and prices increased accordingly.

We found the Super 8 just up the road. Set back from the freeway quite some distance. Quiet. It was very good. A shower. Rest. And we had only about a two hour drive to Bolinas. Excellent.

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