Tag Archive: California

Amiss in California

I remember California’s majestic beauty far more from my earlier years. How I loved its solitude, the natural arches, cliffs and wide open beaches of the shoreline, tall trees in dense forests, rock outcroppings and wild rivers. From deserts to ferns; from orange groves to fields of flowers.  I remember wild open spaces, the awe of nature and long distances between cities. Today as I drive in the roads are typically terrible and crowded. For whatever reason the fast lane is smoother, with less potholes, rumbles and dips which makes it awkward. I give up the slow lane and just let the faster cars go around me. The rips in the road even have the trucks moving over and/or doing the road maze dance trying so hard to avoid that roughness. It ratchets heavy vehicles giving nasty jarring lurches to anything inside. Thick traffic is the norm with pedal happy swerving motorists.

I thought I could spend the night at the edge of Bakersfield, I wasn’t prepared to find camping at $70 and higher..  Yep, CA prices. I can’t boondock or dry camp as I need power to run the air conditioning and the heat, I need space to run and walk the dogs so it’s easier, simpler to use a paid camp, but I expect $12 to $29; have been paying more but $70!  Considered detouring to Lake Isabella but the sky was stormy, intensely windy with blinding sand so I opted to the I-5 for a quicker journey.


Spent an uncomfortable night in Coalinga stuffed into an unused cobwebbed site between full-time residents, I heard fights and the lights were left blazing all night. I left before first light not bothering with the bathhouse or dumping my tanks. Walked and fed the dogs at the next restsop, washed my face and had a glass of water.

Found these fields near the campground, wanted to walk in them but decided to stick to the road. On the other side of the RV Park was a large empty lot which would have the better place to spend the night. A few big rigs were doing that, it was behind a large gas station and store. Approaching the RV Park trash marked the path like landing lights.

A random street in Tracy, California

The non-usable bathroom next to a well used playground at a big park in Tracy. Great idea kids, and no bathroom. BTW it was Spring and not Winter but still not open. Nice park though, had a lovely walk, the dogs of course rolled and rolled in the grass, they were laughing and happy.

Most coffee and breakfast spots were closed in Tracy on a Sunday. There was one restaurant open at 9 am. it’s down this path which is in the downtown area. I’m hungry!

Turns out all these people were hungry too. Too long a wait for me, darn. Maybe a few more places could be open? Everyone can’t be in church? Isn’t this CA and not Texas?

Daisy the cow.

Hmm, this was in Placerville. I thought about buying that beer just for the can.

My friend patiently waiting for me while I bought a cappuccino. I was in a new temporary habit of getting myself a cap and snack in each city I stayed overnight to compare the quality and artistry of the offerings. A fun and innocent adventure.

Lee and Craig’s place and my darling girl Olympia.

Home away from home, the sewing room. Very Comfy 🙂

My California


Visions along the way


Looking across Lake Amador at the Mountain

Looking across Lake Amador at the Mountain


Lovely driving this part of California from Susanville to Sierraville. I considered a detour to Lassen NP but decided to wait as my 62nd birthday will be soon and that means a Senior Pass.  Delicious foods and salads in Quincy in Plumas County on the Feather River. Seems to be the kinda town I like, artsy, historic, dog friendly and scenic.

Wildlife Preserve

Wildlife Preserve

I favored a visit to Sierra Hot Spring in Sierraville, CA. I was involved in Sierra in its early days having frequented Harbin Hot Springs throughout the 70’s and 80s scrubbing and cleaning, hammering, painting, sweeping, gardening and so forth. Harbin took over what had been the Campbell Rebirthing Center and created Sierra Hot Springs. In the beginning at Sierra we soaked in bathtubs and stayed in tents; now there are charming soaking pools, the lodge is open for those seeking a room and unlike Harbin, Sierra has remained relaxed and peaceful, that’s why I choose it for a visit over Habrin. The waters soothed my dry skin and eased tensions and worries, bringing me some grounding and comfort. I was able to stop and enjoy the sun, the sounds of animals and wind and although it was silly I found myself rescuing scores of bugs from the warm pool and sweeping up huge gobs of dead ones with the skimmer. The camping area is well dispersed for privacy and relaxation with nature and I enjoyed the long walk to the pools. I sat on the deck by the Lodge gazing at the neighboring farmland, the garden, the cats and resident dog, the healthy mountain pines and sounds of water, listening to gentle chatter of other visitors including a talented young man singing and playing his guitar.  I would continue to frequent the Springs except visitor pets are not permitted nor provided for. A stuffiness in hospitality is the common norm with no offerings of alternatives, no doggy day care, no affordable pet sitting, no special areas for pets, no dates or times to allow travelers with pets.


Sure, maybe all these things like pets and children can be annoying. The numbers of pets accompanying their families full or part-time is escalating. I’ve suspected it is one of the reasons I’ve seen sold out RV Parks and campgrounds with travelers spilling out to parking lots, casinos and wilderness locations while the area hotels, motels and resorts remain unfilled. Many towns are instituting a no pet policy along with no RV parking, national parks, state parks are hopeless for a solo traveler with pets unless you really love parking lots and pavement. I’ve seen a ridiculous amount of banishment signs posted in pristine areas:  no dogs, no bikes, no fishing, no camping, no boaters, no horses, no stopping, no entrance, no vehicles, no beverages, no food or drink, no picnicking, no children, no entrance, no sitting, no hiking…. to name a few. Is it really so difficult to design and implement workable policies and/or to offer affordable welcoming options for travelers, campers and wanderers? I expect to see signs saying, no viewing, no looking at scenery; deposit your money in slot and go away, it’s almost this way now in areas of CA where you must pay a fee to stop at a viewpoint to see the view.


It’s too crowded, there are gorgeous areas that are unfrequented yet everyone jams in and packs the highly advertised and flaunted locations. Fine, these locations seek the tourist dollar but can turn unreasonably hotty-toddy. I don’t want to harp on the past when one could travel with pets and kids and it was an adventure not riddled with banishments and troublemakers, with mandates and thrashers. I loved Canada with its wide open spaces and the northern states with friendly people.  I know things change. There is plenty of abuse, disregard and harm to the environment as well as an overabundance of hardships. It adds to my depression and frustration, I’m not at ease in the madness. Being alive is not synonymous with ease or peace, it’s more struggle, isolation and loneliness. This one time my friend was caring for my dogs so I was able to visit again at Sierra. Although I enjoyed my visit it hurt my heart as here was a living reminder of how I failed to open my pet & art friendly B&B. That failure was not by lack of hard work or expertise, not by lack of desire, drive or clientele but by loss of support; the deaths of my partners and the withdrawal of my philanthropist relative who was funding this dream.  I try to adjust to loss, to accept emptiness and failure and to live in the moment. I try. I mention this as I understand what it’s like when the path is relentlessly unkind and stifling. I have the freedom and means to travel, a few that care deeply about me and a place to come back to. I am very fortunate but I also know that there is a tipping point at which a human is merely waiting for the end. I didn’t stay long at Sierra as I felt responsible to return to my dogs, I could hear Mason saying he missed me.

The very last part of returning to Placerville turned out to be the most difficult. Hwy 49 was steep, with tight hairpin turns and aggressive heavy traffic. Several times trucks came closer than an inch from smashing my little LT. I was sweating and shaking from the effort of squeezing along the edge and enduring the nasty drivers esp the biggest of the trucks. These drivers were cursing and bellowing at the river folk and throngs of people trying to enjoy their day. It was really terrible. No patience here, no going slow, no welcome acceptance and valuing each other, it’s was a madness, an evil, I think, when time, money, stress and pressure have overwhelmed concern for one another.

OK, today’s song a very unusual Asian rendition of the Kingston Trio’s I’m Going Home 

And an original performance: I’m Going Home

US 395 at one time ran from San Diego to British Columbia. It lies on the east side of the Sierra like a divider. I would like to traverse more of it, having been fond of the California section in-between too foggy-cold and too hot. Dreams happen here. Ghosts and mysteries are allowed to speak. It takes me back to my girlhood when I could hear the calling of nature and even blindfolded see the wavering colors of trees, back when I could sense holes in the substance of day-to-day reality, the grown-up adult kind, where people don’t fly in their dreams and a road is no more than an engineered transportation device.

I’d left out the town of Burns, OR, before I’d reached the 2nd part of the 395 south of Hwy 20 and finding Lake Abert and the tiny town of Valley Falls.

Birding Country, Burns, OR

Birding Country, Burns, OR

I’d  spent the night at the Burns RV Park wanting a shower and a place to wander about, I never did explore the town. Turns out the area is known for birding with an annual festival and ongoing activities at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge on the Pacific Flyway. I’d missed the annual birding festival in April but could happily see myself seeking birds. There are many treasures along Oregon’s 395.

The land of birds

After passing Lake Abert the next day before crossing the California border I stopped in Lakeview, OR for a walk. It’s the County Seat of Lake County. I was pondering the downtown signage of churches near the administration center, taken aback that so many could exist in such a small place when a gentleman stopped to ask if I needed anything. Turned out he was the DA, he told me he loved knowing everyone in town and had returned after working in other locations, pointing out the building where he’d bought his first gun. Maybe he was a hunter, I don’t know.  As we conversed he lamented the young people leaving, there didn’t seem to be much to keep them busy, even the theater was defunct, needing extensive and costly repairs. I wished him well and continued my walk, lots of ranches in the surrounding area; the town would make a great backdrop for a movie.

How many churches does this small town have?

How many churches does this small town have?

Lake County Courthouse Lakeview, Oregon Post Office

Maybe a good movie set?

Maybe a good movie set?

On the way out there was a fellow herding cows on the road, he yelled at us motorist to go slow although no one was traveling faster than 5 mph, his voice was loud and stern! If you click the Lakeview link above be sure to watch the video, a true county town, with a big sign of a tall man waving his pistol. Seems there’s an National Antelope Refuge 65 miles north on Hwy 40. There are also petroglyphs in the area.

If you do any of this drive I’d suggest spending a lot more time than 2 days it took me and bring along some cash. The little town where I bought gas was super friendly, like Canada, however they had a terrible time making a phone connection for my credit card, they kept trying while I hung out for a while but in the end I offered cash, you might want to make sure you have a stash for times like that.

Alone at Goose Lake

Alone at Goose Lake

I crossed the border without noticing but I did notice a sign saying Goose Lake State Recreation Area so I turned around back to Oregon and took the short road to the campground. Lots of space, only 1 or 2 sites were being used. I almost camped there and would have if I’d had my dogs with; instead I drove to the day use area and parked.  Wow, there were my birds! Not a human in site. I had to talk myself out of nervousness of being alone, this time on foot. The lake / wetlands was low yet gorgeous and so alive!

Goose Lake, low water level.

Goose Lake, low water level.

Goose Lake wetlands

Goose Lake wetlands

Goose Lake vegetation

Goose Lake vegetation



I went on to Susanville to spend the next night, no particular reason, there were many pullouts on the mountain road and campgrounds on side roads. I’m used to having my dogs, we go for long walks and they tell me if there’s anyone around, that’s my only excuse for rushing along and not choosing to stay longer and explore.

Drought is very evident in Oregon as in California. I’m more aware of its effect in areas where I know the general pattern of the land. It’s scary how dry and hot everything is, be super careful!  CA, OR, WA, Canada, NV, AZ are all short of water. It will be a tough summer, fires are already blazing. I pack a respirator and a few extra breathing masks for those times one has to drive through a fire area along with extra drinking water.

I used to love campfires when I was a girl, but they don’t make sense unless you’re truly need one and are practiced in how to build one and keep it from accidentally spreading. Watch out for equipment you might have that creates a spark, remember to check your propane for leaks.   Keep the basics right there with you, shovel, lots of water, bucket, fire extinguisher not a bad idea. Clear the area of all debris so that embers can’t catch and never walk away and leave a smoldering fire, re-think the whole thing if its windy.  I’ve been known to stop and put out smoldering campfires that others have left behind. If you smoke carry your butts out with you don’t toss them on the ground. Learn about lightning storms…  don’t pitch tents near the highest tree, etc.. if you enjoy a few drinks remember safety first …   let’s get through this summer as safe as we can.

There are 100 fires burning now in Alaska


Katie Melua – I Cried For You

Somewhere over the Rainbow – Israel “IZ” Kamakawiwoʻole