March 10 – After lunch in Berkeley with La Donia and Le Nouveau Son, we hit the freeway for the drive up north to Lake County. It was the first of three rush hour freeway drives – extremely bad planning on our part. It took us three and a half hours to get to Nice and again, we arrived and unpacked in the dark. Although inconvenient, it wasn’t as disorienting as our arrival in La Honda.
March 10 – 17: Nice, CA (not Nice, France) would be our home for a week, since we had traded our Shuswap timeshare week for one at the Worldmark Wyndham resort on the shores of Clear Lake, the largest lake in California and, (apparently, possibly) the oldest lake in North America. Some pix:
The resort from our window:
The resort from the lake:
EVERYBODY in Lake County was super friendly and keen for a long chat – from the hotel clerk (provided a great map) to the waitress (recommended the hairdresser) to the grocery clerk (suggested hikes in Mendocino State Park) and the shop owners (just yakkin’ . . .).
We spent our days relaxing, wasting time doing sudoku and jigsaw puzzles, visiting the area and taking WAY too many pictures with our new digital SLR. This is a visit to Mendocino State Park, which is the only California State Park not traversed by a paved road. We drove to the top of Elk Mountain and went for a lovely short stroll in the woods.
Also made photo-friends with a gecko. Although I don’t think this is an area with a lot of visitors, he let me get really close so that I could snap his photo.
My favourite of the little towns in the area was a place called Upper Lake, which had a ‘historic Main Street’ with little shops that were interesting but unpretentious. It was here that we went for an evening of crab cakes, wine and jazz at the Blue Wing Saloon. It was here that Jurko went for an art class at a wine studio. (yes, he used to draw a lot as a kid!). It was here that I found some old sheet music in the antique store (yay!). And it was here that Jurko, Dartsia and I tasted seven types of wines on Thursday (once Dartsia joined us on Wednesday).
Lake County is wine country – not as famous as neighbouring Napa and Sonoma, but wine country nonetheless. We drove around and visited some vineyards and wineries (Jurko more than me) and went to a few wine tastings (Jurko 4, Lesia 3, Dartsia 1). At Olof wineries, I was gone after just 2 ounces, since I am still and forever the cheapest of dates! (In my defense, it was just before lunch . . .)
In Kelseyville, Jurko fell in love with this funky-rustic table. I’m sure that if we had driven to California instead of flying, he would have found a way to bring it back (that is IF he had gotten past Lesia The Gatekeeper – Raarrr!).
We visited Cobb, a tiny forested town a little to the south of Clear Lake, where the devastating Valley Fire of 2015 destroyed over 2,000 area homes and claimed 4 lives. Swaths of blackened stumps and many empty lots with just foundations visible greeted us as we drove through the forest. I found it hard to take it in – can’t imagine what it felt like to live through it.