Friday, September 7, 2018

Back on the Left Coast

As I mentioned yesterday, we were on out way to the West Coast for various reasons, none of them especially good.

On Wednesday afternoon, we took Skye to her vacation spot at Lorrie's, where she gets to run around with other dogs in the house, as long as they get along. She does.

We had a 10 o'clock flight out of BWI for Sacramento by way of Denver, so we had and early breakfast and headed up the road. We arrived at the airport with plenty of time to spare, and boarding passes and passports in hand. Preparing for the TSA check, I screwed up; I unlatched my belt and intended to take it off and put it in the little bins that bypass the body scanner along with all my other hardware, but got distracted and forget. It set off the scanner, of course, and the guy operating it said "I think you forgot to take off your belt", so I grabbed it and whipped it out, to give it to him, but he said "Now you just made it worse" and made me submit to a pat down, my first ever. It's not his fault really, but still, TSA delenda est.

The two flights were were uneventful, although packed to the gills and generally cattle carish (it was SouthWest). When Georgia remarked to a fellow passenger how unpleasant travel has become, I responded to her that it's because the great majority of people choose low cost over amenities, to which she had no response because, that really is her main rationale  reason for choosing flights. I'm not complaining, just observing.

The layover in Denver was too short to eat lunch in, and neither flight had  more than drinks, and the bags of little pretzels.

We arrived in Sacramento on time with our carry on luggage, and hit everything right on the way out, were out of the airport and to car rental in only a few minutes. After we got our rental car, a fresh smelling Kia Sportage, we were on the road again.

We had decided to drive up I5 and to Williams, and then take highway 20, past the north side of Clear Lake to the Coast Highway, 101, just south of Willetz and proceed up to Mary's house in McKinleyville.

I5 is what I remembered, miles upon miles of flat land, with crops and orchards and a few small towns. Once on 20 we rapidly got into the Coast range, on the back side dry, with hills covered with dry grass and the California Live Oak trees. Higher, we got into the Digger Pine forests, and then dropped into the Clear Lake region. It's quite beautiful, a huge lake:
Clear Lake is a natural freshwater lake in Lake County in the U.S. state of California, north of Napa County and San Francisco. It is the largest natural freshwater lake wholly within the state, with 68 square miles (180 km2) of surface area. At 480,000 years, it is the oldest lake in North America. It is the latest lake to occupy a site with a history of lakes stretching back at least 2,500,000 years.

Known as the "Bass Capital of the West," Clear Lake supports large populations of bass, crappie, bluegill, carp and catfish. Two-thirds of the fish caught in Clear Lake are largemouth bass, with a record of 17.52 pounds (7.95 kg). Clear Lake was most recently ranked by Bassmaster Magazine in 2016 as the #3 best bass lake in the United States and the #1 best bass lake on the West Coast. However, locals and the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment strongly recommend against e; ating the fish from Clear Lake because of potentially toxic levels of mercury. In addition to fish, there is abundant wildlife within the Clear Lake basin. There are year-round populations of ducks, pelicans, grebes, blue herons, egrets, osprey, and bald eagles, and the basin supports sizable populations of deer, bear, mountain lion, raccoon and other animals.
Hmm, I might need to check that out on another trip.

One thing, along the road, there was evidence of the many recent fires, several of which burned right down the the highway, and stopped, and in a couple cases jumped the highway, and burned onto the other side. Ecologically, this is not a great disaster; the chaparral and forest communities here are mostly fire climax, and will recover even better after a few years. It sucks when your house is in the way, though.

We stopped at Willetz around 5 PM PDT for our first meal since leaving home, at a place called Lumberjacks. Decent burger, but too big.

Georgia took over the driving at that point, and we drove up through our past, up through the Coast Redwood forest, the veritable Avenue of the Giants (although we stayed on the main road), marvelling at same big trees (If you've never seen them, you really should), and all the small towns we remembered only when we reached them.

We arrived at Mary's house around 8 PM, and managed an hour or so of conversation before collapsing into bed.

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