I think we have found my dream situation. I’ve been looking for a site where I can leave my kayak set up and just “hop in the water” when I feel like it. This will do very, very nicely, thank you. We also tried a different route to get to Clear Lake this time (I-5 to 20), and it makes this whole area far less daunting to get to. The route was easy, even for night time driving and only took us about 3 hours (as opposed to 4), with a 7pm arrival. That’s definitely doable and this is an amazingly fun place to be.
We arrived well after sunset and it was hard to figure out where to go in the darkness. Richard was eventually able to track down the manager (he is literally 90 years old and doesn’t always hear the phone) and find our site, but I didn’t want to do a lot of adjusting at night, so we just unhitched, privatized, and went to bed. In the morning, we woke to the sounds of ducks and discovered we were right on the water, in a pretty fantastic way. We spun Dory so I could stare at the lake through the windows and Richard went out on a “superlative” bike ride down South Mine, Lakeshore Dr. and North Rd. Then I got my kayak ready to put in right next to our site. Bliss. There are so many amazing birds on the lake. I spotted multiple Great Blue Herons, Great White Egrets, and lots I couldn’t identify. And the ducks apparently have a pretty good deal going with some of the full timers in the RV park. I did not know that when I walked down the boat ramp and got swarmed. After a few minutes of mumbling and staring up at me, they decided to just leave, en masse, with some very loud quacking to let me know they were dissatisfied with the service. Like a hoard of angry Yelp reviewers, typing all in caps: “TERRIBLE SERVICE!” “UNBELIEVABLE! NO food at all!!” “I’d give it ZERO stars if I could!” That night we were treated to a beautiful sunset and the sudden gathering of I don’t know how many White Pelicans. They arrived out of nowhere in a flurry of splashing and flapping, and then just as suddenly, lifted and glided away out of sight.
Sunday, Richard checked out another ride on the other side of the lake (175 with a scary descent into Cobb and back on Bottle Rock Rd.) and I checked out some recommendations for cool lunch places. I whole heartedly support the recommendation for the Old World Tavern in Lakeport. I enjoyed an IPA on tap and a grilled tri tip sandwich while listening to all my favorite hippie music played live. I picked Richard up and then we headed over to another recommendation for wine tasting and olive oil tasting. Chacewater Winery & Olive Oil Mill is a fascinating place, with super friendly owners who will tell you all about its history and even let you taste the olive oil right as it is coming out of the expellers. We walked out with a case of Chardonnay and some nice holiday gifts. Dinner was at yet another recommended business: Park Place. That was fabulously yummy!
Monday, we got to enjoy the lovely sound of rain on the roof and I got to stare endlessly at the rain drops hitting the water on the lake. Sometimes, it feels unfair how much fun we have in Dory. Then, I remember what a crappy week I’d just had, and I get over that feeling fast. I made a foray out to Lower Lake to get a dump hose extension from Brown’s RV because spinning Dory put us just out of range of the sewer input.
Tuesday the weather cleared up and I got to paddle around an island. The water was still and smooth as glass. The only interruption to the calm was a text from Richard alerting me to the fact that the island I was rounding is named “Rattlesnake Island.” He warned me to watch out for swimming snakes. I did notice the relaxed feeling somewhat diminish, and I spotted many a floating reed, but generally just increased my distance from the shoreline and had fun anyway. Richard had to work most of the day, but in the afternoon, we were able to get in a little hike around Anderson Marsh State Historic Park. Dinner that night was at a little place in the town of Clearlake called Cactus Grill. All great! Also, this weekend, I had a little photo project because someone requested lots of interior shots of Dory.
Wednesday we had to pack up and head home for Thanksgiving. I was interested in taking Highway 16 on the way back, just to see if it was a viable route. However, as soon as we turned off, we saw a yellow sign saying: Tractors – Semis over 30′ Kingpin to Rear Axle Not Advised. Those signs are always a clear indication that, even if we might be able to drive the road, it won’t be relaxing. We stuck with Highway 20 back to 5 and all was nice and easy, with beautiful scenery along the way. Since this is now a 3 hour trip, and I’ve found my perfect boating spot, I anticipate visiting this place a LOT more in the future. There are still entire areas to check out! Fire damage around the lake is definitely still visible from this year’s fires. And the area to the south may never be the same, following the fires from a couple of years ago. But there is an abundance that remains in natural beauty and fun shops and restaurants yet to explore.
Total miles: 143.7, 3 hours 5 min, 15.2 mpg there, 17.7 back. Excellent LTE for both of us AND pretty good campground wifi. Full hookups, including sewer. Good water. Nice bathrooms, nice hosts. The campground itself has very few sites that would be this nice. There are only a couple that are right on the water and this one had a boat ramp on one side. There are lots of full timers and seasonal set ups there.