Willow Point RV

Site 1 with nice view of the lake; close to the entrance, but very well lit

There are just so many things out there that we have no idea about. County Fairs, for example, represent an entire cultural phenomenon, a way of life for lots of people, and we only just now got to experience one up close. Beyond visiting the carnival and midway parts when I was a kid, the extent of my fair smarts could be captured entirely by “Charlotte’s Web.” We specifically reserved this new campground a year ago, when hearing about the “boat races,” and thought it might be fun to stay nearby.

Easy kayak launch (assuming the water levels are high)

For a three day Labor Day weekend, we did not encounter much traffic heading out. I’ve gotten used to taking the twisty turny Highway 29 out of Napa Valley, and we made the trip in about three and a half hours. This campground sits on the edge of the public park and boat launch in Lakeport. Lakeport lies on the southwestern side of Clear Lake, which has noticeably less algae than the southeastern side tends to see in the late summer. We pulled in through a large open gate and checked in with the owners before setting up in our site.

Public paved launch right next door

I liked the owners and they were upfront about the positive changes they have made to the campground. Apparently, there used to be a problem with people coming through the property, so they got lots of street lights and cameras for security. They gave us a heads up on the bathroom situation, with no hot water for the showers, and a door that will stick shut if closed too hard. None of that intimidated us, and all we needed to decide was whether to spin for view. With the lake in view and a three night stay, we went with the spin.

Clear Lake looking full and beautiful

We were super tired and barely had the energy to set up for shows. Here we realized we had tragically forgotten the all important “dongle” at home; the thing that makes it so the rear screen projector can connect to an iPad or iPhone. We were outta luck and resorted to watching silly shows on the iPad. Hard fail there.

Lake County Fair

Saturday was all about the fair. But first, we walked over to the Lakeport computer store to buy the last HDMI to lightning dongle they had. For a mere $16, Richard suspected it was a knock off and had little hope it would work. He turned out to be right, so it was a gamble that did not pay off. Oh well. “Dongle” has been added to our camping check list to make sure it never gets left again.

The Midway

We lunched at Taqueria la Mexicana and it was a perfect way to fuel up before entering the world of cotton candy and fried Oreos. Everything is walking distance in Lakeport and we paid our $12 per person to go check this thing out. Right away, it was a sensory overload, with live music, carnival ride sounds, and a wild mixture of unhealthy food smells combined with, but more overwhelmed by, the pungent odor of livestock.

And do I hear a ten, mndbbm ten, mnndmndmnd ten, mmdnbmdn eleven, do I hear eleven, mddndmbm eleven, eleven, mnmbdmd, eleven! Sold to number 109!

Most of the people seemed to be gathered in the auctioning area. Here we learned all about how kids join the 4H Club to raise turkeys, pigs, sheep, etc., so they can be sold come fair day. They all proudly brought up their specimens, one at a time, while an auctioneer chanted in rhythmical, rapid fire, unintelligible sounds, until at some point, he would sing-song his way toward announcing the winning bidder. It was all fascinating and mesmerizing just listening to the bid calling. We’ve seen that kind of thing in movies or TV shows, but this was our first time seeing one for real. The kids all knew what to do and I didn’t see any of them losing it over selling off their animals for “harvesting.” I don’t think I would have done so well as a kid. I would have desperately wanted a Charlotte.

Some sheep. Radiant even.

We left the scene to wander through the other categories. I decided I could definitely handle being a tiny fairy garden fair person. Those were adorable. They had displays and ribbons for flowers, flower arrangements, and produce of all sorts. I can just imagine the pride having your little succulent garden, with the tiny river rocks, itty bitty bridge, and mini string lights, displaying its nice blue ribbon. Fun!

Adorable fairy garden

After we’d been immersed for a couple of hours, we retreated for some down time in Dory. We knew we would be returning for the big event and made a plan for how to have fair food dinner, without seriously regretting it later. Richard went with a corn dog, and I got one of those big hot dogs. We split a basket of tater tots, opting for the plain version, rather than the loaded versions, topped with combinations of nacho cheese, chili, bacon, or jalapeños. There were lots of other fair food options to choose from, but I didn’t want to blow all of my weight loss in one evening.

Go Shark Car!

At last, it was time to find the grandstand and await the beginning of the “Boat Races,” with a Demolition Derby preview event to whet the appetite. The pre-show was about what one would expect: put a bunch of old beater cars in an arena and watch people bash them until they can’t move anymore.

Nemo! Don’t crash into Nemo!

The main event was something special though. Knowing you were going to watch a boat race on land doesn’t quite prepare you for the fact that nary a watercraft was going to be traveling by trailer. They just hitched up a bunch of boats, some not bad looking, to some kind of tow vehicle, and dragged them round and round on a watered down track. The point I guess it to knock off each other’s boats from their tow cars, until no one has a boat anymore. It’s like the least safe thing you can imagine, unless you wished they had moistened the track with gasoline first.

I don’t even think there is a prize involved here. People just do this for fun.

We were laugh crying the whole time it was so funny. I cannot believe all the drivers came out of that alive. There was definitely some car on fire at some point and we had to laugh ourselves silly while simultaneously being asphyxiated. It was so much fun and now we want to just go around touring fairs for the rest of our lives. What a blast!

Lovely day for a paddle

Sunday was a much more normal day for us, though we could still hear the fair going on all day. Richard rode all around the lake; a 67 mile ride for him! I got my boat on the water and enjoyed a nice float on a very full lake. In the afternoon, we were treated to a lovely visit from our Altoistes friends who live in Soda Bay. We chatted and caught up, and they gifted us some wonderful home grown produce. They said the tomatoes were not outstanding this year, but we were sure impressed. In fact, once we got home, we made ourselves some homemade Pizza Margheritas, and they were out of this world.

Fresh tomato, basil & mozzarella – YUM

We really love Clear Lake. The vibe is like a throwback in time. It is unpretentious and uncrowded. The wildlife viewing there is always a draw and this time it was all about the Black Crowned Night Herons (Nycticorax). They find their way to Clear Lake every year to nest and make quite the ruckus. They also poop all over the trees they have taken over. We thought we were seeing ash fall from the sky. We looked up what wildfires there were nearby, but it turned out to be flakes of dried Heron poop. So that is something.

Black Crowned Night Heron

We will come again for sure. And we’ll probably do the boat races again too. This park was a perfect place to stay in terms of location. It felt a little weird to be so close to the public park, but if it had been hot, I would have appreciated to possibility of plugging in to the 110 outlet nearby. All in all, it was a fun and memorable weekend.

Total miles: 113.4, 16.5 mpg, 3 hours 30 min. Site 1 “hookups” in the form of a 110 outlet nearby. Water spigots rather far away. Good solar in the middle of the day and nice shade in the afternoon. Excellent cell for both. Can launch close to site or use paved boat launch also close by. Sewer outlet in the site, but we didn’t use it because it was kind of high. There is a free public dump in the boat launch area that is good.

2 thoughts on “Willow Point RV

  1. Thanks for the nice introduction to Clear Lake. I’ve never been there. A girlfriend once suggested I move there but I’m staying in Walnut Creek for now.

Leave a Reply