Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Trip to California, Day 5

After all the driving and wonderful dining, we needed a quieter, closer, and cheaper day. We lazed around most of the morning, then proceeded onward to find some parks and catch some nature. Clear Lake is located in the second set of foothills and mountains away from the coast. As such, there is some rainshadow effect resulting in a somwhat arid climate. Grasses and oaks dominate the steep hillsides but it isn't dry enough for sage and dryland plants to grow in abundance (though residents and businesses had no trouble growing palm trees and cacti).

The first stop was Rodman County Park. We parked in a gravel area and ventured out past picnic tables and onto paths traversing thickets near the lake. The first shrub that caught my eye early and often was good old poison oak.

Poison Oak

It was everywhere. I pointed it out to the gals with a plea for the MiniSnab not to freestyle her way around this area. Everywhere we went on that day was plastered with it. I've had poison oak a few times and I really hate it. We picked our we through the area and we saw some lovely wildflowers growing. Most of my pictures of those turned out crummy...either I've lost my ability to use cameras over the years or I just need to Read the Fine Manual. Not sure which. Here are the women sitting near the lake.

Eucalyptus trees were introduced to California in the 1850s in the hopes that the timber would provide an economic boost. That didn't work out so well, but there are still plenty of them around. Wikipedia has a neat section on the eucalyptus tree right here. Here are a bunch of them...

On the way back to the car, we spotted a manmade osprey platform and, wouldn't you know it, the denizens were just a few yards away. We were able to get a very good look at these birds of prey.

Osprey go fishing for their food and their hunting consists of long periods of waiting punctuating by short, fast dives into the water to snatch their prey. If you can wait or catch them at the right time, it is quite a sight to behold.

Clear Lake State Park was a bit more of a drive. We passed through Lakeport (wow, a major shipping port for the five small towns around the lake) using a waterfront side road. It is a nice little town with the area's main theater and shopping (unless you white-knuckle your way out of town via the winding roads towards Ukiah). We continued on through orchards and vineyards until we reached the park. We paid our entrance fee and drove to the first public parking area. This place was an obvious fisherman's park and we might well have been the only passenger car (and sans boat trailer) there at this time of year. We did get a nice view of the far side of the lake where we were staying at...

Talk about mistletoe! From southern Oregon on south, this parasitic plant clumped in tree after tree all they way down the road. I had to kiss Ladybug after taking this picture.

Braving another poison-oak infested hillside, we hiked The Indian Nature Trail which traversed the site of a Pomo Indian village. There was one crumpled trail guide left in the box, so we borrowed it and saw more beautiful flowers, poison oak, and evidence of the Original Sentient Beings in the area while the guide pointed out useful plants and trees and how they were used. Ladybug stands near a Manzanita tree here...

Soon we were ready to press on. We replaced the crumpled guide for the next hiker (after taking a picture to remind ourselves of what we saw) and proceeded on to the city of Kelseyville for lunch. We settled on Studebaker's Deli for sandwiches and fake old-time sodas (the soda was real, the retro look was fake). The diner logo mimicked the Studebaker automobile logo from the days of yore...

After getting back to our room, we took a nap and then decided to find a winery we saw a few days earlier down the road. There could not have been a better time to visit Tulip Hills winery. The tulips were in full bloom and it was gorgeous.

We tasted a number of wines, bought a reserve Chardonnay and a blush, took a few pictures and headed back to get ready for dinner. We ate at the Marina Grill. The meal was pretty standard workaday American food but the gal waiting on us was lazy spending more time talking to her boyfriend than helping the guests. That's the way it works sometimes.

We returned and plotted our escape from California. We decided to split the trip home into 2 days to make the driving more bearable...but more on that in the next (and final) installment.


ladybug said...

Sorry I look so depressed or the Tulip Hill Winery pic-the sun was in my eyes and I was trying to look sophisticated/serious-I ended up looking pissed off or something!

I really had a good time, and the profusion of Tulips, Daffodils, and other flowers were amazing!

Also, loved the Indian Nature trail, there was an old sweat lodge site, a morter & pestle stone, several woody bushes used for different basketweaving & food supplies and some tiny wildflowers.

The Poison Ivy WAS EVERYWHERE! I probably wouldn't want to go hiking anywhere around there in the summer time...

Swinebread said...

"a plea for the MiniSnab not to freestyle her way around this area"

Or freestyle through life... LOL

I'm glad you know your plants snab 'cause I'm sure I would have messed up!

Man that mistletoe was like crack fed!

Of course I can't show this to MY SO or she'll want to go.

nice trip hope you were rejuvenated!

Dean Wormer said...

I know someone who likes studebakers...

Don Snabulus said...


You looked fine. Fun times.


Good point. She's a chip off her Grandpa's block for sure.


I suspect you do young man.

Anonymous said...


What a marvelous tour you've given us.

And you are one beautiful lady. For realsies.

Hiya, Snabby!

Good to have you back from vacation.



The Moody Minstrel said...

Poison oak, wow...I haven't seen that stuff in YEARS! I'd almost forgotten about it. I don't know if it even grows in Japan. Can't say as I miss it, though.

That's quite a flock (gaggle? murder? flight?) or ospreys! It really is impressive to watch one of those dive-bomb for a fish. I used to go camping at Twin Lakes with my family, and there was an osprey that always circled overhead when boats were on the lake so it could shoot down and grab somebody's throw-back. It actually encouraged people to throw their fish back...

You're almost starting to change my impression of California, Snabudon! (Then again, I admit I've always rather liked Northern California. The southern part will take a bit more, though.)

Don Snabulus said...


I'm partial to Ladybug myself ;)


I've not cracked the dusty wall separating northern from southern Cal. I do have a couple of reasons (relatives and friends) to go there. I think a trip there is inevitable at some point.