Dawn was showing on the eastern horizon by the time we rolled along the shoreline of Clear Lake. Indeed,we found the flashing red light on the hill. It was a anti-collision beacon that had been there for decades. The caller was fishing for a couple of fools, and indeed, he’d hooked two of which I was aware. But that didn’t matter. I liked this area enough that the trip was not a bust.
About ten o’clock we drove around the shoreline to Lakeport in order to replenish our groceries and pay a brief visit to the library. The reading/research was filled to capacity with folks reading local newspapers and magazines of every descriptions. They had all the earmarks of snowbirds with whom we’d associated. I have no idea how the locals felt, but in my opinion it was probably exceeding the planner’s dreams. These folks had to eat and they needed a place to sleep. And when it came time to head elsewhere they each needed fuel.
Further back from the reading area were a dozen file cabinets filled with unpublished research papers regarding the local Indian Tribes that had once populated the Clear Lake area.
Along the shoreline, not far from where we’d first seen the flashing beacon we found a campground, much of it was filled with travel trailers of every description. Many were fitted with add-ons, enclosed cabanas, as it were. But the area closer to the shoreline remained open for overnighters and tents. Midway, a wharf extended out into the lake proper. At the end was a party house of sorts, a shack. We would have ventured out to inspect the building, but our way was blocked by a secured gate.
We pitched our tent, and since the weather was fair and the temperate, we took possession of a modest picnic facility, and made preparation to stay a day or two. As evening approached, others gathered about. One young couple pitched their tent next to ours. As nighttime came to Clear Lake the folks populating our area gathered at the shack for an evening of fun and frolic.
It must have been after midnight when the couple next door returned to their tent and had a frolic of their own. The lady, known in some circles as a screamer, awakened us with her noise. In spite of the interruption we awakened with sun rested and refreshed. Toward nine o’clock the lady next door emerged from her tent. The fact she thought they’d spent the night alone shown in her eyes. When we made eye contact I grinned broadly, and winked. Her face turned crimson. She leaned down, and uttered something to her man who was still in the tent. He thrust his head out and glanced in my direction, but didn’t seem overly concerned. Such was not the case with her, however, as she packed their belongings in great haste. Minutes later they were gone.
We didn’t learn the name of the party group, nor the purpose of their gathering, only that they cleaned up behind themselves. there was not a shred of evidence they’d been there.
The following morning, early, we filled our steel thermos with coffee set out for the Coastal Highway. Then we headed north through the Redwoods. We’d visited this wonderland before, several times. It’s a place of which one can never say: Been there, done that.
We saw the standing tree through which cars once passed. In fact, I recalled my Uncle Clarence driving his 1941 Plymouth through a few years after World War II. Perhaps the thing that stuck most with me was the coexistence between humans and wildlife.
Parking in a wide pullout, we poured coffee from our thermos while we watched a large cow elk grazing in the lawn of a private home. While we watched a boy of perhaps six or seven years emerged and waited for the arrival of his bus. Neither the elk, nor the boy paid the other the slightest bit of attention. Nor did the elk seem to notice the bright yellow bus filled with young voices when it hissed to a stop.
Further north we came to what I remember as the Cathedral Tree. So quaint was it, that we could have held a church service had there been a congregation, and we’d known what we were doing.
Our cash was running low. We could have relied on a charge card, but we agreed our timeaway should be a source of sweet memories rather than a monthly catch up payment. So we continued our journey north passing the mouth of the Rogue River, and then heading home for a few days of idleness before jumping back on the treadmill.