27 August 2014

2014 Deb's WEST COAST Drive 6 - Here Chico Chico

Today's stats:
- Departed Ashland at 9:56am
- Altitude in Ashland 1949
- Highest altitude today and highest elevation on
I-5 Siskiyou Mountain Summit at 4,310
- Highest temp I noticed 101 degrees in
Shasta City (seemed way hotter at the dam) Chico 95 degrees
- Drove about 208 miles, with 3-1/2 hours actual driving time

Today's haps:
I woke at 7am to a lovely morning. The sun was shining and the 70 degree temp was just right. I checked out of my motel and drove the two miles to downtown Ashland for a walk-about before heading farther south.

I parked near the Ashland Springs Hotel, so took a peek inside. The last time we were here it was closed for a complete reno. They had done a fine job. (I actually tried to book here on this trip, but there was a 2-night minimum.)

I took our usual window shopping route, down and back up the main street. At the end of that "trail" was a lively farmer's market. Veggies, flowers, cheeses, handmade products, all for sale. I picked up some fresh red and black raspberries to take on to Jon and Lora's (hoping they would last and they did).

A harpist and guitarist were strumming at either end of the block to enhance the ambiance. There was also a guy with two goats sitting on the sidewalk. He said I could take their photo if I would just ask him. I moved on instead. Coffee, at this point, was more pressing.

On to our ol' standby, Water Street Cafe. We stopped here 14 years ago when they first opened. Still there. Yay!

They have an outdoor seating arrangement on the corner. Best place to sip and people watch. Kind of hippy-ish. What's so funny is our fave coffee shop in Kalamazoo is also named Water Street Cafe. I picked up a medium soy latte and opted for a stroll in Lithia Park.

Even at this time of the morning it was teaming was kids, bicyclers, runners, readers, people walking their pups, tweeting birds, friends meeting and greeting. The stream flowed nicely down the rapids.

I spotted a sign saying "Black bear sighting" and what to do if you came across one. It brought me back to reality--this is a little burg (population about 20,000) in the middle of a big forest. Darn! Had to move on from one of my fave places in the U.S.

Just 14 miles from Ashland to the California border. Last stop in Ashland was an attempt at side trip to the top of Mount Ashland (didn't make it to the top). First stop in California was the agriculture inspection station. I had forgotten about that when I bought the berries. I toyed with the idea of "forgetting" I bought the berries, but came to my senses and declared them. The agent smiled and advised, "No problem. We're mostly looking for citrus, cherries, and mangos." I breezed through, glad I kept my moral compass.

Two things I did see of note along the way. You know how as a kid (and sometimes even now) you'd roll down that car window and moo to cows standing out in the field. They'd always look back. Well, I saw a metal sculpture of two huge cows mooing toward the interstate. I had to laugh. Then I saw an ad for the "State of Jefferson." This refers to the effort of some folks to break up the great state of California into six states, one of them being the State of Jefferson. I can't imagine! Hope it never happens...maybe 2 states (north and south Cal), but that's it.
Again on I-5, I passed places with old memories--Yreka, Weed, Mt. Lassen, McCLoud, Dunsmuir (recovered site of a huge oil spill in 1991), and Lake Shasta City. I saw the signs for Shasta Dam (website and Wikipedia) and, as I had never done so before, decided to make a pit stop at the visitor center. It was about seven miles off I-5, but I had a little time to spare.
We had house-boated on Lake Shasta twice in the 90s with a varied bunch of good buddies. As a matter of fact, as I drove through Shasta City I spotted the old Sentry grocery store where we bought supplies for these "gourmet" trips. All fancied ourselves to be chefs (except me) and some (like Cheryl) were. I didn't see the Beverages And More, but I'm sure it is there also. I recall we bought $400+ of liquor for 7 people plus an occasional house boat guest and ran out halfway though the week!!

I had only seen lake side of the dam (not the water output side). The lake water level had been low when we were there, but now, per docent information, it is at its lowest level since the 1970s. Only a trickle was flowing from the water side into the headwaters of the Sacramento River. I learned some facts and figures, marveled at the construction feats of the project, took a few photos, and continued south again. See the little cars? That's how low it is from the tree line.

After a lot of meandering on business routes through little towns and to the dam, I finally arrived a Jon & Lora's about 3pm. Lora was a little under the weather and Jon was at work weeding in the newly landscaped front garden.  This was their first major project since the last time Mike and I visited, just after they moved there in 2012. It was VERY nice.
Chit-chat started immediately after hugs and kisses. The list of the usual topics were reviewed and re-addressed. Add SR, JR and Unicum to the topics. Again, it was as though we were still neighbors by the seaside near San Francisco CA.

We drank a little wine and decided to do Thai in downtown Chico. It was a place we had been to before. It did not live up to my memory of how wonderful it was, BUT that is one cuisine you cannot find in Kazoo. So it quenched my taste buds for Pad Thai and we left satisfied.

When we returned home, their neighbors Rob and Hmmm? stopped by for a visit. Sweet and fun couple. Then two other gals stopped by with their two dogs. One was a long-haired Dachshund that had had a stroke. He walked with a little sideways giddy-up and was the sweetest thing on earth. One of the gals treated stroke patients as an occupation, so it was the perfect match-up.

This new home is still the "house of excess," a sign Jon in his single days proudly displayed as you walked through the door of his little El Granada bungalow. (I think it's in the garage now.) The evening provided not quite the hype of the ol' days, but we darn near downed a whole liter-size bottle of sake at night.

Needless to say, I slept heartily and thankfully woke up well and ready to roll on down the road south way.

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