Caspar Institute logoitinerary   < 26 May Caspar, California   16 June Ashland, Oregon >

to Ashland 12 June 2011

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A short fieldtrip for culture and spring

Off to a late start on Sunday, mid-afternoon, across the green Coast Range to a party in the first inner valley, Ukiah. Cheryle, a dear friend of many years was celebrating her retirement from teaching. We hoped her son would be there, a young man we've known since he was two, and who is carrying on his mother's charismatic teaching capability.

I hoped for a walk at Montgomery Woods, our closest Redwoods, and some of the tallest and most intact, in a lovely hanging valley above Orr Creek. We didn't have time ...but we did have time to stop and make sure a lovely fat Pacific Rattlesnake winds her way safely across Orr Springs Road. (We'll get some redwoods on the trip home.)

When we top the Range and get our first long view to the east, we can see that there is still snow -- last week's late spring storms -- on the next range of mountains standing between us and the Central Valley. Winding down the steep slope, the climate changes from coastal fog to inland heat. The air is shimmering.


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<p>On Orr Springs Road</p>

On Orr Springs Road

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<p>Clear Lake Sunset</p>

Clear Lake Sunset

In Ukiah, we found our gathering of teachers, recovering teachers, middle schoolers, and friends of Cheryl's 29 years of working and living in the Ukiah Valley. She has been a friend for almost all of those years, a spirited, dedicated teacher. It's hard to imagine her leaving the classroom for ever, even as it's easy to see her forging ahead into a new life. She is as vivid and full of life as ever. "You're going to Italy?" she says. "Ooooh, I want to come!"

After the retirement party, we headed east through the sunset to the Central Valley. As we passed around the north side of Clear Lake, the sun was setting over the Coast Range.

Beyond the lake, the land changes dramatically -- green goes to gold-brown and almost white. The nearly full moon was rising over the Great Valley as we left the last folds of hills and rolled down through the rice fields and almond orchards surrounding WIlliams, where we spent the night.

In the morning, we made the short ride into Chico, where we meet Rochelle's son Chad for lunch -- a huge salad at Plutos, surrounded with gaggles of Uni students who can't quite bear to go home after their school year.

Dinner at Japanese Blossoms, delicious and inventive sushi. We managed to control ourselves and not eat too much, saving room for ice cream from Shubert's, a Chico summertime institution.

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From Chico, north through the top end of the Central Valley and into the mountains. To the east, the broken top of California's last active volcano (that we know about!) Mount Lassen, and ahead, the lynch pin for the whole world (according to California's natives) Mount Shasta. In their stories, Mount Shasta is the very top of the turtle's shell on which the whole world is built. The turtle floats in an endless ocean. In this later and more rational world, Mount Shasta's perfection still carries the same kind of power that Mount Fuji does for the Japanese. Over the top at Siskiyou Summit, we're in Ashland in time for lunch in a park bustling with children and parents enjoying a bright warm summer's day.

<p>Mother Mountain: Mount Shasta</p>

Mother Mountain: Mount Shasta

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