Posted by: jsmcfadden | December 15, 2010

Anniversary QuickTrip to Clear Lake

John suggested that we get away for our December anniversary this year, but we didn’t want to go far to have something beautiful and different to look at. Clear Lake came to mind. We’d been to Clear Lake once, with the kids on a Labor Day weekend before Brian started at UC Davis, and we’d had fun kayaking around on the water and eating at the Nice Frostie. Em & Terence had enjoyed their anniversary stay there last June, and had even recommended a good restaurant for a splurge.

So we reserved a place at our WorldMark on ClearLake. GoogleMaps Nice, California, then zoom in so you can see 3807  County Road 306S. Get the little guy onto the road between the lake and the resort & take a look. There’s our wonderful resort’s lakefront side.

And here’s what it looked like when I went out on Saturday morning; the day was too beautiful, the sky too clear, and the lake just too close.

What a wonderful place to wake up! The hills in the background were just greening — the rain we’re expecting in mid-month will finish the job, probably.

And there was mist on the lake. Mist that prevented me from seeing to the other shore, which is nearly always possible later in the day.

See what I mean?

Mount Konocti would have been in the background, veiled, as they say, with mist, if only I had looked another few feet to the left. It’s pretty enough, don’t you think?

It didn’t take but a few minutes for me to step out, take a little walk, and realize that John must also see this. So back I went to our unit, made sure he was awake and dressed and had his camera, and then we both took a nice stroll along Lakeshore Boulevard. 

Contrary to what you might expect, Lakeshore Boulevard is not a broad city avenue with trees in the median and wide sidwalks on either side. It’s a black-topped road without any stripes on it at all, not in the middle, and not on either edge. The Boulevard follows the lake from the city Marina in Nice toward the east and then up a little incline to merge with California State Highway 20.

All along the Boulevard, we noticed the lake, of course (that’s Mount Konocti on the right in this photo). The sky was lighter with  nearly every step we took, and the lake stayed calm and reflective. I wondered about the monstrous glacier that must have carved out that valley in this photo.

As we walked, though, we also noticed the homes. We got the feeling that this was a community of people who had owned these little summer places for generations.

Parents and children both remembered coming here as soon as school was out every year. Parents and children both remembered how great it was to have a dozen cousins to play with all day long. Grandma and grandpa caught each other’s eyes over crowded tables of breakfast pancakes, and there it was: “This was the best purchase we ever made, even though we were sure we couldn’t afford it back then!”

Look at the name of this cabin, for example.

Along our walk toward the west  shimmered the beautiful lake on our left hand; on our right (and our left, too, when the distance between the boulevard and the water was broad enough) were these charming houses and cabins and cottages. Several were rentals, obviously. Other places had grey-haired men in the  yard, washing a car or pruning grape vines, returning our “good morning” with friendly greetings.

One little cabin on the lake side of the boulevard had a tree growing into the structure, and the roof flashing curved around the trunk. Emblematic of the whole community, which seemed to me like the kind of place where people just accept the way the earth is, and not the kind of place where people are fretfully making little adjustments everywhere they look.

People here were already comfortable; they didn’t need to fix any little annoyances.

Like trees growing into their living room walls and into their ceilings.

After our walk, we enjoyed a good brunch, made a list of things to always bring to a WorldMark (soft Kleenex, coffee, butter) and then went to work on our grading. We both had bunches. John made several stacks on the coffee table. I had term papers, which went on the dining table.

For nearly two solid hours, we worked. glancing up to one another once or twice, hardly speaking. Ten term papers later, it was time for lunch, which we enjoyed while watching the Food Network for awhile.

This is a guilty pleasure when we stay at a WorldMark. Iron Chef, Cupcake Wars, Edible Window Display Challenge. What kind of strange society do we live in?

Then we got some more fresh air, walking over to the Lodge to admire its Christmas decorations and the lovely old wood of the stairway. 

Built in 1906 as the first building of a resort since gone, the building’s beautiful woodwork and windows are lovely at any season. Look at the chandeliers’ scrolling and the curve of the arch supports of the ceiling.  It’s the best of the dark wood and metal of that Craftsman period. 

The Christmas tree and fireplace downstairs just seemed perfect in that setting this December, though.

We peeked into  the Exercise Room to see the treadmills. Not to use them, mind, but just to see them.

On the way back to our unit, we were struck by the setting sun, which was just starting to color the lake with its rosy light. We rushed to grab our cameras and go out beside the water and onto the dock.

First, I noticed the contrast between sky and land and between land and water.

Between water and plants. The horizontal repetition of the ripples on the water. The vertical and diagonal repetition of the strands of the lake grass. The silhouetted ducks and tree branches.

Then I became interested in the colors of red as they changed in the sky and in the watery reflections of the sky.

The ducks were not worried about the change in light.

Postcards and calendar pictures that look like this almost always make me protest: “PhotoShopped!”

But the colors were real and clear and stark; the reflection was genuine and untouched. Didn’t need software to form those soft fades, those ripples.

What orange is this? The shadowy clouds and the streaks of darkness in the sky seemed to overcome me.  Suddenly the land was too  dark to distinguish between plain and hill, between the lower rise where Lakeport is and the more distant rise of the Coastal Range. Just the ridge line of the horizon was crisp against the amazing peachy orange of the sky and the deeper red-orange of the lake.

Finally, after a long time on  Lakeshore Boulevard and then out on the dock, surrounded by the water, we saw the sun no more. And everything lost its yellow.

We stared and clicked our cameras. Then we stared some more. We marveled to each other.

I think this is vermilion. It reminds me of Gerard Manley Hopkins. but I can’t remember the poem. Something about a gash vermilion or a flame vermilion, I think. [update: yes! “gash-gold-vermilion”  in the last line of “The Windhover” about Christ!]

Then back for showers & getting dressed to be seen by other folk. John had made reservations at Blue Wing in Upper Lake, the place Emily & Terence had enjoyed during their anniversary quicktrip.

It turned out to be a wonderful old place, with a great story for its history and nice wood floors, paneling, & old-timey saloon feel. We enjoyed delicious burgers. Upper Lake has a charming Main Street of antique shops and interesting gold-country-era architecture. Well worth an afternoon walk next visit.

Being married 32 years is quite wonderful.  John is the most wonderful man. Wish I were the woman he deserves.



  1. Jeri is right. I was there. It really was all that beautiful.
    But she’s not quite right about one thing: Jeri is more than the woman I deserve by far.
    Thirty-two years is just a good start.
    I’m glad God doesn’t give us what we deserve. He has blessed us both beyond comprehension.

    • John may be right … about God’s blessings, that is. And that 32 years is a good start.

  2. You’re both pretty remarkable! Although I might not have thought that about John 45 years ago. Fantastic photos. Thanks for sharing!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: