Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Whiskeytown Lake

When I lived in Redding, CA, I used to go to the lake and sit in my car and write often with a cup of coffee from Starbucks. Sometimes, I even went to the lake in the rain because the park was with its surrounding mountains and wonderful views of the lake which was often different depending on the weather seemed interesting to watch from the different places I have found especially in the seasons when tourists were scarce.

It costs five dollars to visit this federal park but I had a pass that let me in for free based on my veteran status. Seniors get in for free as well. It had one additional feature other than the abundant wildlife such as birds, bears, mountain lions, I never suffered from hay fever when I was up there. As soon as I drove through the old town of Old Shasta which doubled as a state park, my hay fever just stopped.

On occasions because I did not have access to a kitchen, I went to a deli at a grocery store on the way to the park and bought some food that I could eat up there. The store would distinguish what they had from non-gluten and gluten items and the bakery often had non-gluten items. It was heaven on earth to be able to shop there. The prices were economical. The staff friendly and informative.

Now, that I live in Portland, I don't know of any place that is like Whiskeytown Lake. I find that I don't need to go as much as I used to when I lived in Redding. For one thing, I live alone and if I don't want to see anyone I don't have to. I have access to a kitchen all of the time. When I open the blinds, there is no one looking in as there are no apartments or windows looking back at me. There are only trees and sky. There is a playground but I have seen a few kids there only once and it was a nine or so year old girl reading on a slide. There is a heated pool not far from my apartment but I can't see it from my place. I have never heard anyone using it. I hear people above me walking around but that is about it.

I had to ask myself why I needed to go to Whiskeytown in Redding two or three times a week and the desire on my part to find a place that is wild and scenic is just not present or at least not as yet. I have been here since May 3rd. That is two weeks. I feel comfortable and at home. I am not homesick for a place I have lived in for the last 22 years. When I left for Korea, I cried when I saw Mt. Shasta, but I don't miss it now. I do miss my grandchildren though. If I really wanted to go and visit them I could go down there for a visit. My youngest son said they might come up here this summer for a visit.

Whiskeytown was a special place for me. I drew many sketches of it and have pictures of it in my phone. I found many places I could sit in my car and read and listen to music. I stopped walking the trails when people stopped using leashes for their dogs. I have a fear of large unleashed dogs. There used to be more rangers up there but budget cuts have seen less of them and so it means more people disregarding the rules.

I could not walk around my neighborhood for the large number of loose dogs either and one neighbor shot one of them that attacked one of his grandchildren. Here I see many people walking and I have not seen any loose dogs at all. I do see dogs but they are on leashes. I don't see people taking dogs into stores as I was beginning to see in Redding. I asked a store manager in Redding why he allowed people to bring in their dogs and he said that it was too much trouble to ask them to leave. It wasn't just one store. One was a Starbucks in Barnes and Noble, but at least those were dogs being held. They were not service dogs and all service dogs are on leashes.

I saw many extraordinary things in Whiskeytown and I think that may have been because of the vortex that is located there at a nearby Crystal falls. Many of the things I have experienced, I seen in the company of others, some alone. I have seen things in which people have grabbed cameras and got excited and called people on their cell phones such as a huge flock of snow geese coming over the mountains and landing on the lake. I saw that only once. Unusual silver fish that were huge jumping out of the lake in threes. I saw that with other people. The ghost train which many people hear but never see. I have heard that train many times. I could go on.

I will miss that place. It was the place I first went to when I found out I could retire from the state of California realizing a dream I had all of my life. I remember looking at that lake and seeing my freedom from regular employment on its shores and a whole new way of life for me. I can still feel the extraordinary sense of joy and wonder at that. I have worked since the age of 15 years without a break. Even when I had my children I took only a few days off to have them.

I missed Whiskeytown in Korea and headed out to the lake when I got back to Redding. Now, I am not there and there is no desire to go anywhere. I was thinking of going to the ocean next month if my finances are in order. I have driven around the area especially when I have been lost and it is very beautiful but I have not found anything like Whiskeytown. I knew the lake was special and that I was lucky to have it so close to where I lived.

I bought an atlas of the state and it is still in my car and there are the Google maps on the Internet. I have not been here that long. I feel good about this move and about the people that I have met. I have always identified with the fictional character, Tigger, from Winnie the Pooh. I tend to jump around and get excited and want to do everything at once. I will just have to take some breaths and wait to see what this area is all about as I did when I lived in Redding.

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