Tuesday, September 12, 2017

PrimeTime Plumas, continued.

        In my previous entry I referred to Prime Time Plumas...let me expand on that theme. Autumn is almost here. This has, without a doubt, been the hottest Summer that I've experienced during my 32 years in Chester, California. Yet, I am inspired...this green lush water oasis is the place to be. A healthy, wet Winter helped accentuate the upside of life in Plumas county.
        We are physically working extremely hard on the Wagon Rd homestead, as I mentioned last week. Lisa will say, "Let's go do the Juni-jump or... let's bring chairs and a Torpedo to Silver Lake or...let's put our butts in Butt Lake." It doesn't take much to get me to drop the chainsaw or big rock lever and change to my sporting clothes. Also, when we hit one of the area's pristine bodies of water, it doesn't take me long to shuck the sporting clothes and swim like a fish....underwater with swift, cleansing movements, well, maybe more like a frog.
        How much longer can this go on? Lisa asked me yesterday, "What kind of Winter do you think we'll get?" I am thinking...drought-like. Five out of the last six were warmer than usual and I'm seeing us riding our bicycles up the paved portion of Juniper Rd. during most of the season...which was freaky and unusual but,  possible during most of the last handful of years.
        If I am wrong we can always drop down a thousand feet in elevation and ride in the American Valley or the Indian Valley. A little extra snow higher up however, will make the American Valley... Great Again! Battered by fires in 2017, we are looking forward to this regeneration of the "good life" in Quincy.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Reasons Not To Travel Far

        Unusual Summer snowstorms in the Pyrenees, hurricanes popping up out of the Atlantic, financial systems teetering on the brink, airline pilots and passengers getting goofier by the week, a pall of dense smoke covering Oregon, uninformed lemming-like people racing into the smoke (therefore adding to the ridiculous lack of air quality) so that they can watch the sun blink through the smoke. Europeans questioning the sanity of all New World cowboys who are shooting to Make America Great Again. It's complicated.
        We have decided to "focus local" for the next several months. Swim local, ride local and work our butts off on projects that scream for attention...and, go to work at least five days a week. I am even plotting a couple of overnight bicycle tours. The motorized tourists and second-homers have headed home leaving us with space and time to twiddle our thumbs and chunky dunk most anywhere we like. This really is primetime in Plumas. I have rock retaining walls to build, a dangerously rotted deck to replace, wood to split and stack and an eroded driveway to repair....focus local because you can't do anything about the big picture.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Pouring Over Maps Of France

        The summer business cools to a simmer right before Labor Day weekend...and what do I find myself doing? Studying maps, electronic maps, folded paper maps and the maps in my head...you don't have those?
        The river drainages of France...geez, we've not explored the river Loire (which starts on the northslope of the Massif Centrale and rolls west to Nantes and the Atlantic Ocean). There are more than a few hundred kilometres of bicycle trail along the Loire and there is a plethora of camping possibilities.  We would be zigging and zagging the heights of the drainage, the side canyons, the mountainside villages. The riverbanks of the Loire are undoubtedly noisy with motorists but, that's where the camping will be located. Ahhh...the trip of a lifetime. No, we are not flying to France this autumn, nor at any time in 2017.
        We must save miles and money and get the deck rebuilt but, I am plotting an excellent adventure that will include miles of cycling, gourmet camping (which is not the same as "glamping") and numerous wild swims....or saunas...or naked afternoons. I can't imagine a better location for all this to come together than France...unless, it would be Northern California and Oregon. Aren't we fortunate? We have all this at our fingertips but, we fly across the pond and find the experiences that we love most in rural France. For now, we plot mini-vacations to wild places in our own backyard but, believe me we are casual-mapping another escape to wild and wooly France.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

The "Extra Days"...

        Pedaling to work this morning I see my neighbor puttering in his yard, stacking firewood against the oncoming winter. Hey Dave, what are you doing with the extra days you've been given? "On the water as much as possible but, there are still chores that need to be done." Dave has been a medivac passenger to the hospital in Chico (70 miles away) twice in the last 18 months. "You know, you are right about these being extra days."
         I always figured that days over the age of 65 and days after a medical emergency (especially those experienced after the age 65) are "extra days". When you reach the late 60's your list of friends and relatives who have expired "too early" is already becoming quite long.
        Time on the water (and for me, time in the water) are some of the best moments. The sneaky dips, the ones where you hike to a private location with friends, are my very favorite. I did this often as a teenager. We didn't crash friend's pool parties (in our neighborhood no one could afford a pool) but we did find remote natural locations to plunge au natural. I never stopped. Many of my closest friends never stopped. Underwater sans clothing is one of the best sensations out there....but yes, you have to be willing to go "out there".
       One of the side benefits of this activity is that you become much less self-conscious about your body. Body acceptance, no matter your shape, or your flaws, or your scars... just doesn't affect the pleasure of chunky dunkin' with friends.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Can't You Think Of Some Place You'd Rather Be?

       Well, yes. Top of my list...Wild Swimming and hiking in the high country with my beautiful friends. Yeah, that has to be at the top of the list. Cycling remote roads and trails takes a second place.  Actually, any place that I can roll up to under my own power, that has crystal blue water, that is not being utilized by other humans will find me de-clothing and diving in quick as a croc.  Three 59 year old girls that I've known forever took me on just such a remote hike this last week.
        We started at Juniper Lake, ambled on to Horseshoe Lake, wound our way up to Indian Lake and then circled back down to Juniper Lake's westside cliffs. We swam, we lounged back on hot rocks and marveled at the lack of mosquitoes feasting on our naked bodies. My dreams are made of scenes like this...but, I was wide awake and thoroughly enjoying the company.
        Seriously, we are naturalists...identifying flowers, birds. Enjoying healthy snacks and pure water and being comfortable looking at each others' aging, but capable bodies...is about as natural as it gets.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Lovin' The Feedback

       I get more than my share of positive feedback...from family, friends and customers. I am always appreciative. People don't have to take the time to tell me that I've "done good", but they do. I stick my neck out there quite often...were they asking for advice or, did I just throw it out there?
       A customer named Don came in this morning, "Chuck,  I just wanted to tell you, I came in here a couple of years ago and I was complaining about my old man aches and pains...you stopped me in my tracks and said, "You need Glucosamine and Chondroitin." Whoa, what a difference. I'm going to be a young man forever. Thanks."
        Now, I hear from my youngest sibling that he is feeling limited by his aches and pains...do I tell him my secret? I don't think he has ever taken my advise on any other subject....David, you need a regular/ daily dose of Glucosamine...take it religiously (which I think is the way he takes everything) and don't doubt it's effectiveness. After building my own house...from the ground up...I was dealing with many nagging aches and pains. I was only 41 years old...this was 26 years ago. A handful of things have helped me reach a ripe age with a minimum of pain...Glucosamine, cardio-vascular exercise and good shoes (possibly morning coffee and a nightly ale have helped too).

Some Like It Hot

        July, close to record heat all July...best strategy, get in the water. Hike or ride bicycles early in the morning but make sure you are in the water by late afternoon. For me this has meant...climb in the shower and leave it on cold..."the European shower"... We pedaled through the (closed to cars) portion of Lassen Volcanic Natl Park yesterday and I noticed the possibility of gaining 8 big lake-bagging points because Emerald Lake and Lake Helen are covered with ice (remember, 4 points for breaking ice and jumping in naked). I was too afraid of cramping up, we had a forty mile ride yet to accomplish.    
        We have found our way to the big lake a half dozen times this month (that would be Lake Almanor), it's big and fresh and the water temperature is mid-seventies. When the air temperature sits at 90 in Chester/ Lake Almanor you can bet it's close to 110 degrees in the big valley. This is what we hope for every April when we are purchasing inventory for the summer.
        August, I resolve to get in the lake more days than not, during the month of August...any lake will do.