We have 3 motorcycles and a scooter but if that was not enough manliness we now borrow Topher truck. We need it as James and I are headed upcountry to check out migrating geese and spot Bald-Headed Eagles. The idea is to visit 3 major goose spots or bumps;
The Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge
Modoc National Wildlife Refuge
Over the Bay Bridge, up 80 onto 505 and finally 5 – lighting out for the territories. As we get to the Sacramento reserve, which is just South of Willows, the sunset sky is full of thousands of geese winging it back to the lakes to roost, having spent the day feeding in various fast food restaurants. It is a fabulous sight.
After a quick visit to the lakes, we hole up in a Motel and seek out steak restaurant. “Hey Swede, burn me a thick one.” I cry on entering. It is New Years Eve. James and I are in bed by 10:30.
2015 starts as we mean it to go on; with great vigor. We are up at 6:00 and back at the bird-watching lakes to see the dawn come up over the flocks of Snow Geese.
After slaking our lust all morning, we head the truck northeast past Mont Shasta, which is a very fine mountain, to Lake Tule to take in the thousands of Geese and hundreds of Bald Eagles that hang out there.
This is remote California. Wide open country of forest and hill. We come across 3 Golden Eagles chowing down on road kill by the side of the road. They are big, magnificent birds that allow us to approach very close before flapping off indolently.
As we approach Lake Tule we notice lots of white stuff that I have not seen much of during my now 4 years in Okinawa. When we get to the lake we notice that it is totally frozen over and of course all the geese and Bald Eagles have gone somewhere else. Hmmm, should have thought about that.
Are we dismayed? No! The scenery is so magnificent, we are just a few miles from Oregon, everyone drives a truck, to want more would be pure greed.
We drive truck to Alturas to find somewhere to stay and end up in the Hacienda Motel. When asked about restaurants, the motel man says, “ Well, I could cook you up some red potatoes and I got some beans I just made and biscuits of course. We got any of that chicken left honey? Yep ,we could serve it up with chicken.” We rudely turn down his offer fearing that he would engage us in conversation. James and I are lonesome cowboys.
It is the 1st of January. It is minus 14 centigrade. The town, such as it is, is closed. We finally find a Subway and buy big USA sandwiches stuffed with beef and salad and onions and olives and pickles. You buy Subway sandwiches by length, either 6 inches or 1 foot. Back in the hotel we turn up the heat, drink beer, eat our sandwiches, and watch TV about a Pawn Shop. We are invaded by a great sense of contentment.
Next day after a stonking bacon eggs hash browns, English muffin and gallons of coffee we drive out to the final destination.
This is the big one, the Modoc County Nature Reserve, renowned for its over-abundance of wildfowl, geese and Bald Eagles. Of course we know that it is a futile gesture as it is tremendously cold, earth is hard as iron and water like a stone. The lakes are solid; the wild geese have flown.
We head off into Nevada with a slight sense of disappointment but a huge sense of elation of having visited these incredible winter landscapes. This is the US of the cowboy and what’s more you can buy a house with an acre for $70,000. I think I will come back here, buy a house and gun and work as a volunteer ranger in one of the National Parks.