P is for People – #atozchallenge

I am enriched by people. They inspire me, they teach me, they bring me joy.

I have often been told that I have never met a stranger. And it’s true. I am unabashed around people. Whether it’s joking with a person in line at a grocery store or interacting with the person at a table next to me in a restaurant, I always feel comfortable.

Having a huge elephant ear with friend Robert Phinney in Dayton, WA
Got to meet Nelson Campbell, Director of the well know documentary Plant Pure Nation, in Louisville, KY

The same goes with my travels. I have been blessed to have met hundreds of unique individuals from all walks of life.

The diversity of people enriches us.

Unlike my other posts in this series, I am stretching far beyond the boundaries of back roads in America. This post will take the reader to Japan, the Philippines, Canada and beyond. As a tour guide in Flagstaff I got to interact with 100s of nameless tourists from all over the world. Working in Japan in the late 1980s, I met more unique folks from the far corners of the earth.

Met the Seattle Smile Guy along the way. Didn’t want money… just wanted smiles
Motorbike Quartet in Cebu, Philippines
Street Person – Cebu

First off, there are the “random people.” The people I have photographed on the streets while traveling. Here are a few, including some from the Philippines during my trips there in 2007. From the loneliness of street people, to the unique shots I would see from the car as I drive by in some small town, these people add color.

 

Siesta Time – Cebu
Belly Rubbing – Carbon Market – Cebu
Street Person – Toronto
Walking by the Art – Toronto
Relaxing – Weatherford, Texas
Standing – Antlers, Oklahoma
Old Man – Paducah, Kentucky
Sleeping on a Bench – Lexington, Kentucky
Street Person – Dallas, Texas
Meditation – San Xavier del Bac, Tucson, Arizona
Hanging with Ukranians at Fat Smitty’s in Discovery Bay, WA
Sumoflam and Antsy McClain

For years, I have worked and often traveled with singer/songwriter Antsy McClain to many parts of this country. I have been blessed to meet many wonderful musicians, some very well known, others not so well known. Many I have gotten to know well…not as musicians, but as people.

Many of the musicians I have met are genuine.  They are such neat people…not pretentious at all.  It is nice to talk to them about life.  One of them, Bobby Cochran, who played guitar for Antsy for a few years, was also the lead guitarist for the band Steppenwolf in the 1970s.  I saw him as a fan back in 1975 and never imagined I would be traveling on the road with him talking religion, politics and life.

Hanging with guitarist Bobby Cochran in Bardstown, KY in 2011
Sumoflam and world renown guitarist Tommy Emmanuel, c.g.b.
Sumoflam and GUITARIST EXTRAORDINAIRE Edgar Cruz from Oklahoma
One of my favorite people – multitalented musician Bruce Wandmayer, from Santa Cruz, CA
Hanging with my Aussie mate, multiinstrumentalist Pauly Zarb.
Have become good friends with the lovely former country rock singer Patti Hall, who now sells real estate in Phoenix
Sumoflam and guitarist Michael Kelsey from Indiana – he is one of my favorite guitarists and musicians. He is also a fabulous person.
“Crafty” Jack Burger from Lethbridge, Alberta

Another Antsy fan I met in Lethbridge, Alberta. Crafty Jack is a carpenter and master luthier. I spent two days with he and his sweet wife “Little Debbie” back in 2008. He taught me and my son about guitar making and took us on a nice adventure to Vulcan, Alberta to learn about Star Trek. Also, while in Lethbridge we enjoyed a dinner with him and Debbie in a converted water tower.  What a trip! Our visit with him was out of this world!

I have spent time with Crafty and Debbie in California and also on a cruise to Cancun.  We strolled the historic site of Tulum in Mexico together.  So blessed to know these great folks.

Sumoflam at the USS Enterprise Monument (with Crafty Jack) in Vulcan, Alberta (2007)
One of many Flamingoheads

Along the way I have become close friends with many Antsy fans. These “Flamingoheads,” as they are called, are also a diverse and lovely flock of folks. Some have become lifelong friends.

A couple of these Flamingoheads took great care of me on a visit to California in 2015. “Christmas Carla” and “Princess Ione” provided housing, touring and transportation for nearly a week. I got to know them, not as fans of Antsy, but as the real people they are with their unique life stories.

Enjoying the ride in California with “Christmas Carla” (she was born on Christmas day.
Ione (L) and Carla (R)…kissin cuzzins!!
BBQ Pitmaster Oliver Zuder showing off his trophy at the Oshawa Ribfest in 2008 in Ontario

My travels across Canada and the US have led me to others. Take, for instance, Oliver Zuder, a BBQ pit master from Ontario. I met him at Camp 31 BBQ in Paris, Ontario in 2013 and we became friends soon. I went to BBQ competitions to watch him and his brother Davor make people smile with satisfaction.

In the past couple of years, Oliver has started a new BBQ business called Uncle Sam’s BBQ, also in Ontario.   We keep in contact and my mouth waters every time I think of him.

Davor Zuder and some smokin’ ribs at Oshawa Rib Fest in Ontario in 2008

Crisscrossing the country I have met and chatted with cafe owners and shop owners. Their colorful stories enrich.

Carrie Fields, owner – Tightwad Cafe in Tightwad, MO
Tonya Floyd, current owner of the Wigwam Drive-in in Ravenna, KY
Sumoflam with Nancy Starvaggi Schaffer, showing off the AMAZING homemade sausage and pasta from Mama Santa’s Restaurant in Cleveland, OH
Donating on of my “MARDUP” license plates at Carhenge. I wonder if it is hanging on the wall…

I have also had my brushes with celebrities in my travels. As a tour guide in Arizona in 1983, I once met Alice Cooper in a restaurant parking lot in Sedona. We talked Golf and politics for 30 minutes. No selfies, no autographs. Just two people chatting.  On another occasion, I was attending a solar conference in Kobe, Japan in 1991. At lunch I sat with some other non-Japanese from Norway. We chatted a while and then I was introduced to Morten Harket, who I immediately recognized as the lead vocalist for the group A-ha (Take on Me). He happened to be a huge advocate of solar energy. We talked about many things. No pictures or autographs. Just enriching conversation.

David with Nadia Comanci – spent three days with her as her personal guide in Kyushu

One of my fond memories was being on the road for three days in Kyushu, Japan as the personal guide and interpreter for Olympic gold medalist Nadia Comaneci. I spent hours listening to her harrowing escape from the Communist regime in Romania. Though a national hero, she was also a prisoner to dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu. Fascinating stuff.

 

Sumoflam and Swamp People’s Troy Landry…one of the friendliest and most personable guys you’ll ever meet (Troy that is…)
Sumoflam with Troy Landry – 4 years after saying I would meet this guy

Back in August 2010 I watched the first episode of the TV show Swamp People. Already an avid traveler and travel writer, I became fascinated with the show, which featured Gator hunters in Louisiana. One of them, Troy Landry, was quite a character. I told my wife “one day I am gonna track him down and meet him.” In 2015 I did just that. I visited his bait shop and crawfishing facility in Pierre Part, LA. He happened to be there buying loads and loads of crawfish from fishermen. We talked and chatted for 30 minutes or more while he worked. Friendly and outgoing, and totally good natured, he told stories of Gator hunting, told me about the crawfishing business and the let me “choot him” in a selfie.

Hanging with Danielle Colby from American Pickers at Antique Archeaology in 2012

On another roadtrip, this time into Iowa, I visited the small town of LeClaire, on the Mississippi River. This was the home to Antique Archaeology, the Antique shop made famous by the hit TV Show American Pickers. While there in that hot July afternoon, I was told that Danielle Colby, one of the cast members, was around and was always happy to meet fans. She is the tattooed friendly gal that works with the pickers on the show. During my visit, I learned that she had her own business creating unique clothing and had a shop across the street. I went over there and we chatted about her work, her roller derby hobby and her work as a burlesque dancer. She welcomed a selfie too.

Under one of Clyde’s massive creations…his 12 foot tall dragon
Clyde Wynia, the creator of Jurustic Park and the artist behind all of the work

Not so famous, but just as unique, was my opportunity to meet 80 year old Clyde Wynia, the creative mind behind the amazing Jurustic Park in Marshfield, WI. This former attorney turned his welding passion into a unique menagerie of metal creations, including giant dragons and small spiders. He gave me a personal tour and told some amazing stories.

Clyde tells stories of his various pieces of art

I also can’t forget to mention my encounter with “the one and only JFK,” James Frank Kotera, the Twine Ball Man of Lake Nebagamon, WI. (See full story and video HERE.)

Sumoflam with JFK, “Mr. Twine Ball” and “Junior” – August 2007

My travels have also led me to chance meetings with individuals with similar interests. And social media, especially Facebook, has extended that opportunity.

Portrait and landscape photographer Derek Ace (photo by Jeff Dostalek)
Derek Ace self portrait

On a trip to Wyoming in 2013, I stopped at a place called Hell’s Half Acre. A unique geological formation, it was a must see photo stop for me. I struck up a conversation with a young hot shot photographer named Derek Ace, from Madison, WI. We hit it off and I got his contact info. Derek and I have been Facebook friends ever since and I have been enlightened and enriched by his amazing photography, especially his desert works and his off the chain shots of abandoned buildings, rusted cars and sundry other forgotten treasures left behind.  See his Rural Ruins page for some great photos.

Author, travel writer, lecturer and musician Tui Snider of Azle, TX
Sumoflam and Tui Snider, June 2014

As an avid blogger of quirky things, I had a chance virtual encounter via the web of Texas Travel blogger Tui Snider. We exchanged notes about offbeat and quirky places in Texas and soon became good Facebook friends. On a subsequent trip to Texas in 2013, I finally met this amazing individual and her husband Larry at their gothic-accented home in Azle. Besides quirky things, Tui is also fascinated by the paranormal and has also become quite the expert on cemetery gravestone symbolism. She has published numerous books and articles. I count her as a dear friend.

Sumoflam with Shelly Cumbie in front of the historic Denton County Courthouse for a tour of the “Ghosts of Denton”
Writer, Radio Host, Sacred and Mysterious Site Traveler Teal Gray

Through Tui I have met ghost tour guide Shelly Cumbie in Denton, TX, who has provided many fascinating stories. I have also become a virtual friend of writer, blogger and podcaster Teal Gray.

Teal has actually done a live podcast interview with me on her internationally syndicated podcast.  She also recently write an article about my travel blogging and photography for the Dallas Entertainment Journal (see the link here)

Teal Gray Worldwide

The podcast can be heard in its entirety here:

Even my local staycation trips have led me to fascinating new friends, such as local bird and nature photographers and enthusiasts.  See some great photos by the members of the Jacobson Park Photographers Group which I started on Facebook. (see the site)

Photographing Wildlife with some of the Jacobson Park Photographers

I have also had the opportunity to meet local chefs that have been on Food Network competitions such as Cutthroat Kitchen or Guy’s Grocery Games. Ranada Riley, co-owner of the Lexington Diner, was one of these. Her “amazing” hairdo and unique cooking style have made her a local celebrity. But there is so much more to her beyond the cooking, whether it be her faith, her love for life or her diverse lifestyle. Meeting her in person and then following her life through social media has been a great adventure.

Ranada Riley, owner of the Lexington Diner in Lexington has been on television Food Network Competitions such as Guy’s Grocery Games and Cutthroat Kitchen

What more can I say? People bring me great joy and it is so fun to meet new folks every week!

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Going To California: Fun at Woodflock VI

Happy Me at Woodflock
Happy Me at Woodflock
Floyd
Sumoflam and Floyd at Woodflock VI

What a fitting occasion…it has been a busy month since I got back from California and Woodflock.  But, today is National Pink Flamingo Day…shouldn’t it be a great time to write my final California report…all about the famed Woodflock event in Red Bluff, CA.

The Memorial Day weekend event celebrated its 6th year in 2015.  Known to Antsy McClain fans (aka Flamingoheads) as a Summer Camp for Flamingoheads, Woodflock has grown from 60 participants in its first year to well over 300.  It is held at the Red Bluff Recreation Area on the Sacramento River in an enclosed area, all under Flamingohead control!!

DSC_2860The event includes evening concerts around a campfire, music workshops, games, guided meditations, crafts, etc.  Lots of good food, prepared for and eaten by a variety of Antsy McClain fans from all over the country was also a given.

My trip to California culminated in a three day adventure at Woodflock.  In fact, the entire purpose of my end of May trip was to attend Woodflock and to schmooze with my Pine View Heights cousins.

Sumoflam singing with Antsy McClain at Woodflock
Sumoflam singing with Antsy McClain at Woodflock

Some people reading this may be wondering “What in the world is a Flamingohead?” or where the heck is “Pine View Heights?” All of these and more are borne out of Antsy McClain music over the past two decades.  Antsy began his adventure with the Trailer Park Troubadours back in 1993 and has continued to inspire and humor audiences all over the U.S., Canada and even in Europe.  Pine View Heights is a fictional small trailer park in a holler in Kentucky. Everybody lives in aluminum, has big hair and collects pink flamingos.   And Woodflock brings it all to life in a unique natural setting, right down to the skeeters and chigger bites.

My Kind host Carla Lockwood in her Trailer Park Best flamingo hat at Woodflock
My Kind host Carla Lockwood in her Trailer Park Best flamingo hat at Woodflock

Many of the “cuzzins” as all are affectionately called, are dressed up in their “Trailer Park Best” for the celebrations. There is big hair, pink hair, and sometimes no hair…but nobody cares as they are all there to enjoy the camaraderie that has grown out of a love of Antsy McClain’s unusual and meaningful lyrics and songs (not to mention his amazing artwork, poetry, storytelling and more).

Flamingos everywhere at Woodflock
Flamingos everywhere at Woodflock
Some of the kids made their own t-shirts at Woodflock
Some of the kids made their own t-shirts at Woodflock
Photo ops with trailers (and even a MARDUP license plate from Kentucky - Married Up folks!)
Photo ops with trailers (and even a MARDUP license plate from Kentucky – Married Up folks!)
Crafts abound at camp...we all had fun being creative in music and art
Crafts abound at camp…we all had fun being creative in music and art

IRV2014My days were spent with friends and my nights were spent with IRV…short nickname for Ione’s RV.  Ione Snyder made sure I had a place to sleep while at Woodflock.  It had a good large bed in a conversion van.  And thank goodness the nights were cool.

Ione (L) and Carla (R)...kissin cuzzins!!
Ione (L) and Carla (R)…kissin cuzzins!!

Like Carla Lockwood, Ione Snyder is a gem. She has probably been to more Antsy McClain shows than any other person I know of…well over 100 and counting.  She is the resident Trailer Park Princess and most certainly deserves the crown!!

Dress up time at Woodflock was ALL THE TIME
Dress up time at Woodflock was ALL THE TIME

Though Antsy and the Troubs and their music was the cause for the gathering, once all were there, all the “adults” were like kids again, frolicking around in dress up, blowing bubbles, making tie dye t-shirts, and having a Way Cool World fun time.  Following are a few shots of the fun…

Hats were everywhere...better than the Kentucky Derby!
Hats were everywhere…better than the Kentucky Derby!
Blue hair?
Blue hair?
Flamingo gear abounds...
Flamingo gear abounds…
Pittsburgh Steelers Tattoos... (yes, from lyrics of a song)
Pittsburgh Steelers Tattoos… (yes, from lyrics of a song)
Inasion of the flamingo snatchers!
Inasion of the flamingo snatchers!
Sumoflam and Twyla - BIG HAIR!
Sumoflam and Twyla – BIG HAIR!
Blowing bubbles!
Blowing bubbles!
Yes, even I got dressed up!!
Yes, even I got dressed up!!

And then there were the arts and crafts.  Yes, just like camp when were kids…here are a few samples

Metal crafts
Metal crafts
T-shirt making
T-shirt making
Living the Dream tags...there were also Enjoy the Ride tags and Woodflock tags
Living the Dream tags…there were also Enjoy the Ride tags and Woodflock tags

There was a trailer/cabin decorating contest too.  And somebody even won!!  Lots of fun stuff…and did I mention that TODAY (June 23, 2015) is Pink Flamingo Day?

Trailer full of Love sign...yes, another lyric
Trailer full of Love sign…yes, another lyric
Groundhog dead in the flowerbed... (more lyrics!)
Groundhog dead in the flowerbed… (more lyrics!)
World's Largest Underwear...somebody needed it!
World’s Largest Underwear…somebody needed it!
Flamingo Whirlygigs
Flamingo Whirlygigs
The Party's Here (actually, it was everywhere)
The Party’s Here (actually, it was everywhere)
Decorated cabin at Woodflock
Decorated cabin at Woodflock
Flamingo ornaments abound at Woodflock
Flamingo ornaments abound at Woodflock
Flamingo Lanterns decorated the dining area
Flamingo Lanterns decorated the dining area
Flamingo biking
Flamingo biking
Antsy Fans
Antsy Fans

I enjoyed mingling with the Flamingohead family and seeing all of the fun t-shirts.

Over the years Antsy has designed dozens of t-shirts and many were to be seen at Woodflock among the followers.  Here are a few fun ones.

 

Official Woodflock photographer Ed in his "We're All Gonna Dye" t-shirt
Official Woodflock photographer Ed in his “We’re All Gonna Dye” t-shirt
Donning a Flockstar t-shirt.  All of us were Flockstars at Woodflock
Donning a Flockstar t-shirt. All of us were Flockstars at Woodflock
An oldie but a goodie...the "Everything's a Dollar" t-shirt (and yes, another song)
An oldie but a goodie…the “Everything’s a Dollar” t-shirt (and yes, another song)
There are even hand motions to "Everything's a Dollar"
There are even hand motions to “Everything’s a Dollar”

And there are a goodly variety of wonderful folk….

The famed Sue Butler...coordinator extraordinaire and tireless Antsy McClain helper, supporter and priceless friend
The famed Sue Butler…coordinator extraordinaire and tireless Antsy McClain helper, supporter and priceless friend
"Harry"
“Harry”
Uncle Fred singing songs around the campfire...yes THOSE songs (Like Old McDonald...)
Uncle Fred singing songs around the campfire…yes THOSE songs (Like Old McDonald…)
The Ferreira...another tireless couple of Antsy fans.  Always there to support him
The Ferreira…another tireless couple of Antsy fans. Always there to support him
Kevin brought his harmonica and joined with the band.  Always lots of fun
Kevin brought his harmonica and joined with the band. Always lots of fun
Troy came down from Washington.  He has been an Antsy Traveler
Troy came down from Washington. He has been an Antsy Traveler
Bobby Jack Miller is the Croquet King...Bobby Jack Bobby Jack (yes...more lyrics)
Bobby Jack Miller is the Croquet King…Bobby Jack Bobby Jack (yes…more lyrics)
Kathy...well, she missed the snow... (inside joke)
Kathy…well, she missed the snow… (inside joke)
Bob was the Camp Cook and BOY OH BOY....even the vegan food tasted sinful
Bob was the Camp Cook and BOY OH BOY….even the vegan food tasted sinful
Sumoflam and Bill...twin sons from Different Mothers...and boy were the mothers happy!!
Sumoflam and Bill…twin sons from Different Mothers…and boy were the mothers happy!!
Donna and Linda...the GOOD SISTERS
Donna and Linda…the GOOD SISTERS
Yes...even Santa paid a visit...I think he was Santa...
Yes…even Santa paid a visit…I think he was Santa…

DSC_2845I don’t want to neglect Hilary and Bruce, who did a wonderful job of morning meditation each morning.  What a nice relaxing way to start the day…  Bruce Wandmeyer, of course, is the sax player and slide guitar artist of Antsy McClain and the Trailer Park Troubadours.  Hilary, his lovely wife, provided the meditation and soothed our souls.

Bruce Wandmayer played some soothing sounds from his dobro.  Relax....
Bruce Wandmayer played some soothing sounds from his dobro. Relax….
Hillary brought comfort to the souls
Hillary brought comfort to the souls

AntsyTroubs1And, finally, we enjoyed the music of Antsy McClain, the Troubs and a menagerie of others who brought their t-bones, mouth harps, ukeleles, stringed thingies and more.

This was why we were all here. We all share a love for Antsy, his music and his antics.  And each of the band members in attendance were also a delight.

We sat around the amphitheater one evening to hear the stories behind Antsy’s upcoming new album, we requested songs, we sang along, we danced.  It was time to be happy and relaxed. And we were.

Singing around the campfire at Woodflock
Singing around the campfire at Woodflock
Flamingos....even on guitars
Flamingos….even on guitars
Everyone's a fan of Antsy McClain
Everyone’s a fan of Antsy McClain
Antsy serenades us in an afternoon session
Antsy serenades us in an afternoon session
Pondering the meaning of an Antsy song??
Pondering the meaning of an Antsy song??
Aunt Beulah and her roadkill overcoat
Aunt Beulah and her roadkill overcoat
Antsy's songbook....
Antsy’s songbook….

And here are just a few more fun shots from my three days at Woodflock…I enjoyed the ride and now I have fond memories….

"Loose Bruce"
“Loose Bruce”
Kevin
Kevin
'nuff said
’nuff said
Enjoying Antsy McClain
Enjoying Antsy McClain
Enjoy the Ride
Enjoy the Ride
Finally got to hang with Pam
Finally got to hang with Pam
Lovin' on Bruce
Lovin’ on Bruce
Antsy McClain signature geetar
Antsy McClain signature geetar (and that is Edgar Cruz’s signature there too)
Smiles everyday
Smiles everyday
Flamingo Hats!
Flamingo Hats!
Hmmm....what's that lyric again?
Hmmm….what’s that lyric again?
Men with Hats...we can dance if we want to...but only at Woodflock
Men with Hats…we can dance if we want to…but only at Woodflock
Yes, Antsy Was Here
Yes, Antsy Wuz Here
Goofing around with Antsy McClain
Goofing around with Antsy McClain
Hanging with my good pal Uncle Fred, who kindly took me back to the San Francisco airport after Woodflock (and early in the morning)
Hanging with my good pal Uncle Fred, who kindly took me back to the San Francisco airport after Woodflock (and early in the morning)
Sleeping in IRV...yes, I just woke up...
Sleeping in IRV…yes, I just woke up…but I was a Happy Camper (notice the flamingo pillow case!)
Max plays a mean ukelele and sings a mean tune
Max plays a mean ukelele and sings a mean tune
Mike was the mustache winner (of course)
Mike was the mustache winner (of course)
Sumoflam doing his selfie thing...(photo by Ed Townsend)
Sumoflam doing his selfie thing…(photo by Ed Townsend)

The trip to California was amazing.  I loved every minute of it.  I want to make sure to once again thank Carla and Ione for their kindness, generosity and amazing flamingo hospitality.  Thanks to Ed…my partner in Men with Hats and good friend and photographer. Thanks to the other Flamingoheads for their familial friendship. Thanks to the Troubs for being the best musicians in the world.  And biggest thanks to my dear friend, long time pal and practically a brother…that sweet guy known as Antsy McClain…without him, Woodflock wouldn’t be.

Seriously living the dream with Antsy McClain...at Woodflock and beyond (photo by Ed Townsend)
Seriously living the dream with Antsy McClain…at Woodflock and beyond (photo by Ed Townsend)

 

 

 

 

 

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Going to California: Santa Rosa – Ukiah – Red Bluff

Goofing around at Carla's house with her pink flamingo hat and a few Antsy McClain posters
Goofing around at Carla’s house with her pink flamingo hat and a few Antsy McClain posters

Day 2 of my Woodflock trip started off nice and slow.  No hurry so I was able to sleep in over at Carla’s doublewide in Santa Rosa.  Woke up to a beautiful morning in the trailer park.

Soon, Carla and I were on the road heading north.  She decided to go through Ukiah for a more scenic route (and likely to appeal to my wanderlust!)

In good hands with Carla!! Standing with Agraria by Larry Kirkland
In good hands with Carla!! Standing with Agraria by Larry Kirkland

Santa Rosa is home to a couple of quirky roadside attractions, so we stopped at these on our way out of town.  The first of them was a big hand in front of the mall.  Reminded me that I was in good hands with Carla!!

The Hand statue is actually titled “Agraria” and is by artist Larry Kirkland, who is originally from California but currently has his studios in Washington, D.C.  It was commissioned in 1996 and is made from the same marble quarry that Michaelangelo used centuries ago.  Kirkland has done commissioned works all over the world.

Back side of Larry Kirkland's "Agraria"
Back side of Larry Kirkland’s “Agraria”
Front side of Larry Kirkland's "Agraria" in Santa Rosa, CA
Front side of Larry Kirkland’s “Agraria” in Santa Rosa, CA
"Guardian of the Creek" - a big fish in Santa Rosa, CA
“Guardian of the Creek” – a big fish in Santa Rosa, CA

After the big hand, we visited another site, a big mosaic fish in a park. Entitled “Guardian of the Creek” this one and a half ton fish by Santa Rosa artist Mario Uribe. It is 13 foot high and covered in mosaic. It is surrounded by a 30 foot diameter mosaic map of the Santa Rosa Watershed. The large rainbow trout has become an icon and reminder of the restoration efforts by the city to nurture the creek habitat to a more natural state. I really loved the colorful mosaic…certainly one of the nicer big fish statues I have seen.

"Guardian of the Creek" by Mario Uribe. In Santa Rosa's Prince Memorial Greenway
“Guardian of the Creek” by Mario Uribe. In Santa Rosa’s Prince Memorial Greenway
Detail of Park Bench at Prince Gateway
Detail of Park Bench at Prince Memorial Gateway
Another portion of lovely park bench in Santa Rosa, CA
Another portion of lovely park bench in Santa Rosa, CA
Sumoflam at the base of "Cyclisk"
Sumoflam at the base of “Cyclisk”

Another Uber Quirky Attraction in Santa Rosa is the 65 foot tall obelisk completely made from junk bike parts.  The artwork, entitled “Cyclisk.” It was created in 2010 by Petaluma-based artists Mark Grieve and Ilana Spector and weighs about 10,000lb and is made from roughly 340 recycled bicycles collected from local nonprofit community bike projects. It took nearly four months of welding to manufacture.

A conglomeration of old scrap bicycle parts makes up the "Cyclisk" sculpture
A conglomeration of old scrap bicycle parts makes up the “Cyclisk” sculpture
"Cyclisk"
“Cyclisk” by Mark Grieve and Ilana Spector – 2010
US Highway 101 heading north into Mendocino County
US Highway 101 heading north into Mendocino County

These three unique pieces of art really made the entire trip worthwhile in and of themselves! But, there was much more to be seen on the way to Red Bluff. We took the scenic route up US Hwy 101 through Geyserville and Hopland and then up to Ukiah.

Needing to Pee?

Roadtrips always have their surprises, and this one was no exception. As we approached the small town of Hopland, once a thriving agriculture area known for hops, the first thing I see is the big red sign shown to the left. No joke! I’ve never seen a sign like that before!

IMG_2911.JPGTurns out that the sign, and the others that followed it, were to get one to stop at Real Goods Solar, a store that sells off-grid living items including solar panels, bee keeping equipment, hemp products, composting toilets, etc. Founded in 1978, The Real Goods Store is the original purveyor of Solar Living goods. Originally envisioned as a one-stop-shop where people could find everything they needed for their remote homesteads, the store began with the sale of the first retail solar panel in the United States and the humble goal of changing the world.

Scrap metal “Horn Serpent” at Real Goods

Indeed, the place was so unique that it deserves its own blog post (which will be the next one after this). Suffice it to say it was quirky fun! Read all about soon!

Of the many unique things available for viewing at Real Goods, I have to admit that the scrap metal sculpture entitled “Horn Serpent” by Upper Lake, CA artist Diego Harris was the best.  Many know that I “collect” scrap metal art from around the country.  In fact, my most visited post is my “Yard Art” post which features scrap metal art found all over the country.  This one is now part of that post as well.

"Horn Dragon" by Diego Harris.  Currently on display at Real Goods Store in Hopland, CA
“Horn Dragon” by Diego Harris. Currently on display at Real Goods Store in Hopland, CA
Ukiah, CA
Ukiah, CA

From Hopland it was on to Ukiah. I have now been to three towns that also are names of Doobie Brothers songs. The other two are Blackwater, MO and China Grove, TX. Yes, I collect (and visit) town names from songs.  Still gotta make my way to Lodi, CA and LaGrange, TX, to name a couple of others.

Carla with some fresh California strawberries
Carla with some fresh California strawberries

Before we got to Ukiah actually, Carla decided that we would make a stop at a Strawberry Stand along the way.  I think we stopped at Saechao Strawberry farm, on the Redwood Highway, another name for this portion of US Hwy 101.  These strawberries were AMAZING!!

They were sweet and luscious.  Who needs candy or cakes when you can enjoy the wonderfully aromatic freshness of these strawberries!

Sumoflam enjoying an amazing California strawberry
Sumoflam enjoying an amazing California strawberry
California Strawberries!
California Strawberries!

With strawberries in hands (and mouths), we passed by Ukiah on US Hwy 101 and made it to Calpella. From there we headed east on CA 20 through some beautiful hill country and then on to Clear Lake (actually, to the small town of Upper Lake, CA).

CA Hwy 20 goes through scenic hill country
CA Hwy 20 goes through scenic hill country

CA 20 is dotted with many small lakes and a number of scenic views.  It is MY KIND of back road highway, with a variety of things to see along the way.   Lots of beautiful scenery and vistas on this drive.  I was so glad we came this way.

Upper Lake, CA
Upper Lake, CA

We finally stopped in Upper Lake, which is a rustic little place nestled in the upper reaches of Clear Lake. The town of Upper Lake is the gateway to the Mendocino National Forest and is a fun little town.  In the middle of town sits an old hotel and also a quaint little outdoor saloon/eatery.

Tallman Hotel in Upper Lake, CA
Tallman Hotel in Upper Lake, CA

The Tallman Hotel was built in the 1890s and is now a 17 room luxury hotel/bed and breakfast place.  It fits in nicely with the rustic, old west style of the town.

Next door to the hotel is the Blue Wing Saloon and they have a number of nice outdoor dining tables.  The property also has some unique art…yep, more scrap metal art and an array of lovely flowers in the gardens.  It would be a fun place to just chillax for a couple of days.

Taking a selfie with the "springy lady" in the courtyard area of the Blue Wing Saloon in Upper Lake, CA
Taking a selfie with the “springy lady” in the courtyard area of the Blue Wing Saloon in Upper Lake, CA
Rustic old motel chairs...reminds me of the 1960s..Upper Lake, CA
Rustic old motel chairs…reminds me of the 1960s..Upper Lake, CA
Welcome to Upper Lake, CA
Welcome to Upper Lake, CA
Old Town Upper Lake Antiques
Old Town Upper Lake Antiques
"Christmas" Carla (her birthday is on Christmas) poses with a singing cowboy in Upper Lake as we think about Antsy McClain
“Christmas” Carla (her birthday is on Christmas) poses with a singing cowboy in Upper Lake as we think about Antsy McClain
Old fashioned architecture on a shop in Upper Lake
Old fashioned architecture on a shop in Upper Lake
Carla photo bombs me on my selfie of Terry Church's "Moth to a Flame"
Carla photo bombs me on my selfie of Mendocino County artist Terry Church’s “Moth to a Flame”

And, I couldn’t forget this sign which gave me a chuckle….

DSC_2510Heading southeast on CA 20 we skirted the northern part of Clear Lake.  It was a lovely day and so we had some wonderful views of the lake.  Plenty of birds in the water.  I saw grebes for the first time…a really nervous bird.  Also saw a cormorant in flight.

A solitary grebe sits in the lake
A solitary grebe sits in the lake
A cormorant glides across the waters of Clear Lake
A cormorant glides across the waters of Clear Lake
Then there are the human types that glide across the water on their skis
Then there are the human types that glide across the water on their skis
A view across Clear Lake, one of the oldest freshwater lakes in North America
A view across Clear Lake, one of the oldest freshwater lakes in North America

According to some sources, Clear Lake is believed to be one of the oldest lakes in North America. The lake sits on a huge block of stone which slowly tilts in the northern direction at the same rate as the lake fills in with sediment, thus keeping the water at roughly the same depth. Apparently, core samples of the lake’s sediments, taken by U.S. Geological Survey geologists in 1973 and 1980, indicate that the lake is at least 480,000 years old.

We all know who is really Nice!
We all know who is really Nice!

There are a few towns along the lake, but none as nice as Nice…well, at least not in name anyway.

Nice is actually pronounced “neece” like the town in France.  But, to me, the nice guy, it is Nice.  And it is a nice name to add to my collection of unique named towns like Tightwad, Normal, Romance, Success, Friendship, Uncertain, etc.

Wall painting on a rest area in Lucerne, CA
Wall painting on a rest area in Lucerne, CA

Just up the road is Lucerne, named after the town in Switzerland.  The Rest Area at Lucerne Harbor Park, a turnoff by the lake, had a beautiful painting on the back that you can see coming in from Nice.  One of the more intricate wall paintings I have seen.

Full view of the mural in Lucerne
Full view of the mural in Lucerne, CA

This artwork was completed in mid-2009 by muralist Gloria De La Cruz of Clear Lake, CA. The painting depicts the Old Lucerne Hotel and has intricate work of animals and plant life as well.  I really appreciated this one!

DSC_2544After a brief rest in Lucerne, Carla and I were off again, this time to Williams, CA. Williams is at the crossroads of CA 20 and Interstate 5. From what I could see there were two parts to this town…the off the freeway fast food places and the local places in town.

Detail of a mural on the side of a building in Williams, CA
Detail of a mural on the side of a building in Williams, CA

The Old Masonic Lodge has a wonderful mural immortalizing the old Williams Hotel, which apparently burned down in 1913. The mural covers the entire two story face of the building.  Painted by Petaluma mural artist John Ton in 2014.  Folowing are a couple more detailed photos:

Williams Hotel mural by John Ton in Williams, CA
Williams Hotel mural by John Ton in Williams, CA
Second story portion of the Williams Hotel Mural in Williams, CA
Second story portion of the Williams Hotel Mural in Williams, CA
Welcome to Red Bluff, CA
Welcome to Red Bluff, CA

Once the break was over, we were on our last leg of the day…north on I-5 to Red Bluff and to our home away from home at Woodflock. This small unique music festival and Flamingohead retreat is held annually at the Sycamore Grove Campground in the Red Bluff Recreation area along the Sacramento River.  A beautiful little location that gets bedecked with flamingos and Antsy McClain music over the course of three days.

Welcome to Woodflock!
Welcome to Woodflock!

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