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!!
The 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.
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.
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).
My 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.
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!!
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…
And then there were the arts and crafts. Yes, just like camp when were kids…here are a few samples
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?
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.
And there are a goodly variety of wonderful folk….
I 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.
And, 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.
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….
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.
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!)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Turns 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.
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.
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.
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!
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 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.
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.
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.
And, I couldn’t forget this sign which gave me a chuckle….
Heading 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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
After 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.
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:
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.
Woodflock – a relatively unknown destination for those unfamiliar with Antsy McClain and the Trailer Park Troubadours. For the last six years Flamingoheads from California and other places have gathered in the Sycamore Grove campground along the Sacramento River near Red Bluff, CA to enjoy time schmoozing with Antsy and the band and each other through music, meditation, arts and crafts and food. Held every Memorial Day weekend, the campground turns into a flamingo haven.
I have traveled with Antsy McClain on a cruise to Mexico, I have accompanied him on Field Trips in Kentucky and Texas and have toured with him and the band in Washington, Pennsylvania, Texas, West Virginia and California, but I have never had the opportunity to attend the pinnacle of Flamingohead Fantasy trips…Woodflock. That is, until last week. And what a trip it was!
I departed on a non-stop flight to San Francisco from Cincinnati on Thursday. It was a nice four and a half hour flight with views of clouds until we got over the Rocky Mountains In Colorado and oh what a view. The snow covered peaks and the lakes…phenomenal. We went right over Mount Evans, where I have set foot in the past. How fun.
I arrived in San Francisco at about 11:30 AM California time and was met there by my Flamingohead friend Carla, a sweet and bouncy young lady of 70. Carla had worked out a few plans for our day and our drive to Santa Rosa, where she lives.
We left SFO and began our trip north to the city where we first visited Golden Gate Park to see the lovely mural in the visitor’s center, the beautiful flowers and a cool old Dutch windmill. The park is a beautiful inner city park with lots to see, but we had to move on to see some of the other sights. Here are a few scenes.
In 1901, John McLaren, together with Park Commissioners Adolph B. Spreckles and Reuben Lloyd, convinced the San Francisco Recreation and Park Commission to build a windmill 300 yards from the ocean. This windmill could take advantage of the prevailing winds to pump water for the park’s irrigation system. Completed in 1902 at a cost of $25,000, the North Windmill was designed by Alpheus Bull Jr., a prominent San Franciscan at the time. Over the years it has had to go through various restorations, but the blades now function, though the pump has long been removed.
Golden Gate Park runs along the coast and so there are plenty of beach scenes and birds, etc.
Our next stop was for lunch. What better place than an old fashioned diner. We stopped at the historic Mel’s Drive-in, a throwback to the 1950s both in style and cooking. Every table had a Rock-ola jukebox with 50s and 60s songs. Though working hard to change my diet, coming to this diner was risky…the meatloaf looked fabulous. But, I stuck with a large salad and a couple of rolls. No butter. Great diner atmosphere and what appeared to be great diner food.
The original Mel’s Drive-in, built in the 1940s, was used for George Lucas’ classic film American Graffiti. There are now a few in the San Francisco area and even a couple, with the trademarked name and logo, at amusement parks. Following is a brief portion of the history from their website:
Following is a brief portion of the history of Mel’s as taken from their website:
“Mel Weiss and Harold Dobbs started it all back in 1947 when they built their first car hop eatery, inspired by similar restaurants serving motorists in Los Angeles. With a staff of fourteen carhops covering a 30,000 square foot parking lot, they lured the hungry with a local radio personality broadcasting a live remote. As music reverberated through car radios in the drive-ups, the curb-stepping gals of 140 South Van Ness became a new paradigm for service.
At all hours of the day and night, crowds of patrons that fancied dining-in-your-car came early and often. It didn’t take long for the first unit to multiply into eleven! Six Mels became landmarks in the Bay Area with additional cluster achieving their own notoriety in Stockton and Sacramento. They reigned for almost twenty years, until a parade of franchised fast food outlets finally outpaced their service. As the new philosophy of “serve yourself” began to reprogram attitude about dining, Mel’s began its gradual decline.”
A Drive Down Lombard Street in San Francisco
After a good lunch and a break, we drove around town and made our way to Lombard St., the so called Crookedest Street in the World. The one-way block on Russian Hill between Hyde and Leavenworth Streets has eight sharp turns that supposedly make it the crookedest street in the world. The design, first suggested by property owner Carl Henry and built in 1922, was intended to reduce the hill’s natural 27% grade, which was too steep for most vehicles. The sign at the top recommends 5 mph. There were dozens of tourists at the top of the road, all along the crooked road and even dozens more when we got to the bottom. A fun little drive, as can be seen from the video above.
After our little brake infused jaunt down Lombard St., we then meandered around town over to Fisherman’s Wharf. Following are a few scenes from along the way.
From Fisherman’s Wharf we made our way to the Golden Gate Bridge. There was plenty of construction going on so traffic was slow going. But, once we got to the bridge the fog began to sneak in above the bridge…a beautiful sight. We crawled across the bridge, which was covered in foot traffic as well. Truly a major attraction.
Once across the bridge we found the viewing area which offered not only a spectacular view of the Golden Gate Bridge, but an expansive view of San Francisco, Alcatraz Island, Coit Tower and more. And the weather was perfect.
I was last in San Francisco in 2009 with Antsy McClain when he and the band performed at the Great American Music Hall (see video below). But we didn’t have time to stop and enjoy the bridge. So it was an awesome opportunity.
After the bridge we made our way into Novato to join another Flamingohead sweetheart, Ione, who would be lending me her RV (nicknamed IRV) for the weekend in Red Bluff. We had some great Chinese food at the China Palace and then joined together for a fun picture to memorialize the occasion.
After dinner, Carla drove us up to her doublewide trailer in Santa Rosa, CA. She Lives in Aluminum and is happy there in Lot #36 …see the video below if you don’t get it!! (Taken in 2009 at the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco…video by Sumoflam)
A nice 2500 mile day!
Next post will cover Santa Rosa to Ukiah to Red Bluff!