Tuesday, September 29, 2015

A Spot of Blue in the Harshness of Drought

Crossing into California on Saturday morning, we continue south on Hwy 395. Once again we anticipate driving alongside a large body of water - Goose Lake. On the map it is miles around and across.

Not a drop of water. No mud. No dampness. 

For the first time since leaving the Central Coast of California in June, the terrain is so parched it's black. The golden yellows, lavender gray, and fluffy sages replaced by charcoal black shrubs and bare dirt. 

At the highest elevations along the route the pines and cedars are brownish red, while the undergrowth is brittle-dry.  

Occasionally there is a burst of bright yellow flowers, or a rich green stand of trees where underground water must still be present. It feels like they are surrounded by an encroaching army of dry-death.

Holding out for reinforcements
This area is a desert. Even in the wettest of times, this area is always a desert. This is different.  

We're staying in Susanville, CA for a week. While there is a small park in Standish, about 13 miles away on Hwy 395, we opt for the only park in town - Susanville RV Park.

There's a Jeep dealership here for the service we need, it's a good meeting spot to see our sister-in-law's daughter, and there are alpine lakes in the surrounding Lassen National Forest.

The park is clean and nicely landscaped, with friendly hosts. Sites are close together with green space, picnic tables on concrete, FHUs with 50 amps. Our satellite works in site #71, the park WiFi is okay, and they have cable TV. Propane for sale and a dump station.

Turns out the dump station is a necessity as the sewer hookups at our site, and most of the others, are elevated, making it "challenging" to keep things flowing in the right direction.  In addition, the concrete pads have sunk and broken in several places. We wouldn't stay here again for more than a night or two.

After enjoying our Sunday of NFL Football, we head out Monday for Eagle Lake. It's a loop drive and we start out on the southeast side. The forest is dry as expected, but near the 6,000' summit we see blue through the trees. Water! At last!


Finally water
We spend some time at the Day Use Area, walking about 100 yards to the water's edge. The three fishermen waded out about 10 yards aren't catching anything. There are ducks, a blue heron and even a couple pelicans. Here, plant life holds on in many colors.


I don't know where else they can land for 100's of miles
Rich green forest on a small peninsula 
Delicate grasses at water side
Bright purple succulents cling to the damp beach
Tessa runs and zooms and even steps into the lake a couple feet - like us, she is so happy to find water!

Following a little bug 
Continuing north, and then west, we see how big this lake is. And see that the only water remaining is what we saw near the summit. 

The brief reprieve from the reality of the drought is over, and once again we travel for miles along the completely dry vistas of what was once a lake. Numerous "water-front" homes are for sale. Boats sit in driveways with fading and cracking covers.

The different colors of a lake dying
Heat mirages mock the lack of water


Homes bought on the water front now look over a large brown valley
Between Eagle Lake and Susanville are three more lakes and a reservoir. 

You guessed it. They're on the map but no longer "there". 

We pull out the scope and tri-pod to view the Blood Moon, but the only clouds are in the East. After waiting and hoping, we give up. An hour later we catch the end of the eclipse without the scope, but can say we saw it!

Today we meet up with Jenna and Doug who have driven a couple hours to bring me my new drum. I am so excited to meet this wonderful instrument that Jenna made for me. Born on the new moon, it has amazing spirit.

Bounding Doe
I forget to get pics of our meet up, and our tasty lunch at El Tepeyac Grille. Really have to get better at that.

The Jeep goes to see the doctor tomorrow, and Friday we continue south.





18 comments:

  1. It definitely is a dry year. When we were in Texas a few years ago many of the lakes were dried up there too. However, I've been told the water has returned. Hopefully, that'll be the case for the dry lakes you discovered.

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    1. I certainly hope that is the case. These look to be pretty shallow lakes so possibly they can recover quickly. Unfortunately the El Nino predictions show less than normal rainfall for Northern CA, OR and WA again this winter :-(

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  2. Seeing all the dry lake beds is so sad. Hopefully, they will soon be flowing with water again. Good to see you did find some water:) Very nice!

    Travel south safely. Looking forward to Friday:) You'll have to tell us more about your drum.

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    1. Looking forward to that :-) Finding that water was a big deal!

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  3. Fingers crossed for a good strong El Nino this winter!

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    1. Absolutely! Hope it pushes all the way to Canada as well!!

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  4. So sad to see the landscape suffering. I hope that the rains will come in time and that everything can hold on. Your drum looks magnificent. How wonderful to have it made on the new moon with that energy and just for you.

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    1. Someone stole my last drum and I just haven't wanted to look for another. When Jenna made her own I asked if she would make one for me. The drum is quite special, with gentle power. Can't wait to get out in the desert with her this winter :-))))

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  5. We went to Folsom Lake a couple weekends ago. I could never imagine so little water until I saw it with my own eyes. Quite sad and depressing :-( I really hope CA gets a soaking in the months ahead!

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    1. We were talking about Folsom on our last leg. I was wondering if there was even anything left in it at all. Here's hoping!!!

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  6. Scary stuff, Jodee. Stay safe out there...it looks like it is ripe for wildfires.

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    1. We've heard fire truck sirens here a couple times and hold our breath. Fortunately there is a pretty good storm front moving through tomorrow (because we washed the windows) so that's a good sign.

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  7. I am just shocked to see NO water in Goose Lake? I spent many summers camping at Eagle Lake when younger. Wow, those were sad pictures too! HEY, on a plus note, it's late, but Lee & Trace of Camper Chronicles are workkamping at the Hobo Day Use area in Susanville along the river/Biz Johnson Trail. You should pop in and see them! Trace is still working during the day, but maybe a bit later? I sure hope El NiƱo can refill things w/o creating horrible mud slides for poor 'ol CA. We'll be back in Placerville in November.

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    1. If we get the Jeep back in time today we will definitely stop by and say hi! Yes, the down side to El Nino is too much too fast on those burned hillsides :-( Safe travels!

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  8. Yes, the drought is dire. We were camped at Goose Lake several years ago and there was no water then, either. Just acres of cracked mud flats. I read that this winter is supposed to bring big rains -- hopefully that will turn out to be true. Maybe your new beautiful drum can help to call in the rain. :-)

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    1. The little bit of rain today was so refreshing - I swear we could hear the ground sucking it up! Fingers crossed for a wet season ahead :-)

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  9. Drought in the SW is usual but to see this in the NW is really scary. Love the new drum.

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    1. Never expected to see it this bad up here, so sad. Thanks, she's a special piece.

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