I will take you on a detour. It was quite magical. It truly was. It was a Monday. The weekend crowds had left the mountains, and I was heading home to the Bay Area, when I decided to take a wrong turn! The day before, after leaving Lassen Volcanic National Park, my partner and I had meandered south along the spectacular Feather River National Scenic Byway in Plumas National Forest. To put it simply, a stunning drive through a stunning gorge.
The Bay Area was still hours away. With no set plans for Monday, and time on our hands, we continued south, observing open barren land for the most part, when I saw a sign "Gray Lodge Wildlife Area". Why head straight home when you can go 'off' course?
In the middle of the wide expanse of the Sacramento Valley floor lies a little treasure - actually a very large treasure - a refuge of over 9000 acres of protected wetlands where over a million waterfowl migrate in the winter months. It is a complete oasis in the middle of nowhere, with the added unexpected sight of the Sutter Butte Mountains in the distance - magical at best - a true sanctuary.
We were a bit disoriented to tell the truth. This place was tucked in its own little world, quietly playing homage to Mother Nature away from the bustle of the nearby towns; determined to stay, to smile at the future without a care in the world .
At this time of year, the surface of the ponds and canals is quiet - the water grasses stand proud, hiding a few dragon flies, frogs, critters. Stray migratory birds linger in small clusters. A few white clouds watch overhead. The winter months are still months away. Then the birds, the geese and the ducks will flock by the thousands and thousands and thousands. I would love to come back to observe this sight. From what I gather, it is a sight to behold.
The long weekend could not have ended better. A bit in disbelief at the beauty we had just witnessed, we continued on driving over levees to the west, through Colusa, on to the charming small town of Winters to stop at Preserves, a chic restaurant aka a gastro pub with a definite caché - I loved its unusual mix of industrial décor, hand-built furniture, regional craft beers, antique cameras, and hand-made preserves. Some of you might know my slight addiction to jams and preserves...!
How often have you taken a wrong turn? Be prepared to be awed. Be prepared for beauty.
Be prepared to let go. It sure is good for the soul.
Enjoy as always, Adeline
ps. do you see the mountains in the distance?