“I got my toes in the water, ass in the sand”
I remember the first time I heard that song and instantly loved it. The lake was a huge part of growing up. As a kid, I spent many weeks with family and friends on the shores of the lake swimming, boating, and building a sun tan.
Fourth of July is the annual ride for Homoto. The club was founded in 2009 over Fourth of July weekend on a ride across highway 36. Since then, riding highway 36 has become an annual tradition for the group. I wanted to ride, but my ankle was still recovering from the minor sprain in Washington, DC. So, I decided to take the truck for the drive north to Redding.
Redding sits at the north end of the Sacramento Valley. It’s known to be brutally hot in the summer and quite cold in the winter (for California). I’m guessing the town is somewhere under 100,000 people. It’s large enough to have all of the major chain stores, but well below large enough to have any type of skyline.
Normally the first day of this ride is tough. It’s over 100, we’re all in full gear, and sweating bullets. This time I hopped in the truck midmorning, turned on the air conditioner, and had a speed limit ride all the way into town. I made a pit stop in Red Bluff to meet a friend with whom I’ve known online for about a year. Zach, Victoria, Cole, and I enjoyed if true Fourth of July barbecue: ribs, corn on the cob, and potato salad!
I remember passing by Whiskeytown Lake on my first real ride in California back in 2001. We were making our way from Lassen National Park over to Eureka, CA. Whiskeytown lake was beautiful. It’s cold clear waters always had taunted me on hot rides. Visiting and swimming on Whiskeytown was clearly on my short list.
At 10 am the three of us packed the car and headed out to the lake. I do love riding my motorcycle, but sometimes it’s nice to be in the car. It’s an easy drive from Redding up to the lake but being fourth of July weekend, we were expecting a lot of people on the water. Turns out, Zach’s local knowledge did us well. We turned off the highway onto a small dirt road, over a hill, thinking we got lost and then saw the tunnel. The tunnel was just about a car’s width wide with tracks in the dirt from use. The road seemed to go the wrong direction from the water, but we sill figured it might get us some where.
Once in the tunnel, it was time to be teleported into the fun zone.
Once we got through the tunnel we could see the water. Man was it awesome. I just love, love, love being by the lake. One of the true treasures of being here in California are the abundance of clear lakes. Many of the lakes back east have significant amount of eutrophication – sediments and runoff robbing the lake of clear water. We just spent the full day out on the shore – swimming, sunning, then swimming way out into the lake and back again.
We had the perfect secluded cove with no boat traffic and very few other people. We almost had that section of the lake to ourselves. It was awesome. The waters here take some getting used to. They aren’t warm. But after a few mins of white knuckling the cold water, the body adjusts and it’s a fun time. The day went super fast and before we all knew it, it was time to head back down to the valley. The motorcycle club was celebrating at a Japanese restaurant.
Sunday came all to quickly and it was time to head back down the mountain but I wanted to get one more connection with the lake – even if sunburned and out of time. It was fun to take the truck off road (as the bay area doesn’t have much terrain other than pavement).
As Zach would say…
Life is good today!