Twenty or so miles from our Honey Lake campsite lies Susanville, formerly Roop Town (great name, eh?), named after the town’s founder’s daughter in 1857. We discovered a gem of a brewpub in town―the Lassen Ale Works, aka LAW―owned and managed by Margaret Liddiard. Margaret came into town in 2011 and discovered the Pioneer Saloon, established in 1862, and proceeded to purchase it and transform the venue into a clean, well appointed, authentic-to-the-Old West beacon of culture in town.
The eight available beers are world class. Ruth and I tasted a number of them, as well as purchasing a couple of growlers for our on-the-road enjoyment. What I haven’t spoken about so far is the food. I mentioned to Margaret that I cut my fish and chips teeth in England, and am very discriminating. She persuaded me to take a chance. Well, I have never had a better plate in America, and I have looked everywhere, hoping. All the dishes we saw coming from the kitchen made us crane our necks, lift our noses, and covet another’s choice. Ruth ordered an Ultimate Chocolate Martini which made us forget the call of alcohol for the siren sigh of creamy chocolate. Service was superb. This establishment sits up on Main Street in the historic district, screaming to be an anchor for further town rejuvenation in the years ahead. We took pictures of some of the decades-old neon signs around LAW which add to the new-old-school charm.
We grudgingly left with a new respect for, as some signs in the brewpub state, “following the LAW.”
This place is another one of those lakes in name only, at least since the beginning of the five-year California/southern Oregon drought. We moved to this charming campground for a week, and it is idyllic: green and much better maintained than our last Honey Lake site. Our Airstream is nestled between tall flowering bushes on both sides and is hidden from view to the few observers in this campground, except for the hordes of mosquitoes that dream of water once abundant. Hey, there is no such thing as Paradise, eh? I may refute this statement later in our blogs, be expecting it! Last night we adorned our shade awning with a plethora of LED light strings and placed glowing cyalume necklaces around our two flamingo mascots who stand guard at the entrance to our kitsch caravan campsite.
Whenever packing for a trip, particularly one of our magnitude, you always try to think of everything you may need, but keep a weather eye on reality and not over pack. So far it’s been quite good for us, but after the process of trailer setup and disengaging the truck we realized that our campground electric supply was only 20 amp with a standard plug. This type of electrical service prevents the running of big current draw items like our rooftop air conditioner, microwave, and DJ rave sound system with six-foot Marshall amps (just kidding about that last one, so far). Even though we are at an elevation of approximately 6,000 feet, it is in the 80s and we need to run our roof fans and not burn propane to keep our fridge happy; so it was off to the town of Lakeview, about 13 miles north, to purchase a 30 amp cord adapter.
Lakeview is a classic ranching town with a main street about five or six blocks long. Most everyone drives a pickup and the visage of the general population is working healthy. While parking at the only hardware store in town, Tru-Value, the ubiquitous small town America go-to place for just about anything around the home, I saw a woman changing clothes in her truck, from dirty overalls into more town-friendly attire. Her face was flushed red and windblown. She could have just stepped out of an immigrant wagon that had labored from a Mississippi River staging town, battled Apache Indians on the plains, suffered sickness and death in the family, the loss of pack animals, broken axles and wheels, heartbreaking remorse at having to discard precious family heirlooms and furniture along the rutted wagon tracks of previous pioneers, days of thirst from traversing parched deserts, and arduous wagon fording across mountain passes and raging rivers. With these thoughts passing across my mind I stepped into a surreal retail cornucopia.
Everything of anything can often be too much to process. I wandered the aisles lost and overwhelmed. Out of the corner of my eye I spied a perfect specimen of a western working cowboy. This store had everything, so why not a statue of a cowboy to display to the tourists passing through, like a storefront wooden Indian or taxidermied animal heads in steak restaurants and bars? I turned my head as I walked past, and almost walked into a stack of paint cans when I realized that my statue was a real, six-foot-six breathing man that could have stepped out the pages of a western farm GQ magazine. My mother taught me not to stare and it was hard to suppress. I sucked in his image like gasoline pulled through the jets of an old four-barrel carburetor. He was lean, very lean―zero percent body fat―face and skin still young in age, darkly tanned from long hours working on the range (I presumed); classic western hat; working class clothes deeply worn, not the fake torn jeans of the fashionistas; and working boots of a hardworking man, not the classic barn dancing fare. I had never seen such a real sight, not even close, on Castro Street in San Francisco. It was breathtaking. Finding store assistance and purchasing success, I regretting not having my cellphone and the moxie to stop my breathing statue to ask for a photo. He literally could have lifted me right up off the floor to his eye level, but in my mind that had already happened.