Spring 2022: Family Campground at Anthony Chabot and Lake Chabot Regional Parks, Castro Valley, California

Anthony Chabot Family Campground was our destination on March 20, 2022, only 22 miles away, to explore another East Bay Regional Park District (EBRPD) property. We arrived early for our four-night stay, set up, and went for a walk.

The campground, set in a grove of eucalyptus trees, includes 12 full hookup sites, 53 drive-up sites that can accommodate tents and smaller RVs, and 10 walk-in sites. All the sites have plenty of space between them and are large enough for a party of eight. We found site 5 to be the best for us since it was one of only two pull-through sites in the RV section, and on the patio side, it looked out over the grassy grove of tall trees that sloped down into a valley.

Site 5 is a pull through with a view of the grove

Animals in the park include coyotes who howl late at night and early in the morning. Bevys of doves that hid in the grass and scared us when they took flight in mass, calling out warnings to their family and friends. Turkey gobbles echoed through the trees and hills. On one walk, we saw two toms, their tail feathers fanned out, arguing with each other, and doing breast bumps like football players do on the field. Not sure where their harem of hens was hiding. Usually, we see turkey flocks sticking together with one tom guarding his harem, jakes, and poults.

Wild turkeys everywhere in the Bay Area

Signs warn of mountain lions and rattlesnakes. They didn’t worry us because we stuck to the main roads and trails where more people were around making noise. I figured the mountain lions preferred the turkeys as easier prey. Of course, I sure wouldn’t want to tango with a tom in protective mode.

New poison oak shoots

On the flora side, warnings include poison oak. New green shoots poked through the ground and fall-colored leaves still clung to older shrubs.

Anthony Chabot Regional Park

The 3,304-acre Anthony Chabot Regional Park opened in 1952 as Grass Valley Regional Park. As noted in the park’s brochure, the park was renamed in 1965 to honor Anthony Chabot, who built the first public water system in San Francisco and Oakland. Lake Chabot, designed by Anthony Chabot and built in 1874, was added to the Regional Park system in 1966.

Shower and restroom building brought to you by the Land and Water Conservation Fund

The reservoir provides an emergency water source for east bay communities. Combined, the Anthony Chabot and Lake Chabot parks total 5,059 acres and sit within the ancestral home of Jalquin, an Ohlone- and Bay Miwok-speaking tribe.

Overlooking the east shore of Lake Chabot
Overlooking the Redwood Canyon Public Golf Course
On Huck’s Trail

Spanish settlers and Franciscans came to the San Francisco Bay Area in the 1700s. In the 1800s gold-seeking miners, loggers, and trains arrived. Before all of those people came, some estimates place a group of 10,000 to 20,000 indigenous people in the Bay Area, possibly dating back to 6,000 years ago. Scattered near the water, across the valleys, in the hills, and inland, the small tribes of hunters and gatherers lived off the land and sea.

California poppies in bloom
Boat rentals can be had at the marina
Edible miner’s lettuce
Bermuda buttercup

By the early 1900s, diseases had caused a severe drop in the population of Ohlone- and Miwok-speaking people. In addition, many of the tribes from the Contra Costa and Alameda counties lost out on Federal funding and land for their people.

Shedding bark drapes across limbs
Unable to find the name. Any guesses?
On the Towhee Trail
Braken fern perhaps?

Reinhardt Redwood Regional Park

The park district renamed the Redwood Regional Park to Reinhardt Redwood Regional Park in 2019 in honor of Dr. Aurelia Henry Reinhardt. Dr. Reinhardt was one of the first five directors on the District’s Board in 1934. Her contributions included the preservation of redwoods and public open space.

We parked near the Fishway Interpretive Site, which sounded interesting when I saw it on the map. A pair of information panels detail the life cycle of the native trout that spawn in the creek and live in the Upper San Leandro Reservoir.

California Registered Historical Landmark No. 970 plaque placed on April 29, 1987, marks the place where three fish taken from the creek in 1855 led to the naming of the rainbow trout species. The assigned scientific name is noted as salmo iridia rainbow trout.

Historic Landmark No. 970

After reading about the life cycle of the trout, we crossed a stone bridge to Bridle Trail and made a loop for about 2-1/2 miles. Parallel to the Bridle Trail is the Stream Trail that spans from one end of the park to the other. In addition, the Anza Historic Trail, Skyline National Trail, and Bay Area Ridge Trail pass through the 1,833-acre park, which opened in 1939.

A bit of water flows in the creek
On the Bridle Trail

Our hike meandered through a redwood forest of third-generation growth. Giant redwoods once stood there, probably for one or two thousand years or more. By the mid-1860s, loggers had felled most of the magnificent trees, often taking the stumps as well. The redwood groves destroyed became the wood used to build homes and businesses in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Ferns and plenty of shade
Trillium perhaps?

The trees that populate the forest today grew in clusters from any stumps left behind. It’s easy to spot where the giants once stood, just look for the circle of trees surrounding a hole.

Find a circle of trees you’ll find where a giant once grew
Yes, it’s okay to look up
Site of old church where a cross-shaped foundation is still intact
Barbecue pit at Old Church

Work is in progress to restore Redwood Creek the rainbow trout to migrate. The park district placed fence barriers along the creek to protect the ponds and banks from damage caused by people and dogs.

Wrap Up

Research on this post left me burdened with sadness as I read about the loss of the magnificent Redwood trees and the indigenous people. The devastation caused by selfishness, greed, and power in the name of progress is a common story that spans all the states we have visited. No matter how many times I read similar stories, I’ll always weep.

On the bright side, we also learn of the people who stepped up to say, “No more,” and worked tirelessly to preserve and restore what had previously come to disastrous results. So, we give thanks to the East Bay Regional Park District, their employees, and volunteers as they carry on the mission set forth in the 1934 ballot measure that created the district. May they continue to save more land for recreational purposes so we may immerse ourselves in nature, away from the noise and chaos of the cities and suburbs.

Long-term travel is out of the question for us for the next two months as we await our Hawaii trip in early June. In the meantime, we hope to visit more parks within the East Bay Regional Park District and other locations while we keep our adventures close to home. We’ll publish a post now and then as we do.

Safe Travels

2021 Fall Tour Episode 7: Barstow, California

Most people drive past the City of Barstow on I-15 to or from Las Vegas, or I-40 to or from the Colorado River, or points beyond. So intent on their destination, they don’t even think of what hides behind the sound walls. Like many towns along Route 66, it’s a place to stop and explore. To avoid a 9 or 10-hour drive from Lake Havasu to our home in Pleasanton, we chose Barstow as a waypoint stop, extending our stay to two nights instead of our normal one. Here are just a few of the places to visit in the area.

Calico Street Scene

Calico Ghost Town Regional Park

Although we had brought our kids to Calico years ago, we wanted to see what might have changed over the years. As usual when we visit a place we haven’t been to for a while, the only things we could remember were the western-style buildings.

Candles, baskets, and woven goods are sold at the Candle Shop

Calico got its start as a silver-mining district in 1881. With over 500 mines working in the area from 1881 to 1907, Calico produced $86 million in silver and $45 million in borax, or thereabout. Different sources quoted different amounts. The population grew to 1,200 with 22 saloons, a China Town, and a red-light district. When a drop in silver prices from $1.31 an ounce to $0.63 in the mid-1890s, the mining stopped, the population dwindled, and Calico entered its ghost town stage.

Recreated School House
A look through the window

Walter Knott—who founded Knott’s Berry Farm in the 1940s—purchased Calico in the 1950s and saved it from further destruction. He restored five of the original buildings to look as they did in the 1880s and made additional improvements, then donated the town in 1966 to San Bernardino County. Arnold Schwarzenegger later proclaimed Calico as California’s Silver Rush Ghost town.

Inside Maggie Mine Tour

Kids and adults have fun panning for gold, touring the Maggie Mine, taking a scenic ride on the Calico/Odessa Railroad, peaking through the windows of the 1880s replica schoolhouse, and posing for an old-time photo.

Miners built their homes next to boulders

Shoppers can wind their way up the hill and visit a variety of shops along the way, including shops selling western-style clothing, crafts, rocks and minerals, housewares, maps and books, and so much more.

Sign up for Ghost and Historical Tours at Calico Bottle House where you can also buy zombie and ghost souvenirs

Even Fido has his own store, the Dorsey’s Dog House. They cater to man’s furry friends, selling treats and accessories. And if you need a place to stay, there are full hookups and off-highway camping available, including restrooms and showers.

Pan for gold at Calico

There’s no need to pack a lunch for your visit. Calico House Restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. For beverages—alcoholic and non—pizza, baked potatoes, hot dogs, and nachos check out Lil’s Saloon. If deli sandwiches are more to your taste, belly up at Old Miner’s Café.

View of scenic train ride on the Calico/Odessa Railroad. Camping sites are along the foot of the hill in the background.
Fire suppression equipment of old

Be sure to stop at the Lane House and Museum to learn about the First Lady of Calico. Lucy Bell arrived at the height of the silver boom in 1884 when she was 10 years old. She spent her high school years split between Calico and Pomona and later married John Robert Lane, the water superintendent at Calico, in 1893.

Lane House and Museum

They operated a general store and made their home in Calico, staying through the mid-1890s. As the miners left town, they left their claims as payment for what they owed the store. Occasionally, the Lanes left Calico to work in other mining camps, but once they made money from a quicksilver mine, they returned to Calico and fixed up their home and store. After John’s death in 1934, Lucy stayed on in Calico, spending her winters with family. She lived in the same house until her death in 1967 at the age of 93.

Room in the Lane House and Museum
Parlor at Lane House and Museum

Peggy Sue’s 50’s Diner

After our walk around Calico, we drove across Interstate 10 to Peggy Sue’s Diner for lunch. Built in 1954, the original portion of the diner was made from railroad ties and mortar from the Union Pacific Rail Yard. It included 9 stools and 3 booths.

Come on in!

The owners, Champ and Peggy Sue, reopened the diner in 1987 to restore and preserve it and to have a place to display their movie and TV memorabilia. Then came the expansions that added space to accommodate an increase in business, a 5 and dime store, soda fountain, ice cream parlor, and pizza parlor. Later, they created Diner-saur Park with trees, dinosaur sculptures, ponds, and walking paths. Drivers will appreciate taking a break from the hustle and bustle of the freeway traffic and kids will enjoy getting their wiggles out at Peggy Sue’s.

Diner-saur Park

Casa Del Desierto Historic Harvey House

Our next stop was Casa Del Desierto Historic Harvey House. Designed by Mary Colter in a Santa Fe style and originally built between 1910 to 1913, this restored building once housed the Harvey Hotel and Restaurant and the Santa Fe Railroad depot. It was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1975 and is owned and operated by the City of Barstow.

Historic Harvey House and Depot
Ballroom at the Harvey House

Housed in parts of the building are the Western America Railroad Museum and the Route 66 Mother Road Museum.

Western America Railroad Museum

Displayed next to the parking lot are several rail cars, engines, and various railroad equipment, artifacts, and memorabilia. The room containing the “date nails” fascinated me. There are so many of them. What were they? What did they mean? The nails were used to tag the railroad ties with the date of their installation. The railroads discontinued using the nails in the 1970s, and they are now collector items.

Rolling stock displayed in the parking lot of Western America Railroad Museum
Depiction of Harvey Girl
Paintings line the walls
Place settings are shown in display cases
One of the largest collections of “Date Nails” in the country
Communications
Safe and other office equipment

Route 66 Mother Road Museum

Previously known as the National Old Trails Road, a newly numbered highway system renamed the road Route 66. The Mother Road, Main Street of America, and Will Rogers Highway are other names for Route 66. The museum held its grand opening on July 4, 2000. Come for the displays and collections of historic photographs and artifacts; buy souvenirs, gifts, Route 66 clothing, and other items at the gift store; and leave with a bit of nostalgia in your heart.

View of museum from front of space
Lightning McQueen and Fillmore from the movie Cars
Cameras through the years
Cool fiber art of Route 66
A red Ford Mustang convertible is a perfect car to drive Route 66.
I wonder what price is showing on that pump

Other places to see in and around Barstow include:

  • Mojave River Valley Museum
  • The Calico Early Man Site—shown as permanently closed on Google, but who knows, perhaps it will reopen someday
  • Hike or four-wheel through Rainbow Basin Natural Area
  • Visit the NASA Goldstone Visitor Center (once it reopens)
  • See the second-largest meteorite weighing 6,070 pounds discovered in 1975 at the Desert Discovery Center
  • Or walk around Main Street and snap photos of the murals
  • And for people who have cash or a credit card burning a hole in their pocket or purse, there’s always the Outlets at Barstow

We may need another few days of exploring in Barstow the next time we’re driving that way.

This concludes our 2022 Fall Tour. We’ll be back next time with a few close-to-home visits near our home.

Safe Travels

Fall 2021 Tour Episode 6: Lake Havasu City, Arizona

Lake Havasu City, Arizona, was our destination on November 5, 2021. We hadn’t seen my sister, Merri, since November 2019, four months before the world shut down to ward off a nasty virus. On the way, we stopped for a break at a spot large enough for our rig somewhere in the desert north of Desert Center on Rice Road, State Route 177. We lingered a while to take in the view of the red hills across the road.

Red hills somewhere on State Route 177

Our usual RV Park of choice is Prospectors RV Resort, when we visit Lake Havasu. This time we tried Campbell Cove. At our site across from the office, trees shaded the driver’s side of our fifth wheel. And no one pulled in beside us. Although the sites were smaller than the ones at Prospectors, being closer to town was more convenient.

Breakfast at the Red Onion is a must, so we met Merri there the next day. After our meal, I noticed the London Bridge Mural on the building across the parking lot. “Hey,” I said. “Let’s take a selfie?” The series of photos below will give you an idea of how many boomers it takes to create a selfie.

“No, not like that.”
“Hold the phone like this.”
“Okay, let me try.”
“Hey, I’ve got it.”

We featured our visit to The Bunker Bar in our November 11, 2021, blog post, so here, I’ll just compare what the place looked like while under construction in November 2019 and what it looked like two years later. If interested in reading more about the bar and watching a 360 degree video, go here.

The Bunker Bar Before
The Bunker Bar After

What could be better than sitting with family on The Blue Chair—now just called The Chair—patio overlooking the London Bridge, eating lunch, and listening to live music? The afternoon could not have been more perfect with a great view, great food, great music, and great family fun.

Check out The Chair for good eats and view

I wish I had photographic evidence of Jon, Merri, and me paddle boarding for our first time. None of us wanted to risk dropping our phones in the water, and I sure didn’t want to drop my Sony A6500 camera. Nautical Watersports hooked us up with boards, paddles, and life vests and set us loose in the little cove a few steps from the store. The no-wake location was the perfect place for our maiden attempt at balancing on a board and paddling about.

Merri, the youngest of us, popped up on her board first. I started out on my knees and graduated to a squatting position before my shaky legs straightened enough to stand. Then presto, magic. My legs stopped shaking. It took Jon a while to stand, and he said his legs never stopped shaking. Next time, we’ll do better. Can’t wait for warm weather to return so I can try paddle boarding again.

On our final day, we fit in a short hike at Mesquite Bay to enjoy the views of the Havasu National Wildlife Refuge, to get a bit of exercise, and take in the views. Mesquite Bay 1 and 2 both have parking, fishing piers, and informational panels, and shelters. Non-motorized watercraft only are allowed in Mesquite Bay.

Mesquite Bay Havasu National Wildlife Refuge

President Franklin D. Roosevelt established Havasu Lake National Wildlife Refuge (current name Havasu National Wildlife Refuge) in 1941, to establish a migratory bird habitat. The refuge encompasses 37,515 acres along the Colorado River and protects 40 river miles and 300 miles of shoreline from Needles, California, to Lake Havasu City, Arizona.

Fishing pier with sun shade

Hundreds of birds find the refuge a place to stop, rest, and refuel during their migratory journey each year. And like the human “snowbirds” that roll into town in their RVs, many of the fowl spend the winter and some even breed in the area.

Mohave Mountains in the background

Sadly, our visit to Lake Havasu came to a close, and it was time to move on. But I’m positive this won’t be our last trip to Lake Havasu City.

Next up: Barstow, California, where we check out Calico Ghost Town Regional Park, Peggy Sue’s Restaurant, Barstow Railroad Museum, the historic Harvey House, and Route 66 Mother Road Museum.

Safe Travels

Summer 2021 Tour Chama, New Mexico Episode 3: Echo Amphitheater and Heron Lake and Dam

In this post we wrap up our time in Chama, New Mexico, with a quick visit to Echo Amphitheater and Heron Lake State Park.

Echo Amphitheater

As we headed west on US 84 from Ghost Ranch toward Chama, we noticed Echo Amphitheater and had to stop. The rainbow of sandstone cliffs were created during the Triassic and Jurassic periods between 251 and 154 million years ago.

Entrance
A cave in the making to the left and amphitheater to the right

We followed the concrete trail and ramps until we reached the dead end, where concave cliffs towered above and wrapped around us. Water cascading over the sandstone cliffs created the amphitheater over millions of years.

Information panels tell the amphitheater’s geological story
Flower growing in the parking lot

Picture the land mass of New Mexico as a grassy plain in a tropical or subtropical region located only 10 degrees north of the equator. Deposits from flood plains, lakes, and the rivers that once flowed across the grasslands created the Chinle Formation, which we recognize as the red siltstone and fine sandstone in the lower layers of the cliffs.

Jon stands on the observation deck

Then along came the Jurassic period, when a large lake formed across the Chama Basin region depositing additional layers of basal limestone and shale. As the lake evaporated, a layer of gypsum formed to create the gray caps on top of the cliffs.

Myths of murder posit the cause of the stains. I’ll believe the scientific hypothesis.
From bottom to top: red siltstone and fine sandstone, then basal limestone and shale, gypsum forms the gray caps on the top.

Native Indians and Hispanos harvested the limestone to prepare maiz concho (a hard-shell white corn) into pozole (a dish similar to hominy) and corn tortillas.

The rounded edge of this cliff, with its protective beret on top, seems to evoke a sense of power and movement

At the observation platform, we tried a few shy yells, and then we followed with full throated hoots and hollers. We couldn’t help but smile when the sounds echoed off the walls. It’s too bad carrying a tune is not in my repertoire of skills. I could only imagine what it would feel like to belt out a song in that space.

Dead or alive?

Besides the amphitheater, visitors can find tent camping spots, a hiking trail, and covered picnic tables at Echo Amphitheater.

Heron Lake State Park

One day while in Chama, New Mexico, we drove south on US 64 and transitioned to NM 95, where we stumbled upon the Heron Lake State Park. At the visitor center, we looked at the small exhibits, paid our $5.00 day-use fee, and picked up a map.

Don’t forget to pay the $5.00 fee

We pulled into one of the day-use sites at the west end of Heron Dam. The colorful rock mesa and lake landscape caught my attention and became my subjects for several photographs.

Heron Dam

The earth-filled Heron dam is part of the Colorado River Storage Project and operated by the United States Bureau of Reclamation. It measures 1,221 feet (372 m) long and 276 feet (84 m) high. Constructed in 1971 near the confluence of Willow Creek with Rio Chama, the dam creates Lake Heron. At its fullest, the reservoir covers 5,905 acres (23.90 km2) and contains 401,000 acre-feet (495,000,000 m3) of water.

View of lake from dam

Developed and primitive RV and tent camping are available, some of which are along the shoreline. Only a few of the sites have full hookups, many have electricity and water, some have no electricity and/or water, and about half require a reservation. Campers will enjoy having fresh water, the dump station, and restrooms with showers.

View from day-use site

Visitors will find plenty of recreational activities to engage in year round. Fancy a bit of winter ice fishing or cross-country skiing? Lake Heron has it. In the summer, anglers can try their luck catching trout, or kokanee salmon.

Shoreline camping

Motorboats are allowed at trolling speed only, so no summer water skiing is allowed. Kayaks, canoes, paddle boards, and sailboats are welcome.

Colorful rock mesa

For adventurers who prefer to keep their feet, or wheels, on the ground, the 7 miles of hiking and biking trails should suit them just fine. While hiking and biking, keep a watchful eye open for black bear, elk, deer, marmot, bald eagles, and osprey. They all call the park home.

Where’d that onion come from?

Then we went to the other end of the dam to see the water flow out and down river to El Vado Lake, another storage and release lake of the Colorado River Storage Project.

Backside of dam
Outlet from Heron Dam
Ponderosa pine forest in the canyon

Sadly, we didn’t have time to visit El Vado Lake where there’s a day use area, mostly tent camping, a few RV reservation sites, and a launch ramp.

Next up: We stay a couple nights in Green River, Utah, and visit the JW Powell River History Museum.

Safe Travels