Last week we visited some friends in Magalia, which is a small mountain town three hours north of here in a part of California I hadn’t visited before. That’s a drive north on 160, east on 12, north on 5, and northeast on 70, primarily through farmland and the next best thing to trackless waste. (Well, it looks like that at this time of year, especially after the dry winter we had.) Oakley is not short of dust, but the straw-pale, bleached out land beneath the buttes is far dustier. (Here in Oakley we at least have the Delta to provide us with some green year-round, and more of the land is under cultivation.)
I noticed a disturbing number of dead birds by the roadside as I drove through Sacramento and Butte Counties. Hawks, crows, pigeons, a white owl. There have been outbreaks of West Nile Virus in the area (indeed, they’ve been fogging in Brentwood, and the DEET in the air has us sneezing), and I have to assume that’s the cause, because I’ve never seen anything like it.
Once we started to gain altitude, our surroundings changed fairly dramatically, even if most of the green was provided by conifers. It’s cooler in the shade, too, though still warm enough. Magalia is at about 2300 feet, which is high enough for snow in the winter, but not dramatic like the mountains around Tahoe. If you keep driving uphill from where we were, you’ll reach 7000 feet easily enough, but it wouldn’t have been advisable at the time, since there were forest fires in the area. (As I said, it was a very dry winter.)
We ate both Thursday’s dinner and Friday’s breakfast at Jaki’s Hilltop Cafe. I was tempted to get the camera out of the car and photograph Stefan’s deep fried beer batter mushrooms, which were pretty impressive, but restrained myself.
The video is a bit hokey, but it does give you some sense of the place, if not really of the food. Don’t tell Jimmy D’Amico, but it’s actually better than the Black Bear Diner.
On our way out on Friday morning, we stopped off at Paradise Lake, which is actually in Magalia and not the nearby town of Paradise. (Yes, just to confuse you.) I’m not entirely sure whether Paradise Lake is the result of the construction of the Paradise Dam, but the two are obviously related.
The park seemed to be undergoing a period of construction at the time we visited, which may have accounted for its emptiness. With kids back in school (most of them start before Labor Day, it seems), one wouldn’t expect too much activity on a weekday, but there were no boats on the lake. (We did see one down by the boat slip.)
It would have been nice to get some pictures from the car on the drive to the lake from Skyline, but my camera isn’t up to that and Stefan’s cameras are still in Holland, so we only have photos from the lake itself.