We Visit Karen in Clearlake
September 6, 2007

Clearlake, CA, Day 2 at Konocti Vista Casino Resort, Marina & RV Park.

Three months, 23 days in our bus.


On Tuesday we left Ashland at 8:15 am and arrived in Corning, CA by 1:00 pm. This was an easy trip of 185 miles. The day was overcast with big clouds over the Siskiyou Mountains. Then it began to rain hard. It let up as we headed south out of the mountains, but poor Dennis. Four days of polishing the bus cancelled out. Raindrops marred the exterior and soon it was also covered with dust. Keeping the bus clean is an unending job.

Corning RV Park offered a convenient halfway place to stop and that was about it. Situated in an old olive grove it offered little plots of grass and very old wooden picnic tables. It is fun to look at the old disheveled olive trees. Standing on splayed legs they had masses of electrified hair standing up in topknots. They made me think of caricatures of the demented scientist. We drove into town looking for dinner, but nothing doing. No restaurants. We stopped at the Olive Pit and Dennis bought some jars of spicy garlic and Italian garlic and olives stuffed with garlic. This was sort of the equivalent of me buying jam on other occasions. I am neither garlic nor an olive fan. Must be something lacking in my English/Polish DNA. After the Olive Pit we picked up to go at Burger King and went back to our bus. We ate at our picnic table in the gathering dusk under the olive trees with Dennis dipping into his garlic jars.


On Wednesday we left Corning at 8:20 and we headed south on I-5 towards the CA-20 exit near Williams. We found ourselves driving under a thick dark cloud that covered the entire central valley. What could it be? We noticed dust devils and wondered if wind had created a huge dust cloud. It was low and thick. We couldn’t tell if it was caused by smoke or dust. After we turned east and headed up the mountains towards Clearlake we climbed above the cloud and left it behind. However by Wednesday night the cloud had moved west and covered all of Clearlake. The air smelled smoky and the sun set in a ghastly red haze.

We were concerned about driving around Clearlake and getting to our chosen RV campground. We’ve visited Karen in Clearlake before and we’re familiar with the roads. We knew they would be tight for a big rig. We made our approach around the south side of the lake on CA-53 and CA-29 to Lakeport and then turned on Soda Bay Road.

Based on campground descriptions and reviews I had chosen Edgewater Resort and RV Park at 6420 Soda Bay Road, Kelseyville. But as we began to negotiate the 90º angle turns that distinguishes this road (apparently farmers managed to keep their acreage sacrosanct and the highway must turn this way and that around the farms) we became more concerned. We thought this resort was on level ground before the road begins to climb up around the mountain. After we passed the State Park we knew we were in trouble as it would be difficult to turn around. (We would love to stay at the State Park but there limit is 35’ for RVs so we don’t qualify.) As we crawled around tight corners and brushed under trees Dennis began to cuss and I began to feel apologetic and guilty for making a bad decision. Finally we reached the address. Fortunately, Dennis did not try to pull in. He passed it and pulled over into an empty dirt parking lot by a small restaurant. We had to leave the bus and car where we stopped and walk back down to the “resort”.

I was too sick and too upset to remember to take photos so I can’t show you what a dirt hole this place was. All of it was dirt — no gravel roads, no gravel sites. The entrance was narrow and all of the sites were not demarcated by strips of lawn but by some boulders dumped together or by the big trees that shaded the entire area. Now on a hot day shade is good but one wants to mitigate it with dappled light, perhaps some green bushes or a few flowers. This shade simply made the area appear to be dim and dirty cavern. The sites were do-able. The staff was friendly. One drove us around on a golf cart and showed us three sites that were possible choices. But backing into them would be a hassle and if we hit one of those boulders? Big damage. No thank you. We left. How could Edgewater promise so much and deliver so little? I think the answer is that they have a waterfront location and a boat launch. People with smaller trailers who bring their boats probably like it. Once again, our bus is our permanent home and we’re a little fussier about where we take our home. http://www.edgewaterresort.net/

Ooooh. Dennis was hot under the collar. He couldn’t turn around without unhitching the car. I had a second RV park lined up so I drove the Honda and he followed. Back down Soda Bay Rd. we went to Konocti Vista Casino Resort, Marina & RV Park, located off Soda Bay Rd at 2755 Mission Rancheria Road, Lakeport. The casino does not pretend to offer more that a cement parking lot for an RV Park. But the sites are large and convenient with no obstructions. They weren’t busy and we had plenty of room to spread out. It wasn’t beautiful but it was clean and convenient. We much preferred it to Edgewater. Take a look at the photos. At least it’s clean. It also is on the water has a boat launch. http://www.kvcasino.com/kvc7/Hotel/kvcrvbpark2005.htm

What is a resort? According to my Word dictionary, it is “a place that is popular for recreation and vacations and provides accommodations and entertainment.” By that definition, both RV parks qualify. My idea of a resort was more along the lines of the hotel resorts we visited in Hawaii. I thought they offered beautiful landscaping, shops and services. Silly me. I was expecting more. However, I have to conclude with this thought: I think Edgewater is resting on its laurels. I think the time will come when they will have to make a better entrance and wider sites that are well defined, clean and pretty.

As soon as we were settled we put the dogs in the car and drove back up Soda Bay Rd. to West Riviera Heights where Karen has a little house with a view of the lake. We’ve visited Karen before and stayed overnight at her house. This is the first time we’ve had our own accommodations. I’ve known Karen since the early seventies when we both worked for Atherton Industries. She knows Stan Parry and she knew my boys when they were little. She’s a graphic artist and a big character. I always enjoy being around her. She was standing by ready to make breakfast for us. She is a terrific cook. We had a late breakfast but it was delicious. I was starving and more than ready to sit down and relax. The dogs know Karen and her house and her two cats. So it didn’t take long for everyone to settle down and get the status quo resolved — which means the cats established authority and the dogs agreed to settle down.

Afterwards Karen got in the car with us and we came back to Konocti to show her our bus. Then we did a few errands and went back to her house and darned if she didn’t make us a delicious dinner.


On Thursday the Lake County Record-Bee answered our questions about the smoky atmosphere. The layer of smoke was from two wildfires. There was one in Quincy, approximately 195 miles northeast of the town of Lakeport (situated on the north side of Clearlake). The other was in Morgan Hill about 185 miles southeast of Lakeport. In Quincy, 15,000 acres “charred the once luscious landscape, in a devastating burn called the Moonlight Fire that started about 9 a.m. on Monday.” The Bee went on to say, “Though the fires are a great geographic distance from Lake County, the danger the fires pose to the public is eminent. People with respiratory problems, heart disease, the elderly and children should limit time outdoors. The air management district issued an advisory stating that smoke from the Moonlight Fires is expected to reach unhealthy levels for sensitive groups.”

Well, gee. That group included me. No wonder I had asthma. I was anxious to go home where the air is clear and fresh next to the bay lands; but just one problem. Morgan Hill is only 35 miles south of Mountain View and the bay area was blanketed with a cloud of smoke from the 11,000 acres burned in that fire! What a homecoming….By Thursday the sky was a little less dark but hardly clear and clean, Karen had to go to Ukiah for an afternoon print class so we went over to visit in the morning and she made us her special waffles. Late afternoon she came back from her class and met us at the bus and we took her out to the Saw Shop Gallery Bistro, an excellent continental restaurant. We ate on the porch and Karen was discussing the pros and cons of certain restaurants. She said, “Well this is a country restaurant. Remembering the poor food available to us in some areas over the past few months, I was struck again by how spoiled we are in California. It might be country in Clearlake but the standards are urban. Dinner was delicious.

After dinner we walked down the each side of the main street in Kelseyville and looked at the shops. It is a cute town with a nice little bakery and coffee shop among other things. We kissed Karen goodbye and got ready to come home on Friday.

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