My Montana

My Montana
My Montana

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

A Week With With Friends - Part IV Last Two Days

Thursday, Bob, Natalie and I were ready to go check out Oraville which has lots of fun to offer, from birding and hiking to museums in a historical town to scenic views along the Feather River as it tumbles down the mountains into Lake Oraville. In warmer months, there is lake and white water paddling and excellent fishing. . And we learned, that the city may put in a white water park.

The day was rainy so we decided to visit the Lake Oraville Visitor Center.  I was even more impressed with it as we looked at more details than I had done the first time I visited there. One of the most interesting things to me, this time, was the story of how the Lake Oraville Dam was built. At 770 feet,it is the tallest dam in the United States and powers California's third largest hydroelectric and forms California's second largest reservoir. A lot of the material used to build the earthern dam was tailings left over from gold mining. A set of trains could haul and unload 120 cars of fill each hour. We then better understood the miniature diorama showing the railroad coming to the dam and  two cars being dumped at a time without having to be unhitched from the rest of the train.

Model showing how the cars were unloaded without uncoupling, two at a time
Then we went to the Native American section and Bob and Natalie enjoyed the Ishi exhibit.  This is the story of of the last of the Yahi people.  An anthropologist named him Ishi, which means man, because he had no name of his own - had no one to give him a naming ceremony. He became a teacher, and taught his language, and how he hunted and fished, while learning about the white man's culture. There is even a picture of him at the opera. As happened to most of his tribe, he was killed by a white man's disease, in his case, tuberculosis.

Meanwhile, I was enjoying reading the guide to the exhibit about James Pierson Beckwourth, a famous African-American.  Beckwourth was an  explorer, trapper, and businessman. He also was an adopted Crow and spent a lot of time with them. He discovered a new pass and got the city of Marysville, a town to the south of Oraville,  to pay him 10, 000 to build a trail through the pass and then guided settlers to California through through that pass along the Feather River. Marysville burned down and he never got his money so became a trader on the trail for a while.

Dutch and Tracy finally caught up with us for lunch, then elected to stay on in Oraville and do some birding while we went back to Sacramento NWR to bird along the auto tour. We had been too busy or the weather had been too rainy to do this earlier.

Friday was the day for getting ready for the Chico Goose Festival for me and for field trips for Dutch, Tracy, and Natalie. I had told them to be sure and go on private trips, rather than to trips to any public lands.  Natalie scored the best trip, the one to Paskenta's C & R Ranch which also included lunch provided by the ranch owners.  We barely got her to the meeting place in time to join the trip.  She came back bubbling about several lifers, including the Lewis Woodpecker and I think both mountain and western bluebirds and a feruginous hawk, the wonderful ranch, the marvelous hosts, the amazing soup lunch, and the amazingly crazy people - just like her - that she traveled with.  She was also responsible for breaking up the caravan of cars when she spotted the only burrowing owl of the day and stopped everyone behind her.  Finally the trip leader came back with the rest of the group to enjoy it also. She ended up not getting back until 4:00 P.M. although she was due back at 2:00.

I helped set up the Junior Duck Stamp winners and the Sac table - in the background.

Natalie's picture of some of the birding tour

Tracy didn't get to see many birds on her trip but did get to study hawks an learned how to tell some of them in flight. Dutch went on a field trip on how to record bird songs.

Bob is the only one of us that is not a bird fanatic so he elected to use my car to visit fly fishing shops in the area.  Then, after I finished helping set up the refuge exhibit and the pictures of the winning Junior Duck Stamp competition, he picked me up and we went to Sierra Nevada Brewing Company , We just made the 12:00 tour which only had four of us on it. It was most amazing to me, a mostly non-beer drinker, to find out how beer is made.  And I found out that I do like dark ales. I was also impressed by the greenness of the company and how worker-friendly it is.  It even has an on-site day care for the worker's children. After the tour, we had fantastic lunches. I had a portabella sandwich that was totally delicious.

We lingered over lunch and then went to wait to pick up Natalie.  We found Dutch still waiting for Tracy. Neither of them had had lunch, so they went off to eat lunch while the rest of us went hiking at Upper Bidwell Park along the Yahi Trail.

Checking out the birds along the Yahi trail

 We finished out the day with dinner at the Outback Steak House. The Friends of Anahuac had given me a gift certificate there and I thought it would be fun to share it with the gang.

All too soon, it was Saturday and time to say goodby for a while. But we all kept good memories of a great week.