By Dante DeAmicis
Lake County is a unique gem in a setting between Napa and Mendocino Counties. It has large expanses of mountainous and aquatic natural wonders. It has orchards and vineyards but is not overwhelmed by agribusiness….yet. Developed tourist attractions and events are weak but they do exist.
The biggest problem in promoting organized activities in Lake County is that local governments are run by firmly entrenched Goobers. They’ve created a Goobertocracy which refuses to accept any input, advice, or data from outside their small, mean spirited mindset. The only acceptable course of action for them is to return to the 50’s, minus the alcohol. Class war is their religion.
On the plus side, this narrow myopic attitude has caused most excluded functional residents to form cohesive networks in pursuing mutual interests. Usually visitors do not have the time to locate these pockets of resistance to the Goobertocracy. Still, even though Lake County is one big Gooberstan it is worth soaking up as much of its natural beauty as you can as a sortie between Napa and Mendocino.
The best way to have a good, short experience in Lake County is as a bypass between functional counties. What are you bypassing? Most Chamber of Commerce type businesses see tourists as marks to rip off. You want to avoid them. As a cyclist and back roads enthusiast this is my suggested compromise in driving or riding through Lake County.
Coming up from Napa on Highway 29 you pass Twin Pines Casino on the way to Middletown, a small unobjectionable community that likes to pretend they are part of Napa County. From here, turn onto Highway 175 and away from Clear Lake, ground zero of Gooberstan.
Four miles out of town the road begins climbing the majestic Cobb Mountain, passing former resorts nestled on its slopes. Your first stop should be in the mountain valley of Cobb. This is probably the closest thing to an artist community in Lake County.
At this junction the bypass begins in earnest as you turn on to Bottle Rock Road. This is also where the optional bike ride run begins which I call the “Triple Bypass” because in addition to bypassing the worst of Gooberstan you are bypassing all highways, Clear Lake, and the city of Clearlake – a war zone and hellhole. If you’re just doing the drive-by then it’s still the Gooberstan Bypass.
Out of the Cobb Valley, Bottle Rock is a steep grade to the Moore Winery then a gradual grade to the summit. From Harrington Flats Road its one long gonzo decent through obsidian road cuts to the foot of Mount Konocti. As Mount Konocti has been contaminated by Goobers, we will turn off Bottle Rock just before Highway 29 and on to Cole Creek Road which turns into Live Oak Drive.
Both the bike and auto bypasses will be hugging the rim of the valley, bouncing from Kelsey Creek and Adobe Roads on the way to Highland Springs Road and Reservoir. This is my second recommended stop. Then its a shot down Highland Springs Road across Highway 29 into farmland, turning left on Soda Bay Road and Main Street toward Lakeport.
Approaching the Goober stronghold of Lakeport, turn away on Todd Road toward “Hamburger Hill.” Swing under the freeway to the industrial area of Bevins Street, then left on Martin to escape back under to Scotts Valley, a charming ride and farming district. Just before Scotts Valley Road links up with Highway 20 you will take Laurel Dell Road around the back side of Blue Lakes – the last recommended stop and end of the bicycle Triple Bypass. These are two narrow lakes with a resort and community adjacent to one of them.
For those driving, you will have a one mile grade to go and you’re out of Gooberstan, into the safety of Mendocino County. For the bike-to-bus trippers there’s a stop for Lake Transit Route 7 to take you to Ukiah and away from the third world ambiance of Gooberstan.