My Country ’Tis Of Thee

By JOHN M. DERBY
Times Publisher
July 13, 2017

So often we forget the beauty of our own state when we travel to different lands.
There is no more beautiful state in the nation than California as it stretches from the shores of the Pacific to the mountain valleys like Yosemite and the vineyards of Napa to the deserts of Mojave.
Sometimes we feel we must go elsewhere when the majesty is right in our own backyard.
This year we ventured north on July 4th week starting out in the Valley and headed to San Francisco Bay where we found that city cold and overcast, a marked contrast to the valley heat.
The overcast did not last long as our motorhome rolled north over the San Pablo Bridge and into the wine country. There, the manicured rows of grape vineyards stretched as far as the eye could see, and the names of California’s great wineries paraded past, Mondavi, Sterling, Beringer and Sutter Home.
Towns like Calistoga and St. Helena marked our passage reminding us about the history of our state’s agriculture and what gave us international fame as the world’s foremost wine maker.
Clearlake, the largest lake in California, was on our list of stops and now its shores were swollen to the maximum as the snow from the mountains turned into summer run off. We had a drink at the Boat House bar and restaurant, where the water had recently risen up above the feet for any customer who dared to come in.
Our destination was Grants Pass, Oregon where a country wedding was planned for a member of our immediate family. The heat, even in Oregon, had been unusually severe and we worried about the crowd flying in from all parts of the country.
Fortunately, the gods of weather blessed us with a light evening breeze which was just enough to take the intense heat off the outside venue and provide a perfect setting for the wedding guests. By night fall “Kathy’s Hilton,” the name given to our old motorhome, had cooled off and was a perfect place for a cold beer and friends and family who we might not see again for years.
Too soon, we had other places to go, other family to be with. Our son and his family live in Paradise, California, just uphill from Chico and there was another gathering of the Derby clan waiting to celebrate July 4th. No fireworks are allowed in this town, as the forest around the homes made it dangerous even to light a match.
We celebrated in the grand tradition of our nation with hamburgers and hot dogs and all the trimmings hot off the grill. Even the apple pie was there, however, we had it for breakfast. Being with family could never have been better.
July 4th week was complete as we loaded up for the return trip home, but not before we took a guided tour of the little California town of Paradise, where patriotic groups had put out miles of American flags which guarded both sides of the major roads in town.
It was a salute to California and the amazing state we live in.


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