Pinus Lambertiana (SUGAR PINE)

I was traveling into Chester, and in an area where the Pacific Trail crosses Hwy 36, I noticed these giant pine cones hanging on the ends of the Pinus Lambertiana (SUGAR PINE).  These large-scale pine cones can reach 22” in length.  When the light strikes the sugar resin, it looks like the pine cone are wearing bling. Shiny glistening diamonds on the pine cones was an amazing sight.

Sugar Pine trees have long graceful arms and soft fluffy needles.  The long pine cones on the very tips gave me the impression of a lady’s arm holding a lantern. So I was surprised to learn the tree held the title of “The King of Pines” as they can grow 100-160 feet tall!!.  To learn more about the pine tree I started to study the bark.  It has a reddish cinnamon color with deep vertical furrows   But the most surprising aspect of the tree is what you find under it –  jigsaw puzzle pieces of bark.  When the tree bark flakes off small flat pieces of bark shaped like puzzle pieces are stacked at the base of each tree along with those long sculpted pines cones.

Further into town on Highway 36, I stopped at the  Almanor Ranger District . It was a great source of information, maps and handouts
on Plumas National Forest. The ranger’s are very helpful, and I picked up some great nature books for my godson.
                                                 

Watercress Challenge

A group of us felt like going on a bike ride- not too strenuous.  We got dropped at one of my favorite spots –Domingo Springs, 15 min from the Chester Cabin. The plan was to the take a leisurely ride back – less than an hour and downhill.  The water at Domingo Springs is considered the best in the world. Locals come with their jugs to get water from a pipe.  It comes directly out of the mountain after filtering for many years before ever surfacing.

Mike (Chester Cabin Master Craftsman and all around good guy) mentioned the wild Watercress growing  in the pond. We thought it was a great idea to go on this ride with a purpose! We would harvest Watercress for use in our dinner. Carol declared a cooking Challenge, every dish had to include Watercress.

Well I have to say, It was a great dinner and the diverse dishes created were incredible.  It stared with Watercress Martini’s, followed by Watercress and Carrot Sushi as an appetizer.  For the main dishes we dined on Watercress Salad with locally picked Raspberries out of Mike and Susan’s garden.  Delish!!! and baked green bell peppers filled with 5-spice sausage and grape tomatoes, garnished with Watercress.

The Winner of the Challenge “WATERCRESS and BASIL PESTO IN AN ALFREDO SAUCE” served over pasta.  The 3 parts Watercress to 1 part Basil in the pesto was the best I have ever tasted.  It was much brighter and refreshing, plus the pepper twist gave it more pizzazz.  We got our CRESS ON in Chester California !

A beautiful day for a solar eclipse

We visited for a week in May to get the Stover House prepared for the summer season.  On day one we took a 45 minute drive up to Lassen Volcanic National Park and stopped at the visitor’s center. The good news was that they had a great film about the park and things to do there and the bad news was that they were sold out of glasses to view the upcoming solar eclipse.  The snow was still clearing off the mountain, but we were able to continue up highway 89 to the Sulphur Works three miles up before the road was closed.

Later that day we drove back down and then West on 36 to the Mineral Lodge to have a spot of lunch and enjoy the cool sunshine at an outdoor table.

The next day was spent biking a short 7.5 mile run down the road from the Stover House to the lake front at the backside of the Chester Airport.  There was no traffic and eventually the road turns into dirt as it hugs the lake shore.  We could see people out fishing and enjoying themselves in kayaks in the lake.  The tail end of the ride took us down the main road at the front of the Airport back to the Stover House.  We stopped at a local nursery to look at some plants for the front yard, and then we stopped at a local restaurant to have lunch and waited for our friend Al to join us from the Bay Area.  After lunch we rode and he drove the rest of the way to the Stover House where he unload and settled into one of the upstairs bedrooms.  After unpacking, we all cracked opened some Corona Bears with some sliced lime, chips and salsa and sat out on the side porch to watch the creek and talk.

The big event of our stay was the solar eclipse on Sunday May 20th, 2011 which was my birthday. The sun started dimming around 5:30PM that afternoon and at 6:20PM which was the peek; we found ourselves at neighbors back yard with a beating drum to add flavor to the event.  The atmosphere was sort of eerie looking as though it was a full moon night with four times the amount of light.  The next solar eclipse in the US will be on August 12, 2017.   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_eclipse_of_August_21,_2017
The Stover house will see a partial eclipse that morning around 10:30AM; however one could drive about 10 hours up to Oregon or Idaho and see the full eclipse.

On Monday we hung at the Coffee Station which is a three minute walk from the Stover House and used the free internet service to work on our web site while enjoying unlimited cups of coffee.  During this time our friends and neighbors stopped by to say hello as is the ritual up here.  That night we ordered a pizza from the pizza place across the street and had a wonderful dinner back at the house before leaving to go home the next day.

 

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