While staying here at Paul’s in Sacramento, I took a day trip (a long, long day trip) up to Susanville. There is some property there of which I’m custodian and I had business to take care of……long story. So, early one morning Megan took me to the bus station here in Sac and I rode the 2+ hours up to Chico first. Along the way, looking from the bus window, I saw acre after acre, mile after mile of rice paddies……
From Chico, my boss for my upcoming job in Turkey (he’s actually from Chico…..weird, huh?!) picked me up at the bus station, kindly bought me breakfast and then took me on a 2 hour drive to Susanville. He has had land dealings of his own in the past and (again, very kindly) offered to help me get things sorted out. So, over the mountains (Sierras) and through the woods (Lassen National Forest) we went. Finding the property was a little tricky since there were no sign posts of any sort but a USGS map and a GoogleEarth map helped us locate it. It was pretty interesting finding various markings from an aerial map. Anyway, here are a few pics from the land……
Pretty, huh? There’s that big sky again.
Business dealt with, on the way back we got a peak at Mt. Lassen….
….then drove through Chester…..where memories abound…..
……strolling down memory lane……..
For a few years in a row, Mike and I would stay for a few days at the Bidwell House…..not the historic landmark Bidwell House in Chico, but the bed and breakfast in Chester. We’d often go snowshoeing in Lassen Park then warm up by a nice fire at the Bidwell. Here are a few old pictures taken in and around the park….
….. Mike flying his bird kite…..
……and now to warm up by the fire.
……..a view from our room. ↑
We’d mostly go to dinner at a restaurant (that didn’t appear to be there anymore, unfortunately) called The Red Onion wherein reigned “The Brubeck Bar.” Dave Brubeck’s grandfather’s bar, that is. Some of his family used to live in Lassen County and there’s lots of Brubeck history and lore in the area. I’ve been a Dave Brubeck devotee for years. Mike and I were fortunate enough to see him play with three of his sons in their band in Chico. I was honored to just be in the same room breathing the same air as that man. What a beautiful human being he was. An incredible humanitarian. No words suffice to describe his music and talent.
At the Red Onion, there were a few pictures and mementos……
Returning from memory lane…….driving out of town we passed over Deer Creek where I took this pic (years ago)…..there’s no snow now, at least not at that elevation.
On down the hill to Chico….two more hours….. I had about an hour and a half before my bus would be at the station so I stopped over at my friend Frank’s house and chatted with him and another dear friend, Greg, for a while. It was so nice to see them once again before leaving.
Then back on the bus. It was getting dark (imagine that), but I caught this one last shot on the way south……the Sutter Buttes.
According to livescience.com ~ “The Sutter Buttes are remnants of a volcano that was active approximately 1.6 million to 1.4 million years ago during the Pleistocene Epoch. They are sometimes called the “smallest mountain range in the world, NASA said.”
Yep, that’s what we call ‘em in Chico. I’ve captured the entire mountain range in this one shot. So, yet another 2+ hours later, I was back in Sacramento…..oy, what a long day.
One last thing. One last, very important thing. ……
When Mike was still living in Paradise, he took a job as a cab driver for a while. He (and I) was so glad he did because it afforded him the opportunity to meet Tweedy. Helen Tweedy.
When she’d call the station for a ride, the drivers would almost fight to be the one who’d get to go pick her up, but she’d often ask specifically for Mike. She was a dear heart and sadly she died last year while I was in Viet Nam. I didn’t find out until I got back to Paradise and tried to call her up. (I’d wanted to keep in better touch, but alas, she wasn’t computer savvy and snail mail…..in Viet Nam….??? ….not so much…..).
While he was working at the cab station, he’d told me again and again what a wonderful, funny, sweet woman she was and how I’ve just got to meet her. I really wanted to ~ she sounded great. He’d mentioned me to her, too…..”I’ve got this really good friend named Jan…..” and he said she wanted to meet me, too. But one day he called me up and said, “You’re never going to believe this…..” He’d been talking to Tweedy about music, about jazz, about ….he doesn’t remember how it got started…… but he told her how much I love Dave Brubeck…..and she said, “Oh, I know Dave. He’s the first boy I ever dated…..” ……uh, yeah, my jaw just dropped to the floor. Okay…..we’ve got to meet…… So, we set up a date, we three, and had dinner in Paradise…..or maybe I should say ‘Dinner in Paradise’. It was lovely. She was lovely. We had the best time. Tweedy was sweet, intelligent, funny, witty, kind, interesting, graceful, giving…….and amazingly talented.
Here’s an excerpt of the write up that was in the paper upon her passing…..
“Following in the footsteps of her beloved sister Betty, Helen started playing the keyboards at the tender age of five. At the age of eighteen Helen was already playing professionally in both Sacramento and San Francisco. During this big band era, live music was prevalent in all of the best clubs where she played. At that time, she often supplemented her income as a studio musician for several radio stations. ‘The Sophisticats’ and ‘The Helen Tweedy Trio’ had a large following and did very well for years in the Sacramento area with occasional forays into the resorts and casinos of Northern California and Reno. Helen….and her husband…..cut one record then toured the country for almost twenty years. Her last job was at the prestigious Marine Memorial Club in San Francisco. After twenty years at the club, she finally played her last show. She then moved to and spent the last years of her life in the lovely town of Paradise, California.”
Quite a history. Quite a woman. She’d signed and given me a picture of herself and her ‘Sophisticats’ band mates, something I’ll always treasure…..but mostly I’ll treasure having met and gotten to know this beautiful, amazing woman. I know I can speak for Mike in saying she’ll always be in our hearts.
Thankfully I’ll always have my memories of Tweedy and we’ll always have Dave Brubeck’s incredible music.