A column by Fran
Published in The Territorial Dispatch
March 1, 2000
There is no place to
go, and so we travel! You and I, and what for, just to
imagine that we could go somewhere else. -- Edward
Taking a ride on a
long summer evening or a weekend afternoon was always a
treat when I was a youngster. After my parents finally
acquired a car... a '39 Plymouth sedan with suicide back
doors ... in the mid forties, we would splurge and go for a
tour around our town or the one across the river where my
aunt lived or the town a little upriver where my mother was
During The War (the
BIG one) these rides were pretty infrequent. Gas was
rationed. The price was high. I think it was nineteen cents
a gallon if you had an A sticker in your window. Everyone
had to have a letter sticker in their auto window to
purchase gasoline. How much you were allotted depended on
your need... job, family situation, etc.
After the war we took
longer rides, exploring our surroundings in wider and wider
circles. It was a great way to learn the geography of our
community as well as the area around it.
I loved going for
rides so much that when my sons were growing up I would load
them up and take them for rides. That way I got to explore
the new areas we lived in and I thought it would be
educational for them.
They were not as quite
enchanted with travel as I am. I suppose because there were
a lot more things for them to do... television, etc. And
riding didn't start out for them as a rare treat, as it did
for me. By the sixties a vehicle was always available ...and
gas, although the price had steadily increased, was easy to
get, and plentiful.
Now those guys are on
their own and I can get back to riding around exploring the
areas where I live.
One day recently Steve
and I left home about 1 p.m. When we got to Highway 20 we
decided to cross the bridge and head up to Oroville Dam.
It's one of our favorite places and we hadn't been there in
The day was a little
overcast but you could see some snow on the mountains to the
Highway 70 has really
been improved over this past year. It is wider and smoother
and there is now a traffic control light at Robinson
We turned west from
Hwy 70 onto Pacific Heights Road. It's a neat little
'country road' that parallels 70 but is closer to the river.
Eventually it joins up with the main highway again.
through the commercial area of Oroville the ride out to the
dam is a nice one. The hills and trees are beautiful no
matter what time of year it is.
The road across the
dam is always a treat. The view of the lake from there is
wonderful, but the view out over the entire valley is
fantastic. The afterbays way across the landscape glisten
silver, reflecting the overcast sky and the Sutter Buttes
rise majestically in the center of the valley.
You can certainly get
a feel for how small people really are in this big old world
when you see a tiny auto climbing the hill to the top of the
Sometimes we head home
through the foothills into Yuba County, but that day we
decided to go on up to Paradise. When we got there we
continued on to Magalia, Stirling City and beyond.
I had neglected to
read a sign as we climbed the mountain road out of Stirling
City so I wasn't sure how far it was to Inskip, the next
town. However, before we got there we rounded a bend in the
twisting road and suddenly everything was white.
Steve said "I know you
hate going back the way we came and you want to see what's
around the next bend, but not this time!"
While I hid my eyes to
keep from looking over the edge, he turned the truck around
on the narrow roadway and we headed back down the mountain.
As we entered Stirling City I turned and read the sign I had
missed earlier: "Travel at your own risk beyond this point."
We had dinner in
Paradise and took the Skyway to Highway 99 on the south side
of Chico, then home to Yuba City.
-- Fran C. Crawford