Lake Wohlford

As we were headed back to the dock to return our rented boat for the day, we heard a voice yelling, “I got one, I got one!”  It was coming from our boat!

After a couple of hours of no bites or nibbles, that was an unfamiliar series of words.   We had tried a few different coves along the lake and only got a hit as we were slowly trolling back to the rental dock. We were in the middle of the lake using two poles with lures.

Heading back to the boat dock.

Sadly, the fish pulled off the hook before getting hoisted into the boat, or should I say happy for him, although we always catch and release.   Only a few seconds later another hit, but this time the sizable fish was brought in.

The beautiful Rainbow Trout was easily taken off the line and released back into the lake.

So, we ended the day out on the boat with at least catching one on this beautiful sunny day in San Diego County at Lake Wohlford.

I had never been to Lake Wohlford so three of us had a hankering for lake fishing, and off we went.

Lake Wohlford is a medium sized reservoir set in the hills of Escondido.  Unfortunately, being a reservoir means no swimming or dogs allowed.

Winding through the roads to get there is a great Sunday drive in and of itself.   As you reach the last bend, you get your first view of what I first thought was a very small lake. Later while in a rented boat, I saw that it was much larger than it appeared.

At 190 acres it is considerably more sizable than its neighbor, Dixon Lake which is around 69 Acres.

Homes and a quaint little café are nearby, and it is hard to imagine that the huge Valley View Casino is only a few miles away.

Around the lake, there are an abundance of places to park and little strips of open area to fish or picnic. However, there are no concessions but, plenty of bathrooms.

We chose to rent a boat which we found very reasonable at $30 for the whole day! The no frills aluminum vessel got us where we needed as we explored around.

The Boat Dock from the middle of the lake

At one of our chosen fishing spots, dozens of Hawks soared over the treetops while Mallards and various other water birds splashed around on the water.

Look Closely for the lone Hawk.

On a whim, I checked on how this place ranked for bird watchers.  I was surprised to read those 182 different species of birds have been spotted there.   

Still green from previous rainfalls, there were oak trees, reeds, plus various other plant life gracing the shoreline as well as huge rocks and boulders.

Far in the distance we saw a dam but didn’t get close enough to investigate.

We were told that they stocked the lake with trout recently, but evidently, they weren’t hungry on this day. We thought they might be congregated in the shallows by the reeds, however, there was nothing, no bite or nibbles.

As mentioned, it wasn’t until we got in the middle of the lake that they struck.  So, this is where they were hanging out!   Too bad, it was right when we were leaving, although we stayed a few minutes just in case.  However, I believe we drifted too far from the original spot as we were excitingly waiting for the Rainbow Trout’s appearance on the surface.

One dedicated angler in our group wanted to stay to see if we could get more, while two of us were complaining about being hungry.  Hunger won out; it was time to leave.

We will go back again as the lake is open seven days a week mid-December through Labor Day but weekends only Labor Day through December.

The lake has Bass, Bluegill, Catfish, Crappie, and Trout and you can fish until dusk. In our case the boat had to be back by 6:30pm…plenty of time.  A fishing license is required, and day use is $8.00 plus, you can always fish from shore.

Fishing isn’t the only activity as there are plenty of hiking trails along the lake.

So, if you are in the mood to fish, hike, picnic, or just enjoy nature, this quaint little lake is the place for you.

Story and photos: Debbie Colwell


The Muddy Dash

The Muddy Dash crew that staycationer JoJo set up were all smiles at the beginning of the race/dash.   I was thinking to myself that they are happy and all smiles now, let’s see how they look at the end.  After all, it was an extremely warm February day, and they were setting out to run/walk in the Bates Nut Farm Muddy Dash. 

I was surprised and impressed that they came down their last hill of the day brimming with energy, plus the smiles were still there!

Muddy yes, but full of life and ready to finish the last few obstacles.

Reedy to go, full of energy
Still smiling but a little muddy

The Muddy Dash is an event that takes place at various venues across the country. It features obstacles such as rock-climbing walls, rope swings, other walls, and of course…mud. It finishes with an overgrown bubble shower where the kid comes out in everyone.

One of he obstacles
Three different techniques of exiting this obstacle

The three-mile course was situated next to Bates Nut Farm in Valley Center near Escondido. Every age imaginable participated while the course challenged you to jump, roll, climb, and navigate in or around the star of the show, once again…mud.

Judy’s Style
JoJo’s style

With temperatures in the high eighties, they started the race having to waddle through knee high muddy water for about twenty feet.  So was the beginning of a day of unusual obstacles and countryside racing.  Well, racing isn’t exactly what our group did, they were there strictly for the fun and fun they had. After all, who lays on their back doing mud angels, while others are running the course?

Mud at the beginning
Mud at the end. Note Judy grabbing a pile of mud to pelt some unsuspecting victim

The team of three ladies, Robin, JoJo, and Judy embraced the course with gusto, even after starting with a long hill. I heard of only one incident of cheating as on the twenty-pound bag carry, a certain pink shirt wearing, blond-haired lady, picked up an empty bag. The other two just shook their heads, I mean what could they say, the bag was just sitting there.

We caught up with them at the end where only Judy attempted the rock-climbing wall. She expertly climbed over and joined the others as they headed to the rope swing. Handling the rope, technique was everything, as was evidenced by a certain someone’s near face plant into the mud. Let’s just say she had a pink shirt on.  Robin on the other hand, flew across like she grew up in the jungle with Tarzan.

Continue reading “The Muddy Dash”

Bodega Bay

For some reason I always wanted to visit Bodega Bay. I liked the name mostly because it sounds like it should be in a tropical locale.  It’s actually just about an hour up the rugged California coast above San Francisco. So, on a long Thanksgiving weekend, that’s exactly where I am headed!!!

As I was driving around the area, I was surprised on how big it was. Nestled on the 55 mile stretch of Sonoma County, the bay itself spans along the Pacific Ocean. However, beyond two jetties, sits a calm and protected inlet which is home to the Bodega Bay Harbor.  This is where the activity is and most of the city.

As of the 2010 consensus there are about 1,077 residents living in this tiny town.

At one of many marinas in the harbor, Spud Point is home to the small fishing and commercial fleet that has been operating for generations. These brave souls tackle the rough waters off the Pacific to bring home their fare for all to enjoy. Except me that is, yuk on seafood.  Too bad because they say it is top notch in these parts.

This was evidenced in Spud Point Marina where we saw a few lucky restaurants with at least 40 people lined up to either get in or order their food.  

The Scenery:

The road that winds around the harbor allows you views of rustic docks and quaint marinas as well as a clear view way across where all you see is open land.  You can easily find a place to rent Kayaks/SUPS or schedule a whale watching trip.  Private charters can also take you on deep sea fishing trips so you can try your hand angling for salmon, halibut, or rock fish.

There are abundant hiking and biking trails inside or outside of the harbor that offer amazing views.    We drove into the parking lot of one of the coves and were rewarded with a breathtaking scene and a colorful sunset.  It almost looked like a tropical locale!


The sun rays stirred up magnificent colors as trees sparkled, the cat-tail grass glistened, and the hills became a dazzling green.

More about Town:

For the more active of you, this protected inlet is a perfect place for windsurfing and kite surfing.

The town itself is about as charming as you get yet has enough to do for your everyday tourist.   Along the harbor are inviting shops, galleries, cafes, fine dining, lodging, etc. 

Colorful kite shops are just a stone’s throw from seaside restaurants where blissful diners are enjoying the panoramic view on shaded patios.

Some of the residents live on the hills above, giving them a bird’s eye view of the water.

Besides the many beaches along the ocean side, the Doran Regional Park provides miles of open sand where you don’t have to hike down a bluff.   You do have to pay to get in but a nominal fee to be that close.   However, there are plenty of cliff areas that provide parking, although you have to actually get out of your car and hike down a trail to the beach. 

We were too lazy for that, but we stopped in to enjoy the picturesque views.

Continue reading “Bodega Bay”

Jenner Beach

From our hotel in Guerneville, we decided to drive about 25 minutes to the coast to Jenner Beach.  It is a scenic drive that takes you through tiny towns, redwoods, tree lined roads, until you reach your final destination at Highway 1.

Whenever you come in from an inland route and reach the coastline up here in Northern California, it is just enough to take your breath away.  The rugged shoreline is filled with rock formations, tiny coves, and beaches overflowing with small to large pieces of driftwood. On this day the sun was shining and illuminating the Pacific Ocean to a beautiful sparkling blue.

Once we reached the end of the road, we decided to head north first.   We were driving higher and higher and soon realized that the only way to touch the sand was to descend a bluff from one of the trails.

However, from this elevated vantage point we could see a few miles south, that there were people on the beach and nearby was a sea level parking lot.  Exactly what we were looking for!    That is where we will be going, but now how to get there?  The Russian River mouth divided us from our destination and there were no signs of a bridge, so we had to back track a little.

Driving away from the shore, we soon passed over the river and came upon a sign that said Goat Rock Beach…this had to be it.  We drove by hiking trails with scenic outlooks and even saw a deer or two along the way. We finally descended to what I had hoped…an easy access to the beach.

We found the parking lot that was seen from a distance and soon made our way onto the sand.

Goat Rock is an enormous flat rock formation that you can see from miles away. On research later, I read that it was named many years ago, when they used it for herding goats because of its flat surface.

Also nearby is Arch rock, a grand formation with the inside weathered away giving it its appropriate name. I looked through my telephoto lens thinking that it would be cool to take a kayak through it.   However, I actually saw waves breaking inside the arch, so I am thinking that’s probably not a good idea.

On this semi warm day in November, we chose to beach-comb along the long stretch of sand just north of the rock.  The sand was a darker color unlike its neighbor beaches in Southern California. The water’s edge on this day was sloped a little with the large waves fiercely crashing on the land. I knew to stay away but lifeguards from time to time had to remind beachgoers of the dangers, via loudspeaker.  You could easily get swept away and the currents here are really bad.

A few surfers were taking advantage of the sizable waves but not much else was happening in or near the water.  Everyone else was just enjoying the day, safe on the sand. 

As we moved closer to the river mouth, I heard the faint sound of a handheld whistle.  I looked up and, on the bluff, I saw that someone was waving their arms. I was not sure if they were waving at me or someone else.  Then I saw about 50 feet ahead of us there were about 10 seals basking in the sun.  I had heard that sometimes seals can be aggressive, so I was grateful for the warning, or they simply wanted us to leave them be.  I waved back and headed in the opposite direction.

Soon after, a man grabbed my arm and started pulling me along.  I was in a low spot where the ocean water actually flows into the river as the tide gets higher.   It wouldn’t have swept me in as it was only less than knee high, but I would have gotten wet. So, I thanked my hero and kept an eye out from then on in.

Beachcombing and sea glass hunting makes you keep your eyes down, but I have to learn to look up once in a while, especially at a new beach.   I read later that the shoreline in Sonoma County has very dangerous rip currents, undertows, and you can easily be swept off your feet as mentioned, especially children.

Jenner is a stunning beach where there is no mistake that you are in the more picturesque and less populated part of California.  There were dozens of rock formations offshore, in fact more than I think I have ever seen before.

We came back the next day because we loved it so much.

I didn’t get any photos of the town, maybe because there isn’t much of one.  With a population of around 150, there is mostly homes and a few cute shops, restaurants, and places to stay.  It is a romantic and quaint get-away location.

With the Russian river so close, you can also, rent Kayaks/Sups or hike on the many spectacular trails.

We drove around and saw some other beaches and actually started to drive north again but this time towards the community of Sea Ranch.  To get there from where we were, you have to drive the anxiety inducing Highway 1.   It twists and turns on super high sheer cliffs and in a lot of places there aren’t any guard rails.

I remember taking this road long ago when I wasn’t the driver.  On the outside rail, I looked down once at one of the higher points. I never looked down again, it was, of course an awe-inspiring sight but scary as heck!!!

 So on this day, even though I was on the inside rail going north, I knew coming back, I would be on the outside with it possibly getting dark… No thanks, I turned around while I could.

Afterall, I was on vacation and wanted to get the stress out, not add to it.

We headed back to our hotel in Guerneville and planned to go north to visit Fort Bragg on one of the next few days. However, it wouldn’t be from Highway 1!!!!!

See the past story on Fort Bragg here:

For tomorrow it is on to Bodega Bay, see story here:

Story and photos: Debbie Colwell