David Wakefield

David and Trudy Wakefield started The Bloom in 2018 to showcase the best parts of Lake County and to provide a local outlet for community events, arts, music, and writing.

Three Ways to Handle a Holiday Hangover

New Year’s Eve is one of the best party nights of the year. It’s a great chance to get together with friends, enjoy some good food, and laugh the night away. If, like me, you enjoy having a good time on December 31st, you may have experienced a vicious New Year’s Day hangover. You go to bed happy, albeit a bit dizzy, and wake up the next morning in misery. Your head’s pounding, your stomach’s in knots, and you can’t quite remember the three hours leading up to midnight. But have hope! (Sorry for the exclamation point; it even reads too loud.) Here are three great ways to handle a hangover.

Holiday Reading from The Bloom: A Child’s Christmas in Wales

Over the years, our family has enjoyed some Christmas reading. We’ve read through The Little Match Girl, The Elves and the Shoemaker, A Christmas Carol, Sherlock Holmes and The Adventures of the Blue Carbuncle, and many other great stories. But one of our favorites is poet Dylan Thomas’ A Child’s Christmas in Wales, which we read every Christmas Eve. It’s a beautiful story that shares Christmas memories from over one hundred years ago. If you’re looking for an enjoyable short read, here’s a link to a public domain version:http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks07/0701261h.html

Your Lower Lake Holiday Shopping Guide

Lower Lake is a town filled with history. It’s home to the Historic Schoolhouse Museum and Lake County’s first jail, still standing and available to visit. It also has the honor of hosting the first jailbreak in the county, one of my favorite stories. The builders, happy to finish their work on the jail, celebrated a bit too hard and ended up being the first incarcerated. However, the roof wasn’t secured, so, in the middle of the night, they lifted it and made their way out. It’s also a great place to spend a holiday afternoon filled with shopping. Park your car anywhere on Main Street and spend the day wandering. Not only does it have a broad selection of unique items, but it also has some great restaurants. Here are a few recommendations of great places to grab a bite to eat and pick up the perfect gifts for your loved ones.

A Gamer’s Paradise: The Game Hub

Kyle’s owned The Game Hub for ten years now, and he’s gotten to know his customers. “I wanted to be a teacher,” he says, “but went a different direction. I fell in love with running a business. But it’s cool to see people grow up and keep coming in.” In light of that, Kyle has made the game section of the store easy to understand and broken down into sections: New to the Hobby, Family Fames, Kid’s Games, Small Games, Intermediate Games. Anyone from a young parent to an involved RPG junkie will feel at home.

Not Your Typical Taco Truck: Los Compas

Edgar Bonilla and Antonio Sanchez sit at one of the picnic tables stretched under a large tent. Edgar’s just lit a propane heater, and the warmth heats the chill from the morning air. Both bring their own energy to the table; Edgar’s bright, friendly, and warm. Antonio’s reserved, thoughtful, and competent. And they’re comfortable in each other’s company; they’ve worked together for over fifteen years in Napa restaurants. And they’ve come together to make some spectacular food at Los Compas.

Experience Spectacular Views at Boggs Mountain

One of the huge, inadvertent perks that came with the Valley Fire is now when you visit Boggs, you will find spectacular views anywhere you look. I caught a glimpse of Clearlake, Hidden Valley, and Middletown, as well as great views of Cobb Mountain and St. Helena. Later, I was told by a Cal-fire worker, it’s possible to see all the way north to Mt. Lassen, east into the Sierras, and south down into the bay.

Tasteful Thai: Chalerm Thai Bistro

Chalerm Thai Bistro’s a hidden treasure in Lakeport. Odds are, if you don’t live in town, you haven’t heard of it. It’s not downtown or next to the freeway. Instead, it resides off Lakeshore Boulevard north of the main business district, sitting next to a closed liquor market. For years, it’s also served as our family’s go-to for quality Thai food.

The Neighbor You Never Knew: Meet Jeff Warrenburg

Even though you may never have met him in person, if you’ve ever visited The Bloom, you’ve either seen Jeff Warrenburg or read about something he’s done for Lake County. He’s been a Rotary member for twenty-two years. He’s on the board for the Chamber of Commerce, is president of the Fair Foundation, and is on the City of Lakeport Planning Commission. He shows up in photos about once a quarter in The Bloom, most recently helping out the Community Kitchen Project. There he stands, second from the left, holding a check. That’s how you’ll usually bump into Jeff in Lake County. He’s always looking for a way to help: It’s part of his philosophy. “The biggest thing for me,” he says, “Is I feel a need to give back to the community. They give to me and help my business, so I want to help them out.” Without people like Jeff, the county would fall apart.

EATING BEHEMOTH BURGERS AT RICHMOND PARK BAR AND GRILL

“Where are you planning to go for dinner?” I was asked several times the day I visited Richmond Park Bar and Grill. “Oh, Richmond Park,” I’d reply. “I’m going to do a write-up on them.” And this is the part that amazed me. I got the same response three times. “Don’t order the Richmond Park Burger. You never be able to finish it.”

It’s Your Last Chance to Enjoy Clearlake’s 2021 Summer Concert Series

The summer sun has finally started to set, and the day’s cooling down. Just across the street, the late afternoon breeze splashes waves against the beach. And in Austin Park, live music’s playing.  When they recently remodeled the park, the City of Clearlake committed to bringing live music to town. So they put in a covered stage on the corner of Olympic and Lakeshore Drive, and this summer started hosting concerts. The city couldn’t have placed it better. The swoop of the stage’s covering swoops with the mountain and lake, framing the picture. And as the sun sets behind Mt. Konocti, it turns the park shades of pink and purple, backlighting the musicians.

A BIT OF WINE, A BIT OF GOLF: KICKING BACK AT FULTS FAMILY VINEYARDS

Fults Family Vineyards sits on Clayton Creek just a few miles south of Lower Lake on the corner of Spruce Grove Road and Highway 29. Enter the tree-lined driveway, and you wind up a rise, past the Fults’ home to their tasting room overlooking a large pond. Kendall, co-owner of Fults Family Vineyards (FFV), keeps it relaxed and welcoming. It’s the kind of place where no matter your wine knowledge or preference, you’ll have a good time. I’ve never been to a winery with a television on one wall always playing sports, or a par 3 hole where you can hit some golf balls while you sip on a glass. It all fits together perfectly at FFV. Come in on the weekend, and you’ll probably run into Kendall sitting behind the tasting room bar, waiting with some good wine and a good story.

Quality Products, Quality Service: Premier Flooring

“Did you see that dog?” Sufi asks. “That was a big Rottweiler. I could do whatever and sell him the cheaper stuff, but I have to live with myself. We only sell quality products here,” Sufi continues her thought. “And we’ve got the best installers. They’re the cream of the crop. We’ve had to clean up a lot of mistakes that other installers have made. When you get too big, you lose quality. So Justin and I want to keep it small and continue to provide the best product and service possible.”

BIG VALLEY, SMALL FARMS, PART 4: CAMPODONICO OLIVE FARM

The sun blazes overhead, searing my skin; It’s August in Lake County, and the olive trees soak it up. Lianne and Richard Campodonico of Campodonico Olive Oil walk next to me, well-covered from the bright yellow glare of the sky. “They’re more like bushes than trees,” Rich says, looking down the row of various-sized olive trees. “Look at that one!” He points towards a fifteen-foot-tall shrub of an olive.“We planted them in blocks,” he continues. “One quarter, the first year, one quarter the second year. Then we had a hard winter that killed 40% of the trees.” He shows me a tree springing out of a broken stump. “Several of them grew back, like this one, but we had to get more.”

FARMING SUNLIGHT AT THE FOOT OF MT. KONOCTI: PEACE AND PLENTY SAFFRON FARM

Simon Avery of Peace and Plenty Farm turns his head sideways, looking at the saffron plants stretching down several rows. It’s a cold day, and clouds shroud the top of Mt. Konocti, scudding quickly across the sky. He shudders as a chill wind whips across the fields. “It’s a mile walk if you take all the rows,” he tells me, hunching his shoulders inward to keep warm. His cracked, farmer’s hands rub against his shirt. “And you’re bent over like this,” Melinda Price demonstrates, her tall form reaching down past her knees, her blonde hair pulled back into a bun. “All day. Picking the flowers.” “Sometimes I finish picking all the rows, only to see more flowers appear, and I have to do it all over.” Simon’s eyes glaze over, recalling the days and days of harvesting.

Buy Mike and Danny a Beer: Busking for Brewskis at Kelsey Creek Brewing

Tuesday afternoon in Kelseyville, August. Mike Guarniero and Danny Prather perch on barstools next to the front window, half-full beer glasses on the floor next to them. Danny’s taken the lead on a Neil Young tune he’s finishing, and odds are they’ll switch it around on the next song. Between the two of them, they could play all day and never repeat a tune. Danny gives a hearty strum on his guitar as the song ends, then grins as he leans over and takes a sip of his beer. Caroline Chavez, co-owner of Kelsey Creek, sees his glass empty and quickly brings over two full ones. “Now everybody,” she says, walking the smooth walk of a skilled bartender, “You all need to pitch in. I’m the only one buying them beer right now.” Mike and Danny happily grab their full brewskis, sip off the foam, and start a new song.

Jammin’ at Konocti Vista Casino

The sun’s setting behind the casino, leaving imprints of red and orange on Hogback Ridge across the lake. Kids swim in the pool, laughing and splashing each other. People spread across the grass, swaying to the music while on the stage, the Higher Logic Project, Lake County’s local reggae band, has just finished their set. Now it’s time for reggae legend Pato Banton. “We’re going to chill the vibe for a bit here. Antoinette ‘Roots Dawtah’ Hall kicks in on the keyboards. Sing with me,” Pato begins. “Life, oh life. Life is a miracle.” He stops for a second and holds the mic out to the audience. “Now you know the lyrics. It’s your turn.”

WORKING WITH THE LAND: R VINEYARDS

The Subaru winds its way through the oak trees. It’s spring, and Hoodoo Creek weaves through the bright green grass. A vineyard suddenly appears in front of us, filled with thick, gnarled grapevines. We step out of the car to look at them. Each vine curls around itself like a twisted fist, shooting off new leaves. “This is our Hoodoo vineyard,” Dave Rosenthal tells us in his easygoing manner. He’s dressed in a casual sweater and baseball cap. “These Zinfandel vines were planted in 1937.” As he tells us the history of the vines, I snap a few pictures. “My mom, up ‘till two years ago, would come out and work this vineyard,” he continues. “She’d work for a bit, then nap for a bit, like this.” He puts his head on his chest and slumps. “She was enjoying herself, but we got a few calls from the neighbors telling us that Mom had collapsed in the vineyard.” He smiles.

Poetry Everywhere: The Main Street Poetry Box Project

Clear Lake Campground rests on the edge of Cache Creek and has welcomed visitors for decades. RVs, tents, and trailers stretch along the creek’s banks. Kids play ping pong under the covered patio; an older couple sits in their foldup chairs, sipping on coffee. It’s another summer Saturday at the campground. But there’s excitement near the office, where Lisa Wilson, owner of Clear Lake Campground, Georgina Marie, Lake County Poet Laureate, and Gary Maes, the mastermind behind the Main St. Poetry Boxes, check the alignment of the newest poetry box. You may have bumped into a poetry box while wandering down Main Street in Kelseyville or wandered by one in Middletown. There, if you take a second, you’ll notice a well-made wooden box mounted to a wall, a poem tacked inside. It’s all part of a plan to spread poetry throughout the county.

My Friend Gene

I first met Gene three years ago at Judy’s Junction in Upper Lake over a cup of coffee to discuss publishing his Lake County History serially. By the time I got there, he was already sitting in a booth, coffee in hand, waiting for me. Even in his 90’s, Gene had a large presence. Sure, he walked with a hunch and held a cane, but the years he spent playing football and bodybuilding had left their mark. As I talked with him, he stretched his arms wide to make a point, and they reached out past the edges of the booth, able to encompass not just the table but me as well.

A Story of Thorn Hill Winery

Amy Thorn was drawn to Lake County years ago when she worked as a wine judge. At a competition, she tasted an unnamed Lake County Cabernet Sauvignon and was hooked. “I thought, this is the place where we need to start a winery,” Amy says. “The volcanic soil brings it such a unique flavor.” On her first visit, Amy went to Konocti Harbor, watched Credence Clearwater Revival play, then came to look at the property where Thorn Hill’s tasting room currently sits. The night was dark, and the stars shone brilliantly. “I felt like I was in the Sound of Music!” Amy continues. “We walked around and could see the stars like I could reach out and touch them. I’d never seen anything like it before. I knew this was the place.”

Essential Lake County: The Boat Races

The odor of heated fiberglass fills the air. I’m trying to keep up with what’s happening but can’t see through the smoke of the car with the blown head gasket trying to round turn one. Who’s in first? It doesn’t matter. A roar comes from the crowd watching turn three. It looks like a couple of boats got stuck together, and one car’s dragging the other around the track. I glance at it for a second, then get distracted by the major crash happening directly in front of the grandstands. A boat’s disconnected from its chain and cartwheels in front of the Blazer. The driver twitches the steering wheel, not to avoid it, but to ensure he gets a direct hit. He aims directly for the bow, and it explodes into a spray of fiberglass and old steering cables.

Get Your Dose of Local at Kelseyville’s Side Street Market

Sabrina Andrus, owner of A+H General Store and maker. roams the side street, a big smile on her maskless face. “This is a new thing for me,” she says, referring to the novelty of being outdoors with other people and no masks. “It feels a bit weird.” She and her sister Caitlin are the co-visionaries behind the market and have created a place where people can enjoy high-quality, locally crafted goods. It’s not a farmers’ market, though there is produce, and it’s not a craft fair, though there are candles and soap. Instead, it’s a market for the many artisans that live in Lake County. The sisters are proud to note that everything sold at the market is grown, produced, or made here in Lake County.

Pick up Some Spectacular Spices at Thai American Market

Every time I have been to Thai American Market, I’ve been impressed with how Dale and Yupa go out of their way to make Asian food accessible. It’s easy to walk into an Asian market in the city and have absolutely no idea of what to purchase. I’ve walked out of stores with a can of quail eggs and three different types of rice noodles, only to go home and have no idea of what to do with them. That won’t happen at Thai American Market, because neither Dale nor Yupa would never allow it. Just walk into the market, tell him what you want to make, and they will walk you through exactly what you need to create that perfect Asian dish to impress your spouse and friends. He even places recipes along the shelves, just in case you see something but aren’t sure how to make it.

A Prophecy Years in the Making: O’Meara Bros. Brewing Company

“It was inevitable that Alex and I would end up running a brewery,” Tim O’Meara, one half of the O’Meara Bros. Brewing Company, says. A pump hums in the background, pushing a batch of Elk Mountain IPA into the fermenter. “When we were kids, we always pretended we were bartenders. We had bottles all over the place filled with concoctions we had created.” He laughs. “Mom told us, ‘Someday you’re going to run your own business together.’ Can you give me a second?” he stops, listening to his brewer’s intuition. “I need to go check on that batch.” While Tim heads off to look things over, Trudy and I sip on a flight of his beers. It turns out his mom was right. Decades after her prophecy, and nearly seven years into business together, brothers Tim and Alex are still at it, creating quality, drinkable beverages.

There’s A New Band in Town: Breaker One-9

The sun’s still above Cobb, but it’s steadily easing behind it, stretching the light into the four-car garage, where, tucked in a corner and surrounded by sound-dampening cloth, Breaker One-9 finishes up a song. A few thumps and bass notes fiddle around, then quiet as the band takes a break from practicing their first set. In an empty bay of the garage, papers, a tablet, and Diet Coke spread across the pool table. Mike Mendenhall sits at its edge in a foldup chair, his knees pressed against the table.

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