If you’ve driven Highway 20 to Ukiah, you’ve passed by Blue Lakes, two connected bodies of water that shine like jewels in the crack of the mountains. It’s easy to get distracted as driving by the crystal-clear waters that mirror the sky above them. During COVID-19, there are so many things we can’t do, but whether you’re local to Lake County or just visiting, one experience you can’t miss is to take a boat out on the lakes. Once you’re out on the water, you’ll understand the magic.
First of all, Blue Lakes is deep. Really deep. As the electric boat pulls away from the dock, it’s like gliding out onto an emerald green abyss. Sun shines into the water, its rays stretching down into the depths. Even though it has four resorts on it, Blue Lakes is largely unpopulated, which means that there are plenty of places to stretch out and enjoy the sunshine and nature. A gentle breeze picks up every afternoon, which make drifting a delight. Start at the narrows, put the boat in neutral, and feel the wind slowly push the boat down the lake. Now’s a good time to hop into the cool, crisp water. As you jump in, you open your eyes; the underwater world glows green, the bubbles winding upward. It’s silent and soothes the skin like silk.
The treed banks and rising mountains that embrace Blue Lakes sweep away care. Multiple osprey nests spread around the edge, perched in giant, knotted trees perched high above the shore. You can hear them call as you tread water, a chirping laugh. Then one dives, hits the lake with a smack, and heavily pulls upward, a trout in its talons. It spins the fish to face forward, and with effort, works upward, carrying it to its baby, who screams with delight at the sight. You hop back on the boat and dangle your feet over the edge, the waves gently lapping against your calves.
Time passes at a different pace on Blue Lakes. In a county filled with jaw-dropping natural beauty, Blue Lakes stands out like a gem. It’s always clear, cool, and welcoming.
“I’ve traveled all over the world,” Maryann Schmid, owner of The Lodge at Blue Lakes, says, gesturing to the long, narrow lake spreading in front of her. She sits in the gazebo, poised at the edge of the Blue Lakes. “And I’m always disappointed. Why would I need to travel when I have this? Where else can you just walk out of your room and have a lake only a few feet away?”
When Maryann Schmid and her husband Peter took over The Lodge at Blue Lakes in 2003, it was boarded up and entirely run down. In the seventeen years since, they have transformed the lodge into a pristine, welcoming, family-friendly place. It’s a great place to spend an afternoon or a week.
“We kept everybody on payroll during the shutdown,” she says. “We did a renovation.” They used the SIP to update further, making their already immaculate loge even more welcoming. It’s one way Maryann was able to help her employees. But Maryann’s commitment doesn’t just end with running a good business. She looks for her employees’ strengths and develops them. “Pablo is our manager,” she says. As she speaks, a family passes by, shoulders draped in beach towels, the children holding on to inflatable rings. “He’s been with us for eight years. He started in housekeeping, and we saw his potential, so we trained him.”
Seeing potential is part of Maryann’s life philosophy. “I have no skills,” she laughs, smiling a huge, bright smile. The family loads their children on a boat, and pull away from the dock. “The only skill I have is being an entrepreneur. And I want to help other entrepreneurs succeed.” That’s why she’s founded the 1 Team, 1 Dream competition currently being held in Lake County: a contest with over $20,000 in cash prizes and awards for fifth as well as sixth place. It’s a brilliant idea designed to help promote business in our county.
“We now have twenty-two businesses that have entered the competition.” Maryann leans forward, sharing the news eagerly. “I’m very excited.”
She speaks, passion in her voice, and excitement in her words and gestures. On the lake, water from the receding boat ripples against the dock, where a couple sits, fishing poles dangling above the water. Across the grass bordering the lake, guests sit at tables or stretch out on lawn chairs, books in hands. Doors to the rooms are all open, and children laugh and dance as they grab their towels. All’s at peace here at the lodge.
To rent a boat at the Lodge at Blue Lakes, click here.
To reserve a room, click here.
The Lodge at Blue Lakes is located at: