Some say you can never go home again. For me though, there is one place that always feels like home; Surprise Valley, California. We purchased our ranch over 2o years ago in the farthest northeastern corner of California. Out our back door looking across the dry alkali lake we can see Nevada. . Up the road about 15 miles is the Oregon border. It is high desert "cowboy" country. (http://www.surprisevalleychamber.com). This area attracts intellectuals seeking to withdraw from the hustle and bustle of city life, survivalist seeking skills, artist seeking solitude and families seeking a safer environment for children. Old timers have handled the isolation and hardships through a blend of perseverance and an optimism borne out of overcoming whatever life throws at them. They laugh easily and are quirky enough to refer to anything south of Surprise Valley as " down there in California..."
Last week, driving over Cedar Pass, which was still covered in snow, I wondered why I always feel like I am "coming home" as we descend into Surprise Valley. I thought it might be the people who inhabit this corner of the world. And yet, everywhere I have lived, life long connections have been established with fascinating people.
Perhaps it was the happy memories associated with the ranch and Surprise Valley. No... in remembering other places I have lived my mind is flooded with joyous recollections.
Drinking my morning cup of tea, standing on our front porch and waving to the UPS man as he passed by, it dawned on me that there is a timelessness in this place and it is defined by County Road One.
County Road One runs from Eagleville, to Cedarville, to Lake City and to Fort Bidwell. It is eighty miles long, each community approximately twenty miles apart. And the landscape doesn't change. The ranches may be bought and sold, and sometimes the houses are painted and improved upon, but in 20 years not much really changes. As you make your way through the valley, fields are still planted, irrigation lines are still standing, cows are still fed in the same pastures, and pregnant mares are still grouped together in their fields. In the spring cattle are still moved down County Road One to their spring and summer feeding grounds and in the fall they are brought home on County Road One.
The deer raid the hay barns in winter and graze in the fields in spring and summer and try to cross County Road One without encountering a vehicle.
Surprise Valley doesn't change. It feels like "home", because unlike other places, it is just the way I left it ! Even though there may be a few little changes, nothing huge has disrupted this lovely place. There are no new roads, no new housing developments or new department stores being built. It is a quiet and peaceful journey home on County Road One.......
May your journey home always be full of joy and peace !