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California Flying: Wet, wild, and diverse LakeportCalifornia Flying: Wet, wild, and diverse Lakeport

One look at the calendar on the Lake County visitor’s center Web site will be all it will take for the average California pilot to plan a flying visit to Lakeport. These events and activities include outdoor concerts in an amphitheater that overlooks Clear Lake, casino gambling, visiting historic sites, rock hounding for Lake County diamonds, worm races, a rodeo, car shows, world-class bass fishing, hiking, biking, and all types of water sports.

One look at the calendar on the Lake County visitor’s center Web site will be all it will take for the average California pilot to plan a flying visit to Lakeport. These events and activities include outdoor concerts in an amphitheater that overlooks Clear Lake, casino gambling, visiting historic sites, rock hounding for Lake County diamonds, worm races, a rodeo, car shows, world-class bass fishing, hiking, biking, and all types of water sports.

Lakeport’s Lampson Field (1O2) is located 80 nm northwest of Sacramento near what is the oldest fresh water lake in North America and a dormant volcano.

The single east/west runway is 3,597 feet long by 60 feet wide and is in great shape as the markings have recently been repainted. A local pilot remarked that visiting pilots need to know that the PAPI for Runway 28 is set up for a four-degree approach slope instead of the standard three-degree slope. Runway 28 has a right-hand traffic pattern because of high terrain south of the airport.

The only other operational “gotcha” is a 17- to 20-knot crosswind that blows three or four times a year. The calm wind runway is 28. A self-service fuel pump is on the north end of the field across from Sicily’s Italian restaurant, which is abeam the numbers on Runway 28.

At the restaurant lunch is served from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. and dinner from 5 p.m. until 9 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday.

The volcano and the lake

In addition to being the oldest freshwater lake in North America, Clear Lake is also—with 68 miles of shoreline—the largest lake in California. Clear Lake is also called “The Bass Capital of the West,” since a 17.5 pound Largemouth Bass was landed there.

Nestled against the southern shore midway between the upper and lower portions of the lake is Mount Konocti, which rises to an altitude of 4,299 feet msl. Konocti is a contraction of two Pomo Native American words meaning sleeping woman. Evidence indicates that the Pomo and Wappo native people have lived in the area for 11,000 years.

The volcano is part of what geologists call the Clear Lake Volcanic Field. One source cites the area west of Clear Lake along the Sonoma County-Lake County line as the world’s largest geothermal mass of hot springs. It’s believed that the volcano last erupted about 10,000 years ago.

Because of this hotbed (sorry!) of thermal activity, grand resorts with promises of the healing powers of the springs—such as the Highland Springs, the Saratoga Springs, the Bartlett Springs, the Witter Springs, and the Anderson Springs, as well as others—popped up near the lake around the turn of the last century.

In 1892, Gentleman Jim Corbett trained at the Bartlett Springs resort for his heavyweight championship fight against John L. Sullivan. Today, those resorts have disappeared but the lake remains a popular vacation area.

Activities

Start with the event calendar listings on the Lake County visitor center Web site when planning a trip to Clear Lake.

A few of the more notable upcoming events this year include the Clear Lake Independence Day Festival over the Memorial Day weekend. The thirty-eighth annual worm races and fireworks take place on July 5. The Lake County Rodeo takes place the next weekend, followed by the third annual Lake County Wine Adventure during the weekend of July 26 and 27.

The Konocti Harbor Resort books top level musical talent in its outdoor 5,000-seat amphitheater, which overlooks the lake. The 2008 concert series features musicians such as John Fogerty, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Trace Adkins, and Martina McBride.

Floatplane pilots gather in Lakeport for the annual Clear Lake Splash-In. In 2007, 34 seaplanes of various types made an appearance— including a rare Piper Apache on floats, two Grumman G-73 Mallards, a G-44 Widgeon, a de Havilland DHC-2 Beaver, a Cessna 150 on floats, and an amateur-built Seawind 350. The 2008 Splash-In is scheduled for the weekend of September 19 through 21.

Endurance bicyclists may want to put a mark on their calendar for the Konocti Challenge, a 100-mile race that’s rated extremely difficult under the Bicycle Ride Director’s Association of America (BRDAA) system with 6,200 feet vertical climb. The 65- and 35-mile courses are rated difficult and moderate under the same system. The race is scheduled for October 4, 2008.

The resort experience includes lunch and dinner cruises on the Clear Lake Queen, a replica paddle wheel steamboat; monthly shows and lectures at the Taylor Planetarium and Observatory in Kelseyville; and Northern California Racing Association car racing at the Lakeport Speedway on the fairgrounds.

The area also offers a wide selection of nonscheduled activities such as bike riding, horseback riding, hiking, fishing, camping, and rock hounding.

The Lake County area is known for obsidian and beta quartz crystals, which are called Lake County “diamonds” because of their brilliant appearance.

Lake County “diamonds” are semi-precious stones of volcanic origin found nowhere else in the world. They are released from basalt deposits during rainstorms and lay scattered over hillsides. Although considered a 7.5 or 8 on the Mohs Scale of Hardness—compared to a real diamond, which is a 10—the Lake County “diamonds” have been used commercially and are capable of cutting glass. They are highly prized by collectors and can be faceted and polished to make beautiful jewelry.

The museum in Lakeport

Where?

Lakeport is located 85 nm north of San Francisco in the wine country near Mendocino, Sonoma, and Napa counties. The town is situated on the west shore of Clear Lake, California’s largest lake.

Lakeport is a small town at the north end of the lake. The Lake County Museum is located in the old courthouse building in the town square. Visitors will find exhibits ranging from information on the stagecoach robber, Black Bart, to an exceptional display of Pomo Indian basketry. There’s even a turn-of-the-century courtroom on the top floor of the 1871 building.

Other museums near Lakeport include the Lower Lake Schoolhouse. There are also historic exhibits at the Anderson Marsh State Historical Park in Lower Lake.

Lakeport is located in an area of California that promises visitors a wide range of recreational, cultural, and leisure activities. Visitors who have made one visit to the Clear Lake area will quickly appreciate the attractions that draw people to this area.

E-mail the author at [email protected].

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