Country ’Tis Of Thee
By JOHN M. DERBY
July 13, 2017
often we forget the beauty of our own state when we travel
to different lands.
There is no more beautiful state in the nation than California
as it stretches from the shores of the Pacific to the mountain
valleys like Yosemite and the vineyards of Napa to the deserts
Sometimes we feel we must go elsewhere when the majesty
is right in our own backyard.
This year we ventured north on July 4th week starting out
in the Valley and headed to San Francisco Bay where we found
that city cold and overcast, a marked contrast to the valley
The overcast did not last long as our motorhome rolled north
over the San Pablo Bridge and into the wine country. There,
the manicured rows of grape vineyards stretched as far as
the eye could see, and the names of California’s great
wineries paraded past, Mondavi, Sterling, Beringer and Sutter
Towns like Calistoga and St. Helena marked our passage reminding
us about the history of our state’s agriculture and
what gave us international fame as the world’s foremost
Clearlake, the largest lake in California, was on our list
of stops and now its shores were swollen to the maximum
as the snow from the mountains turned into summer run off.
We had a drink at the Boat House bar and restaurant, where
the water had recently risen up above the feet for any customer
who dared to come in.
Our destination was Grants Pass, Oregon where a country
wedding was planned for a member of our immediate family.
The heat, even in Oregon, had been unusually severe and
we worried about the crowd flying in from all parts of the
Fortunately, the gods of weather blessed us with a light
evening breeze which was just enough to take the intense
heat off the outside venue and provide a perfect setting
for the wedding guests. By night fall “Kathy’s
Hilton,” the name given to our old motorhome, had
cooled off and was a perfect place for a cold beer and friends
and family who we might not see again for years.
Too soon, we had other places to go, other family to be
with. Our son and his family live in Paradise, California,
just uphill from Chico and there was another gathering of
the Derby clan waiting to celebrate July 4th. No fireworks
are allowed in this town, as the forest around the homes
made it dangerous even to light a match.
We celebrated in the grand tradition of our nation with
hamburgers and hot dogs and all the trimmings hot off the
grill. Even the apple pie was there, however, we had it
for breakfast. Being with family could never have been better.
July 4th week was complete as we loaded up for the return
trip home, but not before we took a guided tour of the little
California town of Paradise, where patriotic groups had
put out miles of American flags which guarded both sides
of the major roads in town.
It was a salute to California and the amazing state we live