Freeway of Love

Bigleaf maple, Moccasin, CA-89, Plumas County (10/27/18) Jeff Luke Titcomb

Black oak, CA-89, Crescent Mills (10/27/18) Jeff Luke Titcomb

There’s something about taking a long, slow weekend drive in a classic Cadillac, especially on a beautiful autumn day.

Roll down the windows and take in the sweet smells of autumn leaves as they tumble about you.

I recall drives like that in my mother’s two-toned mint/forest green ’56 Sedan de Ville with satin brocade seats.

Dad had gotten it for a song after it was returned to a dealership when its sale went bad.  Suddenly, everyone thought we were rich and snooty. Neither was true, though mom liked to pretend that we had more than we really had.

Indian Creek, CA-89, Crescent MIlls, Plumas County (10/27/18) Jeff Luke Titcomb

To a kid, mom’s Cadillac was magical. The lights would dim automatically when cars approached. In other cars, the driver would stomp on a floorboard button to dim them. The gas cap was hidden under one of the tail lights. You pushed a reflector to open the fin-shaped dome. And, at 214.5 inches long, there was plenty of leg room for a kid, two kids, three kids, a whole Pack of Cub Scouts, and no seat belts.

In the ’60s, Cadillac was the automotive brand most mentioned in songs. I found a couple of dozen songs that mentioned or were about Caddys, before I gave up counting. Cadillac still holds the number three position for most songs ever written about a car, and they’re some of the best songs ever written. Sure, Brian Wilson wrote “Little Honda,” which is a great song, but it’s about a motorbike, not about a Civic.

So, what do my reminiscences about Cadillacs have to do with fall color? Only that Plumas County color spotter Jeff Luke Titcomb is like me. He knows there’s little in life better than listening to old songs as you slow-drive an oldie-but-goodie down a country road past fall color. And, he did it along the backroads and byways of Plumas County in his classic Caddy, this weekend. 

Now, let’s roll down the window, let that warm/crisp autumn air blow our cares away and listen as Aretha sings …

“Oh, we got some places to see
I brought all the maps with me
So jump right in, it ain’t no sin
Take a ride in my machine
 … “

— Aretha Franklin, Freeway of Love

  • Indian Valley, Plumas County – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!
  • Round Valley, Plumas County – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!

Black oak, Round Valley Reservoir, Greenville, Plumas County (10/27/18) Jeff Luke Titcomb


Legends and the Land

Keddie Ridge, Plumas County (10/21/18) Jeff Luke Titcomb

All cultures pass stories and legends from generation to generation. Some are related to religious or origin beliefs, others to civil or moral codes. Some are intended as guidance to children, while others are of family or tribal history.

California native people retold many legends about land features, and it is impossible to scout for fall color without being at places that were described in these legends.

When filing a report about fall color in the Indian Valley, Jeff Luke Titcomb mentioned “Indian Head” a feature of Keddie Ridge in Plumas County that is now skirted with golden yellow maples and orange/yellow oaks, saying the Mountain Maidu people of Northeast California tell stories of its origin.

In Jeff’s picture above, rock outcroppings on the ridge resemble the face and body of a sleeping man. According to Mountain Maidu legend, an ancient giant once traveled the world measuring the depths of lakes and streams. After measuring a lake atop the ridge, he was so fatigued that he lay down to rest and fell into a deep sleep. He never awoke, and his reclining figure is seen to this day. According to Maidu elders, when he eventually awakes, it will mark the end of our time on Earth.

By learning legends, such as this, we enrich our search for fall color, gain a greater connection to the places we visit, better appreciate the cultures that preceded us, and sustain their memory.

To know more about Mountain Maidu legends that are connected to auto tours of Plumas County’s Indian Valley, CLICK HERE


Indian Summer in the Shasta Cascade

Feather River Scenic Byway (10/21/17) Jeff Luke Titcomb

Feather River Scenic Byway (10/21/17) Jeff Luke Titcomb

Feather River Scenic Byway (10/21/17) Jeff Luke Titcomb

Indian Summer is the “spell of warm weather after the first frost.”

This American expression was first recorded in 1778 in a letter written to England, though its origins are uncertain.

Some attribute it to having come from areas inhabited by Native-Americans or because Indians were the first to describe it.

Beaver pond, Frenchman’s Lake (10/21/17) Parrish Todd

Packer Lake, Plumas County (10/22/17) Parrish Todd

Regardless of how it got coined, it is a pleasant period of warm weather following an early frost. That is happening now in the Shasta Cascade, where last week snow fell (see below). This week, temperatures are in the 70s and Peak color – appropriately – is being seen in the Indian Valley of Plumas County (northern Sierra).

Local color spotter Jeff Luke Titcomb writes that color is at peak, though that it will – like an Indian summer – soon be gone. Black oak dominate with deep orange leaves contrasting with their black limbs.

Yellow, chartreuse and red pop out at points along CA-89 and CA-70 on the route north, leaving the Sierra and entering the lower cascades at Lassen Volcanic National Park.

Indian Valley, CA-89 – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!

Manzanita Lake, Lassen Volcanic National Park (10/20/17) Larry Robbins


It Hasta Be Shasta: Meadow Valley

Sugar Maple, Acer saccharum, Meadow Valley (10/19/17) Michael Beatley

Years ago, “It Hasta Be Shasta” was the motto of one of my PR clients, the Shasta Beverage Company. That motto sure fits what’s happening up north, as fall color is now filling the Shasta Cascade with beauty.

For the coming week, it hasta be Shasta.

Penny farthing in a field, North Arm of Indian Valley (10/17/17) Michael Beatley

Color spotter Michael Beatley was riding past Meadow Valley (not on the penny farthing seen at left) when he spied a Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum).

Sugar maples are exotic trees (native to eastern Canada and the northeast U.S.), known for their brilliant fall color.

Meadow Valley is eight miles west of Quincy on the old Beckwourth Trail where Black Bart robbed stage coaches in the late 1870s. The town was settled around 1850.

Bigleaf maple, Indian rhubarb, Indian Creek,
Taylorsville (10/17/17) Michael Beatley

It sits at the base of Spanish Peak in the Plumas National Forest, which is full of native aspen, maple, dogwood, cottonwood, pine and fir.

Michael reports that “CA-89 from CA-70 towards Taylorsville, Greenville and Chester is very beautiful, with a lot of color along Indian Creek.”

Meadow Valley – Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW!

Indian Creek, Taylorsville (10/17/17) Michael Beatley









Spanish Peak, Meadow Valley (10/17/17) Michael Beatley

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Storm Arriving

Truckee River (10/19/17) Herb Huang

Foray Rd., Greenville, Plumas County (10/18/17) Jeff Luke Titcomb

Locations like these, shot by Herb Huang and Jeff Luke Titcomb, will be overcast for the next 24-hours as a storm passes over Northern California.

The storm will blow turned leaves from most trees, but it won’t denude them.

Lots of color will remain, particularly on trees that were nearing peak, as they still have the strength in the leaves to, as Avril Lavigne would sing…

Keep holding on
‘Cause you know we’ll make it through
We’ll make it through
Just stay strong
‘Cause you know I’m here for you
I’m here for you
There’s nothing you could say
Nothing you could do
There’s no other way when it comes to the truth
So keep holding on
‘Cause you know we’ll make it through
We’ll make it through

, ,

Peak of the Week: Indian Creek

Black Oak, Indian Valley, Plumas County (10/26/16) Jeff Titcomb

Black Oak, Indian Valley, Plumas County (10/26/16) Jeff Titcomb

Indian Rhubarb, Indian Creek (10/26/16) Jeff Titcomb

Indian Rhubarb, Indian Creek (10/26/16) Jeff Titcomb

Indian Creek, Plumas County (10/26/16) Jeff Titcomb

Indian Creek, Plumas County (10/26/16) Jeff Titcomb

Indian Rhubarb, Indian Creek (10/26/16) Jeff Titcomb

Indian Rhubarb, Indian Creek (10/26/16) Jeff Titcomb

Indian Creek in Plumas County (Northern Sierra) is painted with color with Indian rhubarb at full brilliance, dogwood and bigleaf maple showing pink and yellow and black oak beginning to turn bright orange.

Indian Creek, Plumas County – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!

Indian Valley Peaking – Go Now!

Indian Valley (11/6/12) Jeff Luke Titcomb

75 – 100% – Indian Valley – Color spotter Jeff Luke Titcomb reports the Indian Valley, southeast of Lake Almanor is “at peak color right now.”

This scenic mountain meadow was so named in 1851 for the large number of native Maidu people living there.  Greenville is the largest town in the valley.  Other communities include Taylorsville, Crescent Mills and Canyon Dam.

The valley is considered to be one of the best places in Plumas County for a scenic drive, due to its being surrounded by mountains, its tree-lined meadow and ranches, old barns and grazing cattle.