Trip to Chico

First a bit of background. Sue and I met moving into the dorms when we were 18, and have been good friends ever since. She moved to a small town near Chico a couple years after I moved to Santa Cruz. Her son thinks of my daughters as his cousins, and Sue and her husband are my younger daughter’s Godparents. While our children were growing up, I took them to visit Sue and her family every summer, and they sometimes came to visit us. I never got up there last year, so I was determined to find some time this year. Plus she enticed me with the possibility of finding old roses. More on that later.

Part 1. Cemetery roses

It’s about a 5½ hour drive to Sue’s house, and I pass many small towns on the way. I’ve tried many slightly different routes, as all are about the same distance. We (my younger daughter came with me) always have to stop at Granzella’s on the way up or back or both, so I take I-505. There are a couple of cemeteries just of few miles off I-505, and I have visited one of them several times. The Heritage Rose Garden has had at least 21 roses collected from this cemetery, at least 2 of which are still in the garden, but no longer at the cemetery. I plan to propagate a plant of each to give bac to them. (For anyone who doesn’t know about collecting roses, we take a few cuttings from a plant in the cemetery, and get them to grow roots, or graft budeyes from the cutting onto a rootstock. The original plant in the cemetery is not harmed by this. If you have not successfully propagated roses
by one of these methods, please don’t take cuttings in cemeteries.) I just wanted to check on a couple rose bushes there this time, and took a few pictures in case I ever want to do a presentation on rose rustling.

Cemetery

A cemetery with lots of roses

The other cemetery was the source of a couple plants at the Heritage, a Mme Plantier and a Mistress Bosanquet. In fact, the Heritage has 7 plants of Mistress Bosanquet. Two were collected by different people at this cemetery, and given different study names. Two were collected at two other cemeteries in California, and another was also a found rose, but we don’t know where the donor found it. We have 2 plants each of two of these sources. It was fairly recently that we realized that the 5 different source roses were all the same. When we need the space, some of these will be removed. Anyway, I hadn’t been to the cemetery before, so I wanted to see it. One of the study names for the rose was Samuel Briggs #2, so I know that must be the name on the headstone, but a foetida rose, a hybrid of Persian Yellow perhaps, has taken up most of the plot, and covers the name on the headstone. The 1893 date is still visible. I took a few cuttings of the foetida. It would be more likely to grow if I dug a rooted sucker, but nobody wants to go under that thorny bush! The temperature was into the 90s, so we didn’t want to spend much time enjoying the scenery, but we saw at least a hundred dragonflies there and stopped to look at them flying about.

Briggs headstone

The date is about the only thing still visible on Samuel Briggs’ headstone

Granzella’s is the main reason to stop in Williams on I-5. Maybe the only reason. There is good food: a resaurant and deli, olive tasting, gelato, coffee frappes, a bar and a gift store. It’s always in the 90s when I go there, and I live for the frappes. Don’t think I could make it the rest of the way to Chico without one. We also get a loaf of sourdough bread. There used to be some nice antique stores on the main street, but they’ve all gone. Now some places are opening kitty-corner from Granzella’s. We checked them out. One was like an Army surplus store plus old stuff that had closed some years back and was reopening with no changes. A gift and antique/collectible store opened next to it, and has lots of nice things I don’t need and can’t afford, but it’s nice to see that sort of thing returning.

After cooling down at Granzella’s it was time to head to the river. From Hwy 45 there are several places to cross the Sacramento River. I’ve used every one of them over the years, including the Princeton Ferry, back when it was still in operation. The Heritage has a couple roses that came from Princeton Cemetery. A couple years ago I stopped to get new cuttings of one that had died, and also collected one I call “Princeton Pink” and one I called “Old Wooden Marker”. I stopped this time to get pictures of “Old Wooden Marker”, and “Row of Wooden Markers” if they were in bloom. They weren’t. “Princeton Pink” was in bloom, but the flowers were only about half the size of the plant I have in a pot at home.

rose

“Princeton Pink”

The cemetery is well watered, so perhaps it’s the heat the causes that size difference. The cemetery is still active, so there are also some roses from the 1980s there. (When I got home, “Old Wooden Marker” was in bloom. WHen I saw it just opening the evening I got home, it was a gorgeous velvety red, with purplish outermost petals. By morning when I took this picture, the colors had faded a bit, and I got that sinking feeling that it could be Dr. Huey. But I grabbed a leaf from a plant of Dr. Huey and compared them The stipules are clearly different, so I heaved a sigh of relief.

rose

“Old Wooden Marker”

As we continued to Chico, we spotted a cemetery on one of the farm roads we took. No time to stop then, but we spotted it again on the way home and stopped there. By the gate, there was a rose on each side, Bourbons, I think. The gate had been replaced in 1985, so I don’t know if they are old plants that have been there since the 1800s, or if they bought or transplanted heritage roses in the 80s.

rose

Speckeled Bourbon rose

I got a few cuttings of each. One was a solid pink with lighter reverse, and the other was light pink with darker speckles and streaks. Farther into the cemetery there were two large old bushes of what I’m pretty sure was Hermosa, but the sun and heat had damaged the blooms. I took cutting from them as well. By the other gate were two more roses. I recognized Mlle. Franziska Kruger, and the other was a multiflora, probably a rootstock. I will have to find locations of other area cemeteries
for future trips. There must be some I’ve missed!

rose

Pink Bourbon rose

buds

Buds of the pink Bourbon rose

Part 2 The Adventure

Sue had a pamphlet put out by the local Sierra Club of favorite hikes in the area. One was a hike to the site of Mayaro Lodge near the Feather River. It was at one time, from the 30s to the 50s, a nice resort along a creek, having small cottages, a dining hall, ponds, fountains, rock walls, Adirondack chairs and numerous patios. I know this not from the pamphlet or from seeing the site, but from pictures in the Eastman collection at UC Davis, viewable online when you search for ‘Mayaro Lodge, Calif.’ in Google Images. We did this after the hike, and were quite amazed at how the place looked in the 30s through 50s. Three of us went on this hike. Sue’s neighbor Amy is an archeologist, and Sue thought she’d also like seeing the place. The pamphlet said, “Stroll amongst the curving paths and fountain sites and picture the old lodge and cabins that were nestled amongst the Douglas Firs and Black Oaks.” and “Notice the many surviving exotic plants of the resort gardens such as Hypericum, Wisteria, and Rose.” It certainly sounded inviting, so we set out Saturday morning, first driving to Pulga, a very small town by the railroad tracks next to the Feather River. From here we were to walk 2 1/2 miles along the tracks. This would have been very pleasant except for three things- it was really hot, we mainly had to walk on the railroad ties, which were concrete, but the spacing was not quite a regular walking step, and we had to look at them to keep from tripping on the loose rocks between the ties, so we couldn’t walk and look at the scenery at the same time. And there was some beautiful scenery! Small waterfalls flowing into the river. A shady area with a cascading waterfall. Wildflowers.

tracks

Sue and Amy looking at the Feather River by the tracks

river

A couple of small creeks cascading into the Feather River

dam

Poe Dam on the Feather River

We spotted where we were to start walking on a  trail to the lodge site, and started heading uphill. We knew we were in the right place when we saw coreopsis and lichnis plants.

Coreopsis

Coreopsis

Definitely not native. I realized I was huffing and puffing, and couldn’t understand why. It wasn’t a steep climb, and we hadn’t gone very far. Did I mention the temperature was in the 90s? I decided the heat must be getting to me, since I’m not used to doing much in that kind of temperature. In Santa Cruz, it rarely hits 80. A bit farther on, the trail became unclear. We could see where we wanted to get to, but there was a large blackberry patch in the way, and a little creek. We thought it might be better to go uphill, but that turned out to have a lot of poison oak. So we decided to forge ahead through the blackberries. I was armed with clippers and gloves, so we took turns using them to cut away the bushes. Amy discovered a small tree branch she could balance on to get across the wet area, and so we were able to get to the site. As soon as I saw a shady area, I sat on a rock, drank water and
ate my sandwich. That made me feel a bit better. Amy had disappeared. She was the one who’d walked through poison oak, and she wanted to get to the creek and wash off. I was battling biting insects in my shady spot. I re-applied the insect repellant, covering my entire arms and legs with it before they stopped trying to bite. I made a foray to help Sue find Amy, then back to my shady spot.

Lichnis

Lichnis

It occurred to me about this time, that none of the three of us thought to bring ANY first aid supplies. I landed wrong on my left foot a couple of times and the ankle hurt for a minute. Had I actually injured it, we had NOTHING that would have helped. I had my cell phone, so I turned it on, just for fun. No signal, as I expected. So good none of us injured ourselves!

Finally Amy emerged, and showed us how to get to a nice spot by the creek, with some places we could dip in, and nearby rocks in the shade to sit. The water, of course was ice-cold. I stood in it, splashed it on my arms and legs, got my hair and the top of my head wet. Then went back a few minutes later with my shirt, got it wet and put it back on. Had a good rest except for the discovery that the ants bite, too. After the rest and cold water on me, I was feeling normal again, and ready to explore the site. Problem was, that pamphlet was written 18 years ago, a minor detail Sue had failed to mention previously. Things had grown. Hypericum covered most of the ground, so we didn’t know if we were on pathways or just dirt.

wall

A rock wall with a couple of posts

wall

A rock wall covered by hypericum

No sign of any fountains. We saw a few pits behind rock walls, but couldn’t tell if they had been ponds or outhouse holes.

flower

Hypericum

Also, there had been horrendous fires in that part of the state a few years back, and there were signs of fire damage to trees and large bushes. I realized if there were any roses, they would have to have grown back from the roots after the fire. Sue kept quoting the words, “Wander amongst the pathways…”, then saying, “Well, I said it would be an Adventure.” We continued breaking dead branches off trees so we could get past them, or pushing small branches out of our way.

foxglove

Foxglove growing on top of a rock wall.

The pamphlet said to wander up through the site and find a place to cross the creek to connect with a road on the other side, follow it up and around, then back to Pulga. We got about as far as we could, and realized we were never going to find a place to cross that creek with all the water flowing in it this year (one of those Eastman pictures shows it quite well). We’d have to turn around and go back the way we came on the tracks. So we explored a bit more. There was a huge Mullein plant that I had Amy and Sue stand next to for scale.

Amy and Sue behind giant mullein

Foxgloves were everywhere. There was a large area of marjoram/oregano. A huge oleander bush, showing burn scars on the bigger canes. There was an orange-flowered plant I didn’t recognize. And some native iris.

flower

I’ve been told this is silene, a California native wildflower.

iris

This iris is probably a native.

Then as we were trying to figure out how we’d gotten through some hanging branches, Sue was bending low to try to get under one and said, “ROSE!” Sure enough, there was a rose we’d walked right by on the way up, and came close to missing on the way down. I’m 100% sure it’s Odorata Understock, but I took some cuttings anyway. Besides the rock walls, we had seen some foundations, and broken bottles, an old Coke bottle, and white and blue glass. No souvenirs- archeologists like you to leave things as you find them.

penstemon

Wild penstemon

We made it past the blackberries with no serious mishaps, and were back on the tracks a few minutes later. We took a look at out lower legs- we had all gotten lots of scratches between the blackberries and crashing through branches. They looked terrible! (Mine looked even worse after I walked into a raised faucet at the cemetery the next day and got a bruise on half of my shin.)

my legs

My scratched up legs, taken the next day.

It was still VERY HOT! I was low on water, but Sue and Amy had plenty and shared with me. My backpack for this hike is not very ergonomic- it’s designed for travel and commuting, with a nice padded pouch in it for carrying a laptop. It also attaches well to my rolling suitcase. But it’s a bit heavy, and it gives me a serious neck and and back ache when worn for hours, something that had never happened until this hike. I tried slinging it over one shoulder for awhile, then the other, until both shoulders ached as much as my back and neck. For the last half a mile, I carried it like a bag of groceries. Also my feet were tripping on rocks a lot more on the way back because they were tired, so it was lucky I never lost by balance. We rested at the cascading waterfall again, and Sue found a way down to the creek and came back with a wet t-shirt. I gave her a big hug.

cascade

Large cascading waterfall

Later there was a dammed side creek with water shooting out of a pipe. I couldn’t get to the water, but I took off my shirt and flung it back and forth till it was wet again. That felt good.

Once we finally got back to the car, it was quickly agreed that we needed Margaritas. First we stopped at a small store for cold drinks, then drove to Chico, where one restaurant has a Margarita specialty. Sue had mentioned making dinner when we got back. I couldn’t imagine having that kind of energy. Fortunately, when she called her husband, he suggested we stop at Papa Murphy’s Take n Bake pizza. The baking gave us time for showers with Tegu, which is supposed to prevent getting poison oak. I don’t think I touched any, but used it, just in case.

flower

Still wondering what this white wildflower is.

UPDATE: The rose wasn’t an understock after all! It appears to be Félicité Perpétue, an old serpervirens hybrid.

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About Jill Perry

Since 2005, I have been the Curator of the San Jose Heritage Rose Garden, a part of Guadalupe River Parks and Gardens near downtown San Jose. I write about the Heritage Rose Garden, my garden and my travels when I feel inspired and have time. Since I have no regular schedule, if you'd like to know when I write a new article, please subscribe to this blog.
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6 Responses to Trip to Chico

  1. theresa doss says:

    Thanks for this Jill. I think your orange flower is silene. It is a California native.

  2. Bruce Lane says:

    Hi, Jill,
    If you’d like to hear some history on the Mayaro Lodge, circa 1973-1976, please feel free to drop me a message. It served as a ‘ranch school’ during that time, run by a fellow name of Frank Cuny. I was one of the residents from the years ’73 through ’75, then got relocated to a branch of the school just a bit south of Oroville for another year before returning home (to Berkeley) in 1976.

    From your description, it sounds like the entire site is pretty much overgrown and abandoned.

    Keep the peace(es).

    • Jill Perry says:

      It is interesting to hear that the site was used in the 70s. That explains why the person who wrote the Sierra Club hikes booklet 20 years ago was able to walk around, but it’s so overgrown now.

    • Janet Jaffe says:

      Jill–I don’t know if you will receive this note or not but if you do, I would love to connect with Bruce Lane. I was a “counselor” at Mayaro from 1973-74 when he was a “student” and he was one of my very favorite people during my residency there. Please feel free to give him my email address. Thanks!

  3. Howard Goodman says:

    Too bad you couldn’t cross the creek,that’s where most of the main part of the Lodge was at ,there’s a fountain rock walls what’s left of a Lilly pond and paths to follow ,at the rail toad you could have walked a little further and found another way up that takes you there,I’ve explored rhe area many times and there is a lit more there

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