Marin 99s fly-out to Grass Valley

The Marin County 99s are known for their active flying and their minimal politicking. This year’s varied fly-out calendar has had something for everyone: Winter bird-watching in the Sacramento flyway, cave scrambling at Pinnacles, high desert wildflower and reptile photography at Joshua, mentoring young pilots of the future at Petaluma Airport’s June Display Day with a special WOW event, hiking and biking in the Rockies at Steamboat, and exploring the waters of the Columbia River and the Pacific Coast in kayaks. A special new dimension of our weekend getaways is music! This year we programmed two music festivals into our schedule for June and September.

The weekend of June 11-13 was our fly-away to Grass Valley for the well-regarded Music in the Mountains festival. Our busy chapter members Julia and Mark opened wide the doors of their wonderful home on the plateau rim to Marin 99s Beth and Rich, Cindy and Don, Pat and Joe, Valerie and Mike, and Kitty for an overnight stay on Friday and a big breakfast together the next morning. As pillars of the Nevada County music-loving community, Mark and Julia arranged for early entry and a stage-front place on the grass at the Friday evening concert for a group that stretched beyond the 99s to include several of their long-time friends from near and far.

The featured group was Doc Severinson and his talented combo from south of the border. For many of us, it was the first we had heard or seen of the popular trumpeter and his frequent changes of sartorial color combinations (chartreuse shirts and flaming pink trousers!) since the old Johnny Carson days. The evening’s musical repertory was delightfully eclectic, and the audience was treated to nostalgic oldies with virtuoso solo riffs from the percussionists, the bass viol fiddler, and the guitarists. As a prelude to the concert, our group laid out a feast on the grass that included gourmet items from all the major food groups, orchestrated with the greatest of preparations by all pilot participants, and hauled from the Bay Area in single-engine planes and transported to the concert shell in Mark’s pick-up truck.

Not everyone could stay for the next day’s activities on the water. But those who stayed were in for a treat. After breakfast a stalwart crew that included our two hosts and Beth, Rich, Valerie, and Mike drove down the hill a half hour to Englebright Lake (an elevation drop of nearly 1100 feet) for a day of leisurely cruising on a rented patio boat. They motored to the spot where the north fork of the Yuba River pours into the lake, and tied up ashore near a small waterfall. From there they spent the afternoon snacking, conversing, and touring the north and south arms of the Yuba River in Mark’s outboard runabout. The landscape was steep and still green from the rainy spring. The sun was warm, and there was a gentle breeze. Beth and Julia took a dip in the south arm of the river – “refreshing” said Beth of the snowmelt waters. Back on the patio boat, the men commandeered the barbecue, and Rich cooked up his delicious jumbo prawns marinated in oozo for a relaxing dinner on the water.

Returning to Julia and Mark’s, it was an early evening, followed by a glorious morning on Sunday. The six had breakfast on the patio and a tour of the gardens before packing up for the flight home. Valerie and Mike detoured up to Yuba City for the Golden West Air Show, and Beth and Rich did an aerial circuit of the Grass Valley area, flying over Julia and Mark’s house and nearby lakes including Englebright, before flying home to Petaluma.

Our thanks to Mark and Julia for their boundless hospitality, and for the hard work of organizing people, logistics, transportation, all the paraphernalia of a supper picnic at the concert, and the day on the lake.

Our next venture into the world of music will be in September with a flyout to the Monterey Jazz Festival. We invite all music aficionados to circle the date – Sept. 17-18 – and coordinate with Cindy and the festival website for reservations.

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