A reflection of Mount Lassen on Manazita Lake.


St. Valentine’s Day, once a time of love, compassion, dreams, wrapped in a blanket of romance, to fulfill and to bask in the warmth of the mythology. Alas, once the day for love has joined Mother’s Day, Christmas, et al, as a money machine of candy and cards. Yet, there are still some who cherish the true meaning with introspection and an outpouring of love. Valentine’s Day is also a time to remember special times and special places, writes our travel editor Al Auger. (Travel, #Siliconeer, @Siliconeer, #MountLassen, #LakeManzanita, #SquawValley)


Lindsay and I were sitting outside enjoying the warming sun and cool fall breezes that helped negate the infamous Redding summer heat. The birds were swarming the feeder swinging slowly while the humming birds were dancing and fighting over their brilliant red and yellow food tube under the eaves. Lindsay leaned over and said, “Tomorrow a place of serenity and musing, my lunch, my car.”

Manazita Lake is a water-world paradise.

Manazita Lake is a water-world paradise.

The next day, another sky as blue as Lindsay’s eyes hovering over puffy white clouds, found us at my favorite alfresco lunch spot, Manzanita Lake. We laid out the trappings tapas, fruit, French bread, tasty and decadent sweets and frothy white wine, created by a blue-eyed gourmet genius. Manzanita Lake is a water-world paradise that offers a scenery of lush greenery framed by Jeffrey pines and willows, bountiful flowers of uncountable varieties, rainbow, brown and brook trout and a protected campground. All this overlooked by the dramatic peak of Mt. Lassen and the spectacular Chaos Crags.

Skiing the ecstasy of free flight down a mountain of snow.

Skiing the ecstasy of free flight down a mountain of snow.

We hardly spoke as we enjoyed our copious feast. Now and then the quiet would be broken by an exclamation of “Look, a woodpecker!,” or a visit from a friendly deer. The day was theatre of such sightings along around Manzanita Lake where your neighbors can range from brightly plumed songbirds, fat squirrels, occasionally a shy muskrat or beaver. Here and in the surrounding forest is a birdwatcher’s paradise.

Later, we took a leisurely stroll along the shaded trail bordering the calm, reflective lake. We imagined the life of the Native American groups who made the Mt. Lassen area home in the warm months so long ago. Hunters and gathers, the weavers and potters. Mt . Lassen is a treasure trove of stone points, knives and metal objects, reminders of a heritage we will never lose.

A September day at Mt. Lassen, warm and soft, a loving companion to share it, to remember it. The unspoken words of love and friendship surrounded by a world we shared as one.

To share a new experience, one a passionate part of your life, with your love and watch the glow of sheer joy is a remarkable experience . The adventure began on a bright, blue-sky spring day in a same blue BMW “Z” sports car. My skis firmly attached to the rear and Lindsay behind the wheel as we headed up Interstate 80 to Squaw Valley Ski Resort and the grandeur of the Resort at Squaw Creek. I was going to impart the ecstasy of free flight down a mountain of snow.

Spring skiing is wonderful time for the first-time skier.

Spring skiing is wonderful time for the first-time skier.

My usual plan is to put a first-time “student” in a class or a private teacher for at least two of the more basic lessons and follow-up instructions would rest on me. Lindsay was matched up with senior instructor Marilov, one of the most respected teacher on the Squaw Valley staff. At lunch on the first day, Lindsay was so full of anticipation for the next session, she only nibbled on her meal. As we relaxed later in the apre ski bar, she mentioned the initial problem of getting around in clumsy boots locked into long, metal slats. “ He made it so simple.” Lindsay said, “I can’t believe how Marilov so smoothly maneuvered me into each step.”

A surprise visit by a deer frolicking in the blanket of the vivid wildflowers is a very special treat.

A surprise visit by a deer frolicking in the blanket of the vivid wildflowers is a very special treat.

That evening we sat under a mantle of brilliant stars in an ebon scrim on the Resort patio wrapped in towering snow-clad mountains. Lindsay’s eyes shone with the same brilliance, her hand held mine in a vise as she shared her newfound passion with me. As she fervently described her day with Marilov, I sensed her body slowly relaxing. With a sudden move, she wrapped her arm in mine, laid her silken blonde head on my shoulder and softly whispered, “God, I love you!”

Valentine’s day can be a 365-day world of deep friendship, soft love and intense delight.

Squirrels were constant and entertaining visitors.

Squirrels were constant and entertaining visitors.