Graduation season triggers memories of high school, college

Graduation season triggers memories of high school, college

Kae Reed graduating from high school in 1983, left, and from college five years later.

It’s easy for graduation season to conjure up memories of your own walk across the stage to receive your diploma, be it high school or college.

June marks 40 years since I graduated from Clayton Valley High School and May was 35 years since getting my degrees from San Francisco State University.

I wonder about graduates today who didn’t get to enjoy all of the rituals of high school or antics in college because of the pandemic. Or maybe they are stronger for having gone through such uncertainty at an early age.

Graduations are such a celebratory event—as they should be. But you couldn’t pay me to go back to high school or college.

Photos from Kae Reed’s last year in high school, left, and last year in collge.

While adulting comes with a slew of obstacles no one tells you about (which is probably a good thing), I will take this phase of life over my teen years. It’s not that high school or college were bad years; I just don’t want to repeat them.

Still, it was fun to discover some photos from way back when. To remember friends, to see what I looked liked, to be reminded of fun times.

I’m one of those rare people (or so it seems) who knew the career they wanted from an early age, pursued it, stuck with it, and am still a writer to this day. I have fond memories of working on the paper in high school, less so about the paper in college.

Still, college afforded me the opportunity to be president of our chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, which allowed me to go to the national conventional that was mostly comprised of working journalists, not students. I was also president of a political science group that took an annual trip to Sacramento to meet with legislators. We hosted an event where then Assembly Speaker Willie Brown was the guest of honor. That was a big deal.

Brent Brinkerhoff and Kae Reed at senior ball.

What I remember about the actual graduations is the high school event was at the Concord Pavilion—so much nicer than a football field. The principal, Chuck Jordan, gave me a hug—one of only a few he handed out. That probably wouldn’t be allowed today because of the many (mostly men) who don’t understand unwanted touch.

Anyway, Principal/Mr. Jordan, was a tennis player. That’s how we got to know each other. His wife, Lee, coached tennis at one of the other area high schools. He and I kept in touch after graduation until he died in 2008.

At SFSU, graduation was on the field. I would say football field, but they didn’t have a team while I was there. It was one of those typically gray, foggy San Francisco days where you should have an umbrella to stay dry, but it’s not raining so you don’t have it. Graduates and attendees were soggy by the time it was over.

SFSU’s tennis program was disbanded after the one year I was on the team.

I had become so frustrated with the journalism department that I walked with the political science group. (I majored in both.) I received a great education, but there were instances that rattled me—like one instructor (who just died this spring) who was so strung out on coke that he often skipped class or barely functioned if he showed up. Our complaints to the administration went nowhere. Oddly, we became colleagues at the San Francisco Examiner and San Francisco Chronicle.

While working on the college paper I told the advisor, a different guy, I was going to be gone a week and asked to turn in assignments ahead of time or more afterward. He said fine. I got back and he had no recollection of this conversation. My memory is I got a D that semester on the paper. Thank goodness no future employers asked to see my transcripts.

Like most phases of life there are good and bad memories. Fingers crossed life continues to bring mostly positive experiences that turn into wonderful memories.

Mother Nature puts on a show at Black Butte Lake

Mother Nature puts on a show at Black Butte Lake

Black Butte is in the foreground with the coastal range in the distance covered in snow. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

Snow isn’t usually the focal point when the highest elevation of the hike is 764 feet.

But it was on this last Saturday of February. The bitter cold storm that inundated all of California brought the white stuff to sea level.

While there were splotches of snow along the trail, the bulk of what was of interest was in the distance, enshrouding the coastal range.

Mother Nature is one interesting creature.

While the 16 of us from Chico Oroville Outdoor Adventurers were bundled up to ward off the 40-something degree temps (who knows what it was with the wind chill), a few wildflowers were holding on for dear life. Field marigolds, blue dicks, and dicots dominated the landscape.

The scenery at Black Butte Lake is a mix of rock, grass, flowers and water. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

A couple more weeks and it is sure to be a carpet of color here in the green grasses that are set against the dark basalt rock.

Black Butte Lake near Orland was formed in 1963 when Black Butte Dam on Stony Creek was built. When full it has a surface area of 4,460 acres.

“The dam reduces flood risk for the surrounding communities and provides irrigation water to agricultural lands immediately downstream of the dam,” according to the Army Corps of Engineers.

On our 5.2 mile hike we barely touched the numerous trails. After all, the lake is 7 miles long and has a shoreline of 40 miles.

The view of Black Butte Lake, the butte and the coastal range from the parking lot. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

After crossing the paved dam we headed up a mostly single-track route that was a mix of hardpack dirt and basalt rock. Our destination was the top of Black Butte.

The views here are stunning. Even more amazing, though, is one would not have to set foot on any trail because the vista from the parking lot is outstanding.

Once at the top of the butte, instead of going back the way we came we headed over the other side onto what really wasn’t a trail. I would not need to do this route again because of the hidden rocks under the grass and slickness of the wet ground.

Still, we were thrilled to be out on the blustery day seeing terrain most of us had never visited before.

Place of worship an architectural history lesson

Place of worship an architectural history lesson

The church at New Clairvaux Abbey is a work of art. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

Rays of sunlight beam through the windows. It’s hard not to be mesmerized by the detail in the stonework. The triple-arched Gothic entry is stunning.

The church at New Clairvaux Abbey is breathtakingly beautiful. It’s a magnificent structure that is a blend of old and new. The guest entrance is through a 200 pound wooden door.

According to our tour guide, it was built to last a thousand years. Considering the history of the abbey already goes back about a thousand years, it seems appropriate this place of worship in Northern California should last another millennia.

Pews where the monks conduct their prayers. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

Dwite, our guide, told us that about 35 percent of the stones used to build the church were from a 12th century “chapter house” that was originally part of Santa Maria de Ovila Cistercian Abbey in Spain, another 35 percent were cut in Spain, while the remaining sandstone came from Texas.

According to information provided by the abbey, this is the “largest example of original Cistercian-Gothic architecture in the Western Hemisphere, and the oldest building in the United States west of the Mississippi.”

The pipe organ came from a church in Redding. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

It will be four years this month since the church opened for worship. But during the pandemic, the facilities were closed to the public until late last year. To witness the monks in prayer in their sacred place was a bonus to the day.

We were all quiet as we sat in the visitors’ area while the monks drifted in, bowed and then went to their assigned pews. It was the shortest service of any denomination I’ve attended. Mostly it was about being quiet, with a prayer and a song part of the ritual.

While the monks who reside in this monastery in Vina, about 20 miles north of Chico, worship multiple times a day, we were there for just one session. This was the conclusion of our guided tour.

Guided and self-guided tours at the monastery are available. (Image: Kathryn Reed)



  • Self-guided tours available Monday-Saturday, 2:30-5pm.
  • Docent led tours available all but Sundays by appointment.
  • More information is available online.
  • Address: 26240 7th St., Vina


Appreciating a motor while peddaling

Appreciating a motor while peddaling


The new and the old mountain bikes. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

My old baby has a new home and I have a new baby.

After a quarter of a century, I said goodbye to the first mountain bike I owned. She served me well. She was a Trek hardtail that I bought when I lived in Las Vegas in the mid-1990s. I rode her everywhere, really treating her more like a road bike than a mountain bike until I moved to Tahoe in 2002. Even when I lived in Sonoma County it was the paved country roads where I mostly pedaled.

Most likely she is being ridden by a Chico State student. I donated her to last week’s Fall Bike Auction hosted by the Associated Students.

“I would say that 90 percent of the buyers at our on-campus auction are students. The other 10 percent are either faculty, staff or general public. So, while it is very likely that a student would end up with your bike, I cannot guarantee it,” Curtis Sicheneder, Chico State Associated Students associate executive director, said.

It feels good knowing there’s a little life left in her. Even better is that any money Associated Students makes at the auction helps students.

“Proceeds go the Adventure Outings Get Outdoor Fund which funds trip scholarships for students. That money goes 100 percent to students,” Sicheneder explained.

I knew my bike had outlived my purposes long before I took a clinic last year and the instructor told me it was time for a new bike.

The new bike has much bigger wheels than the old one. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

In the last year I’ve been contemplating what to buy, if anything. Could my road bike (which is also old, but not quite vintage) be enough? Do I spring for an ebike? Then I had to think about how much I ride and how much more I might ride with something new.

What pushed me over the edge to get an ebike was my trip to southern Utah in early October where I borrowed a friend’s bike.  Oh, my, what a difference it was to be on an ebike.

Good thing Becky’s rack fits two bikes.

I came home with an ebike. I couldn’t pass up the sale. It was another one of those times to just say “yes.”

Most everyone says the downside to ebikes is how heavy they are. I’m not sure there is much weight difference between my ancient ride and the shiny new one. Mine does weigh less than my friends’ because I got a smaller battery.

I noticed the difference on the ride Becky and I took in Tahoe, but for my purposes it’s going to be just fine. I’m at a lower elevation and on a normal basis won’t be riding in Tahoe.

The bike is perfect for climbing up and over the basalt of Upper Bidwell Park and taking me around town.

I still have to pedal. I’m getting a workout. I can even turn the battery off if I were so inclined.

What the ebike lets me do is go farther, longer and with a little less oomph. It really is amazing that with a push of a button hills seem less daunting, as do rocks.

My Specialized is a Type 1 ebike (there are three types), which means for the motor to work I also have to be working, as in I have to pedal.

As describes it, “It feels like you have the best tailwind of your life on a permanent basis.”

Waterfalls tumble through majestic slot canyon

Waterfalls tumble through majestic slot canyon

Cold water should only be for drinking. Certainly not standing or walking in.

At least that’s what I thought before traipsing through a spectacular slot canyon to Kanarra Falls in southern Utah earlier this month.

Walls in various shades of red loomed above us as we hiked into the canyon. While threatening clouds were in front of us, no storms were in the forecast. A canyon is not where you want to be during a flash flood.

Becky and Donna pick a course on the water trail through the canyon. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

This isn’t an adventure for everyone. For starters, the water was 47 degrees and we were walking in it for a good part of the way because at times no dirt trail existed. Only once did the water get above my knee. Even so, my feet were appreciative when there was a dirt trail so they could warm up a bit.

Other obstacles include a 20-foot aluminum ladder at the first waterfall. Of course it would be easy enough to turn around here. Plenty of beauty to oh and ah over before arriving at this point.

However, the five of us never thought about not going forward. We wanted to go until it made sense not to.

To keep going it’s necessary to climb a ladder. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

We weren’t canyoneering—so no need for ropes, helmets or other equipment that can be used in that sport. We were merely hikers—some wearing water shoes, some in water proof boots, no one in neoprene booties, though those were in one person’s pack just in case.

Water in Kanarra Creek runs year-round, flowing from Kanarra Mountain to the canyon and eventually to the ag fields surrounding the town.

These narrow canyons are prolific throughout the southwest.

Craig at the top of the falls. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

According to Visit Utah, the state’s tourism agency, “Slot canyons are narrow gorges in soft rocks like Utah’s layered sedimentary deposits. They are named for their narrow width, often squeezing down to a sliver. It is said that Utah has the largest concentration of slot canyons in the world.”

Friends seemed to disappear as the creek curved and the walls seemed to close in upon them.

Rock wall formations keep changing in the canyon; smoothed over by years of rushing water. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

At times it was hard to know where to look because the scenery was so stunning. The water, the rocks in the water, the walls directly in front me and then hundreds of feet above me, as well as what little foliage there was that was signaling fall’s arrival. It was like being immersed in a three-dimensional painting, with the colors changing as the sun filtered in and out.

Forward we went.

Another waterfall would have required scampering up a boulder if previous hikers had not stacked some logs in the corner to make climbing possible. I’m not sure how I would have gotten up or down this section without that assistance.

Becky and Craig trek through Kanarra Creek. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

Our path finally stopped when another fall, which really looked like two as a boulder split its flow, was impassable.

The website for the falls says, “This is the final falls on the hike. Do not go beyond this point!  Some hikers may put up ropes or logs to try and continue on, but these are not part of the hike and are dangerous. It is very difficult for search and rescue to go beyond this point, so it is not recommended.”

No need for more. My senses were already thoroughly stimulated by the natural beauty.

This is one of several slot canyons in Utah. (Image: Kathryn Reed)



  • Permits required, though if space is available, it’s possible to get a permit walking up to the kiosk instead of buying them online.
  • 150 permits issued per day.
  • Cost is $12/person.
  • No dogs allowed.
  • Falls are in the town of Kanarraville, which is about 40 miles north of St. George and 10 miles south of Cedar City.
  • Kanarraville is at an elevation of 5,541 feet.
  • The round-trip hike was 4.7 miles, with an elevation gain of 653 feet.
Mylo the dog and all of his ‘other ladies’

Mylo the dog and all of his ‘other ladies’

Mylo takes over the driver’s seat of the Jeep. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

When mom and I moved in together last year we each came with four-legged creatures. Mine lived with us full time, while hers is a part-timer.

Mylo is a 14-year-old Shih Tzu who my mom and sister Jann share custody of. So, Mylo has two moms. They are referred to as “the other lady”—as in it’s time to go to the other lady’s house.

By default, this makes me the “other other lady.” I like to think of myself as the fun one, but don’t tell my mom or sister. It’s a little secret between me and Mylo.

You see, I have dog treats. And Mylo knows where they are. It means I need to keep the pantry door shut so he doesn’t help himself.

Mylo never turns down the opportunity to go on a walk. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

I also take him to Bidwell Park when it’s hot out. This gives him a chance to walk in the shade and drink from the creek. On walks anywhere I let him sniff butts with other dogs. I’m also way more lenient about where he does his business, but don’t tell my mom because I told her I would follow her rules when she’s not around.

At home I get down on the floor and play-wrestle with Mylo. The other ladies don’t do this.

If he were up for it, he could sleep in my bed when he’s here with me alone. For now, he’s content to be in his bed. When AJ was still here and it was the three of us for a few days Mylo refused to sleep in my room. To him, AJ at 35 pounds seemed like a big dog. Plus, dogs understand territorial boundaries, and just coming into my room was verboten per AJ’s authority. Now, though, Mylo is perfectly content to sleep in his bed in my room when it’s the two of us. When it’s the three of us, he is in the other lady’s bedroom.

This is one spoiled/high maintenance dog. He’s a dog that requires grooming. And boy does it make a difference. I’ve never had a dog that required this type of care.

The other ladies have started to moisten his food, which gets him to eat it more rapidly. Oddly, or not, he never has a problem wolfing down the hard treats he gets from me, or the occasional piece of carrot that finds its way to the floor accidentally or purposefully.

Then he gets fed four times a day. And each one of those is divided in half to slow the ingestion process to ensure it all stays down.

Big Chico Creek is a great place for Mylo to cool off in the summer. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

Each morning he has to be walked in order to poop. Mom has softened in the last year to the point she is OK with his initial pee and last pee of the night being out back—even on her plants. If he were my dog, he’d get walked on my schedule, which could be any time of day. He’s not my dog, so he gets his morning walk. Then I usually take him out later in the day with me to pick up the mail, which is a short walk to the cluster of boxes, or we might go somewhere else depending on my work day. It’s a good break for me, and gets us both some fresh air. He really isn’t much of an outdoor dog; he tends to stay indoors even when the back door is open all day.

He likes to be with his people. When mom is here Mylo is usually at her side. When it’s just me, well, his second bed is in my office. Yep, just like Bailey and AJ, Mylo has become my office-mate. There is something comforting about this. It feels good to be the other other lady.

This is what the American Kennel Club says about Shih Tzus, “As a small dog bred to spend most of their day inside royal palaces, they make a great pet if you live in an apartment or lack a big backyard. Some dogs live to dig holes and chase cats, but a Shih Tzu’s idea of fun is sitting in your lap acting adorable as you try to watch TV.”

Well, we don’t have a royal palace, but the fact Mylo has multiple dwellings to call home, several vehicles to ferry him about, and all these “other ladies,” well, perhaps he is the royalty and not any of his other ladies.

Abundance of beauty on trek to fish ladder

Abundance of beauty on trek to fish ladder

A hint of fall along Deer Creek in Lassen National Forest. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

In less than 2 miles we arrived at a man-made contraption in the middle of the forest that is saving the lives of countless fish.

“The project is truly an engineering marvel: located in a deep canyon, with no road access, approximately 500 tons of rock were excavated out of the old fishway area while a new one was built, using pre-cast concrete panels roughly 7 feet deep, 10 feet long, and almost 7 feet wide, to form a series of 14 pools and 15 weirs that help fish get upstream of the waterfall,” according to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

The fish ladder, at a cost of $2.5 million, was completed in December 2017, replacing a steeper less elaborate one built in the 1940s.

The fish ladder at Lower Deer Creek Falls doubles as a human viewing platform. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

Fish ladders are built to help fish around culverts, dams and waterfalls. In the case of Deer Creek there is about a 15-foot waterfall impeding their migration. (Salmon swim upstream to spawn, with the little ones going downstream to the river.) The ladders allow them to jump into a pool where they can rest before jumping into the next one until they bypass the obstruction.

We only saw one salmon in the pool (outside the ladder) before the waterfall.

Lower Deer Creek Waterfall remains impressive even in early fall. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

Deer Creek, Mill Creek and Butte Creek are the remaining tributaries of the Sacramento River with native runs of the Central Valley spring-run Chinook salmon. There used to be more than 2,000 miles of stream habitat for these fish; now there are only a few hundred miles.

Lower Deer Creek Falls is about 35 miles upstream from the Sacramento River.

We started off Highway 32 in the Lassen National Forest. Though the trek is fairly easy, the beauty was incredible along the entire route.

The Old Farmer’s Almanac has this to say about woolly bear caterpillars: “If their rusty band is wide, then it will be a mild winter. The more black there is, the more severe the winter.” (Image: Kathryn Reed)

This is a mixed conifer zone, so the landscape seemed to be changing as we headed downstream from our starting point. Douglas fir were the predominant trees in the low dry zone, though oaks were interspersed. Ponderosa pines were closer to the starting point.

Spires of volcanic rock rose from both sides of the creek.

The path was compact dirt most of the way, with some embedded rocks that made looking down a necessity. One spot required a bit of limbo with the fallen tree.

Deer Creek will eventually flow into the Sacramento River. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

We could hear and see Deer Creek most of the hike. What was most surprising was how much water was flowing on the first Saturday of October. At times the water was tranquil, other times it was rushing. This was especially true at the fish ladder where the water roared through the canyon.

This would clearly be a completely different hike in spring/early summer with the runoff. A few times we passed what would have been areas to cross with water on the trail during the wet season.

Not much fall color was to be seen, but still there was a distinct sense the seasons are changing.

While no bears were visible, their scat was. The only interesting wildlife was a woolly bear caterpillar. The folklore in Tahoe was that seeing one means winter is on its way.

We started at 3,323 feet, with the lowest point being 3,131 feet. We logged 3.96 miles. The 19 of us on this hike were part of this Chico Oroville Outdoor Adventurers.

Baja wine country fighting to retain its rural character

Baja wine country fighting to retain its rural character

Many wineries offer outstanding views of the Valle de Guadalupe. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

Those who live and work in the Valle de Guadalupe are fighting to protect their land, their way of life and the future.

On Oct. 9, more than 300 people connected to this wine region in Baja California marched in the streets to protest the building of a concert venue that would be able to hold 25,000 people.

The nonprofit Por un Valle de Verdad (For a Valley of Truth) organized the event.

While the region is a tourist destination mostly for Mexicans and those from the United States, the people who call it home don’t want it to be totally transformed into something that is not sustainable or that does not complement the rural nature of the land.

This was posted on the group’s Facebook page that day, “On the basis of public complaints, the federal authorities inspected and closed down a site where a forum for mass concerts is intended to be installed. It was also determined that the predio is located in a forest land that was affected by the removal of its natural vegetation (thicket or Chaparral) characteristic of semi-arid areas. According to INEGI, Chaparral’s vegetation covers part of the yard, and according to inspection, vegetation covers almost the entirety of the prediction. As a result, and because the inspector did not submit authorization for land use change in forest land, the federal authority closed the predio and secured the machinery.”

On Oct. 11, the group posted this on Facebook, “We demand that the Citizen’s Commission be established where villagers, academy and productive sectors of the Guadalupe Valley are represented to monitor the implementation of the regulation of the sectoral program.”

The valley is home to about 9,000 people. Some of the their complaints are not having the basic needs to deal with such a large venue—adequate roads, garbage, fire-police, medical care.

Then there are all the environmental concerns like the lack of water, the need to rezone land for the new use, destruction of land for construction, and the negative impacts concert after concert could have on the area.

This region just 90 minutes south of the U.S. border continues to grow in popularity. That is a reason to build the event center.

For those in the know, Mexico is already a player in the world of wine. Many of the wineries and wines will have people thinking they are in Napa or Sonoma counties in California, not in a Third World country. After all, bottles of Bruma can be found on the wine list at the French Laundry.

Pin It on Pinterest