Skinner Reunites With Susanville, CA
We departed our Harvest Host paradise in Nevada early morning to head toward Mike’s hometown of Susanville, California. We had not been back to Susanville in nearly twenty years. I requested we make the stop so I could take time to video a few of the classic Skinner racing and hell-raising stories from the 70’s and early 80’s.
We had to do a little research before making the drive. Unfortunately wild fires were raging in Doyle, just outside of Susanville. The main roads into town had been shut down the day prior. We were lucky the firefighters had the fire more under control near the route we needed to drive. It was very upsetting to see the destruction of the fires. Remember that the last time we visited Mike’s homeplace, the Sierra Nevada mountains were still snowcapped and the fields were green. All around you could see the current destruction of the recent fire, as well as fires from just years prior.
Mike wanted to drop by the Buck Inn. A tiny hole in the wall bar in Doyle which he frequented often while digging wells in the late 70’s. We were worried that it would not be standing because we did hear that most of Doyle did not survive the flames. We were surprised to see the Buck Inn survived with the no damage, but just across the street were houses, cars, even a race car trailer burnt to a crisp and still smoking.
Susanville RV Park would play host for our three-night reunion expedition. The park was very spacious, with full hook ups and located right downtown.
We spent the afternoon riding around in the car while Mike drove and shared stories from his past. He even found his old well drilling rig he had nicknamed Sweetheart back in the day.
One of Mike's best buddies, Dallas, met us at the famous T & A Cocktail Lounge for a lil' pool hustling and cold beer. After way too many laughs and more stories from the good ole days, we called it a night.
The plan fo day two was to drive up to Eagle Lake. It’s a beautiful and large state park that is worth the adventure. However, it was a little sad to see the lake so low while we were there. The last time we visited it was so full. You could really see how much rain is needed in the area and how much the fires have ravaged this section of Northern CA.
Tom, Laura and their two pups followed Mike, me and our four-legged kids until we found a nice little area to throw down some towels and breathe in the lake air. The water was crystal clear and a nice change for the dogs who all frolicked along the edge. The adults waded and sipped beer. A nice day of just inhale and exhale.
The evening had been pre-planned. Doc Blevins, who was Mike’s shop teacher in high school, organized a small get together of the rowdy group that ran and raced with Mike. His wife Mary laid out a scrumptious buffet of appetizers and planned to BBQ for the reunion.
My heart was so happy for Mike. You could see the genuine appreciation and joy in his eyes as he entered the room to jeers and cheers. This could be the last time they are all together again, and he knew it. The group shared some pretty hilarious stories about Mike growing up and getting his racing roots. Many stories I had never heard. I just listened to every last word and felt blessed to have the evening which I know left my husband so fulfilled.
Day three would be all about catching up with laundry, grocery shopping and making sure we stocked up on what Skinner claims is the BEST ground sausage and fresh cut steaks he’s ever tasted from Idaho’s Grocery - a butcher shop right in downtown Susanville. We literally parked our buses along the main drag in downtown Susanville and jumped out to stock up on all the meats we could pack into our freezers before leaving town. We are stocked for the rest of our Lewis and Clark Summer Tour.