Goat Cheese Wins “By A Nose”

Published: Thursday, July 25, 2013 at 09:22 AM.

“I don’t think we are on the right road.”  Cathy doesn’t do much back seat driving. She had good cause this time. I had no idea where we were. It was part of the plan. “Let’s just drive west and see where the sun takes us…..” But brother, I didn’t know the plan was going to take us this far!

We’d enjoyed the early morning winding through the famed Sonoma and Napa Valleys. We were on our way to Crater Lake via, of course, the obligatory visit to the Redwood Forest. The road narrowed and became a mite twisty as we climbed out of the valley. It about ran out all together by the time Cathy shrewdly observed we might be a wee bit “turned around”. 

I thought about climbing a hill and seeing if I could spot some tall redwoods…… We rounded a bend that was about halfway between no-where and you-can’t-get-there-from-here when I saw the detour sign. I was thinking “we are already on a detour” when I realized the orange cones were simply directing traffic off the ribbon thin road into this large field. That’s when we saw the campers; and RVs; and the line of port-a-potties; and the huge stage.

Folks, we are in the back woods somewhere between San Francisco and the Oregon state line and there is a whole raft of people congregating in an old cow pasture like this was the most happening place on earth! It was too much for me. I wheeled in between the cones, passed under the big “18th Annual Kate Wolf Music Festival” sign, handed the lady twenty dollars and parked between an SUV with Utah plates and a horse tied to a cottonwood tree.

“Howdy,” I tried to throw my best western talk on the first guy we met, “where can we find Kate Wolf”? I figured I’d go right to the source. The tall, slender fellow gave me a big grin through his overgrown mustache and correctly observed, “Ya’ll must not be from around here.”

“Here” was the Black Oak Ranch in Laytonville, California. Kate Wolf was a local folk singer of some note who had died, according to Buck “back in the late ’80’s.” “Some of her friends got together years ago to sing a few of her songs and commemorate her passing and it has grown into this.” Buck took his hat off when speaking of the late singer, which immediately endeared him to me. And I’d never heard of Kate Wolf.  

But back in the day I was big on The Kingston Trio, Joan Baez, Pete Seeger and Trini Lopez. I was glad we were lost. Buck insisted on us joining his cousin Art and their wives at a small table they’d set up under some shade trees. The Rebirth Brass Band was tearing it up on stage. It wasn’t exactly Peter, Paul and Mary, but it wasn’t bad.

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