Thursday, February 16, 2012

ZACA LAKE, Santa Barbara's romantic wilderness.

Romantic, nostalgic and beautiful, Zaca Lake Retreat and Mineral Springs is a sanctuary, that melts away daily tension and creates a romantic environment, hard to find in the city.

The ancient, Chumash called this Heart shaped lake, Zaca Lake, or "quiet place."  Zaca is one of the very few natural lakes in Southern California. The lake is replenished by underground springs.  Geologists speculate that Zaca Lake was formed about 10,000 years ago by a landslide.The Chumash state that there is a rainbow bridge of light and energy arising in Ojai, California that flows into the depths of Zaca Lake. There is even a story that an underground tunnel exists deep within the earth that connects Zaca with Lake Titicaca in Peru. 

Today Zaca Lake is run by a non-profit foundation, who's mission statement is to protect and preserve the Lake for the benefit of the public.  Zaca Lake is an absolutely incredible little place out in the wild of Santa Barbara County. Technically, the address is on Foxen Canyon Road just before Zaca Mesa Winery, but after you gain access (only if they have given you the gate code) it's another five mile drive down a one lane paved road that crosses through ranch land and steep hills that crosses five creek beds of varying degree of water and difficulty eventually leading you to a beautiful little lake surrounded almost completely by mountains. The setting couldn't be more spectacular.

However, there was a time when my father and
his partner, Howard Olson, owned, (if such a spiritual place could be owned,)  Zaca Lake.  Howard Olson, owned one of the largest landscaping companies in Southern California and because of his appreciation for the natural environment, bought Zaca Lake with my father, Bill Williams, in around 1973. 

Here is a picture of Bill Williams, Zaca Lake's new owner, in a moment of quiet contemplation.  Very rare, I can tell you.

  Here is a picture of my father with his four kids.  Me, Bill, Billee, Donna and Preston.  It was like the song, "How are you gonna keep them down on the farm, once they've seen, Broadway."

When Gene Dorney and I first announced our engagement, my father sent us to Zaca Lake for the weekend, to seal the deal.  When we arrived at the lodge, Howard Olson, delivered a bottle of wine, to our table as a congratulations from my father.  He really loved Gene.

Gene and I, fell so in love with Zaca, and it's peaceful, romantic environment, we wanted to live in one of the little cabin's and work there for a year.  Gene was even willing to give up his Law Practice, and buy a ranch, in Santa Barbara, where he could grow and sell avocados.  That never happened of course, though I wish it had!

My father and his third, wife Gloria Rosan, were able to relax and get away from the mad pace of their lives at Zaca Lake.  There was so much drama in our lives in those day's, that escaping to a spiritual retreat, was a soul-saving experience, for all of us, to say the least. 

My sister, Donna Williams, with her TR-6, at Zaca Lake, still looks like a Movie Star, even in the rustic, wilderness.


My sister Billee, not the camping type in any way, checks herself out in the mirror, to make sure she had "the look," though surrounded by natural beauty.  I guess we were so addicted to glamour, high stress and drama, it wasn't easy, melting into such peace and quiet.

Gloria, Bill and Billee parked outside one of
the little cabins. 

Romance in the wilderness:  to be continued tomorrow.


  1. Bill taught me how to hunt while working at the lake very good people