Friday, September 2nd 2011California

Auburn, where I have stayed the last two nights, is about 35 miles north of Sacramento. For those of you who don't know, Sacramento is the capitol of California and a busy place. Lots of people. And that means lots of cars.

Knowing I would have to go right by Sacramento on 1-80 to the Davis exit I thought I had better find out what to expect as far as rush hour traffic. After telling the night desk guy my plans he told me if I wanted to avoid the crush of rush hour traffic I had two choices - leave at 6:00am or leave at 9:30am. Rats. I was afraid of that. So, it was going to be another early start, this one pre-dawn.

Sacramento is about 2 hours north east of San Fran, if you take I-80 in. Of course I had no intention of doing that. So I started my route planning and ended up with one interesting and convoluted route which Google said would take 5 hours instead of the 2 using I-80. Of course Google doesn't calculate for a breakfast stop, rubber necking and stopping to take digi-snaps along the way. So, it took me a bit longer. More like 8 hours to be exact.

So, it was up at the crack of 5:00 with the coffee waiting on me. And I was packed up and out the door at 5:55.

I-80. Oh, boy. When I jumped on at Auburn it was 3 lanes, by the time I got to Sacramento it was 8 lanes. Yikes. And, although I know the traffic was light it would have passed for pretty busy in good old Morgantown. I was mighty glad when my exit for Davis came up and I could kiss the interstate good-bye.

Ok. Now I am wandering around Davis looking for Russell Blvd. The map makes it look so easy. I drive what I think might be the right way. I see signs for "Historic US 40", but no Russell Blvd. I decided to backtrack and start over but when I turn off US 40 I hit a dead end at the UC Davis Campus. Crap.

I find my way back and for some reason end up in the downtown area. At 7:00am it's pretty quiet and no one is around that might steer me in the right direction. Then, I see an official looking white pick-up. On the door is says "Parks Dept." And, there are two guys standing next to it. I get out, explain my dilemma and they are more than glad to help. I run back to the van to get a pen. All three of us look at the map, which isn't really necessary. The one guy was born and raised here and put me on track in a matter of seconds.

All I had to do was drive down Main Street 3 blocks, turn left on 5th street and then it would turn into Russell Blvd. Well, it also turned into "Historic US 40". I had been on the right track after all and just didn't know. About now I was wishing for one of those new fangled GPS thingies. Naaa!! Then I wouldn't meet any of the locals as I was wandering around getting lost!

Davis to San Fran

The 2 routes I had to choose from.


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Here is a look at Russell Blvd. Every street I saw was tree lined. And downtown Davis looked like a forest. Nice. There were bike paths/lanes every where also. (Including one right next to 1-80). Every block had a heavily marked cross walk and signage. Some had flashing warning lights. A far cry from "cross at your own risk" Morgantown.

The area around Davis is flat and all fruit, veggie and nut farms with some cattle ranching thrown in for good measure. I saw huge fields of peaches, walnuts, chestnuts, and plums along with 100s of acres of plum tomatoes, strawberries, and Honeydew melons.
I never cease to be amazed by the shear vastness of the farming enterprises and quantity of food grown. You can hear about it and read about it, but until you see it, it doesn't really sink in.

Eventually the fields merged with the small community of Winters.
I need gas and I need food and I get both.

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I gas up and drove into the downtown area. While wandering around looking for some grub I passed this church. Can't get much more Californian than that. (Note the "Bike Lane" sign on the corner.)

Built in 1913 for the First Christian Church, this fine, all but flamboyant church building, is an example of the Mission Revival style popular in California during the early 20th century and was an important hub of Winters' religious and social life.

It was designed in 1912 by prominent architect William H. Weeks (1864-1936). Banks, Carnegie libraries, civic buildings, hotels, schools, churches and homes up and down the State bear his design expertise, including the Winters City Hall (1916), the old Winters HIgh School (1916), and the Yolo County Court House (1917). Mr. Weeks was a member of the Christian Church in Watsonville, Ca. most of his life. He also designed that building.

Source: © 2010 Main Street Church, Winters, CA

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Obviously I found a place to eat. Welcome to Putah Creek Cafe at #1 Main Street. What you are looking at is the "Napa Scrambler" It has 3 eggs (big ones) scrambled with local sun dried tomatoes, cream cheese and dill. It is served with Yukon Gold home fries and toast. I ordered the whole wheat - dry. But it was wet.

Now, that is one load of food, but I finished most of it. Except for the toast. I only got one slice down. I am not a big bread eater. I generally use it as a substrate for things like peanut butter. But, this bread was right tasty! So, I wrapped up the three remaining slices and took them with me for a nice snack.

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After that hearty breakfast I continued on SR 128 west. The flat ag country continued for about 6 miles and then I entered a Putah Creek canyon and started to climb.
The snap above shows the Oak savanna as I entered the canyon. This is typical scenery of the dry foothills and rolling plains of central California and I love it. There are often very old, gnarly and picturesque oaks in these savannahs.

An oak savanna is a type of savanna, or lightly forested grassland, where oaks (Quercus spp.) are the dominant tree species. These savannas were maintained historically through wildfires set by lightning, grazing, low precipitation, poor soil, and/or fires set by Native Americans.

Although there are pockets of oak savanna almost anywhere in North America where oaks are present, there are three major oak savanna areas: 1) California and Oregon in the west; 2) Southwestern United States and Mexico; and 3) the prairie/forest border of the Midwest.

Source: WikiPedia

Winters to Lake Berryessa

My route on SR 128 up to Lake Berryessa. I was very glad not to be on congested, fast and furious I-80.

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This was the only snap I took of Lake Berryessa. All was quiet here on a Friday morning but I am sure it will get pretty busy over the upcoming labor day weekend.

Lake Berryessa is the largest lake in Napa County, California. This reservoir is formed by the Monticello Dam, which provides water and hydroelectricity to the North Bay region of the San Francisco Bay Area.

The lake was named for the first European settlers in the Berryessa Valley, José Jesús and Sexto "Sisto" Berrelleza (a Basque surname, Anglicized to Berreyesa then later respelled Berryessa), who were granted Rancho Las Putas in 1843.

Prior to its inundation, the valley was an agricultural region, whose soils were considered among the finest in the country. The main town in the valley, Monticello, was abandoned in order to construct the reservoir. This abandonment was chronicled by the photographers Dorothea Lange and Pirkle Jones in their book Death of a Valley. Construction of Monticello Dam was begun in 1953,[3] and the reservoir filled by 1963, creating what at the time was the second-largest reservoir in California after Shasta Lake.

Source: WikiPedia

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Nope, this is not a dwarf Honeydew melon. It is the fruit capsule of the California Buckeye (Aesculus californica). The Buckeye trees/shrubs were scattered here and there along the roadside.

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Here is a crappy shot of the California Buckeye on the left, and the California redbud (Cercis orbiculata), on the right.
Typically, the Buckeye has already started into dormancy as it does back home in late summer.

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At one point I thought I had been suddenly transported to the deep south. I was unused to seeing "Spanish Moss" on California Oaks. However this "Spanish Moss" ain't the "Spanish Moss" of the south. That "Spanish Moss" is not a moss but a species of Tillandsia which is related to the bromeliads.
Now, the California "Spanish Moss" is not a moss either. And, it's not a Tillandsia either, but a species of lichen. It is called Lace Lichen ( Ramalina menziesii).

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Well, no matter what it's called, it sure is purty.

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A big, beautiful oak on the winding road I was travelling. Hey! How come no "Spanish Moss"?! This I do not know.

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This pesky thing lined the highway. Check out all those "stickers". Don't know what it is, but I'll bet it's not native.

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Somewhere near the intersection of SR 128 and SR 121 I came across this beautiful field. Again, I have no idea what the flowers are.

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I tried to turn these big boulders into a nice shot but it didn't quite work out.

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Soon I would be leaving the Oak Savannah behind and taking snaps of something else California is well known for.

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The circuitous route I had chosen took me right smack through the Napa Valley. It was busy, busy, busy there!
I saw lots of grapes. Imagine that.

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I also saw lots of big wine tasting places. Imagine that.

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There must be many 100s of miles of irrigation line in this valley.

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Just something to give you an idea of the size and age of the vines.

Thankfully, I was out of the valley in short order and going up another canyon. And up and over the mountains. And I do mean up!

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In fact, I got up high enough to be in Redwood territory. There weren't many, but there were some nice ones. The tree shown here is a Douglas Fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii). It is about 3' DBH. Nice one.

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Now here's a road sign I don't see every day. That was one twisty-turny groovy drive!

When I was up and over Mount Veeder I then drove through Glen Ellen, Sonoma and up the valley to Petaluma and finally got out of there and back into the country side. Now, this last leg of hill end valley would get me to Point Reyes Station and the Pacific Coast.

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Here we are - at the beach! Stinson Beach to be exact. I continued on down windy old Highway 1. It was a tad foggy and cool.

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The wind was blowing the fog up the slope, across the highway and then on up and over the summit and into the adjacent valley.

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Here we are - at the beach! Again! This is Muir Beach. It is much smaller and generally quieter than Stinson Beach. Not exactly beach weather but that seldom stops the locals.

Muir Beach ERT 2007

Muir Beach looked a bit different when I visited in 2007. That day was a picture perfect beach and hiking day.

After a few more miles of winding road and giant Eucalyptus I was through the tunnel and at the Golden Gate.

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Tough getting a shot when you are driving and this was the best I could do.

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The walkway was packed with pedestrians braving the fog enshrouded and windy bridge in the hopes of getting a peek and a photo of The City. But, it wasn't going to be today. The fog was thick and wasn't going anywhere soon.

I made it to the toll plaza and paid the now $6 toll.
From there the plan was to exit to Lombard and then climb good old Fillmore Street to Pacific Heights and then wind my way out to Ed's place in the Sunset District. But, I didn't move fast enough and had to take the 19th Ave exit off the GGB.

Just as well, as that put me within a few blocks of Ed's place and I was there in no time. I parked temporarily in front of the garage entrance and started unloading the piles of shit from the van and then rang Ed's doorbell. He was down in a jiffy with a warm welcome and then we started hauling stuff up the two flight of stairs to his apartment. The bike and bike rack got stowed in the garage.

Now comes the fun part - finding a place to park. The first choice was close by, but bore no fruit. So, I started up Funston and around 3 blocks later at Aloha found parking. I got lucky.

I walked back down to Ed's. Friday is his day to work at home and he was hard at it. So I concentrated on unpacking, sorting and stowing. I took a very short nap, emailed, showered, changed and then went up the street to Hing Wang bakery for a dim sum snack to tide me over until dinner.

Thus sated I returned to Ed's and started updating my trip report. It got kinda involved. Imagine that.

I web-worked until Ed called it a day at around 7:00. We then walked down to Pacific Catch and had a leisurely and tasty meal.

We got back to the house at 9:00 and I crashed at 9:30. Interesting day.

Tomorrow I will be taking one of the SF Library sponsored City Tours. As you can see from the list below there is a lot to choose from. Which one sounds interesting...?


  1. 10:00 am - Palace Hotel
  2. 10:00 am - Russian Hill Stairways
  3. 10:00 am - North Beach
  4. 10:00 am - Omni Hotel Walk
  5. 10:00 am - Chinatown
  6. 11:00 am - Pacific Heights Mansions
  7. 11:00 am - Coit Tower Murals
  8. 11:00 am - Mission Murals
  9. 11:00 am - Castro: Tales Of The Village
  10. 11:00 am - Landmark Victorians Of Alamo Square
  11. 12:00 pm - Ferry Building
  12. 1:00 pm - Fort Mason To Aquatic Park
  13. 1:00 pm - Palace Of Fine Arts/Marina
  14. 1:00 pm - Telegraph Hill Hike
  15. 1:00 pm - Fire Department Museum
  16. 1:00 pm - Japanese Tea Garden
  17. 2:00 pm - Land's End: Sutro Heights
  18. 2:00 pm - Mission Bay: Hidden Waters
  19. 2:00 pm - Japantown, Urban Renewal and Fillmore Jazz