Well that was a lovely weekend out. The town of Winters is just about an hour, depending on traffic, to the North of us. I do believe we stayed at the Lake Solano Campground many years ago when we were bike touring, but none of it actually looked too familiar to me. Mostly what I remember of that bike trip however, was that 75 mile days were too much for me at that time so I may have been so exhausted I wasn’t registering my surroundings. This time around was definitely better.
We again made for a Friday afternoon departure and arrived around 6 or so. It’s amazing how much I don’t care about traffic when I’m going somewhere to camp. It was pretty packed on the short stint of 80 East that we had to do. Solid stop and go for at least ten miles. No frowns for me though. We were in Bruce with Dory in tow, heading out for a leisurely weekend and it didn’t much matter what time we got there given how close we were. I packed fresh fettuccine, Alfredo sauce, and caesar salad makings for dinner, along with a baguette and a beer (for me). Can’t beat that.
I like this campground. It’s woodsy and small and the sites have a fair bit of privacy. Our original plan was to boondock this weekend in order to see how much power we actually draw from the battery given our usual level of activity. Thing is, it was going to be in the high 90s and we chickened out at the last minute because we knew we’d want to run the A/C. That was a very good call indeed.
The site I first reserved was right by Putah Creek, with a place where you could even launch a kayak or raft right from your site. We went by it and it looked nice for future trips. but very shady, so solar wouldn’t work. The site we got with electric didn’t have a direct water view, but it did have one side that was completely private and there was plenty of space and lots of shade.
For some reason, this park was lousy with peacocks. I took lots and lots of pictures of peacocks because it’s not like I’m used to being surrounded by them. It was also quite the bird lover’s entertainment center. Looking out Dory’s windows, I could spot all kinds of different species. Didn’t try to identify most of them, but I do know a woodpecker when I see one, and there were lots of those to look for when not being distracted by the numerous tree squirrels and ground squirrels everywhere.
Saturday morning we tried a recipe for the Omnia oven that we made from scratch, mixing and measuring the dry ingredients at home into Ziplock bags. We got the tip about the oven, as well as the espresso machine, from a site called The Boat Galley. The woman who writes it lives full time on a boat and she has all kinds of reviews and advice for living small. She also provides recipes for the Omnia and this weekend we made a streusel coffee cake. Yeah. It was as good as it sounds.
While Richard went off on his crazy go-up-the-tallest-thing-nearby route, I pursued a modified curriculum of 6 miles and as close to flat as you can reasonably get. My route took me past the creek for a ways and then through idyllic orchards. It was hot, but not bad enough to ruin the ride. I got to Winters for lunch and had the best salad I can remember ever having. It had cold cuts of roast tenderloin, with mixed greens, chimichurri sauce, roasted corn, pumpkin seeds, feta, and tortilla strips thrown in. OMG, yum! I also picked up a couple of slices of mixed berry pie because this time I remembered by bike baskets and lock. I made it back to Dory and basked in Air Conditioning Loveliness. Not long after, Richard arrived hot and sweaty after his much more substantial workout and the two of us broke into spontaneous giggles over how awesome it is to come inside a fully cool Dory after braving the California heat. That night we had chicken fajitas on the grill and roasted corn on the cob.
Another lazy Sunday morning and another round of pancakes and eggs on the griddle and we got ready to pack up. I discovered that it is better to do the dishwashing using the outdoor shower with the spray head and nice hot water. Inside is just a bit too small if you’re doing big pots, and campground facilities often don’t have hot water, even if they do have a dish station, which this place didn’t anyway. Doing the washing outside makes a significant reduction in how much grey water is going into the tank. Doing it this way, we were nowhere close to filling the tank even after four very comfortable showers.
This is a place we’d like to visit again and we scoped out a few sites that would be perfect, both electric and “dry”. It’s close enough that we could easily just hop up there whenever and it doesn’t seem like it gets too packed.
One bit of excitement did take place early Sunday morning. I had woken up around 3 feeling anxious, which I later realized was probably my subconscious telling me I had forgotten to do something important. It didn’t come to me then, and I went back to sleep. At 7 am, I heard my phone. There was just enough cell service to see that Samantha was calling, but sadly, not enough to actually hear what she was saying. I tried back several times to no avail, and then panicked and jumped in the car with my phone to find a better connection. I had to actually drive out of the campground, over those big spikey, bust-your-tires-if-you-back-up things, but soon found enough bars to make a call out. Samantha answered right away thankfully and dispelled my first fear. My next fear was that she was calling to tell me the dog had died, which is when it hit me that the thing I’d forgotten to do was to fill his pill box for Sunday. She wins best doggie caretaker of the year award though, because not only did she wake up on time to give him his pills, but she also was plowing ahead trying to make sense of all the numerous pill bottles after trying to call me. This is how I dispensed life sustaining veterinary information to her: “Brown one, round yellow one, hot dog shaped yellow one, round white one, oval shaped white one, pink one.” And thus, our aging dog gets to continue another twelve hours. Satisfied that all was well, I turned the car around to go back to the campsite and found the front gate locked. The only other way in was over the spikey things. So I parked at the office/nature center and walked all the way through the campground to our site. I was very glad in that moment that I had thought clearly enough in my panicked state to put on shoes. And clothes.
Other than that, the weekend was perfectly pleasant and boring. I’ll have to start waxing philosophical with these blog posts or something, otherwise it will just end up being a repetitive string of “Alissa had a nice weekend”. Just know though, that the weeks bring on a respectable amount of stress. Between jobs, and kids, and the dog walking around wheezing, we are only able to stay afloat and semi sane because of the glorious respite Dory provides. Where the biggest problem you face is whether you want pancakes or leftover mixed berry pie for breakfast. Or when your biggest frustration is that the picture you snapped on your iPhone just doesn’t capture the vast expanse of river you got to ride by. Given these moments of peace and childlike playtime, we can weather the daily grind with less drama and more patience. And that’s a good thing all around.
Total miles: 53.7, Engine time: 2 hours, 10 minutes (with heavy traffic), 16.7 mpg
Site #19. Future sites: 36, 37, 25, 26, 14