Well, it was a good run. From Monday March 16th, to Thursday, March 26th, we were able to shelter in place at Putah Canyon Campground. It is now our favorite place anywhere, but will forever be associated with terrifying times.
When we chose our site, we wanted a place that was not a premium location, but still nice views. We didn’t want anyone else camping next to us, and we wanted to be near a water spigot. That was about it. Because we were planning (hoping) for a long stay, we knew we’d need to use the Barker, so we also wanted to be plastic portable grey tank towing distance from the dump. Our spot was perfect.
So, we hunkered down. Work continued for both of us, but for one of us at a high speed, feverish pace, as teachers across the country began facing the realities of distance learning. There is a cell tower visible atop the ridge line directly across from the campground, so service was excellent. Now that the whole country was zooming, I got to do so with a lake as my backdrop.
Lake Berryessa is chock full of wildlife. We saw countless Ospreys, Herons, and your typical water birds. I also got the treat of an up close encounter with my marauder friend. I was sitting outside and heard rustling close by. What should prance out of the bushes but an adorable river otter! He scurry bounced his way up and down the high bank before disappearing back into the lake. I had looked for him all the time, and saw him only that once. But it was enough.
Between zoom meetings, sending silly videos of myself to my students, and coming up to speed on dozens of new technologies, we got to get in a paddle and some lovely evening walks. That’s probably what will stick with me the most about that time. It was eerie and normal at the same time, to be out on trails and see no one else. We saw people come out to launch fishing boats, and we saw people come out on the weekend, but for hikes we were alone. The weekend wasn’t crazy, like in other parts of the state, but it was also family groups that probably didn’t all live together. We scrubbed, and washed, and kept distance, but it made me wonder how long they would let any public recreation area stay open.
Everyone else wondered the same thing. In our campground, we got to know “Kenny,” the camp host pretty well (from a distance). He’d go by several times a day in his little golf cart, often just shrugging his shoulders to indicate he hadn’t heard anything new about closing down. “Pam” is the owner and we got to know her too. She was great about letting us stay because she knew our situation. We were not afraid to play the diabetic kid card if it meant we could continue sheltering in Dory. She had all but closed it already to new campers, and went around turning tables over to indicate closed sites anywhere near us.
But alas, it came to an end on Thursday and I for one applaud the decision. Pam noticed the groups from the previous weekend and worried it would only get worse the next. So it was the right thing to do to close down. Part of us, a big part of us, wanted to consider moving somewhere else. But that would have introduced new risk factors, so we hung our heads and dragged ourselves home. At least kitty was happy to see us.
We made it just about two weeks, so that was good in terms of isolating after the last time I was at school. We did go shopping once, well Richard did, and we wiped everything down extremely well. When we got home, I had to go shopping again. I will say, Trader Joe’s has got it down. They pre-wipe shopping cart handles, stagger entrance, tape out waiting spots 6 feet apart, and only keep every other register open. Whole Foods, not so much.
What a strange, surreal time we are living through. Or, hopefully living through. I think this will be it for me for a while. Spring Break at Grand Canyon officially got cancelled and we are assuming summer plans are also probably off. I had a lot of nice sites booked whose reservations are just *poof* gone. But, so far, we are healthy (if you don’t count mental health). Putah Canyon will forever be a reminder of safe harbor in a tempest. It was a scary/sad/happy/grateful/awful/beautiful time.
Carpe Dory signing out for now. Hope to see you on the other side.