Sugarloaf Ridge SP (3)

Less than 24 hours later, and this area is surrounded by flames.

Well, shit. I was going to post this entry last night, but got tired, and left it another day. Now it looks as though this will be another campground obituary post. The Napa Valley fire that woke us up has spread so quickly that it looks like it will do some serious damage in this park too. I swear, as I’m taking pictures these days, there is a voice in my head wondering if these will end up being “before” shots. I’m sad to say that may be the case here. I’m leaving the rest of the post as I wrote it, but it takes on a different feeling now. I don’t know the words to capture it.

But here’s what I was going to post….

A porta potty at every site.

Now that’s the way to do a pandemic. Well done, Sonoma. Rather than risk the spread of the virus through shared bathroom facilities, this park stepped up the precautions by providing a porta potty to every single site. And at no extra charge. They call it Sugarloaf’s PPPP: Personal Porta Potty Program. This, after Sonoma has lost so much revenue from fire related campground closures. I liked this park before, but even better now. They are taking this whole thing seriously, and for anyone so inclined, they do accept donations to keep the park up and running.

We could get just enough wifi from our site, but not too much.

Another thing the park has done to support the challenging times is to provide a strong paid wifi service for those who are working essential jobs online and have been displaced, or who can work from a much nicer place as long as they have strong internet. From our site, 42, we were just able to hit the free wifi. It was enough for occasional texts and emails to come through, but not enough for work, news, or doom scrolling. That gets a +2 on the rating scale.

Beautiful blue skies and spacious sites.

Our site was lovely and well distanced from other campers. But even so, everyone was masked and following the rules. Saturday, Richard got in a nice ride with his fancy home bike while he awaits the arrival of his new trailer bike. How many bikes do we have, you ask? A bikie always answers: n + 1, where n equals the number of bikes your significant other will tolerate.

Robert Ferguson Observatory

When he came back, we did the planet walk again. This time we did not make it to Neptune. But we did get past Uranus and noticed a new bridge had been built to replace the one that had fire damage. It was a lovely day, with minimal smoke in the air, gorgeous blue skies, and a huge Woodpecker banging on the oaks. Only later in the afternoon did the temperature start to kick up, along with the wind. That was predicted in the forecast and a Red Flag warning issued for Sunday and Monday.

The smoke was just starting to come in…

Around 5am Sunday we both woke up. The trailer was rocking and, when you’re a Californian, you at least have to wonder if it’s an earthquake. In a trailer, it could simply be the person next to you getting up or shifting in bed. It was neither, and the sound of things hitting the roof told us it was the wind. We tried to go back to sleep but we both noticed the smell of smoke. Thanks to the barely connected wifi, I was able to check the fire maps and didn’t see anything in our immediate area. No one was coming around to evacuate us, so we went back to sleep, kind of. At dawn we saw a layer of smoke in the campground, which is the new normal here, but again smelled the smoke and noticed ash falling. That means an active fire somewhat close by. And by then, the Glass Fire over in Napa Valley was being reported. It posed no immediate threat. However, seeing as how it was a dead end drive on Adobe Canyon Road up to the campground, we wasted no time getting up. We weren’t panicked at all, but nevertheless were rolling down the road by 9am.

The last time we were here, we drove over to Calistoga to dump at the fairgrounds, but since that is a little too close to the new fire, we found a Shell station in Sonoma with a dump that charges only $10. That is handy information.

Benicia State Recreation Area

After that, we looked for ways to delay our arrival home and subsequent disappointment for our daughter, who loves us I’m sure, but relishes the weekends with two fewer people in the house. So we checked out Benicia State Recreation Area on our way home. We knew there were three en route sites out there but have never had a reason to stay there, since it is only about twenty miles from home. It’s a nice little park for runners, bikers, and walkers, not so much for campers. I guess in a pinch the small back in sites might offer a night’s respite in the middle of a long drive. But it’s not a destination camping spot. Good to know.

Bittersweet photo of a lovely weekend.

We send wet thoughts to the residents of Napa Valley, again under the threat of rapidly spreading fire. And selfishly, I am rooting big time for the survival of the Rombauer winery. Here we are in our new normal.

Total miles: 69.7, 2 hours 21 min, 15.2. Site 42, nice. No solar. Can just hit the visitor center wifi. Otherwise, no cell service. No dump. Nice bathroom in lower campground, but porta potties provided at individual sites in COVID times. Super fast paid wifi available at visitor center. Dumped at Shell station in Sonoma for $10.

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