A bit more sun in the upper loop of the Ritchie Creek Campground
Note to future self: Next time we go to wine country for the weekend, try to remember to book a winery tour and tasting. There are so many incredible wineries near to Bothe Napa State Park, but tough to get a spot when you think of it on Saturday morning when the weather is perfect and everyone already had that idea. I’m sure I could have dropped in at any number of nice places for an impromptu tasting, but I was fine with doing a little exploring of the area instead.
Driving along endless vineyards
Richard had a ride he wanted to do and that sounded like a fun drive to tag along. For him, it was an unexpectedly difficult ride, traversing steep, narrow, and not entirely paved roads, up in the hills behind Calistoga. On a bike, there were parts of Kortum Canyon Road where it was hard to maintain traction going up a steep incline of basically gravel. In a car, it was drivable, but I was sure glad no one came from the other direction. Crossing paths would have been impossible in many of the sections. Franz Valley Road, on the other hand, was delightful and not at all hilly. It was a lovely meander through vineyards and shaded backroads off the main drag. I liked that part a lot.
Hard to see from the photo, but the “Tunnel Tree” is 120′ of perfectly a preserved petrified Redwood, disappearing into a passage cut back into the hillside.
Because I got a little lost before I found him, I stumbled across the Petrified Forest State Historical Landmark. This turned out to be a super fun way to spend the afternoon! After I met Richard at his stopping point, I suggested we go back and check the place out. For an admission price of $12/person, you can walk a mile or so long trail that takes you through a site where a stunning discovery was made back in the 1870s. The signs, placed by a little gnome-like statue, will tell you that an “eccentric homesteader” later called “Petrified Charley,” stumbled upon an outcropping of petrified logs and started digging up tons of the stuff. It seems that Mt. St. Helena, across the valley, blew around 3.4 million years ago, burying the surrounding hillsides in dense ash. The ash perfectly preserve what was a forest of giant redwoods, a variety that is now extinct. The wood was perfectly preserved under the layers of ash and slowly, the organic cells were replaced with silica deposits. When the petrified trees were uncovered, the massive trunks turned out to be some of the largest specimens in the world. The informational kiosks said the giant redwoods toppled like matchsticks from the blast of the volcano, and then got immediately buried, which is why they are so well preserved. How’s that for a cool find!
The rest of the weekend was our usual regroup and relax, generally in that order. We had a lot to catch up on from the week, so we are always grateful for the Dory time. Little bit of exploring, little bit of Nemo chair napping, some nice lunches and dinners, and you’ve got yourself another weekend of replenishment. The campground was full, and just as we were leaving, we saw the cutest VW bug towing a cute little matching teardrop. Whoever you are, I like your style!
So. Damn. Good.
Oh, and speaking of nice lunches, I had the best little toast things with fresh basil, marinated mozzarella, roasted red pepper, on top of a few basil leaves, and drizzled with some balsamic vinegar. OMG. Lunch so good.
Total miles; 81.6 (but we took an unnecessarily long way because we were distracted and talking and kept ignoring the car navigation system), 16.8 mpg. Site 20 in the upper loop. Nice site. Level and a bit of solar. Set apart from other campers and pretty private. Verizon got service, but not so much for ATT. Sometimes I would hit 5g, but it didn’t do much. No dump AND the Calistoga Fairground place is closed, AND the Napa Fairground place that was supposed to be open does not have a working dump AND they won’t let you dump in one of their (many) open full hookup sites. BOO. Could have gone to a private place or to ABBA, but it was $30 to dump there, so we’re gonna hold it until next weekend. I know. Could be EW. Stay tuned and I’ll let you know how much we regret that next weekend.