September and October are the long haul months of the school year. If you can make to right about now, you’re doing well. This four day weekend was a most welcome gift and we could not have gotten better weather for it. The park was also pretty low key and chill for a holiday weekend. Many sites were empty, even into Saturday. Leaves were golden brown and the feeling of Fall abounded.
Highway 16 through the Capay Valley
Having a four day weekend meant we could leave on Thursday morning and venture a bit farther than our standard weekend spots. Clear Lake is a favorite of ours for exactly these kinds of special treats. On our way up, we decided to try Highway 16. There are warning signs at the start of the route saying trucks with more than 30 feet from king pin to rear axle are not advised. Sometimes that means narrow, winding roads so I’d not felt like risking it before. Nowadays, I find myself welcoming the backroads over a highway any day, even when it’s slow going. Richard got an opportunity to ride it too, since we had the whole day to get there. We pulled off at a community park in Esparto where he geared up and started his ride. I was able to leap frog easily all along the route and found the road to be extremely pleasant. What it may have lacked in fresh paving along some stretches, was more than made up for in being sparsely traveled and agreeably scenic. There are very few services between Esparto and the little town of Rumsey, with the exception of Cache Creek Casino. Once you pass Rumsey, there is really nothing except a couple of regional parks, a closed campground, and a BLM campground, all the way until you get to Highway 20. All told, 16 is just about 45 miles, starting as a nice level meander through Capay Valley. Then it climbs up through Cache Creek Canyon, sticking close to the little river until it splits off and follows Bear Creek. Once you hit 20, you’ve still got about another hour to get to Kelseyville, where the State Park is located. Our trip up took a leisurely six hours, but it did not feel at all tiring, given the slow and easy pace.
Cache Creek running through the canyon
You can see multiple areas where there is fire damage from the fires that have happened over the past few years. Things are growing back, but the burn scars are unmistakable. Some hillsides have forests of dead trees still standing, and that is sad to see. There are also places where rock slides are obviously a common occurrence. Richard said that while he was biking, he could hear the constant trickle of little pebbles, like the sound of rain, except more ominous. That would probably be a worse thing to get caught in than a hail storm.
So many White Pelicans
I do so love this park. We have learned which site offers the best balance between lake view, solar access, and lack of people walking right through the site. The weekend forecast was all about clear skies and mild temps that were not quite ready to turn the corner into the winter season. It was perfect biking and paddling weather and we both took advantage of that on Friday. I got to see multitudes of White Pelicans, plus some Egrets and Herons thrown into the mix. The Pelicans dazzled me with their swooping and clustering routines and I got to observe while floating on glassy smooth waters. I did note the lake is exceptionally low. There are beaches now where there shouldn’t be, so it would be nice if we could get a couple more bomb cyclones’ worth of water before the rainy season is over.
Beautiful Soda Bay – with otters out there (but I didn’t get a picture)
The most unexpectedly fun part of the weekend was that we were spotted by a pair of local Altoistes who popped over to chat and say hello. I love when that happens!! Rick and Dee Dee are the nicest people, who are living their absolute best life. Between their Alto, their little airplane, and their property right on the lake in Soda Bay, they have got this life thing down. I can only aspire to that level of ‘nailed it.’ They were also kind enough to invite us over to their cabin for brownies and popcorn, which we happily accepted on Saturday. You can’t get a more perfect spot for lake access and sunset viewing, and somehow, they arranged for about five otters to swim by, right on cue, just after we arrived. Such thoughtful hosts! We chatted about Altoing, and flying, and wind, and assessing risk. It was all quite lovely.
Peace and Plenty Farm
The other thing we did Saturday was return to Chacewater Wiinery and Olive Oil Mill for olive oil tasting. You know what is one of the best things ever? Meyer Lemon or Blood Orange olive oil drizzled over vanilla ice cream. Trust me on this. We also stopped by the Peace and Plenty Farm. This is a very cool place, especially if you like Saffron. The website says it is the largest Saffron farm in North America, and we did see evidence of little purple crocuses here and there. They have a store, operated on the honor system, where you can leave money or Venmo a payment for any of the items you like. They have, of course, many things available that are infused with Saffron in one way or another. According to Dee Dee, their Lavender shortbread cookies are insane, but alas, they were out when we went. We enjoyed watching the numerous chickens and honey bees, but didn’t get anything this time. We’ll definitely stop by to see what’s available any time we go up there.
Cute and fun Kelseyville
We took a little tour of Kelseyville and had some lunch at Pogo’s Pizza. It is a very cute little town with a couple of nice restaurants and a very small market. For more services, you need to go to Lakeport, or down to Clearlake.
Meeting up in Rumsey
Sunday we got to say hello to our Altoiste friends one more time as they did their morning walk through the park. Then it was time to hit the road and head on back. But not before enjoying some buttermilk biscuits, hot out of the Omnia oven, with butter and blueberry jelly. Mmmmm. We took the same route back and Richard rode just the part from 20 to Rumsey. All was nice and uneventful until a driver just ahead of me kicked up a thin piece of plywood, which smacked Bruce2 right in his face. No damage besides maybe some scratched paint, but it reinforces the theme of the unpredictability of life.
It was an absolutely perfect weekend. Thanks again Rick and Dee Dee for your company and hospitality. So fun!!
Total miles: 150.3, 15.9 mpg. 6 hours up, 5 hours back, but each with some bike sagging along the way. Site 60. Good solar, except in fall/winter when the sun is low. No hookups. Water spigots nearby. Good dump near the visitor center. Pretty good LTE for both of us.