Site 1, looking green and sounding babbly next to the actively flowing creek.
It is so good to see California looking lush and green. Despite the damage done by the storms, the water is much needed, and has made everything come alive with renewed life. This area especially got hit hard by fires a few years ago. Richard remembers going on a ride around Sonoma and coming away with a horrible, apocalyptic impression. Everything smelled like a fireplace. There was nothing but charred remains of trees, formerly grassy hillsides, and the empty spaces where there used to be homes. The foundations, swimming pools, and sometimes eerie blackened children’s toys remained, tragically holding space for what once was. Now, you can hardly tell. There are some swaths of standing dead trees, but the ground around them has filled in with new life. Where entire neighborhoods had been wiped out, now there are beautiful new homes. The streams are running full, and little waterfalls appear in the folds of the mountains. It fills one with hope and joy in witnessing renewal and rebirth, following so much sorrow.
Oh so lovely. Fills one up with serenity.
One such waterfall is a 1.5 mile hike down from the Visitor Center. We got out early on Friday and had time to go check it out. Mostly, this wooded valley has been very dry the past few years, with the waterfall running at a trickle at best. Now it is dancing and cascading into beautiful, clear pools. If you try this hike, be aware that it is pretty steep down, with lots of wooden steps along the way. Strava says it was 1.6 miles total, out and back, with an elevation change of 388 feet. It was surprisingly well kept and not at all muddy or slippery. There is a shorter way to get there from the road, but it will still be steps down, and steps back up.
Little spontaneous water features are everywhere.
The next day we were more ambitious. Richard rode in the morning to go look at how Sonoma Valley was recovering, while I looked at color palettes and took a shower. We are in the exciting phase of the Dory/ADU project, where we get to choose countertops, flooring, and paint colors. I was looking through pictures to try to find one of the front of our house, and wasn’t having any luck. I must have fifty thousand pictures of Dory/Lola/Dory2, but no decent pictures of my home. In fact, the best shot I could find, where I could see what the porch area looks like, was in a Dory reflection shot when I had her in the driveway for a bath. I wonder what that says about me. I think, once this project is finished, I will finally, after 25 years, actually love my home. It has always been a work in progress and I’ve never liked the exterior color. So I’m excited. Our daughter is excited too because now the ADU is starting to feel real. And hers.
Looking East, across Napa Valley, all the way to the Sierra Nevada
After Richard got back, we went on a good hike up to the top of Bald Mountain. Strava says that one was 6.21 miles with an elevation change of 1,570 feet. So nothing to sneeze at! I, too, am feeling a sense of rebirth and renewal, along with increased confidence in how much physical activity I can take on. I am a bit melancholy about how long I allowed myself to feel tired and out of shape, and there are places we’ve visited where I would like to have a do over. I think I would have a better time, and be a lot less grumpy, now that hiking uphill is not such an ordeal. Richard was surprised to find out that he was often the only one actually enjoying some of the hikes we did. To my credit, I got myself out there a lot, but sometimes I was more focused on the likelihood of having a heart attack, combined with a mental guesstimate of how long it would take emergency crews to get to me, than I was with the stunning views. In fact, I routinely noticed whether trail descriptions contained the words “stunning views,” because that always means uphill. I had lots of sneaky ways to steer us away from those. Losing a big chunk of weight usually reveals what you’ve been carrying around, in addition to the pounds.
Mt. Diablo, off in the distance
All of that is to say, I enjoyed the extremely uphill hike and its views, with no grumpiness at all. It is pretty steep in places, but we followed a paved road, so it was neither muddy, nor too slippery. It’s one of those little used single lane authorized personnel only roads, so it wasn’t in great shape. We saw some bikies struggling up the 8-12% grades, and made sure to get out of their way as they clutched their brakes on the way down. From the top, the views were worth the effort. You can see our hometown landmark, Mt. Diablo, which is 51 miles away. And, since it was a beautiful, clear day, we were able to see all the way to the snow capped Sierra Nevada, 132 miles away! We could not make out the Pacific Ocean, but we could see Lake Hennessy and Napa Valley clearly. Then it was down, down, down to Dory and a well earned snack of chips and salsa.
This crossing was underwater during the height of the storms a couple of weeks ago. We bailed on reservations then, so it is nice to come back now that things are a bit calmer.
There is some more rain in the forecast, but nothing like the power punch of the last system, at least, not for now. We dumped again at a Shell station on our way home, right on Highway 12 in Sonoma. I wish there were more of those around. We would happily pay $10 after staying in a campground with no dump station anywhere nearby. Trust me, as we have been doing all of this home improvement, I have wondered whether there was any way we could install a home dump. We could charge people $10 to use it. Pretty sure it’s a) not legal, and b) not something the neighbors would appreciate.
Green and blue. Coexisting nicely.
It sure is nice to see California all green and cleansed. It fills my head and heart with circle of lifey stuff: destruction, regrowth, loss, birth… all the things on repeat. But then my head gets distracted with color swatches, and that is lots more fun to think about. Our house will be green, by the way. I live a color coded existence and home = green, camping = blue. Edamame Green, to be exact. With accents of Sea Grass, and Golfer Green. It will be beautiful.
Total miles: 62.4, 16.3 mpg, 2 hours 15 min. Site 1. Great site within reach of Visitor Center wifi. Some solar. No hookups. NO cell for either, but wifi worked pretty well as long as you kept logging out and logging back in again. No dump. Dumped at Shell station in Sonoma on Highway 12. It was ok, but tippy in the wrong direction.