During the first week in January, Jeannette and I drove up the north coast of California. A good time to go. Few campers. Few tourists. Few people. Our longest stop was in Point Arena. The entire town has a sense of humor, with a religious aroma. Diverse religions. Religions that grew up in India as well as those reared in the deserts of the Near Eastern.Vegetarians Welcome is perhaps my favorite. Any clues about what it means? A woman too desperate for meat?
Bob Woolard of the Yosemite Renaissance asked me to be Artist in Residence in the Park during the last week of October and first week in November 2013. I accepted after Jeannette and I moved around a few items on our iPhone calendars. We left Davis about noon on October 26, after watching a simulcast of the New York Met’s production of The Nose, and arrived in Wawona, where the Renaissance houses their artists in residence, about 7:00. First thing I did after we moved in was photograph our stuff in our new place.
Jeannette and I always call this “playing house.” I especially liked the two blue chairs on porch.
Mid-November Rob Thayer and I made a two-day tour of our watershed from Lake Berryessa to Middletown. The main idea was to check out the debris left when the Bureau of Reclamation evicted people who had over the years turned temporary residence at the lake into permanency. The lake was down but not out of water and I was reminded once again how pretty it is, with the Blue Ridge Mountains in the background and sparse vegetation in the foreground.
But there was no debris left behind. The BofRec had hauled all away and swept the area clean of human remains. At one of the mobile home subdivisions (the homes turned out to be more mobile than the owners wanted) a bar across the road said “Danger.” We entered anyway. Some lines were down, but it was clear no current was running through them. Otherwise, we could find nothing dangerous. When we returned an hour later a BofRec officer was waiting for us. He had seen our parked campers. We went on at length about how much we knew about the lake and the Bureau’s management of it, and he was pleasant and did not cite us for trespassing. He had recently arrived from a facility in New Jersey, I think it was. I asked him if he felt banished to Berryessa. His arm made a sweeping gesture across the landscape, “Oh, no. When I wake up to this, I am a happy man.”
0.0 On State Route 128 at Pleasants Valley Road, going west. No clouds. Some wind. Warm and gonna be hot in the Sacramento Valley. Behind the Diversion Dam Putah Creek is a lake. Here it is a bath tub. 1.7 Developed Fishing Access.
4.0 Another developed Fishing Access.
Purpose of the cylinder under hood is a puzzle. Sun through trees juxtaposes strong light with strong dark. Nikon P90 has a wide tonal range, but neither can it figure out the wherefore of the metal cylinder. 5.0 Canyon Creek Resort, with Market and Cafe and RVs and motel rooms along with basketball net and swimming pool and manicured lawn for games. Members only.
The creek runs softly. 5.2 Bridge over Putah Creek and passage into Solano County. In another www.onlinegamblinglobby.com quarter mile is the entrance to Stebbins Cold Creek Preserve run by the University. The best sort-of-wild hiking trail near Davis. Up the hill sharply and at 6.0 is Monticello Dam. Here is the spigot. Turn it on and water rushes out from the bottom of the dam and is cold. So for three miles below Putah Creek is world class trout habitat. A Bureau of Reclamation employee picks up stray trash. He doesn’t fish. He skies. On water. Wednesday he’ll be on the lake the dam makes. A short walk and there’s the Glory Hole, Putah Creek’s Really Great Attractor. Its magnetism is so strong that the Feds have put up a super strong wire fence topped with barbs to keep would be suicides out.
8.2 Markley Cove for candy and cokes and launching of boats.
0.0 Cactus Corner, corner of Russell Boulevard and Pedrick Road.
Drove on past gentle swells made as the Pacific nudges up to North American. 2.9 South turn at Road 95 where black walnuts and valley oaks and olives gather around Three Palms Nursery. 3.8 Over Graffiti Bridge, Putah Creek’s First Great Attractor.
Parked past the bridge, off the road, and walked back to where an artist asked the Unanswered Question.
Meadowlarks whistled and mourning doves warned their kin. 4.3 Took right on Putah Creek Road and drove past English walnut orchards and through long rows of olives. Houses few. Cars few. Bikes many. 8.9 Putah Creek Road nudges up to Putah Creek and they go together to Winters. 11.4 Railroad Bridge.
11.6 Intersection of Railroad Avenue and Main. Oat roll with dates and nuts and latte at Steady Eddy’s. Worth a stop. 15.9 Good spot to park and bird at Lake Solano. 17.1 Right on Pleasants Valley Road to 17.9 Lake Solano Day Use and Campground. 18.3 Highway 128. Store that was there is not there. Gas pumps pump no gas. Bikers laugh out loud.
Took Mace Boulevard off I-80 and went south. In 2 miles crossed 1949 bridge over South Fork of Putah Creek and stopped at the City of Davis’ South Fork Preserve. Address was 28875 County Road 104. Set odometer on Honda C-RV to 0.0.
Some grass, some gravel. Signs said what preservation was, and restoration. Garbage can. No toilet. Benches absorbed morning sun. Drove back over bridge and stopped on the right. This end closer to creek. Ran out on narrow bridge and took picture of the creek.
1.4 Drove back north miles and made left on Montgomery Road. 2.4 Stopped at small overpass and peered through a curtain of green at North Fork, eternally dry now that the source brings it no water. Out of the ground rose a dark cylinder, an obelisk of old Putah Creek.
2.5 City limits of Davis, elevation 52. 2.8 Right on Regatta. 3.0 Left on Ranier and right on Emerald Bay. In two more lefts was Lillard. All this turning was beside the point. 3:8 Left on Cowell. 4.4 Left on First. 5.1 A left on Old Davis Road. Parked in University Lot 10 for a potty stop and a latte from Cargo Coffee. 7.2 Old Davis Road to Southern Pacific tracks, parked the car, and walked 200 yards to the trestle. Graffiti was worth it.
Backed tracked to I-80 and followed State Route 113 to Hutchison Drive. 9.7 At the roundabout followed sign to Campbell Road and then to Garrod and Brooks roads. 10.9 Old house on Brooks. Campus took it off life support. Putah-Cache Bioregion www.casinoscapital.com/new-jersey-relaxes-online-gambling-laws/ Project wanted it for headquarters, but Grounds refused, citing earthquake unworthiness.
11.4 A sweeping turn south and straight ahead was the dam(n) spot, the first of two Great Alterations of Putah Creek. After World War II Army Corp built levee that channeled all creek water out of the North Fork and into the South Fork. Picnic tables under huge black walnuts. Narrow paths go east and west through a veritable jungle along the creek. Wild turkeys gobbled and woodpeckers pecked and black phoebes caught flies. 11.9 Right on Hopkins. 12.9 Left on Hutchison. 13.6 Right on Pedrick (Road 98) to Cactus Corner.