On the road again
Goin’ places that I’ve never been
Seein’ things that I may never see again
And I can’t wait to get on the road again
Boy!… I bet Willie Nelson never had traveling in the midst of a pandemic in mind when he wrote that song!
So what are full time RVers like us, whose motto is “It’s all part of the adventure”, to do? The answer to that question has to be… embrace it of course, but throw the word ‘adapt’ into the mix. Exploring places AND keeping away from gathering crowds is a prickly activity! To be sure, we continue to witness situations where people gather way too close on the few hiking trails still open for example.
But we’ve also seen creative humans at work doing what they love safely.
With all of that in mind, we gave the cooler-but-busier California coastline a miss and headed toward Northern California’s inland areas. This means warmer temperatures (like triple digit Fahrenheit hot!) but indeed we’re “adapting” and making it work.
A ‘typical’ outing—a walk or hike or simply food shopping—goes as follows:
- Leave early to get to our proposed destination by mid-morning (by Noon, crowds start to gather, especially in popular spots);
- Always pack a lunch – the choice of open restaurants is fairly restricted to fast-food chains. There’s always takeout options from local places, but that takes planning and, well, honestly for a lunch time fare, we can’t be bothered to look on Yelp for what’s closed, what’s open, what’s good. Trust one’s own food is best these days anyway;
- Don’t drink coffee or water too much throughout the day as one is never certain where one will be capable of using the facilities!
- To avoid insensitive crown gathering, we stay put on weekends.
But there is a silver lining! Taking our time and choosing our outings carefully have allowed us to discover places we might not otherwise have considered visiting. A couple of recent examples come to mind…
The California Central Coast is wine country, one of the best in our humble opinion. We’re familiar with the region and each of our visits have usually included a jaunt to several wineries and breweries, because “that’s the thing to do”! But with most of the wineries closed or severely limited, we had to look elsewhere for exploration. We picked country roads less traveled, got lost more or less intentionally…
…and hiked in more remote areas on the coastline—Estero Bluffs State Park—along the Cayucos Highway 1 Discovery Road for example.
This is how we ended up in beautiful Amador County in the Sierra Foothills (about 40 miles east of Sacramento). Its climate, soils and rolling hills make for an ideal vine cultivation area. In fact, Amador County was once the center of viticulture in California – it grows the oldest zinfandel vineyard in the United States, planted just 4 years after the Civil War! Not surprisingly with such a terroir legacy, more than 30% of the gold medals awarded in State competitions come from grapes grown in Amador County. It is home to 30 distinct varietals and is best known for Zinfandel, Barbera, and Iberian varietals. The roads through Amador County rolling hills make for a beautiful drive!
(This clip was shot from the rig… so pardon the smudged window!)
The area also has a ‘gold rush’ history. The town of Sutter Creek located in the heart of Amador County, was founded by John Sutter, a local sawmill owner, who discovered gold at nearby Coloma in 1848, ushering in the California Gold Rush. This in turn attracted immigrants of all nationalities, in particular those from Italy, Ireland and the Balkans (especially Serbians), as well as from Mexico. Later, in the mid-1930s, the Dust Bowl period brought another wave of ‘immigrants’, this time from within the country, mostly from Oklahoma, Missouri and Arkansas.
Today, Sutter Creek—a registered California Historical Landmark—is a ‘normally’ welcoming tourist town with many shops and restaurants with tantalizing Italian, Balkans and Mexican local menus dotted along the town western-style boardwalks… alas, none of which we were able to sample, but a good enough reason to return!
As we push on further this summer to Redding/Mt. Shasta area and later to the Oregon Coast, we shall continue to look for hidden gems like the Central Coast Estero Bluffs or the Amador County to get a glimpse of regional beauties and what makes people tick—these are the ultimate reasons why we live the way we do. The only difference now, is that we do it in a much more low key fashion, protect ourselves and others with face coverings. Like it or not, every sliver of daily life has been touched by this pandemic… All of us have had to do adapt and do things differently… To be sure, some of these changes are more annoying than difficult to do, like face mask wearing for example. But I see it as a small but important gesture to protect my fellow human beings. In this game of COVID Russian roulette, it only takes one bullet to hit someone, with so far no one able to predict how bad it may strike. So let’s play it safe! Remember Wax On/Wax Off the famous phrase and wise teaching from the movie The Karate Kid… Well, “Mask On/Mask Off”… Staying safe in Mr. Miyagi’s style!