Monday, March 27, 2017

Don Pedro Lake and Lodi, California

Coming out of Yosemite, we had only one choice, since Route 41 would take us too far south and Route 120 was still closed with a bridge repair.  So, our choice had to be Route 140 , which still brought us south.  A twisty road, but colorful, following the Merced River.  Every now and then, there would be a "WHAT??", when we lost the edge of the road or we would see an overhang like the one above. In spite of the appearance we had plenty of clearance.  It helped that we knew tourist buses traveled this same route.
 Down in Midpines, close to Mariposa, we stopped at a very nice KOA campground.  The family was very welcoming and the laundromat was quite clean.  We also needed an electric boost, since we had been three days in almost total shade, leaving us low on battery charge --even with our 4 solar panels.
 From Mariposa, we take Route 49 north to Coulterville, an old mining town with most old buildings still as they were a century ago.  Also, the intersection of the John Muir Highway.
This route was not advised for large trucks. The picture above might give you a hint.  Steep hills and very sharp curves.
But, oh, what views!

 Yes---we are heading to the left--followed by a quick right--followed by a sharp left--immediately followed by a hairpin turn--sharply down-- that will drag the rear end of long RVs and trucks.
 In the lower center is the white bridge we will be on soon.
Looking ahead to the right , you will see the road as it twists up over the next hill.
 At Coulterville, we are not the least disappointed to take a left onto a larger , straighter road, Route 132. That takes us to Don Pedro Recreation Area and the Fleming Meadows Campground.
 There are a number of these marinas around the lake where members can keep their rather large houseboats.
It is also large enough to rent all kinds of boats. These houseboats will run you about $3,000 a week.
But, it is a large lake! About 160 miles of shoreline holding water from the Tuolumne  River. The water appears to be about 20 to 30 feet down , looking at the shoreline. But, we are reassured that this is at the foothills of the Sierras and fed by snow melt. They have released this much water to make room for a hot melting spell which can add 20 feet of water per day to this reservoir--Yes--per day! Note that Fleming Meadows is at the bottom of the map next to the dam and the visitors center.
Note the acorns stuffed into the holes in the trees.
Even finished wood.
This is the culprit. The Acorn Woodpecker.
Cute little guys and quite a few of them in the campground.
Look at that beak.
 So glad they didn't like Lady Blue!!
 A California Scrub Jay. Also in the park
Leaving the campground, we head west on Route 132 to J9 to J7 to Route 99 north to Lodi and Route 12.  Basically following and trusting the GPS this time, since the roads were not all clearly listed on the AAA map.
A pretty ride through farm country with lots of super green.
 Lots of these trees on the way, some of which are almond trees. This confirmed by places called "Almond" and a Blue Diamond warehouse.Also some strawberry and asparagus signs.
Lodi is another wine center , like Paso Robles, Napa, and Sonoma.  Lots of Zinfandel , as well as other grapes, and blends.
Our first stop is Van Ruiten winery. This is one of our Harvest Hosts stops.  As a member, we can camp for free, realizing that the expectation is that we will purchase products from the hosts. Since there are so many, our usual approach is to visit wineries that feature wines we never see around the country.  Peachy Canyon was a different choice.
 Even in the rain. A nice spot to camp and a great view out the window.
A nice addition to our Lodi stop was a chance to visit a family friend, Patrice.  Here she is giving us a great smile from her balcony.
 Patrice shared some great shrimp with us and caught us up on the news. We were also so grateful that she insisted on treating us to a local restaurant close to her apartment called Zin Bistro.
Above link will show you some reviews and pictures. Great restaurant. We had the Bistro Filet pictured and the Veal Steak. Both were excellent.  Thank you Patrice!!
The next stop was across town, another Harvest Host stop.
You could probably guess that we would like their icon--a G clef.
This one, Harmony Wynelands, we had stopped at three years ago.
Lady Blue got to park by the Old Vine Zinfandel.  We learned that "old vine" means planted in the ground for 25 years or more.
These are just starting to leaf out.
The word that comes to mind is "gnarly"
Three years ago we were surrounded by blooming roses. That was the second week of April. The buds indicate another great year on its way.
The unusual thing about Harmony Wynelands is that the owner was a great fan-and player--of theater organs. So much so that he purchased and had installed this old theater organ. Note the huge number of organ stops , pistons, and three keyboards.
Also, four pedals and foot stops and a good sized pedalboard.
The organ was claimed from a San Francisco theater and intalled here in a purposely designed building. It has pipes and surround speakers and can be played by digital recordings. The link gives you a hint of the 1930's and 1940's sounds.
 Concerts are given here by well know organists. Sometimes with a gourmet dinner and, of course, great wine.
Lady Blue loved her stay.
For our next stop, we follow Route 12 east out of Lodi to New Hogan Lake in  Valley Springs, California.
 This is a very pretty COE lake, mostly used by local residents.
That is Lady Blue up on the hill.
A good place for camping, fishing, and kayaks.
Here and there, some poppies.
Can you see yourself sitting around this campfire?
Not a common sight in campgrounds.
An old Ford in great shape.
Around 1929 -Model A?