I have always loved walking around the UC Davis Arboretum. It was well established when I was a graduate student in the late 1980s, and even then it had a serious water quality problem in Putah Creek. The algae and other problems caused duck die offs and some stinky stretches. Now with a new design to help clean up Putah Creek, you can actually see the turtles swimming in the creek. The redwood grove has new plantings on the floor, and the new trailhead in downtown Davis is complete. If you haven’t been in a while, it is worthy of another look.
The new infrastructure in the creek helps to keep the water clean. Plus it introduces the sound of running water to your walk along the trail. You will get a healthy 3.5 miles of steps if you walk the entire loop. Along the way you’ll enjoy over 20 gardens, interesting bridges and paths and only occasional glimpses of campus life. I’m sure it’s kept many a student sane.
I belong to the Arboretum so I learn about their plant sales and enjoy a discount. The Arboretum is free of charge. Most days you’ll have to pay for campus parking if you are starting from the oak grove side near the medical campus, so instead park behind Mikuni’s restaurant (by the closed Whole Foods). When you finish up you can enjoy a meal at Pluto’s or Mikuni’s. I’m taking my grandson on Friday!
The city of Winters just keeps getting hipper and hipper. Located in Yolo County (on the edge of Solano County), it hugs Putah Creek and offers the charm of small town with very cool community life.
It is a cycling hub with Mike’s Velo City bike shop, and several places to stop for coffee or breakfast including Steady Eddy’s. It has an impressive restaurant to citizen ratio. My favorite is Ficelle with tapas and other delicious small plates.
Putah Creek Cafe is a great diner that also serves Sunday dinners. It says pies on the awning, but I have not found pie available the times I went (disappointing!). The Buckhorn Steakhouse is an institution and terrific. We celebrated a family birthday the other night; the service was off the charts and my rack of lamb was so good I was gnawing on the bones to get every bit. Steakhouse prices, so we will save it for celebrations.
There is a crowd of young people who are starting wineries and breweries and cheese shops. First stop: Turkovich Family Winery for wine tasting.
They even have a yarn store, a fabric/quilting store, and a piano on Main Street!
If there is an upside to the worst drought in California since 1977 it is that I rode to Winters, California in bright sunshine with no wind on dry roads on the third weekend of January. Wow!
It was a gorgeous ride. I left my house about 10:30 for a ride of indeterminate length. It is a psychological game that I play with myself. I leave the house prepared to ride as far as Winters and back but I tell myself that I will just get out there and see how it goes. I arrived at the Three Palms Nursery (about 4 miles down the road) feeling great, so I kept going. Then I reached Putah Creek Road and still felt great and reached Winters, CA (12.5 miles out) feeling good.
County public works has one of those solar powered signs that tells you your speed to get you to slow down before the bridge work at Winters. It confirmed my hunch: I averaged about 10 miles per hour.
I hung my bike by the seat at Steady Eddy’s and ordered a bagel and cream cheese and diet coke. (I waited for my order remembering that it is steady not fast Eddy’s) It was just before noon and the place was crowded with riders drinking coffee and eating healthy snacks from their pockets. Winters is a mecca for cyclists from all over the west side of the Valley. I shared a table with someone who rode over from Vacaville and I realized that when I am ready I can easily ride 50 or 75 miles from my house. The challenge will be finding some hills!
I made slightly better time on the return trip. My shoulders got tighter and my hands and feet needed shaking to keep the blood flowing. I enjoyed the ride. There are lots of people on the road–cyclists, rollerbladers, horseback riders–and the occasional “hey” or “morning” was enough company for me today.
I accomplished my first set of goals for the new year. I get to buy clipless pedals!!! I also feel more at ease on my bike. My next goal is to keep riding (4-5 times a week for at least 40 minutes; this includes commuting to town on my cruiser) and to sign up for a bike maintenance class.