Monday, April 27, 2020

Jailbreak! Escaping the Coronavirus for a Few Hours with a Sanity Drive

(Please read our Covid 19 Statement first - Ed) No, we're still not advocating you travel anywhere right now as that Covid 19 Statement you just passed would state, if you clicked on it (see what you missed?). And, no, we're not advocating you violate any social distancing guidelines in your area. But we do advocate doing some things that are safe but might be a tad out of the box for some shelter-in-place (SIP) warriors.

Here in California, our SIP order allows us to go outside and recreate. You can go for a walk, ride a bike, go birdwatching, etc., as long as you keep your distance from others (members of your own household do not need to social distance).

You are not allowed to go out where crowds would be like the obvious venues such as theaters, concerts, and sporting events. Some gray areas, like beaches and state parks, have been closed because of overcrowded conditions that don't allow for social distancing.

In between what's allowed and what isn't is a gray area that is pretty much undefined...while all state parks parking lots have been closed, many of the parks still remain open. Non-essential driving is discouraged but gas stations remain open (with bargain prices!) and many chambers of commerce...and even some local police departments...encourage people to shop at what few businesses remain open.

In our house, while we've been walking around town and I've been handling the procurement of the necessities, my wife and son have really been on lockdown. Neither have even been inside our car or outside of a few blocks from our house for over 30 days and it's starting to wear on them. 

The cabin fever needs a dose of outside medicine to relieve the symptoms.

With that in mind, I remember that wineries are still considered essential in our state. The wine club I belong to up the hill in Plymouth has a box for me that they'd like me to pick up. I'll bring Letty and Tim along and we'll take the 'scenic' route home.

It's a quick stop at Amador 360 to get my wine while Letty and Tim wait in the car. A few squirts of sanitizer on my hands, then back in the car. Away we go...

6 miles later, we're taking in the air at the tiny hamlet of Fiddletown on our way up to a loop through the Sierras. Letty masks up and and buys a tin of English toffee from a shop here who is also giving away a cloth face mask with each purchase.

There's an auditorium here that houses a fiddle competition each fall. It'll probably be dark this year.

We wind our way up into the mountains, making a wrong turn at one point, then it's back downhill along the curvy Ram's Grade Road into the old Gold Rush town of Volcano where we stop just long enough to point the camera out the window to capture a little scenery. 

We've got plans to do a further story on this fun little town once the SIP order is lifted. There are several forks in the road here...turn right to go across the mountains to Sutter Creek, left to go to the mountain town of Pioneer...where we go straight to climb up to the town of Pine Grove along California's Highway 88.

There's a burger spot here that we really like, Giant 88 Burgers, which is attached to, and owned by, a large Italian restaurant nextdoor.

They were open and doing take out business out of a side window with a sanitizer machine.

We got three burgers, went across the street to an empty but open park, and had a delicious picnic.

One more thing to see before heading back down the hill to home...we'd heard some wildflowers were in bloom along the Mokelumne River not far from where we were. 

Electra road runs along the river on our county's (Amador County) side. We were not disappointed. Thousands of orange poppies interspersed with purple lupines covered the hillsides. It's not a well known area so there were very few other people and it was easy to keep far away from each other.

On the way back into the town of Jackson, an even more impressive sight of several hills covered with millions of the orange blossoms greeted us.

Just a quick pullover to take a few pictures and enjoy the view. Like the river, not many people were here. This hill was on the news last night but, thankfully, they refused to divulge the location to keep the hordes away. It worked and there were just a few people, widely spaced apart (that's since changed and now this place is too crowded on weekends...PG&E closed Electra road. The bloom will soon be done, though, and the crowds will disappear - Ed).

Spirits lifted and rejuvenated, we went back home to go into our shelter in place quarantine which will hopefully end soon.

Darryl Musick
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