Friday, January 4, 2008

Lodi, California

Hello all--We didn't travel far today. In fact, we re-routed ourselves. With such a bad storm, we were concerned about crossing the Golden Gate Bridge and heading down the coast highway. As it is, there has been standing water on all the roads, wind gusts, and flooded intersections. We wouldn't be surprised to know that there have been mudslides along the coast. (That's what we'd get on the coast highway in Oregon, isn't it?) We have been in a torrential downpour pretty much nonstop since we left Redwood NP. We feel lucky to have had such good weather while we were there, and we're trying to maintain that "lucky" feeling. However, our "lucky" feeling is wearing thin. The roads were so bad on the drive here that Mike had a death grip on the steering wheel, while my teeth were clenched so tight I might as well have been in rigor mortus. Wow, my jaw is sore from all that.

When we pulled into the park in Ukiah last night, it was raining hard. They advised us to stay toward the gate in the park because the water could rise fast. (Huh?) So we chose a spot that seemed fine to us, but even at that, they advised us to move one spot closer to the gate. The woman who advised that said that the water usually didn't rise more than a foot. (Double huh?) We sort of looked around the place and didn't see any river anywhere, and so we couldn't really figure out what she was talking about. But when we woke up this morning, we realized that the place was built in a dry lake bed (so typical of California) and the water was all around us and rising fast. We could still get out on the one side of the trailer without getting into ankle-deep water, but the other side was pretty much solid water. Some of the folks who appeared to be permanent residents of this place were out in the water that was mid-calf on them and putting lawn chairs on the roofs of their cars and pulling their rigs up closer. We didn't waste time with showers--we just hitched up and took off. (We did, however, take time to drink our coffee.) I'm posting a picture of what the place looked like as we were pulling away.

We stopped at a Subway along the way and ran inside through pouring rain, only to have the power go out before we could get our drinks. It stayed on long enough for toasted sandwich rolls (and, of course, long enough to keep the cash register in business), but after that it went out and the drink machine stopped working. They treated us to bottled sodas. Then we moved on down the road about a mile to fill up with diesel only to find the pumps not working. This was the town of Rio Vista which we will always remember for its power outage.

From what we can tell from the forecasts this series of storms is all up and down the west coast. We've stopped here in Lodi to hunker down and let the worst of it pass. We scrapped our plans to go to San Simeon and now are headed to Death Valley. Since we're told the passes are getting feet (plural) of snow, we're going to head down to Bakersfield and then north again to get to Death Valley, thereby avoiding the mountain passes.

Despite the weather, the countryside was very pretty today. We drove through the wine region and saw hundreds of thousands of acres of vineyards (mostly flooded). It seemed as if every home had a wine label and a tasting room, most of them unheard of; but we did see some labels we recognized, including Sutter Creek, Berringer, and some others I can't remember.