Shame on me, I hardly ever do my beloved tai chi long form any more. I still remember all the big moves, but am ever more fuzzy on the details. Quiet mornings by the van are usually a good time for me, but on this trip I’ve done it maybe twice. But for whatever reason I always get the urge in the Colusa Casino parking lot in the morning. I got through the first and second movements, ran out of concentration for the third. Sad.
First stop today is Caffeinated, a coffee shop next to Rocco’s Bar and Grill in Colusa. Then do a drive by on the Colua NWR for old times sake, confirming that there is nothing at all going on this time of year. Then lunch, a sandwich and a couple of breakfast bars to go at Granzella’s. I love their breakfast bars. They messed up my sandwich order, first time that’s ever happened. They lost the order for a long time, and then gave me the wrong sandwich. I didn’t realize it till I opened it that night. It wasn’t very good either.
BecauseI have the whole afternoon to make the hour plus trip to Lake Solano, I decide to hop west on CA 20 to finally for the first time ever drive CA 16 along Cache Creek through the foothills.
Turned out to be a bad call today, there was a road repair stop where I sat for 17 minutes … I set the timer.
After that it was all fun and games! I took a tour of Cache Creek Regional Park Campground. It looked real nice. It’s $35/night, which was expensive for five years ago me, but is just fine older and tireder me. I will probably come back!
A few more miles down the road was the fabled Cache Creek Casino. That place is huge! I drove around the parking lots(!) a bit to check it out. Wasn’t t0o exciting, but it sure was a big place.
Winters was very busy on a Friday night, which made me worry that the campground might be very busy also. Not a problem as it turns out.
WHUFU page for: Lake Solano Campground
Pretty campground and park on a little lake made from damming Putah Creek, the outflow of Lake Berrysea.
The park is long and skinny following the south side of the lake/creek for quite a while.
On the north side is the fairly busy road from the lake to the freeway. Some trucks and a lot of noisy motorcycles.tonight:
Friday night, so there is actually a check-in camp host, who got mildly annoyed when I drove past and went straight to good old site 27. It was all good though. The place is pretty hopping on Friday night.
The campground was the busiest I’ve even seen it, but my odd little spot was still waiting for me. There was an actual camp host, and he was actually sitting in his lawn chair checking people in. He was not pleased that I zoomed past him to nail down my spot, but I came right back. He was kind of a dick about it, but after exercising his authority for a while we got our business done and he went back to being commander of the check-in post.
I had forgotten that they have showers here! Free, no quarters required showers! I’ve never cared before since I’m always a day or two from my house or Martha’s when I stay here, but this time I haven’t had a shower since Katie’s, five days ago. It felt really good!
The Big Day! As I was noodling around the Central Valley all week I had nothing better to think about than how I would execute this big event. Those young people (i.e. the forty-somethings that were the prime demographic for this) can just show up and do it. We old folks tend to plan for contingencies a little more.
The getting there part went perfect. Maps says it’s about an hour away. I want to be there by 1:30. So hopping back into Winters to get to Steady Eddy’s by 11-ish gives me more than enough time. Coffee and an apricot bar, and a lox and bagel. That will stick to the ribs for a while! Maps says it’s 49 minutes on the freeway or 59 minutes the back way. I am so on top of my schedule that I can afford the minutes to take the back way.
There is evidently some kind of bike race happening, because there is a steady stream of bikers coming at me. The road was quite a bit bouncier than I remembered. But still very relaxing to drive … as compared to the 505 to the 80. One of the many features of taking the Pleasants Valley Road cutoff from Winters is that you really have only a small amount of time on I-80 before you get to Vallejo and CA 37. Normally I get on 37 and blast all the way to Marin/Sonoma. But today I’m exiting into the wilds of Vallejo bound for Mare Island!
I’ve always thought of Vallejo as the hill above the harbor, but there’s a whole other town down here in the flats. Pretty interesting. Some lovely old wooden houses, but it appears to be a pretty depressed area. Anyway, cross the little bridge, and boom! I’m on Mare Island! The festival parking area is very close, about three blocks awy from the bridge, although a Navy Yard block is realllly long! I do a drive-by bot don’t plan to park yet. The eager parking helpers are ready to roll, there were about three helpers for every car this early in the day. But I disengaged and drove off to explore the Navy Yard a bit and find a shady place to kill a half hour.
My haven was only two short blocks away. The first row of blocks (where the festival is) is a row of huge sheds facing onto the water. The next rows are festival parking and anonymous big square military buildings. The fourth row is officers quarters. That street is a lovely, relaxing tree-lined arcade with big white houses on one side and genteel brick buildings on the other. Right in front of the commandant’s house is a sweet little park, with a small bandstand, a sculpture and shade trees. So I parked there on the shady street and hung out for about 45 minutes! Time for action! Drive the two blocks back to the now rapidly filling parking lot. Eat a gummy, smoke a bowl, grab my water bottle and head out. The band I came to see, Vinyl, is the first band on the main stage. They started at 2:30 sharp. My second favorite band on the card is Motherhips, and they are the second band! So by 5pm I will have seen everyone I really wanted to see, the rest is gravy.
The layout of the place: Walk out the lower left corner of huge festival parking lot, catty corner into the also huge VIP lot. The running the length of the far side of the VIP lot is a nondescript wall which is the backside of these gigantic coal sheds. There are some nice stairs down, and VIPs enter a nice building, which is the first coal shd revinated to be the Mare Island Brewing Co. We non-VIPs must walk about 30 yards to the right to a nondescript door in the next shed. On the other side of the door you’re in a huge room, you get to feel the true dimensions of the “historic coal sheds”. It was about 15 feet high on the entrance side. The far side was completely open to the bay, and about 60 feet high! An impressive US Navy building in other words. And there were six of them in various stages of rehabilitation. The brewery is the first, ours is next, the next contained six food trucks and a bunch of vendor tables with room to spare. The other three were closed off and extended well beyond the end of the festival.
Everything was surprisingly mellow. Getting in was mellow, getting out and coming back was mellow. I had braced myself for no ins and outs, but everything was cool! The festival area runs the length of four of those giant sheds, and it’s a pretty good walk from one end to the other. Ping-ponging back and forth for the eight bands I did it as least four round trips. On the west side of you is the sheds. On the east side it the lovely Napa River, which is more like and estuary of San Pablo bay at this point. There were big sturdy benches facing the water all along, and it was not so crowded that you couldn’t find a place to sit pretty much any time you needed it. (and as an old dudes I need it pretty often). I got myself pretty baked for this, and it was very pleasant to look out over the water.
The sets were timed ruthlessly, so the next band at the opposite end is hitting it’s first chords exactly when the band you’re watching is hitting it’s final chords. Vinyl and Motherhips were everything I hoped they would be. I knew I liked Motherhips, but honestly, it’s been so long since I head them that I forgot why. :) I remembered that had a long rangy lead singer called Tim and that they started at Chico State. What I did not remember is that the guitar guy, Greg Loiacono, is a fucking genius and is the real reason they endure. The second stage bands after both Vinyl and Motherhips were also pretty good. The other two secondary bands not so much.
The next main stage band was Eric Gale. It seemed like a good time to skip out and get more water and a heavier hoodie. Good choice, because I thought he was useless. I thought his music was basic fast-fingers guitar-god twiddling, which would be bad enough except he also liked to talk a lot and all he talked about was himself. He clearly thought he was a pretty big deal. meh
The Karl Denson band was quite good. Their music didn’t move me quite like Vinyl and Motherhips, but they were very good musicians playing good music, to here’s to them! I was getting very tired, I think (but am not entirely sure) that I may have left before the end.
Actually I AM sure I did, because I did not walk out in a crowd and into a traffic jam at the parking lot exit. I beat the traffic! I managed to find the shortcut CA 37 heading west. I’m not a fan of night driving anymore, and this reminded me why. 37 is a stretch of 20 miles of very busy two-lane road, and the oncoming headlights were very annoying.
I did make it tp Petaluma, drove straight to Webster Ave. My parking choices weren’t awesome. My favorite low profile spot under the trees near the corner was taken, and the next few spots were occupied by the Peace Out Junk trucks so I had to park pretty far down the street in the open. I went to sleep quickly and slept very well.