9 April 2003
I stepped gingerly over a pile of cow dung along the edge of the dirt road so that I
could get closer to the field of poppies. I smiled as I did so, thinking that
"poppies and poopies" would make a great title for a journal entry.
It was Sunday and as I'd had a week of exercise and had realized I was just ever so
slightly sore, I decided to forget the long bike ride. I settled in for a day at the
computer--the ever-present transcription, of course--but then read an e-mail from my
friend Joan, saying she and her husband were going to drive out into the Capay Valley to
look at wildflowers. It sounded like a wonderful photo op, so I suggested to Walt that we
do the same thing.
We are about an hour from the Capay Valley. It's a couple of weeks past the peak of
blossom season--the valley is full of orchards--so we missed that beautiful yearly
display, unfortunately. The Capay Valley is also the location of one of the big
Indian casinos in this part of the state, so until we passed the Cache Creek casino, we
were in a steady stream of fortune hunters.
I'm not sure what I was expecting. For a long time now I've been hoping to recreate an
amazing trip we took years ago, when the kids were little, in the days when we traveled
with our college friends and their families. On the way back from an Easter camping
weekend in Death Valley, we drove through a place called the Pozo Valley. It was so
unbelievably beautiful that I sometimes wonder if my memories have grown more colorful in
the interim. It was Dorothy opening the door of her drab Kansas home to the brilliant
color of Munchkin Land. Blankets of wildflowers in all sorts of colors stretching as
far as the eye could see, turning the landscape into brightly colored patchwork quilts.
Moss hung in long strandes from tree branches. The sky was a deep blue,
dotted with fluffy white clouds. It was so beautiful that even the kids were awestruck as
we slowly drove through it. We all felt we had to whisper, as if in a museum--or a church.
The Capay Valley did not live up to my memories of the Pozo Valley, but there were
spots here and there where there were patches of color--always too far away to get a good
angle for an impressive photo.
We drove out as far as Rumsey, where there is an old concrete
bridge over Cache Creek, with lots of trees with feathery pink foliage and little patches
of purple lupin. We wandered around a bit and I took pictures. I even got a shot of the
graffiti on the bridge...the inevitable "FU" message, though the
"O" in "you" had a smiley face on it. A good-natured epithet, I guess.
I got lots of lovely photos, long distance shots, and close up shots. The nice
thing about taking some of the close ups was that I could either get to a hunkering
position or easily get down on my knees and back up again, something I wouldn't even have
considered months ago. I won't pretend I didn't feel it, but I did it without
giving it much thought (except in retrospect to say "I DID IT!!!")
Exercise is good for photography! Another unforeseen benefit.
On the drive back, we stopped at the poppy field and to take some pix of some very
long-horned cattle, and then my batteries gave out, so photo taking was finished, but I
had enough in the camera already to make a decent sort of slide show when we got home.
On the way out, we'd passed "Plainfield Station," a grungy old road house out
in the middle of nowhere, some five miles from town. For some reason, this is a place that
is known by all Davis old-timers, but we'd never been there. I'd heard they have
"the best hamburgers ever." I suggested to Walt that we stop by Plainfield
Station for lunch on the way home. As we pulled into the parking lot and I saw the
American flag flying and the motorcycles (at least 10 of them) parked outside the front
door, I became very aware of my "The Big Voice" t-shirt and wondered if that was
the place to be wearing the picture of two gay guys on my chest, but nobody seemed to
The hamburgers were, indeed, delicious--perhaps because it was the first time I'd had
one in months.
It was nearly 4 before we got home and I was acutely aware that I'd gone the entire day
without moving much. The skies hinted at rain, so I didn't want to go out on the
bike, but now that I have this great new athletic club membership, I drove down to the
club and did enough time on the treadmill to work off the calories in a container of
yogurt (if not exactly a hamburger and some onion rings!). It was my fastest, steepest
workout to date and very definitely met Dr. G's condition of "sweaty,
out-of-breath" exercise. I even got the counter up into the "weight loss
zone" for the first time.
So it was a laid-back day, this first day of Daylight Saving Time. And best of
all, I was able to find a way to write an entry that could be loosely tied into
"poppies and poopies." I'm sure Ned will be so proud.