Through the Capay Valley

I got up about 6:30 this morning and immediately headed toward Woodland.  I wanted to get some photos of the wild flowers along Highways 16 and 20, but first I needed to put some gas in the car (and get some coffee) and stop off at the Tuleyome office to pick up Berry and Essa, our Big Day of Giving “spokesbears”.  I also needed to fix the phones.  I’d gotten an email from F&F (one of the printing companies we work with) saying they had an order for us but were unable to leave a message on the phone.  So I checked on that while I was pick up the bears.  Someone had turned off the Answer/Message recorder on the main desk set, so I turned it back on.  Viola!  (I don’t know the office would communicate without me…  I fix people’s email; I fix the phone.  I am an old broad of many talents.)

Then it was off to the Capay Valley.  I’d been out that way before as a passenger for a couple of Tuleyome-related outings, but I’d never driven out there by myself.  It’s sort of like driving around Old Shasta; lots of twisty roads, some steep inclines, some “don’t look over the cliff” moments, and a “rock slide” area where the rocks had actually slid into the road!  Gasp!  But it was a pretty drive.  I went through Guinda, Esparto, Capay, Rumsey, and Brooks, and took photos at various locations along the road and at the High Bridge Trail trailhead, the Cowboy Camp trailhead, along part of Cache Creek, and at Camp Haswell near Rumsey.  (It’s an old Boy Scout camp with a derelict, empty building on it and some porta-potties right along the edge of Cache Creek.  The building is hazardous, but I got some photos of it, and against the redbud trees and green hillsides, it didn’t look nearly as bad as it really was.)

The wild flowers aren’t going crazy yet, but a lot of them were out including Paintbrush, Wild Lupines, Bent-Flowered Fiddleneck, Blue Dicks, California Poppies, Purple Dead Nettles, and others… and the redbud trees were spectacular.  I also got some photos of a Red-Breasted Sapsucker and a few other birds around Cache Creek.  I saw a few butterflies including a Painted Lady and several Pipevine Swallowtails.  I tried to get a photo of a white-and-light-brown mottled butterfly sitting in the grass, but it took off before I could get close enough.  Don’t know what that one was.  Oh, and I saw my very first Brown-Edged Bee-fly (Bombylius major) also called a “Dark-Edged Bee Fly”.  They look like small bumble bees; super furry, but sort of a buttery-brown with dark edges.  It caught my attention not only because of its coloring, but because it had a long proboscis sticking out of the front of it.  At first, I thought it might be some kind of small glass-winged moth, but nope: it was a bee-fly.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I DID manage to get a lot of photos of the bears along the route.  Berry is so big, it’s hard to lug her around, so I only took her out of the car when I could park and easy pull her out to sit somewhere.  Little Essa is much smaller and easy to carry around, so most of the shots I got are of him.  As I was taking pictures, I tried to keep in mind the different “tag lines” I want to use when I post the photos of the bears to Tuleyome’s Twitter and Facebook accounts, and took the opportunity to get pictures of Essa with a raccoon track (our Home Place Adventures program did a couple of tracking events), and looking over at Glascock Mountain.  Glascock Mountain lies along the Cortina Ridge on the boundary of Yolo and Colusa counties. The Cortina Ridge is a continuation of the Blue Ridge located to the south, however Cache Creek has cut a 2,000 foot canyon between them. There was an old Tuleyome Tale written about the history of the mountain, and part of that read:”…In 1850, Spencer Glascock came to Yolo County from Marion County, Missouri, to take part in the Gold Rush. In 1852, he returned to Missouri to bring his wife, Sarah, and their children to the Capay Valley to settle on a Donation land claim. Together they had eleven children. Two of the children, Daniel (a.k.a. Tucker) and Clinton, started a gang of well-known horse thieves. Demand for horses was high in Mendocino County. This demand prompted the duo to steal horses from neighboring counties, bring them up the Capay Valley, then lay over until the re-branded horses healed. The gang’s headquarters was on the top of present-day Glascock Mountain. The location was supposedly marked with a skull and crossbones carved in a tree…” Kewl, huh?

I had originally planned to go to both the Capay Valley AND Lake Solano today, but the Capay trip took longer than I thought it would – mostly because I kept stopping the car every few minutes to take photos.  So instead of heading out to Lake Solano, I headed back to Woodland and stopped at Denney’s to have breakfast for lunch (a waffle with strawberries and whipped cream, bacon, sausages and two eggs, with black coffee).