Sunday, June 6, 2010
We went on a little back road quest in Napa and Lake Counties - late spring - looking for blue oaks and quiet country vistas. Napa County is a magnet for visitors, but the vast majority of them crowd a small area of the Napa Valley floor along Highway 29. Most of the county - almost 450,000 acres - is oak woodlands, fir and redwood forests, and valleys that are unknown to visitors. All these lands are protected with agricultural zoning that prevents subdividing parcels smaller that 320 acres.
One of my step sons from southern California drove us on this little jaunt. We wended our way through Chiles Valley and Pope Valley, past the still slumbering Aetna Springs Resort and into northern Napa County. This part of the county has serpentine soils and has been the crucible for volcanic activity. Most of the mining and hot springs of the county are located in this area. One of the magnificent trees native to the area is the Blue Oak. In southern Lake County, near Guenoc (now known as Langtry Estate) - is this Blue Oak.
It was a perfect place to pull off the road. No traffic, just a quiet view of the lake full to the brim after a winter of rain. We shared a late afternoon picnic from the trunk of the Chevy Malibu. The serving table was a boogie board on top of a case of wine from Nichelini in Chiles Valley. If this doesn't make you yearn for a convertible, you lack a car gene.