Stockton,California-The last chapter of our road trip to the airport

We are already in Thailand, but we were without wifi while we were travelling.  I did my writing in my journal and will get them transferred quickly to complete the Road trip to the airport portion of our adventure.


Napa Valley

Napa Valley is a well established wine growing and wine making region in California. It was the perfect place to spend a rainy afternoon on our road trip to the airport.  We enjoy a particular Beringer Cabernet at home so we went to their estate to check out some other wines.


Beringer Grounds

Beringer Grounds


Two brothers from Germany planted grapes in 1876 and started a winery.  It is a beautiful place with gardens and old stone buildings  We decided to taste the reserve wines that are normally around $130-150 a bottle.  We were curious how they were different.  I was surprised that although they have many more layers of flavor, I really prefer my $15 bottle version.  I can enjoy it without feeling I need to analyze every swallow.

We carried on our journey for a couple more hours through vineyards and orchards of olives, walnuts, almonds and unknown fruits to our daughter’s house in Stockton.  It is a city that services the agricultural industry.  The city itself declared bankruptcy a few years ago and now has a reasonable cost of living for rent and houses.  There is also, unfortunately, a high crime rate in many parts of the city.

Our daughter teachers Sports Administration at the University of the Pacific, which ironically has been recognized as one of the most beautiful campuses in the USA  We like it because her home is a great base to get to Yosemite, Lake Tahoe, San Francisco and Calaveras Big Trees State Park that we visited on Wednesday.

Calaveras Big Trees State Park

Gigantic base but shallow roots

Gigantic base but shallow roots

The Giant Sequoia are related to Redwoods but while not as tall, they contain incredible mass.  These trees can grow for over 2000 years.  They have certain water and temperature requirements so are only found in small groves on the west side of the Sierra Nevada mountains.  The guided trail through Big Trees explained how they grow and survive fires due to their branches growing so high up on the trunk and their special spongy bark that can be 2 feet thick.  The bark also contains chemicals that make it resistant to burning. These trees are hard to describe.  Their branches can be 6 feet in diameter!

Fallen tree from a hundred years ago.

Fallen tree from a hundred years ago.

Branches at the top

Branches grow at the top

They were exploited in the early 1900’s.  Holes were cut so cars could drive through them. A promoter got the idea of stripping off the bark in 6 ft. sections, then reconnecting them in London to show the size of these massive trees.  It was a way to make money off a “wonder of the world.”  He was surprised at the negative response, which resulted in the failure of his show, but the beginning of a movement to preserve these trees.  By 1935, the Giant Sequoia groves were protected areas.

Great for pics but tree is dead at the top

Great for pics but tree is dead at the top


Reclining bench so you can see up to the top

Reclining bench so you can see up to the top of the tree

University of the Pacific

I spent a little time each day walking through the University of the Pacific campus.  It really is an oasis in the city.  The buildings are 2-3 story brick and most of the campus is only accessed by sidewalks.  The roses were still blooming and the community garden had a big row of ripe strawberries.  The athletic facilities were extensive and included an outdoor pool.  We went there Friday night to cheer on the Tigers playing water polo against Long Beach.  I’d never seen this sport played live before.  Such athleticism!  It was fun cheering with the hometown fans, outside, at the pool in October.

Water polo

Lodi Wines

We enjoyed another wine tasting near Stockton in an area near Lodi.  It’s an up and coming wine region for visitors, although there are hundred year old vines still producing grapes.  Lodi is where A&W and their famous root beer originated.  Now it’s primarily known for its rich and jammy Zinfandel wines.  Our daughter is a member at a couple of wineries.  She commits to buy 8 bottles of wine through the year, then gets free tastings, with her friends and family…which would be us.  We tasted at Peltier Station and M2 and tried a range of wines from sparkling whites and dessert wines to naturally fermented zins and a wonderful port.  The views may not be what you get in Napa or the Okanagan, but the tasting rooms have character, the wines are delicious, the stewards know their stuff, and it’s less than an hour from Stockton  Unfortunately most of the wines aren’t available in Canada.

One more day and we are on our way.  Our California road trip to the airport is almost finished.

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