10 July 2015

Mt Diablo day

We were all up around 7 today. Linda was up early to pick up her car before work. I was chatting with her about her garden and asked what the huge, blue flowers were. Artichokes! If you don't pick the 'chokes, they become these big flowers. She said she'd left some so they'd bloom and attract bees.

She also has some hummingbird feeders hanging from the eaves of her house. We have occasionally heard their hum outside our bedroom window. They aren't like the ruby-throated ones we have at home...I think they're Allen's Hummingbirds.

We packed up a few things and headed for Mt Diablo State Park.

The climb up the mountain starts in a residential area. The switchbacks start after the houses end and you cross through a gate. There are some shear drops and no shoulder part of the way but it doesn't get really scary until you get up into the cloud layer and can't see more than 2-3 of the center line dashes. The road is 2-lane, without a shoulder much of the way and popular with bikers. So at any point you could come around a hairpin turn and find a bicyclist grinding his/her way up the mountain.

Over about 10 road miles, the climb is 3849 feet. Eventually, we got above the clouds and it wasn't so scary. We got to the parking lot at the visitor center and, quite thankfully, got out of the car. There were spots where the clouds thinned a bit and you could sort of see the valley below. Mostly, though, it was looking out over a vast plain of cloud.

The cloud line is right there at that corner

The visitor center and cloud plain
One of the turns below the cloud line

Peak of the visitor center

Hairpin turn

We went up to the observation platform and looked in all directions. Then we went into the visitor center where the actual summit is. They built the visitor center around it.
We;re standing on the actual summit.

We looked at the displays, including a gallery of artwork commissioned in the 30s as part of the public works projects. They were detailed botanical drawings of native plants and wildflowers.

By then, we were getting hungry and wishing we had packed a lunch to eat at any one of a number of picnicking spots we saw on the way up. Instead, we headed back down the mountain to look for lunch.

We found a little district of shops and restaurants and decided on Primo's Pizza/Pasta. We sat at a wrought iron table outside where we could look out over the area and people watch. After lunch we wandered a little and ended up at Sweet Street...a candy and gelatto shop across the street from the pizza place where we had lunch.

Then we got in the car and headed toward Livermore and the Concannon Winery. Concannon is one of the few brands of wine that we will buy by the case and always really like the wine tastings at our local wine club that feature their wines. At wine club, we heard about their state of the art facility with a fully solar powered production building and wanted to see it in person. We discovered that there are no tours on Friday. We wandered around outside on our own, we just couldn't go into the buildings. Ah, well...

We headed home and arrange supper with the kids. They picked Fontana's...an Italian place they knew. It was good! After that, we went home, walked Odie to get our dog fix, puttered a bit, then went to bed.