2014 Great Circle Tour travel blog

Yesterday's route

Roadside hands and a ball in Geyserville

Giant coyote metal sculpture made for Burning Man Festival in 2013

View of the Vineyards in Napa Valley

Stage coach sign for White Oak Winery

Downhill winding road through the hills

BLT with avacado at the Hydro Bar & Grill

Mural in Calistoga

Ex-Eagles coach Dick Vermeil has a wine store in Calistoga for his...

Jelly Belly at Fairfield

Winnie at Camping World

Pietro's Pizza No. 1

Pietro's Pizza No. 1

Pietro's Pizza No. 2

Some Californa Cabernet

Pietro's Pizza

The Nut Tree Train

The new Nut Tree

Giraffe at Nut Tree

The original carousel

The moon over the carousel

Kids playing at Nut Tree

Winnie at Midway RV Park


Yesterday we left the Russian River valley and drove north to Geyserville before heading south into the Alexander Valley and the Napa Valley. CA 128 runs through the heart of wine country with vineyards as far as you could see. Some of the biggest names in wine operate in this area. We stopped for lunch at the Hydro Bar & Grill in Calistoga. Calistoga is noted for its hot springs spas. The local specialty is immersion in hot volcanic ash known as a mud bath. Nearby attractions include an artificial geothermal geyser known as the "Old Faithful of California" or "Little Old Faithful". The geyser erupts from the casing of a well drilled in the late 19th century when a man had drilled into the geyser in search for water. He had actually opened up a dead geyser and now it erupts about every 45 minutes. We didn’t visit this time, but I went to see in 2004.

We rolled into the Camping World in Vacaville late in the afternoon. Before bedding down in the parking lot for the night we headed into town to visit Pietro’s Pizza for dinner. Sue and I were in Vacaville in 2007 and ate at Pietro’s and the pizza was good. Turns out that they are closed on Mondays. Luckily, there is a Pietro’s No. 2 that’s open on Mondays. Apparently No. 2 is owned by a cousin of the owner of No. 1 and was opened in 1968. We had a great veggie pizza with enough to bring home for lunch. After dinner we settled in for a night of dry camping in the Camping World parking lot. Another Camping World added to the list of stores visited.

Winnie’s windshield has been cracked from early in the trip. I finally called the insurance company to try to get it replaced while we were in Vacaville. After 3 or 4 calls to the insurance company and glass insurer, it turns out I have to schedule an appointment with a glass shop. It will take 3-5 days to get the windshield delivered from Ohio. We can’t wait that long so I’m going to have to try to schedule it later in the trip. I should have called last week.

After leaving Camping World, we passed a place called Nut Tree. It looks like a shopping center, but there’s also a Nut Tree Airport, and other things named Nut Tree. Since it’s an unusual name, I decided to see if I could find out something about it. It opened in 1921 on old U.S. Route 40. It was created by Helen and Ed "Bunny" Power as a small roadside fruit stand, and built near the site of Helen's childhood home, which she and her husband purchased from her parents not long after their 1920 marriage. At its peak, it contained a restaurant, an outdoor eatery, a bakery, a gift shop, a toy shop, the Nut Tree Railroad that gave rides from the toy shop to the airport, and an airport. For travelers, it was a welcome rest stop on the road between Sacramento and the San Francisco Bay Area. The Nut Tree ceased operations in 1996 due to financial issues brought about by increased competition, a family feud that was taken to court, and changing tastes. It has opened and closed several time since, but in 2009 it reopened with some of the original attractions, such as the Nut Tree Railroad, carousel, and other historical elements of the original Nut Tree.

We’re spending the night in Midway RV Park in Vacaville. It’s a nice place just off I505. It appears to be popular with contractors working in the area for an extended period and some Air Force personnel from Travis AFB. Our neighbor is in the Air Force and is from Alaska. Tomorrow we head north.

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