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November 2007
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January 2008


On a cold Sacramento day we headed out for Oakland -- my trusty Subaru was happy to be on the road and in the open air. I knew the holiday traffic would be a bear and suggested we take the "river road" to the East Bay. Though narrow and curvy -- and skirting the Sacramento River -- I thought it would be an easier route then the always-congested I-80. It was the right decision.

Instead of heading west on I-80, we jetted south on I-5. Honestly, I must confess I am directionally challenged when it comes to north, south, east, and west.  I don't know at what point our path turns, but really need to see it on the map to know how we manage to go in different directions and still wind-up in the same place. Oh, well, I digress.

So! The traffic on I-5 was pleasant enough and far less frantic then 80, but our time on the interstate will be limited and I am looking forward to diverting to the river and the wilds of the California Delta. Not far from the city limits we exit at Twin Cities Road (is this west) and begin the peaceful trek past Delta farmlands and across sloughs to River Road. Twin Cities dead-ends, literally, at the Sacramento River. So it's either left or right...or you're in the drink.  We turn left (I think we are heading south again) towards Oakland.

I wish I had been able to photograph this journey but we were on a schedule. The photos will have to wait for another time. But the images of the Delta, the winding roads, sparkling waters of the Sacramento, small towns, vineyards and orchards are all burned solidly in my memory. Driving this road is not for the timid. You need to stay focused, which is hard to do with so much beauty and so many interesting things to see. On this particular journey, we don't have time to stop and dawdle. We whiz past all the wonderful places: Courtland, Locke, Walnut Grove. No time for the historic Ryde Hotel or wonderfully funny Ernie's in Isleton Joe's (that's another story). Catching only glimpses of some of the many birds -- egret, great blue heron, hawks, geese -- because I am at the wheel.

What I was lucky enough to witness was the most glorious sight of four horses running...galloping...across an open field. Manes flying. Though clearly fenced in, you could almost imagine them as wild and free.  Probably, what we could not hear or see, their owner had rung a dinner bell and they were off to feed.

Thank goodness I opted for road taken on that cold December day.

P.S. Despite the season, we arrived in record time with only a blip of a traffic jam. And the visit to Oakland (one of my favorite cities) was a delight. Another story...another day.


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How Much is that California Doggie?

The Rest of the Tail by Barbara L. Steinberg

Davisfest_hotdogger_credit_barbar_2 Pretty darn cheap at The Hotdogger in downtown Davis, California. For more than 20 years, Hotdogger has walked many a joyful diner down ‘the dog’ path. This wiener-sized café provides limited counter-seating for about five. The dogs, on the other hand, are not your tea-cup variety.

These California dogs may not be AKC line-up, but they are pure-bred delicious! Your classic all-beef Chicago Dog with German mustard, tomatoes, diced onion and relish will set you back $3.50. From across the border, the spicy Ortega Dog with green chilies and pepper jack cheese will light your fire for $4.00. The Gut Bomb ($5), The Bandito ($4.25)...Louisiana hot links, chili, salsa, onion…where’s the Tums and Scope? Of course they also serve the PC Veggie Dog breed. Well-groomed with mustard, ketchup, relish, onion and a sprouted wheat bun, it’s just like the real thing. Well, maybe.Davisfest_hotdogger_all_beef_credit

The owners, the Franks – no, I’m not kidding – have been Davis’ tube steak mavens for the past 13 years. One counter-person had been adorning dogs in buns for three years. Woof, that’s dedication! Her favorite was a personal creation: Portuguese wine sausage (chicken with white wine and garlic), tomatoes, celery salt, ketchup, pickles, and Hawaiian mustard. Tums, anyone?

Oh, and about the buns! An often overlooked, but integral part of the whole doggone dog experience. Hotdoggers’ buns are locally made at the Village Bakery – another closet-sized establishment. Davis may just be a breeding ground for this kind of thing.