Linguini, Cabernets, and Walks in the Dark in Napa
The Napa Valley is famous for wine. When you visit, you may see a wine train, wine trolleys, limos, and umpteen tasting rooms. This was not always the case in the beautiful valley north of the Bay Area. In 1976, a British wine merchant organized a blind taste test of California and French wines. Guess who won? Not the French, and they were bit miffed. Oh well. C’est las vie. And so it was few days ago that my wife and I found ourselves barefoot in half barrels, stomping grapes.
Earlier, I had managed to do some walking between Denise’s work and my writing time. In my leisure time, I found three nice parks in the Napa area. Trancas Crossing is a nice little park that has a big paved loop trail near the Napa River on one side and creek on the other side.
There is one access point to the mellow river for kayakers and swimmers. The paved path goes around the perimeter of what amounts to a giant meadow, and on a hot day, we definitely sought shade. Intermittent interpretive signs explained various aspects of the area’s natural and social history.
One tall man passed me as he power walked the loop. Jackie Chan and I were warm, and found that one lap, a bit under a mile, was enough. If I lived nearby I would certainly visit it on occasion to bird watch and identify various flowers, perhaps dipping toes in the river. The creek was off limits as the area was undergoing some erosion control work, trying to minimize the silt in the creek.
The bank of the creek had actually been altered to make the angle lower. That way, more plants could grow, helping to minimize the silt.
The next morning, I found Alston Park on Napa’s west side, popular for its off-leash areas. Close to the parking lot is an obvious fenced off area. It was complete with furniture, faucets, and dog bowls. Jackie chased a ball in there for a while before a beagle named Ginger tried to swipe it from him. Time to go.
A couple ill-defined trails climbed a rise onto a slight plateau and did a rough loop on dirt roads along the edge of some vineyards. The whole area was wide open, with a few shade oaks right on the eastern edge of the plateau.
Shade is at a premium in this park, like Trancas Crossing, but we were there early in the day and enjoyed the warmth. After completing one big loop, I found a spur trail going north, and completed a loop there as well. There were nice views from the high point at the far end.
For a city of 80,000 or so, Napa is loaded with culinary choices. Friday night was my birthday, so Denise and I headed out and after I hemmed and hawed a bit, we ended up at Uva, reportedly a local favorite. It had excellent linguini and clam sauce, much of which ended up on my shirt after slurpage. We enjoyed a wonderful dinner, from a nice salad to the pasta and the drinks. A bit of flourless chocolate decadence put me over the top of stuffed-ness. Sigh. Afterward, Denise and I returned to Alston Park to walk off the calories. I needed that. I was afraid we would get locked out, but the parking lot was full as the sun was setting.
We strolled in mellow fashion in the cooler evening air. The silhouettes of the oak trees in the waning light were lovely, and the views by day or night were terrific.
Although I am not a huge wine lover, I enjoyed my time in Napa. It is a cute little city, and St. Helena to the north is a really cute little towns. The food was great, our hotel was amazing, and there were plenty of places to walk. If I’d been motivated, and if it had been a little cooler, I could have gone further afield to Sugarloaf Ridge State Park or Skyline Park, where there appear to be nice hiking trails. That will have to wait for next time. For now, we were headed to the Redwoods.
Posted on September 9, 2013, in Flora and Fauna, General Hiking, Hiking with dogs, Outdoors, Travel, Uncategorized, vacations and tagged Easy hikes in Napa, Hiking in Napa Valley, Hiking on vacation, Napa, Napa Valley, Wine Country. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.