Reno to Sonoma for Two Cats

sunrise over a mountain

Sonoma Here We Come!

Our time in Reno and Lake Tahoe came to an end and we departed early to begin the long trip over the Sierra Nevada Mountains for the second time in two days. Our destination – Sonoma, caring for two sweet cats!

driving a mountain road

It was freezing as we traveled up the steep incline and finally crossed over Donner Pass at 7,000 ft. Now, that’s a mountain pass! Since it was so cold, we didn’t stop often for photos even though the Truckee River was our neighbor a lot of the way and the scenery was splendid. 

There was something familiar about this -hmm. Something deep and strange in the memory: maybe we should keep going. Once you reach the summit the drive down and west is slow and gradual.

Donner Pass summit sign

California State Park Pass

When we finally got to Sacramento, we stopped in at a state office building downtown to pick up a California State Park Pass – gets us into most State Parks for free during the off season (between Labor Day and Memorial Day).

tree-covered hills in the distance

Once again, Jim’s senior citizen status helped us out! It’s not as good as the Federal pass that costs $10.00 for a lifetime: this is $20.00 a year. Still, it pays for itself quickly as we always visit parks wherever we go. 

There’s something about flashing a card and getting in ‘free’ that suits us well and prompts us to go to parks we might otherwise pass up.

Lake Berryessa

Okay, Back to the Journey

After departing Sacramento, we headed toward Sonoma. You might be surprised to learn that we decided to take the back roads!

What you see above is Lake Berryessa. Coming from the east, you come to the dam and spillway first. Then the road winds through the canyons and up and down the mountains north of Napa.  As we drove on, we noticed that we kept meeting up with the lake every few minutes since it filled in the many canyons in the area.   

rolling hills

Along here we saw neat little neighborhoods of houses, ranches, camps, even little farms, in the classic California countryside.

Coming from the east, the wine culture starts poking its head up slowly: a few vineyards on the hills and a winery now and again, tucked away in the canyons. Finally, we turned south towards Napa and the wine took over: vineyards everywhere and wineries every few feet. 

vineyard in Napa Valley

Then we passed over the hills north of Napa, and you probably know what that’s like: it’s all about the wine, well, that and the dining. A few turns later and we were in Sonoma. Here are some typical scenes along the road from Napa and Sonoma.

vineyard in Napa Valley

When you’re in town, you have to look around some for the wine thing, though not far! But you don’t have to go far to see gorgeous flowers like this. The homeowners in Sonoma have a passion flower plant decorating their fence and it was in bloom.
close up of a passion flower

Remember This Fellow?

We’ve done house sits at this home before, and you can read at least one of them here. The home is near the center of town with two adorable indoor cats. It felt like we were just here, but it had been at the end of last year. 

a tabby cat relaxing on a woman's lap

Our two friends seemed to remember us, and we all settled in quickly. This guy is the ultra-friendly of the two. He never tired of affection, except to indulge his love of sleeping in curious places. Look at him! That’s supposed to be a scratching pad! 

One of his favorite places was on the kitchen table where all the fun things were. Why do cats always love sitting on papers, especially the one you need right then? It’s strange but true: some sort of elemental force at work.

He also enjoyed helping us type away on the laptops, stepping on the keyboard to insert a random letter here and there. Any typos you find are his doing.

cat laying on papers on a table

His Pal Was a Bit Different

This guy didn’t need constant human interaction and cuddling. Not to say he isn’t friendly – we got to pet him a lot, just not as much as his pal. He came looking for affection a few times a day.

cat relaxing in the sun

He found a way to sit or sleep in the sun every day: a favorite windowsill in the morning, or near the glass doors in the afternoon.  cat relaxing in the sunlight

These are mature and very comfortable cats. No drama here! Just go through the routine, and everything will be all right, but don’t miss any important steps or they would tell you all about it: like dinner.
cat looking up at the camera

Back to the Benziger Vineyards

Our favorite outing while here was going back to the Benziger Vineyards and Winery as we enjoyed it so much the first time. Here’s the start of the extensive display about their Bio-Dynamic farming practices. 

Benziger Vineyard

Since the primary purpose of the place is wine making, they, of course, have vineyards. These are mostly on the hillsides surrounding a little valley.

Benziger Vineyard

All the winery activity, the huge barrels, the tasting room and shops, all the offices, are located on the valley floor. It seems as if you’re in another world there, separate from everything else. We both found this place incredibly peaceful.

Benziger Vineyard

They even had a flowform, which is a particular style fountain for cleansing and purifying the water. The gurgling sound and swirling water were familiar to us both.

Benziger Vineyard

Bio-dynamic farming pays close attention to water usage, storage, and care. Here are two of the three ponds they had, all in a row following a stream in the bottom of the valley.

Benziger Vineyard

Even though they serve a definite purpose, they are also calming, beautiful, and colorful!

Benziger Vineyard

We also found quite a few of these Prickly Pear plants. I loved the colors!

Benziger Vineyard

A Couple More Outings

During our stay in Sonoma, we visited with the owner of our next house sit in town and also took a day trip to Sacramento for a visit with homeowners we’d arranged to house sit for later in the year.   

The great thing about pet sitting with cats, well, except for the whole cat part, is that they encourage you to leave now and again: they’ll be just fine, in fact, they often prefer some solitude.

With their promise not to destroy anything while we’re out, we headed straight west to the coast.  

Sonoma county coastline

The shoreline we found could have been anywhere on the coast all the way up into Oregon.

Sonoma county coastline

Rocks, cliffs, clouds, sandy beaches here and there, all very familiar to us by now in our travels and much appreciated. We love the ruggedness of the shoreline and the remote, solitary atmosphere. Though not the beach for getting a tan, it’s just our cup of tea. Agreed?  

Sonoma county coastline

What’s Next – Two short trips

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    • Lisa Sheehan on August 9, 2017 at 4:05 pm
    • Reply

    Love seeing where your journey takes you. Thank you for sharing and inspiring us all.

    1. We appreciate your response and encouragement, Lisa!

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