We started our trip in Paradise (my family likes the boonies) and made our way back to Los Angeles.
We were looking for a less monotonous route home than the usual Interstate 5 freeway, so we decided to take the road less traveled and drive through Oroville, Marysville and then take the California 99 south from there and pick up Interstate 5 from there for the last bit. It took a little longer, but the four-lane road’s calming landscape and quirky attractions left us pleasantly relaxed and prolonged our holiday buzz.
Our first stop along the California 70 was Feather River Recreation Area. It was a random stop, where the GPS said we could drive 5 minutes out of the way and be at the riverbed. It was gorgeous! The fall colors were vivid and the dog was having a blast chasing the leaves.
The next stop was Tony’s Fruit Stand in Marysville, where we picked up some fresh apples, kiwi, persimmons, pears and dried fruit.
Then a mile or so south the persimmon orchards were so beautiful I had to stop and take some photos.
California 99 is not as scenic as the coastal highway if you are looking to come or go to San Francisco, or as fast as Interstate 5, and it has more than its share of cows and dirt pastures. It also offers many things its north-south counterparts don’t — easy access to small towns with quiet parks, pistachio farms, unusual bug and military museums and food you’d be hard-pressed to find in L.A. In John Steinbeck’s “The Grapes of Wrath,” the Joad family traveled this road.
Bravo Farms in Traver was the most touristy stop, but it had one of the best sandwiches I’ve had in years: grilled marinated tri-tip with peppers on a soft roll.
Between Modest and Turlock is the Beekman & Beekman Honey Farm who had a ton of delectable samples or floral and wine infused honey. Right around the corner from them is the Buchanan Hollow Nut Company, where owner Sharleen gave us a free tour “out back” of her 30-year-old farm, which includes organic pistachio, cherry, olive and almond trees.
After lunch we hopped back on the road. I started
seeing smelling the California Dairy Farms soon after that. The Mr. looked like he was going to turn green from the smell, while I, a cowgirl at heart, smiled and took in the farm scents that brought me back to my horse back riding days. Of course, I kept my eyes peeled for roadside access to some cows. I think they are the cutest things. As we pulled off the highway I was already unbuckling my seat belt and rooting around for my camera. Before the car came to a complete stop I was already out and running towards the fence. (Note: This isn’t always a good idea. Beware of electric fences and farmers with shotguns.) After I was sure the fence wasn’t electric and there was no farmer giving me the evil eye, I reached over and in seconds 50 or so cows were running and leaping towards me. Yes, cows leap.
Many people don’t know but horses and cows for the most part are gentle giants. I think of them as huge over-sized dogs. They are smart and so cute. I took a few photos of my leaping friends before heading back on the road.
Since the 99 is a smaller road, and weather can effect it, check the highway conditions before heading out. Interested in history? Read about the Historical California 99. Want to know what more of the road looks like? See city by city highway photos.