Thursday, 13 July 2017

The Next Step.

It was the end of the trail, but not the end of the ride, as I still had to make my way to the coast to complete my round-the-world challenge.  Lucy dropped us off in Old Sacramento the next morning Wednesday 5th April and we made out way across the historic Tower Bridge which spans the Sacramento river (Pony club kids, never ever tie your pony up this way) ...
 Although it was only built in 1934, the bridge is very distinctive. Unlike the more famous London example in which two sections of the middle span between the towers lift up to let ships pass between, this is an example of a vertical lift bridge in which the entire middle span between the towers raises up to let the ships pass beneath.

Then it was a trudge through the western sprawl of Sacramento and over the 3.2mile Yolo causeway which links Sacramento with the town of Davis.   In the days of the Pony Express it was not possible to ride directly due west due to the wide band of wetlands along the Sacramento river which are subject to regular flooding. This is why the Pony Express mail was carried between San Francisco and Sacramento by steamship.    The original causeway was built in 1916 and the current one in 1962.  It is carried on pillars over the Yolo Bypass, which carries excess floodwater during heavy rains. The official name is the Blecher-Freeman Memorial Causeway after two patrolman who were shot in the line of duty in 1978.
Ex Brit from Richmond Paul Storey and friend Edward Serrano walking Mucca the dog....
I was now travelling without backup again, and to make life easier, had tried to sort out some definite places that would accommodate Lady.  At the last minute I had contacted Black Crest Friesians which was located a few miles the other side of the causeway, and was immediately given an invitation for both Lady and myself to stay by owner Sandi Riemenschneider.    I turned up at a pristine ranch with ebony horses behind white fences tossing their long black manes in emerald green paddocks.   I was idly chatting to Sandi and husband Ron over a glass of wine and telling them about my Welsh ponies when she mentioned that her neighbouring vet David Valchak had just been to the UK and bought a Welsh cob.  There could not be too many Californian vets who had just travelled to the UK to buy a Welsh cob.   "Is it a two year old filly?" I asked.   "Yes I think it is" said Sandi.   She immediately got on the blower.  Yes it was Carrie's vet who had been to Synod stud with Owen! This obviously necessitated a visit to see the filly, so here is Joy Valchek with their new pride and joy Synod Ruby...
 ....and here am I with David and Joy......
David specialises in AI and was a mine of information on the subject. 
All in all fabulous evening with good food, wine and company followed by a comfortable bed!
And here is Sandi the next morning Thursday 6th April with Lady and Joy who came over to see me off...
Unfortunately I got a little lost when Sandi sent me off on a shortcut across the fields, but she soon set me straight and even came to meet me as I had left my map behind (for a change!)

The Central Valley is the most productive agricultural area in the United States, but over the last few years has been suffering from prolonged drought. However thanks to me it was now temporarily out of danger, as rain accompanied me for the next few days.
Crops are irrigated with buried plastic pipes which may be pierced with holes along their length have small taps fitted, as shown in this photo with the taps protruding above the surface....
 I had conjectured that the strange green fruit on these irrigated trees might be plums...
...but in fact they turned out to be almonds.....
To my surprise I discovered that almonds are not only one of the main crops in the Central Valley, but the area accounts for about sixty percent of world production. 
Petra had planned to meet up with me at the weekend to ride over the Blue Mountains, but due to the rain here which translated into snowfall on the Sierras, she decided to come over a day early to make sure she did not get stuck on the other side.  She met me at my next stopover the Sunfire Equestrian Centre, where proprietor Alana Curtis kindly provided Red and Lady with outdoor paddocks and let me use the living area in her trailer.  She had to dash off so no photos, though here is one Petra took of me arriving..
 I had hoped to take an off road route over the Blue Ridge to Lake Berryessa, and after a lot of research and endless phoning around on the part of Petra and myself, we managed to get the necessary permissions.  I had managed to identify and contact Pete Craig who ranched the mountainside on the western flank of the range running down to the lake, and now he phoned to ask us out to dinner in Davis with some family and friends.    So we ended up having a great evening in a lively restaurant while the rain beat down outside.   


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