Sometime each spring, I find myself scrolling through the various list-icles that come out in anticipation of summer: concerts and festivals, ultimate escapes, family beaches, street food, an array of bucket lists… At some point I start thinking about my own, which tends to include things like eat my weight in fresh peaches and spend plenty of time in local rivers.
Because for all the amazing lists of potential adventures, it’s the stuff in our own backyard (so to speak) that tends to typify summer for me. I think about the pools between the smooth boulders in the Yuba River, packing inner tubes and floating down the American with friends, looking for crayfish in the shallows of Putah Creek, or watching sunflowers change color in the setting sun on a nearby field.
And I’m sure most of you have a list, too. They’re the places that don’t show up in travel magazines. It’s the hill behind your house where someone left a swing for everyone to use or the cove on a nearby beach that you can only reach when the tide is low. It’s the field from where, on a clear night, you’ve counted dozens of shooting stars and can always see the milky way. It’s the spot in the lake where it’s deep enough to leap from the rocks… again and again. Or it’s the little fish shack by the side of the road that you discovered makes the best off-menu tacos and lets you bring your own wine.
With summer now in full swing, I’d love to know what it is.
Last year was the first year we really made a point of seeking out local swimming holes. About half of all river flow in the state of California passes through the Sacramento Delta, and even with the drought you can follow those rivers and their tributaries up in the foothills and beyond to find some really special opportunities.
Nearby, below Lake Solano, you can find Putah Creek—a tributary of the Yolo Bypass. At one time it flowed through the campus of UC Davis and students would go tubing on it, but now you must go a bit further out of town and into nearby Winters, to find the moving water. It passes apricot groves and almond orchards and is home to salmon and beavers. We are lucky to have friends with some property adjacent to the creek who let us put in the other evening—one of those first hot summer nights. (They come early around here.)
And I feel especially lucky that Susan came along and took the most beautiful pictures of it for me to treasure always. (Seriously, so lucky—so forgive me while I share far too many.)
We packed provisions for a picnic: some of that stone fruit I look forward to, a chub of salami, and some crisp Pinot Grigio from Bota Box.
I’ve been working with Bota Box for over a year now, and I can honestly say that they’re the best for summer adventures like this. Good wine, totally portable, and their boxed wines are in 100% recyclable, 90% post-consumer eco-packaging.
We packed Bota Minis—their tetra packs—for this trip down the river (each has the equivalent of about three glasses of wine). But last summer we took an entire 3L Bota Box: we took the bag out of its box and brought it in an inflatable cooler that we floated down the river with a group. (Glass is a no-go at beaches and rivers, especially when inflatables are involved.)
The water was cold and refreshing and we savored the few hours away from the kids on a weeknight.
And, as if it wasn’t idyllic enough already to just paddle down the river, we discovered a creek-side hammock!
It was a reminder that you don’t need a far flung destination or a reserved spot at a national park to get outside and enjoy the summer. I’m always impressed by how many swimming holes, secret gardens, interesting trails people discover all the time.
I’d love to learn what you have discovered “in your own backyard.” What is on your wish-list of local summer adventures?
This post is sponsored by Bota Box, the nation’s leading eco-friendly wine producer of premium 3-liter varietals. Each package is printed on 90% post-consumer fiber and is 100% recyclable; Bota Boxes create 85% less landfill waste than traditional glass bottles. Bota Box wine stays fresh for 30 days or more after opening, and has received 49 Gold Medals and 21 Best Buy ratings from Wine Enthusiast Magazine. Thank you for your support!
P.S. I’ve had the pleasure of working with Bota Box for a while now. Read more about the Bota Minis (we love them for picnics and day-hikes around Northern California) and see the adventure summit I took with the team in Big Sur. Or follow the team on Instagram @botabox.[All photos by Susan Yee of En Pointe Photography for Hither & Thither]