The Knitting Nurse

Rambles and Travels

Calistoga, CA: A Girl with Messy Hair Visits Healing Waters


Finished my first week of night shifts, was eager for a road trip since it’s been weeks.  Left the day after what I’m calling “recovery sleep” (that being the day after three nights of work.)  Drive was fine but once hitting my destination, CALISTOGA, CA, I was SO tired.  So, I made like a good little car camper and grabbed  a spot in the BOTHE-NAPA-VALLEY STATE PARK, about 10 min shy of Calistoga, threw the pad and sleeping bag on the ground in a lovely little grove of trees and napped.  It was wonderful, a nap, in the sun, the park to myself. 

Here’s the map of the route:  (Insert choice cuss words) Map won’t insert at the scale I chose.  You can interact with the map on this screen, zooiming in and out and moving it around. )


 Passed by DAVIS.  Would like to venture into the famed, bike-friendly college town while out here.  Drove through wetlands, farms of nut-trees near Winters, along the twisty Putah creekbed, along the curvacious coast of “Lake Berryessa” (a reservoir), past beautiful groves of oak, dropping into the famed NAPA VALLEY.   Noted some trees blooming. Here, a confectionary haze of pink.  It’s been dry and unseasonably warm in No. CA, per the locals. Are the trees being tricked into early blooming?

Near Winters, CA

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My pass through Napa and Sonoma in October was lit up by earthy red leaves. Now the vines are bare.   Some vineyard had  yellow flowers filling the rows of vines, I believe the flowers are called BUCKWHEAT but I’m not sure on that.  It glowed between the stark, black vines.


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Got out for a leg stretch in Saint Helena, a littel town just south of Calistoga.  Walked along Main St.  peeking into shops much too frou-frou-chic for me.  

The flowers!  Must stay warm here through the winter.  (Was sunny but with a long-sleeve-fleece-top bite to the air that day.)  A few pretty pics of flowers:


Pansies, one of my favorites.  I find it ironic the derogatory term “pansy” is associated with a hardy plant that survives chilly winter temps. 

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Primrose and Cyclamen:


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 Some sort of blooming tree. That pink!


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Not sure what this is.  It’s a shrub of sorts.


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After my nap in the sun, having just a few hours until dark, I poked around the little town of Calistoga, small and neatly contained amongst tree-lined streets with a mixture of gingerbread houses, 70’s style, upscale ranches, brick bungalows and stone cottages.   They must have more B&B per capita than anything I’ve ever seen. 

An adorable houses just off main street:


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Look at this sight! 

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The cook/waitres at the not-too-greasy-spoon I stopped at for breakfast  (more on that) told me it once was a mansion, then a hospital, then purchased by someone who let it fall apart.  Locked up in a legal quagmire for years (decades, it sounds like) the city finally got thier hands on it with plans to restore and make some use of this grand structure.  What a job, though.  I’ve always fantasized about restoring a home…on a smaller scale.   ; )

 Camped that night, still with a sleep-deprivation hang-over.  Went to cook supper and realized I forgot two vital cooking items:

  • My fryingpan
  • My can opener

No convenient, Trader Joes Beef Chili for me.  Rifled through the food box, grumbling, wondering what else I’d forgotten. 

Ever scramble eggs in a saucepan?  It’s a challenge.  I had breakfast for dinner, the only stuff I could make without a can opener.  Not bad, though!

What else did I forget? 

  • My flip-flops for the hot springs.
  • MY TOILETRY BAG!  Yep…no toothbrush, no comb, no other necessities.  Hit the grocery for the basics and wore a hat the next day.   Skipped a wine tasting beacuase I was too embarassed of my ungroomed state.  Next time. 

After breakfast at the cafe I headed for a hike. What a gorgeous day it was shaping up to be. 

This fella takes bike esthetics to a new level.  He was on the main street:


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Drove up hwy 29 to ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON STATE PARK for a hike out Table Rock Ridge.  Aparently, RLS himself honeymooned in an abandoned mining shack, here, penning notes which became parts of his famed works.  What a honeymoon!  She must have been one cool chick to tolerate a honeymoon that involved camping in a shack. 

The view east, toward the Sierras, once on the hike:


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Interesting ice crystals in a patch of snow I came upon (to my surprise.)  They remind me of the crystals baby Superman was in when his parents put him in the space pod (to send him to Earth)  before his planet blew up.  I forgot the name of it. 


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Once at the overlook,  Here’s a view to what I think are called the PALISADES, a spine of rock just visible in the back:


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Self-portrait of moi with “I forgot my toiletry bag” hair:


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To the southish, Napa Valley below:


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The Manzanitta were starting to bloom:


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Soaked at Calistoga Spa and Springs after the hike.  I love hot springs.  The dreamy, safe-feeling cocoon of warmth, the pleasure of just soaking while reading a good magazine.  Would return for that.  Then, had to head home.  Thought I would stay one more night but just wasn’t feeling recovered from that first week of work.  Still tired and not quite myself. 

Saw this site on the way back just west of Davis.  It was so odd I had to post it here. 

I saw a black plume fly up a dirt road and into these trees.  There were hundreds of crows (Ravens?)  Upon closer inspection I noted the ground littered with black shells.  Must have been walnuts or some sort of nuts from the trees above.  Such scavengers!   Rotten, black, crusty nuts.   Was one of those sights I may never forget, esp with the sun setting in the background.


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I’ve been seeing a lot of  sights I may never forget these days.

7 thoughts on “Calistoga, CA: A Girl with Messy Hair Visits Healing Waters

  1. I saw on the map you weren’t too far from Healdsburg, a very pretty town on the way to lots of wineries in Sonoma. I have family there and have great childhood memories from summers there – you should check it out – it is a very pretty town, although it has become super-gentrified since I was a kid, it is still beautiful country.

  2. Thanks for the recommendation! Found Healdsburg on Google Maps. IT must be pretty up there. I’ve been hoping to get farther north into CA. Have 7 days off in two weeks. Maybe I’ll head up there? Isn’t it cool to have a childhood that provided fun memories?

  3. your posts make me miss California! And next time I live there, I’ll get out more!

  4. Healdsburg has a good brewery downtown (my cousin worked there for ages!) and lots of cute shops to poke around. Maybe even a yarn store! I haven’t been there for about 6 years. Lake Sonoma north of the town is really pretty, and the coast that far north is really gorgeous.

  5. These are really neat pictures! I agree, I love finding bits of old remains of things. : )

  6. The flowers between the vines are mustard (February and March are Mustard Festival time here – the first weekend in March is when Calistoga has a Mud, Mustard, and Music Festival in town). The adorable little cottage is one of the first built in Calistoga by its original founder, Sam Brannan – the few remaining are called “Brannan cottages.” (It’s a great place to live (I’m lucky).) And the pink-flowered shrub is a camellia. What a fun road trip you had!

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