The Dodgeland loop - Winterlude 2020 - CycleBlaze

November 25, 2020

The Dodgeland loop

Dodgeland, sitting alongside Little Butte Creek at the intersection of Seven Mile Road and Wilson Road, is described as an unincorporated community, which is generous.  From the satellite view I can see one or two small industrial-looking structures near the intersection, but nothing else within several miles.  Certainly nothing that merits a description of a community, incorporated or otherwise.  In fact, I don’t see anything vaguely community-like closer than Butte City, almost ten miles away.

Also, I can’t find any indication that there was anything here in the past either - no historical references, citing it as a ghost town or former ranch, nothing.  It earns its title on today’s post not for its own qualities, but because it’s the apogee of today’s loop, the furthest point from home, the turnback point where we’ll begin the day’s 20 mile upwind slog back to the apartment.

Probably a more meaningful name for the post would be The Watertower Loop; but more on that later.

We begin the day’s ride by cycling south from Chico along the Gateway on the Chico-Durham bike path, the same way we left town by on last week’s ride to Paradise.  As they were the first time, these are delightful miles with the road lined with pistache and walnut trees, their autumn colors resplendent in the morning sun.  Trees are shedding quickly now, and we bike through a shower of leaves as we glide south.

Along the Chico-Durham Bike Path.
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Along the Chico-Durham Bike Path.
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Along the Chico-Durham Bike Path.
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Along the Chico-Durham Bike Path.
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Nice to see some variety after all the nut groves.
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Self-serve, and unfortunately we didn’t bring along any change or small bills. Otherwise, I’d have popped $4 for one of the big guys.
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Ten miles later we reach Durham and turn west.  Durham is a real place, the only actual community we’ll pass through before returning to Chico.  It has a country market, a dollar store, a school, a few churches.  I should have taken a few photos; but we have our sights on greater sites today, and bike on.

The next miles are the usual: long, quiet lanes lined with nut groves.  Easy, lazy, perhaps by now even uninteresting cycling.  A hundred miles of walnut groves goes a long ways.  Team Anderson is starting to think they’ve had their look at Chico by now - we’ve seen the walnuts and almonds, we’ve seen the waterfowl, we’ve seen the fire devastation, we’ve even seen the wierd steampunk creations - and are mentally looking ahead to our next base.

Westbound on Burdick Road, past the - what - almonds?
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Looking west from the junction of Duncan and Aguas Frias. We enjoyed a bit of separation anxiety here, as Rachael, who had been biking ahead of me, doubled back and missed seeing me because I’d pulled about 20 yards off the road for this photo. A good thing we both had our phones with us!
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On Aguas Frias Road we turn south again, now on the route of Rachael’s solo out and back from a few days ago.  We aren’t tempted today as we ride on by past gravelly, washboard Grainland Road.  We know what that’s like and have no interest in repeating the experience.  Instead we continue south past flooded rice fields, the area that thrilled Rachael by the huge flocks of geese swirling above.

Today though, we don’t see nearly as many birds here - a decently large flock of white fronted geese, and some scattered cranes, swans, and egrets.  Pretty riding though.

Here comes Rocky! Team Anderson is whole again.
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Looking west across flooded rice fields from Aguas Frias Road.
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And looking east, we see a decent raft of geese, plus a few swans for accent.
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Let’s bike a few yards out this muddy lane for a better look. Oops, too close.
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We reach Wilson Road and turn left for Dodgeland.  Surprise!  Wilson Road is paved for nearly its whole length, save for just these last few miles from this intersection to Dodgeland.  We’ve just traded one three mile stretch of gravel for another.  Ha, ha.  This one though is at least in a bit better shape, without the wash boarding.

Ha, ha. Pretty funny, Rocky! Right?
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Passing through notown Dodgeland, we turn north on 7 Mile Road and straight into a fairly brutal headwind.  Four wearying miles later we pull in at Llano Seco again, and find a reasonably sheltered bench to break for lunch.  There aren’t nearly the number of waterfowl here today, but it’s enough to set the atmosphere.  It is most pleasurable sitting on a bench facing the sun, listening to the soft sound of pintails gently murmuring beneath the trees close beside us.

A few well spaced swans, 7 Mile Road.
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And then, back against the wind.  It’s worst heading straight north or northwest, but when we finally reach Chico River Road and turn east it’s much more manageable for the final eight miles back to town.  First though, we have a date, a stop I’ve been eagerly looking forward to all day.  We’re going to see that amazing five story water tower at the end of the long, palm-lined driveway into M&T Ranch: 

The entryway to the M&T ranch that we biked past last week. It pained me to bike past without being able to get a closer look at that white structure in the distance.
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Two days ago, I called up the ranch and after a brief interrogation (how large is your group, where are you from, how old are you, when will you arrive?) I was granted permission to bike down that driveway for a few photos of the water tower.  so here we are, within 10 minutes of the time we predicted we’d arrive.

It’s an experience just biking down that driveway.  It’s 0.4 miles long, lined with palm trees on both sides the entire way.  Les, the man I spoke with, says that the smaller ones are all fairly recent plantings replacing old black walnuts that had to be ripped out, and are all volunteer starts from the taller palm trees.  It’s very scenic, both looking down that long empty road and with Rocky riding up it.  She should have taken a video of this ride, but didn’t for some reason.  At least we have the stills though.

Les doesn’t greet me at first when I approach the watertower; his ten year old arthritic brown lab does though, barking and running toward me.  Les isn’t far behind though, and by the time we leave his dog is licking my bitten right leg.  I passed a test thankfully, both with the dog and his owner.

Les views the world quite differently than me, as of course you’d expect.  One of his first questions is to ask where in Oregon we’re from; and when I say Portland, he offers his sympathies and talks about our crazy mayor and governor.  The longer we talk though, the more natural our interaction becomes.  He tells me about the history of the water tower (built in the 1860’s, by manual labor; the timbers inside are enormous, from old growth oak presumably) and of the ranch, which originally was a large cattle ranch with a large resident workforce.  We tell him what we’re doing with our lives, and he wants to know how we find the roads and drivers here.  He even bikes some himself, and occasionally bikes from the ranch into Chico and through Bidwell Park.  When we depart he gives us his thoughts on the best route to our next base, and wishes us well.

It’s the kind of experience that I really value in cycle touring - a chance to have an honest encounter with someone with a much different background and life experience than mine.  It leaves me feeling hopeful that some day we’ll be able to relate to each other as fellow countrymen again rather than as soldiers in opposing armies.

And the water tower?  Magnificent.  It’s been well cared for over the last 160 years, has been recently painted, and exhibits fine craftsmanship: bands of shingles in different patterns, fine carving beneath the eaves of the widow’s walk.  Les points out a huge raven’s nest beneath the eaves, 100 feet off the ground.  I’m really looking forward to unloading the photos this evening, and then selecting the ones I want to include in the post.

For dinner, we celebrate with a pre-Thanksgiving feast.  We go back down to the Sicilian Cafe for a fine meal in their heated outdoor seating area.  A complementary appetizer plate of cheese, salami, carrots and peppers; a walnut & bleu cheese salad; salmon for Rachael, veal parmigiana for myself; plus a suitable beverage.  Rachael also orders a cannoli dessert to take out as a Turkey Day treat for herself tomorrow.

After this feast we call for the bill, and I’m distressed to see that all my credit cards and ID are missing.  They must have slipped out while stowed in the underbag, something that happened once before.  We’re wondering if I’ll have to leave Rachael here as collateral while I drive back to the apartment, but then I get by with my parlor stunt: I know all the details of our card: number, expiration date, CVV code. It’s sufficient - she writes them down, goes back to her desk to validate my work, and I pass.

And then, catastrophe.  Well, not a real catastrophe of course, especially not in context of this awful year.  Still, deeply disappointing; and I feel terrible about it.  Something goes amiss unloading photos from the camera to the iPad, and I don’t realize until after deleting them from the camera that none of the photographs from lunch on imported successfully.  So, no photos of that magnificent water tower to share with you or to remind ourselves in years to come.  We’ll just have to remember.  Sorry.

Ride stats today: 45 miles, 600’; for the tour: 234 miles, 4,300’

Today's ride: 45 miles (72 km)
Total: 276 miles (444 km)

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Bill StoneScott, you asked me previously about recommendations for California venues for pedaling. I gave some suggestions for locales farther south. If you plan to be based in the Chico area for awhile, here are some possibilities, but keep in mind various fires have impacted some of these trails so I can't guarantee all the infrastructure is intact. Look before you leap!

Redding/Sacramento River Trail
http://bicyclelife.topicwise.com/doc/redding2017

Susanville/Bizz Johnson Trail
http://bicyclelife.topicwise.com/doc/susanville2017

Great Shasta Rail Trail
http://bike365.org/bike/20181026/

Sacramento/American River Trail
http://bike365.org/bike/20180616/
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1 month ago
Jacquie GaudetSo sad to hear your photos are lost! I live in fear of that and save mine to 2 cards (my good camera has 2 slots) and don't reformat the cards until after I'm home and have them on my laptop and backed up too.
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Bill StoneThanks for the suggestions, Bill. The Redding/Sacramento River Trail looks especially nice, just our kind of ride. Unfortunately it’s back up north a ways, and we’re heading south tomorrow. I’ll take note though - I’m confident we’ll make it down this way again.
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Jacquie GaudetIt’s sad alright. I’ve let myself get sloppy on this, so it’s a reminder. I’ve got to experiment a bit to see what happened, but I think it’s the result of the latest OS upgrade on the iPad that just went in last week and changed behaviors and look of the user interfaces. A retraining issue.
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1 month ago
Bruce LellmanYou could call up Les and tell him what has happened and that you need to come by again. Just say to him, "What do you expect, Les? Remember, I'm from Portland."
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Bruce LellmanHe’d understand. All those drugs. Antifa destroyed my brain.
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1 month ago
Jen GrumbyDid you find your credit cards & ID?

Do you have your credit card number memorized or stored in a secret place?

Either way, that was quite the Parlour Stunt!
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Jen GrumbyYes, they were right where I expected to find them, in the underbag. I need to remember to position my wallet with the slots forward so that the cards don’t gradually ease their way out; or put it in a ziplock bag first.

Memorized. Oddly enough, I find this easy to do even though my memory is so terrible in other more useful ways. Birthdays, for example. People would be more impressed if I could remember their birthday once in a while than that I know my CC#.
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1 month ago
Jen GrumbyToo bad you can't design your own credit card number, made up of key people's birth dates!

When I was in college I worked in the mail room and by the time I graduated had memorized several zip codes. Now *that* is useless information. Along with all the matress store jingles that never seem to get purged from the archives.

At least your credit card number memorization has served you well in at least one situation.

Speaking of birthdays .. I think someone has one coming up in a few days?
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Jen GrumbyOh! Thanks for the reminder!
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1 month ago