Road Journals Blog—When you live in the immediate Bay Area, as I do, you can easily develop a severe case "backyard vision"—being so into things to do nearby that you forget the great stuff that lies just beyond. Like in and around Sacramento.
A group of us from Oakland and San Francisco recently decided to visit Sacramento's Crocker Art Museum to see an exhibit of ceramics made by a top American potter, who happens to be a friend of a friend. Only, we didn't want to speed there on Interstate 80, see the show, and then speed back. We wanted a little road adventure.
We started out on Sunday, around 9 a.m., but the fun really began when we veered off I-80 and onto Interstate 505. I love this highway, which runs along farmland stretching west to the mountains forming one side of the Capay Valley. And only one hour from my front door.
Hopping off I-505 at the exit for Winters, whose historic core has the look and feel of a classic American small town, we made a quick stop to buy corn and peaches in an old barn (just to the right as you exit) before heading to one of my favorite breakfast spots in Northern California, the Putah Creek Cafe . After plates of fluffy biscuits, eggs, spicy house-made sausage, and gravy, washed down with multiple cups of strong coffee, we were fortified.
Using country roads, we cut east across Davis, passing many farm stands—including Impossible Acres —hooked up again with I-80, and in 15 minutes were at the Crocker. The ceramics were terrific, as was the museum's new, light-filled wing that we happily wandered for an hour.
Before leaving, I splurged on a $5 work of art from an old cigarette vending machine—a Barcode Ozzy Osbourne flip book,  made by artist Scott Blake entirely of barcodes from the heavy metal performer's CDs. Great souvenir of our Sacto road trip. And, I have to say, I've never seen a machine like that in San Francisco.
What are your favorite back-road routes?
This blog post was first published in July 2012. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.