The Earth. This place. A mixture of gold and green reclaimed by winter rains. The sky. Heavy. A contrast of gray and white. Sentinel oaks stand watch. And the wind. The wind. Feel it. Taste it. I stand at the top of the world. Thankful.
Barbara L. Steinberg Oakwilde Ranch & Sculpture November 29, 2014
Along Stockton Boulevard, a mile-long complex of medical facilities, support systems and education and research centers put this district on the world map! Teams of professionals and volunteers provide compassionate care to patients and families and the community.
The Boulevard’s “medical mile” history dates back to 1871 with the relocation of the Sacramento County Hospital (aka Sacramento Medical Center). With time and many changes, the Medical Center officially became the UC Davis Medical Center (2315 Stockton Boulevard) on July 1, 1978. Spread out over more than 142 acres, the campus is a nationally recognized academic medical center offering primary care for all ages, specialty care in 150 fields, and the latest treatment options and expertise for the most complex health conditions.
On April 14, 1997, Shriners Hospitals for Children – Northern California (2425 Stockton Boulevard) opened and accepted its first patient for care. A new era in treatment for children, the community welcomed Shriners with open arms. More than 70,000 children have been accepted for care since it opened. The hospital has become the busiest pediatric burn center in Northern California and ranks with UC Davis Children's Hospital as one of the "Best Children's Hospitals" for pediatric orthopedics. Northern California Shriners Hospital treats children who have orthopedic conditions, burns, spinal cord injuries, cleft lip, need for specialized plastic surgery and other complex surgical needs.
The Firefighters Burn Institute (3101 Stockton Boulevard) is small but mighty. Built in 1933, the beautifully restored fire station was once home to Engine Company 9. Following the tragic 1972 Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlour plane crash, it became agonizingly clear that Sacramento lacked sufficient burn-treatment facilities to deal with such a catastrophe. Soon after, Sacramento Fire Department Captain Cliff Haskell and Firefighters Local 522 went on a fund-raising mission. The Firefighters Burn Institute was dedicated on Dec. 21, 1973. A charitable foundation, the Institute works closely with Shriners Hospitals for Children – Northern California and UC Davis Medical Center. They fund continuing education and medical research for the staffs of both hospitals.
“In the beginning, the mission was to establish burn care, but then the aftercare became part of the mission,” said Mike Daw, executive director of the institute. “You go through your healing process. There’s not just surviving but there’s thriving, too. So we established other programs for burn survivors (including firefighters) so they can thrive to best of their abilities. We have camps for burn-survivor children, and a support group and retreat for adult burn survivors as well as additional programs.”
These three shining stars have helped Stockton Boulevard thrive!
Even during these trying Covid times, for most travelers, Labor Day signaled the unofficial end of summer. Vacations are over. Kids are back in school. It's the last bona fide summer holiday weekend and, from this point forward it's a slow, steady slide into the New Year.
Fall Equinox occurs around September 23rd each year. The sun crosses the celestial equator, from north to south, heralding the end of summer marking the official start of autumn. Days are getting shorter; shadows are longer; nights are cooler, and you can feel the change in the air. It's inspirational! It's also one of the best and most inspired times of year to visit Yosemite National Park!
When it comes to visiting Yosemite, fewer travelers visit in this off-season. Annually, millions of people throng to see the splendor of the granite cliffs, cascading falls, giant sequoias, and the grandeur made famous by the likes of John Muir and Ansel Adams. During late spring and throughout the summer months, Yosemite is teeming with guests from around the world. There's more traffic and making lodging reservations, especially within the park, can be a challenge. Post-summer, the visitor tide ebbs, and the park begins an unhurried progression into a seasonal hibernation. Fewer cars on the roads in, out, and around the park, are definitely a big plus. The availability of lodging – at all levels – is much more attainable.
Autumn weather remains comfy with daytime temps warm enough for shorts and river sandals; nights can be chilly but cozy – even more so as the fall season evolves. Changes in temperatures and weather should be considered when packing. Better to err on the conservative side – the layered approach is usually best – and remember, rain and early snows are always a possibility; come prepared.
Yosemite Valley is famous for its colorful dogwoods – shades of pink and red; and California live oaks turn a golden amber color mid-October to November. Throughout the season aspens adorn themselves with seasonal hues. The onset of autumn colors can't be timed. Lengthening nights and colder temperatures signal the change. So in other words, later in the season is better but is no guarantee. In the solitude and calm of the autumn season, you can be assured that Yosemite will not disappoint even the most ardent leaf peeper. Look for the landmark blazing red sugar maple near Yosemite Chapel. Take Tioga Road along the Merced River for some of the best fall foliage photo-ops.
Visitors should keep an eye out for mule deer and coyotes, which are now seen frequently as they move from the higher elevations of the Sierra Nevada down into Yosemite Valley. Bears should always be a concern – though not as frequently sighted. Do not leave any food or sunscreen, toothpaste, shampoo, lotion, gum, candy, and any other items that have a scent in your car. If camping, be certain to take precautions and use food storage lockers.
From Sacramento and foothill locations, you have easy access to one of California's most scenic byways, Hwy. 49. There's no better way to begin this fall foliage sojourn. As fall flourishes, sightings of color along Hwy. 49 are clearly an added attraction to this multi-hued escape. Also known as the Golden Chain Heritage Corridor, Hwy. 49 passes through charming and historic towns. Allow time to enjoy the sights and an occasional stop at towns along the way. Amador City, Sutter Creek, Angels Camp, Sonora, and others offer outstanding opportunities for shopping, sightseeing, and maybe a fresh-baked loaf of bread or a glass of wine. California's past lives on in these Gold Rush-era gems. If you choose to bypass downtown Sonora's two-lane traffic, a detour on Rawhide Road saves about 15-20 minutes of driving time. It's always best to travel with a detailed map as cell service can still be spotty.
Hwy. 49 has more than its share of twists and turns and slow-moving vehicles. Relax and enjoy the ride. Remember, getting there is half the fun. If you've never driven to Yosemite via Hwy. 120 you may want to avoid Old Priest Grade. This incredibly steep, two-mile stretch of road is not for the weak-of-heart. We love it and wouldn't think of going any other way, but never with a trailer or motor home! Think about staying on Hwy. 120 on the west side of the canyon. This will meet Old Priest Grade at the top. About a six-mile trek, the New Priest Grade bypass is longer and somewhat winding, but the stress-free ascent can easily accommodate trailers and motor homes as it's the preferred route for tour buses.
If heading down the "vertical” Old Priest Grade, make sure your brakes are in good working order.
Hwy. 120 passes through the Gold Rush-era town of Groveland, an excellent pit-stop or place to stay outside the park if that's your choice. The 3-diamond Groveland Hotel has been greeting guests since 1849. All the rooms have been completely updated and are twenty-first century fresh. The new Groveland Provisions Taproom & Bourbon Bar provides small bites and libations. The Iron Door Saloon claims to be the longest continuously operated drinking establishment in California. About 23 miles away is the Big Oak Flat entrance to the Yosemite National Park and you'll be required to purchase a $35 vehicle pass, valid for seven days.
Tip! Be sure to gas up before heading into Yosemite Valley. The last chances are in Big Oak Flat, Groveland, and Yosemite Lakes Road (Hardin Flat). There is another chance for fuel at Crane Flat inside the park. Yosemite Valley Shuttles are not running in 2021. Check schedules for YARTS (Yosemite Area Regional Transportation System.