Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Knights Ferry: To and Fro

Summer break is coming to an end and for this little lady it means my husband will be going back to work as a P.E. teacher. With the school year lurking around the corner, Danny and I try to do a few end of the summer activities together. Once school starts, quality time consists of me going to a wrestling match to cheer on the coach and his team. This past Saturday we took a drive up to the beautiful Knights Ferry.

Knights Ferry is about a 30-45 minute drive from the lovely town of Ripon and a 10-15 minute drive past the cowboy town of Oakdale. I always enjoy the country drive to Knights Ferry, as it reminds me to going to various fishing lakes and on camping adventures as a child.

Somewhere between Oakdale and Knights Ferry, on the left side of Highway 108, there is a small memorial for a horse named Cricket along a barbed wire fence. I remember when Cricket was alive prior to 1993 and as certain as the rising sun; he would stand there hanging his head over the fence watching the cars go by. He was a roadside friend for many.

Just past the Cricket memorial, is Lovers Leap. Lovers Leap is a 200 ish feet peak off of 108. The edge of Lovers Leap hangs over the Stanislaus River. Legend has it that long ago two Native American tribes were at war in the area. One of the chief's sons and the other chief's daughter fell in love. In a Romeo and Juliet fashion, the two lovers jumped off the cliff to their death because they were forbidden to be together. Lovers Leap is now marked with an American flag and surrounded with barbed wire...very romantic.

Knights Ferry was once the site of a ferry crossing during the gold rush days. It has the longest covered bridge this side of the Mississippi. There are plenty of old mill and jail ruins to play in. Picnic tables, BBQs, and different beach access areas line both sides of the river.  Also, Knights Ferry is now the begining of a river rafting adventure tour.

My mom used to take my brother and I, along with a friend or two, to Knights Ferry during the summer. One of my favorite things to do was to climb rocks. I felt so adventuresome. Years later I forced Danny to go rock climbing with me so I could relive my childhood experiences.

My mom was quite the adventuresome lady and would come to Knights Ferry before it was a popular recreation area. She would swim in the snow melt river and climb the rocks. She likes to tell a story about how it was at Knights Ferry that she first knew my dad was in love with her. Apparently at the time they had been hanging out a lot. My mom took my dad to her special Knights Ferry. My mom dove into the snow melt water and  swam across the rapid river. My dad was quite impressed and quite frankly, didn’t want to get in the ice cold water, but he crossed the river anyway to meet my mom on the other side. My mom says she thought to herself, “Wow, he must really love me.” My dad tells us now he just didn’t want to seem like a wimp compared to my mom. Either way, I’m sure it was love.

Danny and I started our Knights Ferry adventure with a picnic consisting of his homemade ceviche. It was cool, light, and delicious. For dessert we had CSA strawberries, which were seriously the best strawberries I have ever had.

After our light lunch, we found a private beach area surrounded by wild blackberries. I wanted to try one, but Danny kept saying I would die or at least have food posioning. He may be a manly man about some things, but at times he is the biggest sissy I have ever met. We took off our shoes and stepped into the ice cold water. We then found multiple flat rocks and skipped them. My best skip was a three skipper. Danny got a 5 skipper. Danny then decided to wade further in the water while I read my book I am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced. As I was reading about this sad little girl’s life, I couldn’t help but be thankful for my own.

Danny soon was waist deep in the water, when I decided it would be funny for him to go in all the way. At first I attempted reverse psychology techniques, but telling your husband, “I bet you can’t handle the cold,” isn't as effective as saying it to, say for example, a 3 year old.

We then saw a Styrofoam lid to an ice chest slowly floating down the river. Now was my chance. Danny simply had to save the beloved environment from the well known horrors of Styrofoam! And he did! He braved the ice cold waters just like my dad did for my mom 30 some odd years ago.

On our way back to Ripon, we decided to splurge and get dinner at the House of Beef. The meat was good, the salad/soup bar was lacking, but my Diet Pepsi glass was never empty and for that, I was a happy girl. The steaks may be good at House of Beef, but if you like finer dining and don’t particularly care for the d├ęcor of butcher knives and NASCAR memorabilia, I would suggest skipping it. The House of Beef has expanded its empire into the daycare center arena.  The building next door is called the House of Tykes. I’m just glad we didn’t confuse which one served dinner.

While driving our meat filled selves back on River Road, we noticed a self serve fruit stand. The fruit stand owner was also selling fresh eggs so we picked up a dozen for 3 dollars (a good deal for cage free, organic fed goodness) and sampled the dried nectarines. There are plenty of other fruit stands along the way, that are sure to have some fresh eats.

It was a wonderful, relaxing, end of the summer day. Next time you are bored, broke, or want to fall in love go to Knights Ferry. There is plenty to do, or not do, and exciting things along the way and back.

1 comment:

  1. I loved seeing Cricket on the side of the road! I love that you remembered him too... My family always made a point of looking for him on our way to the mountains.
    -Ashley (Lee) Cox