Monday, May 19, 2008

County has plenty of places to go at affordable prices

County has plenty of places to go at affordable prices
By Barry Eberling | DAILY REPUBLIC | May 16, 2008

FAIRFIELD - Solano County offers some close-to-home destinations for an era when the $3-per-gallon gas prices of early 2007 look like the good old days.

Granted, there's nothing as spectacular as Yosemite Valley. But the county has its own treasures that can be reached using only a gallon or two of fuel.

Here are some of the places where residents can get away from it all without going too far:

Mare Island

Welcome to one big, informal, outdoor history museum.

The island in Vallejo served as a naval base from 1854 to 1996. David Farragut, who uttered the memorable phrase 'Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!' during the Civil War battle for Mobile Bay, Ala., served as the base's first commander.

Today, Vallejo is trying to redevelop the island with new homes and businesses. But people can still see such sights as the late-1800s dry docks, a 1918 brick power plant, vast metal-and-glass industrial buildings from World War II and the century-old Colonial Revival homes of Officers Row.

There are few interpretive signs, so the sightseer is basically on his or her own. Those wanting a more structured approach to touring Mare Island -- and a look inside the famous St. Peter's chapel, with its Tiffany-made stained glass windows -- can contact the Mare Island Historic Park Foundation. For more information, call 557-1538 or go to

Suisun Marsh

With 115,000 acre of tules, sloughs, upland hills and wetlands. The largest contiguous estuarine marsh on the West Coast offers opportunities for fishing, hiking, hunting and bird watching.

Rush Ranch is a 2,070-acre Suisun Marsh preserve owned by the Solano Land Trust. It has hiking trails into the hills and along waterways. It is located on Grizzly Island Road about 2 miles south of Suisun City and Highway 12.

For more information, call 432-0150 or go to

The state Department of Fish and Game owns the 8,600-acre Grizzly Island preserve on Grizzly Island Road about 10 miles south of Suisun City. Among the sights are tule elk and more than 200 species of birds.

For more information, call 425-3838 or go to

Boaters can use the Beldon's Landing boat launch on Montezuma Slough at Grizzly Island Road.

Cold Canyon and Lake Berryessa

Cold Canyon is a University of California preserve that includes 576 acres in the Blue Ridge hills near Lake Berryessa. Hikers can enjoy great views and see various types of plants, birds, reptiles and mammals.

For more information, go to

The preserve is located close to 300-foot-high Monticello Dam along Highway 128, about 10 miles west of Winters. Although Lake Berryessa behind the dam is officially in Napa County, it is a boating and swimming destination worth visiting.

For more information, go to

See the complete story at the Daily Republic Online.

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