When Pardee Dam was completed in 1929, it was the highest in the world. Three hundred forty-five feet tall, it stretches across the Mokelumne River in the Sierra Nevada foothills, creating a reservoir that supplies water to the East Bay.
Desperately optimistic that some elevation would soothe our watery eyes and itchy noses, we drove there a couple Saturdays ago.
We didn't escape our allergies. But the drive was really pretty.
I love when the Valley gives way to the foothills, and the landscape starts to roll a little, and Alice, from the backseat, starts pointing at cows and horses.
From Stockton to Valley Springs took 35 minutes or so, and from there, it wasn't much further to the reservoir.
You can't swim at Pardee. You can fish and you can boat, you can camp and you can picnic.
We took a quiet walk along the shoreline.
It was soggy in places, but mostly flat and easy - completely manageable for a 2-year-old. (She wanted to be carried after about a half-mile or so of walking, but still. I think that's sort of impressive. Her legs are very short.)
The reservoir is popular among birders, and every January, the East Bay Municipal Utility District, which manages the dam, provides bald eagle tours.
We saw mostly geese. Sweet little families of them, which was perfect for us.
If you go, come back home on Highway 88. Make a stop at Clements Ridge for some veggies and - this is important - pie.