I've thought about that.
There's a hotel that's reasonable for California off I-5 near the hills, and we could drive down there late on Friday. That would provide some together time in the car with Christine and a little sense of "get away" along with the driving. The campground i've looked at is about the same for two people: it's a price that only makes sense if one is going to partake of the hot springs.
The author of http://naturalhistorywanderings.com/ has been posting flower observations from the Central valley and desert areas and it seems like the Panoche area might be ready.
I find myself balking, thinking of photos from Thursday on the coast as yet unprocessed, of closer places, of searching locally for the fetid adder's tongue (a lily that seems to be a target of searching by California flower photographers). On the other hand, it's not a particularly documented area online, but fascinating.