Archive for July, 2017

A Brief Sonoma Vacation

July 4, 2017

Saturday, 1 July 2017, Sonoma and Santa Rosa

We haven’t been anywhere for a while, so the long weekend seemed like a good opportunity for a brief getaway. We have been through Santa Rosa, hiked Annadel state park some years ago, but thought it could be a base of operations for a few days.

These pictures from the view area at the north end of the Golden Gate bridge. Millions of people have taken these same pictures, but the views are still pretty classy, and we haven’t even been here for quite a while.

Nice.

Rather than going directly to Santa Rosa, we spent much of the day in and around Sonoma. Definitely a tourist town, but pretty nice for all that.

Sonoma city hall, embedded in a large shady park on the edge of which we were able to park for a few hours. They were enforcing 3-hour parking restrictions today, so we moved the car later on.

A pretty town. We’re not much interested in the wine tasting routine, not least because the right amount of alcohol when we’re driving is zero. But the historical district is right here in the middle of town, easy for walking.

The mission, which is said to have been intended to be temporary. Once the natives’ souls had been saved, it was to become a parish church. Lt Vallejo was responsible for the secularization, a name we will see again, though later prefaced with the title General.

These wide overhangs are always cool and pleasant, ideal architecture for California summers.

The roof beams and stick lattice are both held in place with leather thongs. Drainpipe tiles above, and as long as it stays dry, it should last pretty much forever.

Inside the mission church. Glad we’re not religious. Imagine spending any noticeable amount of time here?

There was quite a little community here. This building was the servants’ quarters. Six of the servants were employed just making tortillas.

We decided to walk out to General Vallejo’s house, accessible to pedestrians via a rec trail, and quite pleasant.

Although this was also a private single-family dwelling, it was also a mini-community of its own. Not stupid, these people: the cookhouse was a separate building, so that the family would not be inconvenienced by the heat and smoke of food preparation.

A volunteer sold us tickets here, good for several other state park venues today as well.

The Vallejo house itself.

Even today, one could imagine living pretty comfortably here.

Well, the absence of indoor plumbing would detract from the amenities.

Not far from the main house, a guest cottage. Up the hill was another building, very small, where Napoleon Vallejo, the general’s oldest son, lived according to his preferences for isolation.

The pond between the upper and lower houses was chock full of turtles. All we had to do was stand at the edge and several would come swimming up to us, hoping to be fed. But when they got nothing, they wasted no time on us.

And then we went for a short hike in the hills. Hot and dry, but nice to get a little exercise. We came down into the local cemetery, thence back into Sonoma and the car.

Drove to Santa Rosa, where we’re staying at an airBnB. Quick and easy to get checked in, and the room is fine. We wandered out, thought we might stop at the Russian River Brewing Co. But it had a line down the block, not at all our kind of thing. We ended up at Wilibees, a liquor store with a bar. Over our brews, we talked with several very nice people there, then adjourned to El Coqui for a good Puerto Rican dinner.

Spoiled again.

Sunday, 2 July, Sonoma redwoods and coast

Up early enough to walk down and help Adel’s open up at 6. Then we drove to Guerneville and north to Armstrong Redwoods, where we’ve never been. Very nice, and because we were early, not too crowded.

We took what was essentially a flat course to the picnic area, decided to return to the car via the Pool Ridge trail, which started off as a seriously steep climb.

As we grunted up the hill, we met a millipede coming down.

I think this is the largest millipede I’ve ever seen.

With that as a trophy, we returned to Guerneville, where we wandered around for a while, had a look at the Russian River, chock ablock with swimmers and kayakers. We felt as if we weren’t getting enough fruit, so we found a grocery store and bought a bag of cherries. Great!

Then out to the coast, where we turned south on highway 1 and stopped at Shell beach. Our hiking book recommends two hikes here, one of them inland up the hills. So that’s where we started. Cool and breezy, very nice day. Fog intermittent over the ocean, sometimes completely gone, sometimes completely opaque.

We reached a local maximum, decided to call it enough and turned back. Open, dry grass, not a whole lot to see.

Back at the shore, however, there’s the other hike, the Kortum trail toward Goat rock.

It wasn’t immediately clear whether these people were daredevil rock climbers, but when I blow up the photo on the big screen, it’s clear that it wouldn’t be all that much of a challenge to get up there.

Jacky says one of the rocks here is called the Sphinx. My guess is that it would be this one.

But it might also have been this one. Jacky thinks this looks like Queen Elizabeth I, and I agree.

We drove around through Bodega Bay and Bodega town without stopping, but we did stop in Sebastopol for a quick wander about. There was a historical museum, open, and free of charge (our important criteria), so we stopped in. Turns out this area was home to a couple of the summer-of-love hippie communes. I had no idea! Cool!

As best we could tell, no one was being held here involuntarily, and no third parties were being damaged or injured. But the Powers that Be, of course, invoked building codes and bulldozers, and that was the end of that. Too bad people can never just let other people alone.

Back in Santa Rosa, we walked north this time, to Steele and Hops brewpub, where we sat outdoors and enjoyed the late afternoon.

Monday, 3 July, Annadel and Luther Burbank gardens

We had a recommendation for the Omelette Express, which opened only at 6:30. So we drove there and headed out for the day’s adventures after a big breakfast.

Today’s adventures started with Annadel state park. We parked at the foot of Cobblestone trail and hiked up the hill to Ilsanjo lake, some 700 feet of gain. The paper map doesn’t align all that well with the trails on the ground; we agreed that should be described as “based on a true story.” Glad we had GPS as a cross-check.

Cool day to start, but hot enough by the time we got there.

We hiked most of the way around the lake.

Stopped in a shady spot on the dam for munchies.

And a shot of a little bird that would have been happy to get fed (sorry, little guy!).

Down Spring Creek trail, a quite pleasant route mostly through forest, until we got into the county park at the bottom, where there was a busy swimming hole, a lake with boats, canoes, kayaks, and people, people everywhere.

Much of the rock along the trails here is clearly volcanic, but there are patches at the bottom that are bare of soil and vegetation, and unmistakably volcanic.

Back to the BnB, where we left off the car and went out again.

We take various different streets through the neighborhood, looking for interesting things. Interesting things, such as, for example, a cow?

Our primary objective was the Luther Burbank gardens. Very nice, an impressive achievement.

I recall artichokes being only waist high, or thereabouts, the these are taller than we are.

Water spilling from a fountain; what attracted me is the chaotic dynamism of the flow. Pretty impressive.

Among Burbank’s achievements: white blackberries (above) and thornless blackberries (below).

The home is often open, but not today (Montag Ruhetag).

I was delighted with the camouflage of this little fly.

I wonder whether the lotus sundial has always been in the shade, or whether the trees grew up after it was installed.

Diagonally opposite the Luther Burbank garden is a little stream, complete with a river walk rec trail.

Along the water, a black crested night heron.

At the same location, a sprayground. I unloaded all my electronics, everything that might object to getting wet, including my glasses, and challenged the spray. We see here a pretty bedraggled Dave.

Then we adjourned to the Third Street Aleworks where we sat outside in the shade and enjoyed a couple of oatmeal stouts at a very reasonable price. Finally, a visit to Paradise Sushi, where Jacky had tempura and I failed to bankrupt them with the all-you-can-eat option.

Tuesday, 4 July, Napa

We walked to Adel’s for breakfast again, left early before our hostess was up and about. Drove over the hills to Calistoga, and down highway 29, hoping to visit the Bale grist mill. But it was too early in the day, and possibly not going to be open at all today, so we went on.

We had not explicitly planned to see a 4th of July parade, but the street was closed for staging as we came into town. We left the car and wandered the town. Another pleasant tourist trap venue. Plenty of time to stroll before the parade started.

Lots of candy was being given away in one way or another.

Before the parade started, I had suggested that people should climb to the upper levels of the parking structure for better views. I guess a thousand of my best friends heard me!

I first noticed this little girl when her basket was empty. She had such a forlorn expression on her face, but quickly ran up to the car that was her support vehicle for a refill, then got back down to business.

This little guy was out collecting candy and (below) a balloon, with a little help from Dad.

By the time the horses came along, we were about ready to call it good. A seriously long parade; there was quite a bit more to come.

The most important guy in the parade! following along behind the horses.

Then a straight shot down the east shore and home. Good to be gone for a few days, very good to be home again.

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