Yup, my husband and I are finally married!
Lessee, to catch you up…
After some kerfuffle at the rental car we got our shiny almost new Ford Escape and headed up from San Jose to San Francisco. We stayed on US-101, then cut across to CA-1 north, which becomes 19th Street and leads to the Golden Gate Bridge. Across the bridge there’s a ‘vista point’ where we stopped for a good long while being flabberghasted at the beautiful bridge, the Marin headlands, and the bay, with SF’s skyscrapers off in the distance. Then we went across the top of the delta on very boring CA-37, where I sort of got a sinus headache.
We stopped in a Lane’s Drugs in Vallejo, and it was like stepping back into another, long gone by world. The store was lined along the top of all four walls with mirrors, and the flourescent lights and signs and big “Rx” sign looked as it it had come straight from the 70’s. Got some night-time and day-time cold medicine, and continued on to Sacramento. We were going to go out to dinner in Sacramento, but wound up falling asleep on the bed, fully clothed. Around 10 pm we got up long enough to change into PJs and back to sleep.
We found the County Recorders office in rather beautiful downtown Sacramento just a few blocks away from the hotel. Everyone was so nice on the street; coming from the east coast it’s odd to have complete strangers wish you a good morning – I kept wondering “what do you want?” But I am getting used to it!
Our ceremony was the most moving thing I’ve ever done. Even though it was done by a commissioner and witnessed by a random employee it meant the world to tell the world that I love my husband and will always be faithful to him and to our marriage. I was nearly in tears throughout. I could tell that C was affected too but in nervous giggles. We had to kiss three times before the witness could get it on our camera! (“Had to” “got to” it’s all the same.)
Drove across the flat and boring central valley (where I always got a sinus headache) which looks rather like Maryland’s Eastern Shore only with less charm, and arrived at our hotel in Rohnert Park. Along the way we stopped at V. Sattui winery for a tasting (I love sweet wines) and to picnic off panini and olives in the gardens. From there we went to St. Helena, to a little shop called Olivier where we tasted various olive oils and bought a bottle of Manzanilla olive oil. Mmm good. And some tapenade too. From there we walked two doors down to a chocolate shop and got a twelve-piece box to nosh on.
Did you know California has an Old Faithful geyser? I didn’t but we went to Calistoga to see it. The geyser burbled and shot out a bit of water every now and then, but after ten minutes, we were treated to a long and high eruption – the hot water shot thirty feet into the air. It was neat and I got it all on our video camera.
At the hotel we wound up being so tired that we got a take-out dinner in.
Friday we breakfasted at a local Baker’s Square and drove off to Armstrong Woods State Park. The redwoods are amazing. They are ungodly tall. Underneath, in the greenish gloom, it’s like being in a dim cathedral, stately without being somber, and so still and quiet. Because of the lack of sun, there are very few food sources down on the forest floor so there are very few animals there. No birdsong, but every now and then a woodpecker’s tapping; no squirrels, not many insects, just the duff (leaf litter) and the rays of sun filtering down. Even the other tourists couldn’t really shatter the peaceful quiet, although a group from New England sure tried. Not every hooligan is under 20. Some like these were over 50 and loud. (I think some of the women were under 50 but I’m calling them over because they were so appaling and they deserve it.)
From there we continued to the coast down the Russian River. Ohmmmm my God the Sonoma county coast is beautiful. I mean get down on your knees and thank God for his works beautiful. It’s perfect. Every so often from the Russian River south to Bodega Bay there are parking lots on the cliff tops where you can sit and be transfixed by the views. At Bodega Dunes you can actually get to the beach. Boy was it cold. The wind was extreme. I was going to try putting a foot in but it was too bloody freezing. However, we did walk on the beach, until my husband couldn’t stand the frigid blast any longer. We got to Bodega Bay and bought a picnic lunch and drove back up the coast to Duncan’s Landing state beach and then ate it overlooking the cove with the huge rocks off shore, and the waves pounding on them. Continued south past the Russian River’s mouth to Fort Ross.
This stretch of CA-1 is a bit less tame than the southern bit; the road gave C the heebie-jeebies and there are a lot of stretches along sheer drops with no guard rails. But we made it safely to Fort Ross. Fort Ross is the remains of a Russian-American Company trading post that existed during the first half of the 19th century. The exhibit center had a lot of informative materials that helped us appreciate the restored houses of the company officials. I especially liked seeing the samovar and the plate and china in the officer’s quarters.
Back to Guerneville and a cup of coffee. I like Guerneville a lot.
Dinner at a local sushi place. Not my favourite.
Well so far at least. This morning we went to the Charles Schulz museum. It was really interesting to see the cartoonist’s studio and read about some of the deeper themes behind Peanuts. From there to Chateau St. Jean winery. The grounds are gorgeous but the people have a real attitude. ‘Nuff said. From there, after a lunch of fish and chips in Santa Rosa (those who know the area realize we did a bit of backtracking) we went to Sonoma to see the cheese factory. This was a bit of a tourist trap. The cheeses on sale were either endless varieties of jack, or the same as I can get at my local Safeway. And the hordes were clustered around the free samples (free food is such a draw). We got a gelato and ate it, and we did enjoy the incredibly perfect square, looking at the old Spanish Mission, and some of the galleries and shops.
I like this part of California so far. I like the weather, the people are really nice and laid back, and the towns are like the best from days gone by. The countryside looks (in places) like Italy and the towns do, a bit, too. I like it a lot.
I don’t know how people survive though – house prices are…somewhat steep for quite ordinary houses in the wine towns. Santa Rosa, less touristy, is a bit more manageable; closer to DC suburbs-type pricing (only one comma in the price).