Beached

Monday 10th June 2013

Monday morning saw the return of the sun, much to our relief, we did’t come here for cloud we could get that back at home. We had a leisurely morning before having a drink at McNear’s. We decided to return to our room for a picnic of cheese, meat and crackers.  We had been to the local Safeway store enough times that the staff were beginning to remember us. After lunch we decided to drive to the beach that Missy M had taken us to a week earlier.

Driving along with the roof down we once again congratulated ourselves on upgrading to a mustang convertible.  It was mid-afternoon when we parked up, the sun was warm, we were happy. To our dismay we discovered that the tide was in making the beach inaccessible from the road way. I was quite happy taking endless photos and even a video of the water lapping at the rocks.

IMG_0874  IMG_0873

I was watching the water and some surfers over to my right whilst Owl spoke to surfer who had just arrived. He told Owl that we could reach the main beach by going back up the road and through the village and following the road round. I thought this house looked very quaint with its rocking chair on the front porch.IMG_0885 rounding the corner we found the centre of the village. Owl went in search of a restroom while I sat in the community garden waitingIMG_0886 and waiting. IMG_0887 Then I saw Owl walking across the street a little way off so I moved along to wait for him near to the establishment he had entered. IMG_0892 Still I waited, I watched the locals from a distance feeling that it would be best if I didn’t go too near.(Owl later told me that it was not the kind of place women should enter)”You wouldn’t have liked it. It was a real hicksville bar full of men with long beards and brown dungarees cussin” I crossed the street again to the local gallery. These tiles on the doorstep intrigued me. IMG_0890IMG_0889 back across the street so that Owl would see me when he finally emerged I took this view down the street we had yet to investigate.IMG_0893 After what felt like an age Owl emerged and walked across the street to where he had earlier left me. I scuttled back there to grab his arm and lead him back in the direction we were supposed to be going. Rounding the bend we were met with this vista, the entrance to Bolinas Lagoon.IMG_0894 IMG_0895 we both found this house fascinating. I am sure it would make a good setting for one of those find the object games. IMG_0898 Across the street we found this unexpected gem.IMG_0897 I loved this place, what lucky people to live here with views across the lagoon entranceIMG_0899  towards the hills behind Stinson beach. IMG_0900IMG_0901 A moment later we were back at the ocean. You can see quite clearly where the lagoon meets the open sea.IMG_0902 It was lovely to feel the warm sand under my bare feet and the water was very refreshing too.IMG_0615 Missy M had told us that she loves the graffiti that is found at Bolinas Beach and I can see why. Every piece of concrete lining the base of the cliff behind the beach is cover in wonderful and varied colours and intricate designs.IMG_0912  IMG_0913 this was my favouriteIMG_0914 we also saw a couple of signs that we have never seen anywhere before and probably won’t again.IMG_0612 andIMG_0915 By the time we reached the place where we had started the tide had gone out far enough for us to safely reach the slipway without getting wet feet.IMG_0920 We had spent a lovely afternoon in the sun looking out at the pacific ocean from what we had been told was the 2nd best beach in the area. Now it was time to drive back to base and walk over to the diner for our evening meal and the pleasant company of the staff who we were now getting to know quite well.

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Peggy Sue Adventure

 

Sunday 9th June 2013

After our adventures of the previous day we had a pretty quiet Saturday morning. Missy M had called the night before to tell us that the annual art and music festival would be in Novato and we should go. We visited our favourite diner Pepper’s for a late brunch of omelette for me and waffles for Owl.IMG_0757

Wandered back to our room and waited for the call to go and meet Missy M.

By the time we arrived at the festival the temperature was a massive 100 degrees, which is not good for walking about. We were all melting, I am sure we all shrank a few inches during the afternoon. There were lots of interesting stalls to look at. Missy M bought herself a dress and some earrings.  We all found this stand very intriguing.

IMG_0760 my favourites wereIMG_0759 Owl likedIMG_0463and thisIMG_0465

We walked from one end of the street to the other where we left Owl to listen to a live band playing while we went in search of ice cream from Missy M’s favourite ice cream store.  It was a blessed relief going into this air conditioned store full of every kind of sweet you could ever imagine and the sweet scent lingering in the atmosphere was hypnotic.  Missy M chose her tub of two kinds of ice cream and I had two kinds of sorbet which I felt would be more refreshing. Grabbing a bottle of water for Owl we headed back along the hot road to find my husband enjoying the music.

Cold desserts (rapidly melting) in our hands we meandered along back in the direction of the mustang. We had seen everything we could muster up the enthusiasm to see, it was just too hot to do much else. Even just walking at a slow pace felt like wading through treacle.

Once back at the car we decided it was time to collect Mr T which we duly did. I wouldn’t recommend travelling with father and daughter when the daughter knows her way around and the father doesn’t. Giving vague directions and not paying full attention to directions can lead to an interesting situation. With help from Mr T we finally found our way to a part of town we hadn’t seen before and a retail park that included several eateries.  We found ourselves at Pasta Pomoro one of Missy M’s favourites. Both teenagers chose a pasta dish whilst Owl and I both had a soft drink only as we were not hungry. It was nice to sit in partial shade just relaxing and chatting.

We were feeling tired and the teenagers had things to do so once the table had been cleared and left over pasta boxed up to take away we dropped them home and drove back to Petaluma and an early night. We were planning a busy day for Sunday.

Later we received a message that Missy M had left her makeup bag and car key in the mustang. She didn’t need them immediately but could we drop them off in the morning. Which of course we did even though Novato is in the opposite direction to Santa Rosa which was our chosen destination for that day. Whilst at the starlight the other evening we had picked up a free paper. Reading this we had discovered that Peggy Sue’s All American Cruise event was being held from Thursday to Sunday.

This morning the sky was looking a bit glum but we were confident that it would improve. Having completed our mercy mission we turned back north along Route 101 which didn’t actually take very long at all. Soon we were pulling into the designated car park. Already Owl was getting excited just seeing the cars parked around us, before we even got into the show itself.

There were mustangs, challengers, Bel airs, and corvettes every which way you looked. A slow walk through the car park to the field of cars, cars, cars and yet more cars. Owl was in his element. I won’t bore you with all the cars we saw, but here are a few.IMG_0764Since we arrived in California Owl kept talking about cars wearing a bra IMG_0787this was what he meant.IMG_0788IMG_0800bet you haven’t seen many cars that colour.IMG_0797and lastlyIMG_0803The weather never did improve, we were so glad we had our hoodies from the previous weekend. We didn’t see all the cars on display but after a couple of hours we decided that we had seen enough and besides which our feet were aching. Time to go back to Petaluma and call into Peppers for a drink and a slice of home made mandarin cream pie to share mmmmm.

mandarine cream pie

Bowling along in Sonoma

Friday 7th June

After spending the day on Thursday at the new local Outlet stores, where we bought more t-shirts and new Levi  jeans for Owl. We had spent the evening ten pin bowling with Missy M and Mr T.(We played three games which were won in turn by Owl, myself and Missy M) then on to the diner where once again the portions were so huge that Missy M and Mr T took the remains of their meals home with them.

Friday was to be our second attempt to visit the vineyards. Out came the maps again. The plan this time was to drive north along the 101 to Windsor where we turned off west on to a side road. We followed a lane that headed back in a southerly direction before turning west, crossing the river. We were somewhat perplexed as to why a major river in the west of California would have the name ‘Russian River’. We had followed its course on and off during our day in the Redwood Valley.

Anyway once we had crossed the river our route began to take us back in a northerly direction again. With my copy of Wine Road northern Sonoma County map in hand. Each winery is listed along the road. We decided not to just stop at the first winery we came to. We would be selective. Driving along the lane to the left of the river under a canopy of trees with flashes of sun filtering through we were rather astonished to find a Ford Deuce Coupe coming in the opposite direction. No sooner had we commented on it than we saw a rather nice looking Chevrolet Corvette Coupe following in its wake. Soon we passing the first couple of wineries, the sun was high and hot, our stomachs were beginning to feel the effects of not having breakfast (I had had a cereal bar) so we pulled in to Thomas George Estate in the hope that not only would there be wine but also something to eat.

The sign said wine tasting in the tunnels. So we parked up ready to find out what it was all about. Just as we were walking away from the mustang (which we had been travelling in with the roof down (as you do on a hot sunny day in California). The Ford Deuce Coupe that we had passed going in the opposite direction pulled up next to us. IMG_0724 It was in great condition, Owl had a few words with the owners (as he does). The blow me down another car comes into the car park and guess what it was only the Corvette we had also seen earlier. IMG_0726 It seems that the two couples were travelling together.

We wandered inside the open door of the first tunnel, admired all the barrels and bottles. Strolling along one of the tunnels we were joined by one of the staff who talked to us about the estate and the wines they make there. He was a very interesting man to talk to. However now more than a month later I have forgotten most of what he told us. Next we took a stroll around the grounds close to the  main buildings.IMG_0727looking down from the car park.IMG_0729looking up towards a seating area.IMG_0731

Anyone for a game of petanque?IMG_0733

It was getting hotter by the minute almost so we set off in search of lunch. None of the other wineries on our route were showing any sign that there might be any food. I don’t understand why establishments asking you to try their wine, don’t also provide if required any food to soak up the alcohol. (even snacks or bread sticks??). I personally wouldn’t try any of the wine because of this. Even though I wasn’t driving I wouldn’t drink on an empty stomach.

Eventually we found a store and cafe at the entrance to one of the winery estates. It absolutely packed, both inside and out. Owl bought some bottled water and some bread.

Now we thought we would (ok so I thought we would and Owl agreed) drive to lake Sonoma. Only we didn’t realise looking at the map that the road leading to the lake didn’t go downhill as we expected but up. It went up up and still up until eventually we came across a steep turning that immediately ran back down hill. It was a long way down and steep all the way. We had been going down hill quite fast with a 4 x 4 right behind us, when we came across a car park on our left. We continued down a little further (about 100m) where we came to a halt. It was a case of no entry past this point unless you had a permit. We swung around to go back up to the car park.

Here we got out and drank some of our water. It was about 104 degrees by this time. I took a few photos and walked part of the way down but didn’t go down to the water as I knew I would struggle to get back up again especially in this heat.IMG_0744 the water was very blue and looked so invitingIMG_0444Changing maps we decided to stay on the road leading to the lake and drive west towards the coast. From this map it was quite clear that we would be going over the mountains and the road would be as steep and twisting as the road 2 days earlier. But the saving grace this time was that the road was wider and in better condition. Ok so it was wider for a fair few miles. then it gradually got narrower and the edges became broken. I was onto the door handle trying not to look scared. I couldn’t decide if it was best to stay in the middle of te road and risk hitting anything that came around the many sharp bends or stick to the out side of the road and risk slipping off the edge to hurtle down the steep slopes. I kept telling myself  ‘trust him trust him’. That was such a nerve wracking drive I was so relieved when finally we came to the junction with highway 1. Now we were going to follow the coast road down to Bodega Bay before turning inland again.IMG_0448

After the earlier it it was disappointing that when we reached the coast road there was a thick sea mist. The temperature halved. I kept hoping that once we got around the next bend the mist would disappear. We still had the roof down and it was getting mighty cold. There was an odd smell in the air, Owl attributed it to lavender however to me it smelt more like cat pee. We had been driving in and out of this sea mist for miles when we were so cold that we pulled up at the side of the road (even though there were the usual ‘no parking at any time’ signs. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I looked down at the water crashing below whilst I retrieved my hoody from the trunk/boot of the car.IMG_0751miles of wood washed up on to the sand.

We continued our drive south still looking for somewhere to eat lunch. It was getting towards late afternoon by now but we didn’t want to just stop anywhere. We did see a few places where we could have stopped for a meal but these were all lapped by sea mist and we preferred to find somewhere that we could sit out in the sun.

We drove as far as Bodega Bay which Owl was excited about with it being the location for Alfred Hitchcock’s film ‘The Birds’.IMG_0451IMG_0449

Turned around to head towards Santa Rosa. The road here was fairly quiet but most importantly reasonably flat. We passed farmland and small villages until we reached a larger town Sebastopol just west of Santa Rosa. We found a restaurant that looked quite interesting from the outside.IMG_0453

It isn’t often that you see the back end of a train embedded in the wall of a building. Once inside the building we found a whole carriage which had been turned into a restaurant. The Starlight.IMG_0455It was early evening so there were not many other people there. When we had finished our meal we sat outside in the sun for a while, not wanting to get caught up in the evening rush hour traffic.

Amazing, fantastic, wow …..omg

Wednesday 5th June 2013

We had looked at various maps the night before and were certain of what we wanted to achieve. Today we would visit some vine yards  (vin yids) then head on further up to the see the giant redwoods. We were up and out a little earlier today, it was about 10am when we left the hotel , driving north on route 101. Actually why don’t we drive up to the top of the avenue of the giants then visit a winery or two on the way back? Good idea.

Armed with a variety of maps on different scales plus the sat nav we continued along the freeway through Sonoma wine country.  Through Santa Rosa, Windsor, Healdsburg, Geyserville and then Cloverdale, by now we were starting to get hungry as we had missed breakfast. We decided to stop at the next McDonald’s for a late egg mcmuffin. We pulled off the 101 at Ukiah, where we sat outside to eat our cheeseburgers. The temperature had already climbed from 66° up to a very warm 80°.IMG_0412

Across the road from the car park/parking lot, there was a new hotel (it looked like it had only recently been completed) with some interesting wood sculptures .  I was  just preparing to take a photograph from my seat in the car (we had put the roof down now) when a truck pulled up and parked right in my way. But I did manage to take this photo. I set the sat nav for Phillipsville which is near the start of the Avenue of the Giants.

We stopped at a small place called Miranda for lunch which was exquisite. Again we sat out in the sun (we are only in the country for 2 weeks so we are making the most of it while we can). Once again when our food arrived it was far too much for us to eat.

pasta at Miranda

By this time the temperature had soared to 90°. Before we left I grabbed yet another map from the visitors information rack. This one being ‘Color coded self –guided driving tours’ . I worked out that we could follow the road we were on until it rejoined the 101 then make our way to Fortuna before following the blue road west towards the coast. Down to Petrolia then back east towards the 101 and back home again. We were in no hurry so it didn’t matter how late we got back to the hotel.

By the time we reached Red Crest (still on the Avenue of the giants) one of us was desperate for a comfort break. Another photo opportunity beside the immortal tree.  This was also where we did the tourist bit buying postcards, and a few other bits, a t-shirt for Owl and a bag for me (both depicting a shot of the giant redwoods).  As we drove off the heat was still going up, 98° although the shade from the trees made it bearable.

IMG_0426  the immortal treeIMG_0421 IMG_0420

It wasn’t long before we were out of the trees and to our dismay the temperature was going down. By the time we reached the turn off for the road to Fortuna we were so cold we had to stop to put sweaters on.  We were amazed when we reached the town, this was nearer to our image of a typical old American town than anything we had seen yet.

We couldn’t not stop to take a few photos.

IMG_0696IMG_0698IMG_0699 Setting off again we managed to miss the turning and found ourselves going around in a big circle around some farmland. Ending back where we had started. This was when we discovered the turning on to a narrow steep twisting road. Sat Nav proudly announced that we should follow Wild Cat Road for 14 miles. If we had known at that point what lay ahead I doubt we would have even started out. As I said the road was narrow, steep and twisting. We went higher and higher into the low cloud that nestled among the trees on either side of this crumbling track. We had gone about four miles twisting this way and that way getting higher and higher, occasion the road dipped lower but not for long before we came across another vehicle.

We had begun to emerge from the trees by the time we noticed the 4 x 4 catching up with us. There was nowhere for us to go to get out of the way, I wouldn’t let Owl go any faster. As far as I was concerned we were hurtling along far too fast for the road especially as we never knew what was around the next corner. Finally we had left the tight turns and heavily wooded slopes behind, opening up before us  gentler slopes with fields of cattle. Farm buildings huddled together.

IMG_0701 We caught up with a family car that was travelling as cautiously as we would have done had I been driving. Owl was becoming frustrated not being able to pass the family car whilst having the 4 x 4 trying not to become part of our boot/trunk. Luckily the family car was able to pull in beside a farm gate. Once we had passed the family car we were able to progress at a speed more agreeable to Owl until we found somewhere that allowed us to let the 4 x 4 pass us. Gradually we were making our way downwards around sweeping bends. (A relief after so many miles of tight turns and steep slopes).

I started to get excited though when I caught my first glimpse of the sea.IMG_0700I was looking forward to being able to stop, as I am sure Owl was after his tiring time behind the wheel. Still we continued to drive but now we had the Pacific ocean on our right.IMG_0703 I find it odd that nowhere along our tortuous route were there any view points. Nowhere to stop and admire the view.  Now that we were on the flat there were pull out places, each with prominent signs stating ‘No parking at any time’.IMG_0709A few miles later and we were back on the ever steeper slopes the trees becoming thicker again. I still can’t believe that we saw such stunning views and yet there was no place to stop and admire. Any photos I wanted to take were taken on the move. It took us an age to make it all the way back to route 101. When we did there was still 4 hours of driving to get back to our hotel.

Those mountain roads were very scary in places but we are so glad we did it. The views we saw were so special we wouldn’t have missed it for anything. If we had know before we set out what we were putting ourselves through we wouldn’t have done it.

It is a good thing that we didn’t know.

Meeting Texas

Tuesday 4th June 2013

After a good night’s sleep we lazed in bed watching tv, before wandering off to find the local shops. It was time to begin a bit of retail therapy. First stop was Payless shoe store, I needed new sandals and some flat shoes for anytime we might go walking. Owl needed some lighter shoes than the boots he had brought with him. He loves his Caterpillar Boots but it was just too hot to wear them all the time. I had to check with the sales lady which sizes we were looking for. Something I should have done back home before we flew out.  I settled on a pair of striped slip-ons and Owl got some canvas Oxfords.

129749_6_167x167   sp06_20130528_men-slot14

Next stop Ross Stores where I bought some black sandals and Owl bought some shorts and t-shirts. After this we just had a mooch around for a while before heading back to our hotel to await our lunch guests. By the time they arrived it was about 2pm but it didn’t take long for the four of us to pile into the mustang with the roof down and head into downtown Petaluma to Missy M’s favourite place to eat,  McNear’s . Today was the day fathers dread.

Meeting the boyfriend for the first time. Missy M and Texas have been together for 3 years but this was the first time Owl got to meet Texas. He seems to be a very confident and pleasant young man. The two young people obviously care about each other. Conversation between the four of us flowed easily. The food was very nice and very plentiful. Owl, Missy M and I all chose taco salad I have never seen such a huge taco shell.

IMG_0680We realised once our food was in front of us that we really should have shared.

After we had all filled our bellies as much as we wanted to we had a walk up and down the street window shopping. We had of course to enter those dens of iniquity that lure our men folk through their doors. A couple of music shops. Here are a few of the guitars we saw there.

IMG_0683  Missy M and I both loved the pink oneIMG_0682this one I took through the window so it hasn’t come out too well but the design was very pretty.

IMG_0681 Owl particularly liked this upside down guitar.

Texas had to be somewhere else so we drove back to the hotel where we said our goodbyes and that was the last we saw of Texas during our trip.

Moving on to Patagonia

Monday 3rd June 2013

We had only booked 3 nights at our hotel  before we flew out to California. We wanted to have the freedom to move around during our stay if we so wanted. My step children’s step father had helpfully drawn up a list of hotels for us to look at in a nearby town.  So as Monday morning dawned we managed to get ourselves not only out of bed but packed and checked out of the hotel by 9.30am

We decided to have breakfast at McDonalds, so I set the Sat Nav to find the nearest  Macky D’s which turned out to be on the far side of town. I had my first taste of Blueberry and pomegranate smoothie which was delicious.

It was still fairly early so we decided to just follow the road to see where it went. We were due to meet up with Missy M later in the day. We drove for miles along the same road following hills and valleys. After some time I plugged in the Sat Nav for directions to the town of Novato where we would meet up with Missy M. Owl couldn’t believe it when he saw a sign for Laurel Canyon (not the one in Los Angeles). In a previous era of his life he had owned the album Blues from Laurel Canyon by John Mayall. I had better not tell him that this was not The Laurel Canyon, but hey it is still in California.

Reaching a modest shopping centre we called Missy M who knew exactly where we were and joined us a few minutes later. It was then decided that she would show us the local beach. I assumed that this beach would be on the edge of San Pablo Bay, but it did seem to be taking us much longer to get there than we had expected.  45 minutes later we arrived at Bolinas, we parked just a short distance from the beach itself. Missy M told us that it was a popular beach for surfing. Whilst there we watched a couple of fishermen with their rods set up near the slipway.IMG_0674

Not long after we arrived we watched as one of the men reeled in his catch. A sting ray, while one man held onto his rod the other unhooked the fish. He tried to put it back into the sea but the waves brought it back. The three of us watched in horror as the poor creature lay flapping helplessly at the edge of the water. The ebbing tide not managing to take it back to sea. We knew that before long it would die. Sadly there was nothing we could do.IMG_0675

Driving back from the beach we discussed the list of hotels that Missy M’s step father had kindly printed out for us. We were moving on to a nearby town which Owl just could not get his mind around the name of, he kept referring to the town of Petaluma as Patagonia. It begins with a P but there the similarity ends.

Having dropped Missy M off back at her car we took the back road to Petaluma. We were planning to book into Step dad (SD)’s recommendation Hotel Petaluma. Using Sat Nav we found the road where this hotel was situated. The entrance was a little on the shy side, hiding among nail bars etc. Opening the door we stepped into what appeared to be a an office with the dated appearance of a throw back to the 1920’s. I have just looked up the history and indeed the hotel does date back to the late 1920s.

There was a jovial silver surfer (older gentleman) sat behind a huge desk who when asked about booking a room said he had to phone someone. He then proceeded to speak to a woman on a mobile (cell phone) which he then passed to Owl. The woman told Owl she would be there in 20 minutes to show us a room. Having been on the road for hours I was by this time desperate and asked if there was a restroom I could use. I was directed to a door at the end of the office. It was like going into a cupboard under the stairs. It took me a while to find the light switch as it as covered in the same ancient wallpaper as the walls.

We made our excuses and left. Owl has since described Hotel Petaluma as having the appearance of ‘The Addams Family House’. Next we thought we would try our luck at the local Best Western. Half an hour later we were unpacking our luggage at the Best Western. The very helpful receptionist told us that they had an agreement with the local diner for 20% discount for BW guests.

We were made very welcome by the staff at Pepper’s restaurant. For dinner that evening Owl wanted a bowl of soup but was astounded when he was offered either a sandwich or salad to go with it. Finally he agreed to have a salad, expecting a small side salad. Nope he got enough salad to feed a family. My chili n’ cheese potato was the biggest potato I have ever had, it too was served with enough salad for a family.

Needless to say we didn’t go to bed hungry that night.