Friday, October 11, 2013

California Dreamin'

Santa Rosa Sunset
Lynmar Estates Winery in Sebastopol with Suzanne: vineyards, glorious gardens, gourmet lunch.

The hills and fields of lush vineyards, golden wheat, and changing foliage with a dash of oranges and reds here and there gleamed and screamed California.  Going up and down the coast and inland from Oakland to Santa Rosa, through Berkeley and the northern San Francisco area, is stunning in October. The colors and light are as beautiful as anywhere in the world. Your soul soars with the eagles. 
At Casa de Rod  in Santa Rosa, with PCV friend and master chef Suzanne.
Jack London's Wolf House ruins, park, burial ground, walking paths.
 Yep, that's me, top middle photo, in front of a mural pointing toward the massive ruins
 in what PCV friends Ilse and Carl call my ubiquitous pose!

A statue of St. Francis welcomes us to St. Francis Winery,
 surrounded by mountains,
and full of animals there for a special blessing.
Suzanne's cooking was food for the body and the soul.  She shares the home of her friend Rod in Santa Rosa; the chef in residence he calls her.  Suz and I met in Ukraine, where she put her creativity to great use in a small town in western Ukraine while I put one foot in front of the other in far-eastern Ukraine.  The distance was vast, geographically and culturally, but it was fun to share our experiences, then and now. 

She is totally at home in Santa Rosa and the Sonoma Valley, a California girl born and bred. She's lived in the North and the South, near the ocean, in the mountains, in the valleys. Lucky for me! She shared the countryside she love, the winding mountain roads, the farms and vineyards of Sonoma county and such special places as Lynmar Estates Winery in Sebastopol for a gourmet lunch with their fine house wine; Wolf House in Glen Ellen, novelist Jack London's stone mansion ruins burnt down as it was being completed, and his burial ground on the Beauty Ranch Trail; the historic town of Sonoma itself, built elegantly around a square; St. Francis Winery, which held a blessing of the animals (over 100 of them, of every variety, mostly but not only dogs).

Doris and I around her place and UC-Berkeley
From Santa Rose we made our way down to Marin to meet friend Doris, from my old 
Toledo days, and share a delicious Thai lunch.  Then  Doris and I drove down to Berkeley, the storied  home of the University of California. It's a great college town, full of not only student housing, services and gathering places, but elegant old homes, nice walkways and gardens, lots of bookstores, shops and restaurants, some remnants of Hippie and anti-war days, and the grand white marble buildings of the University itself.  Lunch at a famous pizza place, Cheese Board Pizza Cooperative, topped off the grand tour of UC-Berkeley, all polished off with many long talks between two old friends whose bond neither time nor distance can sever. 

 The historic town of Sonoma, old and new, native American, Mexican (General Vallejos was a founder), and Anglos, a beautiful natural and built environment around a central plaza, a Mexican-like square. 

A small part of the grand UC-Berkeley campus, the classical library, a sculpture, statue of Mark Twain at entrance to the elegant Library reading room, and the famous Cheese Board Pizza Collective,
where we had lunch.


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