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Published: June 22nd 2011
Sitting on the deck in a shroud of silence, staring at azure waters of the Pacific Ocean, sunlight dancing and reflecting on the waves and then there is a realization that it is not quiet at all. The ocean rumbles softly in the distance and a heightened awareness of wind lightly howling through the pine trees. The breeze is cool on a warm day and brushes against our cheeks, the pine smell permeates our surroundings as we relax, unwind and allow ourselves to be embraced by Mother Nature. Faced with such beauty, it is on these days it is unfathomable that there are wars and unhappiness in the world. Earlier in the day we hiked along the trails of the seaside town of Mendocino drinking in the quaintness of the town, enjoying magnificent oceans views, appreciating the flight of the seagulls and stopping to buy homemade rhubarb jam. There are days we force the universe to slow down to our pace and mosey. After splitting a burger we headed south to our bed & breakfast near Gualala.
On this day our goal was to enjoy the moment. Life is not complete until you’ve driven the twist and turns of
the Pacific Coast Highway in California. We’ve all seen the movies set in Italy with the dashing gent and his gorgeous gal navigating the twist and turns of the mountain roads with the stunning scenery. You feel that way as you cruise Highway 1 as it takes you from one stunning vista to another. The inner race car driver is tempted to come out until you consider that taking one of those turns a bit too quickly may result in you plunging 100 to 200 feet down to the raging surf amongst the rather ominous rocks on the ocean. The beauty is mesmerizing and it is difficult to keep your eyes on the road. Fortunately there are many turnouts where you can stop and gaze as long as you want. Some areas of the drive turns a short way inland where the great redwoods stand tall and line the highway along the drive of our get away…. and then back to the ocean drive to admire the rough edges and the great boulders that brace themselves for a pounding from the Pacific Ocean. As the coastline weaves in and out in some areas you can feel a spray from the
marine mist and enjoy looking at layers of blue and white sky and varying colors of blue waters depending on the depth. Along our drive we could see kelp beds swaying in the currents of the waters. We enjoyed watching the body surfers, the abalone divers and the ocean kayakers.
And finally we arrived at the B&B that we told you about in the beginning of this blog where we sat listening to the “sounds of silence.” The Whale Watch Inn is appropriately named and we look forward to going back during the migration and have a fantastic view. Saturday evenings they offer a wine and cheese gathering in their grand room where you can visit with other guest, enjoy the fireplace and look into the telescope at an amazing coastline. We had the fortune of having interesting conversations with a couple who were wine makers and other couples vacationing from Alabama. We retired early that night serenaded by the sounds of the ocean.
In our two short months of living in California, we’ve decided we’re like kids in a candy store with all the cool things to do and see. We’ve visited brew pubs, wineries, cheese shops
and state parks. Oh yeah, all while having the opportunity to listen to some seriously good live music almost every weekend at a variety of venues. Here’s a sampling……….. Chasing cheese:
One day we were at the tourist information center and found a brochure called Explore the Sonoma Marin Cheese Trail. As MJ is shall we say infatuated with this food group, we set out to find some of the finest frommage in the state. The Matos Cheese Factory was our first stop and in the brochure it said that Joe and Mary Matos grew up in the Portuguese Azores on the lush volcanic island of Sao Jorge, noted for its delicious cheeses. Great story, eh? They relocated to Santa Rosa in the 1970’s, carrying the recipe for their native cheese with them. We put the address in our GPS and headed off in search of Azore cheese.
Have you ever been looking for an address and you keep saying to one another, can this be right? We were off the main road traveling on a narrow gravel road, pasture and cows on both sides. We finally saw a faded sign pointing to Matos Cheese Factory
so we slowly and carefully continued down this road. Did I mention it was narrow and graveled? (it didn’t really feel like a road) Another mile passed and we saw a rather dilapidated sign that said “Cheese Factory” with an arrow pointing to a pasture full of cows. Ok- so someone has a sense of humor. In a few feet the road ended and three large barns surrounded us, one with the doors open so we could see the tractor and farm equipment. It was quiet and looked abandoned from the outside.
As we got out of the car we noticed a small door leading into one of the buildings with a tiny sign that said Cheese Factory. We walked into a small stuffy room about six feet square, an alarm bell began ringing and it echoed through the back of the barn. Soon a friendly Hispanic woman who didn’t chat much showed up, handed us a piece of cheese to sample and asked us how much we wanted to buy. She was very direct in her manner. When she came through the door that leads to the back of the barn I could see hundreds of rounds of
cheese on the shelves. I asked if I could take a photo of all the cheese. She was accommodating. She gave us our pound of cheese and we were on our way. Strange experience, but he cheese is fantastic.
The second one on our list for the day was the Spring Hill Cheese Company in Petaluma. This one was easy to find was partnered with Petaluma Creamery so you were able to purchase ice cream in addition to cheese. Both of these places could benefit from marketing advice. The magic of music:
Northern California is rich in music is a great place for music lovers like us to live. Almost every weekend since we have arrived we have been out to listen to live music in pubs and attending concerts. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the music scene that has evolved over the years, check out these names of musical luminaries who were born or lived in Marin County: Dewey Bunnell and Gary Beckley (America), Mike Bloomfield, David Crosby, Booker T. Jones, Sammy Hagar, Huey Lewis, Van Morrison, Peter Tork? Well, you get the idea……
We attended the Sonoma Jazz plus festival and
listened to Vinyl, The Tedeschi Trucks Band and John Fogerty……all were excellent performances. Recently we saw Lyle Lovitt and John Hiatt in an acoustic performance. They are well paired and funny. One of our favorite places along the San Francisco Wharf area is Lou’s Blues. They have bands daily at 4pm and 9pm – plus on Saturday bands play at noon that is one of our favorite times to go. The afternoon we went we enjoyed Pinkie Rideau who has an excellent band. Many bars and pubs offer live music. The romance of cars:
Some will tell you that an automobile is merely transportation; others will share their fascination and love affair with the automobile. They have evolved from steam to electric and then to gasoline. These days they struggle to make a hybrid or an electric car that is financially feasible.
Our complaint with the modern day automobile is that is has no style, no character, and they are not distinctive. In days gone by you could look at a vehicle coming at you and you would immediately know if it was a Ford, a Chevrolet or Volvo. Today that is not the case
as many body styles are very similar. I’m not certain how or why this has evolved but it certainly is boring.
There was a car show in Marin County a few weeks ago so we went to take a look. Unfortunately we did not take as many photos as I thought we did. I guess we were mesmerized by the cars themselves and forgot to take photos of the year of the car. On display were a collection of wooden boats and older Airstream trailers. I guess the 1950 & 1960 Airstreams are collectors now.
Cars are much more easily preserved out here because of the balmy climes. Cars rusted out in the Midwest from all the salt on the roads during the winter months back in the day. Here there seems to be no shortage of these vintage autos. Of course there is great enjoyment looking at cars that we grew up with and are now considered classics. You see a Mercury station wagon from the late ‘50’s and think of the family down the street being Below is a brief synopsis of a few sampling stops along our travels:
Bear Republic Brewing Company-
What a great brewery—they have an outstanding beer selection, the food is great and it has a comfortable atmosphere. Sit at the bar and order lunch, you might even chat it up with some locals.
Lagunitas Brewing Company- Petaluma, Ca
Lots of outdoor seating around the stage where they have live music. An open air bar with lots of beers choices to make. The menu extensive and we had a great afternoon enjoying the beer and band.
Taps- Petaluma, Ca It felt more like a bar than a restaurant or a brewery. The beer was fine but we were looking for a different feel. Brewery is in an old hotel in the tiny town’s central district.
Rodney Strong Vineyards & J. Vineyards– Healdsburg, Ca
These two are located next to one another and share a common drive way. We really enjoyed these wines and the ambiance of Rodney Strong. It was unpretentious and inviting.
Costeaux French Bakery- Healdsburg, Ca
Charming restaurant with some outdoor seating—if you are in the area stop by for the cranberry mimosas and the eggs benedict. While you’re there, check out the baked goods. The bread
is fresh and many locals come in just to get their “daily bread.”
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