Every time we visit California we are reminded of its huge and varied offerings and of the gift we enjoy, having friends living across this remarkable state. I am going to write first of where the past week’s journey took us.
From Death Valley to Huntington Beach (near LA), we headed north to visit friends in the San Francisco Bay area, first near Santa Rosa and then in Palo Alto. Driving the California freeways this time of year is spectacular. The hillsides were aglow in a multitude of shades of spring green that Peter particularly loves.
From lime-yellow, to citrine, to lemon, the array is stunning. And the wildflowers draped the hillsides in ribbons of color – from the purple-blue of lupine to the orange swatches of poppies. It’s like nothing we have ever seen, California-style!
We stopped overnight first in Fresno at a friend’s house where I celebrated my birthday with a homemade brownie-cake. Mercifully, there were just two candles for me to extinguish and I’m not trying to calculate the ratio between candles and the actual birthday marker in years!
The land north of Fresno to Santa Rosa opens up from agriculture to wine country. The sheer proliferation of the open vineyards in neatly arranged rows of vertical grape stem and horizontal trellis (to train the vines as they grow) was beautiful. We came to our friends’ house in Windsor (where we parked T2 on the road and enjoyed the luxury of a real bedroom). We turned left at one vineyard, and I was in awe. The first morning there, I walked up the road just to smell the earth and see the vines up close. There, I could see the result of human hands that had taped each tender vine to the trellis at intervals of about three feet, training the young shoots to grow horizontally to allow for maximum sunlight. For miles and miles…
Our time with these friends included a visit to the Luther Burbank Home & Gardens. Here in Santa Rosa, the Massachusetts-born horticulturist found nirvana and gained attention developing over 800 varieties of plants. The garden was featuring camelias, roses, and magnolias when we visited with the promise of much more grandeur to come.
The joy of sharing everyday moments with dear friends continued. We celebrated JB’s birthday at a family bowling outing with his daughter’s family (including two awesome granddaughters) where Peter ended up scoring impressive results with the highest score among the adults. Who knew of this secret talent!
When in wine country, a visit to a tasting room is de rigueur. Happy to comply, our tasting room of choice was Kendall Jackson. Wonderful wines, fun time, and happy memories with Carol and JB. We shared one more Liz-and-JB almost double birthday celebration dinner at the Himalayan Restaurant in Windsor. Deliciously spiced and beautifully presented curries centered on lamb, shrimp and chicken made this one of the highlights of all our meals on the road.
From Windsor we headed south to Palo Alto on a gorgeous morning of Easter weekend and crossed the Golden Gate Bridge in T2. It was a spectacular experience to drive across the legendary bridge toward the city of San Francisco. We exited and drove along city streets on our way south, passing the street scenes so iconic to the city.
It was a completely awesome for a couple of kids from the 60s and one that we will not forget. If we had been able to figure out how to get a picture of Peter driving T2 across the bridge, that would have completed the experience.
Next stop was Palo Alto and our first visit to the home of Google and Facebook and Apple and Stanford University. Our friends have lived here pretty much their whole lives and know the city inside and out. We parked T2 on the sidewalk and enjoyed guest accommodations in their lovely cottage. On a morning walk, our friend Kathleen showed me the house she lived in and the elementary school and the high school she attended. Pretty darn impressive! We toured the expansive and beautiful Stanford campus, from the medical school where our friend Ramin once worked, to the magnificent outdoor (this is California, after all!) Cantor Center for the Visual Arts Rodin sculpture garden, complete with its own casting of the monumental “Gates of Hell”.
Another of the highlights of the trip included attending Easter Vigil services at the Stanford Chapel. We assembled outside the Chapel and at 8:00PM processed in with candles lighted into a completely darkened interior. The solemnity and the power of the service – traditional in its liturgy and unconventional in the Confirmation service it included – are the hallmarks one expects at a university and we were not disappointed. It was a very special way to mark the Easter holiday with dear friends in a very beautiful place.
From Palo Alto, we journeyed down to the Pacific coast, snagging a campsite at Costanoa Resort and KOA campground in Pescadero. The campground was pretty much a KOA (think cramped sites, nothing special in the bathrooms) but the location was amazing.
We hiked from our campsite about one mile across Highway 1 to the beach and the Pacific. Spectacular. The second day we were there, my labyrinth man tried to draw one in the sand but the wind was howling at 25MPH and just as he finished, the first paths disappeared. A pretty powerful metaphor for our desire to leave a footprint on the path of life!
Next we are heading further north to the east bay of San Francisco and Davis, so we hope you will come along as we continue our time in California.
Peter and Liz continue their pilgrimage to here, spending their third week touring around California, visiting friends along the way in their Airstream.