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Lulu

The extended weekend part of the San Francisco trip was built around kitty sitting for 9 week old LuLu in Guerneville. Jim and Chloe arranged it all.

We started Friday morning in San Francisco and headed directly north. Lunch was in Sabastapol at Handline.

Wut?

Lulu

After dropping off the bags and taking a swim, we headed out to Flowers Winery for a tasting. Frankly, flowers is really nice in a Disney-eque, just a little too too kind of way. Nice people with a script, and wine with a story that’s been focus grouped. I’m sure most people love it.

Magnolia

It seems as if a majority of the wineries on the beaten path in Sonoma stick with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. I prefer when they diverge.

We headed into Healdsburg for a cocktail in a plastic cup at Duke’s Bar. The highly tattooed bartender that originally served us (who just so happened to be a woman) was fantastic. The other hipster guy who looked exactly like one of those bartender guys was not. Not bad, but also not good. Don’t seek it out.

There there was a quick trip to Safeway for Crunchberries. We did manage to hold off to have those for breakfast. Some people had never tried them before.

Breakfast of champions

Photographic evidence

My view from the best seat in the house

Dinner at Bravas Tapas was passable. Nice food. Very touristy. Sadly the best restaurant in town was booked by people who plan ahead.

Saturday morning started with the kitty under the covers, crawling down the length of my body to my toes. Hilarious kitty. Also lots of purring by the head.

After our breakfast of champions, we headed to Flying Goat Coffee to meet a friend who joined us for the day. A hike at the Healdsburg Ridge Preserve was just what the doctor ordered. We brought a delicious picnic and consumed it on a bridge…kind of reverse trolls handing out cherries.

Then it was off to Stuhlmuller Vinyards for another tasting. Great vibe. We brought pastries, had a great chat, and tasted some good wine. The italian varietals mixed in made the wines in my view.

On the way home to swim, we risked death by patchouli hula hoop girl and stopped by Safeway where a Dead cover band has been playing since before the Dead actually started in 1962. The mission was Palomas. So we needed Pomelo San Pelligrino. Here’s how to make a Paloma:

Paloma
Squeeze 1/2 lime into whiskey glass and leave the lime husk in
2 oz reposado tequila
large cube
fill with sparkling San Pellegrino Pomelo

We escaped with our lives, but the music is still with us. The Palomas by the pool were absolutely worth it.

Jim and I headed down to town for dinner at Brot (in greater metropolitan Guerneville). Delicious and fun. Highly recommended.

Then it was nightcap and dessert time. We hit El Barrio (about which expect more in the future) for excellent cocktails and a shot of mezcal. Then the formica-clad bar at Main Street Bistro and Cabaret where we heard some very good local music. The band was playing “Low Spark of High Heeled Boys” by Traffic.

Up early for a Sunday morning visit to Medlock Ames Bell Mountain location. This was the best winery of the entire California visit. Just fantastic. A great tour by an enthusiastic and very knowledgeable young woman, fantastic grounds (including nice gardens), a look behind the scenes at wine in production. Just very nice indeed.

The generous hosts

I have become a huge fan of this winery.

On the recommendation of our host at Medlock Ames, we hit Davero on the way home. There was no way to arrange a proper tasting at the very last minute, but we had a glass of Rose with a Barbera base in the incredible gardens. We were joined by the very happy dog. There was a pig.

Davero has so much down to earth charm. There are some wineries that could learn a thing or two from these interesting people.

We had a lunch to be forgotten on the way back home…something that remains with me now as I write this. Blerg.

After a last dip in the pool, it was back to the city to get ready to fly.

But first, ramen from Coco’s.

This second “first” trip post pandemic was memorable in all the ways. Excellent friends, great food, wine and cocktails, and interaction with many humans. May we all recover our balance and live life again properly.

One day soon I hope to be back at this very spot

First of all you have to go north, over the Golden Gate Bridge and up the coast. Guerneville is situated on the Russian River.

Up the 101 in a convertible

But before you go to the cabin, a picnic at Preston winery is in order. There is some stocking up to do in the alcohol department.

Picnic on a perfect Spring day (preston winery)

After bread, cheese, some more cheese, salami, and different salami, olives, and hummus, and a couple of bottles of wine, and those wee little pills, it is off to see some big trees at the Armstrong Redwood State Natural Preserve. Make sure to see the amphitheater, but do not dilly dally.

Amy dwarfed by a giant redwood

The band at the crest

We did make it to the cabin after an espresso in town at Big Bottom. No really, that’s what they called it.

The cabin has modern sensibilities

Drama and moss is a thing

The a pit stop by the cabin to change clothes and it is off for dinner in Healdsburg. Chalkboard is worth driving way up to the sticks for. Excellent food. Fun, friendly service. Very good indeed. (We were slightly late the whole time, mostly due to amphitheater…LOL.)

One of the many superb dishes at Chalkboard

These doughnut things were out of this world

Sadly, we ended up being on time to see the show at the Raven. Eileen Ivers played a pre-compiled show of world music (many mixed genres). The show was solid, but also phoned in and somehow cloyingly fake. Still, it was fun singing along, and the support band was filled with excellent session musicians.

Everyone joins Eileen

The show was opened by JigJam who, other than desperately needing a new name, played an opener that topped the main event. The young fiddle player was far better than Eileen will ever be.

Then it was back home in the volkswagon and to bed by 1am.

A stint in the hot tub in the morning happened first thing, followed by some delicious eggy concoction with expert-level toast. Next, we attempted to cram 20 square feet of stuff into a 10 square foot space in the car. The stuff was consolidated, and the trunk was very slowly shut over the lil tiny bass through the use of random quantum properties, black magic, and the power of wishful thinking.

A call by the Pacific was next. The Russian River pours its brown self into the ocean at Jenner.

Then a short hike (maybe 3.5 or 4 miles) through the vernal wonderland (read “muddy”) of the California coastal hills. Sonoma is gorgeous and green for at least a week in the Spring, and we got to witness it.

Uncle Jim leads the way

Also Pacific ocean.

The Pacific at shell beach

By this time we were late again, but who cares? A drive down 1 took us directly to Rocker Oysterfeller’s where we partook of Negronis and oysters. Jim found out that oysters can be cooked and smothered in various things and still be delicious.

What an adventure! We’ll do it again as soon as we make up for lost time.