My sweet mother-in-law turned a very young 90 on September 6th. She celebrated with a surprise breakfast at Las Brisas in Laguna Beach with Cathy, John and Chris and then with a family party at the Oceanside Starks the following Saturday. The family party included most of her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. We all feasted on yummy Mexican food, entered a salsa contest (the food, not the dance) and lounged around Joey and Amber’s beautiful yard and pool. I took many pics and shared them with the family. Here are a few.
I won the competition with salsa number 3!
B and R ice cream cake.
Cathy made this pillow to match the quilt she made for Marian last year. She embroidered all our signatures on the back.
And lastly, this is what happens in this family when your camera falls into the wrong hands…
The final 2 nights of our road trip were spent at The Tomsics. We love Danville and their home and their company. We ate good dinners (once out and once in), worked on projects and caught up on family news. Chris and Mark replaced our car battery and poured cement for the new flag pole we gifted to Mark. They also ate breakfast out and tried out a new Turkish coffee shop. Jan and I planned her table settings for Thanksgiving and completed a small decor project for the front porch. We ended the stay with a fire pit. A good, good ending.
On day five of our road trip we drove from Gualala (via a very long, windy, narrow road) into the wine country. We spent a couple of good hours in Calistoga.
We roamed the downtown area and saw the many cute shops and eateries. We came across this tree. People have written, on tags, their ambition. Most were, “live generously”, “spread love”… Our favorite was, “spend my retirement in San Diego”.
We also came across this labyrinth.
After exploring the town we drove just a short ways out of town to the Chateau Montelena winery. We observed a few steps of the grape processing process and walked a bit in the vineyards. It was a cool and very grey day.
We finished up in Calistoga and headed south through another wine country town, St. Helena. We picnicked in a town park and then drove on to Napa. We walked all over town, over the Napa River and back, saw more cute shops and eateries, drank lemonade and visited the public market. Our favorite part of town was the historic district where we saw the old silos and beautiful tile work.
We left Napa and headed for Danville, but not before we experienced a dead car battery. We had jumper cables in the trunk and a nice man offered his truck for a jumpstart. We got to Jan and Mark’s in time to walk downtown for dinner at the Basil Leaf Cafe.
We started day four of our road trip with thunder, lightening and rain. After breakfast at the Jenner Inn (continental, but fairly substantial) we continued driving north. It stopped raining but remained foggy. This was a short driving day. We stopped at Sea Ranch and walked the trail behind the beautiful, rustic resort and then pulled into Gualala before noon. We had identified a hotel we wanted to stay in, but sadly there were no vacancies. Our second choice was also filled. It seems to hard to believe these places are sold out as we saw so few travelers, but they are small and it is the California coast. We ended up at a third place and after seeing the room we took it. It ended up being a poor choice. At one point Chris suggested we just abandon it and go elsewhere, but our frugality won out and we dealt. Other than this issue, we loved this town. It is small with several nice (!) stores and both restaurants we ate at were very good.
Once we found lodging and had lunch we “walked the town” and then drove out to Gualala Regional Park. We walked along yet another beautiful section of California coast with stark, steep drop-offs on one side and green pasteur like fields on the other. At one point we were able to walk down to the beach. The driftwood was amazing. I brought home 2 small pieces – one which looks like redwood.
This was a good car day! We continued driving north on Highway One. The day included dramatic coastlines, massive redwoods, charming coastal towns and the Golden Gate Bridge. At spots the road is narrow, twisting and cliff-hugging. We took it slow and stopped often.
We considered staying the night in Bodega Bay, but after two attempts at hotels that had no vacancies we headed a bit further north and ended up in the very small town of Jenner. We booked a room at The Jenner Inn and were happy with our choice.
We spent the remainder of the day exploring the area, first with a hike inland to heavily wooded area and then with a long roam on the coast. We took a dirt road and came to a “water crossing” (actually a large, but of an unknown depth, puddle) and decided to park the car and walk. This felt, and actually was, very remote. There were electrical wires back into a camp, but not much else. We reached a trail which lead us into a thickly forested area. Beautiful!
We got back and found the car as we left it. Looking back we were so lucky the car problem (dead battery) we had the following day did not occur here. We drove back to the coast and walked a coastal bluff trail. The best part of this hike was coming upon a few patches of Amaryllis belladonna, out in the middle of nowhere. I love these flowers. Also unexpected, and very cool, were the long boardwalk paths running through the bluffs.
We ended the day with an in-hotel room dinner consisting of ramen, cheese and crackers and chocolate. We usually do this at least once on all trips either, as was in this case, because there are no good dinner options, or because we are burned out with eating out. We called it an early night and woke the next morning to thunder, lightening and rain.