We bugged out on Thursday and stopped by the Redwoods Founders Grove on the way out. This is an astoundingly ancient place that predates Christ and feels like seeds sprung from something primordial. The fallen trees must have created their own thunder when they fell. The sun crept through just enough to light the way in a lovely diffusion; the paths were lined with years of needles forming a carpeted trail through the woods. Otherwise the grove was left to its natural state – I imagined it hadn’t changed much over the last several hundred years. There is a lot of wisdom there – but they speak a different language from modern civilization; we dare to listen but not to learn.
We continued down the coast to Mendocino County and it’s folk-art rolling green hills dotted with vineyards and arrived in Santa Rosa at our friend’s house (Peter Testie) where we will stay for the next three days.
On Friday I went on a tour with Peter of several Sonoma wineries. It was a beautiful day lounging in the sun tasting wine. We found an excellent wine at Hanna winery called Alchimie that is a mix including grapes from rare vines of which there are only an acre in France, two acres in Australia and one acre owned by Hanna vineyards in Sonoma. I picked up another nice Pinot and Rose’.
“Wine is sunlight, held together by water”Galileo
We laid low on Saturday getting the RV organized and cleaned up from beach and forest debris – you almost don’t want to sweep it away as it’s all part of the memories but you can’t get too nostalgic about dirt.
On Sunday we headed to San Francisco – it was a stunner of a morning and we stopped on the south side of the Golden Gate Bridge and walked the trails to the Battery Park viewpoints. My father had come through San Francisco during WWII while serving in the Navy – the old bunkers were still there – decommissioned and riddled with graffiti.
It has a great view of the bridge and the bay and all the shipping traffic.
We parked at Ghirardelli Square, had coffee and picked up chocolate and trinkets before heading out to the wharf. There is a great view of Alcatraz from the end of Pier 39. The pier was fun and kitschy with all the smells, eateries and vendors with the carousel at the end.
We were set on getting some Dim Sum in Chinatown and went to the Imperial Palace (Peter’s recommendation). It’s located off Washington and it mostly caters to the locals. It was busy and noisy and reminded me of being back in China. We were the only white people in the whole joint. We had pork steamed buns, fish dumplings, wontons, fried rice and a pineapple custard steamed bun for dessert. It was excellent. If you are looking for the typical western intimate atmosphere this is not the place – it’s authentic – not the Westernized idea of what a Chinese restaurant should be.
After getting our fill of Cantonese delights, we left to find the Dragon Gate, passing the legendary cable cars that were practically empty. Unfortunately the street trolleys along the wharf were not running – probably because we were off season. We may catch them up on our way back up to Portland. We poked around the shops, taking in the atmosphere then headed back to the Ghirardelli square where we shared one of their sundaes and then drove up to the famous winding Lombard street. I don’t know how all those structures were ever built on those steep hills. The end of another fantastic day in the Bay Area – the weather was perfect and the sites did not disappoint!