Santa Rosa, part two

Do we really have to leave?

Wow, how we have loved our time in Santa Rosa! During our month there we fell more deeply in love with the climate, the geography, our apartment–and, ok, the wine. Since I was working (and we were spending all our money on wine), we didn’t dine out much, but the restaurants we did visit were quaint, locally owned, and fun.

The decor at the Omelette Express was fascinating.

A neighbor’s artichokes growing by the sidewalk: tempting!

Sonoma County is wine heaven. One could spend a lifetime there and not get around to all the wineries–but in our month we did our best!

One of many beautiful wineries in the area

We had a lot of fun exploring some of the towns in the valley. Healdsburg was our favorite, but we also loved Sebastopol and Sonoma. And of course, we walked most days. I’ll never tire of seeing so many flowers, many of which I don’t recognize.

This flower was about six inches in diameter; any idea what it is?

In Sonoma we walked the town, had a wonderful lunch at The Girl and the Fig, and visited a couple of tasting rooms. Those visits only added to the challenge of packing up the car–we bought way too much wine!

Jeff Cohn self-serve wine tasting with marble stoppers; Girl & the Fig menu (and bread!); fish at Sinskey Winery

Finally, our time in Santa Rosa was over, so we packed up the car (with great difficulty, but we got all the wine in!) and headed out. We took a few days to get to Portland, and it was a magical trip. Just outside of Brentwood, we started seeing pick-your-own cherry orchards, so of course we had to stop. The orchard was beautiful, with lots of children playing among the trees while the adults competed with birds for the best cherries. We harvested two pounds in about ten minutes!

Cherry picking

Munching cherries along the way, we proceeded to Yosemite, which I’d never visited before. The traffic on the winding road was a bit daunting, and the line to enter the park (with a required reservation) was long. After a 45 minute wait, we were granted entry, and off we went to explore. My first view of the Half Dome was astonishing–people actually climb that! We saw huge, gorgeous waterfalls, and we hiked some of the easier trails. It was all beautiful, although crowded, and we left in plenty of time to get to our destination for the night, Sacramento, before dark. 

Half Dome at Yosemite

The next morning we got an early start, as we’d be driving through the Redwood Forests en route to Medford, Oregon, where I had a business meeting the next morning. Deep into the no-internet and no-cell service zone, a park ranger informed us that the road south of Crescent City, at the Last Chance Grade,  was closed until 5pm. So we decided to make the most of it and spend more time among the redwoods. We hiked the Lady Bird Johnson Grove Trail, which was indescribably beautiful. We learned that these redwoods are the tallest living things on earth, and without the efforts of conservationists they would have been destroyed by logging. 

Giant redwoods make Phil look tiny

The road opened up at 5pm, and after an hour traffic delay we were back on the road. On a particularly winding part of the road, where I was driving very slowly, a bear ambled out in front of us! We mutually evaluated each other before the bear decided we were not to be friends and ambled off into the woods. Phil was able to get one decent picture despite some excited fumbling.

This bear was MUCH closer than it appears in the picture!

After my meeting in Medford we hit the road, heading up the Oregon coast to Gold Beach, our stop for the night. And what a stop it was! I’d booked us in the Borghese Garden Room atEndicott Gardens, which exceeded all our expectations. A B&B resembling a boutique hotel, Endicott is a working farm raising flowers and herbs for hosts Kim and Wes Cherie’s skin care line, herbal teas, and food products. Kim operates the on-site spa, while Wes tends the beautiful gardens, and together they prepare and serve their luscious breakfasts. Wes and Kim were superb hosts, and we hated to leave after just one night.

One of the many gardens at Endicott

But we had more miles to travel, so off we went. The drive up the Oregon coast is beautiful, and there are so many quaint beach towns to visit! We took advantage of the many pull-off spots to get pictures and to soak up the beauty of the place.

Just one of many gorgeous views on the Oregon coast

Bandon was our favorite stop, with a candy factory, multiple galleries, and a creamery. There we learned the legend of Face Rock, as we gazed at Ewauna looking up at the moon. We spent an hour there before continuing up the coast to Lincoln City.

Can you see the maiden’s face looking up to the right?

Our hotel in Lincoln City was a delightful surprise, with a fireplace, a huge soaking tub in the bedroom (!), and a gorgeous view of the ocean. We had an excellent dinner at Kyllo’s Seafood and Grill (try the basil martini!) and decided to watch the sun set by the firepit outside our room.

Fire pit! Ocean view!

I looked over at Phil to find he was looking at his phone. “Why aren’t you enjoying this view?” I exclaimed, ready to chastise him. It turned out that his Oklahoma-based sister Pam had just texted him a photo that looked very much like what we were seeing, and he was trying to find out where she and her husband Roger were. They were in a hotel just half a mile up the road from us! We rushed over to see them for the first time in over a year, and since we’re all fully vaccinated, there were plenty of hugs to make up for lost time.

Happy reunion!

The next morning was packed with business calls, but when I finished my work we met up for one last visit before we headed over to Portland. We settled into our home for the next month and grabbed Chinese carry-out, which we enjoyed on the balcony. We’re happy, content, and ready for this next adventure!

First meal in our Portland home

Santa rosa

City of Roses

After bidding farewell to Hawaii we landed at LAX around 9pm, collected our luggage, and took the shuttle to our airport hotel. Even at 10:00 there was a line to check in! We finally got to our room and slept fast, waking early for the trip to Santa Rosa. We grabbed coffee and walked to the nearby parking garage where Phil was relieved to find our car safe and sound. We had saved hundreds of dollars in parking costs throughNeighbor, which works like an Airbnb for storage, for $172 for a full month! After loading the car, off we went to discover our next adventure. We had a quick lunch stop in San Luis Obispo (super cute town we want to explore!) before arriving at our new home for the next month.

Welcome wine and chocolate from our hosts!

The living room of our home in Santa Rosa

To say we were delighted is an understatement–this place is perfect! On the fifth floor of a 5-story building, our condo has two bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a beautifully designed kitchen. Oh, and a fireplace! And a balcony! The closest wine tasting room is 150 steps from our building’s front door (yep, I measured), and we can walk downtown to the many restaurants and shops in five minutes.

Sunrise, solitude, and coffee on the balcony make for a blissful morning.

The neighborhood is gorgeous–so many cute homes–and the most flowers I’ve ever seen! “I can’t believe how many roses there are!” I remarked to Phil. Then it dawned on me–duh, we’re in Santa ROSA!

Santa Rosa rose on my morning walk

We’ve tried to take advantage of the beautiful weather and gorgeous area by walking almost every day. One day we took a long hike around a lake and came upon a field full of goats! Our family loves goats (our tradition is to yell “Yo, Goats!” whenever we see one), and they were very kind to pose for me. Also, there was a lot of quite loud farting. By the goats, Phil would like me to clarify.

Things we see on our walks–yard signs, roses, goats (yo!), and cute houses

By far the best part of our time here has been the visit from cousins Karyl and Matt. We always have so much fun with them, and the bond of family is very precious. Determined to cram as much fun as possible into our limited time together, we may have overdone it the first day with three winery visits.

Beautiful cousins!

Phil and I had visited the northern California wine country 13 years ago, and while some things were familiar, a lot has changed. Most wineries now require reservations, and the cost of tastings has gone up! We shared a $55 tasting in Napa and accidentally bought a $75 bottle of wine (we thought we were buying the $30 one, which is still far more expensive than our customary Two Buck Chuck), so after that we stuck to Sonoma County, which is less expensive and less crowded. Our first tasting with Karyl and Matt was at Breathless, which was founded by three sisters and specializes in sparkling wines. 

Breathless tasting with vintage glasses the owners have collected

Vintage Vespa at Breathless Winery

On Mothers’ Day we celebrated together with an early lunch at a Mexican restaurant in Healdsburg, followed by a stroll in the park and, yes, more wine tasting. It was a wonderful long weekend, over far too soon. And now, with only a week left in Santa Rosa, we are already feeling sad about leaving this magical place.

Children in the park chasing giant bubbles on Mothers’ Day: magical!