We woke to yet more rain in San Francisco this morning, and I decided it was time to pull up stakes and move north again. We took a short walk to Café Ponte at the corner of Diamond and 24th Streets for my morning latté, then around the block, uphill, onto Elizabeth Street for the return to Bill’s house.
I had our things staged at the front door to be loaded into the car, so it was just a matter of saying our farewells to Bill, with a huge THANK YOU for his generous hospitality. We enjoyed five nights in the cozy top floor room, and really appreciated the time we spent with Bill.
Last night, Bill and I (with Max secure in his crate) drove over to Oakland to go to the Oakland Museum of California. Unfortunately, I read their hours wrong so we got there with one minute to spare before they closed! We had planned to visit the museum and go out to dinner, so we went straight for dinner…
First stop was the Lake Chalet on Lake Merritt for drinks overlooking the lake – which was not only a stunning place to be at night, but the bartender, Mark, also made me an excellent Ginger Cosmo. Next, we took a quick drive by the Fox Theatre to see if the Fox Den might be a good place for dinner (it wasn’t since it appears to be a bar…) then past the Paramount Theatre and on to Vo’s – a Vietnamese restaurant. Both theatres are restored elaborate 1920s or 30s showpieces.
There was a jazz quartet playing live music – very fine I might add! – the room wasn’t crowded, and we got a relatively quiet corner table. We started with a shared bowl of delicious Wonton soup. Our only complaint (and a mild one at that) is the soup could have been a little hotter. We went on to have an excellent meal: Cashew Chicken for me, and fried fish for Bill. We ended the meal with – of all things in a Vietnamese restaurant – traditional creme brulée!
As we returned over the Bay Bridge, traffic was pretty light for San Francisco, and the city looked beautiful in the rain. You get a really nice view of the city, from what I’d call mid-town to Telegraph Hill from the bridge, and the buildings were ablaze with lights. Bill drove both ways, so I got to really rubberneck and see a lot of what I’d missed when I drove myself over the bridge and back.
Although I had intended to stay through the weekend, our doggie play date for Saturday morning was rained out, and I couldn’t imagine another boring day inside for my patient boy. By bedtime last night, I was 99% certain that we would leave this morning, and waking to rain clinched it.
Here’s what San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge looked like this morning when we left:
This is why we needed to move on…
I thought I was going to drive north along the coast – Highway 1, the PCH – and I actually turned onto it and began, with hopes that the skies would clear. After about five miles of twisting, winding road, with fog, rain, and whatall, I turned back and got on the 101 North. Turned out to be a good decision. We’d probably still be winding our way along somewhere trying to find a motel for the night!
As I drove, I caught sight of the exit for Calistoga, a town I’ve wanted to visit for some years. Hot springs… spas… mountains… small town… what more could a gal want? Well, for starters, how about a walk and lunch?? We walked around town, pricing some of the spa treatments, mineral baths, etc. and I decided they were a wee bit pricey for me.
I found a nice little Mex place called Puerto Vallarta and had two chicken tamales that were as good as any I’ve had anywhere. We sat out on their sheltered patio while I ate, then walked a bit more before getting Max ensconced in the car and heading north on California 128. My goal for the day was Ukiah, and we made it before 4 PM, but not without an interesting drive.
The road from Calistoga to Geyserville started in wine country (acres and acres of grapevines belonging to one or another winery), then wound through some really hilly countryside, with a lot of warning signs for slides not the fun ones for kids, but the mud and hillside variety), a couple of places where the road was one lane while it was being repaired, and and back to hundreds of acres of wineries. I even recognized some of their names!
As we wound uphill, it began to sprinkle, then to rain, then it turned to quarter-inch hail that accumulated up to an inch on the road in places, making driving pretty scary. The entire line of cars slowed to about 20 mph for the quarter to half mile that the road was slick, then picked up the pace a bit as it turned back to rain. We went through the same weird pattern about four or five times, before we were out of the hills and into the next valley.
Even though I’m from Maine, and I know how to drive in snow, sleet, and freezing rain this came so out of the blue that it was unnerving. Fortunately, everyone was sensible and there were no accidents or near misses. We all made it down into the Alexander Valley and through more beautiful wine country to Geyserville.
I picked up 101 again, figuring I’d had enough of a driving challenge for one day, and we cruised on north to Ukiah. After checking into the motel, we took a drive back into town, and quite by chance I found the municipal park – which was huge, surrounded by a low stone wall, with tall (redwood?) trees and lush green grass.
I got out the trusty red and blue ball and Max and I played throw and retrieve for a half hour until he discovered the picnic area and ignored my requests to return to play. Fun time ends when doggie doesn’t come when called, so it was back into the car and downtown to The Mendocino Book Company, a local bookstore I had seen earlier. They were ten minutes from closing, but had the book I was looking for: The Good Daughter, by Jasmin Darznik. I’ll give a book report in a later post!
For now, we’re snug for the night, the sky was mostly clear at sunset, and I’m hoping for a sunny day tomorrow…