So like I said, Amy and I just got back from eight days in California.
Click for a first gallery (more to come)
It was wonderful on so many levels. First and foremost? Time alone to rediscover, enjoy and relax with Amy. A celebration of fifteen years of marriage. The weather and the flights and food and the downtime were all superb, the journey and the destinations were picture-perfect and meaningful. The friends we reconnected with along the way were hospitable and fun and funny and myriad. The trip was even educational (learned a little about wine during the first third of the trip and a little about youth media in the last). I did a much better job about living in the moment. Didn't spend my whole time behind the lens or buried in sketchbooks. Our 5 senses were each a little more alive, aware, acute.
We flew San Antonio to San Diego to San Fransisco (the via santa?); wove through the City, over Golden Gate Bridge (stopping only long enough to snap a quick photo) and drove all the way up hwy 101 to our B&B in Cloverdale. Stopped along the way in Santa Rosa for farmers' market. Italian for dinner. Strolled Cloverdale's main street; Explored our B&B's gardens.
On Thursday, Amy and I were awakened by the time zone difference and the excitement of being in a new place — plus, we got a good night’s sleep in a very comfortable bed. Where the night before had been hot and humid — Wednesday had reached 106°F in this inland part of northern California — this morning was crisp and cool. Large temperature differentials are a hallmark of Sonoma County — good for grape-growing. We got up and milled around the upstairs of the B&B a little: there’s a little hospitality room on the other side of the house that has coffee, hot tea, a small ice maker, and a fridge with sodas, juice and water.
After a bit we decided to go out for a pre-breakfast walk in downtown Cloverdale. The B&B is on Third St. just a block off Cloverdale Drive, the main street, and pretty much in the center of this tiny town. We took our time, snapped some iPhone shots of interesting buildings, and after some searching, eventually found Underground Coffee wedged in the back of an antique store. Amy: a blueberry muffin; me: a dolce latté. On the side wall of the antique store four large murals depict historical scenes of life in Cloverdale — one for each season, though the seasons were vaguely depicted and to the point where for a while we weren’t sure which painting matched which season. Heading back, I snapped a tiled panorama of Pick’s, a hamburger joint that’s been around for 70 years or so.
Breakfast was fun: we had two house mates, a young couple from Stockholm, who were enjoying California while on vacation and probably enjoying the favorable exchange rate as well. We were served Dutch pancakes with homemade pomegranate syrup— as well as some apple-gouda sausages, mini muffins and coffee. I also had a light peach nectar which had the consistency of apple juice, and Amy and the Swedish couple had orange juice. Don, our host, would disappear from time to time, bringing out the small courses; first, the muffins, then the sausages and pancakes, then returning with the syrup. He’s a good conversationalist and was very interested in helping us plan our day in the Dry Creek appellation. Within fifteen or twenty minutes, we had recommendations and a highlighted map.
We toured a handful of Dry Creek wineries and ended up sampling wines at fewer than we stopped at. Asti's Cellar No. 8, Fritz, Ferrari-Carano (mostly for its well-tended gardens). We enjoyed a picnic luncheon overlooking Lake Sonoma (note the Dublin Dr. Pepper we enjoyed with panini from the Dry Creek General Store. Later in the day we fell in love with Bella vinyard and its wine caves and checked out quaint Preston winery as well. Romantic drive along West Dry Creek Road to Quivira. Poked around bookstores and stationers in touristy-but-serene Healdsburg, and walked barefoot in the cool grass in their town square. Back at the B&B's beautiful gardens, we watched dusk turn into night as we traded stories with the innkeepers Don and Mary before turning in.
More fascinating breakfast conversation. More guests had arrived, and our table mates included a couple from Nova Scotia and our Swedish friends. We packed up the car and kicked back in the gardens before bidding farewell to Don and Mary and the Swedes. Instead of retracing hwy 101 back to San Francisco (hereafter, the City), we decided to take the scenic route, which allowed us to explore the Eastern side of 101, back through Healdsburg (found some cute shops and a really cool kwanset-hut antique store). Peeked into Simi winery but didn't stick around for the tour.
Lunch in Windsor, mostly to find free Wi-fi. Happened upon a pizzeria on its second day of business. During lunch's email-check, we discovered one of my dear high school friends is pregnant, and another high school friend was in the Bay area touring colleges with her son and her high school aged daughter.
Friday afternoon we made our way into the City, did a driveby of The Haight, and settled into Golden Gate Park where we toured the Botanical Gardens for a couple hours. Then it was off to Grace Cathedral (that's where my friends Vanessa and Will are both associate pastors), where we met up with Ryan, Holly, Paxton, and others in the Seven community, because the Jesus for President tour coincidentally had rolled into town. Cobalt Season played during the intermission, and I had an amazing evening, and got to say a brief hello to Shane and Chris. And I met the head of Grace's labyrinth guild. They have a guild that takes care of their two Chartres-styled labyrinths (one indoors, the other out). Made me want to learn more about the Psalters.
The Sharps pointed us to Liberty Café for a late-night nosh in Bernal Heights, but it closed as we were walking up. Rats. We ended up getting really turned around and frustrated with driving around the Mission District before settling on a 24-hour diner, then coming back to Ryan and Holly's and crashing.
Slept in. Way in. Smelled the coffee sometime after 9:30 and stumbled toward the aroma. Then I saw it. The view. The house where the Sharps are house-sitting has this amazing view of the water. It's breathtaking in daylight and beautifully sequined at night. We chatted with Holly and Ryan, ate some AMAZING Cali cinnamon toast, watched Pax, and made plans to hook up with Lisa and her kids at the notable Zachary's Chicago Pizza at Berkeley (note to self: the drive from Oakland Hills to Berkely on 13 was amazingly beautiful in July). We walked around Trader Joe's, then made our way (with a hot pizza in hand for our hosts) back to Casa Sharp where our Emergent friend Adam Klein was celebrating his birthday. His extended family members were there as well as his Seven friends, many of whom Amy and I met for the first time. From about 1pm to maybe 1am we enjoyed the longest pool party in my remembrance, with some really neat people as well. I built a little fire when it got cold and we were thankful for the heated pool (thanks again, Ryan). At some point in the evening, rock-n-roll photographer and friend Daley came to the house as well, after shooting a wedding in Berkeley. Everyone was in rare form that evening. Rare form.
Our original plan was to visit St. Gregory of Nyssa for a "now-for-something-completely-different" worship experience (watch the whole video if you have time). But the pool party and travels had decided for us: more sleeping in. So here's what we did. More morning coffee and cinnamon toast. (Sorry, Bob, we never made it to bakesale betty either)... we lounged and caught up on email. So did Daley and Ryan and so the whole breakfast table looked like an Apple convention. We just embodied the sabbath. Rested. Then said some sad good-byes and snapped some photos before Amy and I left for the Union Square area. Crossed Bay Bridge into the city and before long, arrived at Hotel Nikko. Checked in and rested a little in our room before walking up (and up and up) to California, back to Grace Cathedral, where Amy and I were the guests at a Sunday School class (in a beautiful library) where they were talking about being Ordinary Radicals. Vanessa and Will invited us there so we could talk about our faith-journey, our Trinity House experiences as well as our Covenant experiences, and a little bit about my role in illustrating Jesus for President.
Then we went up to the choir part of the cathedral and had a beautiful evening contemplative service with a Eucharist. Sigh. It was really amazing, and an amazing cap to an amazing weekend. Vanessa, Will, Matt, and Anna treated us to dinner and laughter at Farmerbrown afterwards. Then it was back to the hotel, time to shift into Conference Mode.
"While we do focus on effective ways to reach youth with technology, our audience is about one third non-profit/advocacy organizations so branding could be branding for a company or branding for an agency serving youth. [We had] sessions on this year's election, youth activism, on whether girls are the new geeks, and [one on] what folks who create web sites for youth can do about cyberbullying.
So it was not just about "selling stuff to kids" it was also about using those technologies effectively and authentically to reach them whether it is with a product that is actually useful or a message that could save their lives or inspire them to create social change."
Was a travel day, so following a night of Chinatown and cable cars, it was nice to just sit on a plane and be. The kids gave us a great welcome, as did my parents, who along with my mother-in-law, took care of the four little ones.
More blogging soon. Again, check out the photos.
I'll post more once our 35mm gets digitized.