One of the reasons I love our isolated place on the Sonoma coast is that it is very peaceful and natural. With that said, however, one of the guilty pleasures of being in the country is having the chance on rare occasion to escape to the “big city” where by contrast there are real department stores and multiplex movie theaters.
We took the opportunity last week to spend a long weekend in the East Bay where Jerry and I both lived for many years before moving to the desert in Arizona. One of my top priorities when I visit this area is to visit the Orchard Nursery in Lafayette. This nursery is always chock full of beautiful garden dioramas and a gift shop full of useless but tempting tchotchkes.
The Orchard Nursery has for years been one of my “happy places”. I can remember many a foggy day in Oakland where an escape to sunshine was just a quick drive through the tunnel to the Lafayette/Walnut Creek area.
I do have to admit that Jerry and I looked a bit odd checking into our hotel with flats full of plants that could not be stored in our car over the weekend. A little ridiculousness I felt was completely acceptable.
Our chief reason for the timing of this visit was so that we could see our friends, Carol and Al Reed and Gail and Daryl Traibish. I worked with Carol at Mervyn’s and Target and with Gail as an outside counsel to Mervyn’s for many years and we love to get together to hash over the dilemmas of aging and other quandaries facing us as we down-size, retire (in Gail’s case) and face other of life’s little crises.
I am afraid Gail and Daryl, as dedicated urbanites, will soon opt for retirement to a high-rise in Chicago so we savor these visits that may prove geographically more challenging in the future.
The only problem with this sort of visit is that we all try to simultaneously pack a years’ worth of questions and commentary into a four-hour visit. It never quite works and we are all left exhausted for trying.
No visit to the old neighborhood is complete for me without my driving by our old house in Dublin and checking out the neighborhood. This time I also had the time to hike down through the park that ran below our house.
Jerry and I had planned to view the new luxury retirement community at Stoneridge in Pleasanton while we were close, but that required an appointment so we opted instead for a drive out to Brentwood. Brentwood is where Jerry lived before he met me and they now feature the Trilogy Vineyards, an active adult community like ours at Saddlebrooke.
We were very impressed with the rolling vineyard setting of this community that will eventually contain about 500 homes. One model home particularly spoke to us due to its plentiful rooms with three-sided window exposure. The older I get, and the more houses I have owned, makes me appreciate more how absolutely critical light and vistas are to my sense of well-being.
We also had time to drive by Jerry’s old house in Brentwood which looked great with the addition of attractive landscaping. The downtown Brentwood area was also very impressive. Since we left California the trees have all grown so big that the town has much more character and less of that raw suburb feel it had when we knew it. We also noticed the vineyards encroaching on the surrounding farmland areas, but to me that is a far more attractive option than tract housing.
Brentwood is world-famous for its sweet white corn and July is prime corn season so of course a farmstand visit had to be on our list of “to-dos”. It was every bit as good as we remembered.
The entire weekend we both marveled at how much we had forgotten over the eight years of our absence. We zoomed past several old landmarks and favorite restaurants before we recognized where we were.
As I set out on my walk our last morning, I savored the moist, soft air that was a by-product of the Arizona monsoons pushing north. Of course the blistering temperatures were coming along with the moist air so it was time to leave town and head for the coast.
We had an errand to run in Santa Rosa so decided to lunch in Windsor a suburb on its northern side. It was fun to see how this town had changed too from a dumpy little farm town into a European style village complete with town square and charming shops.
We enjoyed a lunch at Kin then checked out the independent bookstore and other shops before heading back up the snake trail to home.
The brief diversion to the city was well worth while but it is time to adjust again to the coastal weather and its vagaries.