Bets and Bryan are returning tomorrow in the morning so today we were pick up a rental car for the week that they are in town between vacations. That will keep us independent. In other words, we’ll remain free to drive out of the Tomales fog zone at will.
Steve and Kathy Delman planned on showing us Healdsburg a few junctions north up US 101 so they were swinging by in the morning and driving us into Petaluma to the Avis car rental office. Surprisingly, my instructions got them to the correct house without the aid of satellite navigation. Naturally, we were under the feature fog blanket when they arrived. Off into Petaluma to Avis and proof that the Airmiles reservation system had worked – Avis was expecting me. A few bits of paperwork and independence was ours. Perversely, we left our personalized transport in the Avis parking lot while Steve kindly drove us and played tour guide.
Out from under the fog and into the surrounding brilliant sunshine.
Healdsburg proved to be quite similar to Sonoma in that it is essentially four sides of shops surrounding an open grassy square planted with trees. Today, the square was planted with tents and exhibitors setting up for a beer festival. Way to go, Healdsburg, though festivities were not yet under way. It doesn’t quite manage the country-feel of Sonoma, in my opinion. It seems more up-market but is very pleasant, nonetheless.
We found a very decent Mexican restaurant where we had too large a lunch (again!) accompanied by the finest margaritas I’ve ever tasted Fresh squeezed lime juice is the key. I should have passed on the food and restricted myself to the liquid calories. The ladies were out-shopped by Steve who was seduced by a money clip in a native American store, thus having less money left to put in his newly acquired money clip. Now there’s an interesting conundrum.
Steve wanted to visit a winery, Mazzocco, whose wines, particularly its Zinfandels, had received very good reviews in a wine magazine. First a wine cruise around San Francisco Bay, now a winery visit; intriguing choices for non-drinkers. Naturally, we had no objection and were happy to join in and enjoy the wines on Steve and Kathy’s behalf. The Zinfandels were very good but quite expensive starting at $30 a bottle so your resident globetrotting cheapskates settled for a special offer case (50% off, or so the literature goes) of their more affordable, lighter, easy-drinking Merlot. It’ll save our shopping for bottles a few at a time from Whole Foods in Petaluma, after all. It got us back our $5 tasting fee, too.
Another friend, Mike Borse, had told us he was playing in a jazz combo at a small town called Graton in the evening. ‘T was the day of Graton’s own particular brand of street festival. Steve and Kathy’s obligations meant that we couldn’t stay until the evening to watch Mike give his all but we did call in to see what Mike described as a very Bohemian event. I think I saw what he meant; the costumes and devices in the street were decidedly unique. My particular favourite attendee was a billy goat wearing a straw hat.
We couldn’t see any fog over to the west as Steve drove us back to Petaluma to collect our rental car. We collected a couple of crab cakes and assorted mixed salad leaves from Whole Foods, an attempt at a light dinner to compensate for our heavier lunch, and started dreaming of sipping some wine in the evening sunshine on the deck back at home base.
We drove under the fog blanket about seven miles from home.