Did you know that San Francisco once was an ancient river valley where creatures grazed and browsed and stalked their prey, left their bones? I didn’t until I read an inscription telling me about what was here 20,000 years ago. Is it possible that I’m walking above the ground where tusked elephants once roamed long before the Bay Bridge ever existed?
My decision to take a break traveling to the West Coast of the United States for a week was one of the best things I’ve done in a long time. What a wonderful view of the Golden Gate Bridge from Lands End! Here are some of the sights and things I did while I was there.
Below are what’s left of the ruins of the Sutro Baths that once were a large, privately owned swimming pool complex built-in the late 19th century. A building that housed the baths burned down in 1966 and afterwards it was abandoned.
My first day visiting ended with a beautiful “sunset on the beach.”
Then, it was off to catch “The Marin” at the ferry dock that took me over to the island of Sausalito with its scenic waterfront and Mediterranean small town charm. Let me introduce you to “Peter and his dog Diamond” who play the guitar for the visitors.
This view of Alcatraz is the closest that I got to this island because it closed the week I was visiting. However, the Hyatt Regency in San Francisco had a wonderful free exhibit enhanced with “Alcatraz: The Last Day” photo exhibition collection by Life Magazine photographer Leigh Wiener.
The drive down the west coast with a wide-screen view of Big Sur coast was great even though the heavy fog seemed to cling for hours.
Lunch at Nepenthe, a restaurant located 808 feet above the Pacific Ocean in California, was wonderful. It was there I found and purchased the following book written by Romney Steele whose maternal grandparents opened it in 1949. I learned it was once owned by Orson Welles and Rita Hayworth. The original cabin built-in 1925 by homesteader Sam Trotter for the Trails Club was a favorite spot and that’s when her grandparents discovered it and bought it back in 1947. Presently the Nepenthe Restaurant, Phoenix Shop and Café Kevah are still operated by Bill & Lolly Lassett’s children and grandchildren.
A visit to the shops at Carmel by the Sea and climbing a tree on the beach was fun. It was cool that evening, but the perfect patio table was found; and, it even came with its own heat lamp.
The tour and wine tasting at the Castello di Amorosa in Calistoga, California was worth the visit. Have you ever had a piece of “Cioccolata Con Sale Marino” (Sea Salt Chocolate) with a glass of wine? If not, you must try it. First a sip of wine, then a square of dark chocolate followed by another sip of wine. Delicious!
The frescoes are by the artist Fabio Sanzogni and the story behind the building of Castello di Amorosa in the Napa Valley with the finish date of April 7, 2007, is fascinating. You can read about it on this link.
While at the Castello di Amorosa I met a sleeping cat and grazing sheep outside the castle’s walls.
The Imagery Estate Winery in the heart of Sonoma Valley was voted: “2013 – Best Sonoma Winery and their labels feature artwork commissioned from among the world’s most notable contemporary artists with a collection on permanent display in their tasting room gallery. My souvenir was the following tumbled marble stone art from 2012 Winemaker’s Palette that I will use as a coaster.
I found the perfect veranda at Arrowood Vineyards and Winery to spend an afternoon sampling and sipping a glass of wine. The view was spectacular with the Sonoma Mountains in the background.
There was so much to see and do back on the Streets in San Francisco. The Farmers Markets that come twice a week brought fresh organic fruit and vegetables, the Coit Tower was stunning and driving Lombard Street (the steepest Street) a treat. A visit to Chinatown and afterwards to the Palace of Fine Arts was fun as well as watching kiteboarding at the yacht marina.
This is one of the best birthday celebrations I’ve had in a long time!
Written and Photographed by Mary Gilmartin, October 21, 2013