Sunday, August 4, 2013

City Morning, Wilderness Afternoon

Today we discovered the definitive answer to the burning question "How long does it take Team WestEnders to adjust to a 3,000 mile, 3-hour Time Zone trek?" Since we emerged from sleep under our own power this morning, at a rational and acceptable local time (that would be 7:30, for the curious), I would have to conclude that the magical number is: 36 hours. Not too bad...although I can't say I was so perky that I turned my nose up at the free hotel coffee. ('Cuz that would just be crazy talk...) Also of note, it came as quite a shivery shock this morning when I opened the door to wander down to the breakfast bar and got hit with a blast of 50-degree air, presumably fueled by the layer of clouds clinging to the hilltops. (Yep, that desperation-fleece I bought yesterday is looking more and more like a prudent purchase...yay, me!)

Today's get-out-and-explore agenda first took us to the historical area of downtown Santa Rosa. Called Railroad Square, it boasts shops, eateries...and adorable statuary tributes to Charles Schulz--who drew his beloved Peanuts comics while living in Santa Rosa for about 40 years-- scattered throughout the sidewalks, cheerful surprises to encounter on your meandering path. We wound our way up and down the quiet, pleasant streets for a while, even stumbling upon a well-disguised mall (believe it or not), cleverly nestled in middle of the exactly the time when we were craving a thirst-quenching cold drink. (W-I-N!) As we walked and walked (and walked), one thing we couldn't get over was how, even in the bright sunlight (yes, the early a.m. fog does always burn off, apparently) it never seemed hot or uncomfortable, thanks to the extremely low level of humidity. (In fact, I kept my jacket on most of the day, because even when the temps hit their highest point--around 78*--it still felt cool in the shade or when the breeze kicked up.) After several miles of city-sightseeing on foot, we deemed it the Official Hour of Lunch and ate at a cute cafe (A'roma--kitschy-but-cute, yeah?) before heading out of town for our next engagement.

From the (relative) bustle of Santa Rosa, we moved out into the sprawling vistas of northern California wine country, in search of Armstrong Woods and its reaaaallllyyy BIG trees. Although we'd read about this phenomenon in the guidebooks, we were still astonished at the sheer number of wineries--and the acres upon acres of grapevines--we passed along the way. We were also climbing a bit as we drove, and we began noticing absolutely gigantic pine trees sprouting out of the landscape as well. Add to that the rocky hillsides and the Russian River winding below us in a shallow valley, and you have an altogether spectacular drive. And then, of course, there were the redwoods...towering, majestic, placid guardians of the forest. As you hike through their domain, I swear absolute silence reigns (apart from the human chatter, I mean). No wind, no animal sounds, no rushing water, just...serenity. True to form, we chose a 2-ish mile loop that promised to be "somewhat strenuous...and steep". It involved a 500-foot elevation change on a loose-gravel-and-dirt trail with sheer side-drops and numerous switchbacks. (Uh-huh, this actually IS our idea of a "nice Saturday jaunt in the park"...or perhaps we all collectively exhibit a teensy bit of the "glutton for punishment" gene, whatever...) Anyway, we spent some quality time marveling at the Beauty of Nature before calling it a day and returning to home base.

My pedometer-thingie assured me that we had walked over 24,000 steps/10 miles in the course of our active day, so we rewarded ourselves with a dinner of Mexican fare at a recommended local restaurant (Su Casa--turned out to be casual and delicioso) then settled in for the rest of the evening. Given the status of everyone's legs (in a word: weary), tomorrow will be a more restful day...naturally it shall begin with caffeine (that kind of goes without saying, right?)...and then include a visit to a co-worker of Husband's who lives out here (quizzing her about everything you need to know to become a Sonoma County Transplant...) For now, I will take some of that peaceful atmosphere I so appreciated from the redwood preserve, and apply it to meditating...while gazing at the insides of my eyelids...I feel it working alreadyzzzzzz......

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