California Highway 116 runs through the small unincorporated town of Guerneville in Sonoma County--a 90 minute drive north of San Francisco (without traffic; easily over 2 hours otherwise).
A sign without periods in the Safeway parking lot tells the history of the place...
Today, this is a popular summer resort area for people in the Bay Area, especially the gays. The Russian River winds through Guerneville on its way from the mountains above Mendocino, and south to Jenner, where it empties into the Pacific Ocean. The downtown has a few bars, some restaurants, and several small art galleries, antique stores, and thrift shops. The vineyards grow Pinot and Chardonnay. The Bohemian Grove is here.
I don't know when the gays started flocking to Guerneville, or what it was like before they did, but up until 1990, I always thought of this as redneck territory.
My mom said she was going up here to visit a lesbian friend from nursing school and I was all, "Lesbians?! Up there?!" and she was all, "Get a clue; it's totally gay up there!"
After that, it seemed like everyone I knew was heading off to the "Rush Riv" for one gay-themed summer festival or another.
It's autumn now and the summer gays are gone.
We have a friend whose dad owns a rental cabin on the river. She has second dibs on the cabin when it's empty, which is often during the fall and winter. We're just here for a couple days.
The mornings begin with my favorite of all vacation breakfasts, pie and coffee.
I've been reading this book on and off for several weeks.
The mornings are slow. I lay outside and read while Guy watches a movie.
Chapter 8 was very good, but it's a little hard to concentrate with all this peace and quiet.
Sequoia sempervirens. No one calls it that in ordinary conversation but me. It's coast redwood, the tallest tree species on earth. A relict from another time.
A little walk?
The cabin is right on the river.
The Bohemian Grove is in the woods on the other side.
(Southern exposure; the sun is in my eyes.)
The river floods its banks during winter rains, so the dock gets pulled up for the season.
It's not all vacation rentals and summer homes. Some people live here all year round.
As a rule, redwood forests mean deep shade on the forest floor. But the sun is low on the horizon this time of year, and the forest has been thinned for residential development. Front yard gardens are a mix of things. I see lots of flowerless rhododendrons. But also Salvia leucantha, some roses, and lots of mostly-spent bedding annuals for part-shade like impatients and begonias.
It's a little depressing to see an environment like this so bereft of native plant species besides the trees. What's missing? Perfectly carefree garden plants with year-round interest such as Giant chain fern (Woodwardia fimbriata), sword fern (Polystichum minitum), evergreen huckleberry (Vaccinium ovatum), Salal (Gaultheria shallon), currants and gooseberries (Ribes sp.), Vine Maple (Acer circinatum, not native this far south, but it would still be nice to see), coffeeberry (Rhamnus californica), tanoak (Lithocarpus densiflorus), Douglas Iris (Iris douglasiana) tiger lily (Lilium pardalinum, well those might be here and be dormant, but I doubt it)...
What's here in nauseating abundance is Algerian Ivy, Hedera canariensis. It sickens me to see it climbing redwood trees and I want to take my pruners and cut it off at the base of every tree I see.
(It's been pruned off these trees; other pictures I took were too blurry to use.)
The architecture and design is all over the place.
It's past noon before we go in to town for some real food.
After breakfast, we mosey around.
These two pictures, above and below, tell you a lot about the Guerneville milieu.
This store, in case you haven't figured it out, would be the one-stop-shop for all your female impersonation needs.
I like to think that at least some of my readers actually do dress like this from time to time. You know who you are.
A fabulous night of liquor and lip-syncing await you!
Or just get dressed up for Ugly Betty at the Rainbow Cattle Co.
I had a hemp shirt once. I think it shrank in the drier or something.
I don't know what that says.
I must say, the chocolate seems like an afterthought at Hemp & Chocolat.
I do enjoy a good truffle.
In other stores...
the Christmas vibe is upon us.
This is my first encounter with the spirit of Christmas(-shopping) in 2007. I can't say it feels all that bad.
I see lots of stocking stuffers.
If I was a chick, or just wanted to dress like one, I'd wear stuff like this.
Tonier fare in a few shops.
I wonder how the kittens are doing.
The neighbor S will visit them tonight for dinner and play time.
These jellyfish glass things are in all the finer crafty stores now. I do like them, but we have nowhere to feature such an objet d'art at the house of whoreticulture.
And I like these very inexpensive baskets made out of dried grasses. But I didn't buy one.
Julie, I rang the gong for you.
Somehow, I forgot to bring socks with me on this trip, so I was glad to see this fishing tackle store had boot socks for sale.
I cannot go without socks at night because my feet get cold. I have big feet, so that means a big part of my body is cold, and that means I catch a cold. And that would suck.
Are you bored yet?
Here I am looking at cards.
October 18 was my birthday.
I'm getting old.
What a lovely garden.
There's a little bit of garden interest downtown too.
This is probably the best use of Lamium maculatum I've ever seen. People plant it with impatients and pansies and I think that's crazy.
I would like to have this wreath of bay leaves. I love bay leaves. California has a native bay, Umbellularia californica. Its fragrance is stronger than the Mediterranean Laurus nobilis and I'm always reading it gives some some people headaches. Not me. I like the California one much better.
Big tits, and what's the nose?
There's a flea market in the Safeway parking lot, and a woman is selling rooted cuttings from her garden.
She had some nice stuff, but her prices were too high. She wanted $10 for six-inch yellow-flowering abutilon in a 4-inch pot, and even more for a small double purple Datura. I didn't tell her that or try to haggle with her. I wonder if that could ever be me--selling cuttings and seed-grown plants at flea markets in semi-weird, semi-rural California supermarket parking lots. It doesn't sound so crazy, but I think I would rather be gardening.