Travel, Etc.

Travel, Etc.

Travel, Etc.

Travel, Etc. --> Escape from Sonoma Part I

Escape from Sonoma Part I
The Fun Stuff....

On a recent, much-anticipated trip to Sonoma Valley with friends, Cathy & Kurt, it was a great time….until it wasn’t!! We rented a gorgeous VRBO home just outside of Healdsburg overlooking a scenic Zinfandel vineyard, complete with 2 master bedrooms and baths, a well-stocked kitchen and a wrap-around deck with a hot tub. We arrived on Wednesday, October 23rd, knowing there was a remote possibility of power outages. Our plan was for visiting 2 wineries each day for 5 days, all set up in advance.  We had reservations at some of the best restaurants in Healdsburg and a Sunday excursion to Anderson Valley, Roederer Winery and the Mendocino coast…what a great trip, right?  

On Thursday morning, while making coffee, we noticed there seemed to be a lot of fog in the vineyard, at least until we opened the door and realized it was smoke. The Kincaide fire had started in the hills east of Geyserville at 9:30 the night before. All of Geyserville had been evacuated, but Healdsburg was 6 miles outside of the evacuation area. No worries, right? We made breakfast, and even went out to the deck to enjoy it despite the smoke, and remained pretty unfazed until the hot tub maintenance guy came wearing an industrial-grade mask. Hmmm…should we be concerned? Breakfast was finished inside.
About that time, Ferrari-Carano canceled our first visit, since PG&E had cut all the power north of Geyserville. They recommended that we visit their tasting room on the square in Healdsburg. We made our way to town, noticing more people wearing more industrial-grade masks, but we pushed on determined to enjoy our trip, and we did.  We visited the Ferrar-Carano tasting room and drove out to Dry Creek Vineyards, who were up and running with an industrial-strength generator. More about that next week.

When we returned from the winery visits on late Friday, our VRBO owner contacted us to say that the power would likely be cut on Saturday. And, judging from the ominous reddish clouds of smoke on the northeast horizon (refer to first photo) and the fact that our house was on well and septic (meaning candles and buckets of water to flush), we decided to punt….what the heck…let’s make it a coastal trip. We all agreed, it would be an adventure.  

There is a wonderful resort in Bodega Bay that we had visited before that, fortunately, had 2 rooms available with fireplaces, a restaurant on a generator, and a gas-fired hot water heater, just in case of a power loss…how bad can that be, right? On Saturday morning, on the way to the “new vacation,” we made one of our scheduled winery visits at Martin Ray and while there learned that Healdsburg and all the areas to the west, including that winery, were now under evacuation order. But hey, we beat it to the punch, and we were headed further west to the coast, right?  

Late Saturday, we arrived at the Bodega Bay Lodge, settled in, and proceeded to drive the area and plan the next day. We then noticed the obscenely long lines at the gas station, with locals directing traffic. In a blinding flash of the obvious, we realized, gosh, no power, no pumps, and got in the line. After 30 minutes, we returned to the lodge, popped open a bottle of Martin Ray Chardonnay, and went outside to watch the sunset. It was then that people began streaming from the restaurant…it was closing and Bodega Bay was under evacuation orders.  

Thanks to the amazing skills and tenacity of Cathy, who we think could be a travel agent (she also got us into the Bodega Bay Lodge), American changed our return flights home to the next day (yes, for a price). Time to get the Hell out of California!!

With our gas tank thankfully full, we proceeded to San Francisco. Unfortunately, 80,000 people were trying to use Freeway 101 all at once, and it was moving at 5 miles an hour.  So we opted for the curvy route down old Highway 1 along the coast, mostly in the dark, so it was an adventure.  And thank you, Kurt, for driving us safely to San Francisco! 

Part II