Friday, July 30, 2010


Reconstruction of the Bay Bridge seems to have been going on forever.  After the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake it became clear that the eastern part of the bridge had to be replaced but politics and economics delayed that for many long years.  Now, finally, you can see the light at the end of the bridge.  The new part is being built alongside the old and eventually one will replace the other.

The western half, from Treasure Island to San Francisco, will remain. The new part looks bright and shiny, but the design is pedestrian, with nothing of the excitement, one might even say splendor, of the older section.  The criss-crossed girders, the slim cables under tension from the top to the roadbed, this is what a bridge should look like.  It makes driving into San Francisco an event, even in the fog.  On a sunny day it's glorious.

The other day, longing for some sun, we decided to drive north to Sonoma.  This little town retains some of its charm, in spite of the enormous numbers of tourists wandering from shop to shop and restaurant to restaurant.  There's still the town square, with the City Hall in the center, built from huge rough stones, the lawns, the rosebushes, the ponds with ducks paddling slowly between clumps of reeds.  It really does anchor the town and there are always people sitting on the benches and children playing on the swings.

The town grew around the mission San Francisco Solano, the last of the long series of missions built from the Mexican border to Northern California between the mid-16th to the mid-18th century.  The mission is still here, just off the square, down the street from the old army barracks, the restored hotel and the rest of the buildings making up the Sonoma State Historic Park

Leaving history behind, we drove over to the Napa Valley to have a glass of champagne at Domaine Chandon, set in pretty grounds downhill from the Veterans Home in Yountville.  This is only one of several partnerships between California sparkling wine makers and French champagne houses. From the parking lot you pass a startling field of mushrooms under the trees lining a little bridge.  It takes a second or two to realize they're made of stone, an art installation there to please your eye while the bubbles please your palate.

Speaking of pleasing the eye, I don't think I've posted any photos of the beautiful fruits we've been seeing at our local Monterey Market.  The slightly dusty-looking plums, the blushing peaches and nectarines, have kept me very happy all summer.

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