What I Did On My Holidays


Chapter 20

The Armstrong Redwoods

21/11/99
Day 15

From Napa Valley to Sonoma Valley via a small back road across the intervening hills. Napa Valley is nice, it's flat and bordered with hills (as valleys tend to be). The colours of the vines in Autumn are great. Having said that, driving up a narrow twisting road into the trees was better. There's only so many parallel rows of vines that one can gaze upon before some randomness is craved. And Napa has so many vines.

The redwoods are a totally different experience. Everone says "The Redwoods" but there are lots of patches of redwoods in California. The smallest might be in the Redwood Grove Winery in Napa, a group of five trees. The closest to San Francisco would be the Muir Woods which I saw described as "the last remaining stand of redwoods that once covered the areas north of San Francisco". Great thing to leave to our descendants, some remnants of nature. Anyway, it seems standard to ask "Which redwoods?" when someone says they went so see The Redwoods. They're not The Redwoods, they're just some redwoods, but I guess that logic doesn't apply to the US psyche. Or they're just getting mentally prepared for the day when there is only one patch of redwoods left.

The Armstrong Redwoods are named after a guy called Armstrong, believe it or not. He made a living of cutting trees down, but claimed he liked them anyway so he preserved a few. I suspect he just didn't get around to felling these ones before Death's scythe felled him.

The trees were impressive. Some of them were even redwoods. They had the same X-files feel as those trees near Lake Ashi in Japan. My current theory is that some species of trees exude anti-noise from their bark. If you put enough of them in a group, it becomes very, very quiet.


Proof! A rare snapshot of a redwood 
converting noise energy directly into light!

Redwoods are redwoods, very tall, very wide trunks. Only thing is, they weren't as tall as I expected...


Heading back took longer than planned due to the need to find a certain burger joint called In and Out. Darren and Christine really wanted to have lunch there. I was hoping that In and Out referred to the purchasing process, not the digestive process.

We pulled off the freeway at Santa Rosa in search of burger mecca. Couldn't find it, so directory assistance was called. No manna distributors in Santa Rosa but there was one in the next town off the freeway. So after a few failed attempts to find the on-ramp (and a few U turns of dubious legality), we got back on the freeway for a while. Burger joint was found, lunch was obtained and we hit the freeway again.

The thing about this freeway was the concrete surface with expansion joints every few metres. Dreadful pounding all the way. Bizarre.

We made it back to San Francisco just at the end of the optimal parking period. There was tension, there was drama. Would we get a good park? Or would we spend the rest of our time in San Francisco circling the block?

The parking fairies were with us once again. We parked so close to the apartment that we could actually see the window. It was a perfect forever spot as well. Darren and Christine may never use that car again, just to keep such a good parking spot. Clearly they need an oversize van parked in a forever spot and just park in the van.
 

Dinner that night was at a place called Spettro's. Sounds bad, tastes good. The only drawback was that everyone else knew it tasted good and wanted to go there that night. There was a crowd waiting outside when we arrived. We put our name on the list and waited...

And waited...

And ate a slice of pizza they offered to the waiting crowd.

And waited...

And drank some presumably cheap red wine they offered to the waiting crowd.

And waited...

And got in! There was still a hungry looking crowd outside when we left. Popular joint.


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