The Sonoma Valley

By Saturday I had enough of all the crazy busy going on in town, so I convinced Bonnie that we should head north towards Sonoma and Napa area about an hour north of San Francisco. Here we are coming across the 580 bridge under the north side of the bay. This was the first time I went westbound on this bridge and had to pay the five dollar toll.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe were going to make another stop and spend more time and Muir Woods, but being Saturday and a holiday weekend it was crazy busy and we couldn’t find any parking near the main entrance. But we headed back down to Muir Beach so Bonnie could check out the Pacific Coast.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAs you can tell by Bonnie’s expression the water was quite cold.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe spent close to an hour roaming the beach and picking up interesting rocks and beach glass. And then Bonnie wanted to make a stop at the gift shop before heading up the valley, so I dropped her off and drove around for a good 45 minutes the traffic was crazy. Then we headed north into the countryside and a little less traffic. We came across the Sonoma Raceway, they take their cow racing quite serious here in California. You know California home of the happy cow and I guess fast too.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAs you drive around the countryside you see hundreds of vineyards of all different sizes here’s a few quick photos of some of the grapevines just coming into green.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASonoma is a busy little tourist town with lots of shops and restaurants, but that was not the point of interest for Bonnie and me. It’s also home of the Sonoma State Historical Park, which consist of many different buildings spread out over several miles. Our first stop Lachryma Montis just outside of town and part of the California State Park System.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis was one of the estate of “General Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo”. Vallejo was the Mexican Commandant General of this part of California when it was part of Mexico. His job was to protect this area from would be invaders. He was granted a 66,000 acre (100 square miles) parcel of land to run as a working ranch. This house unlike most of the adobe style homes in the area, was a pre-fabricated home that was built in the East near Boston and shipped to its present location where it was reassembled. It’s a quaint little home with lots of original furnishings still in it. Photo of the master bedroom.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOne of the dining room.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPart of the sitting room with the piano and harp.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnother one of the bedrooms.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt had beautiful gardens and courtyards, here’s one of the courtyard with lots of picnic tables to enjoy your lunch under these beautiful olive trees.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOne of a pretty little quail in one of the gardens.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThere were beautiful flowers to be found everywhere.

Here’s a photo of the reservoir that was built and used as a swimming pond and an irrigation system for the gardens.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn the 1800s this area was full of natural springs and the water was used as a source of life for the surrounding area, but since then the water table is dropped considerably.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALots of succulents in the area too.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd saw a lot of these cool little lizards. This poor guy was missing his tail, but I guess it will grow back.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThere were lots of prickly pear cactus and this one had lots of fruit.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOne of the other interesting things in the area about 12 miles south of town is the Petaluma Adobe State Historic Park. It is an impressive two-story Adobe building encircled by a veranda. This structure is all that remains of Commandant General Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo’s vast Rancho de Petaluma once the largest and most prosperous private rancho in Mexican northern California. It is the largest remaining Adobe structure of its time.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe ranch was used to support his troops as he got very little help from the government. They grew lots of rain and raise lots of cattle. Here’s an example of some of the grain piled up in the mill room.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd the cattle was used mostly for their hides either sold or used to make products needed by the soldiers and workers like the saddles.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe cooking was done in large cast-iron kettles and beehive ovens like these.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThey also had a woodworking and metalworking shop where they built and repaired all the items that were needed to run the ranch.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHere’s a cool reproduction of one of the types of wagons used on the open range.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWell that’s about it for now with Bonnie and me exploring the San Francisco Bay area. I have since moved up into the Sonoma Valley and staying at Liberty Glen campground an Corps of Engineers Park, in the Lake Sonoma Recreation Area. A beautiful area what hundreds of vineyards and wineries. I’ll have more to come on that as I explore the area. Thanks for coming along, Rick

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