The Bay, from the Berkeley Hills.
We have just returned from a whirlwind west coast journey – Berkeley and the East Bay, and Santa Rosa in Sonoma with friends, and then cool and fresh Lincoln City, on Oregon’s coast, for a birthday celebration and family gathering.
While in Berkeley we enjoyed the warmth and hospitality of John and Betty, and had dinner with former neighbors and good friends John and Jennifer. We walked all over the place – on the first morning Betty led us on a tour of Berkeley’s Gourmet Ghetto on our way to the University campus and a visit to Bernard Maybeck’s Faculty Club, a personal favorite.
On Shattuck Avenue, we walked past what Betty called a local shrine. I thought a spa on this street was a bit odd, but she did say we were passing “Shape and Ease.”
No, dimwit. It was Chez Panisse, and indeed a shrine. Alice Waters was at that moment helping to preside over the “Slow Food” convention in Frisco, with Michael Pollan and other well known foodies at her side.
“Shape and Ease” is midblock in this photo, just past the red building.
Later John took us up into the Berkeley Hills, and we walked Maybeck’s Rose Walk, lined with lovely cottages designed by Henry Higby Gutterson after the 1923 fire (with Maybeck consulting).
Amy and John at Rose Walk.
We visited friends Lynnie and Steve in Santa Rosa, and Steve showed us the hugely impressive Santa Rosa Creek restoration project that he has helped lead. Fish have returned, as has vegetation, and the Creek is now a big community asset.
Santa Rosa Creek, restored.
Steve is also helping to lead an effort to build a 70 mile long Light Rail system between Cloverdale, in northern Sonoma County, and Larkspur, in southern Marin County, on existing roadbed. Called the SMART Train (Sonoma/Marin) and on the ballot in November, they need more than a two-thirds vote. Thanks to +$4.00 gas, they are doing okay in the polls. Steve – we have our fingers crossed. In California Car World, it will be close.
On a related note, we opened the S.F. Chronicle one morning while sipping a cup of John’s fantastic coffee and nearly fell on the floor – Governor Schwarzenegger had the previous day signed a $10 billion bill to begin creating a high speed train that will run the length of the State. Go, Arnold!
Which touches on one of our observations of the California visit. Obvious perhaps, but notwithstanding Alice Waters and Slow Food and scads of bike lanes and BART and SMART and the Governor’s bill and the walkability of Berkeley and the University, this place is still hugely dominated by cars. Beautiful, and with a most benign climate, but in the end completely defined by cars.
Our journey’s final destination was the Oregon Coast, where sister Bonnie and brother-in-law Roger hosted the entire clan with grace, great good humor, and patience. A grand gathering, a happy celebration, and a first: piloting a kayak on Drift Creek, with brother Doug, Roger, and nephew Finley in a nearby canoe. Nice afternoon on the water – up a creek, but with a paddle.
On Drift Creek.