The getaway. The first one. Suitable for the first one.
And if Maureen and i have a great escape destination, it’s north of the Southwest corner a tad under 600 miles. When i consider all the options and all that could be, i wish everyone had good people at an escape destination like we do.
The rest of the lyrics don’t exactly apply, but the opening? Yup. Nailed it:
Pack up all my cares and woe, here I go, singing low,
And off we go…er, went. Now, the places we went were beyond terrific, but the people to whom we visited are off the charts.
Alan and Maren Hicks met us at the San Francisco airport. We drove to the De Young Museum in Golden Gate Park and lunched there. Great lunch, outside. Then we went to the Calder- Picasso exhibit at the museum. Maren is a source of endless knowledge and appreciation about art. Maureen loves art of all kinds and, although knowledgeable herself always learns from Maren. Alan can hold his own in his appreciation of art. i am learning. Love it and this exhibition gave me an insight and respect for what modern art, sculpture, and in Calder’s work, mobiles, are expressing.
Ahh, but then Sonoma. Sonoma is a place that used to exist and somehow still does. Growth with taste, genteel elegance that makes us feel comfortable. About every two hours or so, i marvel at how simpatico Maren Hicks and Maureen Boggs Jewell are. Their backgrounds are different. They come from different places, Atlanta and San Diego, yet they appreciate the good things, especially in art, decor, and food, dining out or cooking at home. Just being around them gives me a sense of all’s right with the world.
Alan? We have a coterie of buddies, nearly all of us from the same Vanderbilt fraternity and one or two others who have run with us from then until now. The big common interest is Vanderbilt athletics. Alan and i watched Vandy baseball all weekend, along with the Giants, and an old guy winning the PGA like no one has seen before. i’ve was fortunate to reconnect with Alan about 15 years ago, and we see each other on a regular basis, even though that almost 600 miles apart. Hardly Strictly Bluegrass in Golden Gate Park every October and almost every Vandy baseball early season trip out west. That’s not all: anytime i can make an excuse to get together.
And Sonoma, great museums, great walking, an epicurean delight, incredible weather, and…oh yes, wine, wine, wine. Not to mention the view from the backyard of the Hick’s abode looking east with the Sebastiani vineyards in the foreground where we walked in a light mist. And before the others are awake, i walk out in the brisk morning air with my cup of coffee to this:
Then there are places nearby. i could spend a bunch of days just walking around Jack London’s Valley of the Moon. We didn’t go there this time, but we did drive around in incredible vistas, feeling like we had connected with the earth goddess, and i assured myself Marlon Brando’s character Rio in “One eyed Jacks” did his riding around these amber colored hills. We made it to The Murphy Store, a rambling shack-like structure hanging out over Tomales Bay, and had raw oysters, oyster Rockefeller, a rock cod sandwich and, to conclude, buffalo milk ice cream. Folks, it just don’t get much better than that.
And then Saturday, we received a bonus. A tornado watch, if you can believe that, in the Denver, affected the flight that would send us winging back to the Southwest corner. All was uncertain, so we changed the flight (at no expense to us: thank you, Southwest) to Sunday morning. Voila. We got another night in our little slice of almost heaven.
Thanks, Alan and Maren, for yet another wonderful getaway. After this past year, it was much needed.
Now the big journey is coming up. Home sweet, home. Signal Mountain with family. Hotlanta. And Asheville.