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EUREKa* California’s motto, Greek for “I have found it”

101 places to go, things to do, ways to celebrate where we live INTREPID It’s never too late to take

CHILL Spend a weekend unplugged

AFAR Think you know Lake Tahoe?

QUIRKY Head to extreme Northern

to the waves, learn the art of the curl

Think again and explore its shores

on Point Reyes and Tomales Bay

California on the hunt for Sasquatch

Bay Area News Group $4.95


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BAY AREA NEWS GROUP


EUREKA* California’s motto, Greek for “I have found it”

INTREPID

QUIRKY

CHILL

TASTY

AFAR

Learning to ride the waves

Searching for Bigfoot

Relaxing on Point Reyes

Succulent treats, nearby

Tahoe, away from the glitz

Mark Emmons digs into the surf culture in Santa Cruz. 10

Bruce Newman travels to Willow Creek, on the hunt. 24

Julia Prodis Sulek decamps, unplugs on Tomales Bay. 38

Linda Zavoral explores all that Livermore has to offer. 54

Elliott Almond navigates the lake, hot springs and trails. 68

More intrepid listings 18

More QUIRKY listings 32

More CHILL listings 48

More TASTY listings 62

More AFAR listings 78

Q+A: A cyclist on her regimen and dedication to the sport 22

Q+A: The man behind S.F.’s annual treasure hunt 36

Q+A: Taiko drummer helps artists find the beat 52

Q+A: Chicken and waffles: a tried-and-true combination 66

Q+A: On mountain climbing and the allure of Yosemite 82

Opposite: A swimmer steps gingerly on the rocks at a swimming hole in the Santa Cruz Mountains known as the Garden of Eden. Photograph by Jason Henry

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w e lc o m e

Our backyard paradise By Lisa M. Krieger photogr aph by jason henry

T

here are people whose hearts stir at the thought of another visit to Fisherman’s Wharf, Six Flags Discovery Kingdom and the Winchester Mystery House. This issue is for the rest of us. Pockets of paradise surround us — little-known venues to visit, meals to eat and sights to see that are so perfect that you forgive real estate prices, Google buses and yet another drought. These are uniquely Northern California experiences that catch your breath and remind you: “That’s why I live here.” Our hope is to transport you to these places, through the eyes of some of our favorite journalists. They’re easily overlooked in this era of exotic foreign travel, bucket lists and tourist meccas. Not marquee attractions, they may not be featured in guidebooks, Yelp reviews or on Instagram. They aren’t elegant monuments or grand museums. They don’t offer maids in uniforms. Or room service. Instead, they are beloved for what really matters: pleasure and inspiration. Some spots are quirky — others, comforting. They may offer adventure. Or relaxation. Maybe they’re romantic. Or just

Swimming holes like the Inkwells (above) near Lagunitas dot our landscape.

toddler-proof. The wonders of our region beckon, if we only pause long enough to notice. More than just destinations, they’re also experiences. They smell of Douglas fir or taste like artisan cheese. They feel like hot tubs or cool jazz. They sound like old nickelodeons or splashing children at Lake Del Valle. Maybe

they look as inviting as a field of ripe blackberries, as haunting as a piece of plane crash debris in the Santa Cruz Mountains or as gorgeous as Lauren Bacall on the screen at Stanford Theatre. Become a connoisseur of the best that Northern California offers. First, relax in bucolic Point Reyes. From there, it’s off to a lov-

ably weird Willow Creek, “Bigfoot Capital of the World.” Then it’s time for a surfing lesson in Santa Cruz. Next: Circumnavigate Lake Tahoe for off-the-beaten-track experiences. Closer to home, explore the food and drink of Livermore wine country. This is where life’s really happy moments happen — not in fancy hotels, but simpler surprises just down the road, over the fence, between life’s responsibilities and beyond clocks and calendars. No matter where the journey takes you, it’s a chance to escape ordinary life. Learn something new. Become someone else. Return refreshed. Maybe the adventure is shared with friends and family or just the joy of your own imagination. Such experiences open our minds, maybe even change them. These ideas are just the beginning. Favorite places are profoundly personal, so new ones will reveal themselves in surprising and serendipitous ways. As you explore, add your own special reasons to love where we live. Contact Lisa M. Krieger at 650-492-4098. Follow her at Twitter.com/lisamkrieger.

e u r e k a s ta f f

Story editors: Mark Conley, Mike Frankel, Sandra Gonzales, Lisa Wrenn. Art directors: Tim Ball, Tiffany Grandstaff. Director of Photography: Jami Smith. Copy editors: Kristen Crowe, Tor Haugan. Contributing writers: Dennis Akizuki, Elliott Almond, Matt Artz, Tim Ball, Chuck Barney, Daniel Brown, Jackie Burrell, Patrick Cant, Cindi Christie, Chris Colin, Mark Conley, Mark Emmons, Mike Frankel, Matthias Gafni, Jim Gensheimer, Tiffany Grandstaff, Tor Haugan,

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Lisa Herendeen, Lisa Krieger, Craig Lazzeretti, David Little, Barb Marshman, Veronica Martinez, Michael Mayer, Andrew McGall, Joan Morris, Bruce Newman, Patrick Perron, Leigh Pointinger, Susan Tripp Pollard, Garrick Ramirez, Josh Richman, James H. Robinson, Jill K. Robinson, Kristopher Skinner, Jami Smith, Susan Steade, Julia Prodis Sulek, Christine Torres, Chris Treadway, Jane Tyska, Ted Ward, Nick Weiler, Andy Wright, Linda Zavoral.

Contributing photographers: LiPo Ching, Doug Duran, Jim Gensheimer, Jason Henry, Josie Lepe, Dai Sugano, Patrick Tehan, Max Whittaker. Contributing artists: Antoine Corbineau, Dave Johnson, Lydia Kasumi Shirreff. About the cover: Sovin Herzlinger, 10, demonstrates his climbing skills (left) in Campbell for this photo illustration by staff photographer Jim Gensheimer.


A PLACE TO REST YOUR HEAD(LANDS): Stay in a hostel; launch from the Headlands, Page 20 PADDLE PAST A PELICAN: Paddleboard in Sausalito, Page 20 ISLAND ADVENTURE: Visit Angel Island, Page 18 CATCHING WAVES UNDER THE BRIDGE: Surf under the Golden Gate, Page 21 BELTING BY THE BAY: Play sailor, and sing the part at Fisherman’s Wharf, Page 34 RUINS AMID RICHES: Explore the city’s ruins at Sutro Baths, Page 50 MAGIC IN THE PARK: Seek out the Fairy Door in Golden Gate Park, Page 32 FOREST IN FOG CITY: Hike at Mount Sutro, Page 20 A MUSICAL INTERLUDE: Experience a weekly jazz concert in front of a Salvation Army store next to a taco truck in the Mission, Page 33 PARK HIDDEN IN PLAIN VIEW: Escape the masses at John McLaren Park, Page 50 MAP BY Antoine Corb ine au

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FOCUS ON FRESHNESS: Get lost going gourmet at Healdsburg’s Shed, Page 65 RIVERSIDE CINEMA: Catch a flick in the sticks near the Russian River, Page 80 DRINK LIKE A KING: Drink up — in a castle in Calistoga, Page 62 REDWOOD RUBDOWN: Bathe next to Salmon Creek, Page 51 LITERARY LANDMARK: Trace Jack London’s life, Page 50 HANDCRAFTED CHEESE: Seek out artisan cheeses in Freestone, Page 65 HIDDEN HIGHWAY: Pedal on Chileno Valley Road, Page 48 OYSTERS STRAIGHT FROM THE SOURCE: Shuck and slurp in Marshall, Page 64 CABINS ON THE EDGE: Let the waves lull you to sleep in the Steep Ravine cabins at Mount Tam, Page 49 TOWN THAT TIME FORGOT: Step back in time in Port Costa, Page 51 MAP BY Antoine Corb ine au

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PORTLY PINNIPEDS: Peep seals at Año Nuevo, Page 48 BARN BOOGIE: Work by day; dance the night away at Pescadero’s Pie Ranch, Page 34 BEAUTY AT BIG BASIN: Explore Rancho del Oso, Page 21 ZIPPING THROUGH THE REDWOODS: Fly through the trees in Felton, Page 21 BERRY BONANZA: Pick sweet treats at Swanton Berry Farm, Page 62 IGNITE THE NIGHT: Watch dancers play with fire in Santa Cruz, Page 32 SWELL TIME AT THE BEACH: Boogie board at Rio del Mar, Page 18 PADDLING IN THE SLOUGH: Kayak at Elkhorn Slough, Page 21 SEASIDE SWINGING: Tee off in Pacific Grove, Page 51 A PICTURESQUE POINT: Hike at Point Lobos, Page 20 MAP BY Antoine Corb ine au

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TRIP PLANNER

I’d like to do something . . . Match how much time you have with how far you want to travel, then choose your own adventure

QUICK Half day or less

I’M IN! Full day or more

NORTH Marin, Tomales Bay, Wine Country

SOUTH The Peninsula, South Bay, Santa Cruz, more

21

Have fun at Adventure Playground

50

Trace Jack London’s life

18

Run ‘The Hill’ in Redwood City

24

Find Bigfoot in Humboldt County

32

Go for a soak in Berkeley

62

Drink up in a castle in Calistoga

18

Mountain bike at Sanborn County Park

68

Explore the lakes and trails of Tahoe

32

Seek out the Fairy Door

62

Get gourmet grub on the go in Yountville

18

Take a run in the South Bay

78

Stroll up to a waterfall in Big Sur

32

Drop some coin at Musee Mecanique

62

Visit olive oil country

21

Fly through the redwoods in Felton

78

Geek out on beer in Chico

32

Dine at the Pacifica Taco Bell

62

Stock up in St. Helena

32

Watch fire dancers in Santa Cruz

78

Cruise Shasta Lake in style

33

Watch a free concert on a Mission sidewalk

64

Shuck and slurp oysters in Marshall

32

Hike to a plane crash in San Mateo County

78

Take an ambitious trip north

34

Be Alameda’s pinball wizard

64

Fuel up at the Jimtown Store in Healdsburg

34

Relive the era of the Grateful Dead

78

Bring your pup along to Boonville

35

Visit ad icons at Hayward’s Bell Plastics

64

Sit and sip at Truett Hurst

35

Plan a hunt for Bigfoot

78

Hike at Hetch Hetchy

50

Show a date the stars in Oakland

65

Hike for pancakes at Mt. Tam

35

Set up shop (with a surfboard)

79

Rent a houseboat on the Delta

62

Make a sour face at Mikkeller

65

Seek out artisan cheeses in Freestone

48

Zen out in Saratoga

80

Catch a flick near the Russian River

63

Sample upscale spirits in a hangar

65

Go gourmet at Healdsburg’s Shed

62

Pick sweet treats at Swanton Berry Farm

80

Take a trip to the apple capital

20

Hike at Mount Sutro

18

Visit Angel Island

10

Learn how to surf in Santa Cruz

80

Explore lava tube caves

20

Cycle through the redwoods in Canyon

18

Cycle at Point Reyes

18

Boogie board at Rio del Mar

80

Relive the Gold Rush in Coloma

21

Surf under the Golden Gate Bridge

20

Launch from Marin Headlands Hostel

19

Try out archery, ride horses, sip wine

81

Take a Yosemite side trip

32

Explore our own Rock City

20

Paddleboard in Sausalito

20

Hike at Point Lobos

81

Gear up for grilling in Lockeford

48

Bird-watch in Richmond

32

Make some Nature Friends at Mt. Tam

21

Kayak at Elkhorn Slough

81

Study shaky ground at Pinnacles

50

Place a bet at Golden Gate Fields

38

Experience Nick’s Cove, Tomales Bay

21

Explore Rancho del Oso

81

Poke around historic Locke

50

Motor (or paddle) at Del Valle

48

Pedal on Chileno Valley Road

34

Barn dance at Pescadero’s Pie Ranch

81

Go geothermal at Lassen

50

Escape the masses and visit McLaren Park

48

Ride the rails in Suisun City

48

Take refuge at a spa in Carmel

81

Stock up in Sutter Creek

51

Wander the Niles district in Fremont

49

Enjoy sweeping views from Mt. Tam cabins

48

Peep seals at Año Nuevo

81

Taste wine in Murphys

54

Eat, drink, play bocce in Livermore

51

Bathe in Sonoma County

51

Tee off in Pacific Grove

81

Wander in Nevada City

64

Pick your own produce in Brentwood

51

Step back in time in Port Costa

65

Sample some suds in Surf City

82

Scale granite in Yosemite

TAKE ME TO MY ADVENTURE! TURN TO THE PAGE LISTED IN each BOX, color-coded to indicate the type of experience YOU’LL HAVE

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THE WORKS Take some extra time off and discover California’s more distant gems

BAY AREA NEWS GROUP

Intrepid

QUIRKY

CHILL

TASTY

AFAR

illustrations by jeff durham

CENTRAL San Francisco, East Bay


Lydia Kasumi Shirreff

INTR E PID

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WELCOME TO

SURF MECCA RIDE A gnarly wave, CATCH A HARD-CORE VIBE, GET HOOKED IN THE COUNTRY’S ORIGINAL SURF CITY — Santa cruz. It’s epic.

by m a r k e m m o n s p h o t o g r a p h s b y pat r i c k t e h a n


So, this is supposed to start off as a totally stoked story about searching for the soul of surfing, describing that life-changing moment of catching a first wave, making a connection with the ocean’s boundless energy and being propelled into an ethereal experience where you hope to ride atop the roiling water forever. But that wouldn’t be entirely honest. The reality goes more like this: It’s about how I managed to teeter precariously on a wobbling longboard for a few precious milliseconds. And that was only through the herculean effort of a master surf instructor, Richard Schmidt, who skimmed next to me like an attentive parent dashing alongside a child learning to ride a bicycle without training wheels. But even as I tumbled off that wave, whose height probably was best measured in inches rather than feet, I glimpsed the mystical appeal of surfing. This, I thought while taking in a mouthful of briny water, is just so cool.

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This isn’t author Mark Emmons. This is an experienced surfer riding the waves at Santa Cruz’s popular surf break Steamer Lane. Located off a point in the West Cliff residential area near downtown, Steamer Lane offers easy access and stunning views. Previous page: A surfer heads out to ride.


Living in the Bay Area, as we all know, can be filled with migraine-inducing stress. Most of us are focused, when not trapped in endless traffic, on paying exorbitant rents and mortgages with the goal of having a little left over at the end of each month. But part of the compensation for putting up with all of that is the knowledge that Northern California can be an adventure waiting to happen. Borrowing from author J.R.R. Tolkien, it’s a dangerous business going out your front door and stepping onto the road because there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to. Graced with a Mediterranean climate, the Bay Area is a living, breathing outdoor playland of trails to hike and bike, rocks to climb and, perhaps most enticing of all, waves to be explored. The epicenter of

Northern California surf culture, and its ancestral birthplace in the mainland United States, is in our backyard. And no wonder Santa Cruz once was named America’s best surf town by Surfer magazine. It’s home to a couple dozen surf breaks, O’Neill wet suits, a community of board-shaping artisans, international star Nat Young and … well, you get the idea. Welcome to Surf Mecca. “Santa Cruz just has the whole surf vibe,” said Michel Junod, 66, who for nearly five decades has been building surfboards that are works of art. “There are so many good surfing spots here because the topography of the shoreline is not like anywhere else. You can surf maybe 300 days a year, and it can be good all day long. Then you toss in the surf schools and the unbelievable number of surf shops, and there’s a complete lifestyle dedicated to surfing. It’s the best city in California for surfing.” Sitting in an office next to his workshop, filled with colorful boards, Junod shook his head in awe of it all. “Nobody could have predicted this,” he added. “It’s amazing what’s happened with surfing here.” A mile away, the sport’s local history is detailed at the quaint Santa Cruz Surfing Museum, at

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Lighthouse Point. The story begins with three Hawaiian princes. They were in the Bay Area attending a military school when they first surfed off the mouth of the San Lorenzo River in 1885. Vintage black-and-white photos of the Santa Cruz Surfing Club, formed in 1936, capture when surfing first grabbed a toehold here. A 13‑foot redwood plank rises toward the ceiling — looking more like something a shipwreck survivor might have clung to than a board for early surfers. More photos, these in color, chronicle the decades as surfing went from curiosity to a pop culture touchstone of American film and music. The best thing about the museum, though, is the location. It’s near a cliff face where you can stare down at Steamer Lane, one of Santa Cruz’s most legendary surf spots, along with Pleasure Point. Mother Nature not only gave Santa Cruz wonderful surf breaks, but also amphitheater-style viewing so landlubbers can share in the spectacle. On days with good swells, the curious will be mesmerized by dozens of wet suit-clad acrobats cutting through frothy, curling waves. Surfing is not merely

a sport, but a way of life — or so say hard-core surfers. People may play tennis or golf, but you live surfing. But for most people, the idea of surfing is more seductive than actually surfing. That’s because we nonsurfers understand, deep down, how hard it must be to look so incredibly graceful on a slim board carved from plastic foam and covered in fiberglass and polyurethane materials. Besides, it takes far less effort to buy surf clothes and just look the part. But the sport is riding a rising wave. In 2014, more than 2.7 million people surfed, according to the Sports & Fitness Industry Association — a nearly 7 percent jump over the previous three years. Longtime surfers grumble that all of those know-nothing newbies — or “kooks,” in the surf vernacular — are trying to jump on their

This is author Mark Emmons. With the help of longtime surf instructor Richard Schmidt, Emmons tackles the waves at Cowell Beach, one of the best places to learn how to surf. At right: Michel Junod has been building surfboards for nearly five decades.

waves. After all, the breaks are few, and the surfers already were many. Jeff Langston, a San Jose native who first came “over the hill” to surf in the 1960s, has witnessed the growth firsthand. He tells of surfing with friends in the dark beneath dim light cast from the Santa Cruz Wharf, wearing white T-shirts over wet suits to keep from hitting one another. There was a time, he said, when Santa Cruz waves were empty. “When we were kids, we would be looking for people,” added Langston, 66. “Now, you’re looking for places with nobody. Surfing is kind of suffering, to some degree, from its own success. Costco has boards now starting around $100, so anybody can try it pretty cheaply. It’s become crazy. It’s better for me to work on the weekends and catch waves during the week.” Actually, surfing is his work. He owns the retail side of Haut Surf Shop, where Santa Cruz legend Doug Haut crafts world-famous custom boards. Langston often finds himself counseling potential customers with surf fever to take a deep breath. “We always say you should demo a board before you spend a thousand dollars,” he said. “The real shocker sometimes is the cost of a wet suit. It can be $500 to $800. But it’s only 50 degrees in the water, and the cold will suck the energy right out of you.” He preaches the wisdom of starting with a lesson. “It really opens up the world of surfing, and then you can see if it’s your cup of tea,” Langston said. That’s how I ended up standing at Cowell Beach, feeling like a stuffed sausage in a skintight wet suit, nervously listening to Schmidt explain the Surf 101 basics as he raised his soft voice above the sound of the waves lapping against the shore. “It’s really going on out there today,” Schmidt said, staring out at water spraying upward as it crashed upon a distant rocky point. “This will be good.” Gulp. Cowell is Schmidt’s

“office.” A wide expanse of smooth beach next to the wharf,


Cowell is considered one of the best places anywhere to learn how to surf, thanks to long, rolling waves and a forgiving, sandy bottom. Add to that how this was a warm spring day and sunshine glistened off the ocean like sparkling diamonds, and I wondered if Schmidt had the best job ever. Trim and possessing a Zen-like sense of calm, Schmidt first rode air mattresses in the white water as a youth and later graduated to big-wave surfing — making a name for wrangling some of the biggest, baddest water monsters. Since 1978, Schmidt has taught the sport’s mechanics, etiquette and safety at a surf school he runs with wife Marisa. While there is no lack of knowledgeable instructors in Santa Cruz, Schmidt has a reputation for being the best. I also sought him out because he is known as an ambassador for the waves — a philosopher-king of the sport. He speaks fluent surf. “It used to be more of a rebel thing, but now it’s gone much more mainstream,” said Schmidt, 54. “It’s definitely alluring. It’s just wild being immersed in this body of water and feeling its power. There’s an adrenaline rush when you’re harnessing nature’s energy. It’s exhilarating. “But it also can be therapeutic out there, just sitting on the board, watching the dolphins and the sun setting. There’s nothing like it, and there’s never a bad day on the water.” With that, he told me to attach the Velcro leash to my ankle and pick up the 9-foot longboard. “Ready?” A quick word here ABOUT

the act of surfing. The “standing” portion is brief compared with the “paddling” part. Friends warned me about how taxing I might find just reaching the waves with a longboard because it means getting reacquainted with your underused triceps. Schmidt added that a lesson can be a wake-up call about your level of physical fitness. So true. I quickly learned that, at 53, mine was not as good as I had hoped. Early on, pride gave way to fatigue, and the tireless Schmidt offered to help tow my board —

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deftly holding the nose with his feet — on the long paddle out so I could conserve strength for actually trying to surf. Once Schmidt deemed that we had gone far enough, he had me point my board toward the shore and he began scanning the horizon the way a city resident looks for a cab. When you’re prone on the board, the waves look much bigger. Belatedly, I realized that I was a fish out of water … despite the fact I was in the water. I even wore a purple shirt over the wet suit to ID me as a novice, as if that weren’t already blatantly obvious to anyone else in the ocean, including the seals. But it also was a truly breathtaking scene, watching accomplished surfers up close as they glided by on waves with a casual rhythm. Above were looming cliffs where countless times I had stood, staring down at surfers, wondering how the heck they did that. I was about to find out. Schmidt then began picking out waist-high waves, told me when to start paddling to create momentum, showed me how to lumber up to my unsteady feet and crouch into a poor man’s version of the classic surfer position. He even helped steady me while riding his board next to mine. And I found myself standing, sort of, on a moving surfboard. Without even suffering any blunt trauma in the process. I was stunned to find myself once coasting on a small wave maybe 30 or so yards. Only after I fell into the water did I realize that Schmidt peeled off and let me take the wave alone. Something that Junod had told me a few days earlier popped into my head. Surfing, he said, can be incredibly addictive. “For some people, their life becomes surfing, and they build their world around it,” Junod added. “If you don’t watch out, you’ll get hooked, too.”

‘For some people, their life becomes surfing, and they build their world around it. If you don’t watch out, you’ll get hooked, too.’ Michel Junod shapes surfboards that are works of art in his shop in Santa Cruz. “There are so many good surfing spots here because the topography of the shoreline is not like anywhere else,” says Junod. “You can surf maybe 300 days a year, and it can be good all day long. Then you toss in the surf schools and the unbelievable number of surf shops, and there’s a complete lifestyle dedicated to surfing.” At left: Surfers ride the waves at Steamer Lane.

to the waves. He has been coming to Santa Cruz to surf since age 14 and now was passing on the sport to 6-year-old Bea. She seemed a lot more comfortable on the board than me, by the way. No surprise there. “Surfing just gives you a real connection to the water,” said Grasser, 42, a South San Francisco firefighter. “When I’m away from the ocean, I miss it. I want to get back to it. It’s so neat watching my daughter’s smile, knowing that she feels that energy, too.” Much of my time on the board was a blur. But I also know it was heart-pumping fun. And I do have one vivid memory on the water. During a lull, I sat on the board bobbing with the gentle movement of the ocean beneath the cloudless sky. Schmidt was taking in the cliffs, the wharf where the barking of seals echoed and the endless water. “Aren’t we blessed to live here?” he asked. I was too out of breath to respond. But looking back now, I have an answer. Yes, we are. Follow Mark Emmons at Twitter.com/ markedwinemmons.

Nearby, a father rode

tandem on a board with a little girl. I would find out later that Brian Grasser and his wife, Sheri, recently had moved to Bonny Doon from Pacifica with their two daughters, partly to be closer

1. Surfing Museum 2. Breaks at Pleasure Point 3. Haut Surf Shop 4. Cowell Beach 5. Steamer Lane m ap by d av e j o h nson

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i n trepid

Visit Angel Island

Mountain bike at Sanborn

When you think of Bay Area islands, Alcatraz might very well be the first one that comes to mind. But why not check out Angel Island? It’s the largest natural island in San Francisco Bay, and you can get there by ferry from San Francisco or Tiburon and spend the day or the entire weekend. The island is beautiful, with several campsites (although the wait times for them are long), biking and hiking trails, and an amazing 360-degree view from the peak of the island. You feel like you’re out in nature, but you can get great views of Bay Area cities. And around now, there are wildflowers all over. There’s also a fascinating museum commemorating the internment of Asian immigrants on this “Ellis Island of the West.”

The new John Nicholas Trail at Sanborn County Park is the kind of trail mountain bikers long for — that’s because it was designed and built with the help of mountain biking enthusiasts. Before starting your journey, park at the trailhead, on Black Road in Los Gatos. Then hit the trail. It never gets too steep, and it affords pleasant scenery, with canopy cover the whole way. Check out the view of Saratoga and the bay near the top. The downhill return is a blast, with minimal braking required. The only caveat: There are no toilets. For details, go to http://bayareane.ws/1OFRrX0.

Run in the South Bay

For details, call 415-435-5390.

Hit the ground running on Los Gatos Creek Trail. Start near Lark Avenue (find parking on Charter Oaks Drive). Head toward downtown Los Gatos on the trail, and turn around at the drinking fountain just after going under the Main Street Bridge. This section of the creek trail has the most shade, drinking fountains and bathrooms. The scenery is great, with Vasona Lake and plenty of wildlife along the creek. To add 3 miles and some hills to your run, keep going past the turnaround spot and head up the dam at Lexington Reservoir. Stay to the left and return on the Jones Trail (it’s a heartbreaker up the hill), and then the Flume Trail drops you back at the water fountain under the Main Street Bridge. If this doesn’t satisfy you, add a 3-mile loop to reach the top of St. Joseph’s Hill for a half-marathon.

Run ‘The Hill’ Jerry Rice, Roger Craig and other 49ers greats used to test their mettle by running up a scenic stretch of Edgewood Park in Redwood City. Rice used to call the 4-mile loop his “fourth quarter” because it represented his dedication to training. It makes for a lovely hike — and a fabulous photo. For details on Edgewood Park, go to http://bayareane.ws/1DXaSz6.

Cycle at Point Reyes Love cycling? Log some serious miles at Point Reyes National Seashore. Options cater to those looking for shorter treks as well as seasoned cyclists who want to complete a 100-mile, or century, ride. Visitors centers offer a free map, which indicates bicycle trails. Just make sure to keep your eyes peeled, and yield, for horseback riders and hikers.

For details, go to http://bayareane.ws/1EqRj5Q.

Hike Mount Wanda

For details, call 831-685-6500.

For details, go to http://bayareane.ws/1EqQHwT.

For a sample trek, go to http://bayareane.ws/1JPnrkC.

Boogie board at Rio del Mar

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BAY AREA NEWS GROUP

From top: Hikers descend the Mount Wanda Trail; joggers take to the Los Gatos Creek Trail; and wildflowers and a fire warning in the campground on Angel Island.

ON MUIR

When Muir lived in Martinez, he often visited Mount Wanda — named after his daughter.

BAY AREA NEWS GROUP ARCHIVES; muir: hulton archive

Boogie board the day away at Rio del Mar State Beach, at the end of Beach Drive in Rio del Mar. Because of the topography, the beach offers plenty of rideworthy waves. If you see surfers, you know the conditions will be good. This is also a great place for beginning surfing lessons.

The wondrous Mount Wanda in Martinez provides a beautiful, easy hike that offers panoramic views of Mount Diablo, Martinez, Benicia and the Carquinez Strait. Named by legendary conservationist John Muir after his daughter, it’s a stone’s throw from the John Muir House and was frequented by Muir during the years he lived in Martinez. There also are lots of interpretive signs along the path peppered with inspirational quotes from Muir, and the area is home to deer, birds and other wildlife. The John Muir House, on the other side of Alhambra Avenue, is itself a well-kept secret. A National Park Service site, it provides a fascinating look at Muir’s life as a family man and farmer when he wasn’t exploring the wild.


intrepid

This place has it all: archery, horses, wine ... What do bows and arrows, horses and wine have in common? They all can be part of an action-packed day and are located (nearly) within spitting distance from one another in Santa Clara County. Stevens Creek County Park has a 28-station archery range on Mt. Eden Road. Archery lessons are available from Bowhunters Unlimited. Next door is Cooper-Garrod Estate Vineyards (22645 Garrod Road, Saratoga) and Garrod Farms (22647 Garrod Road), where you can hike, ride horses and taste wines. Music is featured many Sundays. If you don’t ride horses but like to watch them, check out the vaulting team during practice. For details on archery lessons, go to http://bhuarchers.org/bow7/lessons; for details about Cooper-Garrod Estate Vineyards, go to www.cgv.com; and for details about Garrod Farms, go to www.garrodfarms.com.

Above: Students at Bowhunters Unlimited take aim at a target on the archery range at Stevens Creek County Park on Mt. Eden Road.

From left: Meghan Collins hikes to a target; Christine Zhu enjoys a glass of wine at CooperGarrod Estate Vineyards; and Danny Baldwin gets a nuzzle from Lakota. te x t a n d p h o t o g r a p h s b y j i m ge n s h e i m e r

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Hike at Mount Sutro This hilly 61-acre park in San Francisco’s Inner Sunset neighborhood offers cinematic views, shady trails, and (best of all) the feeling you’re wandering through a forest in the middle of a city. Climb the stairs at Stanyan and 17th streets, and enter on the Historic Trail. Hike through lush greenery and towering trees to the Fairy Gates Trail, and it’ll spit you back out on Belgrave Street, close to where you started, for an easy beginners hike. But the fun of Mount Sutro is following the numerous winding paths to discover new views, quiet reading spots and the occasional renegade wood sculpture. For details, go to http://bayareane.ws/1GIRUDo.

Launch from the Headlands To rekindle your days backpacking through Europe, spend a weekend at the Marin Headlands Hostel in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, just past the Golden Gate Bridge. It’s a launching pad for hiking, biking, surfing and beachcombing, as well visiting the Point Bonita Lighthouse, The Marine Mammal Center, Headlands Center for the Arts and Bay Area Discovery Museum. Optimal time is spring for the many varieties of wildflowers in the area. For reservations, go to http://bayareane.ws/1HV5CU3, or call 415331-2777 (office hours are 7:30 a.m.-11:30 p.m., daily). Walk-ins are welcome when rooms are available.

Cycle in Canyon Escape the heat this summer with a bicycle ride through the redwood groves of Canyon, an unincorporated community near the border of Contra Costa and Alameda counties (between Oakland and Moraga). Bring your own water and lunch because there is not much there — the logging camps and saloons of previous centuries are long gone — but if you need to mail a letter, there is a post office.

Hike at Point Lobos Point Lobos State Natural Reserve, sometimes aptly referred to as the “crown jewel of the State Park system,” is absolutely the most beautiful place to take a leisurely hike. Don’t believe it? Just look at the photos by Ansel Adams and Edward Weston. The park offers guided walks, too. For details, go to http://bayareane.ws/1GCzzVL.

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At the Marin Headlands Hostel, it’s not about the bare-bones interior; what lies outside its walls is what draws visitors from afar.

ON CANYON

The website for the public Canyon School boasts this motto: “10,000 redwood trees, 70 students, 5 teachers, 1 school.”

Paddleboard in Sausalito Yearning for some peaceful paddling? Head to Sausalito. If you get there before noon, the water is usually calm and not too windy, perfect for paddleboarding, especially for beginners and kids. Soak up the relaxing vibes while passing sea lions and pelicans, checking out the boathouses, and taking in the fantastic views of the Golden Gate Bridge and Angel Island. Rental boards go for less than $20 an hour. For details, go to www.seatrek.com/stand-paddle. After you’ve worked up an appetite, go to Sausalito’s Le Garage (85 Liberty Ship Way, Suite 109) for mussels or to Bar Bocce (1250 Bridgeway) for lunch: appetizers, pizza and drinks, with a similar view to the one you had paddleboarding — but with bocce!

Calm waters help beginning paddleboarders set sail in Sausalito.


i n t re p i d

Surf under the Golden Gate Yes, there might be sharks. Yes, there are definitely jagged rocks. And, yes, if you don’t plan it right, the outrushing tide might very well sweep you right through the gate and into very real danger. But for anyone addicted to surfing, there is no more surreal setting here. Get shacked while having your spatial awareness baffled by that enormous backdrop. But please put in your time — and pay your dues — elsewhere first. This is not an adventure for beginners.

Action-packed ‘playground’ Berkeley’s Adventure Playground is not your grandma’s playground. This spot, named a top-10 playground in National Geographic, ups the ante by offering fun activities that engage kids’ creativity and imagination. With supervision, kids can play on zip lines and even take part in “build your own playground” activities, including painting, sawing, and hammering together their own equipment.

hostel: marin independent-journal. paddleboarding: sea trek kayak. elkhorn slough: monterey county herald

160 University Ave. For details, call 510-981-6720.

Fly through the redwoods

In some parts of this Elkhorn Slough kayaking adventure, the animals outnumber the people. Below, kayaks await their riders.

Kayak at Elkhorn Slough Fancy a bit of wildlife viewing with your workout on the waterways? Head to Moss Landing, and rent a kayak — or join a guided tour — at the mouth of Elkhorn Slough, and paddle your way through a state marine reserve rich with critters. The sea otter population here can be particularly active and is most prevalent in the first 2 miles (also keep your eyes out for sea lions, seals and pelicans). After you drop off your vessel, head 1 ½ miles south, and recharge on the deck at Phil’s Fish Market (7600 Sandholdt Road), which offers a mouth-watering cioppino, among a dizzying array of seafood, with a view. For details, go to www.elkhornslough.org/kayaking.

Most visitors to California’s redwoods — the tallest living things on earth — see only one-third of the trees’ towering magnificence. Mount Hermon Redwood Canopy Tours in Felton offers adventure seekers a view of the rest. They’ve staged a San Lorenzo Valley forest with zip lines and rope bridges that stretch high above the forest floor. Strap on a helmet, lock in your harness and zip from tree to tree on a guided tour of the forest’s upper reaches. For details, go to http://bayareane.ws/1GJzyC9.

ON REDWOODS

In addition to its basic canopy tour, the company offers an “aerial adventure course” for the slightly more daring visitor.

Explore Rancho del Oso Immerse yourself in seven distinct ecosystems — from marshes to redwoods — at this exceptional nature center tucked away in Big Basin Redwoods State Park’s wildly scenic Waddell Valley. Once home to President Herbert Hoover’s extended family, the historic ranch house is filled with interactive exhibits that illustrate the habitats and wildlife of its wondrous setting. A series of trails branch out from the center, and across the road are the colorful windsurf kites of Waddell Beach. For details, go to http://ranchodeloso.org.

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EUREKA INTERVIEW

Rubber, road & resilience |||

BY CHUCK BARNE Y

Linda Jackson is among the thousands of Bay Area residents who believe life is better on two wheels. In 1993, she left the world of investment banking to become a professional bicycle road racer. To say she thrived is an understatement. Jackson captured six Canadian national championships and competed in the 1996 Summer Olympics before retiring in 2000. Since then, she has maintained her connection to cycling as the manager of Team TIBCO-SVB, an elite women’s squad. The Pescadero resident took some time to chat about her passion for the sport, a great new ride and Lycra. learn more at www.teamtibco-svb.com We hear that your friends call you “Action Jackson.” What’s that all about? I just can’t really sit still. I’m usually doing several things at once. I have naturally high energy and am a very light sleeper. Combine that with my love of caffeine — morning only — and I am usually buzzing around all day. Clearly, much of your energy is expended atop a bike. And you’ve ridden all over the world. What makes the Bay Area such a great place for cycling? The Bay Area is phenomenal. We’ve got great weather most of the year, an amazing array of terrain and scenery, and the kind of rides that match any level of ability. There are so many rides here that you could do a different one every week and not run out of places to go. Do you have a favorite? I have a lot of favorites. A newer one — the piece de resistance — is the John Nicholas Trail, out of Sanborn Park (in the Santa Cruz Mountains). It’s great for both mountain and road bikers and has some incredible views. It’s a breathtakingly beautiful ride. What advice would you give to someone just getting into cycling?

er people. It’s so much more fun. But what about the funny, snug-fitting clothes? For some, that may be a deal-breaker. Let me tell you something about those “funny” clothes. I commuted to Stanford on a clunky old bike in the mid-’80s — before I was into cycling. I wore regular clothes, and people in Lycra were flying right by me. I wondered: “How is that happening?” The funny clothes are actually important. Lycra keeps your butt comfortable on the seat. Any other tips? Learn safety first. Seriously. I was hit two years ago by an SUV on Skyline Boulevard. I spent five days in the ICU and had 14 broken bones. A lot of motorists don’t pay attention to cyclists. You’ve got to be a defensive cyclist and really pay attention at all times. … Oh, and put some lights on your bike. How did you first get into the sport? Indirectly — via another injury! I was skiing one weekend in 1990 with a group of really talented skiers. I wasn’t that good, but I tried to do the same jump they were doing, and I blew out my knee. I needed reconstructive surgery. Biking was a big part of my rehabilitation.

From that moment on, it was in my blood. I got into it by a fluke, and it changed my life forever. I often think: I could be a pastywhite woman in a cement tower, working on some kind of deal. Instead, I’m outside and active, enjoying the splendor of California. And now you manage the topranked women’s cycling team in North America. That’s right. We started out as a modest little team 11 years ago out of Palo Alto Bikes and have built it into a great place where our riders can realize their dreams. Is there anything a casual, beginning cyclist can learn from the pros? Perseverance is a big thing. I remember how one of our retired riders, Brooke Miller, couldn’t get up Old La Honda Road when she first started. But practice does make perfect, and she eventually became one of the best sprinters in the world. I’ve often wondered if highly competitive cyclists can ever do just a lazy afternoon ride? I just did that the other day. I was out on my bike, and a group of riders shot past me. My immediate reaction was, “Grrrrrr!” I wanted to speed up and go join them. I didn’t, though. I maintained my slower pace. So, yes, I can dial it down, but … But what? That’s only because I know that on four out of five days, I’ll be going as hard as I want. OK. So that’s how it works.

First of all, you don’t need to go buy a big, expensive bike. Get a used one off Craigslist. Just make sure it fits you. Also, ride with oth-

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So one thing led to another. Yep. I entered my first race, in Morgan Hill, and finished second.

Yes, that’s how it works. And thank you. You’ve fired up my passion. I’ve gotta go jump on my bike now!

portrait by dai sugano

C O N V E R S AT I O N W I T H L I N D A J A C K S O N


Lydia Kasumi Shirreff

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IN

SEARCH OF

SaSQUaTCH BY

BR

UCE NEW M

AN

Travel to the northernmost reaches of the state and you’ll find a town built around a legend. Willow Creek (population 1,710) is home to skeptics and believers alike, but is it also home to a hirsute giant?

p h o t o g ra p h s by l i p o c h i n g

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THERE aRE THREE BIGFOOT STaTUES anD TWO BIGFOOT MURaLS

gle-industry town that managed to make the earth tremble. Following purported Bigfoot sightings in 1958 and 1967 — the latter accompanied by a grainy film in which a female phantasm is seen striding through a clearing at Bluff Creek — Willow Creek’s Chamber of Commerce embraced the giant creature as it might a homegrown Super Bowl hero or an astronaut. Oral traditions of three Native American tribes in the area had long told of woodland creatures that rose up to heights of 10 feet and weighed 500 pounds. By the time the annual Bigfoot Days Festival began in 1960 — featuring a parade through downtown that shuts down state Highway 299 for more than an hour — it seemed half the population of Willow Creek was clomping around carrying plaster casts of the creature’s feet. “There’s a lot of people here who have either seen it or think they’ve seen it,” says Steven Streufert, proprietor of Bigfoot Books, putting the split between true believers and “those who just think it’s a Chamber of Commerce scam” at 50-50. Rolling a cigarette at the back of a store dense with dog-eared books and empty tins of cat food, Streufert pronounces himself “probably the guy who knows the most about Bigfoot.” But, like almost everyone else in town, Streufert prefers to dip his toes into the creature’s outsized footprints rather than dive in head first. “I take kind of a meta approach to it,” he says. “I study the phenomenon of the belief, rather than believing it myself.”

— including an epic rendering more than a hundred feet long that threatens to engulf the local hardware store — a block in both directions from the entrance to the Bigfoot Scenic Byway, running north from Willow Creek. The owner of Bigfoot Books describes this epicenter of Sasquatchery as “extreme Northern California,” and, in all sorts of ways, he’s not wrong. Bigfoot is everywhere in this little town, yet it is difficult to find anyone in Willow Creek who has ever seen the big galoot. Almost every merchant downtown has a Bigfoot concession of some kind, and at the Bigfoot museum gift shop, the big ape’s terrifying tootsies have been squeezed and shrunk to fit on a shot glass. Here’s looking at you, Biggie, wherever you are! I came to Willow Creek because it is to the world of hairy hominid man-apes what Los Alamos was to the atomic bomb: a small, sin-

Opposite: Tess Johnston waters plants next to a statue of Bigfoot at the Ace Hardware store in Willow Creek. Previous spread: A dog sniffs around for the elusive creature in front of a mural on the wall of the Patriot gas station that shows Bigfoot overlooking the Trinity River. m a p b y d av e j o h n s o n

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My own approach had been more southerly than meta, driving from the South Bay to Humboldt County with my family in search of something distinctly different from Silicon Valley. We set out for Willow Creek on a Thursday, hoping to beat the Bigfoot crowds, and after nearly five hours of freeway driving, Whiskeytown Lake and Brandy Creek provided the trip’s first intoxicating views. From there, we climbed into the Trinity Alps, which have become famous in almost equal measure as Bigfoot and Big Weed Country. The region’s two biggest cash crops — marijuana and a mythic

‘BIGFOOT IS A WONDERFUL THInG FOR WILLOW CREEK. Clockwise from top left: Though the country club dropped “Bigfoot” from its name, you still pass Bigfoot Avenue on the way; a painting adorns the bathroom door at Bigfoot Books; Bigfoot burger buns welcome patrons to the Early Bird restaurant; Steven Streufert, owner of Bigfoot Books, has plenty of Bigfoot titles on offer; the mural at Ace Hardware depicts gentle, communityoriented Bigfoots; and Janet and Bruce Nelson produce Bigfoot Red wine at their Sentinel Winery.

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monster — remain largely invisible to outsiders. “People come from all over the world to Humboldt County, and it’s all because of the marijuana, not Bigfoot,” says Bruce Nelson, whose Sentinel Winery produces several hundred cases of Bigfoot Red every year. He’s talking about a youthful cohort of bud trimmers, who stick mostly to the backwoods and produce a harvest of pot that goes to legal dispensaries in places such as Oakland and San Jose, and to street dealers all over the state. “We’re a little bitty town that needs to take advantage of what we have locally, so we’re thrilled to have some other thing for people to focus on,” says Nelson, who retired to a life of winemaking after a 33-year career in the California Highway Patrol. “Bigfoot is a wonderful thing for Willow Creek. I’m sure glad we’re not calling ourselves Marijuanaville.” Nelson’s Bigfoot blend outsells his other wine 2‑to‑1, and he’s not alone in finding a commercial upside to the exurban legend. “We used to be a logging and mining town,” says Terri Castner, a volunteer at the Willow Creek-China Flat Museum, which has a dedicated Bigfoot wing, with

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I’M SURE GLaD WE’RE nOT CaLLING OURSELVES MaRIJUanaVILLE.’

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T-shirts and a great many volumes of conjecture, weird science and wishful thinking in the gift shop — all to keep the lights on. “There’s hardly any mining now, and environmentalists just about got logging killed off. When that went down, I guess they started looking for something, and Bigfoot is what they ended up with.” She points to the character’s universality. “You’ve got Bigfoot, you’ve got Sasquatch, you’ve got Oh-Mah, you’ve got Yeti, you’ve got the Abdominal Snowman,” Castner says, conferring a six-pack upon the Abominable Snowman. “They’re all over the world.” When the museum opened in 1989, it featured artifacts from the logging and mining beginnings of what was originally named China Flat because of the number of Chinese who came to work the mines. After a local collector of Bigfoot “evidence” died, his widow donated to the museum all the material — mostly replicas, strands of hair and the ever-popular plaster of Paris foot casts — he had been piling up. But for all its proximity to the stomping grounds supposedly favored by the 2,000 ape men estimated by experts to be on the prowl in North America, the museum is not taken very seriously by the species’ tireless cadre of “researchers.” Animal Planet, the cable network, has run programs on Bigfoot that have transformed Willow Creek into a mini-monster tourist destination. But Al Hodgson, who helped co-found the museum and who used to keep plaster impressions of the creature’s feet on the counter at his general store, has retreated from active involvement in the exhibit, leaving it to the smaller Bigfoot Discovery Project in Felton — and other outposts of scientific Sasquatchery — to send gumshoes into the woods looking for Bigfeet. Nelson, who is a member of the Willow Creek town board, believes there was never a conscious decision by local merchants to cash in on their shaggy beast. But there was a moment in 2003 when the town turned all its energies toward convening an International Bigfoot Symposium. “At first, we thought, ‘Why don’t we try to hold a Bigfoot sympo-

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The Bigfoot Motel (singles for $77; doubles for an additional $11) anchors “downtown” Willow Creek on HIghway 299.

sium?’ ” recalls Marc Rowley, who runs the impressively upscale Coho Cottages, where my family and I stayed. “Then somebody said, ‘Why not make it an international symposium?’ And then somebody said, ‘Hey, maybe we can get Jane Goodall to come!’ ” The legendary primatologist seemed an unlikely addition to the roster of eccentrics and goofballs already committed to the symposium. But, as it turned out, somebody in Willow Creek knew somebody who knew somebody who knew Goodall, and before anybody could believe it, the grand dame of the ape world had said she would come. “We couldn’t believe it,” Rowley

says, “but she almost showed up.” Almost. In fact, in an interview on National Public Radio the year before the symposium, Goodall insisted Bigfoot did exist. “Well, I’m a romantic, so I always wanted them to exist,” she conceded finally. At the last minute, Tanzania invited Goodall to a ceremony to have a game preserve named after her the same week she was supposed to be in Willow Creek, and once again Bigfoot came up flat-footed. The symposium was considered a huge success, attracting researchers whose credibility stemmed largely from the disproportionate number of Bigfoot sightings they seemed to experi-

ence relative to the nonresearcher population. The town, which has fewer than 2,000 residents, swelled in size by almost a third, and swelled with pride. Streufert met famous researchers such as Bob Gimlin and John Green. “That was when I started to think there might be something to it, rather than just a cute cultural legend,” he says. “Since then, I’ve had to rethink that a lot because so many of the reports and beliefs about Bigfoot are frankly ludicrous.” The conundrum central to the field of Bigfoot study is, of course, an almost total lack of documentation that would support the species’ existence. A


number of famous hoaxers have further muddied the ground upon which the creature’s plaster of Paris pedigree — and problematic pedicure — is based. But Lee-Ann Brander, who next year will celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Bigfoot Burger she and her husband serve at Early Bird, believes every toe she bakes into the French bread bun is based on a real, hairy whopper. Back in the days when the restaurant sold Bigfoot Donuts, glazed in the shape of something bigger and badder than a bear claw, Brander’s father-in-law arrived early in the morning to begin baking, and one morning he heard a noise that sounded

Two blocks away from the Bigfoot Motel, a 25-foot redwood sculpture of Bigfoot stands tall outside the Willow CreekChina Flat Museum.

like screaming. “The local fish and game guy came in, white as a sheet,” Brander says. “After a few minutes, he said, ‘I swear to God I just saw Bigfoot.’ He said he had gone down to check the weir that counts the fish, and he said he could smell something awful. He went out toward the weir, and as he got closer, the smell was overpowering. He startled something, and it ran away.” The Bigfoot Burger, which weighs 1 ½ pounds and costs $8.49, doesn’t come with the ghastly smell that some who claim to have encountered the biped beast got wind of. The dish has been such a success that at the Bigfoot Restaurant they’re

thinking of adding a burger with toes of their own. Waitress Jurnie Wilder says her sister once saw Bigfoot at their home in Hoopa, which isn’t far from the Bluff Creek clearing where the famous film was shot. At first, she thought a bear was rummaging through the trash, Wilder says, but her sister’s familiarity with Bigfoot shows on cable TV helped her discern what was really happening. “All of a sudden it stood up on two legs and walked off,” Wilder says. “My sister says bears don’t walk on their two feet unless they’re in the circus.” Across the highway, the Ace Hardware store offers a massive tableau in keeping with the

town’s most celebrated resident, a visual narrative of Bigfoot’s work building homes and cultivating the gardens of Native American tribes. The mural took artist Duane Flatmo almost two years to complete. “The original sightings were right here in town,” explains Mike Backman, the store’s manager. “That was before it was vogue. Before everybody had one.” There has been very little local resistance to Bigfooting, although not long ago the Bigfoot Golf and Country Club inexplicably changed its name to Willow Creek Golf and Country Club. Members may have realized that once you get past the elusive creature, the word can have many allusive meanings. To be “bigfooted” is to have someone who presumably makes a bigger imprint on the world than you do put their foot up your aspirations. If, on the other hand, you are the bigfoot brought in to solve some problem that has vanquished lesser mortals, well, your big feet are in clover. The mantle of Willow Creek’s Bigfoot bigfoot has fallen to Streufert, who is part of a research project that has placed more than a dozen surveillance cameras in the woods of Bluff Creek. He is a defender of the faith, while maintaining a healthy skepticism about both the creature and the commercialism that has become a more familiar part of Bigfoot’s identity than his footprints. “If I seem prickly, it’s because there are a lot of people who come around here and just want to make a joke of it all,” Streufert says. “There are so many people coming here seeking to exploit the legend of Bigfoot, to ridicule it. There’s a sense of humor about it here, though. A lot of locals have played pranks on outsiders, and I think a lot of these reports of footprints and stuff go back to that. The desire to hoax the outsider.” Streufert has a graduate degree in literature from Humboldt State. He came to Willow Creek for the waters. “I didn’t move up here to be involved in Bigfoot,” he says sadly. “It just sort of took over my life.” Contact Bruce Newman at 408-920-5004. Follow him at Twitter.com/ brucenewmantwit.

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quirky

Dance with fire in Santa Cruz

Seek out the Fairy Door

Want to add fire to your life? If you’re in Santa Cruz any Sunday evening around dark, go to the lighthouse, where fire dancers (with batons and hula hoops) cavort to the rhythm of whatever drummers show up. BYO drum, if you want. It’s a Santa Cruz happening that has been going on for years. No need to bring weed, just wander in and breathe deeply.

For a surreal experience, head to Golden Gate Park in San Francisco and search for the fantastical Fairy Door, put there by actual fairies (people say). Kids bring trinkets to leave for the fairies, and the search, similar to a treasure hunt, is fun but challenging. While you’re in the park, hit the Japanese Tea Garden (75 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive). And if you go on a Sunday, bring bikes, and you can tool all around the park when it’s closed to cars. Then grab a bite and a beer at Park Chalet (1000 Great Highway), at the western edge of the park, near Ocean Beach.

Hike to ... a plane crash? Go on a treasure hunt for a bit of Bay Area and trans-Pacific aviation history with a hike in El Corte de Madera Creek Open Space Preserve. The background: On Oct. 29, 1953, a plane in the last leg of a flight from Sydney to San Francisco crashed in the Santa Cruz Mountains, killing a total of 19 people on board.

For details on the Fairy Door, go to http://bayareane.ws/1JCeQFi.

Drop some coin on the wharf Amid the touristy hustle and bustle of Fisherman’s Wharf is this gem: Musee Mecanique, home to one of the largest privately owned collections of coin-operated mechanical musical instruments and arcade machines. The place is home to more than 200 machines, and they’re in working order. Musee Mecanique is on Pier 45, at the foot of Taylor Street, and admission is free every day.

The hike to the debris left by San Mateo County’s worst aviation accident is a moderate trek about 2 miles into the mountains. For details and a story about an Australian man’s trek to the site of the crash, which killed the father he never knew, go to http:// bayareane.ws/1ER5TH1.

For details, go to http://museemecaniquesf.com.

Explore our own Rock City

Put a new spin on ‘dinner date’

It’s not Detroit, but it’s still pretty cool. Kids love to climb on the unique rock formations at Rock City, on Mount Diablo. Formed by erosion, the area has unusually large sandstone formations and small caves. Hike there from the south entrance to the park, then follow the Summit Trail past the Live Oak camping area. It’s a short walk away. It can get hot during summer months, so make sure you bring water.

The food at this Pacifica Taco Bell is exactly what you’d expect. What sets this one apart is its location. “Romantic” and “fast food” are probably rarely uttered in the same sentence, except perhaps when talking about the Pacifica franchise, which is directly on the beach and, naturally, affords fantastic views of the ocean. Share a Nacho Bell Grande with your sweetie, and flirt using hot sauce packets.

For details, call 925-837-2525.

5200 Coast Highway. For details, call 650-355-4210.

Go for a soak in Berkeley

Make some Nature Friends

No shirt? No shoes? No swimwear? No problem.

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Top: A young climber rappels down the back side of Sentinel Rock at Rock City. Above: A fire dancer performs at the Santa Cruz lighthouse on a Sunday evening.

Established in 1912, the Mount Tamalpais branch of the Austria-based Friends of Nature organization is a members-only club that welcomes nonmembers on selected weekends. The club’s three annual festivals are open to the public and feature a polka band, traditional dances, hearty food and thirst-quenching beer. Upcoming events include ones on July 19 and Sept. 20. For details, go to http://touristclubsf.org.

Customers “with sandy feet” are urged to order at the walk-up window on the restaurant’s wraparound deck. BAY AREA NEWS GROUP ARCHIVES

For many years, skinny-dippers have been coming to a backyard in Berkeley for a secret soak. In 1975, the Essex Hot Tub was built, and since then, it has hosted tens of thousands of visitors. It is open to women; men are welcome, too, but they must be accompanied by a woman. Accessing the spot involves a complicated code system, in which everyone has their own number. Smoking and drugs are not allowed, and there’s a no-talking rule.

ON TACO BELL


quirky

What’s the best free weekly jazz concert on a sidewalk in front of a Salvation Army store next to a taco truck? Easy: That’s Hipsteria, a band that sprawls out along Valencia Street at the otherwise charmless corner of Cesar Chavez Street every Saturday in the Mission, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. The relative absence of foot traffic only makes it even more fun to stumble upon. Funkiness might be vanishing from the neighborhood, but Hipsteria proves it’s not all gone. — Chris Colin Above: Onlookers ponder their options: free jazz, cheap tacos or vintage clothing.

Far and near left: Brian Lino sings and plays the keyboard for Hipsteria. Middle: Luis Perez plays the drums.

photogr aphs by doug dur an

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Relive the era of the Dead Tucked in a 1,400-square-foot room known as Dead Central on the main floor of UC Santa Cruz’s McHenry Library, this treasure trove of the Grateful Dead empire documents 30 years of performing, from concert posters to backstage passes to photos and press clippings. Even if your Grateful Dead concert attendance count is not so respectable, the exhibit descriptions are enough to allow even lightweight Dead fans a colorful insight into the history of the band. For details, go to http://library.ucsc.edu/grateful-dead-archive.

Sidle up to a greasy spoon Want a taste of nostalgia? Go to Hazel’s Drive In in Antioch, which has the feel of a set from “Happy Days.” The hamburgers here come in various sizes and get as big as dinner plates — perfect for sharing with friends. The milkshakes come in a variety of unusual flavors, such as peanut butter and banana, and, like any great old-fashioned shake, are served with extra in a metal container. 1820 W. 10th St.

Play sailor, and sing the part Once a month, the National Park Service lets average citizens play seadog, allowing would-be sailors to hop on board a lovingly preserved historic ship docked at Hyde Street Pier for the Chantey Sing. Park rangers lead guests in a singalong of traditional sea chanteys in the belly of the boat, and hot apple cider is provided to keep everyone toasty warm. And keep your classic San Francisco experience going by stopping at the nearby Buena Vista Cafe for an Irish coffee afterward. Reservations are required for the singalong. 2905 Hyde St. For details, go to http://bayareane.ws/1EDk00w.

Be Alameda’s pinball wizard Need a pinball fix? Go to Pacific Pinball Museum, on Webster Street in Alameda, where hundreds of machines await. Don’t worry — you don’t need a pocketful of quarters. It’s just $15 for unlimited play for adults. 1510 Webster St. For details, go to www.pacificpinball.org.

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Dancers of all ages and skill levels are welcome to take a turn at the monthly barn dance at the Pie Ranch in Pescadero.

ON HAZEL’S

The Willy Burger, the size of a plate — or in the words of one Yelp reviewer, “a manhole cover” — is a favorite at this diner open since 1947.

Dance the night away Pie Ranch is a sustainable, community-minded farm in gorgeous seaside Pescadero. In addition to running a CSA, Pie Ranch offers farmer training and food education programs. On the third Saturday of the month, guests can participate in a workday and tour, ending in a potluck and barn dance. A patient caller explains dances to the crowd before everyone is invited to swing their partner ’round to spirited live music. By the end of the evening, even the shyest wallflowers will find themselves grinning ear to ear as they dance with strangers and friends alike. This family-friendly event is alcohol-free, and RSVPs are required. 2080 Cabrillo Highway. For details, go to www.pieranch.org.

A pinball machine from the 1950s is one of hundreds at the Pacific Pinball Museum.


quirky

Buy bargain books, guilt-free A book is a man’s best friend. For proof of that, head to Fort Mason Center’s dayslong Spring Book Sale, where bibliophiles descend each year to pick through the massive assortment of paperbacks and hardcovers of all genres. Amid the countless castoff copies of “Twilight” and “Eat Pray Love” are hidden gems and time-tested classics — this year’s lot included a handsome hardbound Dickens collection and works by authors ranging from James Joyce to E.L. James. And the event, which raises money for the San Francisco Public Library, is so packed, no one will notice if a copy of “50 Shades” “slips” into your cart. Can’t wait until spring? The five-day Big Book Sale, also at Fort Mason Center, kicks off Sept. 16. Everything is $3 or less, and, like at the Spring Book Sale, all items remaining on the last day are $1. Can’t beat that. 2 Marina Blvd. For details, go to http://www.friendssfpl.org.

Set up shop (with a surfboard)

Workers unload the body of Big Mike the Muffler Man at Bell Plastics in Hayward. Big Mike stood tall along Mission Boulevard until 2011.

bay area news group archives

Plan a hunt for Bigfoot

All the Sasquatch news that’s fit to print lives in a display at the Felton museum.

Northern California is prime Bigfoot country, and the curator of this quirky, one-room museum can tell you all about it. Nestled in the small, tree-filled community of Felton, the Bigfoot Discovery Museum is a 15-minute hop from Santa Cruz, and it’s said you can hear Sasquatch rooting around in the forest. Take a photo with the massive wooden Bigfoot outside, then head indoors to ogle Bigfoot art, artifacts and memorabilia. Afterward, head to the nearby tavern, Monty’s Log Cabin (5755 Highway 9), for a beer on the patio to discuss tactics for spotting the legend yourself. 5497 Highway 9. For details, go to bigfootdiscoveryproject.com.

Can’t part with your laptop — or surfboard — on overnight trips? Both are encouraged at Surf Office, a unique lodging and co-work space that’s steps from a legendary surf break on Santa Cruz’s spectacular Westside. Entrepreneurs, freelancers and digital nomads bang out business plans during the day and link up for social events at night. In the morning, hit the waves or just surf the Web. The space is open to all who want a scenic escape with the option of getting some work done come Monday morning. (A Tahoe location is coming soon, we’re told, for winter sports enthusiasts.) For details, go to www.thesurfoffice.com.

ON BIGFOOT

For more on the legend of Bigfoot, turn to Page 26 to read Bruce Newman’s tale of the extreme Northern California town built around the legend.

Visit ad icons at Bell Plastics Witness the Bay Area’s largest collection of fiberglass advertising icons at this fun Hayward plastics shop. Owner Bruce Kennedy welcomes visitors from all over the world to marvel at his towering Doggie Diner heads, Bob’s Big Boy and muffler men — the Paul Bunyan-sized guardians of roadside businesses of yore. One perk of owning a plastic shop? Fabricating bobblehead versions — which visitors can take home — of the figures. 2020 National Ave. For details, go to http://bellplasticsfabrication.com.

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EUREKA INTERVIEW

Sleuthing in the city |||

BY CHUCK BARNE Y

Once a year, more than a thousand urban adventurers take to the streets of San Francisco for some fun and spirited sleuthing known as the Chinese New Year Treasure Hunt. Competing in four divisions, ranging from beginner to expert, participants team up to solve mind-boggling clues that lead to offbeat locations connected with local history, art and culture. Teams solving the most clues in the shortest time rule the day. We spoke to founder Jayson Wechter, a San Francisco private investigator, to get an inside look at this one-of-a-kind event. Learn more at www.sftreasurehunts.com What inspired you to start this in the first place?

one: It was a capital E followed by the numeral 2.

I had done treasure hunts with other kids while growing up in Brooklyn. I’ve always been interested in exploring urban environments and history. And in my work as a private investigator, I certainly understand the joy of that aha! moment — when you suddenly see something more clearly.

What the heck? OK, I give up.

So it all sprang from that? Yeah, it was a way of giving people that experience in a more playful way. Each clue is a puzzle that leads to a particular location. You have to go to that location to find something that helps you to answer a question posed in the clue — something that can only be answered by being there. How do you determine the degree of difficulty? And do you ever feel guilty for making certain clues too difficult? Actually, I’ve occasionally gotten some feedback saying that it’s not hard enough. I test all the clues out on my friends beforehand to get a feel for what’s appropriate. All the clues are designed to be too difficult to be solved by a single person. It takes a team effort. Generally, if you know how to use a map and a street index, you can do this. Can you give us an example of a really tough one? One of the most difficult clues ever happened to be the shortest

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It referred to Engine Company No. 2 (the first firehouse to be rebuilt in the downtown district after the earthquake of 1906). Oh, so tricky! I think only one or two teams got it. I actually offered up a hint earlier in the day, before the hunt. I was being interviewed on a radio show, and the show’s pianist played the song “When Smoke Gets in Your Eyes.” Nice. Besides the treasure hunting competition, you’ve also got contests for best team names and best costumes, right? Yeah, last year it was the Year of the Horse, and one team got all dressed up like the horse-head knight pieces on a chessboard. That was pretty funny — and clever. Clearly, a lot of people have had a blast with this event over the years. But what do you get out of the experience? For four hours on that one day, I’m the most scrutinized writer in San Francisco. People are paying attention to every sentence, every comma, I’ve written. That’s pretty gratifying. And I love showing people the city. It’s basically a walking tour in the guise of a game. Yes, and it’s a very different kind

of walking tour — a proactive, brain-flexing one. It shifts the way you get out and experience the environment, and that’s a big part of the fun. It forces you to look up and down, and at things you normally might not pay attention to. And hopefully, it gets people to come away with a greater appreciation of the city. After doing this for so many years, how do you stay motivated and keep things fresh? Every year, I find something new. I just start walking the streets, and something will catch my attention. Maybe it’s a new piece of public art. Maybe it’s a vestige of the past that I didn’t know about or an interesting visual display in a storefront window. Sometimes, I’ll even create my own historical markers for the night. Oh, really? How does that work? There are a number of historical spots that should be marked but aren’t. So I create temporary markers. Once, I learned the location of the first bridge in San Francisco. It was built in 1847 over a little creek. I found that interesting. Here’s a city known for its bridges, but no one knows about the very first one. And there’s no slowing you down? I’ll keep doing it for as long as I can. There’s tremendous enthusiasm for it. People keep coming back. How do you think you would fare in one of these hunts? I guess it depends on who my teammates were, but, truthfully, I’m not a big puzzle aficionado. I’ll do a crossword puzzle with my wife now and then, but I’m not hooked on them. Oh, the irony.

portrait by josie lepe

C O N V E R S AT I O N W I T H j ay son wechter


Lydia Kasumi Shirreff

C H I L L

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WITH BREATHTAKING VIEWS, POINT REYES IS A LAND OF PEACEFUL PERFECTION


by julia prodis sulek

P H O T O G RAP H S BY JI M G E N S H EI M ER


I

knew it when we passed the Buddha barn on Point Reyes-Petaluma Road. I knew it when a snowy egret flew beside us as we drove through the hilly California countryside with the top down on our convertible, and when we spotted the oyster beds poking out of Tomales Bay. But when a bright yellow “You’ve Arrived” sign greeted us as we pulled up to Manka’s Inverness Lodge, I still felt a surge of anticipation. We had found our Destination Relaxation, one of Northern California’s most treasured getaways to melt away the madness that can envelop our Silicon Valley lives.

Celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary, my husband, Chris, and I had the opportunity for a romantic weekend getaway, a chance to redeem our first attempt: a trip to Cabo San Lucas that was spent fending off time-share hucksters and searching for signs of an authentic Mexican experience. To find a peaceful vacation a short drive from the Bay Area, the possibilities are endless. Monterey Bay, to the south, is always a favorite, but Tomales Bay, just an hour north of San Francisco, held a bit of mystery for me. I wasn’t looking for full-body massages and cedar enzyme baths, although both were at the ready. Instead, I wanted to immerse myself in the culture of this unspoiled, pastoral place and pretend, if only for 2 ½ days, that I belonged here. From charming accommodations and fine dining to a picnic lunch on a sheep farm and breathtaking hikes through the wind-swept Point Reyes National Seashore, we found the peace and beauty we had sought. Along the way, we experienced an earthy community that can be summed up in a simple street scene in Point Reyes Station: A yoga studio shares space with a hay barn that’s across the street from a bakery down the way from a farm stand that relies on the honor system for payment. This is locavore heaven, a place that celebrates local food, from its gourmet cheeses produced at the organic dairies nestled into the countryside to the grass-fed beef on the menu at Sir and Star, at the old Olema Inn, to the water buffalo milk gelato you can buy soft serve for $1.69 behind the butcher counter at the Palace Market. It’s not exactly as my wisecracking engineer husband conjured up as we headed north from San Jose: “Is there an Apple Store,”

he asked, “for locally sourced consumer electronics?” We started our trip

At left: En route to the Point Reyes Lighthouse, Valerie Martin, of Montreal, stops under wind-swept cypress trees to pose for a photo for her travel companion. Previous page: Nick’s Cove Restaurant and Oyster Bar Boat Shack sits at the end of a pier on Tomales Bay. Here, patrons can watch the sunset, play an upright piano and order food and drinks from a wallmounted phone.

Sunday morning at the famed Cowgirl Creamery in downtown Point Reyes Station, where we learned that “bloomy rind” is another term used for soft-ripened cheese. There, we met Elizabeth Hill, who operates West Marin Food and Farm Tours, with whom we had booked her “Quattro Formaggio” tour — a behind-thescenes invitation to local dairies. I was looking for authenticity, but as soon as we walked outside to get into her shuttle van, I wondered whether the scene that unfolded was staged. “Hey, Elizabeth,” a handsome farmer in a white truck called out as he slowed. “We’re going clam digging with the kids!” The farmer was Loren Poncia, who raises some of the best grassfed cattle in the valley on his Stemple Creek Ranch, outside of town. For a moment, I felt like Angela Lansbury in Cabot Cove with the incredible urge to jump on an old bicycle with a basket and wave back. The day became even more surreal when, just as we neared our first dairy on the tour, sheriff’s deputies turned us back on Highway 1, which runs along the eastern edge of Tomales Bay. There was an accident ahead: A milk truck failed to navigate a bend in the road and toppled over. A milk truck? Really? “Country problems,” Hill said, shrugging her shoulders. Days later, I would return for that tour — and meet farmer Andrew Zlot, who milks the water buffalo at his Double 8 Dairy for the creamy gelato. (Not only is it sold behind the butcher counter at the Point Reyes Station market, but Zlot personally delivers crates of it to San Francisco’s Four Barrel

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‘I wanted to immerse myself in the culture of this unspoiled, pastoral place and pretend, if only for 2 ½  days, that I belonged here.’ Rental cottages that overlook the water at Nick’s Cove are among the most prized accommodations in Tomales Bay.


Coffee, where baristas make affogato — scoops of his gelato drowned in espresso.) Tomales Bay is bustling

on weekends. Cyclists in full Lycra regalia clog the country roads two deep. Parked cars line the shoulders of the highway near the oyster farms. Locals and tourists alike line up at the Bovine Bakery for sticky morning buns. It’s a lot for an unincorporated town, especially one that resists change. Locals here turned down an offer to install a sewage system, afraid it would spark unwanted development, then found their septic tanks unable to handle the growing demand. At the height of tourist season last summer, the pristine town that can almost be forgiven for believing their manure doesn’t stink was forced to park portable toilets around downtown. There’s also a tangible feeling of local lament here. Hand-painted blue signs still hang on fence posts that say “Save our Drakes Bay Oyster Co.,” even though the family that ran it lost its high-profile legal battle last year to renew its lease on the Point Reyes National Seashore, where the farm had operated for decades before the area became a national park. Locals talk about the fire that destroyed the old lodge at Manka’s, where Prince Charles and Camilla once stayed and dined, as though it happened months ago. It has been 10 years. And folks are still harumphing at the request by Pandora music founder Tim Westergren to build an 8,300-square-foot vacation compound — with at least 10 bathrooms — in the woods of Inverness once owned by prayerful monks. “It looks like a very tranquil, rural community, but there’s a lot going on,” said Linda Petersen, who just retired as publisher of the West Marin Citizen newspaper. “That’s why we had two newspapers for eight years. There’s a lot to write about.” And there’s still a lot

to enjoy. Within minutes of turning around on the highway, Hill had us nibbling on local cheeses and chutneys and Brickmaiden breads and eating succulent barbecued oysters raised and served at the Hog Island Oyster Co. It’s one of two farms along the eastern edge of Tomales Bay that beckon tourists with picnic tables and

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From top left: Roasted marshmallows; a dog at the lighthouse; a Chevy pickup by Tomales Bay; hikers near Chimney Rock; a worn fisherman sculpture and a rugged picket fence; wildflowers; Salted Caramel Pot de Creme at Nick’s Cove Restaurant and Oyster Bar; weathered boards on a boat named “Point Reyes” and a bright nautical light.


From left: Artichokes at Table Top Farm’s honor system farm stand; whale bones with layered sediment rock near the lighthouse; rusted electrical boxes; dairy cows; barbecue oysters on the grill; a brown pelican wing from a taxidermy display; chairs on a pier; a succulent; a boat stuck in the mud in Tomales Bay; the lighthouse in fog; red algae on rocks.

oysters by the dozen. “Get your barbecue oysters while they’re hot!” called out one Hog Island shucker from an oyster shack near the beach serving up bivalves and beverages to a big Sunday crowd. Visitors are invited to bring picnics and grill their own meat on open grills and shuck their own oysters on a cherished few tables closest to the water that can be reserved for $5 per person in advance for mornings or afternoons. Or you can buy them shucked and ready and grab an open table. Similar frivolities can be found a few minutes down the highway at Tomales Bay Oyster Co., where reserved tables for picnicking also book months in advance and carry a fee. The nearby Marshall Store also is a casual, fun spot to stop for lunch or dinner overlooking the bay, as is Nick’s Cove, which offers pricy cottages on the water for overnight stays and a mostly local menu at its restaurant (although it imports some oysters from Baja). The must-experience, however, is the Boat Shack at Nick’s Cove, a small, rustic boat house at the end of a pier jutting into the bay from the restaurant. Here, you can watch the sunset, play an upright piano and order drinks and dinner from a wall-mounted phone that rings to the bar. When we stepped inside, Billie Holiday was singing “(In My) Solitude” on the small stereo. Chris stoked a fire in a potbelly stove. We sat down at one of just a couple of tables and enjoyed our cocktails. Heaven. In much of Tomales Bay, you are just as likely to meet aging hippies telling stories of their days in a cult as you are young hipsters from San Francisco who look like they spend their weekdays commuting on Google buses. At the Boat Shack, we met a creative director for Pottery Barn who was orchestrating a photo shoot for its fall catalog just up the road near Dillon Beach. We spent the evening chatting with her team as we ate more oysters and finished with homemade s’mores we roasted over an open fire. There are no big hotels

here ­— no Ritz-Carltons nor Four Seasons, and especially no low-budget Motel 6s. This is a place of cottages and inns — and even a yurt. Some of the local ranches are opening their bunkhouses and farmhouses on Airbnb, where guests can be awakened

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by bleating sheep coming in for a milking. Prices range from the high $100s to $300s per night at many places and even more for fabled places like Nick’s Cove and Manka’s. When we “arrived” at Manka’s, we were escorted to our cabin, where a handwritten note from Margaret Grade — who owns Manka’s with her husband, Daniel DeLong — greeted us. The rooms here vary from cozy with fireplaces and leather chairs to larger cottages. We stayed our second night at the Fisherman’s Cabin, where soothing nature music wafted through the hunting lodge-style space decorated with antlers and overstuffed chairs and a great feather-topped bed for deep sleeping. Perhaps the most indulgent feature was the private outdoor shower with the rainfall showerhead. It was easy to forget the drought as I looked up at the redwood canopy and watched birds fly overhead. Breakfast is served in a basket at your doorstep with a creative note describing the hyperlocal fare within. Chris called it the best continental breakfast he’s “ever,

At left: Seals lounge on a beach at the foot of Chimney Rock in Point Reyes National Seashore. The Chimney Rock area is popular among hikers thanks to its wildflowers, wildlife and, of course, stunning ocean views.

1. Point Reyes Station 2. Manka’s Lodge 3. Point Reyes Lighthouse 4. Nick’s Cove 5. Tomales Farmstead Creamery m ap by d av e j o h nson

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ever, ever” had: “Inverness apples pressed for your pleasure and served alongside housemade yogurt over wild West Marin honey under our granola and more apple — with buns that just jumped out of the oven.” At the Fisherman’s Cabin the second morning, we also were treated to “Eva’s eggs scrambled with local goat’s milk cheese and crowned with crisped prosciutto, thanks to Dr. Pasternak’s pig.” That would be farmer Mark Pasternak’s pig from Devil’s Gulch Ranch in nearby Nicasio. It took years, but after the lodge burned down, Grade and DeLong finally opened the Sir and Star restaurant at Olema, an old inn they beautifully updated. On the menu, you can find “faux gras of local duck livers so delicious it should be illegal.” The communities of Point

Reyes Station, Olema and Inverness serve as gateways to the Point Reyes National Seashore, a vast expanse of rolling hills and rugged coastline covered in spring with wildflowers. We spent our second morning driving past historic ranches dating back to the 1850s and out to the Point Reyes Lighthouse, at the very tip of the headlands that jut 10 miles out to sea. This is the windiest spot along the Pacific Coast and the second-foggiest place in North America. The nice walk to the edge of the lighthouse required hiking up and down stairs the equivalent of a 30-story building, which is not as rigorous as it sounds. (My husband was determined to get back to the top before an old lady with a cane did.) We could have stayed a week at Tomales Bay, exploring the tiny towns of Point Reyes Station, Olema and Tomales and spending more time at the Point Reyes National Seashore. Before we left town, we stopped at Cowgirl Creamery for some Red Hawk cheese, with its bloomy rind, and fresh fromage blanc, as well as the Bovine Bakery for ginger cookies. It was our small way of bringing a little bit of Tomales Bay home with us. Contact Julia Prodis Sulek at 408-278-3409. Follow her at Twitter.com/juliasulek.


chill

Take refuge in Carmel

Bird-watch in Richmond

You can fill your days with wine tasting and shopping in Carmel’s adorable downtown, but the place to really unwind is this unusual spa, where blissedout guests wander from eucalyptus steam baths to burbling hot pools, Pacific-temperature plunge pools and thermal waterfalls. No reservations, no worries, no limits — plan on spending at least a few hours, but you’re welcome to spend the day in the pools or draped languorously in an Adirondack chair, swathed in a snowy white robe and contemplating the majesty of the mountain views. Spa-aaahh.

Sometimes, nothing can beat an easy, low-key and cooling outing on a hot day. For just that, walk along the Bay Trail at Stege Marsh in Richmond for spectacular panoramic shoreline views, as well as some of the best bird-watching in the area. The marsh is north of Point Isabel, and you don’t have to deal with traffic issues to get there. Simply take the Bayview overpass across Interstate 580 from Carlson Boulevard, turn left at the four-way intersection, park in the cul-desac at South 51st Street, then take the “secret” path leading to the trail. This is the Bay Trail, so walks can be as short or long as you want to tailor them. Bring binoculars, and keep an eye out for herons, egrets, avocets and other avian varieties feeding in the marsh.

27300 Rancho San Carlos Road. For details, go to www.refuge.com.

For details, go to www.pointrichmond.com/baytrail.

Zen out in Saratoga

See the light in Pacific Grove

Need a place to Zen out? Head to Saratoga’s Hakone Estate & Gardens, said to be the oldest Japanese estate, retreat and gardens in the Western Hemisphere. Have a sip at the traditional tea house, check out the koi pond, or simply take in all the botanical beauty.

Enlighten yourself about a storied California landmark by taking a trip to Point Pinos Lighthouse, the West Coast’s oldest continuously operating lighthouse. The light, built in 1855 and still an active beacon, was the second light to be activated along California’s then-darkened shoreline. It has a fascinating history that begins on the East Coast, where the light, building materials and instructions were shipped around Cape Horn, in South America, and brought to California. The light also had two memorable women keepers. The first, Charlotte A. Layton, took over after her husband was killed while riding with a posse in pursuit of a bandit. Later, Emily Fish, aka the “Socialite Keeper,” called that because of her fondness for entertaining guests at the lighthouse, served as keeper.

21000 Big Basin Way. For details, call 408-741-4994 or go to www.hakone.com.

Peep seals at Año Nuevo Hike Año Nuevo State Park in Pescadero for the beautiful views, interesting history and education. Make it an unforgettable outing by making it a point to see, up close and personal, the giant elephant seals inhabiting the beaches. Sign up for a walking tour, and learn about the portly pinnipeds.

Ride the rails in Suisun City

Pedal on Chileno Valley Road

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bay area news group archives

From top: Cherry blossoms and a walking bridge at Hakone Estate & Gardens in Saratoga; an elephant seal at Año Nuevo State Park in Pescadero.

Take a trip to the past at the Western Railway Museum. The museum has dozens of examples of electric trains and other vintage rail cars in its display areas, but the best part is taking the 11-mile round-trip ride along the original track, now closed to all traffic but the museum’s, which once linked San Francisco and Sacramento. It’s an oddly calming and enjoyable ride. The museum also offers special train trips — wine and wildflowers in April and a trip to a special pumpkin patch set up near the tracks in the fall. Picnic areas are available, too. 5848 Highway 12. 5848 Highway 12. For details, call 707-374-2978 or go to http://bayareane.ws/1FousIt.

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Charles Layton took up residence at Point Pinos in 1954 as the lighthouse’s first keeper. After his death the following year, the city named his wife, Charlotte, to the post, becoming the first female lighthouse keeper on the West Coast.

80 Asilomar Ave. For details, go to www.pointpinoslighthouse.org.

For details, call 650-879-2025 or go to http://bayareane.ws/1R4blc1.

Save the round-trip fare to Europe for a pedal closer to home that’s just as beautiful as any backroad in France or Italy. Chileno Valley Road, near Petaluma, is one of the most scenic cycling roads in the Bay Area. It has rolling topography, smooth pavement and usually not much traffic. The hidden highway can be used as the centerpiece for a ride from Petaluma to see a Santa Cruz Warriors D-League basketball game. You can access the road from Spring Hill, Tomales Petaluma or Tomales roads.

ON POINT PINOS


CHILL

Let the waves lull you to sleep in the Steep Ravine cabins at Mount Tam The views are nothing short of breathtaking, and let’s face it, that — combined with its proximity to San Francisco — is why this place is popular. Cabins, of which there are 10, run $100 per night and tend to book up within an hour or two of when they become available. There’s no electricity, no running water (except in two recent additions: bathrooms with flushing toilets!), no services nor food on site. So what is there, aside from that sweeping view of crashing waves and migrating whales? Peace, quiet, seclusion, a wood stove, a grill and surprisingly plenty of room indoors. Each cabin features wooden platforms for sleeping up to five (bring air mattresses) and an indoor picnic table with benches. A charming host will sell you firewood for $8 a bundle, and it’s close enough that you can grab prepared food on your way out of town, or wander a mile north to Stinson Beach for a bite after you settle in. To reserve a cabin, go to http://bayareane.ws/1ETzPSJ.

Above: A sliver of sunlight hits the cabins before early-morning fog asserts its dominance. Cabin No. 10 is pictured in the foreground at left.

From left: A short hike leads to a secluded beach just north; light hits the ocean-facing side of Cabin No. 10 as sunset approaches; and the cliff faces are indeed steep. t e x t a n d p h o t o g r a p h s b y t i m b a ll

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chill

Place a bet on the ponies Want to see one of the greatest jockeys of his era? Watch Russell Baze ride at Golden Gate Fields, on the edge of Berkeley and Albany. While seeing any other world-class athlete in action could cost hundreds of dollars, if you go on Sunday, you can see Baze for a buck. And with the live trumpeter, the horses and the colorful silks, a day at the track can be fun for the whole family. You will have to lay little Johnny’s bet down for him, though, and settle up in the parking lot. 1100 Eastshore Highway. For details, call 510-559-7300.

Explore the city’s ruins When you hear “ruins,” you might think Pompeii, but on the western edge of San Francisco, a more modern ruin attracts hikers and sightseers every day. The skeleton of the old Sutro Baths, an enormous aquarium and public swimming facility built in the 19th century, sits in a hollow in the cliffs over Ocean Beach and serves as a reminder of the glory days of early San Francisco. Visitors can see where seven pools once accommodated 10,000 bathers a day. 680 Point Lobos Ave. For details, go to http://bayareane.ws/1JLYJ54.

Catch legendary jockey Russell Baze (above, awaiting his 49,999th race in 2013) at Golden Gate Fields — just a dollar on Sundays.

Motor (or paddle) at Del Valle Lake Del Valle, in Livermore, is surrounded by rolling hills and — most importantly — hits summer temperatures hot enough to make swimming a joy and a relief. And here you don’t have to settle for a shoreline dip, because a menagerie of boats are available to rent. Water lovers can choose from canoes, rowboats and pedal boats, but for those who simply want to sun and swim, the best option is the pontoon: a shaded, floating patio with a motor. Putter out to the middle of the lake, kill the motor, and jump. You’d be smart to arrive early to score one of these popular boats. For details, go to www.ebparks.org/parks/del_valle.

Show a date the stars

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Escape the masses in S.F. Sure, you could grease up and squeeze into the mobbed, weed-saturated hills of Dolores Park on a sunny day. Or you could drive 10 more minutes to John McLaren Park, 312 mostly hipster-free acres of green just beyond the Excelsior. Whatever you can do at DoPa, you can do at McLaren — plus hike, swim, golf and nature-gaze. It’s the second-largest park in San Francisco, and it’s about time someone discovered it. Boat rentals at Lake Del Valle run the gamut from kayak to motorized sun deck.

For details, go to http://bayareane.ws/1JaIiij.

Trace Jack London’s life

Pitch woo after dark at Chabot Space & Science Center, in Oakland’s redwood forest. Once a month, the center has a dining option, followed by an activity: night hikes, science experiments, a movie — every month is different. Who knew science could be so romantic?

The author bought his “Beauty Ranch” in 1905 and took up farming — after a life of working on the Oakland waterfront, prospecting gold in Alaska and sailing the Pacific. This park has more than 10 miles of trails that meander through meadows and oak woodlands, as well as the ruins of Jack London’s Wolf House mansion, Beauty Ranch buildings, a museum and his grave.

10000 Skyline Blvd. For details, go to http://bayareane.ws/1DDAEIi.

For details, go to http://jacklondonpark.com.

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ON McLAREN

The park boasts baseball diamonds, tennis courts, an indoor pool, 75 picnic tables and a nine-hole golf course.


ch i l l

The sweeping ocean views at Pacific Grove Golf Links (the 12th fairway is pictured above) come at a relatively modest price when compared to those at Pebble Beach’s The Links at Spanish Bay, just down the road,

Bathe in Sonoma County

Wander the Niles district

Step back in time in Port Costa

Osmosis Day Spa and Sanctuary turns relaxation into high art. It offers “Cedar Enzyme Baths,” outdoor pagoda massages along the forested banks of Salmon Creek and so much more. If that weren’t peaceful enough, Osmosis also boasts a Japanese tea garden and a meditation garden.

Take a quest into Fremont’s cinematic past by wandering through Fremont’s Niles district. Lovers of old films will adore the historic Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum (37417 Niles Blvd.), where Broncho Billy and Charlie Chaplin made movies.

Accessible only by a few windy roads from Crockett or Highway 4, Port Costa — a tiny community on the edge of the Carquinez Strait — is like the town that time forgot. Stop in Theatre of Dreams to peruse the selection of handmade decor treasures.

Take a walking tour to see the small homes where the film crew members lived. And there are offerings for antiquers, too: About a dozen large shops offer a wide range of relics, from fine furniture to modern kitsch. And don’t miss the annual Antique Faire and Flea Market, which is on Aug. 30 this year. Hungry? Have a bite and a glass of wine at The Vine (37553 Niles Blvd.) — among southern Alameda County’s best hidden culinary gems.

Dine at The Bull Valley Roadhouse (great cocktails, and the buttermilk fried chicken and the macaroni gratin are standouts). Have a nightcap or three at the Warehouse Cafe, offering a staggering selection of beers and, often, live music. And, if you’ve had one too many, hole up for the night at the The Burlington Hotel, a former party destination for out-of-towners that’s known for its rowdy, colorful and, some say, mysterious history (some folks claim the place is haunted).

209 Bohemian Highway. For details, go to www.osmosis.com.

bay area news group archives

Tee off in Pacific Grove Take the golf clubs to Pacific Grove Golf Links and pay three-fourths of the price of nearby Spanish Bay, but get the same view of the ocean and sand dunes from the scenic back nine. Before or after the round, tour the lighthouse, which is near the 10th tee. Go downtown for a bite at Peppers (170 Forest Ave.), Il Vecchio (110 Central Ave.) or the newly remodeled Beach House at Lovers Point (620 Ocean View Blvd.).

And for a truly memorable trip back in time, take a scenic ride on the Niles Canyon Railway, on the National Register of Historic Places, for a nostalgic taste of small-town America before the 1960s.

The next morning, gaze out over the water while enjoying brewed-by-the-cup coffee, pastries and artisan bacon from the hotel’s cafe. Best of all: All of these places are within a block of one another — and the water.

77 Asilomar Blvd. For details, go to www.playpacificgrove.com.

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EUREKA INTERVIEW

Finding the perfect beat |||

BY CHUCK BARNE Y

For years, Janet Koike, an accomplished taiko drummer, yearned to establish a cozy, laid-back place in the Bay Area where residents could come together to share experiences in music, dance, theater, film and arts education. The dream finally came together via Rhythmix Cultural Works, a bustling facility in Alameda that features an art gallery, a multipurpose classroom and a 160‑seat performance space. Koike took some time to chat about her vision for Rhythmix and explain why she continues to passionately follow the call of the drums. Learn more at WWW.rhythmix.org For people who aren’t familiar with Rhythmix Cultural Works, tell us a little about your place.

My intention all along was to have a place to uplift people’s spirits, and that’s exactly what it does.

It’s a beautiful space, and it’s nice and intimate. You feel like you’re having a very personal experience with the performers. It’s a real community feeling, but with quality, high-class arts.

I’ve heard about these so-called bingo extravaganzas you have there …

Sounds like a great spot to just relax and hang out. Definitely, and on Wednesdays we have our Art Jams. Anyone can come. We encourage people to bring something to work on and snacks to share. It’s a really comfortable and supportive atmosphere where people can explore their creative side and have some good conversation. So how did all this come about? I was hunting for a space, and I had looked at a lot of different buildings all over the Bay Area. I had even put bids on a number of them. But then I saw this beautiful industrial warehouse right near the water, and immediately I had building lust. So it was meant to be? Part of it was that I was just charmed by Alameda, maybe because I didn’t know much about it. It was kind of mysterious to me — a little undiscovered gem. Anyway, I bought it in 2001, but it took a few years to bring it to life. I had it renovated in 2007, and it just turned into this really sweet space.

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Well, I guess they don’t fall under the banner of “high-class arts,” but they’re very popular, and they’re definitely a community builder. It’s like a party with costumes, live entertainment and dancing. We have them every other month, and they’re tied to themes. That sounds nothing like the old-school bingo most of us know about. (Laughing) Not even close. One of our guests described it as a “mini-vacation” — a night where she can take her mind off work and other things and just have some fun. What kind of personal reward do you get out of all this? I like to make things happen, and I like to connect with people. To fill a room with music is an absolute joy to me. Because it’s a small venue, people are able to have very intimate experiences here. Let’s talk about your taiko drumming. How did you get into that? Years ago, I saw some women performing in San Francisco. I thought: “Wow, what a wonderful combination of culture, rhythm and movement.” I was mesmerized.

And you’ve been pounding away at it ever since. Yeah, but I play differently now. When I was younger, I enjoyed the full, all-out expression of what I call “spill-a-gut” playing. I went at it as hard as I could. I was very much wanting to express my physicality. Now, that’s not as interesting to me. I’m more into the complexities. I enjoy creating music that combines nontraditional instruments with traditional Japanese taiko. I’ve seen some of your performances on YouTube. There is so much energy and expressiveness and … Shameless mugging? You said it, not me. I remember one reviewer who wrote, “I haven’t seen as many unabashed smiles since the Miss America Pageant.” Did you take that as a compliment or criticism? I don’t know, but we really are just having fun. Life is short. If you can share your passion with others, that’s a great thing. And you and your fellow drummers have done a lot of touring? We’ve been to China and Japan. In the ’90s, we got to play Carnegie Hall, and that was pretty special. So your drumming certainly has taken you places. On the other hand, we’ve played some not-so-glamorous venues — like at the state fair, right next to the pig races. Oh wow. Kind of a comedown. Yeah, but I actually had a lot of fun, … and the pigs were really cute.

portrait by LIPO CHING

C O N V E R S AT I O N W I T H J A N E T KO I K E


Lydia Kasumi Shirreff

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THE OTHER

OTHER

WInE COUnTRY

From tasting rooms and quaint shops featuring artisanal fare to bistros and upscale fine-dining options, Livermore is making its mark as a worthy destination for wine- and food-lovers alike — without the crowds that might drive one to, well, drink.

B Y L I N DA Z AVO R A L p h o t o g ra p h s by do u g d u ran and ari c c rabb

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W

e are heading into wine country, zipping by oak-studded golden hills where the occasional small herd of cattle ranges and the few rickety old barns could tumble at any time — unless a wannabe vintner rescues them and transforms them into tasting rooms. I say zipping because there is no traffic. We’re not on Highway 29 in that Wine Country or Highways 101 or 12 in the other Wine Country. This is the Livermore Valley, and it’s yet to be discovered by the wine-drinking masses. Like Lodi, the Santa Clara Valley and so many other regions, this unheralded area is rich in grape-growing history (dating back to the early 1880s), and its wines are gaining acclaim. In the mid-’90s there were only 15 wineries in the Livermore Valley American Viticultural Area; now there are just over 50. Entrepreneurs and restaurateurs have embraced the movement. Downtown Livermore, with its Western-style storefronts — now given over to wine bars, ale houses, bistros and restaurants with corkage-free nights — has become a second home for oenophiles and food lovers. Where to start a day of Livermore sipping and sampling? Well, many tasting rooms don’t open until noon. The day’s smoking has commenced over at the popular spot called Sauced, but the barbecue’s not ready. And I, for one, need more caffeine before I’ll be able to throw balls straight on the bocce court. Our reservation’s not until 11 a.m. So it’s off to the Panama Red Coffee Co. or CasseCroute Bakery for cups to go and then the Sunday farmers market at Railroad Avenue. At first glance, this market is so tiny it hardly warrants a stop — until you see the row of artisans espousing the “made in Livermore” philosophy. There’s John Johnsen, a parks and rec guy who bottles his hot sauce recipes under the Texas-inspired Terlingua name but pays tribute to the city’s largest employer, the one with the H-bomb notoriety. Laurence Livermore Laboratory officials purchase his “Livermore Site 300 Nuclear Sauce” by the case for employees and visitors, so you have to arrive early to snag a bottle. The same goes for the sell-out-fast tamales and taquitos made by a young cook named Aurora “Flaca” Nava of Flaca’s

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Tesla Rd.

ABOVE

1. Campo di Bocce 2. Wente Vineyards 3. Blacksmith Square 4. Winery Row 5. Carnegie Park

map by d ave johnson

Chips & Salsa. Family recipes, I ask? “I tweaked my mom’s recipes, so now they’re mine,” she says proudly. Across the way, the Cheese Therapy food truck beckons. Two Livermore residents — chef Denise Creek Garcia and cheesemonger Teri Tith Concannon — specialize in the ploughman’s lunch (that’s the English name for a salumi or charcuterie plate), grilled cheeses (think manchego with spicy slaw and cilantro), homemade soup and a three-cheese Caesar salad (today it’s Parmesan, Comte and Seascape, a nice change of pace from the usual one-note Caesar). A much larger farmers market, with dinner vendors and live music, springs up on Thursday evenings from spring to fall on the grounds of the town’s stately circa 1911 Carnegie Library, not too far away. Speaking of not too far away, that applies to just about everything in downtown Livermore. It’s com-


HOT SAUCE PHOTO BY ARIC CRABB; ALL OTHERS (and opening spread) BY DOUG DURAN

Top row, left to right: Wente Vineyards executive sous chef Mark Duesler; the Farmers Plate at Swirl on the Square; Rod Moniz, owner of Moniz Family Wines, at Blacksmith Square. Middle row, left to right: Michael Godfrey, left, and family get ready to play at Campo di Bocce; a bottle of Site 300 Nuclear Hot Sauce from the Terlingua Sauce Co. at the Livermore farmers market; the Wente Vineyards restaurant garden. Bottom row, left to right: Delta asparagus with house-made bacon, pecorino and a crispy six-minute farm egg at the Wente Vineyards restaurant; Jan Liband plays the bongos with the reggae band Paper Kayak at Blacksmith Square.

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pact and walkable, a perfect way to burn off calories on a food- and drink-filled day. But first, we’re off to

burn calories very slowly, with a leisurely — but competitive, I hope — match of bocce. Yes, the Livermore wine industry may have French and German vintners at its roots, but the Italian game of bocce is de rigueur here, as it apparently is in every California appellation. You can play bocce as a side activity at a winery, or you can, like us, play where the bocce is paramount and wine takes a back seat (though, truth be told,

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Above: Wente Vineyards restaurant sommelier Jorge Tinoco is in the wine cellar. Opposite: Fionn Conway, left, and his brother Conor bag vegetables at the Livermore farmers market.

my glass of local sauvignon blanc is sitting a few feet away). Here, on a warm day at Campo di Bocce, on the western side of Livermore, the air feels positively Mediterranean on the outdoor courts, ringed by blooming trellises. The wait staff thoughtfully gives refresher tips on how to play (it’s all about rolling your balls closest to the little ball, called the pallino, and no, it’s never been as easy as it sounds), keeps you supplied with pitchers of ice water, and takes care of your food and wine orders. The wait staff does not, however, retrieve your far-flung balls from the end of the approximately 90-foot-long court.

That’s called the “walk of shame,” and it’s part of the fun — as long as you keep sipping wine. If you plan to play early enough in the day or late enough in the evening, you’ll avoid the distractions of birthday parties, bridal showers and corporate team-building on nearby courts and get a chance to concentrate on strategy. Actually, on a standard court like this, as opposed to a park or festival grounds, there’s more to it than strategy: I thought I put enough spin on that one! Why is it rolling over there? No, stop, stop! Are we sure this court doesn’t slope? After an hour’s worth of play,

which went by much too quickly, I can attest that good hand-eye coordination counts for more than Italian blood when playing bocce. The score was 8‑4. We retreat to an umbrella-shaded table for lunch after discovering that a number of people come to Campo di Bocce not to play bocce but to eat. A good sign. Seeing as how we barely broke a sweat on the court, we bypass the pasta dishes and opt to share a nicely grilled fresh salmon sandwich with avocado, a Tuscan tuna salad sandwich with capers, and side salads, including one of bibb lettuce, burrata cheese and shaved fennel.


THIS PAGE: ARIC CRABB; OPPOSITE: DOUG DURAN

Next it’s off to the

wineries, with our designated driver at the wheel. Although wineries are sprinkled throughout Livermore, the bulk of them line South Livermore Avenue, Tesla Road and nearby streets. Closest to downtown is Retzlaff, established in 1985. Nearby is the historic Concannon, which dates to 1883, followed — west to east — by a string of boutique and family wineries, including the winery of sixth-generation vintner Steven Kent of the Mirassou family. At the far eastern edge of the strip are Eagle Ridge, Les Chenes and Cedar Mountain. First we stop at a nearby Mines Road winery, Murrieta’s Well, named for the site where Joaquin Murrieta discovered an artesian well in the 1850s. The rustic tasting room is fashioned from an 1880s hillside “gravity flow” winery where French immigrant Louis Mel made wine from imported Chateau d’Yquem and Chateau Margaux plantings. The lore and views here are unexpected delights. Our interest in Murrieta actually had been piqued by the winery’s recent best in show award for The Whip, a 2013 white blended not from two, three or four wine grapes, but seven: semillon, chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, viognier, orange muscat, gewurztraminer and white riesling. It’s aromatic, to be sure, and surprisingly well-balanced. Or, in the words of our wine critic, Mary Orlin, one of the judges at the blind tasting, “Soft and round on the palate, juicy and refreshing. Lingering finish with a hint of honey.” Known for its cabernet franc, Murrieta’s Well, like many other Livermore wineries, also makes small-lot wines from such Spanish and Portuguese varietals as touriga and tempranillo. Our purchases: touriga, The Whip and muscat canelli. And if the port hadn’t been a club-only purchase, I would have bought a bottle of that, too. You can only do so much

wine tasting, so when your palate is bruised and another water cracker won’t help, head downtown for some live music and small bites at yet another historic site.

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Blacksmith Square, which was home to a blacksmith way back in the day, is now a charming brick courtyard lined with tiny shops and tasting rooms, and the credit goes to John Madden’s developer son for that. There’s entertainment — maybe light rock, maybe country, with no cover charge — on Friday evenings, Saturday afternoons and evenings, and Sunday afternoons from May through October. Try to arrive early to grab seats because it’s standing room only when the weather’s nice. Swirl on the Square is the wine bar and restaurant that runs the show at Blacksmith. Small plates range from crostini to sausage

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Above: Live music entertains patrons on a Saturday evening at Blacksmith Square. Opposite: The hillsides at Wente Vineyards glow at sunset.

sliders, and you can expect some creative bites from chef Serena Martinez, who did her externship at Gary Danko in San Francisco. But it’s tough to pass up a dessert called Billie’s Homemade Secret Cake, which is baked by owner Rocco Maitino’s mother, and no, she won’t even give him the recipe. This buttery yellow cake topped with walnuts and dusted with powdered sugar is so rich that even Maitino says it’s too sweet to pair with dessert wine; you’ll want coffee with this one. Toward the end of the

afternoon, we’re off to Eagle Ridge Vineyard, recommended by a new

acquaintance, for nice wines, free tasting and a quirky atmosphere. To get to this cattle ranch-turnedwinery, we drive down a bumpy, half-mile-long road with a humongous dip (the website calls it a “Disneyland ‘E ticket’ ride”). The plain exterior of the old agricultural building belies what’s inside: a fun jumble of vintage signs and turn-of-the-century collectibles amassed by owners Jim and Cheryl Perry. Jim, who pours tastes for us of his signature petite sirahs and estate-grown zinfandels, is clearly a local booster. A bumper sticker behind him boasts: “Livermore makes wine. Napa makes auto parts.”

Pouring next to him is fellow winemaker Dan Rosenberg of Dante Robere Vineyards, known for its 2012 reserve syrah and Rhone blend (Dante’s Inferno). Soon, the two will be pouring miles apart, as Dante Robere moves to its new winery in west Livermore, where the tasting room patio will offer views of the estate syrah vineyard and Sycamore Grove Park. Our purchases: From Eagle Ridge, MadCait dessert wine, made from pinot grigio, and from Dante Robere, that Dante’s Inferno. Alas, we were among the last to enjoy the free tastings, as both wineries will start levying fees


of $5 and $10, respectively. Still, compared with Napa tasting fees, Livermore remains a bargain.

DOUG DURAN (2)

For the best high-end

dinner in Livermore, we make reservations to end the day at The Restaurant at Wente Vineyards. In business for 30 years, this restaurant has evolved under recent chefs to embrace both a farm-to-table and a ranch-to-table philosophy. That means Wente not only grows produce and herbs on a half-acre organic garden here, but the restaurant also raises its own herd of grass-fed Black Angus cattle on local hillsides. The winery isn’t just the oldest in these parts; it’s the oldest continuously operated family-owned winery in the United States — it has been up and running since 1883. Dinner starts with warm housemade rolls, flecked with herbs from the garden and olive oil pressed just down the road at Olivina. It’s a perfect pairing. We ordered the signature starter — Lamb Pastrami, cured in-house and served on rye crisps with pickled red onion and coriander — along with what we later term the most addictive dish we’ve had in a while, Black Truffle Ricotta Dip, made with chevre, sheep’s milk ricotta, honey, sunflower seeds and thyme. For entrees, we shared the wood-grilled Filet Mignon, served with marble potatoes; a goat cheese gnocchi with pancetta and fava beans; and another signature offering, the Grilled Leg of Lamb, with merlot and rosemary. That was the standout dish, with beautiful slices of medium-rare lamb fanned out over morel mushrooms, favas and roasted spring onions. Outside the dining room is some of the very scenery we drove past this morning. We’ve somehow managed to time our meal perfectly. The setting sun is casting shadows on the hills, darkening them from gold to mustard to brown, and two birds of prey fly past, as if on cue. But we neglected to reserve the very best seats — a window or patio table — for the evening show. Next time. Follow Linda Zavoral at Twitter.com/buh_byetravel.

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ta s t y

Drink up — in a castle

Pick sweet treats on the coast

When it comes to Napa Valley wine tasting, the problem is not how to find a good winery. It’s how to choose among 400 of them. Instead of pondering the possibilities, head straight for Dario Sattui’s 13th-century Tuscan fantasy, Castello di Amorosa, in Calistoga. Sattui also has a medieval monastery just outside Siena and a Medici palace in Tuscany, but you don’t need a passport to visit this one, a 136,000-square-foot medieval-style castle, complete with battlements, caves, a torture chamber, secret passages and a drawbridge — and the grand Great Hall. Plus, there’s wine.

If you’re heading up Highway 1 from Santa Cruz, stop at Swanton Berry Farm, just north of Davenport (or its second farm, Coastways, in Pescadero). This laid-back oasis has an honor till that you will quickly fill up buying fresh-picked strawberries, jams and other treats. Enjoy your goodies in the funky farm stand, where you can hang out playing board games, looking at old books or chatting with friends. If it’s not too windy, you can enjoy your treats on the lawn area. And, of course, you can wander the fields and pick your own organic strawberries — a great activity with kids.

4045 N. St. Helena Highway. For details, go to www.castellodiamorosa.com.

25 Swanton Road. For details, go to www.swantonberryfarm.com.

Visit olive oil country

Gourmet grub on the go

Get a taste of Italy by stepping inside Napa Valley Olive Oil Manufacturing Co. in St. Helena. The place is in a white shed a long block off Highway 29 at the end of Charter Oak Drive and offers bottles upon bottles of olive oil, along with other tasty treats — salami, sausages and cheese, anyone?

If you find yourself on an impromptu trip to Wine Country, stop for lunch at Addendum, the to-go outpost of Yountville’s revered Ad Hoc. You can get tasty comfort food without a reservation and quickly get back on the Silverado Trail. Enjoy a boxed lunch of buttermilk fried chicken, barbecue pork ribs or a pulled pork sandwich, each with a couple of sides, on a picnic bench in the garden. Addendum is open Thursdays through Saturdays from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. (There can be a line on Saturdays.) Addendum is located behind Ad Hoc, which is at 6476 Washington St.

835 Charter Oak Ave. For details, go to www.oliveoilsainthelena.com.

A semi-secret berry patch

Make a sour face at Mikkeller One of San Francisco’s best recent openings is the beer haven Mikkeller Bar, on the edge of the Tenderloin and in the burgeoning Mid-Market area, home to Twitter and countless other new-media companies. And while the main-floor beer hall is a welcome addition to the neighborhood, the highlight here is down a narrow staircase to the basement, home of the Tivoli Sour Room, open Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights after 6 p.m. For those averse to dark beers — which all too often feel like they must be chewed — but delighted by the a lip-puckeringly tart finish and maybe a slight barnyard funkiness, this is heaven. With a narrow communal table and a couple of smaller two-seater spots, it can get a little crowded, but the offerings here more than make up for the cramped quarters. (And on nights when the sour room itself isn’t open, you can still order from its menu upstairs, though you may be surrounded by a crush of tech bros.) 34 Mason St. For details, call 415-984-0279.

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For details, go to www.dow.com/pittsburg/wetland.

From top: Strawberries at Coastways Ranch; the view from a tower at Castello di Amorosa; and Jason Liu, 2½, of San Jose, samples the fruit at Coastways.

Stock up in St. Helena Long Meadow Ranch in St. Helena has it all. A farmers market runs all year from Friday through Sunday. Artisan dinners are served outside at the community table, where you may even sit with the owners. And don’t miss the butcher shop, olive oils, wines and more. 738 Main St. For details, go to www.longmeadowranch.com or call 877-627-2645.

ON BLACKBERRIES

The deliciously tart fruit is especially tasty when paired with a sweet stone fruit: A favorite of ours is a muffin bursting with blackberries (or — even better — olallieberries) and fresh peaches.

COASTWAYS: PATRICK TEHAN; CASTLE: ASSOCIATED PRESS; blackberry: thinkstock

Around Labor Day the Dow Wetlands Preserve, in Antioch, has an bevy of blackberries perfect for the picking. On West 10th Street, there is a parking lot near the entrance to the preserve. Take the narrow trail north, and after a short walk, you’ll see blackberry brambles on your left. Walk a bit more for a section with giant hedges on both sides filled with the fruit. If picking berries isn’t your bag, the preserve has much to see on its 470-plus undeveloped acres, including a beaver pond and many spots for bird-watching.

For details, go to www.thomaskeller.com/addendum.


ta s t y

Sample upscale spirits at St. George in Alameda Aficionados of fine spirits have a lot to choose from these days, but all the new artisan distillers owe a debt to the craftspeople at St. George Spirits. It was the first craft distillery in the United States when it opened in 1982, and it has since moved to a 65,000-squarefoot hangar on the grounds of the old Alameda Naval Air Station. Visitors can see the stills, fermentation tanks and bottling line at the distillery that produced the first American single-malt whiskey, the first legal absinthe made in the U.S. in 80 years and Hangar 1 Vodka. And, of course, you can taste flights of the award-winning rums, liqueurs, whiskeys and more. — Michael Mayer 2601 Monarch St. For details, go to www.stgeorgespirits.com.

Above: Samantha Shireman, assitant manager at St. George Spirits and self-proclaimed “Booze Geek,” stands next to a still as she leads a tour at the distillery.

St. George vodka (far left) and absinthe (near left) are on offer at post-tour tastings like the one Jon Stenstrom and Kathleen Nguyen are enjoying on a recent Saturday in Alameda. photogr aphs by doug dur an

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tas t y

Pick your own produce Each spring, cherry lovers from around the Bay Area flock to the dozens of orchards in Brentwood to pick buckets of cherries straight from the trees (some people get carried away and have to be reprimanded for climbing the trees in search of the ripest cherry). But the U-Pick season actually stretches all summer, giving fresh fruit and veggie lovers a chance to pick their own farm-fresh produce. Despite the rapid development in East Contra Costa over the years, the U-Pick farms still provide a small-town reminder of a simpler time, when farming was the lifeblood of the region. For details, go to www.harvest4you.com.

Vino with a view in Alameda Run by the famous Rosenblums, this is a gem of a spot with fabulous views of San Francisco and the bay, especially at sunset. Rock Wall Wine Co. has a 3,000-square-foot geodesic dome, and it’s kid-friendly, with furniture outside and plenty of room to run around. Wine club membership is reasonably priced, and great discounts are offered. The spot is open every day, closing at 8 p.m., making it a perfect place for a sip after work. Rock Wall Wine Co. is located on the former Alameda Naval Air Station. For details, go to www.rockwallwines.com.

Shuck and slurp in Marshall Strawberries (pictured above) are just one of many fruits and vegetables available at U-Pick farms in Brentwood.

Tomales Bay in Marin County is ground zero for great oysters in the Bay Area. And at the Tomales Bay Oyster Co., you can picnic right next to the farms that produce great oysters, clams and mussels featured at many Bay Area restaurants. The proprietors will set you up with shucking knives, charcoal for one of the many grills on the property, lemons and hot sauce. And, if you so desire, bring your own beer and wine.

Sit and sip at Truett Hurst

Power up for wine tasting If you’re a wine aficionado exploring Healdsburg, make it a point to stop at Jimtown Store, on Alexander Valley Road near the Russian River. The spot offers hearty soups, salads, sandwiches, starters and breakfasts. 6706 Highway 128. For details, call 707-433-1212.

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Not an oyster-shucking pro? The folks at Tomales Bay Oyster Co. are happy to help.

The winery is at 5610 Dry Creek Road. For details, go to www.truetthurst.com.

Truett Hurst and the Jimtown Store are just two of the tasty Healdsburg treasures highlighted in this section. Check out the listing for Shed on the next page.

brentwood: aric crabb; oyster: los angeles times

15479 Shoreline Highway. For details, go to www.tomalesbayoystercompany.com.

For some truly sensational sips, stop by Truett Hurst Winery for a tasting — all the wines are good, but pay special mind to the Black Sheep Pinot Noir, the Rattler Rock Zinfandel and the Dragonfly Red Blend. As you’re tasting (or, better yet, holding the bottle you just bought), walk out through the winery’s extensive herb, fruit and vegetable gardens and down to the edge of Dry Creek, where there are a few groups of Adirondack chairs to laze in while swirling your glass and communing with nature. If you haven’t bought a few tasty treats to snack upon there, head back into Healdsburg afterward for a small-plates dinner at Chalkboard (29 North St.). Be sure to try at least one of the housemade pastas.

ON HEALDSBURG


shed: Erick Wolfinger

ta s t y

For pancakes, we hike!

Do good, and eat well

One Sunday a month through October, the historic West Point Inn lures hungry hikers to its remote locale on Mount Tam for a pancake breakfast with top-of-the-world views. Friends and families gather around plates of flapjacks, sausages and fresh fruit at sunny picnic tables perched high above the fog. Paths to the inn vary, but the level 45-minute amble from Mountain Theatre is a scenic option.

Remember that incredible meal you had while traveling abroad? Guess what? Someone is cooking the same meal right here, and needs you to 1) eat it 2) chip in funds to keep the delicious fare flowing. San Francisco’s La Cocina is an incubator kitchen for low-income food entrepreneurs looking to get their businesses off the ground. The focus is women from communities of color and immigrant communities.

100 Old Railroad Grade. For details, go to www.westpointinn.com.

2948 Folsom St. For details, go to www.lacocinasf.org.

Go north, in search of cheese

Get lost going gourmet

Finding excellent cheese in a big city — where’s the sport in that? It’s far more fun to discover some outstanding handcrafted water buffalo, sheep and goat cheeses in a tiny unincorporated community of 50. This microscopic Russian River town of Freestone, 15 minutes from Bodega Bay, is home to Freestone Artisan Cheese. This unlikely little foodie mecca has developed a cult following since opening in 2013. Roasted California nuts, local olive oil, crepes and tea round out the mix. Enjoy a happy lunch in the redwood park across the street.

What is this place? Restaurant? Gourmet market? Coffee bar? Community gathering spot? Try all of the above. Healdsburg’s Shed, which garnered a James Beard Award for best-designed restaurant in the country last year, is a great stop for brunch or a picnic if you’re headed north, but it’s a worthy stop in its own right. With house-cured meats, terrines, gourmet ciders, drinking vinegars and baked goods; an espresso bar in the front; and an expansive indoor-outdoor dining area, it’s easy to spend a couple of hours here (and, ahem, a couple hundred dollars if you’re not careful).

380 Bohemian Highway. For details, go to www.freestoneartisan.com.

25 North St. For details, go to www.healdsburgshed.com.

Sample some suds in Surf City Something new is brewing in Santa Cruz County: beer — and lots of it. By the end of 2015, the number of breweries in the county will have doubled in the past three years.

Healdsburg's Shed, above, has plenty to offer inside its doors, but there's also a bonus across the street: The Healdsburg farmers market opens up across the street every Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon from May through November.

Begin a tour at Corralitos Brewing Co. (2536 Freedom Blvd., Watsonville) before heading to New Bohemia Brewing Co. (1030 41st Ave., Santa Cruz) for German-style lagers. Sip delicious barrel-aged sours at nearby Sante Adairius Rustic Ales (103 Kennedy Drive, Capitola), and finish at Discretion Brewing (2703 41st Ave., Soquel), where beer-friendly bites, such as pork belly sliders, pair well with award-winning brews. Can’t nab a designated driver? Hook up with Brew Cruz, which shuttles guests around in a tricked-out school bus named Betty Jane. For details, go to www.scbrewcruz.com.

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From the South to your mouth C O N V E R S AT I O N W I T H D E R R E C K J O H N S O N

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BY CHUCK BARNE Y

Even as Oakland’s Jack London Square experiences a culinary renaissance with trendy eateries such as Lungomare, Haven and Plank, the Home of Chicken and Waffles remains the neighborhood’s tried-and-true soul food hot spot. Opened in 2004 by its passionate owner, Derreck Johnson, the bustling diner continues to thrive, thanks to its abundance of freshly made comfort food, a warm family environment and the soothing sounds of Motown. Johnson, who also runs a Home of Chicken and Waffles in Walnut Creek, tells us how the ingredients of success all come together. learn more at WWW.homeofchickenandwaffles.com

It’s just a great combination of the savory and sweet. It’s very comforting. It just makes you feel good inside. Sounds like maybe we should all be eating more of it. The world would be a happier, friendlier place.

Sounds like it’s gone mainstream. Definitely. You’re finding more chicken and waffles being served in mainstream restaurants and even some fine dining establishments. They’re trying their own versions of it, with mixed results. They try to fancy it up too much. It’s still best in its basic form. Yes, basic. And there’s something about those cinnamony waffles. It’s our special recipe.

Still, you’ll find some people who have never tried it — people who consider it to be an unusual combination. In their minds, you might as well be mixing Pop-Tarts with a porterhouse steak. Oh, yeah, there are some people who don’t get it. Obviously, it’s more prevalent in cultures and communities that have some ties to the South. Personally, my goal is to expose our culture and our food to everyone. Besides, fried chicken is something that crosses all lines. And a wide variety of people have embraced your place over the years. Our clientele is, of course, largely African-American. But we have customers from all walks of life, and they reflect the overall population of Oakland. (Former) Mayor (Jean) Quan is a customer. We get police officers and politicians, entertainers and athletes. A lot of the Warriors — Steph Curry, Klay Thompson — have been in several times, as well as many of the Raiders.

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And you’re not going to share it with us?

That mainly refers to the look of the diner. As a kid, I loved “The Jetsons.” It was my favorite cartoon. So I wanted a bit of that “Jetsons” feel — with a lot of bright, vibrant colors. As an Oakland native and a restaurant owner since 2004, you’ve witnessed the rise and fall and the rise again of Jack London Square. How gratifying is it to see the culinary revival going on there? Very gratifying. For a few years, it was like a desert out here. It was extremely dismal. … Now, it’s like night and day. There’s a whole different kind of energy going on. Plank is a great addition. I really enjoy eating at Haven. … And it’s nice to be able to tell people that you don’t have to go to San Francisco to have an upscale dining experience.

Of course not! One of the distinctive things about your restaurant is the colorful painted portraits of your family members on the wall with their namesake dishes. How did that idea come about? I got the idea driving down Grand Avenue. I saw this artist (Peter Tom) painting a mural on the walls of a school. I stopped and asked him if he could do something for us.

And now, the goal, it would seem, is to keep it going. That’s right. My hope is to see a few more family-friendly, everyday kind of restaurants added to the mix. That’s what I think you really need to bring in even more people. And those people will see that this place is safe, friendly and a lot of fun. You’ve got all kinds of different foods to choose from in a three-block radius. The water is beautiful. The weather’s great. What else can you ask for?

It’s a real homage to family. That’s what it’s all about. We want to give people that experience of going to your mom’s for Thanksgiving or Christmas or on a Sunday afternoon. It’s the most American way to eat. On your menu, there’s a reference to “down-home Southern soul food

That said, most of the media attention has been directed at the trendy new eateries. Do you worry that your place might get overlooked amid all the hubbub? Not at all! Down-home comfort food feeds the soul and has stood the test of time. And it can certainly stand the trends of time.

portrait by lipo ching

What is it about the marriage of chicken and waffles that makes it such a beloved dish for so many?

with a futuristic twist.” What’s the futuristic twist?


Lydia Kasumi Shirreff

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ON TH E L A KES AND T RAI L S OF TAHOE B Y E L L I OT T A L M O N D p hoto g ra p hs by M A X W H I T TA K E R

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tepping into the dark on a sun-drenched day in the High Sierra really does a number on perception. The eyes go first, from squinting in refractive light to flailing in blackness until the retina has time to adjust. Swagger in the gait erodes with each forward step. Time slows, then fades to black. The Summit Tunnel hike at Donner Pass is like tiptoeing into another dimension, unknown to almost everyone arriving at Lake Tahoe for a getaway. Traffic streams past on Interstate 80 with a distant whoosh. Those drivers on a hasty retreat down the serpentine roadway might briefly notice the railroad tunnels on a southern ridge of Donner Pass. But they’re not giving this otherworldly slice of Tahoe much thought on the way to ski slopes, golf courses and casinos. They know nothing of the eerie granite arches decorated by graffiti artists, creating an image of a subterranean Balmy Alley in the Mission. I’m not sure what to expect upon entering the dank cavern, where the sun’s warmth goes to die. Shivering from the quick temperature dip, stumbling into pools of water in the blackout, my picture of this land starts taking on a wholly different form. To stare into the sapphire-blue face of Tahoe is to grapple with perspective. So many archival mileposts to consider, including this abandoned stretch of the intercontinental railroad, built by the blistered hands of Chinese laborers. Unearthing such historical morsels is like pulling loose coins out of the crevices of a worn sofa. It took Bay Area historian Scott Lankford years to realize it. “I thought I knew Tahoe like the back of my hand, but I hadn’t flipped my hand over,” says the author of “Tahoe Beneath the Surface.” “I knew where to ski, I knew where to climb, I knew where to fish, I knew where to hike, I knew where to boat. But I did not know anything about where I was. The place is a nexus of historical forces that are deeply powerful.” Since Lt. John C. Frémont became the first explorer to cast eyes upon the crystalline waters — in 1844 — Tahoe has been tugged and pulled by American expansionism. First came the 49ers on their way to the Sierra goldfields. Ten years hence, opportunists decimated surrounding pine forests to support Nevada’s Comstock Lode. Environmental issues remain central to the Tahoe experience, just as they were at the beginning of the 20th century, when famed naturalist John Muir campaigned to create a national park here. John Steinbeck and Mark Twain were among those who left footprints. Starting from Donner Summit, in the northwest corridor, I’d circumnavigate the 72-mile shoreline looking for breadcrumbs of history in the Bay Area’s favorite backyard playground. But all that has to wait. The trip starts inside the rock-sculpted railroad bunkers built in the 1860s to bridge the East with San Francisco. That’s when the ground starts to shake violently.

The writer navigates his way through mostly abandoned train tunnels near Donner Pass, part of a 3-mile trail. Previous spread: Fallen Leaf Lake is just south of Lake Tahoe.

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The Thunderbird Lodge offers tours Tuesdays through Sundays and throws open its doors for special winemakers' dinners (tickets are $250 per person) on the second Sunday in July, August and September.

The Washoes had a summer camp at nearby Taylor Creek — similar to Camp Richardson. This woody section includes Fallen Leaf Lake, residing in the shadow of Desolation Wilderness, one of the state’s finest backpacking destinations. The growth of the Richardson family resort paralleled shoreline development that sprouted stately homes for the 1 percenters of the 1930s. Camp Richardson has remained a family-oriented refuge, like the Markleeville hot springs. Miles away, however, another famous lodge pays homage to a different way of life.

Far from the blackjack tables at

touristy Stateline, Nevada, southsiders find refuge in the pine-scented village of Markleeville. A natural hot tub with stunning vistas of crumbly peaks inspires the 45-minute drive from South Lake Tahoe to Kit Carson country. Grover Hot Springs State Park is an antidote to the high-priced resort spas of Swedish massages and mud baths. What the spring lacks in amenities it more than makes up for in value. For $7, visitors can enjoy a 1 ½‑mile round-trip tramp to a waterfall, or 4 ½ miles to Burnside Lake. Whatever one’s physical limit, the reward is a good soak at the finish line. Most, though, forgo the trails to enjoy the rejuvenating warmth of the copper-colored mineral water that rises to the surface at 148 degrees before it’s cooled in holding tanks above the pools. Molten rock burrowed underground has heated the springs since before the ice age. Geologic tumult eventually led to seepage to the surface, where the Washoe people once settled. The Washoe people’s 9,000‑year history around Tahoe often has been overshadowed by the relatively recent Eurocentric cultural domination. But it hasn’t been completely blotted out, thanks to such events as the annual summer Wa She Shu It’ Deh Native American Arts Festival, at the Tallac Historic Site, near South Lake Tahoe’s Camp Richardson. The Tahoe name, which became official in 1945, came from the Washoes’ descriptions of the lake. However it transpired, it’s more apropos than the once-common “Lake Bigler,” in honor of California’s third governor.

George Whittell Jr.’s lavish estate lies

far below the Flume Trail, beloved by mountain bikers and once the vein that sent virgin timber down to Virginia City. The acreage is lodged into the rocky granite cliffs overlooking the lake, just off the highway. The Thunderbird Lodge is a symbol of the wealthy who developed Tahoe’s shoreline, 29 percent of which lies in Nevada because of a mapping error. Whittell’s family built a fortune through San Francisco real estate. The scion took $50 million out of the stock market to build in Tahoe and also a secluded 50-acre estate in Woodside that now is Kings Mountain Vineyards.

1. Donner Pass tunnel hike 2. Grover Hot Springs 3. Thunderbird Lodge 4. Fallen Leaf Lake 5. Fishing the Little Truckee River 6. Squaw Valley Resort m a p b y d av e j o h n s o n

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Opposite, clockwise from top: Bryce Bennett fishes the Little Truckee River; bar patrons unwind at The Divided Sky in Meyers; an osprey dives with a freshly caught fish at Fallen Leaf Lake.


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Whittell intended to erect waterfront palaces and a casino in the 1930s when purchasing 40,000 acres, which included 27 miles of shoreline. Those plans faded because the strapping Whittell didn’t care for people. Instead of developing, the San Francisco millionaire “gave us the whole eastern shore in pristine condition,” says Sue Bernheisel, the volunteer coordinator for Thunderbird Lodge Preservation Society, which owns and manages the property. Society members have come to call the eccentric Whittell their “accidental conservationist.” They are the stewards of a bygone era, using fundraisers, tours, weddings and special events to safeguard the Thunderbird from modern-day encroachment. “He left us the east shore,” says Bernheisel, who grew up in San Leandro. “It’s the flavor of Lake Tahoe from that time, and we lost that” elsewhere. The preservation society formed in 1999 to take over the 5.8‑acre property. Its 90‑minute tour starts at the Incline Village visitor center beginning in mid‑May. The group also gives tours in Whittell’s famous wooden yacht, with airplane engines that roar to life. At least they do when the lake that descends a mind-numbing 1,645 feet isn’t suffering from current drought conditions. That’s OK. I came to Tahoe for solitude. The sun has slipped behind the forest,

sending the slightest chill through a muffled wind. Impressionist reflections on the smooth surface of the Little Truckee River mirror the tree-covered riverbank. At that moment, Bryce Bennett shatters the serenity with a declarative, “Got it.” Wearing a big grin, he hands me the pliant rod to haul in a plump 14‑inch brown trout at one of his favorite fishing holes northeast of Tahoe. “Slowly,” Bennett says as I turn the crank with my left hand. I haven’t tried fly-fishing in 30 years. Back then, we set out in western Montana to one of those worldclass locales Norman Maclean wrote about in “A River Runs Through It.” Our goal was to retrieve the main entree for a wedding rehearsal dinner. The groom-tobe insisted we were on a can’t-miss mission. I should have known better. I made such a mess of my rod and reel upon first casting that my friend spent more time attending to me than fishing. On the way back, we stopped by a friend’s house to collect frozen fish for the hungry wedding party. Now, as a pregnant white moon begins to rise above the forest, I have one task: Reel the squirming speckled trout to shore for a photo op and, ultimately, his welcomed release. Before heading to the river, I had toured the UC Davis Tahoe Science Center in Incline Village to learn about the area’s aquatic health. The research project with Sierra Nevada College provides an introduction to what’s at stake. Change is the watchword for those worried about Tahoe’s once-robust fishery. Human handiwork and climate change have conspired to impact the stock. For $7, visitors to Grover Hot Springs in Markleeville can take a short hike to a waterfall, or a slightly longer jaunt to a lake. But the main attraction is a thermal pool with a picturesque backdrop.

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In the late 1880s, for instance, well-meaning souls introduced mackinaw trout to Lake Tahoe to help boost fishing. The new species, however, overwhelmed native inhabitants. Oops. Seven endemic species remain in the lake along with 10 non-natives, which include, alas, goldfish. After “winning” our spirited battle with the brown trout, we set out down the rushing river to find Bennett’s father, Stan, who did not share our luck this early May evening along the old California trail that brought pioneers west decades before the railroad. Ruminating about wagon trains that rumbled past here eons ago, we hike up and down the river searching for opportunity. In the past four years, Bryce Bennett has scouted every section of the river from Tahoe City, miles from where he stood casting a line as gracefully as a ballet dancer. Which is an odd image, come to think of it. Bennett, 22, is the 2014 U.S. downhill champion, the latest member of the great Tahoe skiers populating the national team roster. He’s a 6‑foot‑7-inch approximation of a speeding missile when strapping on skis. Fly-fishing might seem contrary to an adrenaline junkie, but Bennett finds parallels in his twin passions. “I found it challenging,” he says of fishing. “There is so much technique involved. Then, you have to learn the river, what bugs are hatching and what the fish are eating. It’s similar to skiing, because the conditions are always changing.” Bennett’s promising ski career can be

traced to another historical monument to the region. The first recorded organized ski race in U.S. history took place in 1867 northwest of Tahoe in the Gold Rush town of LaPorte, where miners used long wooden planks to see who got down the hill the fastest. What else were they going to do when maritime storms covered their minefields with cottony flakes? The Squaw Valley Ski Resort, outside of Tahoe City, opened in the 1940s, like many of the lake’s famed slopes. But it was Squaw Valley that put Tahoe on the skiing map by playing host to the 1960 Winter Olympics. Other than the athletic center, now called the Olympic House, most of the games’ structures no longer exist at Squaw Valley, which has since merged with a neighboring ski resort and is one of America’s largest ski areas. Two years ago, folks in Tahoe City opened the cozy Museum of Sierra Ski History and 1960 Winter Olympics on the second floor of The Boatworks Mall. Among the famed Tahoe residents spotlighted is Tamara McKinney, a three-time Olympic skier who in 1983 became the first American woman to win the overall World Cup title, a feat not duplicated until Lindsey Vonn came along 25 years later. McKinney, 51, is a successful real estate agent these days, but she continues to help groom the next generation of Squaw Valley ski racers, including Francesca, her engaging teenage daughter, and their friend Bryce Bennett. Tamara and Francesca live above Olympic Valley, Bryce Bennett checks his line while fishing on the Little Truckee River. Bennett, a 22-year-old U.S. downhill champion, likens fishing to skiing: “The conditions are always changing.”

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where they can see the first hint of snow along the ragged ridges of Squaw Valley’s slopes. Tamara points out some of her favorite runs as we climb through Shirley Canyon on another one of those spectacular Tahoe day hikes. The scenic 5-mile trek begins at the end of the resort, near where McKinney once lived. On hot summer days, an entrepreneurial Francesca used to sell lemonade to parched hikers returning from Shirley Lake. Tamara leads an ascent over the rocky trail with Daisy, the Saint Bernard. Tamara describes Shirley Canyon as one of the area’s premier late-spring hikes because of the water. The path follows Squaw Creek up 1,300 feet. About halfway to the lake hikers arrive at a series of cascades with inviting swimming holes. It’s the perfect destination for anyone looking for a picnic ground and a cold dip in the snow-fed stream. The trail becomes more challenging after the waterfalls, with some steep pitches over granite slabs. Tamara and Daisy bounded up the smooth, hard rock as naturally as the breeze that ruffles the conifers. Retracing steps on these tricky descents can be daunting for the less sure-footed. But Tamara has a solution a mile beyond Shirley Lake. “You can always take the tram down,” she says. Squaw Valley’s aerial tram, at the 8,200‑foot High Camp, opened May 22 and runs through Aug. 30 this year. It also is scheduled to operate on weekends in September. Hikers taking the 2,000‑vertical‑foot ride down don’t have to pay. We have no choice but to hoof it down the dusty trail, with a late afternoon light darting through fallen trees scattershot across the understory. Francesca’s refreshment stand is not waiting at the bottom, as those days are but distant memories. But Tamara offered an alternative: a jar of lemonade and gluten-free garlic chips at Fireside Pizza Company, at the Squaw Valley Village. The shaking we feel is the result of an

approaching truck in the railroad tunnel, our starting place. Would we meet our doom near the infamous spot where members of the Donner Party resorted to cannibalism to survive the harsh winter of 1846? We just don’t know for sure. Hiking guides describe the railroad tunnel excursion as a 3‑mile trail that includes Washoe petroglyphs and the China Wall, near Rainbow Bridge, above Donner Lake. Most say nothing about Union Pacific Railroad trucks rumbling through the tunnels, slicing the eerie silence with the commotion of an armored vehicle. Although the railroad owns the property, the workers welcome us with quick waves as they pass. A fascination with the tunnels and a sense of relief keep us going for miles, shining headlamps and retreating into the shadows whenever trucks squeeze through. We push on and on into a darkness that illuminates the surprising ways Tahoe’s spirit is burnished into our souls. Deeper and deeper until the echoes of time transport us to a higher realm. Follow Elliott Almond at Twitter.com/ elliottalmond.

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Stroll right up to a waterfall

Take an ambitious trip north

Hiking nuts tend to insist that the best sights can be seen only after daylong treks over a barely possible mountain pass, but here's one you can take grandmother to: McWay Falls at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park in Big Sur, an 80-foot cascade that tumbles over a cliff and onto the beach. It’s said to be one of the few such configurations anywhere, and the best viewing is an easy half-mile stroll to the overlook.

Want to venture northward? For a truly memorable trip, take several days for this three-part journey. First, while away an afternoon in Crockett with good friends and drinks (no corkage!), sizzling crab and shrimp on the patio of The Dead Fish (20050 San Pablo Ave.), above the Carquinez Strait, overlooking a broad vista of Vallejo, Mare Island, the bay and Mount Tamalpais, as sail and powerboats, tugs and freighters ply the waters below. Then stop by Lucas Wharf (595 Highway 1) in Bodega Bay for a fresh, scrumptious all-seafood meal. For the last part of your trip, spend a few days at Ocean View Lodge (1141 N. Main St.) in Fort Bragg, where the rooms, each with a small deck, look across an open bluff to the Pacific Ocean, and you can see the Milky Way at night. Sit outside your room, and watch the hawks, buzzards, gulls and other birds glide along in the offshore breeze. Check www. fortbragg.com/events for local events, such as crab and cioppino feeds, the Whale Festival or the annual World's Largest Salmon BBQ.

Yes, easy hikes mean crowded hikes, so you'll want to get there early to nab one of the free parking spots and avoid the $10 fee in the nearby lot. Hoping to persuade your teenage son to go along? Just tell him McWay Falls makes an appearance in the video for Dr. Dre’s “I Need a Doctor.” Fun for the whole family! For details, go to http://bit.ly/1iznodl.

Geek out on beer in Chico

Bring Rufus along to Boonville

The beermaker that started the craft brewery boom on the West Coast is just a short drive away in Chico, but get a hotel. You’ll need it after sampling the nearly 20 varieties on tap at Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., many of which are hard to find outside of Chico. The second-largest craft brewery in the nation, known for its trademark pale ale, offers informative tours with tastings, including a longer one called the Beer Geek Tour. Reservations for the free tour are essential. And, come fall, Sierra Nevada hosts a popular Oktoberfest event, but the 6,000 tickets to the two-day music, food and beer festival sell out quickly.

Cruise Shasta Lake in style

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14655 Highway 128. For details, go to www.sheepdung.com.

From top: The Sierra Nevada brewery draws fans to Chico; a visitor walks along a pier in Bodega Bay; and hikers emerge from a tunnel in Yosemite leading to the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir.

Hike at Hetch Hetchy Often overlooked when traveling to Yosemite, Hetch Hetchy is worth the effort. If the Disneyland-long lines at Yosemite are too much for the fam to handle — who stands in a queue to see a waterfall? — check out the much less crowded Hetch Hetchy, which packs peaceful vibes and boasts beautiful scenery. For details, go to http://bayareane.ws/1PZjCNJ.

brewery: sierra nevada; associated press (2)

For details, search the Web or go to http://bit.ly/1PvpZpY.

While there is much fishing to do here, the crab fishery in Bodega Bay is particularly popular during the Dungeness season, which typically runs from early November to the end of June.

Love to get away from the hubbub of the big city but don’t like to leave your beloved dogs at home? Sheep Dung Estates, about 100 miles north of San Francisco, near Boonville, offers beautiful cottages on 800 acres of glorious countryside where you can kick back and enjoy the views, and the pets can run until they’re ready to drop. The cottages are equipped with modern kitchens, Wi-Fi and hot tubs and are spread out so that when you’re sitting on your front porch, you can’t see anyone else around. Once the dogs are pooped and curled up, the humans can dine in quaint Boonville, or check out some of the nearby wineries. And for a nostalgic touch of home, the owners installed one of the huge Doggie Diner heads that used to adorn the restaurants all over the Bay Area.

For details, go to www.sierranevada.com.

Even when California’s largest reservoir is half-empty during a drought, it’s still huge. You can rent a floating home for a few days and motor around the lake with the wind in your face, feeling like Leonardo DiCaprio — without the icebergs, of course. The best time to go is spring, when the lake is highest, the bald eagles are flying, the wildflowers are blooming, the bass are biting and the noisy ski boats are still parked in driveways. Prices are cheaper then, too. A three-night houseboat rental in the offseason can cost as little as $650 for a boat that sleeps six, but for a top-shelf experience, you can shell out $6,000 for a triple-deck, 65-foot boat that sleeps 26. Seven marinas rent houseboats.

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No need for a hotel: Kick back in a houseboat on the Delta A mere 90 minutes from the Bay Area lies the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, a slow, warm, quiet and timeless place that can feel more like Louisiana than California. How best to appreciate such a change of pace? Change your own, via houseboat. These floating apartments can make for a downright affordable vacation — no need to spring for lodging, after all — not to mention a fun one. Out on the water, you're a sovereign nation, beholden only to the tides, your wish for another beer or the person who just pushed you into the warm river. — Chris Colin Above: The sun sets beyond the Paradise Point Marina in Stockton, where a selection of houseboats and ski boats are available to rent.

Andy Clayton (from left) climbs down from the roof of a houseboat at Paradise Point; the bow (center) and the wheelhouse await adventurous vacationers.

photogr aphs by doug dur an

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Catch a flick in the sticks Remember movie theaters? Sure you do — picture a giant Netflix. But there are theaters, and there are rural theaters. Russian River's Rio Theater — redwoods here, meandering river there — is one of the neatest places to catch a first-run flick. Built into a World War II Quonset hut, the Rio is in some ways the cultural epicenter of the tiny town of Monte Rio. It doesn't really matter what you see; for two hours, you'll warp back to a simpler time and place. And after the credits, you'll cannonball into the water. 20396 Bohemian Highway. For details, go to www.riotheater.com.

Take a trip to the apple capital This collection of apple ranches in the Sierra foothills along Highway 50 is worth a trip east all on its own during harvest season, but it’s an especially enticing stop on the way to or from South Lake Tahoe. While each orchard and farm stand has its charms, two of the largest are an apple core’s throw from each other: Boa Vista Orchards (2952 Carson Road, Placerville), which is open all year and boasts an outstanding bake shop and a lush U-Pick pumpkin patch, and High Hill Ranch (2901 High Hill Road, Placerville), which is open the Friday before Labor Day and has a bit more fun for the kids, including a trout pond and a craft fair. Come winter, venture a bit farther east, and cut down a Christmas tree at Harris Tree Farm (2640 Blair Road, Pollock Pines). Once the tree’s tied to the top of your car, you’ll want to grab a frozen pie or two, as well. For details, go to www.applehill.com.

Explore lava tube caves

Relive the Gold Rush

Make sure to bring extra flashlights as you explore some of the hundreds of lava tube caves that Lava Beds National Monument has to offer — without a guide. It’s like going back in time and reinventing yourself as an explorer. There are caves of varying degrees of difficulty, and the easiest, Mushpot Cave, is the only lit cave in the park. In addition to spelunking, check out the many hiking trails, cinder cones and obsidian flows. The terrain is fascinating, and you won’t see a lot of people. The Indian Well Campground is the only one in the park, but nearby Medicine Lake is also a treasure. Plenty of motels and bed-and-breakfasts are within close range if camping, or glamping, isn’t your thing.

If you went to elementary school in California, the mere mention of Coloma likely brings to mind fourthgrade lessons about the Gold Rush. Nestled in the foothills along Highway 49, between Auburn and Placerville, Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park is a good real-world reminder of what our state was like when James Marshall found those shining flecks in the American River in 1848 — and a solid antidote to reality TV such as “Gold Rush.” Guided walking tours are available, though it's just as fun to poke around the old buildings and the replica of Sutter’s Mill on your own. And on Living History Days, the second Saturday of each month, you’ll get to see docents dressed up in period garb sharing more historical bits.

For details, go to www.nps.gov/labe/index.htm.

For details, go to www.coloma.com

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ON COLOMA

Whitewater rafting trips are available on the South Fork of the American River for adventurers of all skill levels, with trips starting or ending in Coloma. sacramento bee (2)

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The namesake fruit is the main attraction at Apple Hill ranches, but as the year draws to a close, Christmas trees are also plentiful.


a fa r

Go geothermal at Lassen If you’re in the north country, check out Lassen Volcanic National Park, where you can explore the many geothermal features, including fumaroles, mudpots and colorful boiling pools. Take a 5-mile round-trip hike to Lassen Peak, which now is open all the way after a five-year restoration project. The park also boasts endless backwoods trails and pristine wilderness camping sites, including spots at Manzanita Lake and other nearby lakes. If you require the comforts of home, Drakesbad Guest Ranch is your place. For details, go to www.nps.gov/lavo/index.htm.

Stock up in Sutter Creek

associated press

Historic Sutter Creek serves as a home base for exploring the gold country. Amador County wineries are nearby, as is the town of Jackson.

The Gold Rush town of Sutter Creek is booming again. The latest addition to its charming Main Street is Sutter Creek Provisions (78 Main St.), an artisan market, craft beer emporium and modern honky tonk in an atmospheric 1869 rough-hewn stone building. Load up on gourmet picnic supplies, and head to nearby Shenandoah Valley wineries, or settle in at the family-friendly bar with weekend live music. There are more tunes in the old vault where the owners broadcast an American roots radio show. Make it a weekend at modern Hanford House Inn (61 Hanford St.), just a few doors down.

Take a Yosemite side trip

Get to know the shaky ground

Taste wine in Murphys

Driving into Yosemite from its southern entrance, all visitors pass through the blink-and-miss-it town of Oakhurst. Blink at your peril. Clutched around two intersecting highways, this small spur of civilization in the Sierra Nevada foothills boasts a surprisingly robust arts scene, the refreshingly unpretentious Idle Hour Winery (41139 Highway 41) and even a fivestar destination restaurant, Erna's Elderberry House (48688 Victoria Lane). Once a supplier to mines and lumber companies, Oakhurst is now a quiet, piney outpost — just 10 miles from glittering Bass Lake, a worthy stop all its own.

If you’re at Pinnacles National Park to hike or camp or just take a ride down to gawk at the spires, don’t leave without checking out the visitor center at the Hollister side of the park. The center not only tracks ground movement, but also shows how the Pinnacles are actually half of a mountain range, the other half now being several hundred miles south, around Los Angeles. Learning about how long it took for the ranges to separate gives you a striking sense of geology and time.

The town of Murphys is known to Gold Rush historians as having been one of the state’s richest “diggins.” But this small town increasingly is becoming known as a wine destination, where boutique wineries are welcoming of visitors seeking tastings and tours. With about 23 wineries in town and nearby, oenophiles can spend a long weekend and still not be able to make it to all the tasting rooms.

Gear up for grilling

Poke around historic Locke

Carnivores, rejoice. Travel Highway 88 to Lockeford, and fill your cooler with bratwurst, bangers or other varieties of sausages — hot Italian, Hawaiian or pesto, anyone? — at Lockeford Meat & Sausage Services. See the line snaking out the door? There’s a reason for that.

Step into the past at the Locke Historic District, located between Stockton and Sacramento. Built by Chinese immigrants 100 years ago, the district rose at a time when Asian immigrants could not own land. The buildings, which are much the same now as then, house a visitor center, two museums and some restaurants.

19775 N. Cotton St. For details, go to 209-727-5584.

For details, go to www.locketown.com.

For details, go to http://visitmurphys.com. For details, go to www.nps.gov/pinn/index.htm.

Wander in Nevada City You know that ideal mountain town, perfect for wandering up and down its quaint streets, and in and out of its antique shops? That's Nevada City. Grab a drink at the Mine Shaft (222 Broad St.) or the Crazy Horse (230 Commercial St.) — both are delightfully divey drinking emporiums, about a block from each other. Nevada City and especially neighboring Grass Valley (which boasts similar charm, but is a bit more working-class) are famous for their Cornish pasties. Eat up.

BAY AREA NEWS GROUP

EUREKA

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EUREKA INTERVIEW

Such great heights |||

BY CHUCK BARNE Y

Anyone who has visited Yosemite National Park is familiar with those ever-popular “Go Climb a Rock” T-shirts. Cora McGlauflin takes that message to heart. Since moving to the Bay Area from Minnesota in 2012, she has made 20-plus treks to Yosemite, enjoying its majesty from the park’s towering monuments of granite. McGlauflin, a member of the group SheClimbs Bay Area, is among the fast-growing number of female rock climbers who find freedom and empowerment in the sport. We spoke with her about the thrills of “getting vertical.” LEARN MORE AT WWW.sheclimbs-ba.org Some people have trouble climbing a flight of stairs. What makes you so good at climbing big rocks? It really all boils down to the fact that I love it. I loved climbing when I first tried it, and I continue to love it. My ability to climb big rocks was a natural progression of skills and confidence built over many years of climbing and having a great time. So were you one of those overactive kids who couldn’t stop playing on the monkey bars or clambering all over the place? Yeah, I definitely was kind of a wild child. I was always outside, and my friends and I used to play in this big ravine near our house. We also spent a lot of time in this really janky treehouse. And you’ve never stopped rising to new heights. More or less. But I find that I enjoy it for different reasons now. How so? When I was younger, it was mainly about competing. I wanted to be stronger and faster than others. I wanted to go higher. I still enjoy pushing myself and doing the difficult routes, but now, I’ve really grown to cherish the community of people who love the same thing I do and being out in nature. What does it take to make the hard climbs?

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EUREKA

BAY AREA NEWS GROUP

For me personally, the toughest part of a climb is a mental struggle and not a physical difficulty. All the climbs that I do are within my physical ability. The mental struggles happen when I’m climbing along and start to freak out a little. … Sometimes I get a little psyched out and get some negative vibes. When that happens, I’ll get to a big ledge and sit there for a while and relax.

What was your first climbing experience in Yosemite? I started out on the Manure Pile Buttress. That’s not the most appealing title in the valley — or the toughest climb — but you’ve gotta start somewhere. Was there anything different about climbing there? I had never climbed on granite before, and I found it to be a completely different experience. Granite is the best because it’s a very solid type of rock. And in Yosemite, the granite has these wonderful cracks in them that make for great pathways to climb up the cliffs.

That seems totally understandable. So, are there any misconceptions about rock climbing?

A lot of us have been to Yosemite, but we haven’t all experienced it from the heights you have. Tell us what we flatlanders are missing.

A lot of people think you need incredible upper-body strength, but that’s kind of a fallacy. Women can get up a mountain using balance and technique and their leg strength.

Well, you’re way above the trees, so at night you can see a big blanket of stars completely unobstructed. And during the day, I’ve seen flocks of songbirds fly right by at eye level.

Do you have any advice for people looking to get into the sport?

Anything else?

Just get out there. Start with single-pitch climbing. Get familiar with the rock and the rating and go from there. Take that first step. Do one climb, and you’re in the club. Tell us about your most memorable day as a climber. That’s easy. It’s the first time I made it to the top of Half Dome. I felt really good — and proud of myself — for having climbed it rather than hiked it. Before moving to California, I had seen so many incredible photos of Half Dome for so long. It was so beautiful and enticing. To finally be up there was pretty sweet.

Of course, you’ve got incredible views that go on forever. I spent one night up on a humongous ledge on a rock formation called Washington Column. As the sun was setting, I could look down and see all the people buzzing around the valley floor. They seemed so busy. And there you were, far from the crowd. Yeah, I always thought that simply being in Yosemite was getting away from it from it all. But when I was up on that ledge and getting ready to sleep, I remember saying to myself: “Now, I’m really getting away from it all.”

portrait by dai sugano

C O N V E R S AT I O N W I T H C O R A M c G L A U F L I N


eureka

Have you found it?

Eureka — the name of this magazine — has been California's official state motto since 1963, though it has appeared on the state seal since 1849. The phrase (which means “I have found it”) references the discovery of gold at Sutter’s Mill by James Marshall in 1848, which kicked off the Gold Rush. In the official text from that time, the word’s meaning applies “either to the principle involved in the admission of the state or the success of the miner at work.” The notion of discovery is alive and well in our state hulton archive

today, and it’s our hope that in the preceding 82 pages, you’ve discovered a few new corners of this golden land in which we live.

BAY AREA NEWS GROUP

EUREKA

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Swim for

* Free

DURING SWIM SEASON with your Annual Park Membership

Residents of Alameda and Contra Costa counties: $50 Individual/$95 Family (two adults and four kids) Non-residents: $65 Individual/$125 Family (two adults and four kids)

Call today! (510) 544-2220 or www.ebparks.org/rpf/membership *at East Bay Regional Park District swim facilities.

Eureka  

Eureka, a magazine celebrating Northern California life, published by the Bay Area News Group on May 31, 2015. Art direction by Tim Ball and...

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