It has taken me forever to try to tackle my week in the Petaluma area. This is due to the fact that I loved this time so much during my visit (and also because I was off on various east coast adventures). I LOVE Petaluma and the problem with explaining it is there is not one part of Petaluma that was better than the rest. Petaluma is on a whole a gorgeous place surrounded by other gorgeous places and filled with gorgeous people. I'm not even sure I can even make snide remarks on this portion of the blog. See, this is what Petaluma does to you. It makes even the harshest, most sarcastic and rude east coast personalitiy (that's me) turn to warmth, giggles, and easy going smiles. Paradise.
If there is one thing that made Petaluma my paradise it would be the True Californian. Better known to people I have told my stories to as Irish Eric. Eric probably is the single reason I experienced California to the maximum levels I could. Be patient while I explain.
Eric, the true Californian, knocked on my house (I've gotten really comfortable here in CA) almost as soon as I got back from Yosemite. I was just getting back into a swing in my hometown in CA when Eric came looking for one of the Tillman kids to look after his fishies while he was away in Oregon the following weekend. I offered to take the HUGE responsibility of looking after his house and fish while I was here looking after the Tillman's place. I couldn't help myself. The accent got me. I just wanted to talk to Irish Eric as long as I could. It's so rare to hear anything close to my Granddad's voice. 2004 was the last time I saw Granddad and it was even longer since I heard him speak. And to add to it, there is something rare about that kind of accent that has been softened and flattened slightly from the usual, right off the boat, sing song show off and get a free beer accent. Suckered in again!
Here's the thing. If I needed your shirt that you are wearing right now because I had suddenly misplaced my own in a freak shirt stripping accident, I can guarantee you would not get it off faster than The True Californian. As soon as I walked into his house, Eric offered me tea, no a coffee, or how about a latte? In fact, I had a latte from the True Californian every morning he was in town. And it was probably the best I've had on this trip through the nation.
That's not all! Because I agreed to pinch some fish food in a water filled bowl and walk a newspaper a few yards into the house, I was also offered a certificate for a massage (I declined...people touching the girl who was tickled getting a tattoo...probably a hazard). I was to make sure to use his pool while he was away, and if I needed to stay another day I was to use the spare room SeeeeereeeeeUSly! I was given a stack of books to read, maps to use on all the hiking trips I HAD to take while I was here, and the True Californian right off on hearing I had yet to see the Pacific offered to drive me out to the coast the very next day. (And let's not even mention the amount of Eric's beer I consumed in a matter of two days)
Why do I love Petaluma? Because while people here aren't all as accomodating as Irish Eric, they're all damn near close! And I know everyone's biography from the area. Everyone is absolutely desperate to share their life story, which I LOVE to hear! Honestly, they all want to hear mine as well. This is more of a problem because I haven't ever had to put a compilation of my own events in order and cultivate the words in a wonderfully entertaining way.
In any case, the True Californian roused me the very next day to a delicious and fresh latte and, not to be outdone by his past hospitality, added in an egg and cheese breakfast to be sure he was taking care. (GOD I LOVE THIS PLACE!) Off we went to "the coast." (it is not "the beach" or "the shore" as I've found out. I figure it's because there are not a lot of viable spaces in northern California set aside for sand and lounging. Most of what I saw were little coves within the cliffs that you could hike into that were more "beach-like.")
We made the hour or so drive through to one of Irish Eric's particular spots. I can't for the life of me remember what particular area we were in, except that it was according to Eric "God's country." But to be fair, pretty much every place we went to was "God's country." And even though he used his catch phrase in any way and any amount he could, as is the habit of many Irishmen, it was all true. Every place he deemed "God's Country" was, in fact, heavenly. Had to be created by some higher being. Had to.
This was my first look at the Pacific Ocean. As with every picture I have taken on this trip, these do not do any justice to what I witnessed! I just wanted to swim out and freeze my everything off and climb every little outcropping of rocks I saw. But then, I do have the climbers disease...
Right after Irish Eric pumped gas and bought me a snickers...because he's just that way, we looked out off the road and I was absolutely mesmerized by the gorgeous water and completely missed the most amazing part of this shoreline. And the reason Irish Eric has been deemed "The True Californian" is because I was notified that only a "True Californian" (Who apparently was californian by way of Dublin) would notice these lovely creatures, who I had written off as piles of big rocks:
Enter National Geographic! WHAT?! Slithering across the sand at amazing speed considering the huge lack of appendages was a seal! The True Californian had spotted it and in his best "I'm a narrator on Planet Earth" voice (which is his normal voice) quietly but urgently called "Jackie, come see COME SEE!" These suckers really do move fast, and then don't move at all, for hours. The most they do once comfortable, is lift their heads up as if to say "Hey! We see you! I'll move! I really will! Don't come any closer now! Don't make me do the best 80's dance moves you've ever seen!"
I felt better having completely overlooked these awesome guys because I'm not a true Californian. But ya know what...maybe I'll grow up to be one someday :)
And then one of my favorite things about the True Californian is his ability to get the most attractive pictures of me I've ever had taken, and I have a friend who is a professional photographer.
Just take a look:
I always knew my right arm was my best side. I KNEW IT!
But then not every picture can be the best. He did have to add in my ugly noggin in a few. I'm sure he would have done some editing had he had some extra time. :)
So we passed the seals who urgently stared at us and apparently some signs saying not to walk past them. We came upon some fire teams burning out what we thought might be a driftwood pile, but as we walked further along the shore line we found a Lord of the Flies village:
If we had one of these things at the Jersey shore, man would that be filled with awful scary things and surely some biological warfare at the least. We did not sit down on any of the creatively designed chairs, but we did peruse the interesting and educational quotes scrawled on the "walls." But actually, some of the quotes were pretty insightful considering I was expecting bathroom graffiti. John Lennon and Winston Churchill quotes to name a few. Northern California sure does take the whole hippy thing seriously. Well, as serious as you can get being a hippy.
And with that we turned back to go to the truck, only to be run at by a naturalist/park ranger like the Zombie Apocalypse was just starting behind her. There was no way this lady was going to let us passed and there was no way we were going to try to make it happen with the crazed human. This is when we found out that perhaps we should not have walked passed the seals. So with our truck just yards away from us, we turned around and had to scamper up next to the firemen smoking out the driftwood. I thought about the idea of passing out and dying due to smoke inhalation, but quickly dismissed the idea because I didn't want to be a sissy. We crawled and coughed up the hillside and quickly realized that it was going to be a LONG walk back to the car because there was no way to get back down to the car without walking along the road around the marsh area and back down the other side of a small mountain.
Brings new meaning to the phrase "right down the road." But altogether it was a great time. Normally, in PA or surrounding areas, this would totally piss people off. But as I was in "God's Country" neither one of us could be in anything but the best spirits!
After making a .25 mile trip about a 4 mile trip, we headed back and ducked into one of Irish Eric's watering holes. This is where I learned about a tasty beer brewed right in Petaluma...and it was an IPA!
Ever the gracious host, the True Californian spotted me for two of these wonderful brews and explained that this was a place I should try to check out while I was here. I checked out the website, but never got the chance to actually go see for myself.
The website itself was a wonder to behold. It just proves the mentality of my favorite town in CA:
I did NOT have lint in my navel...but it is always an adventure to play that guessing game!
I keep telling my True Californian that he really must go into the tourism industry. The list of things I was searching through, reading, and hiking out were all strictly due to his expertise in the area. And he NEVER disappointed!
I was told to wander in to Volpes, an Italian restaurant with an old 1920s prohibition era bar. It was a museum with alcohol. So, in short, the BEST MUSEUM EVER! One that is apparently home to an accordion fan club. The woman who served me owns this place with her husband. She informed me that the things that are placed in this bar never leave, that the only thing that changes are the things that they ADD to it over the years. I believe it!
These are the dollar bills that people flick up onto the ceiling when they are drunk. Must be a fortune up there and are every once in awhile cleared out and donated to a charity of some kind.
One of the other things that was mapped out for me to accomplish was the hike out to Tomales Point. I'll let it speak for itself:
Good work Irish Eric, the TRUE Californian!