We are three sisters united in our search for the divine - in food, libation, literature, art, and nature. This blog will capture the true, sometimes decadent, at times humorous, and every so often transcendent adventures of the Salvation Sisters.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Michelle and Maddie Vacation in Sonoma County: A Trip to San Francisco for Dim Sum, Petaluma's Rivertown Revival 2015, Quivira Vineyards and Winery, Goat Rock Beach and Armstrong Woods

My Traveling Tales by Linda

"Life is not a matter of milestones, but of moments."

Maddie and Michelle having a good time at the Petaluma Rivertown Revival event.

   Nothing makes me feel so old as seeing my niece, who was just an infant when my own sons, Jordan and Joshua, graduated from high school, appear before me as a grown up and accomplished young woman. Maddie may have graduated from high school this past June, but I still have a vivid memory of me feeding her applesauce while she wiggled her short legs and bobbed her small body around in her favorite bouncy chair that was stationed securely on top of my dining room table. While I tried to coax tiny spoonfuls of the fruit purée into her little mouth (my shoulder length hair wound in large rollers feeling heavy on my head) her mother was taking a shower, and the remaining adults present were all were supportively attending the bouncing baby. Maddie, who was famously cranky in her infancy, nibbled her breakfast reluctantly, as we all attempted to dress for a graduation ceremony in which my identical twin sons would receive their long-anticipated high school diplomas.
   Fortunately for me, on Maddie's wish list for her summer vacation after her own graduation this past June before she goes off to college, was to visit her Auntie in California with her mom. Happily they planned their visit to coincide with my birthday, and for the ten days they were here, we had lots of adventures on the consecutive weekends while we all continued to work during the week. Luckily, for all of us, Michelle and Maddie are able to both work remotely.

Maddie and Michelle were posing above behind a large metal Rhino.
   The day before my birthday, in honor of one of my birthday wishes, we all went to experience having Dim Sum in San Francisco's outer Richmond neighborhood. It was Maddie's first time eating Dim Sum, and Ton Kiang is considered by many to be one of the best places in the city to eat it. Ton Kiang is located in the "Little Russia" neighborhood on Geary Street, and one can see the gleaming spires of the Holy Virgin Cathedral, which is a Russian Orthodox church, in the distance. Parking in this busy neighborhood is a little tricky, but the food and experience is certainly worth the searching for a parking spot.

   I am far from being an expert on Dim Sum—this was only my second visit. But this time I was more prepared for the speedy onslaught of dishes as the servers who whirl quickly from table to table with tempting dishes on their trays—subtly pushing you to grab more than you can possibly eat. My personal advice on the day that you visit is to keep the veggies to a minimum (you can make up for it the next day) and absolutely do not skip the custard tarts!

Custard tarts are Linda's favorite bit of flaky deliciousness.
    With the four of us dining, we were able to try a nice assortment of dishes. Gluten-free by choice the rest of the year, Mark and I allow ourselves to have gluten during our birthday week. Mark's birthday follows just three days after mine, and so we have ourselves a "gluten-fest" once per year. The truth is that by the end of the week, we remember why we avoid wheat the other 51 weeks of the year.
   The favorite Dim Sum of our group hands down, were the cha siu bao (barbecued pork buns). They are pictured in the top photo on the right. They are yeasty buns that are browned morsels of deliciousness. Hidden within each one is a decadent pork filling. We all agreed that we preferred them to the steamed pork buns.

       After our dazzling and delicious lunch (Dim Sum truly is theatre as well as good eats) we drove a very short distance to the Palace of the Legion of Honor where in addition to the permanent collection, the exhibit High Style was open for its last weekend of the show. More about that next week. This truly is a world-class museum, and we enjoy visiting again and again.

   Another of the things that I planned to do on my birthday which was the next day, was for all of us to go to an annual July event in Petaluma call Rivertown Revival. It's a fundraiser that benefits the preservation of our beautiful Petaluma River, and our community and its businesses that provide products and services turn out in style.

Sara, a local businesswoman, enjoys the afternoon at the
Rivertown Revival in her gorgeous costume. Red boots!
   Many people don't know that the Petaluma River was once a very busy thoroughfare with boats shipping supplies like lumber from the once plentiful redwood forests to San Francisco. The Rivertown Revival event has a steampunk theme, and many of the attendees dress up. Maddie wasn't too keen on the idea to begin with, but Michelle and I finally did manage to help her find a bright red fascinator at my favorite dress shop in downtown Petaluma—Nan Winters. From there we cobbled together the rest of her costume, however the cute boots she brought with her from Arizona got ditched in the end out of the practical necessity of walking from our house to the event where she would then prance around on uneven ground, covered in straw and a thick coating of dust. Seems that she does take after her mom and aunt in deciding to choose practical footwear for every occasion—silver Birkenstocks would have to do. But here's a look at what might have been...

Maddie poses in my backyard pre-event in her cute boots.
   Rivertown Revival turned out to be well worth the $10 addmision. All of the bands were really, really good, and there were so many photo opportunities it was ridiculous. Poor Maddie—I hope that 30 years hence she will look back on all the photos that we took of her on this trip to Cali, and be glad that her mother and I made her the object of so much attention. You get to be eighteen only once in your life, right?

   In the evening we walked over to Graffiti, a local restaurant in the vicinity of the event, and sat in their beautiful patio on the edge of river. We celebrated the end of my birthday with dinner, drinks and a new moon rising in the evening sky just behind us.

Gin Martinis for Linda and Mark, a Cosmo for Michelle and a Virgin Mojito for Maddie.
The waxing crescent moon and a bright planet rise on my birthday in the evening sky in Petaluma.
   The next day we took a trip to the Dry Creek Valley AVA to go wine tasting and exploring at Quivira Vineyards and Winery. Mark and I were especially excited about showing Michelle and Maddie the amazing gardens there. Quivira is a biodynamic farm, with a large creek running through it. The vineyard boasts having over 120 raised beds on the estate which are abundant with vegetables and flowers during the warm months of the year. It is a spectacular location, and they make really well-crafted wines. I love them so much that I made a little video to celebrate their awesomeness.

   When Michelle and Maddie come to California, obviously one of the main objectives of the journey is to visit the beach as many times as is feasible. Petaluma is situated about a 40 minute drive to the shore, so it does require a bit of planning. When Michelle and Maddie lived with me in 2009 for a year, Maddie became very fond of Goat Rock Beach and the clam chowder served at Lucas Wharf Restaurant and Bar in Bodega Bay. On their last day in California, the three of us went first to the beach and then we stopped by Armstrong Woods on our way back to Petaluma—making a large circular path. It was a sunny afternoon with mild weather on the coast. Beauty.

A trip to Goat Rock Beach (in between Bodega Bay and Jenner) is always in order. Maddie
has a passion for hunting for sea glass.
Maddie stepped out at the top of the bluff to shoot some polaroids of one of her favorite places.
   Maddie is off to honors college in August, and she bought a Polaroid camera in order to take photos  for her dorm room that remind her of the things that she loves and is connected to—a way to combat the notorious freshman homesickness. This choice of equipment is amusing to me, because a Polaroid was the only camera that I had almost 40 years ago when I was beginning my married life and taking pictures of my newborn babies. I couldn't wait for the future to arrive when I was certain that one day expensive film would be a thing of the past, and I could take photos to my heart's content and not worry about wasting precious and expensive film in addition to the cost of getting it developed. That day has arrived, but nowadays film is retro and cool again. Go figure—all of the hip and artsy kids I know are shooting with old format cameras and film.

We stop by Armstrong Woods to visit the very tall and ancient trees on 
the way home from Goat Rock Beach.
   Armstrong Woods is a short distance from my former home on the Russian River in Guerneville where Maddie slept in a loft and attended the 7th grade. It makes me so happy that she has very good memories of the time when she lived in a cottage in the woods and celebrated her thirteenth birthday with her favorite coffee cake which she requested that I bake for the occasion.

Maddie loves this colorful mural in downtown Petaluma.
   As Michelle headed the car for home (for some strange reason both she and Maddie both prefer that I do not drive if at all possible??), I directed Michelle down a side street in downtown Petaluma, and Maddie exclaimed that she wanted us to stop as we were passing by a mural painted on an old abandoned building. She had seen it previously when she was walking around earlier in the week while she was checking out our various thrift stores. She quickly explained that she wanted to take a photograph. Riding along with two avid photographers, she most certainly knew that the car would, without question, swing to the curb for yet another photo stop. As she jumped out of the car with her little Polaroid camera in hand, I followed behind and snapped what turned out to be my last photos of her from this visit. When I focused in on Maddie through my view finder in front of the brilliant hues and message of the mural, I realized that she in fact epitomizes my own prayer for change in the world. Fresh out of high school and off to college, my hope is that she will be the change she wants to see in the world. She has so much promise and so much ahead of her.
   My wish for you, dearest Maddie, is that you will always know in your heart of hearts that you are loved beyond measure by all of your family. Go out into the world—discover and create the woman you are destined to become. Always choose love if you are able and value your own worth. I wish for you the courage to follow your dreams, your bliss and your convictions. And while I'm at it, just a few more words of "Auntie Advice and Encouragement": Remember to be true to your own self no matter what, and that in acting brave you will truly be brave. Oh, and try to smile, laugh and love a lot... it helps.

May God bless and keep you always
May your wishes all come true
May you always do for others
And let others do for you
May you build a ladder to the stars
And climb on every rung
May you stay forever young.

May you grow up to be righteous
May you grow up to be true
May you always know the truth
And see the light surrounding you
May you always be courageous
Stand upright and be strong
May you stay forever young.

May your hands always be busy
May your feet always be swift
May you have a strong foundation
When the winds of changes shift
May your heart always be joyful
May your song always be sung
May you stay forever young.

—Forever Young by Bob Dylan

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