Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Naked truth: Californians take the cake for close-ups with fun, flair



Penelope Margaret Ganner, our great niece, pauses in her Redwood City garden, south of San Francisco.

Kristen Keller and her boyfriend Zack have fun. They
  drove from South Lake Tahoe to meet us in Sacramento,


BEFORE WE launch our road-trip revels, we offer this photo essay.  It's a preview of our
Music is a family tradition.  Cookie plays piano
with James on bass and a young, talented vocalist friend.
upcoming "California Top to Bottom" series, a pictorial look at some of the personalities, critters and characters we encountered on our 17-day foray from San Diego to Mendocino County -- from the state's sunny southern tip to the foggy north coastIn between we enjoyed dozens of activities, dinners, communions with nature and surprises.
A giraffe at B Bryan Preserve near Point Arena plays to his audience.
We met Keller's daughter Kristen and boyfriend in Sacramento, my niece Amarylla and family near San Francisco and nephew James and partner at their farm north of Point Arena. We shopped, looked for healthy take-out and paid a dime each for paper bags.

Kayakers enjoy a close-up view of nature at Moss Landing near Santa Cruz.

WE STOPPED in 33 towns and overnighted in 11 venues -- from dog-friendly hotels on the beach and the varied city and country homes of family and friends. Our first stop was Los Angeles for time with our theater-loving pals, the Hulberts, and a fabulous production of "Porgy and Bess" at the Ahmanson Theater. Our revels ended with seafood lunch in Oceanside, at a favorite harbor eatery in the town of Keller's childhood. 
We stayed with friends in Downey and near Santa Cruz, and we enjoyed favorite hotels in Bodega Bay, San Simeon and Santa Barbara.
We even babysat one night, so our San Francisco niece and her husband could have a rare date night without kids.
We enjoyed the little people -- but were reminded why childcare demands the energy mostly available to the young!
Amarylla and Steve Ganner enjoyed an adult date night
while our travelers babysat for James and Peny. 
Sea lions bask in the sun at Moss Landing near Santa Cruz.
  the Bay Area, we headed inland through farm land -- Pixley, Fresno -- away from the coast and toward Sacramento. 
WE FEASTED on berries, cherries and avocados, homemade tortilla chips, fig bars and delicious dehydrated beets slow-baked in oil and sea salt.  Then back to the coast highway and up to Bodega Bay and north, past Sea Ranch, Gualala and north of Point Arena. We saw where Alfred Hitchcock filmed "The Birds" and watched many wonderful birds ourselves -- pecking at trees and lunch, and fortunately not humans.
CALIFORNIA cleans up when it comes to interesting people -- from playful tots to colorful, opinionated adults, to a 93 year-

old bugler who serenades folks on the beach near Santa Barbara. 
All loved showing off their state -- whether sharing music, fresh produce and sunshine, or a ride on a kayak to a nature preserve.
Not all the characters we encountered were human. We also met giraffes, otters, zebras and, of course, plenty of canines in this dog-friendly state.
WE DRANK plenty of wine -- some homemade -- and feasted on lamb, cod, mahi mahi, duck, chicken, beef, shrimp, mussels
Bugler Dezso Tenke plays his instrument daily, here for
tourists at Ventura Harbor. His "Taps" won cheers!
and crab. Always with plenty of gorgeous salads and vegetables. 
We played music, hiked, took photos, and watched sea lions bark for scraps and power.

We forded rivers and took to the streams and a magnificent estuary where pelicans flew over our kayak.
It was a magical 17 days. 
Jim Hayes plays with his iPod at the Point Arena Cove. 
We are back in San Diego, rested and revived with hundreds of photos and happy memories.  Did we really drive 1,541 miles?  Or were we "California dreaming"?  
WE'LL BE writing about our visit to San Simeon, the Central Coast, and the Hearst Castle. 
We'll take you to the glorious Purple Mountain Farm in northern California.
Its flowers and food are known and loved by locals and tourists.
Bailie serves with a smile at the
popular Oceanside Broiler.
We'll kayak with pelicans, seals and sea otters. We'll visit a wildlife preserve which is saving endangered animals before they become extinct in their native Africa.

James Brian Ganner plays on his new instrument -- 
his recently delivered piano, which came from San Diego
 to his Bay Area home so he can take lessons.
WE'LL VISIT fruit stands and we'll share some fabulous meals and recipes -- home cooking as well as organic produce prepared in small, hip and healthy restaurants.  
We'll talk about piano playing and music as a family tradition.  We'll show music is a conduit for socializing  and making new friends.

It's going to take a few days to come down.  Meanwhile, come enjoy with us......

One of our "California characters" is Cookie's nephew and Keller's friend, James W. Hayes, far left. With his partner Kelle Martin, Hayes makes fine wine and grows organic vegetables in northern California. We'll visit Purple Martin Farm for a look at the gorgeous flowers and vegetables that find their way to Point Arena's delightful restaurant, Uneda Eat. (L-R: James Hayes, Christene "Cookie" Meyers, Jim Hayes, Kelle Martin, Bruce Keller.) We're about adventure with a sense of fun, weekends and Wednesdays at: www.whereiscookie.com

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