Road diary: May 3-6

    Saturday, May 3

Leave home 11AM, up I-80 past Vallejo, left to Napa Junction and beyond.
North at Sears Point, finally leave heavy traffic behind, begin vacation. Reach Glen Ellen 12:30.
Find Olea Hotel without one wrong turn, room is ready, check in. Looks like a nice place.
Lunch at Fig Cafe; share salad (fig, pancetta, pecans, feta, arugula) & pizza (margherita). Mmmm.
Stroll country paths in county park; spring wildflowers are out.
Back to room; sample Jacuzzi, wine, wifi.
Dinner at Glen Ellen Inn; house red ("Pangloss Vineyard": leave Candide to his garden) and braised boar shank.
This is Prom Night. In next room is a pre-party supper of 17-year-old girls in er, revealing, gowns. I feel a bit like von Aschenbach in Mann's Venice novella.

    Sunday, May 4

Breakfast at hotel; very good, light but satisfying for the trail.
Drive to Jack London Park (the author's model ranch); visit some of his agricultural experiments like the "pig palace" and the "bull exerciser"; then on to his reservoir, and up, up, up the slopes of Sonoma Mountain about 3 miles of steady climbing to a viewpoint.
Stop at bench and have lunch: apple and food bar from home, scones saved from last night's dinner. It's all good.
Area is overcast, so no dramatic blue-sky photos, but nicely cool for hiking.
Descend; top section of trail is steep and crumbly; step slowly and cautiously, but reach more level section without mishap.
Back to town; legs tired, stomachs empty. Share a sandwich and coffee from the deli above the creek.
To hotel, shower, nap.
Dinner at Olive and Vine restaurant in Jack London Village, a rustic mall. O & V is more of an "occasion" restaurant, elegantly appointed and with the most intimidating (enormous, thin-walled, thin-stemmed) wine glass I have ever drunk from. I manage my glass OK, but from the crash-tinkle I heard at the bar, someone else flunked the test.
Seafood risotto very good; and decaf coffee surprisingly full-flavored.
Back to room, turn in early.

    Monday, May 5

Up early, drift down to hotel lobby for coffee.
Read illustrated history of Olea Hotel. Was Glenelly B&B, bought by couple who have put immense resources into complete makeover. Earlier was dorm for RR workers and maybe a brothel. (After a day of laying track, their thoughts turned to -- never mind.)
Breakfast on porch, watch fleecy white clouds roll by.
Drive down highway into Sonoma. Little white clouds have turned into solid gray mass, with a chilly breeze. Glad we tossed our jackets in the car.
Walk around old Sonoma town square; watch kids chase ducks around the pond while moms chase kids away from the water's edge.
Visit Sign of The Bear kitchen-tools store, a favorite of ours; probably more items there per square foot of floor space than 99% of all retail establishments.
Explore town, note changes in recent years, deplore same. Mostly.
Have lunch at Della Santina's, another favorite. Minestrone & gnocchi w/pesto.
Walk around a bunch more, then drive back to Glen Ellen - brief rest - then to Sonoma Valley county park and stroll it end to end through oak/madrone/wildflower filled woodland.
Back again to room, shower, nap.
Then down the road to the Glen Ellen Star for dinner; chef is a graduate of the French Laundry, which is to the north counties what Chez Panisse is to the Bay Area.
The Star is small and the kitchen is open. The wood-fired oven is a center of intense activity. You can sit at the counter for a closer look at it, but we choose a table.
Order steak, pasta with vegs, and a local pinot. All very good.
Decide to gamble on the Star's famous ice cream - one serving is 8 ounces - we split it. Vanilla maple bourbon IC is rich and creamy but not cloying; though the bourbon is hard to detect behind the maple flavor.
Back to hotel and bed. Zzzzzzz...

    Tuesday, May 6

Up late, head for breakfast.
Spend some time around hotel grounds, check out, leave Glen Ellen around eleven.
Home just after noon, begin unpacking, laundry, restocking fridge, etc.

Main trip page