Wednesday

After a yummy breakfast of fruit and yogurt, and scrambled eggs and bacon we hit the road for another day of adventures in northern Sonoma county. First stop: Armstrong State Park. Here we walked around giant redwood trees, 1000-1400 years old. Pretty awesome to be so small among these gigantic trees. The silence in the middle of the woods hurt my ears!

Next, we drove towards the coast and took scenic Highway 1 North to Jenner where we ate a light lunch of veggie sandwiches while gazing out at to where the Russian River meets the Pacific ocean and hoping for the clouds to clear. We then drove south on route 1 for the 10 miles or so to Bodega Bay. Along the way, we went from dizzying cliffs overlooking the Pacific down to sea-level marshes. We parked at numerous scenic overlooks and actually walked out to put a hand into the Pacific ocean itself at Salmon Creek. The air was about 54 degrees, but with the full sun on us, we felt very warm even though we were walking about without big heavy winter coats. Washed up on the shore were piles of some weird sea vegetation that looked like piles of rope from a distance but then looked like long rubber tubes about 12 feet long close up. They felt rubbery and squishy too. Yuck! We also saw seals sunning themselves on the rocks and brave (crazy?) surfers out on the turquoise water.

Bodega is where Hitchcock filmed The Birds, but finding no photo op, we keep going through the town and on to Sebastopol. There we got mesmerized by a fantastic independent bookstore, Copperfield, that we had to buy an extra bag at an exotic Nepalese shop next store in order to take them back on the plane with us.

Back at the B&B, the owner was gracious enough to light a real fire in the big fireplace in the main house, a lovely California style from the 1920s. There we sat by the fire in an atrium-like room under a canopy of redwoods writing out post cards, reading, knitting, drinking wine with some lovely jazzy French and relaxing classical background music. We nibbled on some cheese, bread, and olives, and called it our own little happy hour and wondered when would be a good time to return to this paradise.

Later, we hit the town of Guerneville for a quick dinner of authentic Mexican food compleate with Mexican beers (Cordon Negro, Tecate) then back to sit by the fire in our own room.

Report from California

First of all, sorry for the absence of photos. We did bring the digital camera, but forgot the cable to hook it up to the laptop I am writing this on. We’ll post selected pics after our return home Friday.

The trip to California started Friday, January 2. The first part is not worth writing much about: Friday was a very long day of travel, Saturday, Sunday, and half of Monday were consumed with economics. The official reason for the trip was, after all, for me to participate in the American Economics Associations annual conference, which is part of the Allied Social Science Associations’ annual big (BIG) shindig. There is always something mildly scary about so many economists all in the same tiny sliver of spacetime.

The big event for me wasn’t even attending the conference. I only got to the exhibits hall twice, rushed, in the Saturday and Sunday lunch breaks. I did get to quickly look at some books and even buy two. I also found my editor for the book that’s coming out in April (A Toolbox for Economic Design is the title, for the Amazon.com sleuths; be prepared to find an outdated description on Amazon, though; the book will come in at 304 pages, not 256, and in April, not in June).

What occupied most of my time in San Francisco then? Interviewing job candidates. My department is aiming to hire one or two new faculty members at the assistant professor level, and as part of our screening process we interviewed 30 candidates in 2 and a half days. Since I am the hiring committee’s chairperson, I attended all of these interviews. It was grueling, but we saw some very good candidates.

But enough boring stuff. Marianne did much more interesting stuff in San Francisco, including riding the cable car to Fisherman’s Wharf to eat chowder in a sourdough bread bowl, visiting the Asian Art Museum, and visiting the Mission. I will leave the details to her post(s), which will come when we are back and can also post pics.

The only time to do things together in SF was the evening, and we used it well. Friday night we walked (the hard way—up and down some really steep streets; we found out later we could have gone in a flatter manner) to San Francisco’s North Beach area, aka “Little Italy”. There we ate dinner at the Stinking Rose at the recommendation of Marianne’s TA, Adam. A great idea, it was. Both of us love food with garlic, and the garlic ice cream was pretty good, too! Also, I had been still struggling with a cold then, and the massive ingestion of garlic gave it a good thrashing. After dinner, we visited the nearby City Lights bookstore, where we upheld our tradition of always buying a book or two when in the area.

Saturday night we walked to Chinatown, where my friend and colleague Charlie’s uncle and aunt took us and Charlie to their favorite Chinese restaurant, the R&G lounge. The food was excellent, and they also gave us a ride around SF afterwards, including a visit to Coit Tower for breathtaking nighttime view of San Francisco and a ride down the famous winding bit of Lombard Street.

Sunday night’s dinner was in Chinatown again, this time in the Pearl of the East, where the food was also very good. This time we went with Charlie and the chairperson of my department and his wife.

Monday’s interviews ended at 2 pm and by 4:15 we were in the Applewood Inn, in Guerneville. It is in a privileged location, among tall redwood trees and within easy driving to 150 wineries in the Russian River Valley and nearby areas. We took advantage of that today, visiting several wineries for tastings. They were: Bella, the Preston winery, the Raymond Burr winery with Burr’s two Emmys on display and Armida winery, the one that has a geodesic dome covering the main building and boasts of an intergalactic #1 rating (ha—the wine from Preston winery was better in our opinion), and Frick. We didn’t do the tasting at Burr and Frick. There are only so many wine tastings we can manage in a single day…

Preston is worth mentioning in more detail. It is an organic operation and has a really superb Barbera wine. We had a fabulous picnic on the premises on some local cheese, their home-made bread, olives grown there, and the aforementioned Barbera wine. We had the company of their cats, too, but we helped them maintain their sillhouettes, rather than acquiesce to their requests for food. All this outside: the weather was sunny and the temperature about 50, positively balmy by contemporary Abington standards.

Tomorrow’s plans include a visit to Korbel for a tour and some bubbly and then a visit to the town called Jenner on the Pacific Ocean. Stay tuned.