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Sonoma

Sonoma, California: Another full day in (California) wine country. (Full being the key word.) Again our day started early for a hike at Jack London State Historical Park led by a park volunteer. It was really hot in Sonoma today, which did not make for a pleasant hike when we were not in the shade. We did learn a lot about Jack London - he led a wild life, left his wife and two daughters for another woman, traveled and adventured all around the world, was a pioneer in organic farming and basically drank himself to death at age 40. Other than these facts, he was a great writer - even if many of his books were plagiarized. Gee. Who knew?

Our tour started at the Beauty Ranch where Jack and his second wife lived.

Beauty Ranch Cabin where Jack London died

Beauty Ranch Barn

Barn door

Oak next to the cabin

Stone wall from the old vineyard building

Another view of the same wall

Later we walked to the House of Happy Walls built by London's widow as her residence. It is now a museum containing her personal artifacts, London's books and items gathered during his foreign travels.

House of Happy Walls

Continuing our hike, we walked through a very pretty forest to see the ruins of Wolf House. Wolf House was Jack London's dream house. The 15,000 square foot mansion burned just a few days before it was completed and London died before it was rebuilt.

Mossy fence in the forest surrounds graves of pioneer children

Wolf House ruins

Wolf House ruins

Ferns cling to the ruins

Another view of Wolf House

A deer walked with us along the trail for several minutes - very strange

Though we had only walked about three miles, it was very hot (it was over 90 degrees today) and everyone was ready to head into Sonoma for lunch "on our own". Four of us had a very good lunch at a Mexican place, Maya, right on the square.

Maya specializes in tequila

Chicken enchiladas

Our tour guide told us to try the Tres Leches cake at Maya - so we shared a piece

After a very relaxing lunch, we all loaded back in our tour van and headed over to The Olive Press where owner Deborah Rogers gave us a tour of their olive press. Just as the grist mill ground the grains for area farmers, The Olive Press presses the olives of area farmers to get extra virgin olive oil (the only oil they produce).

Gardens at The Olive Press

Deborah Rogers explains the process

Olive oil waiting to be bottled

After our tour we were able to sample their oils

Then it was back in the van to check into our next (and last) hotel. We will stay at MacArthur Place in Sonoma for two nights. Again, this hotel is simply unbelievable - two story cottages situated around gorgeous gardens, with each cottage having several rooms.

The Manor House - Room 8

The bath and my pet rabbit

There was time for a rest or a swim before dinner - and of course, before we went to dinner there was the matter of a little wine and cheese tasting in the atrium of the hotel. At seven o'clock we all went to The General's Daughter in downtown Sonoma for a very memorable 4-course meal.

The General's Daughter restaurant in Sonoma

Oops, make that five courses - I forgot about the little smoked salmon appetizers!

Asparagus Salad
fava beans, toasted almonds, spiced aioli

Cauliflower Risotto
carnaroli rice, extra aged gouda, maple vinegar

Line-caught Halibut
with vegetables in a tarragon beurre blanc

Asparagus Salad

Our last course was a surprise cake to celebrate Peter's birthday. Every year his wife, Deb, makes him the Banana Cake from the Silver Palate. Deb had arranged weeks ago with our tour guide, Marty, to have the cake made by a local baker. Marty was worried the cake wouldn't be just perfect, so she actually baked the cake herself and took it to the baker so they could discuss it before it was prepared for the party tonight. Can you even imagine getting service like this? Even though I know nothing about tour guides or tour guiding, I suspect Marty is not your usual tour guide. Peter was very surprised.

The Birthday Boy

His favorite cake

Finally, Dear Reader, I clocked over ten thousand steps on my Walking Tour of Napa - 11,801, 5.01 miles! Doesn't really make much of a difference since I consumed 50,000 calories. Even worse - half of us (me included) are skipping the walk tomorrow as it is straight up hill on an non-shaded trail and it will be 100 degrees.

No worries, I am sure there is a breakfast wine tasting to keep us amused while the others are exercising. Until my next update, I remain your Call of the Wild correspondent.