California Dreaming

Continued (page 2 of 3)

In the afternoon, we hit the Bonny Doon Vineyards and, for more than two hours, happily sipped varieties that were new to us. Later, we went into Santa Cruz and shopped for gifts at a Tibetan store, checked out the Bookshop Santa Cruz (its motto: Keep Santa Cruz Weird), watched an artful war protest that included a woman doing headstands, and finally caught an indie flick at the local art house. Next morning, we set out for a 20-mile bike ride. We were having a wonderful time, but I kept wondering if this was a "real" honeymoon—since it definitely wasn't what I'd had in mind. Our visit to Sonoma was more like it. We stayed at a quaint bed-and-breakfast near the town's Spanish-style plaza, with its peaceful park and lots of antique shops, galleries, and fabulous restaurants. (I'm still trying to replicate the creamy roasted-tomato-and-pepper sauce served over my grilled polenta at the Girl and the Fig on West Spain Street.)

Eager to visit more wineries, we headed for the Buena Vista—California's first premium winery—and then to Gundlach Bundschu (we liked the name). And since we'd heard that the Robert Keenan Winery was a must-see, we drove to Napa and climbed twisty dirt roads to the tasting room perched 1,700 feet above the valley. Afterward, we headed north to Calistoga to stroll through the Asian-inspired gardens at Chateau Montelena, where we bought a bottle of Cabernet to save for our fifth wedding anniversary.

A high point of our trip was a visit to Point Reyes Station, an idyllic old railroad town on Tomales Bay, with lovely inns, cafés, and art galleries. From there, it was on to the Bear Valley Visitor Center, the main contact station in the Point Reyes National Seashore park. Our first hike from the center was a steep five-mile climb to the highest point, Mount Wittenberg. From there, we spotted, in the distance, a furry creature with a long tail. I said it had to be a fox; Jon insisted it must be a baby mountain lion. Gulp. We hurried back down the trail in what seemed like record time.

On another day, we walked for miles along a beach without crossing paths with another soul—unless you count the occasional egret. The solitude lifted any stress remaining from the wedding and prompted me to reflect on life's most important things: love and relationships. I felt so grateful for all that we had. In the Station House Café that afternoon, waiting for our quesadillas, we couldn't help but eavesdrop on the couple at the next table. "If you wanted to take me somewhere nice, you should have picked Cabo San Lucas!" growled the woman at her male companion. I felt sorry for them both because they didn't understand each other, and I really got why I didn't need glammed-up romance to have a great time with Jon. We enjoy spending time together, meeting new people, seeing new places, and learning new things. And you know, we never really did "romantic." When in New York, we drank coffee in noisy cafés, watched people in Central Park, and jogged through Flushing Meadow Park. With him, the mundane always seemed magnificent.

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