Escaping the heat

A trip to the Bay Area on a hot weekend results in some pleasing discoveries (including cooler temps)

Elephant garlic’s towering lavender flowers are interesting to look at, even in black-and-white.

Elephant garlic’s towering lavender flowers are interesting to look at, even in black-and-white.

Got outta town
This past weekend, while my wildland-firefighter hubby was working on the Dean Peak Fire in northwest Arizona, my 12-year-old daughter Lydia and I rented a car and escaped the Chico heat. We headed down to the much-cooler East Bay community of Pinole to spend time with my brother Greg and his wife, Kim.

After going to the small-but-definitely-sufficient Pinole Farmers’ Market on Saturday morning (where I ran into an ex-Chicoan I knew), we took a scenic drive out to Half Moon Bay, on the Pacific coast, via the wooded communities of Woodside and La Honda.

We stopped in Woodside at the Skywood Trading Post & Delicatessen on Skyline Boulevard, where I bought a bottle of kombucha and a yummy gluten-free brownie (ah—healthful road food, for a change!) and hung out for a while with my family in the cool breeze at a shaded picnic table outside, next to a dusty, rustic saw-sharpening shop in a former gas station, chatting and watching/hearing the usual (for that particular spot) assortment of Harley riders and drivers of very expensive automobiles loudly rev their engines as they drove by or pulled out of the parking lot.


jack sutton via flickr

In Half Moon Bay, we made the all-too-logical discovery that every beach in town was crowded (it was the weekend after the Fourth of July), with parking lots full to capacity, so we were forced to drive a little farther north to the refreshingly quirky waterside area at which we ended up spending some time—a funky little part-industrial/part-residential neighborhood off Capistrano Road (which is actually part of the unincorporated community of Princeton-by-the-Sea, I found out later, though we thought we were still in Half Moon Bay).

It was there that we ran into a tall, friendly, weathered guy named David, who showed us around the huge vegetable-and-fruit garden he had created on a formerly ice-plant-infested lot tucked in between what looked like two abandoned warehouses and a possibly abandoned nouveau-industrial-style condominium.

David’s lovely, rather untamed garden—loaded with tall, flowering elephant-garlic plants; gooseberry and blackberry bushes; kales of all types, not planted in rows; Asian pepper plants, lemon mint and a plum tree, among other things—was spectacular. After a lengthy conversation, he declared that I was a “food-head,” gave me tips on propagating chili-pepper plants from cuttings, and told me I could come back any time I wanted to “poach” some lemon mint to make tea. He also said I could pick as much of his purple-and-green Russian kale as I wanted that day, that particular variety not being as high on his list as some of his other kales (some of that Russian kale went into Lydia’s noodle soup the next morning).

And if we hadn’t ended up in this particular area, we wouldn’t have found Caffé Mezzaluna (240 Capistrano Road), where I had some very delicious house-made gelato (a scoop each of lemon, chocolate and pistachio) and a cappuccino.

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime. –Mark Twain