Sunday, November 8, 2015

Nomadic California Fall

Ruby with her great granddaughter.
It's funny how our nomadic schedule falls together like puzzle pieces.

We accepted a housesit for September in L.A. intending to drive down to Baja afterward. But then I was asked to lead a writing workshop in Northern California in October. And we were invited to Dave's nephew's wedding. Soon we scored a housesit in Alameda. Then we were offered housesits in Santa Cruz for November and Tahoe for December. Clearly, California was calling to us to hang out longer.

One of the great pleasures of October was spending time with family and friends. We were able to visit my 92-year-old Aunt Ruby in the Sacramento. She played honkey tonk on the piano and we hung out with my cousins. Then we went to the wedding in Marin...

Regina and James
 Which also meant hanging out with a bunch of Dave's kin.
With Dave's sister and bro-in-law.
Next we drove east, to Sonora, where I was set to lead a workshop called "How to Believe in Your Writing." After more than two years away from teaching, I was excited and a little unnerved.

The energy in the room was electric. Many of the participants said they felt inspired and had breakthroughs on their projects. My longtime friend Dawn showed up with her mom. Two participants were teenagers, and several were in their sixties and seventies.

My friend and writing compatriot, Patricia, and her partner Cindy hosted us--and introduced us to their writing community.

Dinner with writers
I was also able to spend time with my sister and a group of her awesome women friends who had read my book, Call It Wonder and invited me to meet with their book group. It's wonderful and surreal to talk to people about the book. I'm especially touched when they say it inspired them or prompted them to reflect on their own life paths.

Call It Wonder-ful!
We couldn't be that close to Yosemite and not pay a visit. So after Sonora, Dave and I spent the night at the utterly charming Evergreen Lodge ...

...and hiked to a magical waterfall.

One of California fall's jewel-like days.

Next we scooted west to get to Alameda for our house (and cat) sit.

Uma, our charge.
Dave and I grew up in California and have lived a lot of years in the Bay Area--but Alameda was one place we didn't know much about. The site of a now-closed naval based, Alameda is an island tucked next to Oakland.

You can take a ferry from Alameda to San Francisco.
Our apartment for ten days was in the charming downtown, situated on a main street above a taqueria. Within steps were innumerable restaurants and an old, restored movie theater.

We have friends who live in Alameda we were able to visit. In the past few years, we've hung out with our friend Mark in Yellowstone, Zion National Park, and Tahoe. Finally, we were on his turf. He was our bike tour guide, a great way to explore this flat terrain.

Checking out the neighborhoods.

Enjoying a waterfront cruise.
We also met up with Kathleen, an old high school buddy. She took us to Rock Wall Winery, a fantastic waterfront venue with excellent food. As the sun set, the lights of San Francisco twinkled across the bay.
Kathleen, her friend Amy, and me
I hadn't seen her kids in few years. They had transformed into bigger human beings with exceptional talents.
The old naval airbase takes up about one third of Alameda's land. A number of ships are still docked there, including the USS Hornet, which is open for tours.

Some of the buildings are being used in  varying ways. One is Kathleen's impressive gym--a huge space with, among other things, a full-size indoor soccer field. She took me to her yoga class, followed by a spinning class--an Amazonian workout that was fun and intense.

When we started housesitting a year ago, we had no idea that it would provide us opportunities to explore old/new terrain and window-in on the lives of people we love. Life on the road continues to surprise and delight.

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