It is this time of the year again – Thanksgiving long weekend. Last year I led a group of crazies into Death Valley NP. This was was a bit more difficult. For one it is difficult to find a good interesting place to see this time of the year. But the biggest was my wife’s schedule. Thus she could only do Thursday and Friday. So, and to celebrate her 30th birthday, I planned a small trip to Sonoma County.
The main purpose of the trip was to visit a SPA. A bit classier SPA than Harbin. There is nothing wrong with Harbin, but it may be cold this time of the year. I found a place called Osmosis in Freestone, CA. It had this interesting treatment called Cedar Enzyme Bath. I have ordered one for me and Rita. I could buy a package for her with some massage and other things, but she didn’t want it. Osmosis also has a partnership with a small hotel next door. One can buy a package of treatment and stay. But this package wasn’t available on Thanksgiving weekend. To stay I found a small resort a bit off on the shore of the Russian river called Highland Dell.
On the day we went up to Fort Ross State Historic Park. I wanted to see this place for a long time. However, it was a bit off the way to purposefully drive there. This trip presented a great opportunity to visit this park. Unfortunately it was all closed. We walked around the locked buildings, looked at the fort from the outside of its gates, and enjoyed the great ocean. The weather was great – sunny and windy. The drive was nice – beautiful views, great winding road. Perfect. After a bit of a stroll around that closed park we headed towards Monte Rio where the booked hotel was located. After the drive on the shore this was a great drive through redwood forest. CA-116. It was getting a bit dark and fog was rolling in. The town of Monte Rio was seem to be getting to celebrate Thanksgiving. You can smell the turkeys being cooked. With all that I’ve missed the Highland Dell hotel and had to stop and ask for directions.
The place turned out to be situated across the Russian river in Monte Rio. Beautiful setting, redwoods. The place, it seems, was run by some German people. It was fine. Looked like a regular hotel. There were even some guests this holiday. We went to walk around a bit then came back to get some food. That was a bit difficult. The restaurant next door was completely booked. Due to holiday most of the places were closed. We stumbled upon the open Northwood Golf club. They had a Thanksgiving buffet for $25 a pop. Should have known better – that sort of food can a golf club have? In all we payed almost $80 for a crappy food and a bit of vine. Oh well. Need to be prepared the next time.
Morning of Friday started early. The breakfast was supposed to start at 8AM and we had to be at Osmosis at 8:50AM. We’ve had a standard American industrial food – omelet, paper bacon, pancakes, and muffins. Really, I should have prepared better. The drive was short but pleasant and we made it to the SPA a bit after 9AM.
Then the experience started. First you change into this traditional Japanese robe. The lady who kind of took care of us gave us some weird tea and explained the chemistry of that enzyme bath. Essentially this is cedar powder with some enzymes added. The whole thing starts fermenting like mad giving off lots of heat. So you lay covered in that enzymed powder. On the picture it looks like just sand, but in reality it is very soft. Sort of like portable solid sauna. It was fine. The taking care lady was bringing cold towels to put on the head. But just as I was getting into it it was over. Sad.
After the enzyme bath getting rid of all the cedar shavings was a bit difficult. After the shower we had about half an hour of some relaxation with music that was designed to work or activate both hemispheres of the brain. And that was it. We walked around the nice meditation garden and eventually ended up in the gift shop. I’ve asked the workers for some recommendations on the places to visit in Sonoma, especially wine and cheese. They recommended Graton ridge cellars, actually gave us some old bottle of desert wine and referral notices for the wine tasting (pretty good). After the SPA we visited the busy bakery across the street – Wild Flour Bread. That was actually the highlight of the trip. Great bread, fresh.
The wine at Graton was good, especially the desert one. It was a tiny family run winery. They only produce a couple of hundred cases of their wine per year. The husband is actually the winemaker. He can tell you what he did with the wine and such. Very interesting. For some reason this was much better than that Beringer factory.
On the way back we stopped at Marin French Cheese company. It was also a bit industrial. They didn’t really care for the customers. It seems that they could sell their cheese anyways. But a smaller place – Nicasio Valley cheese company – was much more inviting. They had different cheeses to sample. Sort of cheese tasting. Though the type of cheese was different from Marin French. Interestingly that being an essentially a milk farm they won’t let us buy milk.
Overall I liked Sonoma. We should come here again to sample some more cheese, maybe different wine and even some olive oil. In a different season it may be more interesting to just camp – a lot better air than in a hotel.