However, the Bay Area Rapid Transit is a well thought out enterprise. My daughter and I slipped effortlessly onto a waiting BART train from the airport and arrived in my sisters North Berkeley neighbourhood a bit over an hour after landing in San Francisco direct from Auckland. Not having traveled together for well over a decade, it was full of laughter and fun, and continued through the week as we were shuffled from one party to another around the region in the lead up to the big event - my sisters wedding. Immersed in the not uncommon realm of the lost immigrant son/brother from the New Zealand, I was then totally enthralled by a lovely diverse and eclectic group of nearly 100 friends and family gathered together on a damp coastal Marin winter weekend for the occasion my sister waited 55 years to plan.
And plan she did. As an artist and designer, everything from the invitations to the table setting quotes and accompanying rocks all had her individual touch of class and elegance. The groom-to- be here, after one of many late nights, naps through some last minute details he probably would not have wanted to know about anyway...
After the first venue burnt down unexpectedly a month before the date, there were some severe panic sessions, but eventually all was meant to be. The Olema Inn hosted the reception, and a beautiful home in the Nicasio Valley with some sort of shady link to Jerry Garcia catered the actual ceremony(Marin was home to much of the creative zeitgeist in the heydays of the late 60's and 70's Bay Area).
SkyWalker (George Lucas) to PlanetWalker (John Francis) lives there, and many have done a great job in their own way of protecting the area from excess development. remaining as gorgeous and pristine as ever. Pt Reyes has always been a favourite area of Lyn and Ken's, so to have the weekend spread out over a number of different Inns and restaurants was very fitting in the end.
The night before the ceremony, after a lively 80th birthday dinner for my mother,we all went to the local Rancho Nicasio Valley Restaurant, a great local pub in the middle of nowhere, for some fantastic blues by the Lara Price Band. If you have never seen 60 yr old ranchers dancing with their wives next to couples spanning the entire spectrum of, well, everybody, then get on down there... I mean it is like, sooo California.
"West Marin" as it is known, has been on the vanguard of political and social change for many a decade, and the number of hybrid cars per capita must be the highest in the U.S. Just the day before, the Tour of California, the states version of the biggest sporting event on earth, came barreling through and had huge support. My mother was out with thousands of others in her home town just north to cheer them on.
Sebastopol is a small Sonoma County rural town-turned-vineyard-boomer-hippie mecca near Santa Rosa. It borders Marin county, and is north of San Francisco by about an hour. My own university days from the area bring back memories of the many rivers and rustic VW van trips through lush redwood forests to communes in the surrounding expansive countryside. I did manage to attend some classes however, and the beauty in Somoma, Medocino, and Humboldt counties is still as vibrant as ever. My mother is an active resident of the quite liberal artist community here. Although my perspective about this part of California is somewhat tainted by the surge in population after 20 years in the other end of the Pacific, nothing can take away the natural beauty and good intentions of many of the progressive residents.
I was in Sebastopol to get my mom down to the wedding, and get through the maintenance list on her house, which I enjoy. I was also to deliver a gift parcel to a local resident from a friend in Australia.and bring them home, but that irony seemed lost on most.
No visit to the Sonoma area is complete without the Russian River and a local vineyard experience. My mother had a favourite one all planned out, one she had hoped to visit for some time.
Paradise Ridge has the ultimate view over the valley, along with very elegant winery and function facilities.
A cabin on the Russian River had long been a dream for family in the Bay Area, and recently some of them got a little cottage near the town of Healdsburg. It was definitely winter when we stopped by for a visit, but the charm and character is always there, along with the majestic redwoods. It served as a superb day of rest in a hectic week, even though the water levels were quite high. Naturally, it had wireless broadband for us mobile bloggers... Way to go folks!
So, the bride and groom are in Baja warming up for the next stage of their lives, I am back in New Zealand on Waiheke and my lovely Karakia Coast, on the tractor and living as deliberate and purposeful as I am able. This particular Americana group of friends and family have gone their respective ways, and I will look forward to seeing them again soon. All is said and done that will be for the time being, and another chapter is opened..
Rumi lent words of wisdom during the ceremony, as fitting for marriage as they are for all our own particular journeys through relationship:
The minute I heard my first love story
I started looking for you, not knowing how blind I was
Lovers don’t finally meet somewhere,
They’re in each other all along..