On the fourth day of our second flitterwochen, it was time for Ian and me to check out of the Inn at Occidental and move on. We bid goodbye to the friendly innkeepers and to the carousel horse that is featured in the inn’s logo, which I always refer to as the horse with the mortarboard. Whenever I glance at it quickly, it looks to me like the horse is wearing a graduation hat. Here, I’ll let you judge for yourself.
See what I mean?
No? Hmmm…What if I make it black and white…and small…and you squint a little and glance at it quickly?
Anyhow, we would be staying in Napa for the next leg of our trip, but we had several stops planned before getting there. The first was St. Francis Winery in Santa Rosa. The combination of a large breakfast, the warm sun, and the 45-minute drive put me right to sleep. I woke as we pulled into the parking lot at St. Francis, and Ian said, “You really shouldn’t be sleeping through this beautiful scenery!” He was right, of course. I didn’t intend to fall asleep. Damn carpolepsy!
We enjoyed the took in the scenery and, of course, some wine at St. Francis and headed to Sonoma next. I had been looking forward to going back there and enjoying some quirky small-town charm, including seeing the chickens that freely roamed the town square the last time we had been there. We ate lunch and walked through the town plaza. Although there were several ducks about, we saw no chickens. We explored the entire square, but there were no chickens to be found. Why couldn’t we find the chickens?
We distracted ourselves from the disturbing absence of chickens by browsing some shops taking another honeymoon repeat photo op.
I couldn’t resist doing a quick search on my phone for information on the absence of the Sonoma chickens. I didn’t find much, but from what I could piece together, the chickens had been exiled after having been implicated in pecking incidents involving children. Casual research I’ve done since then has revealed that the story of the Sonoma chickens was quite a saga, reaching back to the late 90s, but the information I have found is patchy. The chickens were banished in 2000 after the reports of pecking, but after numerous chicken supporters rallied, the City Council voted for their return. The chickens (at least some of them) were there when I was in 2004. I’m unclear about exactly what happened in the ensuing years, but I found this letter, which describes how fines were imposed on a local car wash owner and alleged chicken monger, who was ordered with the task of relocating the chickens. Perhaps some day, I will find the rest of the Sonoma chicken story. All I know for sure is that the chickens are gone, at least for now.
Next, we stopped at Ravenswood Winery, a personal favorite, where an intended brief stop was somehow stretched out for over an hour as we conversed with our friendly server and sampled at least 10 wines. We drank some water, ate some snacks, and allowed adequate time to pass before getting back in the car and heading to Napa, which was a new destination for us. On our honeymoon, we had decided to forgo Napa, instead concentrating our limited time and funds on Sonoma, which had a reputation of being less crowded and more affordable. This time around, we decided to see Napa for ourselves. After checking into the Napa Inn, we walked around and explored the town for a while and had a lovely dinner at Tarla. When we retired to our room that evening, we decided to try out one of the main attractions of our room (other than the kind of awesomely cheesy holographic fireplace, see below), the two-person whirlpool tub. This quickly turned into a comedy of errors as we tried to figure out how to use the features of the tub. Ian and I have four degrees between the two of us, so I don’t think it’s unreasonable to assume we would be capable of following directions on how to use a whirlpool tub. But alas! These were the–
With useless instructions, what is there to do but press buttons and combinations thereof until something happens? We got the jets to work, but unfortunately, they produced such a violent, deafening sound, that it was hardly what I would call relaxing. Presumably, there was a way to adjust the intensity of the jets, but we never did figure that out. We were able to turn the jets off, at least for a little while, and just relax a bit, but we soon learned that, in our random button pressing, we apparently had activated some sort of timed cycle so that jets would periodically start up again. When this happened, we would frantically press buttons again until the terrifying noise ceased. This was only a temporary solution, though, and the jets would start up again after several minutes. This continued even after we had vacated and drained the tub, and the sound was even louder and more disturbing without the water to muffle it. After several rounds of the jets automatically starting and subsequent frantic button pressing to stop them, we decided we needed a new approach if we were going to manage to sleep for anything more than brief intervals before being shocked awake by the alarming rumble of demon jets. A combination of pride and politeness made us hesitant to call the innkeeper at that late hour, so, at a loss for anything else to try, the next time the jets started, we decided to just let them go…run their course…cry it out. Lo and behold, that worked! After the jets ran for a few minutes, they stopped and were wonderfully silent for the rest of the night.