Napa, CA Part III: More Sightseeing
Napa is the heart of California Wine Country. Almost everywhere you go in the Napa and Sonoma Valleys there are stately wineries like the one in the photo below. We enjoyed seeing rows and rows of grape vines as we drove around the area.
But, as we said in our last post, there are also a lot of other things to see and do in the area. Just a few miles north of Sterling Vineyards that we wrote about in our first post about Napa, is California's Old Faithful Geyser. We stopped there on our way to the vineyard. The web site says the geyser erupts faithfully every 30 to 40 minutes and shoots 60 to 100 feet high. The day we were there, it was going off every 10 to 20 minutes, and it was only about 30 to 40 feet high. The eruptions aren't all that impressive, especially after we were in Yellowstone last year, but they are quite frequent so you don't have to wait long. The photo below shows California's Old Faithful Geyser.
Old Faithful Geyser is on private property. Records aren't clear, but it's likely the geyser was artificially made. The hydrothermal source is real, but there is evidence the geyser was formed when the drilling of a well back in the early 1800s accidentally tapped into the natural hydrothermal system. At any rate, the geyser was turned into a tourist attraction in 1974 when the property was sold to Howard and Olga Cream.
At the geyser site, they also have llamas, Jacobs four-horned sheep, and Tennessee fainting goats. You may have seen these goats on TV or on YouTube. They stiffen up and fall over when frightened. Actually, they do not faint, but they have a genetic problem with muscle control and their muscles sometimes lock up when the goats are frightened. The breed can be traced back to the 1880s in Tennessee. Of course, everyone tried to scare the goats, but they seemed to be used to the tourists by now and resisted fainting. The photo below shows a Tennessee fainting goat.
Another interesting place we visited was Cornerstone Sonoma in Sonoma, CA. Cornerstone Sonoma is a little hard to describe. It
is an eclectic collection of shops, galleries, a cafe, gardens, and
wine-tasting rooms. Admission is free. We went there to see the gardens; but when we saw the oversize Adirondack chair right out front, we knew we were in for some surprises.
One surprise was the shop that sold salvaged architectural artifacts and other large-scale decorative items. Shown in the photo below are just a few of the things they had including a fountain that looked like it came from an old town square in a Mexican village, a tangled piece of driftwood, and a pair of huge doors from a Spanish villa.
They also had things like bathtubs carved out of one piece of stone, a hippo skull, an elephant skull, millstones, stone statues taken from old buildings, and many unusual items from all over the world. Prices were astronomical, but it was fun to look.
There was also a shop that sold garden accessories such as large crocks and cement, stone, and ceramic fountains.
The shops were fun, but we did go for the gardens. There are about 20 garden vignettes that have been designed by artists, landscape architects, and garden designers. Some were pretty modern and pretty "artsy," but we tended to like the ones that were a little more traditional. Most of the gardens were very striking. The tree in the photo below was one of the more "artsy" (but very interesting) ones. The tree was dead and scheduled for removal, but landscape architect Claude Cormier gave the tree new life by covering it with 25,000 blue Christmas balls. When viewed from the proper angle at the right time of day, it almost seems to disappear against the sky.
Another garden we liked was the Garden of Contrasts. The soft, tan grass swayed in the breeze and contrasted the stiff, spiky agave. The long-stemmed flowers swayed in the breeze with the grass and added a little punch of color.
The garden in the next photo was also a little more traditional. It had recently been planted, so there wasn't any information available on it yet. It featured waves of purple candytuft, feathery papyrus, and pink poppies.
Paul liked the ceramic bamboo decorating the garden shown in the next photo.
There was also a Mediterranean meadow with different types of grasses.
The next photo is a composite of some of the interesting flowers in the gardens.
After our stay in Napa, we changed our travel itinerary and headed farther inland instead of back toward the coast as we originally planned. We just weren't ready for 50-60 degree temperatures and clouds again. Check out our next post to see our new destination.