The Norcal Nomad

Traveling in Northern California

Memorial Day 2015 – Clayton CA

Written By: Deborah Linnekin - May• 25•15

Every Memorial Day we honor those who gave all.  This year marked the 24th Annual Memorial Day Observance for Clayton, CA. At 10 am dignitaries and citizens gathered to pay tribute to our fallen heroes.Memorial Day, Clayton CA 003

The program opened with music by the Diablo View Middle School Band, directed by Eric Thompson, and Master of Ceremonies Scott DeVenney. The Presentation of Colors, an opening prayer by VFW Post 1525 Chaplain, The Rev. Tom Kelnhofer, the Pledge of Allegiance and the National Anthem set the tone for a moving program.Memorial Day, Clayton CA 005

In the Salute to the Armed Forces, members representing each branch of the service stood for recognition as their branches’ song rang out through the crowd. Every recent conflict seemed to be represented as members of the assemblage rose for recognition. These are the men and women who returned after serving to keep us free. It is a worth remembering that all gave some, some gave all at this time in our history.

There were representatives for our elected officials, but most impressive was Steve Glazer, California State Senator, who managed to attend in person as did Mayor Tim Grayson from Concord.

After Joy Koonin, from Berean Christian High School, read “In Flanders Field”, Natalie Tollefson, Surviving spouse of PFC Benjamin B. Tollefson (KIA Iraq. 31 Dec 2008), spoke eloquently and moved us to tears with her story in “Surviving Hope and Conquering Fear”.

The keynote address “the Jigsaw Puzzle of American Patriotic Sacrifice” given by Dr. Daniel E. Helix, MGen, U.S. Volunteers stirred us further as  he took us on a journey through skirmishes in other lands so we could feel service on foreign soil.Memorial Day, Clayton CA 002

Yesterday’s Kids invited participation in the Battle Hymn of the Republic before the Rifle salute, taps and flag folding let us experience, in part, the end of the journey for those who gave all and their families. It is important to remember: it is not the loss of single life when one of our soldiers is taken in battle, it is the dissolution of a family, the loss of a son or daughter and children who will grow up without a parent. Each time, every time a warrior is lost, there are family members left to grieve and put their lives back together.

After Yesterday’s kids sang God Bless America, Chaplain Thomas Gutshall, MAJ. Chief of Chaplains USV/A, VFW Post 1525 closed the program with prayer.

Although the program always ends, we took new vision, new understanding and the stories of those present with us. Brave men and women are still volunteering to protect our freedom and serve us at home and overseas. Take a moment to thank them. Pay for their meal or buy them a drink if you can, but always remember, they paid for our freedom, our very way of life with their service. Some gave Some, Some gave all.

My thanks and gratitude to those who currently serve and those who served before.

God Bless America!

 

 

Swan Day 2015 was held March 28

Written By: Deborah Linnekin - Mar• 30•15

SWAN DAY March 2015 101

The Martinez Arts Association brought SWAN Day to Martinez once again! For those of you who aren’t familiar with SWAN Day: Support Women Artists Now Day, it’s an international holiday designed to showcase the power and diversity of Women’s creativity.  (More information is available on the International Site at http://www.womenarts.org/swan/ .)

It was a free event featuring a diverse array of art and artists.  The best part for the artists is the entry fee: FREE! Fees are often a deterrent for beginning artists, so this allows far more artists to display their creations. Perfect!

Some artists return annually while others test the waters and find their flow in another venue. This year I found beautiful handmade books, ceramics, wire-wrapped jewelry and ink on glass paintings. There were purses and photographs, singers and dancers, flamingos, paintings and metal sculpture.

The event was held at the Old Train Depot. In previous years many patrons skipped the depot and headed trough the booths in the parking lot beside it, so I started inside the depot and I was certainly not disappointed.

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Of course, I had some personal favorites, like the books by Kathy Chin. They are incredible! She spends hours making each one: no two are alike. These have to be the perfect gift for the writer or sketch artist in your life. Her work can be found online on Facebook for now. Look for her to expand in the future.

Outside, a husband and wife sat in booths across from one another: he’s a photographer with amazing views of local sites and a few not so local places as well. She specializes in beautiful jewelry and fabric purses that can be used for all manner of occasions.

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Swan DAyMarch 2015Lumix 089 Swan DAyMarch 2015Lumix 087 They are the Lake and Lake Photography: find them at zazzle.com/lakeandlakephoto.  Both are skilled craftsmen that take pride in their work and in one another. I adore LOVE stories like that!

 

 

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I saw so many beautiful items. Cyndy Wight of Metaling Maiden can make anything you can design and has created fabulous painted and rustic designs available on her website: www.Metalingmaiden.com. Her mermaids and flowers are lots of fun, but let your imagination run wild for her and think up the perfect design!

 

On my way out, I stopped back at Teresa Arnold’s booth. Her Ink on Glass is so unique that one found its way into my home. If you know me – you know it was blue! More of her beautiful work is available at http://www.teresaarnoldartist.com/ so drop by when you get the urge for more beauty.

Swan Day - Teresa - Ink on GlassMarch 2015Lumix 092

San Francisco: Traveling 2nd Street from Montgomery Station

Written By: Deborah Linnekin - Jan• 11•15

Downtown San Francisco is the heart of California; at least it sometimes seems to be. The traffic beats like the heart of any big city and people swiftly cover ground going to and from work, exercise and play. They eat out and they bring food in. There are taxis with motors and taxis with pedals and they all seem to race past me as I walk along 2nd street on my way to AT&T Park.

Row of Rental Bikes on 2nd Street, SF, CA

Bikes for Rent

 

There are bikes for rent and fountains with benches. There are restaurants with intriguing names, like the American Grilled Cheese Café and some with simple names like Ovo. You could do a food tour on just this street and find whatever you really wanted.

 

 

I pass Adolph Gasser’s and think back to all the times I wondered exactly where in the city this well-known photo supplier was located. I never leave enough time to wander in and check it out, but I’d like to one day. I note that they have a parking lot across the street in case I bring a car (presumably to fill with fabulous photo necessities).

When I get to the freeway I always check out the Pop-up Beer Garden or the Revolving Food Truck court that has taken root beneath the freeway where there used to be parking. Depending on the time of day there is food or beer and music in this little outdoor retreat.

Sign from Rotating Food Truck Court

The Pop up Beer Garden and Food Court

I make it to the top of the hill and look forward to the descent to the park. I still stroll so that I can enjoy the architecture. One building has gargoyles; another has a beautiful gated garden that leads to a hidden doorway somewhere beyond my vision.

Chronicle Books is another store I’d heard of and knew it was in San Francisco. It’s right there on Second Street with books you won’t always find elsewhere, even on Amazon.com. It’s worth a stop for those of you still enchanted with the printed page. There’s just something about a book.

The park dominates the view as you near the end of Second Street. Its towers obstruct everything beyond it, so the inlet splash zone is just a myth until you round the stadium. Willie McCovey Park guards it from the far side.  The view from the side of the stadium back to the Bay Bridge is breath taking, so don’t miss it if you’ve come this far.

Splash zone at AT&T

Splash zone at AT&T

As for me, I’m going back to The American Grilled Cheese Kitchen. With a name like that, it’s got to have some comfort food.

See you in the city or on the roads. Have a wonderful trip!

Take Me Out To the Ballgame

Written By: Deborah Linnekin - Oct• 23•14

Baseball is drawing to a close for 2014 as the Giants and the Royals prepare to meet for the World Series. The fans are rushing to purchase tickets and organize parties to celebrate their team’s imminent Ultimate Win and the cities are preparing for an onslaught. These big games bring big money and big headaches.

September 2014 101 at AT&T Park, SF CA

AT&T Before the Fans Arrive

More importantly, it brings high hopes and excitement. It brings energy and enthusiasm and it brings people together in all kinds of interesting and amusing ways.

I went to my first Giants game in Candlestick Park with my father many years ago. I hadn’t been to a game in years until this season and I was pleasantly surprised at all the changes that have taken place since my childhood experiences in a wind-swept stadium.

To begin with AT&T Park is amazing! There are so many beautiful spots that beg for a photo op! Be sure to bring your camera and/or let the photographers take your picture for a truly personal souvenir of your visit. The splash zone overlooks Willie McCovey cove where the kayaks and other floating vessels gather for a chance at a fly ball and the opportunity to enjoy a community party. The ferry still brings fans across the water and docks right next to an entrance or two. There’s an outdoor gathering spot located just outside the gate where season ticket holders and other groups are treated to wine tastings and other pre-game festivities, too.

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Candlestick Stadium Seats

While you’re checking out the seats from candlestick at the top of the stairs near the cable car plaza remember you can purchase a pair of them for about $700.00.  Watching the sunset over the stadium creates a lasting impression as the lights take over for the sun and the stands fill with thousands of fans dressed in orange and black.

While the setting is beautiful, the food is the biggest change of all. The song says “popcorn and peanuts and crackerjacks” but boy, have things changed! The aroma of food preparation greets you the instant you approach the stadium and the scent is not deceiving. Delicious treats wait on the inside. There are still sausages and hot dogs (wrapped in bacon!), garlic fries, popcorn, caramel corn and peanuts, sunflower seeds and chips, nachos and Dibs, ice cream sundaes and well, just about any snack you might want to consume during a game.

There used to be soda and beer, now they also have wine and an assortment of harder offerings, like Irish coffee to go with you hot chocolate. But wait, there’s more! There are crab sandwiches that people wait in a really long line to get and rave about after they’ve gotten one and there are Philly Cheese Steaks, too, one of my faves when I’m at AT&T partly because the purveyor is a sweet man with a beautiful smile, partly because they’re so good!September 2014 082

If you can’t make it to the game, maybe you can make it to the splash zone on one of the charter party boats! Close proximity and a chance to catch a home run ball!

Hope to see there!

 

 

Books, Books and more Books

Written By: Deborah Linnekin - Oct• 20•14

Bibliophiles gathered at the Clayton Library this weekend for a little fundraising and a lot of heavy lifting. The volunteers that set up the book sale are amazing people; thank you for all your work!

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There were so many books it was a time consuming process to wade through the tidy, organized shelves and find the perfect read. Each section was clearly labeled so that you could find thrillers, Sci fi, cookbooks, Biographies or any other genre easily. There were so many books, they spilled out the door and into the patio behind the main room the sale occupied!

The children’s books were set up in a corner so that little ones could easily reach the contents of the boxes while their parents watched over their selections. There were a few books that were priced separately, but most of the books were $1.00 on Saturday and $.50 on Sunday until 2 at which time the sale room was cleared and everyone that was hoping to cash in on the bag sale lined up outside and purchased a bag or bags on their way back in to the building.

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I expected a great crush of people once the bags were in play and was pleasantly surprised that the crowd stayed very calm and polite as they filled their bags with treasures to take home. One volunteer said that while they’re happy that people came out for the bag sale, they were thrilled that so many people had come to purchase books during the regular part of the sale because it was, after all, an attempt to make more money for the library, not just create a low cost way for people to gather more books.

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Personally, I’m going to have to re-donate about ¾ of my purchases after reading them to make room for the next batch when they have their sale in April! Keep tuned for more details as they become available! It’s going to be even bigger and better than this one if we all show up and purchase books.

Hope to see you there!

Stopping For Lunch in Lafayette, CA

Written By: Deborah Linnekin - Oct• 16•14

Some days are meant to be spent leisurely, strolling about in a town you would like to experience for the first time, or re-experience to savor nostalgia or notice the changes. Monday  I revisited a town where I lived when my first daughter was born: Lafayette, CA. It was a beautiful walk around a lovely town.Lafayette_CA_Oct2014 035

 

 

 

 

 

 

What I first noticed was that the stores had changed dramatically. 30 years ago most of the small boutiques were local individuals and the “big” department store was McCaulou’s, a local store with a few nearby locations. They still sold fabric when I lived there, but now they’re focused on the trendy items that their upscale clientele prefer. It’s transformed from a village in the suburbs to a town that caters to its well-heeled residents and visitors.

There are some relatively new restaurants in town replacing those that didn’t  keep up with the changing demographics.  The Cooperage has replaced one of my father’s favorite haunts in La Fiesta Square. It boasts barrel chairs while you wait and outdoor dining just off the main street, Mt. Diablo Blvd.

Chairs at the Cooperage

Chairs at the Cooperage

There are the requisite fast food places interspersed with some of the old haunts: The Round Up still graces the same corner it’s graced for years. There’s live music on the weekend, too. It’s an experience, rather than a night out.

The Round Up Saloon

The Round Up Saloon

 

 

Two blocks up there’s a pizza place that growing: Patxi’s. I was photographing the exterior when a model appeared, well, he offered! So I ended up eating at Patxi’s and I was delighted. Their deep dish, Chicago Style pizza is a treat I never would have thought to order if it hadn’t been the lunch special. For $10.00 you can enjoy a salad, a slice of pizza and a soft drink. My slice featured spinach and mushrooms, but they do offer more traditional choices for those of you who need to have pepperoni included. My iced tea was filled frequently, the food was served hot and I was given time to savor the salad before the slice of pizza appeared.

Entry to Patxi's

Entry to Patxi’s

The staff was quite friendly and, although I was eating solo, I never felt like I was imposing on their time or taking up space. I learned that they offer honey for their crusts because the crust is made with cornmeal; so, you can end the slice with a cornbread experience by adding a touch of honey. I had to try that! Yes, it was a perfect pairing.

If you get to visit Lafayette, you should definitely give Patxi’s a try. If you’re not inclined to go to Lafayette, their other locations offer the same menu, although they may not have the same great staff. In a hurry? You can always check them out online at www.patxispizza.com .

Lafayette is still a beautiful little town just beyond Oakland on Highway 24. If you’re traveling in Northern California, be sure to take some time to see the East Bay. It’s not far from the city, just hop on BART and come on out to the warmth of the inland valley.

Hope to see you there!

Changing Times in a Small Town

Written By: Deborah Linnekin - Oct• 14•14

It was a day when I felt nostalgic, so I returned to a town I have visited before. I lived there 30 years ago and the streets are still familiar, although the buildings have changed and the businesses have updated to modern versions of their old selves or moved on to be replaced by something more desirable to new residents of the town.

Some of the stores I loved are gone; the new ones are often upscale chain stores that offer the same things in every town. I did make some fun discoveries there, though. The bakery where we headed for a shopping break has become a real estate office and the florist has been replaced as well. My brother delivered flowers for Franco’s Florist, so I remember it vividly.

There are beautiful murals on the walls of many of the old buildings. They are tiled or painted and feel quaint although I know they are fairly new.

Mural next to Starbucks

Mural next to Starbucks

 

 

The old post office, that has housed other businesses for many years, has become a beautiful restaurant named Postino with front garden seating protected from the street by a walled entry. Personally, I think this would be the perfect setting for a wedding or anniversary party. It’s elegant and surrounded by nature at the same time.

Side Entrance to Postino

Side Entrance to Postino

Postino Front Gate

Postino Front Gate

 

 

 

Lafayette is also home to a day program for developmentally disabled, adults called Futures Explored. It meets the needs of many adults in nearby towns and offers one of the best Christmas boutiques in the area with handmade goods created by the clients.

There are antique stores tucked along the boulevard and in La Fiesta Square and lots of spots for a quick bite to eat, that include many of well-known fast food establishments and the requisite Starbucks on the corner. However, the overall feeling of the town is one of unrushed beauty that has developed over time. Indeed, some of the buildings still stand on their original foundations without much change, but that, too , may become a thing of the past as new businesses take over old spaces and need to cater to a clientele that needs Wi-Fi and electricity to fire up their portable devices in order to remain in touch at all times.

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The warm afternoon feels like summer and the cool shade of old tress that line the street offers a welcome respite from the sun. The trees are a feature of this town that makes it feel established and well loved. The banners that are flying from the lampposts tout fitness at the moment, but they will change with the season and soon project some holiday cheer.

Nearer to the holidays, I’ll probably revisit Orchard Nursery at the far end of town. It’s a favorite of mine at Christmas time when the entire interior feels like a giant Christmas forest. Summer was lovely and fairly cool this year, and the fall has stayed warm so far. Perhaps it will stay warm for a few more weeks and walking down Mt. Diablo Boulevard will continue to be a refreshing experience. If the chill sets in, just remember a jacket and umbrella and you can still enjoy the ambiance of a small town near the bug city.

Hope to see you there!

Vacaville Premium Outlet Stores

Written By: Deborah Linnekin - Jul• 20•14

Just across the freeway from the famous Nut Tree, the Vacaville Premium Outlet Stores flourished in good times and are still going strong in financially trying times. When my children were younger, we headed to this outdoor mall for school clothes in August, and it hasn’t changed much in the ensuing years.

Tesla Charging Stations

Tesla Charging Stations

One change I discovered: Tesla has installed charging stations along the end of one parking lot. Unlike the charging stations you find in places like Berkeley that are in the best spots, these are located near the end of the West parking lot in a non-shady area. It must on the route Tesla plotted to make sure their vehicles had power available to “go the distance” because it seemed like an odd location for charging stations.

Stores come and go in this mall, and some just move to a new location. One store that is closing its doors here is Cold Water Creek.  You might want to get there soon if you want to shop in this outlet.

Coldwater Creek Closing

Coldwater Creek Closing

 

The restrooms were already hot at 10AM the day I visited, although they were clean. There is a police station on the premises and a food court in the East Lot of the Mall that offers sandwiches, coffee and Taco Bell.  However, the In n’ Out Burger just across Nut Tree Parkway was always my children’s choice for lunch when we stopped shopping long enough to eat.

If you’re searching for directions, their address is 321 Nut Tree Road, Vacaville, Ca 95687.  Yahoo maps even has a map of the stores available so you can plot out the places you are most interested in visiting rather than trying to get to all the stores.

Happy shopping!

The Nut Tree Returns

Written By: Deborah Linnekin - Jul• 17•14

The Nut tree in Vacaville started as a fruit stand.  In 1921 the original restaurant was opened by the Power family. It was named for a black walnut tree that shaded the property: planted in 1859 by Josiah Addison as he crossed the plains. He picked up the nut on the Gila River in Arizona. Unfortunately the walnut tree died in 1952.

In 1952 The Nut Tree added the Toy Shop and the Nut Tree Railroad which originally ran on a quarter mile of track through the gardens and orchards, but later stopped at the Nut Tree airport when it opened in 1955.

They added a new dining room in 1958 and by 1962 it was so popular that the US Post Office designated the area Nut Tree, California.

Its prime location just off of I-80 between San Francisco and Sacramento, allowed it to grow into a destination of its own by the 1970s. We used to stop there on our trips back and forth to college, but sometimes we used to just go there to eat and browse the art. The airport, at the rear of the property, serviced by the little Nut Tree locomotive made it even more accessible and a stop for local pilots looking for a destination and a delightful lunch.

Its closure in 1996 was sad for many of us who had grown up passing by and stopping in for a bit of shopping or lunch on the road.  Later, The Northern California Renaissance Faire held its annual event on the site for a couple of years before it relocated to its current location in Casa de Fruta.

Nut Tree Plaza

Nut Tree Plaza

Now, there’s a new plan for the property that includes shopping, apartments, office buildings and a very small recreational area that showcases the train and the carousel from the Nut Tree theme park that recently closed. The Nut Tree Plaza is a beautiful shady retreat from the summer heat and the train runs its course around the outside of the little play area that houses the giraffe from the Toy Store and the beautiful carousel. Rides on either are $2.00 each.

Nut Tree Railroad

Nut Tree Railroad

Nut Tree Carousel

Nut Tree Carousel

As strip malls go, this one is quite attractive. It has some interesting architectural details that are not present in every other shopping area in the state. It still has many of the same shops that are present in all the centers in your own neighborhood. There is a Fenton’s; nice to see something a little different.

It will be nice to see the entire complex when it’s finished. It promises to be a well-rounded, well planned project for the city. It will never be the same roadside attraction that people flocked to see, but perhaps that’s the way things are supposed to happen. It had a beautiful run and we all have wonderful memories, but time has spun it in a new direction that suits the needs of the city and the travelers on the road today.

Soul Renewal Meditation Hike

Written By: Deborah Linnekin - Jul• 15•14

“Share in a Day of Mindfulnessto Discover Who You are Becoming”

My hat is off to Tamara Gerlach. She has super powers when it comes to planning events and gatherings. On July 12, she hosted a Meditation Hike at Gerlack Ranch that was the first event of its kind I have ever attended or participated in.

Having said that, I must admit to being a bit unprepared for a real hike, you know the uphill kind with a pack (that wasn’t all that heavy to be honest) but I am out of shape and there were a couple of really steep inclines that I should have anticipated, but somehow didn’t. Even being out of shape I still managed to finish the hike and made it to each location before the group was ready to leave for the next one.

I must give thanks to Ron Abrams for teaching me a thing or two about climbing slowly and for sticking with me even when the rest of the group vanished ahead of us. Without his patient guidance, I would have been lost.

At 9AM we prepared lunches for ourselves from the wonderful array Tamara had prepared. Meats and cheeses, crusty rolls, lettuce, pickles, tomatoes and condiments were there for sandwiches, trail mix, fruit and snacks were ready to add to our insulated bags. There were water bottles and journals ready for our use on the hike as well.

Prepared physically, we adjourned to the patio and prepared spiritually for our sojourn and started off behind Tam as she drummed us on our way to the first stop: the medicine wheel.

Medicine wheels are sacred ground and we respected the significance of this by asking permission to enter and leaving our unhappy energy behind before doing so. It is a powerful space, producing  very personal  messages and meanings for each of us. We took time to meditate and journal before moving on. I was filled with peace and carried it the rest of the day.

Climbing to the next stop of each of the three left on our tour, it felt like we reached the sky. We could see which mountain was Mt. Diablo, easily, because we were parallel to it and near the top. The view stretched out before us: the delta, Vallejo, Benicia and Brentwood were clearly visible. We hiked past a working windmill and troughs placed for cattle that used to roam these hills. We hiked up and up and up. We settled in at each location to meditate, journal and just enjoy nature.

There were dragonflies and hummingbirds spotted along the way, feathers to collect and the most beautiful weather imaginable. The breeze kept us cool and the trees shaded our resting spots. We hiked in silence with the drum alerting us it was time to move on. Even our steps were meditation.

At our final stop we gathered in a circle and shared our thoughts on the day. Everyone had something wonderful to say about their experience that garnered nods and acknowledgment from the group. It was a magical day.

So, dusty and sore, we returned to the house for more food and a chance to talk. The cool shade of the house and soft seats were a wonderful way to end the day.

Next time: I’m bringing one of those backpack chairs! Other than that, it was a perfect day!

Namaste.

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