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One state yields four columns' worth of material

By JIM BUSEK • Apr 11, 2017 at 10:00 AM

Last week’s column in this space was about my visit to California 40 years ago.

This week’s is about my adventure there last month.

I’m sorry if that is too many California stories for you.

The thing is, I have more than enough material for at least four columns from my March trip alone.

I could easily do one, for instance, on just Yosemite National Park. What an amazing place. Whitewater streams fed by some of the highest waterfalls in the country. El Capitan, the largest rock monolith in North America. Groves of towering sequoia trees, ancient and beautiful. Marvelous hiking trails with spectacular views at every turn. Dark sky stargazing. And every kind of outdoor activity you can imagine.

It was late winter when I was there, and at least half the park was closed due to heavy snowfall. And still I only scratched the surface of all there was to see and do in the other half.

So that could have been a column.

And I could have done one on my visit to Napa Valley, the California wine country.

When people ask me what Napa is like, I ask them to envision every farm field in Huron and Erie and Richland counties (and maybe part of Seneca and Lorain counties, as well). Think of all the fields of grain in that 30 mile radius from here. Then imagine that every one of those fields was filled with grapevines. No other crop. No corn. No soy beans. No wheat. Just grapes. Miles and miles and miles of vineyards (punctuated, of course, by dozens of wineries). That’s Napa Valley.

For a good representation of what goes on there, I went to the Robert Mondavi Winery, one of the first and biggest of the great Napa vintners. Like Yosemite, it was off season there, too. So I got basically a private tour where I saw the entire 2016 production of Robert Mondavi red wine stored in hundreds of barrels, learned about the process of producing it and then sampled three wines with guidance of how best to enjoy them during a wine tasting at the end. Very fun.

So, wine country could have been a column.

And certainly I could have popped off 700 words about what I did the next day, too.

That’s when I ran across the Golden Gate Bridge. On foot. Both directions — 3.4 miles, total. On a spectacular, sun-drenched day.

The Golden Gate Bridge is so beautiful, it takes my breath away every time I see it after some months or years away.

This trip, I was approaching from the north — the most dramatic way to be blown away by this iconic American structure. I was driving along on Highway 101, descending from the hills toward sea level at San Francisco Bay, when suddenly my field of vision was filled by the great orange north tower of The Golden Gate Bridge.

That sight in itself has always been plenty satisfying. But this trip I had the added dimension of becoming one with the towers and cables and railings and roadway of the amazing span by jogging across it. This gave me several minutes in each direction to savor the beautiful bay far below, Alcatraz Island a couple of miles distant, and, of course, the glorious San Francisco skyline. Am I gushing? Too bad. It was probably the most memorable run I have ever taken.

Point Reyes National Seashore runs for more than 11 miles along the Pacific Ocean. And Highway 1, the Pacific Coast Highway, has a well-earned reputation as one of the most scenic roads in America. I spent a day with each of them. And I could have easily filled this space with a column about them, including my visit to Heritage House — the ocean side resort where they filmed the movie “Same Time Next Year.” I stopped, inquired and a sweet lady at the front desk gave me the key to the cabin where they shot much of the film so I could go in and shoot some video of my own.

At any rate, I did not write four columns about my California trip. But I did somehow manage to consolidate it all into three minutes of video, which appears above.

Take a look and see if it does not make you want to call your travel agent. 


Jim Busek is a free-lance writer who lives in Norwalk. He can be reached via e-mail at jimbusek@ hotmail.com.

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