SF Bay Area Serendipities

Sonoma CountyOne of the great things about travel is stumbling on things you didn’t necessarily expect, good things you didn’t necessarily expect.  And it’s one of the surprises of returning to an area you thought you knew.  I’ve spent some time in the Bay Area, in San Francisco and surrounds, and wine tasting in Sonoma and Napa.  My youngest daughter now lives in Sonoma County and was busy with her new job so let me use her car to explore.

Wild Flour BakeryWild Flour Bakery

My daughter told me I had to visit this place since it was featured on CNN, is only open four days a week, and people come form all over the Bay Area just for . . . bread!  And by design, since the owner and staff have “lives” away from work, is only open four days a week.

Wild Flour Bakery . . .

Wild Flour Bakery 2“Features brick oven baked sourdough breads, scones, biscotti and coffee drinks. Working with a wood fired brick oven we produce beautiful hard crust breads that our customers come from miles around to taste. At 8:30AM we open with 4 breads only, our sticky bun, cheese fougasse, goat flat bread and either the Bohemian (apricot, orange and pecan) or the Egyptian (pear, fig and candied ginger) and 1 or 2 out of 4 or 5 daily kinds of our whipping cream scones which have become a daily sellout with flavors like apricot, white chocolate, ginger or double chocolate, espresso, hazelnut.

By 10:30 AM we usually have the remaining breads arrive by the hundreds (we make up to 900 loaves daily and sell only in our bakery!) and the remaining kinds of scones. Generally we have 10 to 12 kinds of bread daily. Each day the variety of breads changes. Like wine tasting we sample all of our breads so that you can experience a huge variety of tastes, and it’s fun!

Wild Flour Bakery 3Adjoining the bakery are owner Jed Wallach’s beautiful and functional gardens with chairs scattered about so you can enjoy your bread or scone and the garden as well. I spotted Jed in the garden and asked if I could take a picture of “the celebrity chef>” He answered, “Celebrity chef? That’s the kiss of death! No picture, but enjoy the garden.” And I did. But you should be forewarned, the sticky cinnamon buns here are ONE POUND EACH!

015Fort Point

Tucked underneath – directly underneath! – the Golden Gate Bridge is an almost forgotten piece of US history, Fort Point.  Now part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area  and a National Historical Monument.

People have always been drawn to the land around San Francisco, because of its sheltered harbor and its rich natural resources. Overtime, as different communities settled here, they would defend their stake in the land against other potential invaders. The Spanish established the Presidio of San Francisco in 1776 to protect their interests in the bay. In 1822, Mexico took over this land from Spain, but later they abandoned the Presidio fort and moved their central government up to Sonoma County. After the United States took control of California in 1848, the U.S. Army began to construct permanent posts and seacoast fortification.

Fort Point has stood guard at the narrows of the Golden Gate for over 150 years.

The Fort has been called “the pride of the Pacific,” “the Gibraltar of the West Coast,” and “one of the most perfect models of masonry in America.” When construction began during the height of the California Gold Rush, Fort Point was planned as the most formidable deterrence America could offer to a naval attack on California. Although its guns never fired a shot in anger, the “Fort at Fort Point” as it was originally named has witnessed Civil War, obsolescence, earthquake, bridge construction, reuse for World War II, and preservation as a National Historic Site.

Fort Point was built between 1853 and 1861 by the U.S. Army Engineers as part of a defense system of forts planned for the protection of San Francisco Bay. Designed at the height of the Gold Rush, the fort and its companion fortifications would protect the Bay’s important commercial and military installations against foreign attack.

Marin Headlands

All those incredible shots of the Golden Gate Bridge you see in commercials and tourists visiting San Francisco are hoping to capture . . . all are taken from Marin Headlands.

024Granted a spectacular atypical San Francisco day helps!  My daughter, Rebecca, locally known as “Bec”, lived and worked in the Marin Headlands for six years and took me on a tour, including the “hidden” Coast Guard bar at Fort Baker where when it’s open you can kick back, have a beer, and get a spectacular view of the Golden Gate.  And, extra special, the Prada and Oracle World Cup boats were practicing for the race in October.

Tidepool LabThis is an amazing part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area with incredible natural history, 61 archeological sites many dating back to the Spanish and Mexican period, and the country’s largest collection of military installations and fortifications, dating from 1776 through the Cold War. You can actually tour the remaining Nike missile installation

064So I was able to visit my daughter, explore my old haunts in San Francisco (in my 24 Hour Fitness days our corporate headquarters was in downtown San Francisco), go wine tasting in Sonoma, Marin, and Anderson Valleys, and celebrate our mutual June birthdays with Rebecca.  Today she flies off to Borneo where she will continue her Master’s degree studies looking at conservation efforts for orangutans. Did you know orangutans laugh when tickled? Who knew!

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