Subject: Half Day Drive in the heart of Wine Country
Hey Ziners,

Hubby and I decided on a bit of a drive into the country side today.

Our trip took us to the Petrified forest and on to Calistoga.

Starting from Santa Rosa we took 101 north to River Rd. Most of the time we turn left on River Rd right into the deep heart of wine country, Guerneville, the Redwoods, and the California Coast. Today we opted to turn right on River Rd.

River Rd snaked through the gorgeous golden California hills, and 10 miles up the windy road we stopped at the Petrified Forest.

The Petrified Forest is unique in California. 3.4 million years ago Mount St. Helena had a volcanic eruption and buried the redwoods, and general forest in Ash. Over the years water seeped through the ash and broke down the wood. As that happened Silicate and Minerals from the ash seeped into the open spots in the wood structure and became rocks. One felled redwood tree was astonishing. When it died 3.4 mill years ago it was 2000 years old. In the middle of that redwood had grown up a black California oak tree and cut through the petrified redwood tree. We also saw several collections of petrified redwood that inspite of having been left intact it was still easy to see the glimmer of rock among the tree structures. Entry was $6 per adult.

After our walk in the Petrified Forest we drove another 5 - 6 miles into Calistoga. Calistoga is a tourist haven - and its very cute. It has a lot of really nice restaurants, tons of full service Spa's and nice but expensive shopping. We had lunch at the "All Seasons Bistro". We chose that because it had a small select menu that it was clear had taken some thought and creativity to put together. We were not disappointed. The food was excellent and everything was made fresh there, including the hand cut thin fries, and the homemade pasta. The All Seasons Bistro had a nice wine menu with many local wines from midsized to small(ish) wineries. The price was midling - neither expensive nor cheap.

We wanted to do a bit more window shopping in Calistoga but the pounding sun frankly drove us into the AC'd car.

Calistoga is situated in the deep heart of California wine country among the rolling golden hills that I love so much. Although I found Calistoga charming, it can still not compete with Sonoma city as a place for tourists to stay for a few days while they get a taste of wine country.

Warm regards, Malene Sonoma CA