Here’s a recipe for a fun time. (1) Fly to Oakland on the Friday before Memorial Day weekend starts. (2) Rent a car at the airport and get on the freeway in the middle of the afternoon, just as every single person who works in the East Bay decides to take off work a few hours early and get a head start on the holiday. (3) For maximum enjoyment, head to Petaluma, as this way you will get to fully experience, in excruciating slow vehicle motion, what happens when three lanes of holiday traffic on 580W merge into one lane just before blending in even slower motion with the bumper to bumper traffic on 101.
As you can probably surmise, these are not abstract vacation tips from Brian and Laurel. We can personally vouch for the fun factor in the trip described above, the “fun” being approximately equal to what you would experience if you had a root canal without Novocain.
The bright side to our travel, though, is that a few hours on a jam-packed California freeway does a lot to renew your faith in Oregon. We may have a lot of problems in our state, but at least we don’t have to crawl along at five miles an hour for miles and miles and miles past butt-ugly industrial wastelands in the hot sun (in Portland you may get to crawl along past fir trees in cold rain, of course, but that’s ever so much better.)
Eventually we did make it to Petaluma, where I’m going to give a talk to a Science of the Soul get-together on Sunday. Laurel and I found a nice middle Eastern restaurant downtown, then took a walk around Petaluma’s version of Salem’s Minto-Brown park—a large wetland/bird sanctuary. Here’s a shot of Laurel beside the Petaluma river, which really is an ocean slough, but got designated a river so federal dredging money could flow.
You can see by how Laurel is dressed that she figured Memorial Day weekend in California would be warm. And it is. However, when you add in a 100 mph wind (or so it feels to us), the Petaluma weather isn’t quite so pleasant. When we ask people here if it is windy like this all the time, they say, “Wind? Oh, yes, it can be windy here at times, I guess.” I guess? We saw a bunch of trees permanently bent over in one direction, but we’ll wait a few days before awarding Petaluma a Wind Tunnel City designation.
Anyway, tomorrow is supposed to be in the 80s. So just as we Oregonians say it’s a nice day if the rain is warm, maybe a nice day in Petaluma features warm wind.