Overnight in Santa Rosa

We drive to Santa Rosa once a month so that I can see a retina specialist. On our first visit last month, we drove up and back in the same day. Three and a half hours to get there, a two hour appointment, and three and a half hours home. It was a long and tiring visit. This month, we decided to drive to Santa Rosa on one day, and return on the next. This gave us the chance to rest between drives, and we could have a nice dinner in honor of my birthday, which fell on the day of my appointment.

Lambretta scooters

The result was very pleasant. We stayed overnight at the Sandman Motel, and it has a pool. Though the weather has been overcast and cool in Eureka, it was in the mid-80s in Santa Rosa, and I was able to go for a swim after we arrived. There were a lot of little scooters parked in the lot, so many that we thought the motel rented them to guests for trips around town. On my way to the pool, I asked a man whether the scooters were for something special, and he told me about the annual Lambretta Jamboree. Owners of vintage versions of this Italian-made scooter (smaller than a Vespa), gather for a weekend celebration and this year the Sandman was hosting. We appear to have gotten a reservation by miraculous means, as the hotel was completely sold out for the weekend. My informant had come all the way from Italy to be part of the event, borrowing a Lambretta from a friend in California for the events.


The garden at Ca’Bianca, Santa Rosa, CA
Front door, Ca’Bianca

We left the party at the motel and went into Santa Rosa to do some wine tasting. We stopped at 4th Street Cellars, where Jonathan had a glass of wine, and I tasted Bambury Collection white and rosé, all very good. From there, we went a few blocks to Ca’Bianco. This restaurant began as a white house in what is locally called Victorian style. There are some lovely details of metal work, stained glass, and tiled floors. The most attractive feature, though was the garden, with trees, mature plants, and lots of white flowers including jasmine and roses. The plants are so tall that they screen many of the tables from one another, so dining outdoors is a bit like having your own little salon. It was lovely, and the air was faintly scented with flowers. Dinner was good, though perhaps not earth-shaking, and we enjoyed our surroundings most of all. We arrived back at the motel to find the Lambretta Jamboree well underway.

The Jamboree website told us about the many events, mostly group excursions into the hills or down to the coast. These took place every day and were graded from ‘easy’, 2-3 hours, to ‘difficult’ 6-7 hours. There were t-shirts and hats, barbecue grills and lots of beer. We were a bit concerned that the festivities would go on all night, based on our one previous experience with a group event at a motel.

[In the late summer of 1985, we drove from our home in Santa Fe to San Diego for a celebration of my parents 40th wedding anniversary. Amanda was tiny, and the three of us made the trip in our first family car, a Toyota sedan. We drove all day, heading for the California border, and decided to stop for the night in Yuma, AZ. Yuma being a pretty out of the way place, we didn’t make a hotel reservation, but stopped in at the first motel we came to that looked promising. There was no room, so we kept going. After the fourth motel, we began to get worried. It was late and we were tired.

At our next stop, we explained that we had to get going again early and were just looking for a short stay. Somehow, we got a room, and on the way in we asked why all the hotels in Yuma were full that night. The clerk looked at us with surprise (how could we not know this), and told us it was the first day of dove-hunting season. People had gone out all day and were now back at the motel setting up grills, cleaning and plucking birds, and having a late night cookout with the first catch of the season.

Feathers eddied around our feet as we carried Amanda and all her gear up to the room and got settled. No one told the hunters, however. The pool deck and the parking lot were lined with barbecues glowing red, people sitting in lawn chairs chatting and drinking. The clerk had mentioned that they’d all be going out to hunt again at 4 am. I figured they’d need some sleep in the meantime, but I was wrong. Just about the time it quieted down enough for us to fall asleep, the alarms began to go off, there was a general stampede, doors slamming, engines racing, and the crowd left to go hunting.

There was still a small snowdrift of feathers around the parked cars when we left later that morning.]

You can imagine why a similar festival all these years later might make us wary, but we had no cause for concern. The entire Lambretta group seems to have turned in around 10 pm, and the music and carousing dissipated until morning.

My appointment was early, and I was finished in record time, 45 minutes, including an injection. I guess that’s the advantage of being a known patient. I often see a new doctor every month, so I’m accustomed to the entire sequence: history, eye exam, pressure, dilation, OCT, consultation, prep, injection. We skipped several of these steps, and off I went, ready to enjoy the trip home. My eyes didn’t itch or hurt, they weren’t dilated, and the day was young.

We decided to stop in Healdsburg, just ten miles down the road toward Eureka, to walk around the plaza and see what it looked like. These days the town is a wine destination, with tasting rooms on every block along with hotels, restaurants, and boutiques. There were some lovely things in the windows, and Jonathan enjoyed the cookware store. We asked a man holding a nice looking pastry where it came from, and he directed us to Quail & Condor, a very fine pastry shop. It was late morning and a lot of the pastry was sold out, so we’ll have to stop in earlier next time. After our stroll, it was time to head back to Eureka. We drove through 80 degree weather most of the trip, then descended into the mist as we approached the coast, arriving home again by about 3:30 pm to temperatures in the 60s .

There is more to see in Santa Rosa and surroundings. Countless wineries, more small towns, and in a few weeks, the wild blackberries will ripen, and there will be berry-picking for anyone who would like some jam or a tasty fruit dessert. We will miss some of this, but we’ll be back for another visit.


Published by winifredcreamer

I am a retired archaeologist and I like to travel, especially to places where you can walk along the shore or watch birds. My husband Jonathan and I travel for more than half the year every year, seeing all the places that we haven't gotten to yet.

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