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Staff Picks: Romance
O but what about love?
I forget love
not that I am incapable of love
It's just that I see love as odd as wearing shoes...
Best Place for a Picnic Lunch
Remember that scene in The Wizard of Oz right after the tornado? There's that magic moment when Dorothy opens the door, and black-and-white gives way to color and beauty. That's what if feels like to step onto the grounds of the Sonoma Horticultural Nursery in Sebastopol. Bring a lunch, sit down at a picnic table by the pond, look around, listen to the birds. Go there right after it starts warming up (usually in late February) to see the weeping cherry tree in bloom--it's by the pond, you can't miss it. But if you have a weak heart, don't go when the azaleas and rhododendrons are in bloom (April-May). It would just be too much.
3970 Azalea Ave., Sebastopol. 707.823.6832.--M.W.
Best Place to Propose--For Lovers Who Like to Get High
There are few places in the North Bay more breathtaking than the summit of Mt. Tamalpais. It's even more breathtaking if you jog there. But for those who hope to save a few breaths for the actual proposal, there is a parking lot just down the well-paved path from the tippy-top of the mountain.--D.T.
Best Place to Propose--For Lovers Who Like to Get Even Higher
OK, OK. Technically, the sky tram at Calistoga's Sterling Vineyards is not as high up as Mt. Tamalpais, but it certainly seems like it. Dangling a hundred feet above a truly gorgeous expanse of Wine Country, your intended will not only be unable to run away screaming, he or she is sure to be overwhelmed and impressed. Just don't drop the ring when you pop the question--it's a long way down. Call first to make sure the tram is running.
1111 Dunaweal Lane, Calistoga. 707.942.3344.--D.T.
Photograph by Michael Amsler
Best Way to Get to Paris on a Graton Budget
If you're like others we've met, you've chosen to commit the fleeting hours of this one single life you'll ever have to work, education, dishes, and the odd stiffening of week-old socks. If you and your beloved can't escape to Paris proper, hie yourselves to the Paris of the mind that exists in the hidden back garden of the Willow Wood Market Cafe. Hand holding, planning upcoming adventures, and the conclusion of trysts are naturally suited to this small, strangely urban back courtyard. Unseen from the street, you can indulge in small cups of scented Moroccan carrot soup, warm plates of goat cheese polenta, or perhaps a perfect piece of pan-seared salmon with a small frisée salad on the side. Share bites and kisses, drink wine, and dream at least one good hour away talking quietly, watching the light shift across the sky, and poking a fork though that last bite. The socks, goodness knows, will wait.
9020 Graton Road, Graton. 707.823.0233. --G.G.
Best Wedding Band
You've said the vows and exchanged the rings; now you're ready to party in a big, big way. What you need is a big, big band to play big, big music. The Marin County-based Key Lime Pie has become one of the North Bay's most popular bands for weddings and celebrations of all kinds. A roaring, stomping, seven-piece dance machine of a band, KLP can wrap their talents around all kinds of music, from Motown and reggae and Latin to rock and swing and the ooey-gooey stuff that no wedding can be without. They're kinda weird, too--but in a good way.
Best Place to Shop for Wedding Rings
Once you've made your way past stunning scenery and over winding, pastoral roads to the little town of Pt. Reyes Station, you should have little trouble finding the Point Reyes Jeweler; it is, as they say, the only jeweler in town. It's not a big place, but who cares. There's something undeniably romantic about shopping for wedding rings in a place like Pt. Reyes, and talking about your dream jewelry with the North Bay's grooviest band of master craftsmen is a one-of-a-kind experience. The shop specializes in imaginative custom-made wedding bands.
11101 State Route 1 in the Cheda Bldg., Pt. Reyes Station. 415.663.1936.--D.T.
Best High-End Cheap Date
Sure, you'll have to play hooky from work or school to pull it off, but doesn't that lend an air of illicit pleasure? Licit or not, your pleasure is certain to be piqued by taking your favorite love muffin to heat up the air at the Di Rosa Art and Nature Preserve in Napa. The first Monday and third Wednesday of each month have no admission charge for a two-hour guided tour of some 1,700 world-class pieces of California visual art. Like a Disneyland for adults, an open-air tram takes one from the main gallery with its profusion of funk art by Petaluman David Best to the 100-year-old former winery that collector Rene di Rosa shared with his late wife Veronica. This is no yawning trip through infamy; rather, di Rosa's ineffable eye for the joke, the visual pun, and the deeply beautiful is felt at every turn, as is the love that the couple shared. After your free tour of the grounds is done, toddle exactly across the highway to the Domaine Carneros to enjoy a glass of sparkling wine on this wonderfully faux French chateau's spacious terrace. If you've spent more than $20 bucks, you haven't done it right--and doing it right is certainly among the pleasures of romance.
Di Rosa Art and Nature Preserve, 5200 Carneros Hwy., Napa. Reservations required. Cost is $12 if not attending the free admission days. 707.226.5991. Domaine Carneros at Taittinger, 1240 Duhig Road at Carneros Hwy., Napa. 707.257.0101.--G.G.
Best Place to Eavesdrop on Other People's Lives While Enjoying Your Own
There must be some scientific explanation for it, something having to do with warm air meeting water, but who really cares. The simple, brutal fact remains that while innocently lying on a towel, splayed in a chair squinting over the latest issue of the New Yorker, or simply staring out blankly at the Johnson's Beach shoreline in Guerneville, other people's conversations tend to drift with crystalline purity right to you. Let the lazy exaltedly hold hands as Mary tells Tommy she just can't date him any more. Let the piggish rejoice in learning that Sarah particularly enjoys it when Mark touches her there, no, no, down a bit. Um, I like that, too. Listen up as Sam explains to Tom why that Ikea rug is exactly right for the living room. Feel the rib-prick as your lover gently whacks you for not having gone to Ikea recently. Let the others smirk as Gretchen tells Liam that there's just a little bit of mustard in his moustache. There honey, now it's gone.
Johnson's Beach and Resort, Beach Street, Guerneville. Swimming dam and concessions open Memorial Day through mid October. Beach open without facilities year-round. Free. 707.869.2022.--G.G.
Best Midday Sex Picnic
As if the birds doing it, the bees doing it, the wildflowers brazenly wafting it about, and the wild rabbits doing their bunny thang weren't sexy enough, Roy's Redwoods also has a romantic history. Previous owners of this open-space preserve in west Marin include Napoleon Bonaparte's nephew and Paul Revere's grandson, chaps who obviously knew an elegant outdoor boink spot when they saw it. A wonderland of natural fecundity in the spring, Roy's Redwoods features nicely stretched-out paths that even on busy days prevent other hikers from your heels, and has a gentle loop trail that's easy to tread toting an ample amount of wine. Visit before mid summer and--what with all that blooming and hopping and springing and pollinating going on--one tends to get, simply put, randy as hell. Among Roy's many bonuses are hidden meadows off the trail, screened from others by creekside woodlands. One quick scramble through the creek, a hasty blanket down, and dejeuner sur l'herbe is yours, albeit hopefully without that ascoted gent in the suit.
Roy's Redwoods, half a mile north of Sir Francis Drake Boulevard between Woodacre and Lagunitas, on Nicasio Valley Road. Look for the pullouts on either shoulder.--G.G.
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From the March 21-27, 2002 issue of the North Bay Bohemian.