Book tour: segment 8!

California! This post is practically as massive as the state itself.

Crossing the Oregon border into California delivered us into one of the most drastic and stunning terrains I’ve ever seen. In fact, I cried when we first hit these, just south of Crescent City. (What can I say? I’m sensitive.)

This was my first time on the 101; there is no way to even describe driving a tiny car through these gigantic, centuries old trees. We pulled over the car on numerous occasions to poke around the forest, to stop and look up at the canopy, to gawk at the fern-covered forest floor. Photos are ill-suited for the magnanimous presence of those trees. Here’s some scale for you.

We took two days to make the drive from Portland to San Francisco. I now see how that drive could easily be stretched into a two-week adventure, stopping again amazed by the Pacific crashing against craggy islands and pumice-colored sand. In one of our copious OH!-we-gotta-pull-over moments, I discovered some wild strawberries growing cliffside on the beach.

We stopped in Arcata, rather just outside, in Blue Lake, where our friends have a magnificent little farm. We met the newest farm residents and I proceeded to eat as many strawberries as I could find in their special-reserve patch just outside their front door. Our farm pals also bought the first book from the trunk of my car!

We got back on the road just after I snagged some of these at the farmers’ market in Arcata. I just can’t get enough of the small-variety strawberries.

We meandered south on the 101 and then continued southwest out to Route 1, the most stunning stretch of highway I’ve ever traveled.

And then this happened.

We pulled into San Francisco around midnight. Dazzled and exhausted, we slept.

Awakening to the sound of fog horns on the bay, an orchestral sound check of sorts. A fine beginning to the day that held in store for us two exciting events: San Francisco’s second ever food swap and a tea party with the lovely Blue Chair Fruit Co. ladies.

Meeting IRL (in real life) Aimee and Chef Stephanie, SFSwappers co-hosts, and chatting with food friends atop the hills above Precita Park was a most lovely Bay area welcome!

A couple hours later we skeedattled across the Bay Bridge into Oakland.

Kate S. of Blue Chair Fruit fame hosted a fine group of Bay area friends. So many things dazzled me at the party, the home-made, delicious, jam-filled snackage, the teacup selection, a tea-infused liqueur demo from Sean of Punk Domestics, my good friend Shae’s presence (she took a bunch of great shots!), and Kate’s split-stitch tea towel embroidery lesson.

Kate even took time to place little notes around the party with ‘hip tricks’ from my book.

We popped down to Santa Cruz the next evening, thanks to a Twitter-friend-now-IRL-friend’s urging. Kristen of Serendipity Saucy Spreads asked me many months ago if I’d be able to make it to Santa Cruz during my West Coast travels. She got to work brainstorming ideas for an event, and then Vinocruz owner and friends jumped in. The event ended up being a wine tasting and jam sampling at Bookshop Santa Cruz, a super-fab indie book store. (Kristen had something urgent come up for her biz—hooray for boosts in local business!) and thankfully the lovely Tabitha was around to share her fine spreads.

George and the rest of Bookshop Santa Cruz staff took fine care of me at the signing. They even gave me an author appreciation giftcard, which I promptly spent on David Lebovitz’s book, The Perfect Scoop, a long-coveted addition to my library.

Prior to the signing I had to get a lay of the land from the best vantage point in the city.

We headed back to San Francisco for a signing event the following day at Books Inc. in the Marina and dinner with our new friend, Kyle, at his restaurant, 545 Steak Lounge, where I was blown away by a sampling of Idaho-raised bison, bone-in ribeye, and A5 Japanese Waygu (sorry my veggie friends!).

San Francisco bade us farewell ever so appropriately the next morning.

We crested above the fog on the other side of the Golden Gate and found ourselves in wine country, where you can’t not stop. Roadside cherries lured us en route to a winery in Calistoga.

We arrived at Summers Winery, where I promptly sold two books from the back of the car and bartered with the wine pourer, our new friend Graham, a book for a bottle made from their signature varietal, Carbono grapes.

Next stop, Mount Shasta, where we stayed the night and ate one of the best (and unexpected for small-town fare) Japanese meals I’ve ever had.

(I’m completely obsessed with mountains, by the way.) We crossed back into Oregon after passing through the valley highlands and goldrush towns between Shasta and Yreka. Absolutely stunning.

Stay tuned for Portland and Seattle events, queued up for the next book tour round-up post!