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Sunday, April 1, 2012

101 Places to See Before You're 12 - A Literary Location

A Literary Location

In the 101 Places book I found that Jack London's Ranch was just north of San Francisco in the Sonoma Valley, so decided to make a trip to the area on our way to Yosemite, after leaving San Francisco.  I researched restaurants in the Sonoma and Napa Valley, and settled on Cucina Italiana on Lake Berryessa in the Napa area.

We knew nothing about the area, but had all day Sunday to explore the Sonoma and Napa regions and get to our hotel outside of Yosemite.  It was an absolutely beautiful day, so off we went.

For those who know California, you'll realize we took the looong way to get from SF to Yosemite, but David and I were looking forward to seeing Napa and Sonoma.  It was beautiful!  I would love to go back some day (sans children and sample some local products!)

The grapes weren't out yet, but we saw many, many, many vineyards.  It was so beautiful!

Jack London's home/museum/ranch are in Glen Ellen in the Sonoma Valley just north of San Francisco.  That was our first stop.

He and his wife Charmian built their dream home on this land, but before they could move in, it was all but destroyed by fire.  He died 2 years later.  She built this home "House of Happy Walls" on their property in memory of him and lived a long life here.  It's really beautiful.

Before leaving for this trip the boys read Call of the Wild  and White Fang  to get to know more about Jack London.  He did a lot of his novel writing on this property.  We learned a lot more on our visit to his ranch where we got to see many of his collections, and his desk where he wrote.  I can see why he and his wife bought this property outside of the hustle and bustle of San Francisco at the turn of the century.

After the tour of Jack London's ranch, we headed into the little town of Glen Ellen to look around.

Winery signposts in downtown Glen Ellen.

There were wine and port tastings for the adults, but we opted for the Chocolate Tasting for our chocolate lovers.

If we didn't have reservations in Napa, I would love to have tried this restaurant!

Then we left for the Napa Region, and our lunch reservation on Lake Berryessa.
The road from Sonoma through the Napa Valley to the lake is unbelievably beautiful and very, very twisty and mountainous!  Good thing none of us has carsickness.  

We passed many, many more vineyards.

And spent several miles on the Silverado Trail.

The entire day was filled with beautiful scenery, a fantastic meal at Cucina Italiana, and a few surprises on our way to Yosemite!

Note:  The boys would like me to point out that we visited The Met in New York City which is where the kids lived in the book mentioned below.  We didn't count that trip as #52 - A Literary Location at the time, because Brennan hadn't yet read the book when we went.  But he has now, so we thought we should mention it here.
From the Book:
#52 - A Literary Location
Mark Twain's famous character Tom Sawyer once said "There ain't anything that is so interesting to look at as a place that a book has talked about."  Bad grammar aside, Tom has a point.  Seeing a literary location up close is really cool.  Do you love the Little House on the Prairie books by Laura Ingalls Wilder?  Visit the real little houses.  (Laura moved a lot!)  How about From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler?  Visit the museum where Claudia and her brother lived.  Find out about the lives of famous writers, ones you know and others you might not know yet.  And when you go home, sit down and write about it!

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