Sonoma, California - December 2011
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Sonoma County beckoned. Lisa and I were enthralled with Northern California during our summer trip and wanted to head back up. Our friends Adam and Jill had just moved up there three weeks ago.

But first....Gilroy. No trip to Northern California is complete without stocking up on some garlic. Garlic mustard. Mmmmmm. Sadly, no bumper stickers or T-shirts, though.

Lisa and I stayed in Acorn Ridge Cottage in Sebastapol. First thing next morning, we checked out nearby Florence Avenue, lined with sculptures made from by urban folk artist Patrick Amiot. His artwork is displayed by approximately two dozen neighbors on the street, and constantly changes.

Patrick Amiot's art are all made from reclaimed items. Dials become eyes. Tin cans become scales. Discarded ironing boards become surfboards.

After visiting Florence Avenue, we drove along Route 12, which runs through the famous Sonoma Valley, dotted with wineries. The day was incredibly overcast, impeding our views of the beautiful valley somewhat, but despite this, we enjoyed the valley, reaching the town of Sonoma, where we stopped in at Mission San Francisco Solano, the last and northernmost California mission.

Mission San Francisco Solano in Sonoma was the only of California's 21 missions founded after Mexico's independence from Spain. It was also the only mission founded without the prior approval of the Church.

A study in texture: one of the mission walls.

Starting from the south, Lisa and I had now visited these missions: San Juan Capistrano, San Fernando Rey de Espana, Santa Barbara, Santa Ines, San Luis Obispo de Tolosa, San Miguel Arcangel, Nuestra Senora de la Soledad, San Carlos Borromeo del Rio Carmelo, and now, San Francisco de Solano, the only of California's 21 missions founded after Mexico's independence from Spain. It was also the only mission founded without the prior approval of the Church.


One of the many wineries near Sonoma, here showing the dormant vines during the California winter.

Inside the Barrel Room at Sebastiani Winery, Sonoma, begun over a century ago by an immigrant from Tuscany.

Aging the wine at Sebastiani Winery, Sonoma, California.

Back in Sebastapol, we visited their charming downtown, stopping in at Incredible Records, which was closing that weekend after being open for 30 years. The store featured art drawn by Jim Morrison when he was fourteen years old as well as rock memorabilia, such as Led Zeppelin posters from the Fillmore West in San Francisco.

Jonathon of Incredible Records, moving on to other things after running the store for thirty years.

Friday morning, we headed north to Healdsburg, which had some impressive art galleries and a delicious macriobiotic and raw cafe called Cafe Gratitude.

From Healdsburg, we headed up Dry Creek Valley, stopping occasionally to admire the many wineries. This is a photo during one of our lucky breaks in the cloudy weather.

Dry Creek Valley winery, filled with dark gnarled dormant vines and a luxurious carpet of vivid yellow mustard flowers, which help stimulate the soil, helping the grapes grow better in the summer.

After visiting Sonoma Lake, we drove back down through some of the back roads in Alexander Valley, heading toward Calistoga in Napa.

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Ken's photos of Nobel Peace Prize Winner Aung San Suu Kyi, as well as photos of Peru, Burma, India, Morocco, China, Thailand, Ghana, Ecuador, and elsewhere, have appeared in many books, magazines, websites, and galleries.  Visit the Ken Lee Photography Website. Some of Ken's select photos may be purchased through his Imagekind Store.

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Sonoma, California December 2011
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