We've wrapped up our tour of The Silence of Stones in rainy northern California. I started off on a Friday morning and headed out toward the Bay Area, just short of San Francisco, in Oakland and surrounds. It was to be a seven hour trip driving by my lonesome (husband Craig was off on his own adventure in Chicago and was going to meet me later in NorCal. More of that in a minute.)
The landscape of California is wide and varied. From beaches, to deserts, to wide open plains, to mountains and everything in between. Our rainy season--at least in southern California--is usually January and February, but with a drought, climate change, and El Nino, well, anything can happen. For the last two years we've had heatwaves in February and very little rain. That's the story down here in SoCal, anyway. NorCal is another deal. They get a bit more rain, particularly the coast and particularly in the Bay Area. I would be traveling mostly up Interstate 5 which took me through the Central Valley and farm country. Most notably where YOUR almonds are grown. Here they are in bloom. I can't rightly tell if the white on the ground is fertilizer or spent blossoms. It looks like snow but I can assure you it isn't. My trip up north came with temperatures of a solid 72 degrees F.
As you move north and leave urban areas behind, California breaks out into rolling hills. I'm used to seeing them after the rainy season has ended, when they dry out to a crisp golden toast, amber waves of grain. But right now, they are as green as Ireland. A huge change for me and quite welcomed. But you can see the result of the weather in the background. Some snowy hills. I got some sprinkles as I went until at one point the sky opened and I was deluged. Not used to driving in that!
But with showers comes flowers. Wild mustard, I think.
The next day I set out for Oakland along the long bridge across the bay. And it rained. And it rained.
I was off to meet my critique buddy, Ana Brazil, for a spot of lunch and thence on to the Sisters in Crime NorCal chapter (I'm a member of the LA chapter). Author friend Jan Burke was going to speak and it was serendipitous the meeting happened on the same day I was there for my own event AND it was just down the street. The back of me, listening rapt to Jan's discussion on the state of forensics in this country and myths about it. And then Craig texted me telling me his flight from his layover in Las Vegas from Chicago was cancelled. They'd be sending him instead directly to Oakland...and he arrived in time for the SinC meeting! Bone tired but I had my hubby again. His luggage, however, went on to San Francisco as originally planned. So we'd have to get to SFO after my event. Oy.
After a quick lunch we headed over to Laurel Book Store on foot in the driving rain. I am spoiled, people. SoCal, no rain. And when it does, it is over pretty quick. Which equals drought so there you are. That is the divine Luann Stauss, the owner and bookseller doing the introductions.
A few brave souls came despite the weather and they were treated to cheeses and mead and, of course, the free raffle to win a bottle of Craig's award-winning mead and a medieval mouse figurine. And so I talk...and talk...
When it was over and the books were signed, Luann tried on the helm. She only likes me for my toys.
After the event, we had to make our unscheduled stop to SFO to pick up Craig's bag. It was pouring. It was dark. The unfamiliar streets and highways were full of rush-hour traffic. Craig navigated while I white-knuckled it in the driver's seat. It took an hour to get to San Francisco International, we pulled up to the baggage claim curb, and I waited (illegally) until Craig's return, which I thought might take hours. Happily he got it immediately. So off we went, an hour or so back into the same conditions on our way to where we were staying, with my father-in-law in Redwood Shores.
My next event was the next day and not until the afternoon. This is my father-in-law's fabulous house along the canals in Redwood Shores. Nice, isn't it?
It's so relaxing there with the water and water birds; geese, swans, egrets, ducks, coots, and an assortment of others. He also has his own miniature version of the African Queen. (As he took us out for a putt-putt around the canals, I turned to him and said, "I understand that it's only when the hippos wiggle their ears that they become dangerous." You'll get that joke if you live in SoCal.)
Craig enjoys what little sunshine there was.
The lovely canals.
Craig and his dad. That's the guy who taught Craig all the clever things he knows.
Later that afternoon the weather held and we had a nice little turnout to the Belmont Library. What a generous group!
I stole this picture from Facebook fan Ed who was there!
The next day, Monday morning, we set out for home. It was still pouring on us and the temperature had decidedly dropped. We stopped in the little town of Gilroy--home of the famous garlic festival--for a very late breakfast.
We aimed toward Paso Robles, the biggest wine growing region in California, and stopped at a winery to taste...and buy.
And then hit the open road.
The oil fields of Bakersfield.
But it wasn't all rainbows on the way back though this is a stunning picture of how it looked. It was raining off and on, pretty hard in places. Coming out of Mojave one of those dashboard warning lights started to flash. Not a good sign. It was the electric throttle switch and the accelerator was having trouble. We were still an hour away from home and the owner's manual admonished us that this was serious and could fail at any time. 37 degrees outside, raining, and far from home, we did NOT want to get stuck. Craig nursed it back, his mind working on the problem the whole time. When I'm with him, I know it will be all right. He can do anything. He's the guy you want to be stuck on a desert island with. But you can't have him. He's mine.
Well, we made it home in one piece. He explained it thus: the cold damp air iced up the throttle and confused the computer and the air intake and the whatsit. But once we got home it was defrosted and the computer realized it was all jake again. Whew! A rainbow after all.