We left the Fair as the sun began to set, casting a rosy golden glow over the Valley:
I love the look of the rolling golden hills, dotted with the deep pools of shade from gnarled live oaks, and the vines, still heavy with grapes at this time of year:
Soon the vine leaves will begin to turn scarlet and gold, which is our version of fall colors. There are almost a hundred vineyards in the beautiful Valley, most of them family owned and operated.
We wended our way through the redwoods to the ocean. We met up with Ben and Erica at the Gro* so we could guide them up and down the twisty roads to Rio’s compound.
Rio and Jonathan had just finished working on the interior of her guest cabin:
So Ben and Erica were the first guests to stay there in its finished state. Rio and Jonathan still have to build a little roof over the front door for the rainy season, and are planning to paint the outside, but it is more or less finished and it is just charming, so pretty and cozy inside. They could not have had a nicer place to stay while exploring our little corner of the world.
Rio had everything set up so we could make our own sandwiches after we arrived at her house, sliced chicken, cheese, and everything else you could think of to put on a variety of breads, including peach habanero jam, which was delicious. We ate our sandwiches while listening to vinyl records with covers designed by Rio’s father. He was a very well-known illustrator, and his work is in the Met and the Smithsonian, among others. He designed record covers for everyone from Miles Davis to Billie Holiday to Harry Belafonte, as well as Time magazine covers and Broadway posters.
Rio’s stepfather was an actor, starring in the Donna Reed Show and acting in many others, like Perry Mason and Mission Impossible. Rio said that her parents tried to keep her from being one of “those Hollywood kids” by not letting her go on set very often. On one of those rare occasions, her stepfather was shot with a blank and was injured, and that was the last time she went to a movie set. Her parents were close friends of Carroll O’Connor and his wife. You will be relieved to hear that he was nothing like Archie Bunker in real life, though he did have a big personality and tended to be the center of attention.
Dessert was a big bowl of strawberries from the family estate, which were something of a revelation to our visitors. There is nothing like strawberries you grow yourself. It was the perfect ending to a wonderful day.
*Big local news: Doug has sold the Gro! I am sad to see him go, but glad for him and his wife. They have been working 12-14 hours a day, 7 days a week, for way too long. Time for them to relax and enjoy themselves. I hope the new owners keep up their legacy and that the Gro remains the heart of our quirky little town.
FIVE YEARS AGO: Thinking about the past and what might have been.