Napa – Cheers!

If you’ve been saying you need “to get away from it all”…Napa might be a perfect destination.  The region has beautiful scenery, a relaxed atmosphere, charming shopping plazas with stone walls and Craftsman-style details (image at left) and wine tastings at numerous vineyards at every turn in the road.

The “Cakebread Cellars” entrance is defined by a series of crisscrossed trellises.  Above these are hip roofs with open rafters (image at right).  “Jarvis” is further out of town.  Burrowed into a mountain, the wine-making facility is housed in a series of tunnels.

Even the tasting rooms and bathrooms have vaulted ceilings (image at left), and a natural stream runs along one corridor providing cool temperatures and perfect humidity for wine storage.  Vaulted ceilings can be incorporated into residential designs.

The architecture is varied, with buildings along St. Helena’s Main Street dating back to the late 1800’s.  This fine example of an ornate Victorian (image at right) shows second floor balconies with lattice panels providing shade and privacy.  This concept could be utilized on a balcony or a first floor porch.

In the same town, there is a handsome example of woodwork and repetition of a theme…the arched storefront is literally and figuratively reflected in the back bar’s arched mirrors (image at left).

Driving northwest towards the coast, we saw some beautiful farms.  In a rural setting, the strength of simple rooflines and form is visually appealing (image at right).  Sometimes an overworked design can be distracting or start competing with itself.

Continuing north along coastal Route 1, we were struck by the colorful, whimsical streetscape in Point Arena (image at left), and had to stop at the local bakery for a snack.  The hippie influence is felt in the small shops and really gives this village its own distinct personality.

The lighthouse is another landmark…its lantern on top of the tower has to be visible to ships in bad weather and at night (image at right).  Occasionally, in architectural compositions, there is a vertical element counterbalancing a complex of lower forms.

Mendocino was worth the drive up the winding highway.  We were greeted by glorious California Poppies blooming along a Westchester-style white picket fence (image at left), and stopped for lunch at The Moosse Cafe.

The weathered windmill, wildflowers and cedar trees create a ruggedly attractive atmosphere in this fishing village (image at right).

With only three days left, we hit the highlights in San Francisco…Fisherman’s Wharf, Ghirardelli Square… had to get my chocolate fix! (image at left), Chinatown, the cable cars, and Haight-Ashbury.

A stately building, with two-story bay windows and modern, muted gray tones, shows how this once hippie-dominated neighborhood has become more sophisticated (image at right).

San Francisco is filled with art and sculpture.  In the heart of the city, Union Square, known for its high-end stores, had unexpected performing art in the plaza.  Under the permanent band shell, a temporary rock-climbing wall was built for a ballet troupe’s limited engagement.  The unique choreography and gymnastic dancers were breathtaking and pedestrian-stopping (image at left).  A funky textured wall could be incorporated into a children’s playroom.  Traveling always expands one’s imagination!

Travel tip: Avoid drinking and driving…take the hotel’s shuttle.

Published: September 2011

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