Another Roadside Attraction

Do you remember reading this book?  If you are of a certain age, and from a certain generation, it is emblazoned in your memory as clearly as it is in mine.

After driving around California for a week, I just may have to dig up a copy and dive back into it.  California is the land of


roadside attractions.  Some are tacky, some maintain a least a guise of good intentions to please and edify.  Others are just plain beautiful.

Alexandra and I explored one place from each of the two latter categories on a recent Sunday in Sonoma County.

For the geographically challenged, the expectation when pulling into the Petrified Forest outside of Calistoga might be that this was The Petrified ForestBut no, that would be in Arizona.  This one cost $10 to enter, took 20 minutes to stroll around, and even came with a garden gnome.

Roadside attractions

Do you want to explore wine country with them?

Still, the trees had lived 2,000 years, and had fallen 3 million years ago.  All of which gave me pause to consider my little struggles on my so short path through this life.  Maybe that’s the purpose of roadside attractions, to give you pause for comtemplation.  There at my feet was a tree that had been part of the cycle of the seasons for 2,000 years and then had spent the next 3 million transforming into stone.


naked lady in tree

Who was the lovely mortal in Greek mythology who was turned into a tree to save her from one of the lustful gods? I think I found her trapped in this tree in the Petrified Forest

Also near Calistoga we passed Old Faithful.  That gave me pause, for just a moment.  But no, Old Faithful is in Yellowstone Park.  I could tell by the roadside signs that a visit to this attraction would entail money spent on tackiness.  We drove on by.

We drove on dusty back roads outside of Santa Rosa, going by inadequate maps and directions from gas station attendants and roadside fruit vendors until we found Matanzas Creek Winery.  Until we found the beauty of fields of lavender in bloom on a lovely day in June.  I thought we were truly lost and had found our way to Provence.  Alexandra thought we had found our way to Paradise.  Judge by the photo.  Where do you think we were?

Lavender fields

Outside of Santa Rosa, Provence or Paradise? Your choose.



8 thoughts on “Another Roadside Attraction

  1. Georgia, there are so many tacky, overpriced, beautiful, stunning “attractions” in California – I love living here! Glad you were here when the weather was tolerable! xo

  2. Provence gets my vote. For this to have been Paradise it would have required a splendid picnic with the food prepared on site by chef Samuelsson ( with only the blender of course) served on Royal Dalton china, vintage wines from Sonoma Valley poured in Waterford crystal and all served by Paul Newman. That Georgia, would be pretty close to Paradise.
    It does look beautiful and really does look like Provence!

    Thanks for the journey to CA!!


    • Hi Big Fan: Thanks for being such a careful reader. Yes, you have just about nailed my paradise. The only element missing is water, maybe a stream flowing near by or a view of the ocean in the distance.

  3. Georgia…I am curious. You love colors. I wonder if you could find great beauty in a sand dune or even a moon scape?

    Just curious.

    • Hi Currious: I don’t know. I’ve never been to the moon, nor have I been in the midst of sand dunes. I dream of visiting North Africa or the Middle East. Then, perhaps, I’d find out how I respond to the dunes.

      What about you? Could you/have you found beauty in those settings?

      • I had a chance to visit giant sand dunes in the Atacama desert of Southern Peru. I was thrilled and intrigued by the dramatic size and shape of these ever- moving monsters. And yet, the tiny subtle ripples in the sand looked like ripples on a pond. Beauty both large and small.

        • Hi Currious: I didn’t even know this place existed. What a visual memory for you to have. Thank you for sharing it.

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