Like Mike says, the further north in California, closer to Oregon, the far edge of Aztlán, the more it becomes like Hobbiton. I must admit that the cooler weather, mossy, misty forests, and the relaxed, post-countercultural rural communities have a Middle Earth feeling. No hobbits, but images of Sasquatch are everywhere.
It definitely felt that way in Petaluma, though in places it was more like an abandoned Oz than one of the high-rent sectors of Middle Earth. There were murals,
a memorial to an arm-wrestling journalist,
and some funky stores
—including a bookstore where I found an old book that I was looking for, that often happens in these trips (really, it’s as if someone was putting them there for me to find), and the Thrifty Hippie,
where I saw the subtle flyer advocating the legalization of magic mushrooms.
Could that be the next step after cannabis culture in California? How long before classy shops will offer upscale, pricey, FDA-sanctioned psychedelic products that can do everything from warding off bad vibes to putting you in a kaleidoscopic intergalactic freefall for the weekend? And, of course, there will be unforeseen side effects . . .
Then there was the fabulous, abandoned Petaluma fairgrounds. Rusting fantastic sculptures towered over a wall with a weather-beaten sign calling for a movement to save the wonders while a winged lion and flying saucers rusted in the sun.
We arrived in Santa Rosa after their thrift stores had closed, but we did find a good Chinese restaurant. Then it was wine country, and into the redwoods, under the marine layer. The fog was thick. We finally ended up in a Super 8 in Fort Bragg.