Shifting Gears in Santa Rosa


Bless her heart, Elly is a wonderful friend and a wise young woman.  We go way back to the “Tingle” (not kidding) wing of the Hamilton Residence Complex at the University of Oregon.  She was an incoming freshman, and I was an out-of-state sophomore limping my way -financially – through an independently funded bachelors with a tour of duty as a Resident Assistant.  We chose the same study abroad program in Mexico the following summer and bonded over countless adventures.  When I moved back to the west coast, she was one of the friends I enthusiatically phoned to predict the multitude of unforgettable weekends we could now share.  Nearly four years later, the horrifying visit score is Elly:2, Jema:0.  Redemption!

Elly was my first stop on the attempt at life on the road this summer.  She was sweetly tolerant as I went through internet detox and suffered from either my first encounter with allergies or a backyard-going-away-party-campfire smoke-inhalation recovery.  She took me to my first African dance class, and we lucked out with a guest teaching group from Oakland!

We danced for hours to some really fantastic drumming and topped off the evening with my first “cask-conditioned” English-style ale at the Toad-in-the-Hole pub in the historic Railroad District.  Yay!

Day two also happened to be Cinco de Mayo, which calls for margaritas in general, but especially when the celebration is being shared by two amigas whose friendship blossomed south of the border.

We checked out the Cinco de Mayo scene and were a bit surprised to be, besides most of the policia, basically the only non-latinos.  There was some excellent people watching, and it was a fun crowd.  At the end of the night, I finally got to meet her beau.  He is working the census, among other jobs, and had lots of good stories about it.

Day three, while Elly was at work, I got a guest pass to her gym and steam room – heaven!  Then I walked along the river to downtown to visit the Luther Burbank Gardens – “home of world renowned horticulturist, Luther Burbank, who lived and worked in Santa Rosa at the turn of the twentieth century. ”  It was gorgeous.  The roses were heavenly, I finally learned what a Kiwi bush looks like, and I discovered that date buds can be grafted onto young almond trees and produce within a year!

Mid-afternoon I thanked her incredible roommates for their hospitality and headed south for my next adventure!



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