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Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Things You Might Not Know About Sonoma County (and SF)

You are from out of the area, you plan on visiting, and you're smart enough to check the internet for things to pack and what to expect from your visit. That doesn't cover it all. There are a few secrets.

And as a bonus, since you'll no doubt be spending time in San Francisco too, the Sonoma County items are followed up by Things You Didn't Know About San Francisco.

Things You Might Not Know About Sonoma County

Stuff you are going to see a lot of:  SF Giants baseball caps, people walking their dog(s), white pick-up trucks, and Priuses. Yes, full-sized p/u trucks and Priuses side-by-side. There will be a big dog in the truck and likely a small one in the Prius.

Things you are going to hear (and maybe smell): Chickens, wild turkeys, and cows.
When the locals mention "Sonoma aroma" they aren't talking about the wine

Eating: There are good restaurants everywhere. If you ask a local where to eat try to narrow it down to a taqueria, a first-rate steak, Himalayan, a burger, a $10 meal or a $100 meal, etc. There are farmer's markets almost every day during the warmer months--and they will have food service, possibly from a taco truck. What's a taco truck got to do with local farming? Nothing, but at least it's a local business. While you're here you'll be eating and drinking a lot, but so what? You're on vacation.

Going to a beach along the Pacific? Don't wear your swimsuit; bring a sweatshirt or a jacket--maybe both.

It's expensive. Maybe not San Francisco, Manhattan  or even Napa expensive, but food and lodging will be pretty damn pricey. We have  "tourist taxes" on things like lodging. That's something Hawaii does so well and other places have copied it. Sorry, not my fault, just remember you're on vacation.

If you see somebody wearing shorts, flip flops, and a sweatshirt they are a native waiting for the fog to burn off. That is just their morning dress. The sweatshirt comes off about noon.

Don't look up the weather for the town of Sonoma, or worse San Francisco, and believe it covers all Sonoma County for you. If you are going to be in Healdsburg then check the weather forecast for there. It's different.

Those little towns are called HEELDZ-burg, GURN-ville, and GRAY-ton. Bodega (Boh-DAY-gah) and Bodega Bay are different towns.

Some things are seasonal and it's good to know about them: Crab, abalone, lavender, and Pliny the Younger.

Speaking of beer, there is more than the Russian River Brewery where there's pretty much always a wait to get in. Try some of the other two dozen breweries.

Speaking of alcohol, there's more to the wine than Kendall-Jackson, Korbel, and Chateau St. Jean. Do yourself a favor and look for some small, out of the way places, also.

There are small wineries where you might have to watch your step
while they're doing actual winery work

Your hotel/B&B will have a corkscrew if you need one. There's probably one in your room.

For Christ's sake don't call it Napa.

Things You Might Not Know About San Francisco

Everything is expensive. Don't complain. Be glad you're not living there in a 600 sq ft apartment with no yard and no parking for $3,000/mo.

There are homeless people everywhere. They aren't all crazy even though they may act like it. Some just want to entertain you.

There are SF Giants fans everywhere. They are harmless. Unless you're dumb enough to wear a Dodgers hat.

The bicyclists think they own the road. If you are in a car or even walking you have to compete for space. In SF space is at a premium.

Yes, it's freakin' cold.

Iconic SF fog. That stuff is cold and damp btw.

The commute for most people is horrendous so they might be in a bad mood immediately afterwards. This is why the watering holes are all full at 5 pm. Might as well wait for the traffic to clear. They're spending $30 on drinks while they wait, but don't seem to mind.

Everything in San Francisco is legal. Wanna ride the muni bus naked? Fine, just be polite and bring a section of the SF Chronicle to sit on.

The "Green Sheet" is the sports section of the SF Chronicle.

Giants and A's fans tolerate each other just fine. Raiders and 49ers fans not so much.

Yes, everything comes with sourdough bread.

There are a zillion places to eat. There are a trillion Chinese restaurants. Don't ask a local where to eat unless you mean on this block.

Looking for some action? (You know what I mean). Be sure to narrow it down by straight, gay, tranny, whips & chains, whatever.

You will hear a zillion different ring tones while walking in town. BTW, anyone under 30 wearing glasses and staring at their phone the whole time works for Google. Don't laugh, they can actually afford to live in SF.

Don't call if San Fran or Frisco for Christ's sake. Locals call it The City -- go with it.

From an SF street festival of some sort