Saturday, November 2, 2019


…time for a visit…

Over the past week, Sonoma County has survived the biggest wildfire in its history.  The county is open for business.  While, tragically, several homes were lost and a winery or two, in essence, with evacuation notices now rescinded, power has been restored, businesses in Geyserville (we ate last night at Catelli’s – try the chicken piccata), Healdsburg (heading down to the local, independent bookstore later today), Windsor (nice BMW/Moto Guzzi/MV Agusta/Royal Enfield shop) and points south are all open.  (As of November 2, CA 128 across the Mayacamas Mountains is still subject to closure.)

All of our favored wineries are up and running, including Dry Creek’s Passalacqua (always by appointment only), Frick (one man – seven acres), Healdsburg’s Idlewild (just off the square) and Gustafson (also out on Stewart’s Point / Skaggs Springs Road – beautiful view!) and Russian River’s Flowers (out past the historic Hop Kiln.) These folks depend on visitors and want to counter media reports that the entire area was reduced to ashes.  Come visit!  

Our fair city of Cloverdale was spared everything but a few days of smoke and no power.  The raging fire started to our east and roared in a southwesterly direction leaving us unscathed.  However, with golden, crisp hills to our north and east and the way our weather patterns are changing, it is only a matter of time before a blaze ignites under just the wrong circumstances and evacuation orders send us streaming out of town with our go-bags.

This will NOT be the exclusive fault of PG&E.  This will be the cumulative effect of living in a society that demands infrastructure and service but winces at having to pay for it.  The electric grid is part of and should be considered part of the “public square.”  Like roads, police protection, park land, fire service and schools, electrical service cannot operate to serve the citizenry if first, the company has to satisfy investors.  (I have a little PG&E stock, so I’m one of ‘em.) The power grid has to transition toward public ownership.  [And as far as executive salaries and bonuses go, they most certainly provide a tone-deaf image, but in total they represent a tiny fraction of the costs associated with solving the problem.]

Nature is sending us a loud and clear message that things have to change.  Under non-profit or state sponsorship, the result will be that utility bills cover not only the production and distribution of electricity, but the true costs of upgrades and maintenance.  And fees will go up.  They have to.  They have to cover the cost of doing business.  And we, as consumers, are gonna have to pay the freight.

Having said all that, if you are not a resident of Sonoma County and would enjoy a respite from the Central Valley’s Tule Fog, the congestion of Bay Area freeways, the incessant rains of the Pacific Northwest – or maybe you’d just like to score a case or two of really good wine, come visit.  

The smoke has cleared.  The harvest is in.  

And Sonoma County is open for business.

© 2019
Church of the Open Road Press

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