“There’s no place like home, there’s no place like home!” chanted Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. I agree. Whenever I go away from home I miss it like crazy. Not just the island, but the comforts of my own home For the first twenty-four hours away I am terribly homesick. But I leave over and over again because, let’s face it, travel broadens us, and once home we appreciate and relive the experience over and over again. We get to see how other people live in other parts of the country. We get to try different food, sometimes we experience different cultures. The variety of vegetation in other parts of the country always surprises me, as does the architecture. Right now I am in Calistoga California after a couple of days in San Francisco. We had lunch yesterday in Napa in a delightful restaurant. We sat outside on their patio and reveled in being tourists, something we don’t get a chance to do on Nantucket.
Signs are fascinating. If you happen to be on vacation on the island, or leaving for “America” try picking a theme for photos to remind you of where you’ve been. Signs might be one, as we have some pretty interesting quarterboards, shop signs and house name signs on the island.Jon is a graphic designer so he’s always pointing out anything typographically interesting. I’ve gotten into it over the years. Some places we’ve visited both in this country and abroad are downright “design conscious”. So, while in San Francisco we spent an afternoon at the Ferry Station in the financial district known as Embarcadero with a view of the Golden Gate Bridge. As I saw the ferry boats coming in and leaving I wanted to be on our own steamer. It was late Sunday afternoon and we presumed the locals and tourists had taken the ferry to various islands for the day. Others had biked across the bridge to Sausalito and were returning by ferry. It was all very familiar and strange at the same time.
The wares in the shops in the cavernous Ferry Station are unique to our lifestyle both on the island and on the Cape. In fact they are unique to most places, except European towns perhaps. One patisserie in particular might be found on any street in Paris. After sharing four of their treats we swore off any more sugar, but we enjoyed them with a cup of the best local coffee (a brand we had never seen in our markets) while sitting on a bench watching the ferry action. Another shop, The Market Place was brimming with fresh produce, greener and brighter than that in the Stop and Shop. Every little boutique displayed their wares in amazingly creative ways and it was hard not to buy something in each one. Organic is a big descriptive word for everything from soap to clothing material in these parts.
We drove from this city to Napa jwhere we stopped at the Visitor’s Center and got an overload of information and suggestions from an extremely enthusiastic staff. It’s fun to get the inside scoop on what locals like best about their area. We are quick to point out where we come from and tell them that we prefer out-of-the-way activities better than the most popular tourist attractions. And, their suggestion of Angeles for lunch made us go back to tell them how perfectly right they were.
Everyone travels from time to time and Nantucketers, as a whole are known to travel to exotic places. People tend to ask, not “are you going away this winter?” but rather, “Where are you going this year?” We are a curious bunch and so I was not surprised to find so many people we know had traveled to this region of vineyards and mega wineries. Tasting wine is the primary activity here. Having three weeks to explore a region is a privilege afforded my particular profession. I can take my work with me wherever I go. And since I write so much about architecture it is fascinating to see such diversity. Here, the houses are made mostly of concrete. They are low-roofed, many small bungalow style, what we might call cottages. There is a drought here so the lushness of our landscape is sadly and glaringly missing. However, the diversity of shrubs, plants and trees is fascinating and lets us know we are “not in Kansas Toto.”