The Sportsmanís Report
Canít beat Korbel, Armstrong
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By Bill Hanson  July 25, 2014 12:00 am

By Bill Hanson

Saturday afternoon, a lovely couple from Rohnert Park was sitting on the bench at the Korbel train station. They were showing relatives from Maine some of the best of Sonoma County.

The two girls, cousins, were busy being 10-years-old. The Maine folks were having a wonderful time in temperate, coastal California. It was a warm, sunny day, and overhead the redwood trees wore their finest perfume, that unique cedar-like scent that transports the smeller. 

As a counterpoint, the nearby bay trees – a common name here is pepperwood; in Oregon the same tree is called myrtlewood – exuded their powerful perfume.

Their dried leaf is a favorite for seasoning soups and sauces. The 20-minute wait for the next tour of the world famous winery was delightful. The gardens at the winery are in full glory right now, the hard part is choosing the right background for a vacation photo. The group’s next stop would be Armstrong Redwoods near Guerneville and a fine picnic lunch under the massive first growth trees.

You can hardly go wrong taking your visitors on the same day trip, as Korbel is beautiful and Armstrong Grove is breathtaking. 

This then, is my No. 1 trip to entertain visitors from out of town. My second day trip for you out-of-town guests is the Golden Gate Bridge and the city (San Francisco).

Going south on the 101, take the vista exit just before the bridge and pass under the freeway. Here is a great spot for photos and a unique view of the shimmering city. Visitors can walk across the whole span, while the driver can take the car across the bridge and meet the more energetic walkers at the visitors plaza at the southern anchorage. 

You might combine this visit with some other must-see parts of the city. Everyone needs to drive/ride down picturesque Lombard Street. To get there, go slightly left where Lombard meets Van Ness Avenue and make a dog-leg right up the short rise on Lombard to the top of the switchback. Also on the list is Coit Tower, an icon of the City by the Bay and one of the finest views anywhere. Add a visit to Fisherman’s Warf, Pier 39 and the Ferry Building, and your trip and your day is nearly over. 

The biggest item on your list after visiting the Golden Gate Bridge is a ride on the famous cable cars. For the longest ride for your money, board the Market/Powell street line at the turntable at Hyde and Beach. The parking there is easier and the long wait seems less. Do this just after the ride down Lombard, the earlier you can get to the cable cars the better because by mid-day the wait is horrible. Use a map of San Francisco to find your way, and having a driving and parking plan can help avoid frustration on your visit. 

The wait riding back to your car can be very long. Alternatively, consider parking under Union Square and walking the two blocks downhill on Powell to the turn table. One-way fare is $5 per person. A one-day pass is only $13 per person and includes the cable cars, trolleys and buses. Go to for more details.

This brought to mind the man from Wisconsin who moved here 22 years ago and stayed with friends in Sausalito. He wondered how on earth traffic on the 101 could make it up the Waldo Grade with chains on during the winter snow storms.


Bill Hanson is a Sonoma County native and a lifelong sportsman. He is the former president of the Sonoma County Mycological Association. Look for his column in The Community Voice each week.

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