October 30, 2018

Mill Valley: Playa


101 North

Playa  41 Throckmorton Ave./Miller Ave., (415) 384-8871.  L-D daily; $-$$.  Reservations advised.

dining room and bar at Playa in Mill Valley, California
dining room and bar at Playa in Mill Valley, California
In a thoroughly contemporary setting, with dangling golden light orbs and a full bar, this bustling spot serves up some delicious and colorfully-presented fare--watermelon salad, a brilliant Tijuana Caesar salad, enchiladas de mole rojo.  Traditional tacos, tamales, and quesadillas sometimes are filled with the unusual, think octopus.  My dining partner and I sat outside on the back patio, where the tables resembled shiny hatch covers and where we were warmed by a fire pit and overhead lamps, and made a nice light dinner of guacamole, grilled asparagus, and traditional house margaritas.  Intriguing dishes I will return to try:  vegan soup menudo style, an empanada with chimichurri, and vegetarian asparagus tacos.

back patio at Playa in Mill Valley, California
back patio at Playa in Mill Valley, California


guacamole at Playa in Mill Valley, California
guacamole at Playa in Mill Valley, California


house margarita at Playa in Mill Valley, California
house margarita at Playa in Mill Valley, California


asparagus special at Playa in Mill Valley, California
asparagus special at Playa in Mill Valley, California


More things to do in Mill Valley.

Even more things to do in Mill Valley. 

An overnight escape to Mt. Tam. 

More ideas for exploring Northern California.
  
images ©2018 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

October 11, 2018

Independence: Manzanar National Historic Site


High Sierra: Highway 395

Manzanar National Historic Site  5001 Hwy. 395, (760) 878-2194.  Visitor Center open daily 9-4:30; site open daily dawn-dusk.  Free.

Visitor Center at Manzanar National Historic Site in Independence, California
Visitor Center at Manzanar National Historic Site in Independence, California

The original inhabitants of this desolate, 1-square-mile spot that was once home to apple orchards (“manzanar” means apple orchard in Spanish) were Paiute Indians, who were massacred and forced out.  Following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1942, the area became one of 10 bleak U.S. internment camps that were used to detain 11,000 Japanese Americans.  They were considered a potential threat to the nation and were held against their will beginning in March of 1942.  Most camp inhabitants here were from San Pedro, California and Bainbridge Island, Washington.
  When the Manzanar War Relocation Center closed after World War II in 1945, most of the buildings were either moved elsewhere or dismantled and sold as scrap.  The prisoners left in November of 1945 and  were given just $25 and a bus ticket to wherever they wanted to go.  Over the years, this site has become a peaceful, beautiful spot, with sagebrush and trees and the Sierra peaks visible in the distance.
  The Visitor Center, which opened in 2004, was originally built by internees in 1944 as a high school auditorium.  Now it is home to state-of-the-art exhibits that are thoughtful and enlightening as well as disturbing.  Begin your visit with a viewing of the excellent documentary movie “Remembering Manzanar,”  which gives a voice to the 11,000 people who endured incarceration here, then browse the museum, and move on to the out buildings--barracks, women’s latrine, and mess hall--which because they were rebuilt to code were reconstructed better than they were originally built.  A self-guided tour weaves through these buildings, providing plenty of food for thought.

U.S. flag flies at Manzanar National Historic Site in Independence, California
U.S. flag flies at Manzanar National Historic Site in Independence, California


site map at Manzanar National Historic Site in Independence, California
site map at Manzanar National Historic Site in Independence, California


ranger at Manzanar National Historic Site in Independence, California
ranger at Manzanar National Historic Site in Independence, California


overview of reconstructed buildings at Manzanar National Historic Site in Independence, California
overview of reconstructed buildings at Manzanar National Historic Site in Independence, California


inside barracks at Manzanar National Historic Site in Independence, California
inside barracks at Manzanar National Historic Site in Independence, California


exterior of women's latrine at Manzanar National Historic Site in Independence, California
exterior of women's latrine at Manzanar National Historic Site in Independence, California


view from women's latrine at Manzanar National Historic Site in Independence, California
view from women's latrine at Manzanar National Historic Site in Independence, California


showers in women's latrine at Manzanar National Historic Site in Independence, California
showers in women's latrine at Manzanar National Historic Site in Independence, California


toilets in women's latrine at Manzanar National Historic Site in Independence, California
toilets in women's latrine at Manzanar National Historic Site in Independence, California


exterior of mess hall at Manzanar National Historic Site in Independence, California
exterior of mess hall at Manzanar National Historic Site in Independence, California



October 9, 2018

Berkeley: Taste of the Himalayas


80 North

Taste of the Himalayas  1700 Shattuck Ave./Virginia St., Gourmet Ghetto, (510) 849-4983.  L-D daily; $$.

exterior of Taste of the Himalayas in Berkeley, California
exterior of Taste of the Himalayas in Berkeley, California


lunch specials at Taste of the Himalayas in Berkeley, California
lunch specials at Taste of the Himalayas in Berkeley, California


Featuring a menu of Nepalese, Tibetan, and Indian dishes, this atmospheric restaurant features a large open dining room decorated with hand-painted murals and furnished with elaborately carved wood chairs and accents.

dining room at Taste of the Himalayas in Berkeley, California
dining room at Taste of the Himalayas in Berkeley, California


statue at Taste of the Himalayas in Berkeley, California
statue at Taste of the Himalayas in Berkeley, California


You’ll want to try the momos and Nepalese-spiced lamb curries in particular.  Here for lunch, I recently tried the tandoor salmon special but found it disappointing in that it was still cold in the center and the outside didn’t have the charred, crispiness that I expected.  It was only ok, although the charred onions on the side almost made up for it.  The special included a lovely lentil soup and a very good crispy-yet-soft nan.  My dining partner ordered an excellent chicken birayani.  Between us, we had enough leftovers for another lunch at home.  The menu offers a decent selection of vegetarian items.  Spicing is mild, so ask for additional heat if that is what you like.

tandoor salmon at Taste of the Himalayas in Berkeley, California
tandoor salmon at Taste of the Himalayas in Berkeley, California


lentil soup at Taste of the Himalayas in Berkeley, California
lentil soup at Taste of the Himalayas in Berkeley, California


chicken birayani at Taste of the Himalayas in Berkeley, California
chicken birayani at Taste of the Himalayas in Berkeley, California
Taste of the Himalayas Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


More things to do in Berkeley. 

Way more thing to do in Berkeley. 

More ideas for exploring Northern California. 

images ©2018 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

October 5, 2018

Rohnert Park: Amy’s Drive Thru


101 North

Amy’s Drive Thru  58 Golf Course Dr. W/Redwood Hwy., just W of Hwy. 101, in Rohnert Park, 8 mi. S of town, (707) 755-3629.  Daily 10am-10pm.

exterior sod roof at Amy’s Drive Thru in Rohnert Park, California
exterior sod roof at Amy’s Drive Thru in Rohnert Park, California


Farm-fresh vegetarian and vegan fast food is the specialty here.  This isn’t too surprising, since it is brought to us by the makers of the well-known Amy’s frozen foods.  Their commitment to sustainability includes chrome tables recycled from auto brake drums, employee uniforms made from fair-trade organic cotton, and compostable packaging.  Featuring a sod roof and an airy barn-like interior (made with reclaimed barn wood but of course), this cheery spot also has a porch with plenty of covered outdoor seating.

interior of Amy’s Drive Thru in Rohnert Park, California
interior of Amy’s Drive Thru in Rohnert Park, California


dining patio at Amy’s Drive Thru in Rohnert Park, California
dining patio at Amy’s Drive Thru in Rohnert Park, California


You can’t go wrong with the veggie burger composed of a smoky patty made with a mix of grains, vegetables, and mushrooms and topped with lettuce, tomato, onion, pickle, and tangy sauce.  A double-patty version is available, as is a low-calorie lettuce-wrapped burger.  The crispy french fries are very good.  I’ve heard good things beyond the burgers--the burritos and the mac ‘n’ cheese (especially the one with broccoli), the salads, the chili, the lentil soup, and the pizza, too.  Sodas are made with cane sugar.  Regular milkshakes are available, but so are non-dairy versions--I tried the vanilla no-dairy and it was cold and coconutty and didn’t upset my tummy.  (And the pleasant staff is a step above.  The super nice clerk who helped me offered to divide my milkshake into two separate cups when I said I was going to share it.)  Dessert options are lacking.  It did surprise me that there wasn’t at least a wonderful healthy cookie on the menu.  Some items are available with gluten-free and vegan options.

order counter at Amy’s Drive Thru in Rohnert Park, California
order counter at Amy’s Drive Thru in Rohnert Park, California


veggie burger and fries at Amy’s Drive Thru in Rohnert Park, California
veggie burger and fries at Amy’s Drive Thru in Rohnert Park, California


A small table is provided for children with colored pencils and paper, and outlets are provided throughout to charge your phone.  Additionally, two drive-thru lanes keep things moving.

activity table for kids at Amy’s Drive Thru in Rohnert Park, California
activity table for kids at Amy’s Drive Thru in Rohnert Park, California
Amy's Drive Thru Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato



More things to do in nearby Santa Rosa. 

More ideas for exploring Northern California. 

images ©2018 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

October 3, 2018

Mammoth Lakes: Devils Postpile National Monument


High Sierra: Highway 395

Devils Postpile National Monument  (760) 934-2289.  Daily 7am-7pm; June-Oct only.  Shuttle bus:  $8, 3-15 $4/day.  No reservations.  

ranger station cabin at Devils Postpile National Monument in Mammoth Lakes, California
ranger station cabin at Devils Postpile National Monument in Mammoth Lakes, California


welcome sign at ranger station cabin at Devils Postpile National Monument in Mammoth Lakes, California
welcome sign at ranger station cabin at Devils Postpile National Monument in Mammoth Lakes, California


Located at 7,500-feet altitude, this 60-foot-high formation is constructed of polygonal basaltic columns formed about 100,000 years ago by quickly cooling lava.  After checking in at the rustic 1941 ranger station (it once served as a ranger residence), visitors can take a pleasant 1-mile round-trip hike through the monument, circling up to the top where you can see the symmetrical hexagonal patterns polished by glaciers.  You’ll pass several meadows, a spur path to the San Joaquin River, and an access trail leading to the Pacific Crest Trail.  The Jr. Ranger program operates here.    

trail sign at Devils Postpile National Monument in Mammoth Lakes, California
trail sign at Devils Postpile National Monument in Mammoth Lakes, California



trail to Devils Postpile National Monument in Mammoth Lakes, California
trail to Devils Postpile National Monument in Mammoth Lakes, California


scenic view at Devils Postpile National Monument in Mammoth Lakes, California
scenic view at Devils Postpile National Monument in Mammoth Lakes, California



Devils Postpile National Monument in Mammoth Lakes, California
Devils Postpile National Monument in Mammoth Lakes, California


Devils Postpile National Monument in Mammoth Lakes, California
Devils Postpile National Monument in Mammoth Lakes, California


Devils Postpile National Monument in Mammoth Lakes, California
Devils Postpile National Monument in Mammoth Lakes, California


wildflowers at Devils Postpile National Monument in Mammoth Lakes, California
wildflowers at Devils Postpile National Monument in Mammoth Lakes, California


hexagons at the top at Devils Postpile National Monument in Mammoth Lakes, California
hexagons at the top at Devils Postpile National Monument in Mammoth Lakes, California


hexagons at the top at Devils Postpile National Monument in Mammoth Lakes, California
hexagons at the top at Devils Postpile National Monument in Mammoth Lakes, California


Folks we met on the trail:
Anthony King, from L.A., doing Pacific Crest Trail
Yotam Perlitz and Shira Akov, from Israel, doing John Muir Trail

people met on the trail at Devils Postpile National Monument in Mammoth Lakes, California
people met on the trail at Devils Postpile National Monument in Mammoth Lakes, California

Aaron Kendall, with forest service, here to help assess the Lions Fire at Lions Peak that was started by a lightning strike

people met on the trail at Devils Postpile National Monument in Mammoth Lakes, California
people met on the trail at Devils Postpile National Monument in Mammoth Lakes, California

Deanna Dulen/ranger

people met on the trail at Devils Postpile National Monument in Mammoth Lakes, California
people met on the trail at Devils Postpile National Monument in Mammoth Lakes, California

man with his dog, Buttercup

people met on the trail at Devils Postpile National Monument in Mammoth Lakes, California
people met on the trail at Devils Postpile National Monument in Mammoth Lakes, California


A moderately strenuous 2-mile trail leads on to 101-foot-high Rainbow Falls.  It is mostly flat, with steps leading down to the base of the falls.  A rainbow is often seen, especially at mid-day.  

Visitors must ride a mandatory shuttle bus from the Mammoth Mountain Adventure Center.  Parking here is limited and fee-based.  Campsites are available nearby.  
Other stops on the shuttle bus route include Agnew Meadows, Starkweather Lake, 

Agnew Meadows shuttle stop at Devils Postpile National Monument in Mammoth Lakes, California
Agnew Meadows shuttle stop at Devils Postpile National Monument in Mammoth Lakes, California


Starkweather Lake shuttle stop at Devils Postpile National Monument in Mammoth Lakes, California
Starkweather Lake shuttle stop at Devils Postpile National Monument in Mammoth Lakes, California

and Reds Meadow, which has lodging, a general store, a cafe, a pack station where you can also arrange for day rides, and hot spring-fed showers.  

Reds Meadow shuttle stop at Devils Postpile National Monument in Mammoth Lakes, California
Reds Meadow shuttle stop at Devils Postpile National Monument in Mammoth Lakes, California


people relaxing at Reds Meadow shuttle stop at Devils Postpile National Monument in Mammoth Lakes, California
people relaxing at Reds Meadow shuttle stop at Devils Postpile National Monument in Mammoth Lakes, California


More things to do in Mammoth Lakes.

More things to do in nearby Yosemite.

images and video ©2018 Carole Terwilliger Meyers