There’s a type of Sonoman that I never thought I’d become. The one that brags to visiting friends, “…Another thing that’s so bloody great about Sonoma is how close we are to the City. Heck, we can go anytime we want!” But we don’t.
The City in this scenario, of course, is San Francisco – that gleaming seven-by-seven mile metropolis, which, from the Sonoma Plaza to toll plaza is but a scant 39.6 miles south. So near is the City by the Bay, that some lucky Sonomans can actually see it from their hillside homes, weather permitting. And, somehow, they don’t go there either. Clearly, I’m not speaking of Sonoma’s few brave commuters who make the daily drive by car, carpool or daisy-chain of public transit, to toil toward a tax bracket that makes it all worthwhile. I’m referring to the islanders, those of us for whom traveling south of Schellville is a pilgrimage on par with a trip to Hell.
But why? We are not provincial people. We’re not a bunch o’ grape-stompin’ hillbillies, for the most part. Are we bridge averse? Wary of earthquakes? Or did we just forget how to get there? I know I nearly did during a trip I forced myself to take this week. To spare my fellow Sonomans the embarrassment of also having to ask the kid at the coffee cart how to get out of town, below are instructions made specifically for Sonomans that you may clip, tweet or tattoo backward on your forehead so you can read them in the rearview mirror.
A) Starting from the Historic Sonoma Plaza, do pass “Go,” do not “Collect $200,” just head south down Broadway.
B) Turn right at Hwy121. Ignore the voice in your head doing the sci-fi TV show monologue: “You are about to participate in a great adventure. You are about to experience the awe and mystery which reaches from the inner mind to the outer limits.” If it’s not the “Twilight Zone,” you’re fine.
C) Turn left at Arnold and proceed toward Infineon Raceway, which, despite oodles of time and money spent on branding, Sonomans still call Sears Point.
D) Turn right at Sears Point onto Hwy 37.
E) Exit onto Hwy 101, otherwise known on this stretch as “Redwood Highway,” you know, because of the redwood trees that (used to) line it. Interestingly, the highway has six additional official names, including “Hollywood Highway,” where it fittingly reaches its terminus in a flotilla of smog. Be sure to keep left at the fork, by the way, or you’ll end up in the Novato Narrows or, worse, Petaluma.
F) Cross the Golden Gate Bridge. You’d be amazed at how many Sonomans scurry off to Sausalito at the last exit before the bridge, or get themselves hung up at Vista Point and lament how they’ve never been to Alcatraz. Get on the bridge. Stay on the bridge. Look to your right and wave to Japan. Look to your left and wave to the opposing traffic – they love it.
G) Pay the toll. It’s $6. Do not act shocked or surprised, otherwise everyone will know how infrequently you make it to the City. Do not attempt to tip or otherwise patronize the tollbooth personnel. They are officially known as “bridge officers” for a reason.
H) Turn around immediately and return to Sonoma. Seriously, I mean, come on, San Francisco? Been there, done that, right? Besides, you can go anytime.