Archive for February, 2009

Tank Towers

Friday, February 13th, 2009

I drove across the country last summer. After flying to New York (that’s a whole story in itself) and then at the last minute I decided to drive back. I rented a car and drove the 4500 miles over about four weeks.

What a cool trip. I hadn’t done a first class road trip in a long time. The year before I took the train to Michigan and discovered the fantastic fresh water lakes and beaches.

On each trip I started looking for tank towers. On the train I couldn’t spot a one from Reno to Chicago. They still have the old ones on the tops of buildings in New York but there was not a one visible on my drive back.

I have not found a suitable answer for this yet. Shouldn’t there be one or two old farms left with tank towers like in California? How else could they have had water pressure in the house?


Barn Ladder

Tuesday, February 10th, 2009

A favorite place in Anderson Valley is the Apple Farm. Owned by the Schmidts’ of “French Laundry” fame, it is a real treat to visit. I like to just walk around there before buying some of their delicious fresh apple cider.

It took me awhile to appreciate the place. I remembered the location from my high school days and it didn’t seem very inviting. Too cold in the winter I thought, and too close to the public access river.

Well, now I take that back. The Schmidts little farm has some of the mildest weather every time I visit, summer or winter. And the public beach is well away from the farm.

The Schmidts’ have fixed the place up enormously judging by the main house and it’s cooking class kitchen. They also have cabins that they rent. But it is the fine detail and care with which they have done these things that I admire.

The little accents the Schmidt’s have added are deceptively subtle and seemingly modest. There is a chandelier with candles hanging from a tree over a garden table. A church window at each end of the raised garden beds. Elegantly simple door pulls on small out-buildings. All unremarkable and with an almost homemade look, yet together they provide a thoughtful answer to creating a sense of place.

It is unpretentious and artfully done. It also doesn’t look like someone just threw a lot of money at it either. Which brings up the fact that having gone on last years’ garden tour I can attest that most of the newer places being built in the Valley, while expensive, are for the most part being tastefully done.

Which is saying a lot about who is moving here. Don’t try and find tasteful in most of the other wine areas such as the Napa Valley.

Recently, I went to visit a film director who lives in Saint Helena. Driving up into the hills outside of the town center I missed his turnoff and drove past several nearby properties. One was right out of “Gone With The Wind” and aesthetically didn’t belong in its setting.

For the most part, that is still not a problem in Anderson Valley.