Strangers in paradise
By Tom Allen, Oakmont
Having moved to Santa Rosa six months ago I have time now to reflect on what it was like to move into a whole new world for my wife and me. Doyle had accepted the call to be Rector of St. Patrick's Episcopal Church in Kenwood in the fall of last year. She has been a priest for over five years and we were looking forward to the new adventure in the Wine Country.
Our journey began on a clear and sunny day in early December. We left the high desert terrain of Tucson, Arizona, and headed west to California. Our Hyundai vehicle was appropriately named the Tucson and it contained my wife Doyle, our Siberian Husky puppy Kita, a bunch of luggage, and me at the wheel. This move to Northern California was a first for both of us. We had spent time on more than one occasion in the LA-San Diego area. Before we arrived here I was warned that my Dodger cap would not be welcomed and should be trashed. So, following the old axiom, when in Rome… I now look forward to seeing the former enemy play at AT&T and buying a Giants cap.
On our first visit to Santa Rosa we met the leadership of the church, toured the very charming church across from the firehouse, Palooza, and the town of Kenwood. We zoomed up to Bodega Bay and enjoyed the whole scene there, including watching four otters dive for fish off the coast. No sightings of Tippi Hedren.
We stayed at the Flamingo Hotel, which is unique all by itself. The giant Flamingo at the top of the building gives you a feeling of what it's like inside. I used to make fun of people who had little flamingos on their lawn. Now, I have to be careful with my criticism, as one of my neighbors has them. The rooms are very nice, comfortable and reasonably priced. I like the soundtrack that plays 50s and 60s music in the public areas, which seems to fit with the 60s architecture. I even know the words to a lot of the songs and continually embarrassed my wife when I started to sing out loud in the dining room. Overall, staying at the Flamingo was weirdly entertaining and we will have the family stay there in the fall. The grandkids will love greeting Snoopy in the hallway and frolicking in the spectacular pool.
When we were here in September we fell in love with the people at the church, the community, and overall benefits of living here. Doyle accepted the call and we returned to Tucson to plan our return trip to find a house. Only a few days before we were to leave for Sonoma County the fires came, but thankfully our church was spared, suffering only smoke damage. We boarded the first flight allowed into the Santa Rosa airport after the fire, and I must say that the flying in and out of our little airport was also a treat. It is a little like a Caribbean airport in that it is really tiny. The car rental station was less than 10 feet from the luggage carousel making it easy to get going and out the door. Contrast that to Dallas where it takes two hours to get to your rental car.
The major assignment we had when we returned for the second time was to see if we could find a home to buy over a long weekend. Looking for a home in the most expensive market in the country was a mind blowing experience. We had done research on what was available in a general way, but after seeing 14 homes over a two-day period we were emotionally and physically wiped out. We were very fortunate that the house we are in today was available and we were able to reach a fair price for the property. It is in Oakmont and we like that. Over 30 percent of our church parishioners live here also. I do like the one-story feature, beautiful bamboo flooring, a big back yard for the wolf-dog, and air conditioning. We were shocked to learn that AC is not always available. Coming from Texas and Arizona, that seemed to be an unbelievable situation, particularly when Global Warming is nigh upon us.
Doyle is firmly ensconced with the church and working with a wonderful group of people who are both committed and very talented. I volunteer for various functions on the altar and in our mission work. However, I am determined to find a part-time position that suits my skills and background. I was an advertising guy from Manhattan and if you've ever watched the show Mad Men, I lived that life. Forgive me, but they say confession is good for the soul. I have been a publisher and editor of magazines and newspapers and have been a sales and marketing executive for all sorts of organizations. The wine business is very intriguing.
We are very happy here. Without question, this is one of the best places in the country to live. We all can work together on any problems we face as a community, and I am sure we can make a great place an even better one.