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Friday, July 8, 2016

Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Preserve and Lunch at Solbar

are the tallest living things on earth. They can grow up to 400 feet tall, be 30 feet in circumference and 1200-1800 years old. Unfortunately, about 70% of old (first) growth has been decimated by environmental changes or logging.

Their natural habitat runs from Monterey, CA to Southwest OR. Their range is about 500 miles long and from 5-50 miles in width on this western coastline. Fires seems to help the growth of these magnificent trees as they are fire resistant and fires decrease competing species.

The tallest trees are in foggy areas. As the redwoods grow taller, the leaves are more challenged to obtain water from their roots. When there is fog, the canopies of these trees can absorb water directly from the leaves aiding their growth.

On a recent trip to Sonoma County, CA my dining companion (DC) and I arrived at our destination early. We happened upon Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Preserve.

This is a state park that is about 800 acres and is located north of Gurneville (Gurn-vil), CA. It was bought by the County of Sonoma in 1917, turned into a State Park in 1934 and was opened to the public in 1936. We hiked about 5 miles through some very nice trails

and experienced the beauty of the redwoods.

DC and I got lost, and ended up hiking about 5 miles on some really steep grades. This was not the best plan as I walked the whole way in driving shoes. By the time we got back to the car, a rest and a good meal were in order.

From here, we headed north to Calistoga, CA for lunch at Solbar,

a Michelin-Starred restaurant that is part of the Solage resort in Calistoga. What is a Michelin rating all about? I was told by a friend that to understand the rating system, start with the Michelin Inspectors, or the anonymous foot soldiers who provide the restaurant evaluations. Here is a really good account of the process published in the The New Yorker a number of years ago, Lunch with "M".

The restaurant has that understated elegant feel to it in the bar,

restaurant proper

and outdoor dining areas.

DC and I sampled a number of things from their lunch Menu.

The first was the beet salad.

Red and yellow beets were served with frisee, avocado Green Goddess dressing, red grapefruit, watercress and beet chips. Very nice.

We then moved on to the Yellowfin Tuna sliders.

These were served with cilantro, black garlic sauce and kohlrabi slaw on in house made steam buns. Not bad.

We split a Cobb salad and here was one of the splits, very generous.

If you can never remember what makes up one of these salads, remember the acronym, EAT COBB (egg, avocado, tomato, chicken, onion bacon and blue cheese ( Point Reyes ).

This was a very nice lunch in a relaxed, elegant setting with excellent service. Highly recommended.

That's that for another post on Forks.

Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Preserve
17000 Armstrong Woods Rd.
Guerneville, CA 95446

755 Silverado Trail
Calistoga, CA 94515
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