To the South of Penngrove lies Petaluma, a city of about 60,000. The freeway cuts it into two portions; the quiet bedroom community, and the compact historical downtown. It is a town of great restaurants, nice city parks, and lots of community activities. So far Petaluma is my favorite potential settling place. I like the size, the amenities, the geography and climate. The freeway is a nuisance, but at least it is built up high so city streets pass under it and, barring rush hours, offers a quick shot to Santa Rosa or San Francisco.
Driving North from Penngrove, you find Cotati, Rohnert Park, and Santa Rosa. Cotati is a sprawling bedroom community with a cute little downtown square and some nice restaurants and bars. Rohnert Park blends into Cotati seamlessly, but features more big box stores and malls near its freeway centered downtown. Rohnert Park is also home to Sonoma State University.
Santa Rosa is a city of about 175,000, with a mix of all kinds of neighborhoods, a somewhat gentrified downtown, and a good selection of breweries and wineries. Downtown there is a big public square where we had great fun joining in a political rally. We also found a huge enclosed mall downtown, just a block away from the Sonoma County History Museum. A little further North is the Charles M. Schulz Museum, for all of us Peanuts fans. And, of course, it is home to many fine breweries and wineries. Highway 12 exits the city to wander Eastward through over a hundred wineries.
We spent a lot of our time here searching for a new place to live. It is one thing to pull up stakes and set off; it is another thing entirely to stop and set up a new home. There are very few furnished rentals available long term, so we have to consider re-investing in furniture, plates, kitchenware, towels, cutlery, sheets, etc., etc. All of that drives a stake into the ground that may or not have to be pulled up again later.
Next time: San Diego