Trip memories can sometimes get lost in the fog of travel, jet lag, and fatigue. But when a month later you can still recall the hum of bicycle tires on Sonoma pavement, the slightly gamy and intoxicating taste of duck heart, the gentleman you dubbed “Carlo”, and what must be the world’s most interesting toilet, then you know the trip was truly special. So as it was with SingleThread.
The cycling in Sonoma is stellar, quiet roads, smooth pavement, and motorists accustomed to seeing cyclists make it amongst the best in the world. On day one we started at a winery we had ridden past on previous California Wine Country Trips, Hanna Winery. Heading northwest in the gentle loop that eventually landed us on West Dry Creek Road, home of Quivira Winery. Sitting out on the patio we were greeted by a gentlemen who could have been out of central casting for a middle aged Italian gentlemen. We decided to call him “Carlo” as he proceeded to guide us through a tasting of Quivira’s finest. We had seen the winery before at harvest time, it was magnificent to be able to experience the outstanding gardens at this time of year, the flowers were gorgeous. Only about seven miles remained to Healdsburg, so before the wine overtook us, we all saddled up and headed out.
Rolling up to SingleThread you first notice the elegance of the building, very understated in a California classic style. We all handed off our bikes to our guides Blake and Sarah and headed in to shower. The lobby and reception area is intimate and provides a large open window into what is the showpiece, the SingleThread kitchen. The staff was busy with prep work for our dinner that night, all of us being foodies, we watched with concentration and awe. A member of the prep staff came over and greeted us, presenting us with hot tea with lavender and welcoming us to the Inn. While we could have watched the Swiss precision of the kitchen for hours, we finished our tea and headed upstairs to our rooms.
A large origami chandelier in the shape of the SingleThread logo—a white multifaceted flower—hung from the ceiling. The entryway presented both an automatic pour-over coffee machine and an amazing tea set up. There was pre-measured, freshly ground coffee just waiting to be brewed and the refrigerator held unlimited Pliny the Elder included with our stay. In the main room a wall was dominated by a fireplace and in the center of the room was a bed that at first touch seemed too soft but made for some of the deepest and best sleep ever on a Trek Travel trip.
And then there was the bathroom. And if anything could top unlimited Pliny the Elder, it was the bathroom. If you’re lucky enough to enter bare-footed you notice the floor is gently warmed, just enough to be soothing. There’s a large soaking tub, a beautiful shower, and then the toilet greets you. Yes, the toilet greets you by raising its lid automatically just begging you to grab a magazine or newspaper and sit down. It was at this discovery that the text messages started flying, especially on our messaging app that included the rest of our traveling group who wasn’t with us.
“OMG, the toilet, it’s amazing!”
“The seat is heated,”
“There’s a control panel,” and the ultimate compliment,
“I’m having Mark get one of these when we get home.”
We felt a bit like Henry V’s comrades at Agincourt and our absent companions back east were “gentlemen now abed in England” thinking themselves cursed that they were not with us. And we hadn’t even had dinner yet.
Social hour on the roof offered cool breezes, wine and Blake and Sarah laying out the next three days for us. Soon enough we found ourselves heading down to the restaurant for dinner. The dining room was calm, quiet, and beautifully done in beautiful woods and Japanese inspired lighting. Eleven courses flowed over the next 4 hours complemented perfectly with wine and sake. Whether it was wild unagi with red kitten spinach, poached foie gras with dried and fermented beets, or the buttermilk and thyme sherbet, we realized that we were having a dining experience that no one else in the country, save for those in the dining room with us, were having.
When the Sonoma grains and bamboo arrived along with duck heart, the physicians in our group enjoyed a moment of dissection and discovery before savoring the wild, slightly gamy, flavor. We’ve all eaten at amazing places around the US and the world, yet this meal stood apart.
The next morning, following a breakfast that rivaled dinner, Blake and Sarah were happy to make an adjustment to our Armstrong Woods day. Several of us had been to the Woods before and while we didn’t want to bypass them, we also wanted to ride to the Pacific. After a spin through the Redwood Forest and a quick espresso and lunch order at Big Bottom Market in Guerneville it was “Westward Ho!”
The ride to the ocean from Guerneville is amazing, heading gently downhill along the Russian River you first sense, then see, the forest canopy opening up and you begin to smell the ocean. A quick pop up over a ridgeline and we arrive at Goat Rock State Park to enjoy a picnic along the beach. In true Trek Travel fashion the weather along the northern California shore is perfect and there are seals frolicking and feeding just feet offshore. Another unique moment in a trip filled with them.
At the end, we six travelers found ourselves sitting at dinner in a restaurant along the Embarcadero in San Francisco. The following morning will put us on planes back to Michigan and Tennessee, but at this spot in time we raised our glasses to another amazing Trek Travel experience. Salut to our guides, Sonoma, the food, the wine, the Inn, and yes, to the toilet.
We know that we will return to Sonoma and Healdsburg, as SingleThread has proven to be truly singular.
Visit the epicurean masterpiece that is SingleThread