The last time I spent any decent time in Northern California was six years ago, and even then it wasn’t really a vacation. During that trip, I wandered around San Francisco by myself and remembered how much I truly loved that city.

For this visit, I decided to take an afternoon to visit Forest Knolls, the tiny little Hobbiton-type village nestled in San Geronimo Valley where I was born. Technically, Forest Knolls and its three neighboring hamlets are a part of Marin County, but because it is so remote, they are very often overlooked. The residents of this hanging valley prefer it that way.

The husband, who had to go to work, wished me goodspeed, and I set off with a high school friend to visit the house I grew up in. We traveled westward along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard, and each town we passed got smaller and more quaint, until we went through Fairfax, the last bastion of civilization before San Geronimo Valley. Once you get up the windy pass and over the hill, you’re in the sticks, for sure.

I regaled my friend with stories of my childhood, recalling with fondness the Friday nights when my mom and I would stop at the one video store in town, which was also a take-and-bake pizza shop, for a night of movies and pizza. To my surprise, the store still exists and is still open!

When I was a kid, the center of town consisted of the post office, a tiny restaurant called the Two Bird Cafe, a pub, and a corner/general store called The Little Store. I expected, over the course of 25 years, that Forest Knolls would not be immune to the much-bemoaned Bay Area sprawl. I thought for sure there would be at least a traffic light. Instead, only the post office and the bar remain. The Little Store was still standing, but had clearly experienced some terrible flooding damage and was closed permanently.

On our way back to civilization, we passed a sign that said “Two Bird Cafe,” and immediately pulled over to investigate. The restaurant I remember from my youth had relocated one town over, to San Geronimo, but it was definitely the same place! Same furniture, same china, and the same delicious food. I was so happy to know that it had survived.

Our waitress was very kind and answered all my questions about the area. She talked to me about the video/pizza store, and informed me that they were looking to sell, if I wanted to get into the video/pizza business.

Apparently they are looking for a buyer. Hmm.

So that was my trip down memory lane. The rest of my vacation is reserved for making new memories, which is just as it should be.

The Way Back
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