And what's in Felton? To be honest, not much, but what's there has its odd charm. All of the towns in the San Lorenzo Valley--the other two "big" ones being Ben Lomond and Boulder Creek, although combined I don't know if the whole area on Highway 9 has more than 10,000 residents along its 30-some miles--are still, even in 2003, pretty rugged and rural. Since it's still fairly close to San Francisco, this means you get an odd mix of old homestead families, back-to-nature new age types and the occasional multimillion dollar palace in the redwoods built by some technocrat who cashed out his stock at the right time.
I've been to Boulder Creek a couple times with my friend Dave Bryant, who likes that whole area. The other towns I'd just driven through. Felton, as it turns out, has at least as developed a "downtown" as Boulder Creek despite being half the population; I was there nominally to see a coffee shop I'd heard of called the White Raven.
As it turned out the most interesting thing about White Raven is their name, and according to them, their chai (which I didn't try). It's a combination coffee house and new age bookstore. I've seen variations on this before out here, and thinking about it, I remember one in Taos--which, thinking about it more, the SLV towns somehow remind me of. This isn't to say that I didn't like White Raven and that I wouldn't end up there on occasion if I lived out there--I just think I'd end up looking at other places, too.
The most interesting thing in Felton, though, was the Cowboy Diner. I wanted to stop somewhere for lunch and how can you turn down a place with a barrel outside emblazoned with "Good Grub" and an arrow pointing to the door? As it turned out, the menu was--not upscale, exactly, but definitely not diner food. After I read a description of a chicken dish describing the meat being roasted with spices and then "plopped into a gorgonzola cream sauce," I realized: dear lord, it's redneck gourmet. I had a lowly (but very well-prepared) burger with gorgonzola, and a side of a ginger parsnip soup that could easily have passed muster at a "fine dining" place.
I'd noticed as I'd parked my car that Felton's one intersection was for the Felton-Empire road, which led in a meandering fashion to the town of Bonny Doon. In addition to that road being just a darn pretty drive, as nearly all the roads in that area are (this one moved from redwood and evergreen forest to a bit of scrub chaparral when it met the Empire Grade, then down into oak hammock), this meant it would probably lead to the Bonny Doon winery. It did, or at least to their tasting room. After a wine tasting, I left with a bottle of their vin de glaciere--a dessert wine made from grapes that freeze on the vine--and, oddly enough, a bar of their handmade soap.
Driving back my thoughts turned, as they have fairly often, to what I want to be doing in 2004, and the disturbing thought I want to be a small press publisher came to mind. Not doing fanzines, mind you. I mean actual books, with a goal toward making an actual profit.
At this point I'm not nuts enough to actually pursue this--I'm not even sure what kind of books I'd want to publish. New titles? Out-of-print books I'd like to see made available again? Fine art books? Poetry? Cookbooks? And of course, doing this would mean figuring out a way to successfully get over the hurdles that I tripped over doing Mythagoras and Zoomorphica: record-keeping in general, and distribution. I'd need to learn to be the salesman I (foolishly) resisted being.
Unfortunately, I'm not sure the idea will go away now that I've had it.