8154: The Whimsical Wonders of Sebastopol, California

Hanging in Sebastopol with A Sumoflam Fan

In early 2020 I traveled across the country over the course of three weeks.    During this trip we traveled 8154 miles across 20 states and visited over 100 destinations, saw all sorts of animals, all sorts of geography, 15 National Parks and Monuments, various state parks, oceans, deserts, mountains, beaches, grasslands, canyons and more. Over the next few weeks I will be posting about some of the fun from the EPIC Road Trip with my daughter and three grandchildren.  Enjoy the Read! Enjoy the Ride! (all photography by David “Sumoflam” Kravetz)

Patrick Amiot’s house on Florence Street in Sebastopol, CA
There are a couple of finely painted cars in front of the Amiot house.
This T-Rex (or is it Godzilla?) stands proudly in front of Patrick Amiot’s home on Florence Ave.

Our road trip took us to many places, but none was more whimsical and fun and, honestly, down my alley, than the small California town of Sebastopol, home to perhaps hundreds of junk-sculptures by artist Patrick Amiot and his wife and sculpture painter Brigitte Laurent.

Please visit Roadside America and make sure to get their app for 1000s of America’s fun and quirky attractions.

Our venture to Sebastopol was not in my original plan, but my friends at Roadside America strongly recommended that since I was coming in that direction, I should definitely swing by and take a drive down Florence Avenue.  (Thanks Doug!!!)

Crow Bar… totally whimsical PUNishment

Amiot is all about recycling.  Everything he has created is from junk that others had either thrown out or donated to him and then also used other “found items” for his projects.  Supposedly his first art piece was placed in his front yard on Florence Ave. in 2001 and a drive down the three blocks Florence Ave. in 2020 saw almost all of the houses with at least one piece of his work in every yard.

Skeleton Biker on Florence Ave.
Firefighters on Florence Ave.
The full truck

While cruising down Florence Ave. I talked to a couple of people and found out that in many cases Amiot would create a piece for someone’s yard that would represent that person in some way.  Obviously, I didn’t have the time to survey residents, but I could imagine the firefighter, the postal worked, the baseball fan, the bus driver and more.

A Babe Ruth stands in front of a house. Could this person be a Babe Ruth fan? A Yankee Fan?
This Batman adorns someone else’s front yard.
A different Batman at a different house (with Robin of course!)
Here are a couple of Happy Campers
A lovely mermaid floats quietly in front of someone’s house on Florence Ave.
The Man

The variety of art is amazing and the creativity is even more amazing.  Patrick and Brigitte have turned a rather ordinary neighborhood into a fantastically whimsical outdoor art gallery.

Chick-Fil-A must be jealous!
This guy must love his VW
Who knows? An OK Car Dealer for sure!
The Catcher
Something?? A flying machine?
An Oakland A’s Pitcher… This guy must be a baseball fan
In a Hurry – Busy Waitress

Florence Avenue is not the only place that Patrick’s art can be found.  A drive into downtown Sebastopol provided many other views.  And even drives into town had some huge works out in the fields and farms.

This Tin Man (or is it a Space Alien?) was in a parking lot in downtown Sebastopol
Whatever floats your boat – Aye Aye Captain

I really had a good time on my visit to Sebastopol.  My grandkids love it as well.  Just wish I would have had more time to drive around town and find more gems.  And it is all so much more fun when I run into fans of my travel blogs and photos.

Some fan who just happened to be in Sebastopol the same time as me. Never got the guy’s name…but he said he loved my work!

WATCH FOR MY NEW BOOK “8154” — COMING SOON TO AMAZON

I am currently working on my FOURTH book, titled “8154” to represent the mileage of my epic road trip with family.  You can visit my Amazon Author Page to see my other books at https://amzn.to/3azY36l

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A Tasty Twist: California Balsamics – Ukiah, California

Visiting Thomas Allen at California Balsamics

I often write about unique and quirky road side attractions, offbeat eateries and fun travel destinations.  It is not often, however, that I visit and write about unique products and their businesses.

But, on my 8154 Road Trip, as I now call my Epic Road Trip from mid-January to mid-February, we did have occasion to stop in Ukiah, California for a visit with Thomas Allen and his unique California Balsamic business.

Located in a nondescript building in what looks like an industrial warehouse complex, Thomas runs his predominantly mail-order and food-fair Balsamic Vinegar and Olive Oil Business.  From what I gathered, they don’t usually sell directly from their small warehouse.

Various sizes and varieties of California Balsamics

I stopped by to visit in order to pick up a number of items for my wife, who uses Balsamic in all of her salads and other items as part of her Whole Food Plant-Based dietary regimen.  Many of the California Balsamic products are sodium free, gluten free, vegan and vegetarian friendly. Their products feature the finest fruit essential oils, rice bran oil and 25 star balsamic from Modena, Italy – a custom balsamic made with an exceptionally high quality grape must (freshly crushed fruit juice that contains the skins, seeds, and stems of the fruit) from the Trebbiano and Spirgola grape that enhance flavor and texture. The sugars found in the balsamic vinegars are natural sugars from the grapes. No processed sugar is added to any of the California Balsamic products.

Unique Balsamic Flavors including the Curry Balsamic
California Balsamic owner Thomas Allen shows off his product

Knowing we would be driving to (and ultimately staying overnight in) Ukiah after a wonderful drive through the Northern California redwood forests, I called Thomas to arrange for a visit and was grateful for his willingness to visit with me after-hours in order to fulfill our order.  We got there after 7 PM and he was gracious and even gave me a small tour and loaded my palate with a number of unique flavors.  I have had a number of balsamic vinegar flavors from a place local in Lexington, but nothing like what they make there in Ukiah.

Thomas purchased the business in 1996 after traveling to various places in the world and also living in Japan.  (We even did a little conversing in Japanese!!)

Unique flavors filled with herbs and spices. Shake well!

After the little tour, Thomas began introducing me to a number of his flavors.  Unlike the balsamics we had bought in Lexington, many of his have other flavors, herbs and spices blended in.  They actually need to be shaken well to mix everything.  Some of his flavors, like his Blazin Habanero Balsamic and Spice Traders Curry Balsamic are to die for…really.  They are so flavorful you can take a small spoonful and enjoy them on their own!  Then there is the habanero infused Raspberry Flame Balsamic which is just wonderful.

Travel Size Bottles perfect for taking on an airplane

Thomas is also thoughtful enough to have made sure that he could provide TSA-approved 3 oz travel size plastic bottles of most of his flavors. These are great for those wanting to get a salad before their flight (or take on a flight) and not have to use dressings with oil and sugar.  My wife loves these as well for taking her balsamic flavors to work and not having to lug a big bottle with her.  She now has many good flavors and uses the smaller bottles for refilling.

I really can’t say enough about Thomas Allen and his business.  After our trip,we turned around and ordered even more.  The glass bottles of Balsamic arrived in less than a week and none were broken.  Excellent job!

More fruity flavors – look how thick the vinaigrette is

If you like Balsamic Vinegars and have not tried California Balsamics, please give them a try.  You can order them at https://californiabalsamic.com/ and Thomas will get them out quickly. Let them know that Sumoflam sent you.

(Note to readers:  I am not getting any commission or free product for this post.  However, they have sent me some samples of up and coming flavors which are yet unannounced.)

WATCH FOR MY NEW BOOK “8154” — COMING SOON TO AMAZON

I am currently working on my FOURTH book, titled “8154” to represent the mileage of my epic road trip with family.  You can visit my Amazon Author Page to see my other books at https://amzn.to/3azY36l

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AtoZ Challenge 2020 – 8154: An Epic Road Trip – Reflections #atozchallenge

In early 2020 I traveled across the country with  the course of three weeks.  My A to Z posts this year will have the “8154” theme, which will also be the title of my forthcoming new book that will document the epic road trip.  Each of my entries highlighted a few stories with photos based on the alphabet and not the order of the trip.  If you missed any of the posts, check out my page with all of the links HERE.  I will reflect back on this past month’s posts.  Enjoy the Read! Enjoy the Ride! (all photography by David “Sumoflam” Kravetz)

What a Whirlwind!

CA 198 in Sequoia National Park

Throughout the month of April I participated in the A to Z Challenge.  It was my fourth straight year, but this one was really my most interesting yet.  Beginning in March the Coronavirus hit the world.  I am amazed how a microscopic thing could have such a massive impact on the world.  The world was shut down effectively, but the internet and the opportunity to post content was not.

Patrick Amiot – “Crow Bar” in Sebastapol, CA

It has been a whirlwind.  What made it more so was knowing (in hindsight) that while the coronavirus was hitting the U.S. in Washington and California back in January and February while I was traveling out there with my daughter and her three children.  Many of the places we visited, including massive National Parks like the Grand Canyon, were eventually closed.  In fact, as of this writing, many are still closed.  Restaurants, hotels and other businesses are closed all over the country.  Interstate travel bans are in effect across most states.  As of this writing on May 5, 2020, nearly 70,000 Americans have died of this virus since mid-February…while we were still traveling!!

I am both amazed and grateful that we are all home and safe. And brought back a boat load of memories.

ENJOYING THE RIDE

Interstate 90 at the Montana / Idaho border in late January 2020

I really like to share my travels with the world and the A to Z Challenge provides a great platform to share these with many people of diverse backgrounds and cultures.

Family at the Grand Canyon

Over the course of the past month I posted my 26 posts and included over 300 photos and dozens of unique stories of the places we saw on our epic road trip.  Thus far I have had over 20 comments from readers and well over 200 views of the posts.  I am thrilled for the visits and the experience.

What did you miss?

If you haven’t visited any of my posts, I shared a link to a page that has all of the links at the top of this post.  Please visit it and click on any of the links.  In the mean time, what did you miss?

Montana Highway 1 near Opportunity, Montana
  • A road trip of 8154 miles across 20 states in 21 days
  • Lovely photos of wildlife like eagles, bison, prairie dogs, seagulls and more
  • Amazing scenery from all kinds of geography including mountains, deserts, oceans and massive forests
  • Visits to over a dozen National Parks and Monuments
  • Stories and photos of many unique and quirky road side attractions
  • Visits, photos and stories about towns with unique names
  • A few fun and unique places to eat
  • An opportunity to learn about a different perspective on the amazing diversity of these United States
Pacific Coast as seen from Long Beach, Washington
welcome to Happy, Texas
Bald Eagle, taken on US Highway 2 near Davenport, WA
Big guy at Rainbow Rock Shop in Holbrook, AZ
Mount Rushmore as seen from a tunnel on Iron Mountain Road. The tunnel was built intentionally to frame the monument
Joshua Trees near Baker, CA
Martian Soda anyone?
Sandhill Cranes in West Texas
Paul Bunyan in Klamath, California
San Francisco CA
Uranus Fudge Factory, St Robert, Missouri
Carhenge in Alliance, Nebraska
Caddo Lake bayou near Uncertain, Texas

WATCH FOR MY NEW BOOK “8154” — COMING SOON TO AMAZON

I am currently working on my FOURTH book, titled “8154” to represent the mileage of my epic road trip with family.  You can visit my Amazon Author Page to see my other books at https://amzn.to/3azY36l

 

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