Thursday, April 20, 2006

Party house

Actually got a message from "Rosie" this morning: "there's nothing I can do. I wish there was, but there isn't."

Jessica picked me up at the motel at 11:30. We were going "house hunting" today. We need a venue for her graduation party. Since we have nothing bigger than an apartment here in Santa Rosa, we wanted to look at rentals in Dillon Beach.

Perfect weather.

We had a half dozen prospects to view at Dillon. At each house, capacity was limited from 8 to 10 guests, a fairly modest gathering indeed. None of the houses were very exciting. They all seemed to be suffering from neglect. It was a bit discouraging, especially considering the price tag for a three-day weekend: all over $1,000.

We stopped at the rental office in Tomales and learned that gatherings were strictly-limited in Dillon Beach. If a house was "rated" for 10 guests, no more than that can be present, even for a brief time. That convinced us to consider other options. Dillon Beach would not work.

Jessica suggested we look at Bodega Bay. It's more accessible and well-known.

We found the “Vacations Rental USA” sales office along Highway 1 and went in to see what was available in Bodega Bay. Well-organized, the agent provided information about several homes and sent us off on a self-guided tour.

Later, as we sat in their office viewing "virtual tours" of the houses on computer, I overheard an agent discussing a "3-for-2" deal with another customer. It didn’t hurt to ask. They gave us the same deal: "three nights for the price of two".

The “Gull House” looked good. We asked if we could look at the inside and see what amenities were provided. The agent gave us a key. We didn’t have much time, as this weekend's renters were due to arrive shortly.

It looked pretty ideal. A short walk to the beach along a path just beyond the back deck. “We’ll take it!”

Stopped for a hot dog at a nearby shop. In the bathroom, this from Sonoma County Health Sevices:

EMPLOYEES MUST WASH THEIR HANDS

BEFORE

Work or putting on gloves

AFTER

Using restroom
Sneezing or coughing
Handling raw food
Smoking, eating or drinking
Touching face or hair
Mopping floor
Taking out garbage
Handling money
Any chance of contamination

Having traveled where I've been, I've seen enough disgusting food service conditions, so instilling these standards is refreshing.

In our society, however, it seems the sign, which formerly just required the employee to wash their hands before returning to work, will inevitably grow to a wall-sized format.

Out to "Safeway", Bennett Valley. Redesigned á la "Pavillions" (in southern California).

Surveyed the wine selection. “Was the wine selection reduced?” I asked a clerk stocking the shelves.

“No. It was increased! The sodas and waters were reduced.”

Many premium wines with screwcaps - at least 20 products on their shelves. (Sorry, Russ!) But I believe this is big step forward.

Even plastic wine bottles (which we were investigating at Mondavi) are now on the shelf: “Virgin Vines” wine is marketed in plastic 187ml bottles.

I also noticed the candy aisle was radically condensed, with the most candy now marketed at the check-out lines, the display at each aisle identical to the next (obviously, it’s now mapped out, with only certain brands making the cut.)

And another new feature: an entire display of assorted "pre-paid gift cards". A plastic card for any occasion! This is something I had not seen before my trip south.

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