The Oldest Hotel in California

Long ago, in a country far, far, away, there was a pod at a high school in Sebastopol who engaged in mildly criminal activities of the sort which are tolerated among white people, and one of them went to a summer camp and met a counselor of the fun loving randy sort who would be pilloried in the press in our more enlightened times; and when this counselor got a little older, he went to work for the music software company “Opcode”, and his band would have parties at the house of the company owner and the camp people, now suitably 18-ish, would come, and bring girls whom they had met on the primitive social network they had established with no money provided by Russians or Elon Musk or anybody, which is now physically impossible even though the Flat Earth no longer is, and that is the received aition explaining how this group of 16 people stopped at the Dutch Flat Hotel on a snowy evening two decades later.

Doug, from the Opcode side, has meanwhile married Hind, who is a mad cook. Hind cooks large. It would take a flock of chickens even to eat the vegetable peels when she prepares a feast. I suppose that back home in Lebanon, there was such a flock. Those chickens would have been busy for a few days, just to lay the eggs to make the butterscotch pudding when she took over the hotel kitchen. Justin likes custard and it was his birthday. Well, a month after his birthday.

Caramelizing sugar is quite an art. You really have to have everything be ready at just the exact right moment, and there were a lot of distractions with 16 people wandering in and out of an unfamiliar kitchen. The caramel turned into a brown blob reminiscent of the Elephant’s Foot formation at Chernobyl, but it was eventually broken up and persuaded to go back into solution with the egg yolks and milk. You can’t go wrong with milk, eggs, sugar, and half a box of cornstarch.

Other people brought bits and pieces, but I told Justin that the new rules of pot luck are:

Rule 1. If you ask Hind to bring food, don’t ask anyone else to bring food, and
Rule 2. If you ask Tollef to bring his bar, don’t ask anyone else to bring alcohol.

The snow outlined the branches like a Currier and Ives. Or, I guess in this century you would say Thomas Kinkade. Well, last century. Who paints pictures of horse-drawn sleighs in snow banks in 2018?

On St. Patrick’s Day, we went for a walk through the snow to one of the town’s many cemeteries. Dutch Flat now has only a few hundred retirees and remote workers in these post-Kinkade, pre-war years, but in Currier and Ives days, when the railroad was being put over the Sierras and gold flushed out of the hills with giant hoses, there were several thousand. Mostly Chinese, says Wikipedia, but I didn’t see their graves.

That was the start of our vacation. On Sunday, Dave and I drove down to San Francisco and got on a plane.