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Heart's Desire

'Best of' local romance--
sex in the dunes, single dads

TRUE STORY: Seven or eight years ago, in Petaluma's small, rose-filled Wickersham Park, two young women sat amorously entwined on the grass. Seated on a wooden bench behind the two sat an elderly couple. After a time, the senior citizens arose to leave, but stopped where the youngsters lay. "Are you in love?" the man asked the surprised women. After an uncomfortable silence, they affirmed, shyly, that they were. "This is where we fell in love," the man replied. He paused, squeezed his smiling wife's hand, then nodded farewell. Being in love is a wonderful thing. Being in love in a beautiful place is even better.

Best Fountain to Kiss In

One of the reigning clichés of romantic movies is the much-loved, climactic little occurrence known as the "fountain embrace." You know it, right? Two people spy each other from opposite ends of some public fountain or pond or--as in the case of Tom Hanks' Forrest Gump--the big reflecting pool at the Washington Monument. Instead of walking around the watery obstruction the way normal people would do, these lovestruck souls always clamber right into the darn thing and then kiss and hug somewhere in its big wet middle. Should such a romance-movie impulse ever descend upon you, Sonoma County is full of appropriate spots for your frolick through city-owned H2O. Our favorite choice: Santa Rosa's Courthouse Square, replete with descending pools crowned by a rectangular, sidewalk-level fountain with enormous spewing spouts that will add drama to any kiss. The water is clean, but cold, and the piped-in classical music often wafts over from the park across the street. And there are always plenty of people around to applaud you, or not. It's perfect. And yes, it is quite illegal, so we're not really suggesting it. In fact, we discourage such behavior. Should you see your long-lost love across the courtyard, perhaps the two of you should meet at the water's edge for the big hug. It's still quite romantic--and you won't have to dry off afterwards--D.T.

Best Place to Watch the Ocean
While You Boff Your Mate

Why watch the walls and think of England (don't ask) when you can make love in the great outdoors? The 2.5-mile Pomo Canyon trail starts at Willow Creek State Park campground and leads to the rocky shores of Shell Beach. About halfway along the gentle trek, through towering redwoods, scrubby meadows, and fields of wildflowers, watch for a gathering of solicitous grassy vistas looking down upon the path. Scamper up there. Fill your eyes with bold blue ocean, subdued green neon hills, nippy white coastal clouds, and the brown feathers of a seafaring hawk. Listen to the music of nature as your mate contemplates the pastel sky and both of you are filled with warmth. Outside is breezy, inside warm, and, well, not dry. Willow Creek Campground is located on Willow Creek Road off of coastal Hwy. 1 next to the Sizzling Tandoor Restaurant at Bridgehaven near Jenner. Open April 1 through Nov. 1. 865-2391.--D.B.

Best Place to Meet a Single Father

So you hired a babysitter and checked out the local club scene. You chatted up a few guys in cyberspace and even tried a personal ad or two. Still no luck? Here's a tip for busy single moms looking for new relationships. Glide into something new at Snoopy's Ice Arena. Saturday afternoons are the best time to spot single dads with young ones in tow. Are these men responsible? Hey, they're spending quality time with their kids. Are they in shape? Well, at least they can wobble around on a pair of skates. Are they emotionally available? How the heck should we know! Still, it's wonderful to skate, practice a figure eight or two, sip a hot chocolate, and shop for Peanuts trinkets at this Charles Schulz­owned establishment. Redwood Empire Ice Arena and Snoopy's Gallery and Gift Shop, 1667 W. Steele Lane, Santa Rosa. 546-7147--S.P.

Best Place to Drive Around and
Dream About Your Dream House

Let's see, the master bedroom should have a sunken Jacuzzi tub, next to a big window with a major view. There should be a big yard, far enough from noisy roads to be quiet, but close in enough for you to be able to get groceries and other essentials in a reasonable amount of time. Close to the coast is nice, too, maybe with a few redwoods for shade in the summer. Where to find it all? Cruise the ridges west of Sebastopol, where the choice spots offer glimpses of the coastal fog banks on one side, the lights of Santa Rosa, and maybe even wispy plumes from the geysers along Mt. St. Helena's lower slopes. All with picturesque apple orchards in the foreground. Idyllic? To be sure. Plausible? Hey, right up front, we said we were dreaming--B.R.

Best Place to Shop for Wedding Rings

You've either popped the question or responded to it in the affirmative, and now you need to buy the wedding rings. Where do you go? The most economical and convenient spots for such purchases are your nearby shopping mall or big-box stores, but these are also --and get ready for an understatement--the least romantic places on the face of the earth. And shouldn't your quest for rings be as loaded with romantic trappings as possible? We joyfully suggest a trip to Duncans Mills, about an hour's drive from Hwy. 101 (go northwest on Hwy. 116). The destination--a tiny rustic community--is just part of the whole romantic pastiche. The journey iself will take you through some of the loveliest scenery in Sonoma County. Once there, mosey along the tiny stretch of Hwy. 116 that constitutes Duncans Mills' downtown. The galleries have loads of unusual items, including handmade jewelry--and wedding rings--that you won't find in any mega-mall. An ideal setting for browsing, staring into each other's eyes, and mapping out mutual futures. Handholding is mandatory--D.T.

Best Place to Pour Water over
Your Lover's Naked Shoulders

The Russian River is indeed the lifeline of the county, but the Gualala River is a helluva lot more private. As any couple who has ever tried to find the perfect spot along the Russian on a splendid Saturday afternoon can attest, when 400,000 other well-meaning people descend upon its banks with their children, dogs, transistors, and hibachis--a romantic finger-food kind of picnic à deux becomes decidedly à don't. Ah, but the charms of the Gualala River, whose quiet meanders can be found off of Skaggs Springs Road when caught up by Lake Sonoma, are as sibilant as its very name. Pull over where you can and scramble with wine bottles, blankets, and hampers down to its rocky shores. You're likely to find a river not as rushin' as the Russian, with rocky natural verandas along its shore, ample pools in which to float, and not one single other person around. Just your lover. Which brings us back to the naked shoulders.--G.G.

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From the March 27-April 2, 1997 issue of the Sonoma County Independent

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