Meet Your Guide
Travel Expert, Speaker, Advocate
When I was 19 years old, I embarked on my first independent road trip. What was initially planned as a post-freshman year getaway quickly became a transformative experience that showed me the healing power of road trips. Traveling solo has allowed me to connect with locals and other travelers in ways I may not have otherwise.
Meet Mikah Meyer
Mikah Meyer is a road trip and national parks expert, American travel journalist, and LGBTQ+ advocate. In 2019, he became the first person to visit all 419 U.S. National Park Service sites in a single journey. With an adventure ethos inspired by the loss of his road-trip-loving father to cancer, Mikah now uses travel to advocate for others.
Where I Explored
I’ve made it easy for you to take the same exact trip I did. Read on to learn more about my experience, then download the map and start planning your own adventure to reflect on abundance.
Check in at Olea Hotel
It is more than a hotel—it’s an oasis. Tucked amongst olive and oak trees, this elegant boutique hotel is the perfect place to unwind, explore, and escape. I stayed in one of their garden cottages right next to the swimming pool. One of my favorite features of this room was the indoor/outdoor fireplace and my own personal outdoor seating area.
Expert Tip: Shift from “doing” mode to “being” mode. Upon waking up, look out the window and tell yourself: “I’m at leisure. I have permission to enjoy the fruits of my labor.” Then pledge an intention to be 100 percent in the experience of where you are all day.
Horseback Riding with Triple Creek at Jack London State Park
One of the best ways to experience gratitude is to connect with nature or animals and this allowed me the opportunity to do both. As I followed my guide through a trail that circled through the lush trees of Jack London State Park, I could appreciate the quiet ambiance of nature, the sun on my face, and the steady beat of my horse’s footsteps. I don’t have much horse riding experience, and they considered this when choosing the perfect horse to gently guide me through the trail. My ride was borderline meditative as I took in the scenery and the beauty of nature—leaving me feeling grateful for the gift of life, health, and travel.
Glen Ellen Market and Lunch with the Transcendence Theatre Company
After my ride, I stopped off at Glen Ellen Market to grab a few of their house made sandwiches, snacks, and bottled drinks. I had a picnic lunch planned with Maggie and Malloy from Transcendence Theatre Company. As a vocal performer myself, I was excited to learn about the work they do, so we decided to meet at Jack London State Park, where their performances take place. They say that Transcendence can’t be explained, it can only be experienced. I hope to be back to Sonoma County soon to find out for myself.
After a morning connecting with others and immersing myself in the fabric of Sonoma County, I was eager to experience what the area is best known for: The wine. A stop at VJB Cellars was on the top of my list. This family-owned winery has a sun-kissed courtyard with tables and umbrellas scattered about for you to sit and sip as you explore the grounds. They also offer a tasting room, boutique, country store, truffle shop, and more. It’s an easy place to spend all day. I tasted my way down a list of wines—the Rosso Family Blend was a favorite—and enjoyed a caprese board with housemade mozzarella, tomato, and basil wrapped in prosciutto. The ambiance allowed me to savor each bite and really immerse myself in the experience.
Expert Tip: Practice Mindful Eating. After pausing with gratitude for the food on your plate and all who worked to get it there, try tuning into all five of our senses as you experience the beautiful colors, flavors, smells and textures of every bite.
Dinner at Sante
Being in Sonoma County gave me an immense feeling of gratitude—not just because I was in one of the most beautiful places in our country, but because of the kindness and hospitality I experienced everywhere. Located inside the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn, Sante was the backdrop of one of the most memorable meals of my life. I started with the grilled and glazed quail and could have made a meal out of that in itself. The sauce was sticky-sweet and so mouthwatering, I wanted to abandon my fork and dig right in. As my meal progressed, it became evident that Executive Chef Jared Reeves has a smooth touch when it comes to flavor combinations and transforming ordinary into extraordinary. Each bite transported me to a memory with a specific time and place. For example, the BBQ Spiced Heirloom Carrots reminded me of snacking on BBQ potato chips as a child. Alongside each bite, I sampled a variety of wines. The most memorable was called Machete and it was from the Dave Phinney collection. It reminded me of somebody who was special to me and we are no longer in touch. I shared this story with a local Sonoma resident dining next to me, and he said, “It never hurts to let someone know something made you think of them, and it made you happy.” So I reached out after dinner with a quick text. And as the local wisely shared, they were happy to hear from me and grateful that I reached out to let them know I was thinking of them.
Expert Tip: Adopt a beginners mind. When we allow life to unfold moment by moment and let go of our desire to control the outcome, we might be surprised by what we discover. To do this, you can connect to the same sense of wonder you had as a child as you encountered something for the very first time or remind yourself that this moment in time will never exist again.
Rock Climbing at Session
I always love to experience adventure wherever I go, so it was nice to start my day with Mike at Session. He and his business partner Kevin Jorgeson have been part of Sonoma County’s rock climbing community since 1995, and they recently opened this indoor facility to bring rock climbing to the masses. They offer memberships, but if you’re in town for a visit, you can also take advantage of a day pass. It felt good to move my body in a way I hadn’t done for awhile, and to learn about Kevin and Mike’s experience as climbers in Sonoma County.
In Santa Rosa, I found Farmacopia nestled between a few small shops in a plaza. They offer an ever-expanding array of rigorously vetted herbal medicines, nutrients, and all-natural cruelty-free body care. The most interesting part of the shop was their Tincture Bar located in the back. They stock several hundred professional strength liquid herbal extracts to create tinctures that are specifically blended by their practitioners before being shipped directly to your door. I watched as they filled customer orders for specialized tinctures and explored the store. The staff was extremely knowledgeable and helpful as I explained certain things that were bothering me and they mixed up a special tincture just for me. If you’re curious to visit a natural apothecary, this is the place to go.
As I rolled up onto the grounds at Belden Barns, it took me back to my days growing up in Nebraska—with good reason. Once I met Nate Belden, I realized he was from Nebraska too! Our regional connection immediately made me feel at home, although I probably would have felt it anyway. Nate is a farmer at heart, who just happens to grow grapes that make award-winning wines. He and his wife Lauren have a very intentional approach to the lives they lead as farmers, wine makers, and parents.
Belden Barns has a barn for wine tastings, but as I explored the vines, I realized the focal point tucked down at the bottom of a hill--the Wishing Tree. Nate explained that when he and Lauren got married on that property shortly after they purchased it, their friends and family wrote wishes and attached them to the tree. That day they realized all of their own wishes had come true, so they invited everybody to write a wish for themselves—which is exactly what they did. And ever since, anybody who visits Belden Barns is invited to write a wish and attach it to the tree. I read wishes from people who wanted to have babies, conquer cancer, write a book, and have happy lives. I wrote a wish and added it to the branches.
Expert Tip: Embrace the Energy of Being Alive. Take time at the top to pause and notice how your body feels. If you’re thinking about the past or the future, your heart rate and blood pressure are most likely elevated, while your immunity is slightly suppressed. Bring yourself into the present moment and notice the effects.
Dinner at Glen Ellen Star
When traveling solo, people often ask me how it is to dine alone. I find it peaceful. It’s always a great time to put my phone away and review the pictures in my mind—the memories. Dining alone also allows me to connect with people too. At Glen Ellen Star, my seat at the chef’s table was between two couples. We started off with small talk, and by the end of the evening, we were buying each other drinks.
Chef Ari Weiswasser and his wife Erinn Benziger-Weiswasser offer a cozy, welcoming atmosphere. The bustling, well-run kitchen makes good use of their wood-fire oven; it’s not just pizzas and flatbreads that they produce. The menu was rich with wood-fired vegetables, fired meats, and charred seafood and starters. They also offer a variety of Sonoma County wines to go with your meal.
Expert Tip: Linger. Try to avoid rushing through your trip. Lingering gives you the time to meet new people, explore a place more deeply, learn something, savor the moment. You are not in a race. It doesn’t matter what time it is. Hang out and see where your curiosity goes.
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