Stuck in Petaluma again

All the available accommodations in Bodega Bay were pretty pricey, and since it was only going to be me, all I needed was a cheap place to lay my head for a night. I booked a room at a Motel 6 in Petaluma, about 45 minutes away from my final destination.

I’ve driven through Petaluma a few times before and it always seemed like, well, kind of a bland little town. In my brief encounters with Petaluma it seemed as if it could have been the inspiration for Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Stuck in Lodi Again.”

With a bunch of Google maps that I printed out at home, I arrived at my motel around 3 p.m. I checked in, freshened up a bit and headed to the coast. The directions had me getting on Highway 101, heading north for a few miles then exiting to take the rest of the way on the country roads.
After shooting at Bodega Bay for a good part of the afternoon and into the evening, I decided to call it a night and drove back the way I came.

I made it back to the place where I exited Highway 101. I thought it would be a simple matter of taking the onramp and heading south. But the southbound onramp was closed because of construction, something that Google maps didn’t show. I drove farther down the rural road that paralleled the freeway for several miles until I came upon an onramp that was open.
I drove south on 101 looking for the street that would lead me to my motel. I soon realized that all the landmarks and reference points that I tried to remember going to the bay were now obscured by the darkness. None of the exits looked familiar. I decided to get off at the next street, lest I end up in the next town and really become lost. It was Petaluma Boulevard South. Aptly named, I thought. If it couldn’t get me to where I wanted to go, then nothing would.

For the first mile or so things looked a bit dark and bleak, but then I got to the downtown area. The Petaluma that I had driven through previously and that had looked so drab and boring had a nightlife that seemed more exciting than a town of its size should have. It was well past 10 p.m., and people were still walking the streets. Restaurants were not only open but were busy. People stood outside the Mystic Theater (for an intermission, I guessed) where the House of Floyd (a Pink Floyd cover band) was playing. The streets were well lit, and some pretty fancy neon graced many buildings and windows. I stopped and wandered the streets myself to shoot some of the night scenes.

After a while I got back in my car and continued on my way on Petaluma Boulevard which now changed from South to North. I finally found a gas station, where I asked for directions. The attendant said that I should keep going in the direction that I was headed and I’d get to my destination in a few miles.

In hindsight, it was good to get a little lost in Petaluma to find out that the dark of night washed away the drab dinginess of the light of day and made the city seem like an interesting place to be.

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