Last fall, I fulfilled a lifelong dream and traveled to Cuba. I am a trial attorney in Virginia Beach, Virginia, and was traveling alone to meet fellow travelers with a wonderful organization known as Cross Cultural Journeys. There were approximately 25 people on the trip, and we first met in the airport in Miami to complete the logistics and board the flight to Havana. It was a wonderful trip.

I was most interested in photographing the culture of the country, and especially the people of Cuba. Little did I now when I arrived at the airport that morning that I would meet some of the most wonderful people I have ever known and would, by the time that trip was over, have a group of lifelong friends living in San Francisco and Sonoma.

Most of the travelers were already known to each other before they met me. I fashioned my photographs into a DSVD and we scheduled a reunion in Sonoma in the spring. It was my first trip to that part of California. I fell in love with the area.

While I was in Sonoma, I was able to see much of the downtown, the Mission, the vineyards, plus a wonderful day in Jack London State Park. The weather was fantastic, even though Sonoma was in the middle of a drought. I was most impressed with the park, and especially the museum and the Jack London cottage, which was beautifully maintained and had many exhibits that were of great interest to me, given Jack London’s worldwide travels and the artifacts on display from his many adventures. I am just now finishing the last of the Jack London novels that I purchased at the bookstore that day.

Of particular interest to me was the news that a local group were actually the saviors and current stewards of the park. I thus learned the history of the park’s recovery – a most remarkable one. I was amazed that they had the wherewithal to maintain all the many aspects of the park and its maintenance and preservation (seven days a week) and to restore it to profitability for the many visitors from California, and throughout the country and the world, who have now attended to enjoy it.

We are blessed with many fine state parks along the coast between Virginia and the Carolinas, and I have spent a great deal of time in them all. None were any more beautiful or accessible or well-maintained than Jack London State Park. It is a true treasure for Sonoma, and I look forward to returning at my first opportunity. That a local initiative was able to save, restore and invigorate that property is a tremendous tribute to these thoroughly dedicated Sonomans.