Enjoy eye-catching sculptures and alternative shopping

As you approach Sebastopol on State 116west, an hour's drive north of the Golden Gate Bridge, look for theFosters Freeze to your right: Perched on the roof is a scarletconvertible driven by a guy accompanied by his red-haired wife anda yapping dog. The car is the work of local artist PatrickAmiot, a French Canadian who creates "urban folk art" fromdiscarded junk. His sculptures, from a dynamic 12-foot Batman to a1930s pickup truck with a cow in its bed, have become Sebastopol'smost intriguing attractions.

Known during much of the past century for its apple orchards,Sebastopol has become a haven for independent thinkers and artists,and its downtown shops reflect that alternative spirit. Rosemary'sGarden (closed Sun; 132 N. Main St.; 707/829-2539) sells looseherbs, tea, and body-care products. Many Rivers Books & Tea (130 S. Main; 707/829-8871), a bookstore and teahouse,specializes in spiritual writing from the likes of the Dalai Lama,not to mention Dr. Seuss.

Sebastopol's down-to-earth flavor extends to its eateries. Trythe ricotta pancakes served during Sunday brunch at Lucy'sRestaurant, Bar & Bakery ($$; 6948 Sebastopol Ave.; 707/829-9713). A local favoritefor dinner is Alice's Restaurant at 101 Main ($$; closed Sun; 101 S. Main; 707/829-3212), with comfortfood like herb-marinated steak. Screamin' Mimi's (6902 Sebastopol Ave.; 707/823-5902) serves natural sorbetsand ice creams, such as Mimi's Mud ― coffee with chunks ofcookies and fudge.

But Amiot's fanciful sculptures are what make visitors stop intheir tracks. From Main, walk two blocks west on Bodega Avenue andturn right on Florence Avenue. You may pass a skeleton riding amotorcycle, a hula dancer whose grass skirt sways in the breeze, ora giant jukebox with Elvis inside.

If you leave town heading east on State 12, you'll see a massivemetal cow towering over dozens of real Holsteins. At dusk, the livebovines gather around the mother of all cows and use the sculptureas a scratching post, says Amiot, who fears they might tip it over.A giant cow-tipping with fellow cud-chewers as suspects ―only in Sebastopol.

SEBASTOPOL STATS

WHERE: From San Francisco, take U.S. 101 north 40 miles toState 116 west.

CONTACT: www.sebastopol.org or(707) 823-3032.

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