my oh-so-normal life

Location: California, United States

There are no random acts. We are all connected. You can no more separate one life from another than you can separate a breeze from the wind. (the five people you meet in heaven)

Friday, October 31, 2008

Grassy Creek Winery

Somehow, we made it to this very cool little winery just 20 minutes or so before they closed. Tastings for $3 (yea!), and cool ballcaps for $5. We chatted with the two men behind the counter, looking for a good Italian spot. The younger one was telling us about a place his friend owned, just down the roads, with no liquor license, but he could get us in with some wine, so we agreed to follow him there despite the weird comments he had made about his wife and asking us if we were “together-together.” So, we are starved. All we’ve had all day is chips and dips, so we are looking forward to an actual meal given all the alcohol and that it’s now after 6. So, when Jason heads down a hill, we think he’s taking a short-cut to the food.
Jason pulls down to a pond and tells us this is where he goes fishing, blah, blah, blah. We’re still hungry. (It really is all about food.) Then Jason tries to impress us by whizzing back up the hill, only to start spinning and sliding backwards. Scared me a bit. Then he waves us on. My heart pounding and remembering snowy lessons from my dad with a car with rear-wheel drive, I put it in D3, step slowly on the gas, and begin up the hill. S yells out the window at Jason to put it in low gear. Even with all that, there was a moment the tires of our Sebring convertible slipped on the red clay. My heart was pounding. We made it to the top and walked back down to find Jason inches from the edge of the pond. In a car that did not belong to him. We took him to get the tractor to pull out the car, but after dropping him off, we ditched him and headed to the winery open until 10. Old North State Winery---very cool, but the food leaves a bit to be desired.) We had no desire to stay in the area with Creepy Jason around. In fact, we canceled our plans to go back hiking the next morning and headed out to find better adventures instead.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Yadkin Valley

Even today, I don’t know how, but S managed to find this area. I hate to be a snob, but after France and northern California, other wine regions have to really put up a fight to get my attention. We decided to stay in Jonesville because the Jonesville/Elkin area seemed to have such a great concentration of vineyards. There is actually an area within the Yadkin Valley called The Swan Creek Wine Trail comprised of five wineries that have their own appellation. S and I managed to visit these five in one day (plus a few more.)
I must admit, it’s a bit of a toss-up, which was my favorite. The views at both Dobbins Creek and Raffaldini were amazing. The wines at both were decent, but the memories of the trip far outweigh any tastings. Shadow Springs Vineyard had a strawberry wine. I refused to taste any of the sweet wines, but I relented on this one because of the song. (“Strawberry wine, seventeen…”) It was amazing. It tasted just like strawberries. Phenomenal. But two sips were enough. We headed out from here to Dobbins Creek with its amazing views. Great place to sit and enjoy a glass.
View from Dobbins
Then we headed off to Raffaldini which was full of fun. S and I got some wine (and some hats… “Raffaldini…Chianti in the Carolinas”) and headed out to the patio to sit around a large table in the late afternoon sun. We sat sipping our wine, taking pics, when an elderly woman approached us and asked if the other seats at our table were free. We told her yes, but S added that there was a price to pay. If she wanted to sit at our table, she had to take a picture of us. The woman looked down at her camera, looked at us, and asked, “But, how will you get the picture if I take it with my camera?” I quickly told her she could take it with ours. She walked off to take some photos of the scenery, and S turned to me and said. “Her name must be Beverly or Stella.” We decided B/S would do for short, but she turned out to be Rose. She took our picture, we took a few more scenic shots, shots of each other jumping in the air (I’m so glad we are so unconcerned about what other people think of us!), some more photos by strangers, and then decided to see what else was out there.

View from Raffaldini

According to our brochure, there were two other wineries, one open until 9, the other til 10. We headed off to the one open until 9, only to find that it had actually closed at 5. We whipped around with S’s great directions to our next adventure….

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Traveling Bar
I know that I own too many shoes. In that respect, I am my mother’s daughter. While I have always known that I resemble my father more physically and in character, I thought the resemblance ended there. Before my parents sold the house that they had owned for about 20 years, I went to help clean out the house and discovered that my father owned a couple dozen coolers and just as many pieces of luggage. In that instant, I knew that I was truly my father’s daughter.

So, as I have told S many times, any road trip (even just a short trip for a couple of hours to go shopping) necessitates a cooler. Why stop and buy drinks when you can bring your own? With a road trip, this is even more pertinent. So, S and I head out to rural NC with our own personal bar: a 12 pack of assorted microbrewery beers, 3 bottles of wine, and the fixings for margaritas. Little did we know when I made the reservation that we were staying in a dry city, but we had no problem as we had brought our personal supply. Our own beverages, our own music, great conversation, we are self-sufficient.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Road Trip
I’ve been bugging S for a while…let’s go on a road trip. So, we finally set out on a three-day adventure, to north-western North Carolina. S had discovered the Yadkin Valley online, so we made that our destination. We departed Hampton Roads, heading east on the 58 to Emporia, then south on the 95 until we hit the 158. Rural roads are better. Rural roads teach you things you will never learn on a freeway. Lesson number one: in southern Virginia, you can find cotton fields everywhere. I pulled off the side of the road to take a picture, and suddenly, we had a police car with the lights flashing behind our car. My hear t was racing. I looked at the policeman, and he gave me the “thumbs up” sign. I pointed at my camera and mouthed that I wanted to take a few pictures, was that okay? He laughed and drove off.
We saw many more cotton fields after that. All impressive. S has actually picked cotton herself. The cotton fields make me think of Eli Whitney.Tobacco. Of course it’s logical that you would see tobacco in the south. More than logical, in fact. But I had no idea what the crop actually looked like. S pointed it out to me, and it was amazing to see tobacco being dried in rural NC, the same way it was dried hundreds of years ago.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Northern California Wine Country
E and I headed to the Square (or Plaza) in Sonoma. I have so many memories here, mostly with my mother, some with Tea, all wonderful. The Valley of the Moon Festival, amazing vineyards, a true sense of joie de vivre. To have it all within reach and not realize what one has. I think that is the greatest lesson in life…appreciation. Sometimes I wish that I could go back in time and really be aware of how lucky I have been and how amazing my surroundings have been, but that is all part of growing up and learning what is truly important. One thing I’ve realized…how truly blessed I am by all the amazing people I know. E and I visited several wineries: Truchard Vineyards, Péju, Cakebread Cellars, Provenance. We managed to hit the Napa outlet on the way out of town. The scenery, as always, was phenomenal, and the company exceptional. As much as I can now appreciate my surroundings, I am constantly in awe of the amazing people I have encountered along the way. I am even more amazed with those who have stuck, who are an integral part of my life. Even if I don’t see you every day, you are huge influences, and I love you all.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Home Again, Home Again…

Jiggetty jig. Back to SF. Home, sense of family. So nice to be back in my element, to feel like me. E and I head north. Petaluma. Small town, slow pace, great surroundings. But, Petaluma always makes me think of Polly Klass, such a sad memory, but it’s not mine, just a collective memory that is part of my past.
My personal Petaluma memories include the small, beautiful downtown and especially Della Fattoria. Great family, fascinating story, fantastic food. Tea introduced me last year, and she joined E and me for dinner our first night in Sonoma.
Prior to joining Tea, E and I visited Truchard Vineyards, truly fantastic. I had a case shipped home. I keep thinking about retirement. Where do I really want to be? Sonoma and Napa are really great choices to consider….

Della Fattoria

Monday, October 20, 2008

Start Spreading The News...
I never was overcome by any intense attraction to NYC. My dreams were always Out West. Although, I must admit, since I have gone to visit K several times in NYC, I must say that NYC is undeniably different, and I do understand why people are so attracted to the city. It's a great convergence of many cultures and ideas, and I do love being in a city where you can walk. I love being able to get around without a car. You can find history in every corner, and some of the most fabulous sights in the world.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

New Oak Vineyard
I liked this place: a no-nonsense, down-home vineyard in the countryside about one hour from Kansas City. The red made from the Norton grapes was good, and the scenery was outstanding.