**It’s obvious I’ll never get back to entering “diary” posts as I used to, but realizing how much I value reviewing some events of past years (birding, gardening, travel)….I’d best get in a tiny review of this spring, 2013:
FEBRUARY: TRIP to No California – Redwoods, Wineries, and good ole’ Ripon.
WHY did we DRIVE down? Lessee,
1) R’s new truck had only enjoyed life in the commute lane so far, and seemed to need a foot on the pedal a little further down to experience “life”….. (did that fool anybody?). And we’d “save money” by not boarding Mac. Baloney. Take your dog and you pay extra at motels, etc…etc…
That being said, the first 3 days of this trip were just plain fabulous in a time by ourselves n dog leisurely driving down the California Coast. As SOON as we were out of Oregon, the weather seemed brighter…MORE sun, and MAC had his first Ocean swim in years, here just south of Crescent City, CA:
**I WAS entirely impressed….that he transferred all his retrievals skills in seconds to a wild SURF….what a POWERFUL swimmer….he NEVER lost sight of those sticks no matter what the surf did to them….. GOOD boy!
*I should mention we had a grand time eating in Crescent City …it was Crabbing Time….and seems the Chart Room Restaurant was the locals hangout. TWICE we ate their… Crab Benedicts in the morning were fabulous.
Then we began the south drive….only wanting to get to Eureka. Once again, this day, we ate at a life favorite little dive right down at the fishermen’s dock edge in Trinidad, CA. Yes, the SEASCAPE is THE place to go for seafood …has been for a mighty LONG time…you’ll like WAIT a while if you right at lunchtime….(I saw some reviewers say, blah blah…not what it used to be, etc…..it’s a DIVE. I don’t know what they were told to expect when coming here). Anyways, we kept moving.
We took off 101 to see Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park since we’d never been there….Talk about peace, quiet, and a sense of wonder. Down to the feel, the smells, stillness, all are powerful feelings these spaces create inside you. The “Big” Tree here, some 1500 years old, among a few other famous ones, numbers among some of the largest in the world. We had to sit and wonder about a tree that could even BE 1500 years old…..and to first time absorb that redwoods used to cover huge parts of this continent and Europe…..yes things have changed, but they get MY reverence for sure:
The “nurse” logs are almost unbelievable. This one was almost as tall as I am, and the tree that has grown out of it 100′ tall…..
Where’s Mark? How can you walk through these forests with a big ego. You cannot:
So, we arrived Arcata, shopped, loved that town……moved on to stay at Eureka….having a great time sightseeing, shopping….and continuing our drive through the Avenue of the Giants (Redwoods) next day. It was SO fun, even though the entire trip to Guerneville for that night was only 215 miles, it took most of the day….YEP, unplugged, just enjoying California’s finest forests.
And yes, MAC found water anywhere he went.
*At one point, we stopped hoping to capture another one of those “moments”….we heard water, saw two big trees just parallel to each other…one burned by lightning long ago…looking closer, the entire inner shell of the other burned out by that same strike HOW many years ago? Wow…… Doggy Mac, however, had other ideas….he KNEW that mini-river was close….we let him go and in this smaller space, he seemed to think he was in his little mud wallow back home and began howling, vocalizing for his life! We finally began walking back to the car, he’d watch, then jump BACK in for a few paddles…..look back, wait, swim, look, swim….then he finally began coming back. He saw were getting close to the truck…..he seemed to make a calculated decision: Lessee, the creek, I can make it if I run…they’ll never notice.” He took off…had his final few minutes….and slept the rest of the day in the back seat, happy and tired.
Here he was, checking ev few minutes to make sure we hadn’t left him:
Note: After every swim, he, of course, could no longer ride in the cab and had to endure a cool wind on his coat until he dried a bit, but he sure was handsome in his coat matching the redwoods colors:
Sunday night: Guerneville for Friday Night and the finale’ of Downton Abbey that would be enjoyed in our little single cabin at Fern Grove Cottages, owned/managed by a proper British Lady…she and I had a delightful 10 minutes debating just “who” was going to have their sad life ended up that night on the Abbey….. We had some fun meeting a local or 5 at what seems now, “historic” Rainbow Cattle Company…..and home in time for the show! How COULD they do that! Now, in Maria Nash’s words, “Mary will probably end up marrying Tom and enjoying life finally….until Tom gets run over by a tractor.”
And finally the next day, we are to begin our 4-5 day stay at the World Mark Resort with cousin Stan and Mary for a series of wine tastings, renewing friendship with Elena & Emilio, and general relaxation time in “Wine Country”…a new experience. It started, however, with MAC being boarded at what seems to be an upscale Olivet Boarding Kennel in Santa Rosa….very close to the resort. We didn’t pay for the “extra option” of the deluxe room where we could watch him on camera if WE were “lonely”……what? Geez.
Stan and Mary arrived shortly after we did:
The next 3 days were a whirl of wine tastings, grand meals (one at the Culinary Institute of America…formerly the old castle called Christian Bros Wineries)……. and we were joined by our good friends….Emilio and Elena.
Emilio and Elena are in this Wine Country loving their new life, and it was time to see them…….Wine Tasting was an experience Mark had never even considered …since he had never really been a wine drinker….. would it work? Could he be turned into a lush?
Well at least ONE of these days WAS one to remember the rest of my life. Castello Di Amorosa is where Emilio sells wine…and we HE the grand host, giving us a private tour of the entire castle, great tasting experience, and all. We joined Elena that evening for a fabulous Italian Dinner at a place owned by one of their friends. I was sorry we didn’t have the camera along.
Next day, Healdsburg where we enjoyed the best pizza we’ve ever eaten at DIAVOLA PIZZERIA . . . .Italian, wood oven, just fabulous…..and great staff to make sure you enjoyed your time. I’m SURE part of the success is that the pizzeria part has evolved from their time running as a butcher shop….good stuff!
The 3-4 days is almost a blur of exotic old wineries, beautiful beautiful country, and the COMPANY of fabulous people. Stan and Mary were patient with us newbies, and their wisdom here was truly appreciated. It was also great to see Elena & Emilio, and…..enjoy our LAST night in town at Franco’s Restaurant Italiano . . . .Their friend Franco made sure our table had as fabulous a time as someone could ….a memorable night, with fabulous fresh pasta & seafood.
Finally, Feb 25, we moved on the heart of Almond Country, out in the valley, near Modesto. Ripon, Almond Capitol of the World has its annual Almond Blossom Festival last w/e in February, where Rodger’s Aunt Paula has hosted a family get-together for what seems a lifetime. The numbers are getting smaller, a generation’s changing, and it seemed right to be here this year.
We always enjoy this time with her….she does a mountain of work getting ready, and we get to help with last minute details, like: Potato Salad prep, etc. The next day’s a whirlwind with the parades, the carnival, shopping, eating, laughing, remembering….and here the family is (One MUST click on the pic to get everyone in):
Our last night, we got to join up with cousins Karen T, Bruce & Kevin in Oakdale, “Cowboy Capitol of the World” . . . .for the Oscar Show….again, fabulous food, an grand times with old friends……….
FINALLY! We HAD to move on, and moved our gear along to Alameda where we once again joined up with David & Serafina who’ve married since our last visit. This was a more relaxing couple of days, and we needed it….. Talk about grand hosts, though, SERAFINA had worked with and has become a friend with the Master Pipe Organist at Stanford University where the Stanford Memorial Church (a cathedral in my opinion)….has 5 organs installed…. Yes, 3 small, 2 large. Robert Huw Morgan said to get us down there and we’d get a private tour of said organs and that turned out to be an unforgettable experience….almost up in the rafters of the cathedral….we learned lots, watched Robert PLAY, and then he let Mark even dabble a few lines, and that was unforgettable:
The Cathedral view from that organ spot:
Those few days will not be forgotten.
Our last night was a big departure, and worthy of big note….. Mark’s oldest sibling, the only girl, and oldest grandchild on both sides of our family, died at 33 from Cancer leaving 3 small girls…… None of us were close to the husband, and the kids grew up in touch with my parents but not me or the brothers. A couple years ago, niece Karen visited us in Portland when she was here on a science conference. So, it was perfect that our last night we got to see her and meet her FABULOUS dog JAVA, a Mastiff, who, at 4 yrs, thinks he’s a puppy:
We had a grand time, talking non-stop……till bedtime and an early start next morning after Karen prepped our five star breakfast for us. GREAT seeing Karen.
We DID have one more night’s stop in Ashland, but fatigue was catching up with us….it was spent laying on a motel bed watching TV. Sad, eh?
A Grand Trip.