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2018-07-02 – WBCCI 2018 Wine Tasting Caravan – Day 1 – Russian River Valley

After a good night’s sleep in The Villa, in a pasture of a winery, we were ready to go!  We stopped at Starbucks for morning coffee, and we headed west on Hwy 12. We went through the Sacramento Delta, through the towns of Rio Vista, Fairfield, and Suisun City.  Then through the city of Napa, the Carneros region, and then into Sonoma County.

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Yes, it is gorgeous!

As we approached the River Bend RV park we called to see if our campsite was open – we were very early again.  We were told that it was not, so we did a little reconnoitering… On Thursday, we will be pulling our Airstreams from the RV park about 15 miles south to Sebastopol, for a tasting at Kosta Browne; then we are heading south to Paso Robles.  Since we needed space to park four Airstream rigs, I wanted to see for myself.  It was an easy drive, and we arrived in downtown Sebastopol in about 15 minutes.  We found the winery (it is not open to the public, and it is located in an industrial zone).  Happily, we found several streets that appeared to have plenty of space to park our rigs!

We headed back to the RV park, checked in, and met our first caravan participants: Don and Marian Hetzler, from Troy, Ohio.  We found that their Airstream is a twin to ours!

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Airstream only made 20-25 of this model between 2000 and 2005: 34′ Classic, with slide-out lounge.  And here we were with two of them!

After settling in we walked abround the park.  We had been here just two weeks ago, so there was not too much new.  The Russian River was still there:

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Soon our other caravanners arrived: Nora Stapleton from Costa Mesa, CA, and Diane and Tim Sommerville, from Laguna Niguel, CA.

As is our tradition, we held a GAM, or Get Acquainted Meeting.  This consisted of happy hours, with food and wine, and lots of conversations, getting to know each other.  We also discussed our itinerary while in this location, logistics of driving to the various wineries, and other technical issues.

And an enjoyable time was had by all!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2018-07-01 – Leaving for the WBCCI 2018 Wine Tasting Caravan

We left bright and early on Sunday morning.  I love driving in the early morning hours!  We headed west on the 210, which joins the northbound 5 in Sylmar, just as the climb over the Grapevine/Tejon pass (5,000′ elevation) begins…

It was an easy drive. I set the cruise control to 62 mph and never touched the pedals for two and one half hours.  We stopped for breakfast at the bottom of the hill; there was a large parking lot:

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Tomorrow we begin leading the WBCCI 2018 Wine Tasting Caravan.  We will be spending time at some of our favorite wineries in the Russian River Valley (western Sonoma County), Paso Robles, and the Santa Maria/Santa Ynez Valley.  We will be joined by three other Airstreams.  Our “rendezvous” is tomorrow; more on the caravan later.

After breakfast, we headed up the mighty 5, through the central valley, to Lodi.  We pulled into the vineyards of Jessie’s Grove Winery:

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We parked in their “pasture”; it made a great camping spot for the evening:

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We are staying here due to our membership in “Harvest Hosts”; they find wineries, farms, museums, historical sites, markets, etc., who allow you to camp for free; the gentleman’s agreement is that you spend a little money.  We never shy away from wine tasting, so after getting parked, we wanted over to their grove of oak trees and spent some time (and money) in their tasting room.

After sitting in the car all day, we needed to do a little walking; luckily, there were three more wineries about one mile down the road. We picked one that looked good, and we set out.  It was warm, about 95 degrees, but there was a slight breeze, and it was already cooling off.  We found Lucas Winery, tasted wine, bought a few bottles of a very nice Zinfandel Rose’, and headed back to The Villa…

We enjoyed one bottle of the Zinfandel Rose’ and a few simple snacks and a pizza…  Since we had been on the road since 4:00 am, we turned in early.

And an enjoyable first day was had by all…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2017-10-11 Westbound; WBCCI Region 12 Rally, Day 2…

Today we are seeing the results of the NorCal fires.  The air is very smokey and it smells smokey as well… There are no fires nearby, but Napa and Sonoma counties are really suffering…

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One of the features of this rally is the “Maintenance with Vinnie” seminar.  Vinnie Lamica runs an Airstream service and maintenance center here in NorCal; he spoke for 2 hours on all the things we need to know to keep our Airstreams in top shape.  Very informative.  I took copious notes and made lists of things for me to ask C&G to do to the Villa.

Otherwise we had a quiet day.  Lots of walks.  The campground sits on a plateau, sloping down into the canyon on most of its perimeter; there is a “nature path” all around the perimeter of the campground, part way down the slope.  It has a few ups and downs, and it is 3/4 mile from the door of the Villa and back again.  We have been walking this path several times each day.  For excitement, we walk clockwise sometimes, and counter- clockwise other times…

The highlight of the day:  Mexican dinner with the Warrens:

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Kathy and Larry Warren were on the Nor’ by Nor’East caravan, and they live about an half hour drive from here.  Since we refuse to eat Mexican food outside of California (some rare exceptions can be made for Arizona and New Mexico…) we have been over four months without having Mexican food.  So tonight was the night.

The Warrens selected El Torero, located down Hwy 88, just past Jackson.  It is located in a storefront in a grocery store strip center, and the interior was nondescript, but the food was just what we were looking for:

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It wasn’t fancy or authentic, but it was very satisfying!

We returned to the Villa, then gathered with several other Airstreamers in the big tent to play various games of Joker.

You’ve never heard of Joker?  Don’t worry – no one has, except Airstreamers.  It is a hokey version of Parcheesi, Sorry, or Kick-in-the-Pants, played on home-made boards.  (Some boards are extremely well made and beautiful art in their own right…)  Except that it uses normal playing cards (Devil Cards, to you Calvinists out there…) instead of dice, and each card does something different.  I hate games like this.  Games of chance that do not require much skill other than remembering all the rules are meaningless to me… We played three games.

 

Another light photo day, so here I present my grandson George X, getting a ride, compliments of his great-grandmother (my mother…):

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An enjoyable time was had by George X…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2017-10-08 Westbound; California and a mountain pass at 8,574 feet elevation!

We once again started the day by walking to Mom and Pops for breakfast.  Then we joined other LTAC members in a hike to a local waterfall!

Yes!  It’s up there!

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It was a short hike, and pretty easy.  Carson City sits at about 4,800 feet elevation, and this was about a 200 feet climb (after a drive up the foothills…); we were almost a mile high!

Waterfalls never disappoint:

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Along the way we were treated to views of the valley, fall colors, and unusual rock formations:

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After the hike we returned to the Villa.  It was time to go…

We hit the road at about 1:00 pm.  We were shortly back in California.  We are headed to Jackson, CA, to attend the WBCCI Region 12 Rally.  We will be arriving early, so we will have some quiet time before the other 100 Airstreams arrive.

I didn’t think much about the drive; I just set the GPS in the truck and followed its directions.  As we wound our way through foothills, I casually asked Lynda to look on the map and see what the elevation of the pass was that we were driving through.  She said, “8,754′”.  What?  This may not be Rocky Mountain high, but it’s higher than we had ever been before.  Some people get altitude sickness at elevations like this.

Anyway, we drove around and around, and up and up.  We enjoyed the scenery:

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The roads were very busy with tourists stopping alongside the road to photograph the fall colors, along with hunters, parked along the road and heading out across the open fields with their dogs…

We scaled the summit at 8,754′, and we headed downhill.  Then we were heading up again, and scaled two other passes at about 8,000′.  It was an exciting drive.  And then we headed down and down and down.  Jackson is at 1,200’…

It was not an easy drive.  Steep downhills, sharp curves, lots of cars going both ways… But we made it to Rancheria RV Resort, at the Rancheria Casino… It is a beautiful RV park!  Large spaces, nice concrete pads, lots of grass:

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We set up, met a few of our neighbors (there are about 30 Airstreams in the park…), and Happy Hours ensued.  An enjoyable time was had by all…

PS:  In the middle of the night strong winds erupted suddenly.  Other than having to run outside to pull down the awnings, we had nothing much more than a lot of noise and a shaking Airstream.  However, this was the night that Napa and Sonoma counties caught on fire… We are glad it didn’t happen here…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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