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Adventures in the Villa

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Wine

2021-09-06 – 2021-09-11 – Traveling from Puyallup, WA to Redlands, CA

We are heading home…

September 6; Labor Day…

Last day of summer! (Even though school started three weeks ago – it’s still summer!)

Our grandchildren enjoyed a day at the beach!

We left Puyallop and headed south…

The Columbia River never ceases to please…

Remember when I said one barge on the Columbia River holds enough grain to fill 160 railroad cars? Here is where the barges offload the grain, where it is loaded into the railroad cars…

Portland has some great bridges…

And we are set up at a very nice RV Park in Salem, OR.

With a beautiful sky…

Tuesday, September 7:

We left early – we have a long day… The fog was a nice relief from the heat…

Wait! That’s not fog – it’s smoke!

There are four wildfires to the east of us, just over the hills… The whole length of the state…

At a rest stop we couldn’t see the mountains…

We passed through the delightful little town of Jacksonville, OR, located about 20 miles off the 5, west of Medford… We found out camping spot for the night – Valley View Winery, part of the Harvest Host program…

Still a little smoky…

We were the gusts for dinner at old Airstream friends who live a few miles from the winery… They lave 7 acres and a lovely house overlooking the Applegate River…

Fiery sunset over the river…

After a lovely dinner we returned to the Villa…

Wednesday, September 8:

As we left the winey in the morning we found a few wild turkeys…

We soon returned to California! Yay!

We saw lots of evidence of last year’s fires…

And we had some more smoke as well…

But soon the skies cleared as we approached Clear Lake…

After a tortuous drive over Hwy 175 we arrived in Cloverdale in time for a lovely sunset sky…

Thursday, September 9:

We awoke to clear skies and headed down the road…

We crossed over the Richmond bridge and the San Francisco Bay…

Still a little smoggy, but we could see the Golden Gate Bridge…

Still a little smoggy, but we could make out the city skyline…

Oakland is noted for its giant cargo container cranes…

And downtown Oakland is looking good…

BART running past us… We love cities!

We arrived at our RV park in Marina, just outside Monterey…

We drove into Carmel to stroll the town before dinner…

The beach is lovely, but cold!

We had a delightful dinner at a “Contemporary Mexican Restaurant”. First Mexican food since we left California on July 23… (We don’t eat Mexican food outside California – way too many disappointing meals over the past years…)

Friday, September 10

As we headed out of Marina across the Salinas Valley we saw fields and fields of lettuce…

Soon we saw vineyards…

We arrive in Paso Robles and parked just outside downtown. And a lovely town it is…

We stopped in for a wine tasting, hosted by this charming fellow…

But we are on a tight schedule, so we head south again, arriving at Los Olivos at about 4:00 pm…

We enjoyed a little wine tasting on the front patio…

Plenty of parking in Los Olivos, even on a Friday afternoon…

We parked in the Saarloos vineyard for the night, and shared dinner with Airstream friends at Bell’s in Los Alamos…

Saturday, September 11:

We arrived home in Redlands, California…

We shared happy hours drinking beer on the front porch with our son…

And an enjoyable time was had by all…

Seven weeks and one day… twelve states… 7,000 miles.

The End

2021-09-03 to 2021-09-05 – Whidbey Island – Langley, WA

Friday, September 3:

We left Bellingham and drove south on the 5. After about 1/2 hour we turned west and drove onto Fidalgo Island, then south, across Deception Pass, onto Whidbey Island…

After an hour or so we arrived at our Courtesy Parking near the town of Clinton. (Courtesy Parking is a feature of the Airstream Club International (ACI) whereby Airstream owners who have room can offer free overnight parking to other club members…)

We traveled about four miles to our good friends’ house, a short walk from the town of Langley. They have spent three years building this spectacular house on a high bluff overlooking the bay, across to Camano Island…

This is a small harbor about 1/2 mile way…

The interiors are stunning as well…

We went for a walk and saw a few deer…

We enjoyed the view and the setting sun…

Saturday, September 4:

We walked to the town of Langley, about 1/2 mile away… It is a nice town, where residents shop and eat and take care of civic responsibilities…

We stopped to buy breakfast sandwiches which we enjoyed sitting in the park across the street…

After breakfast we walked along the beach and along the bluff…

Later in the day we drove a few miles north and picked wild blackberries…

Then we visited the local Whidbey Island Winery…

Upon our return back to the house we could see kayakers and paddle boarders in the bay below…

We enjoyed another fine meal and enjoyed the view…

Sunday, September 5:

Time to move on. We returned to the Villa…

And we joined the line waiting for the ferry to Mukilteo, on the mainland

An enjoyable time was had by all…

2021-07-24 – Heading to Missouri for the Oregon Trail caravan… Day 2 – Camp Verde, AZ to Grants, NM

We had a fairly leisurely morning. We enjoyed a walk around the RV park, and eventually got around to packing up and heading out. We drove north towards Flagstaff. About 20 minutes into the trip I realized that I had failed to attach the electrical umbilical cord. We stopped as soon as it was safe. Indeed, it was dangling off the tongue , and dragging on the pavement. It was a bit worn…

But I was able to reconnect it and everything (lights, brakes, etc.) were all working again. And we were off again.

At Flagstaff we turned east and proceeded across more desert. We entered New Mexico…

We had more rain around Gallup, and lots of traffic after that. The roads in Arizona are abysmal, even though they are constantly under reconstruction. Today we came to a “detour” without any warning, and without posting an alternate route. We lost about an hour of time, poking along at about 5 mph. But we had plenty of time.

We even stopped to be tourists for a few minutes. We stopped at The Petrified Forest National Park; but we didn’t go in – we just stopped at the gift shop. We bought some representative sample of petrified wood for the Grandchildren. They really are interested in gems and minerals these days; we think petrified wood will interest them.

We finally arrived in Grants, NM. As we were exiting the freeway we received a telephone call from our host for the evening – The Uranium City Winery. She talked us in, and we parked around the back. The Uranium City Winery is a member of Harvest Hosts, as are we. We can “camp” at the various business members locations – wineries, orchards, museums, and the like. The Uranium City Winery isn’t much to look at, and the town is not exactly a bustling metropolis, but we had fun!

We were directed to park around the back, about six feet from the winery’s back door. Did I mention that it was still raining?

We went inside to enjoy some wine tasting. Some of the wines were even made with grapes! Unfortunately, their best seller, Cabernet Sauvignon, has sold out. But we tasted a muscat (pretty good), a mead (not a fan), a plum wine (quite good), a cherry wine (not so good) and a sangria (very good). We had a great time chatting with the owner, who grew up in Grants in the 1950s and 1960s, when it was a boom town, supporting the booming uranium mining industry. But in 1975 the federal government stopped subsidizing uranium mining and started to allow the importation of uranium. Within a few years Grants was a ghost town, and it is pretty much unchanged since then. The family moved to Moab, Utah, which continued prospering for a few more years. Then she moved to Texas, finally coming home to Grants 30 years later. With the wine and great conversation, we had a great time. We returned to the Villa, ate some leftovers from Moscato for a simple supper, and turned in early. (Boondocking like this we don’t have TV, internet, or a microwave oven, and we skimp on the lights…)

But an enjoyable time was still had by all…

2021-06-04 – Springtime in the Rockies caravan… Day 9 – Gunnison, CO

EXCITING DAY! Our two youngest grandchildren are finally going off to big-kid preschool summer camp! This long awaited event comes after spending the last year at home…

Back in the Villa, we had a quiet morning looking for internet service and doing laundry… Finally at noon we drove the 12 miles back to Gunnison. We fueled up the truck, dropped it off at the Gunny-Lube for an oil change, then we walked to City Market and bought some birthday cake for another caravan member. After a few other errands we stopped for lunch at the W Cafe…

The town of Gunnison has a nice little main street with restaurants and local businesses…

After lunch we returned to the Villa. I took a walk while Lynda sat by and in the pool…

We had another GAM to meet new friends. The host, Charlie and Michael, own a winery in Plymouth, California. While they didn’t provinde wine to our little group, they did prepare an olive oil tasting, featuring their own olive oils. We tasted Tuscan, Lemon, Rosemary, Jalapeno, plus two balsamics, one of which was white… I particularly liked the Rosemary and the white balsamic…

After the GAM we walked around the park enjoying the twilight…

And an enjoyable time was had by all…

2021-04-29 – 05-03: Airstream Club Rally – Newport Dunes RV Resort…

Thursday: Newport Dunes is a beautiful resort on the Back Bay of Newport Beach. We arrived a little before 1:00pm and we were quickly in our site. I did all the set-up, then I left to visit my optometrist in Irvine. I was picking up a new set of glasses and having my sun glasses clips adjusted to the new frames (which are identical to my old frames…). It was a quick errand, and I was back in the resort well before happy hours…

There are about 10 Airstreams here today, with 10-15 more coming on Friday, the official start of the rally. Tonight we have reservations at Bayside, one of my favorite Newport Beach restaurants. Back in the olden days (2002-2009) I came to Bayside for lunch 2-3 days per week, always bringing an employee. I sat at the same table with the same waiter… It is the kind of restaurant I would come to every day if I lived in the neighborhood. (And, if I lived in the neighborhood, obviously, I would be able to afford it…) We are able to walk from the resort…

We had a great dinner with another Airstream couple that we did not know well. It was a great way to make new friends.

Friday dawned bright and sunny and warm – unusually warm for Newport Beach… Lynda went window shopping on Balboa Island with an Airstream friend. She found a cute sundress for our upcoming vacation in the desert…! I, in the mean time, strolled the park and walked around the back bay. Happy Hours were at another Airstream across the way, where we were able to catch up with friends we had not seen in over a year!

Saturday: We had an easy morning… at about noon, we walked the mile or so to Fashion Island, a giant shopping center catering to the Newport Beach crowd. We didn’t see anything we had to have, so we returned empty handed. But we got in a great walk. Saturday evening we shared some happy hours and great wines (Ridge MonteBello and Aubert) with Airstream friends. The club provided a great Cinco de Mayo dinner of tacos, rice, beans, and churros – perfect!

Sunday was overcast, windy and cool. We walked over to Balboa Island and circumnavigated it. It is always a very pleasant walk! Happy Hours were at our Airstream, sharing with Airstream friends old and new.

Monday was our last day. We hitched up and headed for home, arriving about 12:30. And an enjoyable time was had by all…

2021-04-22 – Scouting The California Architecture Food and Wine caravan…

Monterey to Los Olivos

We pulled out of Marina Dunes RV Resort a little after 10:00am, headed back to the 101, and drove south for many hours. Traffic was light, scenery was beautiful, with the hills still showing green, but not for long. We stopped of the side of the road, made a quick lunch, and ate in the car as we drove…

At a little after 1:00 we arrived at the El Camino Vineyard, owned by Saarloos and Sons Vineyards. We pulled in and parked next to a giant oak tree. This will be our home for the night…

We were amazed by our surroundings… We thank the Saarloos family for letting us camp here…

We drove the 3 miles into Los Olivos and stopped in at Saarloos and Sons and at Wayland to buy a few bottles. You can never have too many bottles of wine… We walked around the block a few times to get some steps in, then returned to the Villa to prepare for dinner.

Dinner tonight is at Bell’s, in Los Alamos, CA. Bell’s used to be a quaint little French bistro until the recent unpleasantries. When indoor dining was banned, they cleaned up their patio, and now serve just a few tables per night; reservations only, prepaid deposit with reservation, 5 course prix Fixe dinner, and mandatory 20% gratuity. We had been here last August, and we were so impressed that we had to go again tonight. Our dinner consisted of:

1

Santa Barbara Sea Urchin

mille crepe

2

Salad of Finley Farms Lettuces

shallot & medjool date vinaigrette

3

Vitello Tonnato

crispy veal sweetbreads, caper berries

and

Omelette

asparagus, truffle noire hollandaise

4

Croustillant of Bar Raye’

charred fennel puree, beurre noisette

and

Steak au Poivre

5 oz. coulette, Steve’s peppercorn sauce and frites

5

Lemon Custard

creme chantilly, pistachio crumble

We enjoyed a bottle of 2016 Land of Promise Terra de Promisio Pinot Noir and 2017 Kosta Browne Pinot Noir, both from Sonoma Coast. Service was top notch, the patio was delightful, sitting under the evening sky. A perfect evening.

Then back to the Villa. An enjoyable time was had by all…

2021-04-19 – Scouting The California Architecture Food and Wine caravan…

Wine tasting in Sonoma County

More research today! In case you missed it, this trip is all about research. We are planning to lead an Airstream caravan, next year, in 2022. It is called California Architecture, Food, and Wine. I think the title is pretty self-explanatory!

Since, shockingly, I don’t know everything about California, Architecture, Food, or Wine, we need to do this research. A tough job, but somebody has to do it!

So we have explored the Point Reyes National Seashore, sampled restaurants, visited RV Parks, and driven the proposed route; today we are wine tasting, and researching more restaurants.

First on our list today is Kosta Browne, in Sebastopol. No rolling hills covered with vineyards here; just an industrial complex full of wine-making equipment. We met our host, who knew who we were, knew what we typically bought, and made us feel like honored guests. He led us on a brief tour of the facility. (We had been here in 2018…). As we tasted the recent vintages we discussed the possibility of bringing 20 people in for a tasting. Many wineries will not or can not handle groups of this size, but K-B was happy to accommodate us. We exchanged contact information and we were on our way.

Next up was Rochiolli Vineyards, in the Russian River Valley. We have been buying wine here for over 20 years. HERE are the hills and vineyards…

However, he tasting was fairly perfunctory… We tasted a sampling of their cheapest, most common wines, and there was no personal touch. Great wines, but not much more.

We moved on to MacRostie Vineyards. Again, a beautiful view and a beautiful building.

We enjoyed a fun tasting, exploring some wine we had not yet tasted. (We left with a case…) We discussed the caravan and we look forward to bring the caravan here next year.

Our final tasting was at Williams Selyem. Again, a beautiful place; in the past we had done the tasting in their extravagant “Tasting Palace”; today we were escorted to the owner’s house! It is a spectacular, simple two bedroom house overlooking the property. (Sorry – no pictures!) We sat at the dining table, with the retracting glass wall open to the view. Our host, again, knew everything about our wine preferences, and he knew that we starting buying W-S wines in 1999 (after being on the waiting list for almost 5 years…). We discussed the caravan and I’m sure we can work out a tasting for the group here.

By now we were ready for dinner. We drove to Petaluma and looked at a few places. We settled on Speakeasy, which is exactly what a speakeasy generally is not… We sat outdoors on their patio; in the adjacent courtyard there was a local band that played covers from Crosby Stills and Nash, Credence Clearwater Revival, and others.

Music was great and food was traditional (she had a burger and fries, I had braised short-ribs in blue cheese risotto). We’re not sure we will take 20 people here, but there are other options in the neighborhood.

We walked back to the truck, stopped off for gas, and headed back to the Villa. An enjoyable time was had by all…

2021-04-18 – Scouting The California Architecture Food and Wine caravan…

Lodi to Forestville and Beyond

Sunday morning we left the Van Ruiten Winery as the sun was rising. Again, we drove east for about two hours to finally reach Forestville, a very small town along the Russian River in Sonoma County. The countryside is beautiful at this time of day. We easily found the Riverbend RV Resort. We had arranged early check-in, so we were in our spot, unhitched, and set up in no time.

We then headed back south to Petaluma, where we looked at the Petaluma KOA to see if it was a better fit for the caravan than Riverbend. It is a very large KOA, with varied sites and many amenities.

Then we were off again, setting the GPS to the town of Olema. Olema is in the heart of the Point Reyes National Seashore and Tomales Bay State Park. Point Reyes National Seashore is a vast expanse of protected coastline in Marin County. Beaches here include Wildcat Beach, with the cliffside Alamere Falls. On a rocky headland, the 1870 Point Reyes Lighthouse is a viewpoint for migrating gray whales. The Phillip Burton Wilderness features extensive trails through grassland, firs and pine forest, and up to the peak of Mount Wittenberg.

Tomales Bay State Park is approximately 2,000 acres, divided between two areas, one on the west side of Tomales Bay and the other on the east side. The main area, on the west, is part of the Point Reyes peninsula, and is adjacent to Point Reyes National Seashore. 

Tule elk once inhabited the grasslands of the Point Reyes peninsula and the Olema Valley, as well as other grasslands within Marin County. They were the dominant grazers on these lands until their local extirpation (local extinction) in the 1850s. State and Federal legislation in the early 1970s authorized the California Department of Fish and Game, in cooperation with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Park Service, to reintroduce the extirpated Tule elk to Tomales Point.

Eleven tan-colored male elk standing with the ocean in the background.

Point Reyes National Seashore remains the only National Park unit where Tule elk can be found. The majestic animals you see as you travel through the park embody the restoration of the dominant native herbivore to the California coastal ecosystem. They shape the landscape around them as they did for centuries before they were extirpated by humans. They symbolize the conservation of native species and ecosystem processes, one of the primary missions of the National Park Service.

We didn’t see any elk today, but we remember seeing them when we passed through here in 1977. Today we proceeded north along Highway 1, which hugs the eastern shore of the bay. The shoreline is dotted with a few small ramshackle houses and restaurants, located at the water’s edge. Thanks to the California Coastal Commission, enacted in 1972, this shoreline has remained virtually unchanged and undeveloped. Without the Coastal Commission we suppose this area would be lined with hotels and McMansions, and the bay itself would be totally obstructed, much like we see in places in Florida today…

We stopped at Tony’s Seafood for a light lunch. Oysters are a specialty all along the bay.

We continues north, enjoying the scenic drive. We passed through the tiny hamlets of Marshall, Nick’s Cove, and, well, Hamlet.

We returned to the Villa for a brief break, then we drove north to the town of Healdsburg.

We checked out a few restaurants, settling on Rooftop. There was a short wait, so we walked around the delightful downtown area. After receiving a test message that our table was ready we quickly returned.

Rooftop is located atop a small hotel. The exterior deck is wonderful…

The food was great. The menu is short, but it listed very innovative and creative food. After a leisurely meal we returned to the Villa; an enjoyable time was had by all.

2021-04-17 – Scouting the California AFW Caravan…

Saturday, April 17: Redlands to Lodi

We left Redlands at the crack of dawn. We have a long day of driving ahead of us We are driving to Lodi….

Update: We last posted in July of 2019; we had returned home from our 2019 caravans and were spending the week at San Clemente State Beach with family and friends, many of whom we had not seen in many months. But as we anticipated staying close to home we were less energized to be blogging every little local trip we were taking. We were scheduled for four caravans in 2020, and we were saving our blogging energy until then. And Covid happened…

We were camping with the Airstream Club at Pechanga in Temecula on my birthday weekend of March 8, 2020, when news of widespread Covid hit. On March 11 I did my stint as a docent at the Hollyhock House, traveling back and forth via train. I saw one person wearing a mask – about average. That night the NBA cancelled its season, and things were beginning to be shutdown left and right. On Friday, March 13, we had invited new friends from the neighborhood to dinner. They were all still working as school administrators; 15 minutes before dinner was to start they called to cancel, saying that they were being required to work all night to figure out what to do about schools being closed. Luckily we had other friends nearby who had not started dinner who agreed to come by and help us eat all the food that Lynda had already prepared… Tuesday, March17, I did my last session volunteering at a homeless shelter; it, too, was closing. And the rest is history…

All four of our 2020 caravans were cancelled. We didn’t take out the Airstream for over three months – a record! We hunkered down, spending our stimulus checks on ordering food for take out and delivery to keep our local restaurants afloat. Finally, in June, with all the state parks still closed, we spent 4 days in Temecula, at the Pechanga RV Resort. (Indians don’t have to listen to Governor Newsom…) The park was nearly empty and we had a lovely time just relaxing and walking on different streets for a change. We did this two more times before the state parks re-opened. We spent a week at San Clemente in August. And so the year dragged on. The Airstream Club had a few camp-outs as usual, but different because lack of potlucks and group dinners.

With the surge in Covid in December we forwent our annual New Years trip to Palm Desert. The winter progressed much the same.

So today we start a one week “scouting” trip in preparation of the caravan we will be leading next year. More on that later…

We left at about 5:15, as the sun was breaking in the east. Luckily, we drove west, towards Los Angeles and north over “The Grapevine”. After a brief breakfast stop outside Arvin, we continued north up the 5. Long boring drive; but it was fun to be on the road again after so long. We refueled in Lodi and easily found out campsite for the night – Van Ruiten Family Wines, vineyards, an outdoor tasting area, and “free” overnight parking…

We found a table in the tasting area and enjoyed sample of 10 wines, plus cheese and crackers.

After a lovely time here, much of it spent talking to a couple from Ventura who were also camping overnight, we retired to the Villa. An enjoyable time was had by all…

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