Jan 30, 2008

It's time to go

This morning we packed up and hit the road. We have finished the wine country phase of our trip and now it's time to head to the desert. Our original plan was a short road day to Tehatchapi, about 40 miles east of Bakersfield. What we didn't realize is that it sits at 4000 feet and there was snow there. Since we could see snow back in Michigan we decided to keep moving. Our next plan was to stop after a rest area lunch in the town of Boron. Well let's just say Boron was Boring!!! So back on the road to 4 corners and then a right turn to head south. We are staying at a campground in Adelanto. We will have a short driving day tomorrow to Joshua Tree National Park. We are going to stay in one of the primitive campgrounds there for a few days. Then it's on to Slab City.

Jan 27, 2008

MayBe Gourmet

We spent a few days in the Napa Valley area and of course visited a few wineries.  We like finding the small ones that don't have distributors back east.  Last year we found Andretti winery and joined their club.  This year we found Turnbull winery.  To top it off the owner is an avid photography collector.  They have 2 tasting rooms which are also galleries.  One had a large Ansel Adams collection, and the other, several contemporary landscape artists.  
This is what you think of when you think Napa Valley.  Wineries, little bistros, fancy little designer shops and of course the Napa Wine Train.


We however discovered a wonderful little place for lunch this time that probably wouldn't make any gourmet list.  About half way up the valley is the little town of Saint Helena.  On the south end of town is a little drive-in.  The kind of place that almost all small towns had at one time.  The name of this drive in was and is still Taylors Automatic Refresher.

 Taylors  has withstood the test of time and is thriving.  Of course it serves the old standbys like burgers , fries and shakes.  But how many drive ins do you know that serve sweet potato fries dusted in chili spice?  How about fish tacos and an Ahi Tuna burger.  And for Julie they even have a Garden Burger.  And if your thirst isn't quenched by a real cherry coke, or a hand made milk shake, you also have your choice of several Micro brews and even a glass, or bottle of local wine.  

On the day Judy and I were there, the lines were long but service was prompt.  Judy had the fish tacos  which were grilled Mahi Mahi in corn tortillas with slaw, salsa and jalapeno-cilantro sour cream.  I went for the Ahi Tuna burger.  It was a 6 ounce fillet of sushi grade Ahi tuna seared rare (the proper way to fix tuna), cover with ginger wasabi mayo and asian slaw and served on a toasted egg bun.  

If you would like to read more about this place, go to www.taylorsrefresher.com   You can read about the many awards they have won as well as view their menu.  
Bon Appetit

Jan 26, 2008

Hanging out in Paso Robles

We arrived in Paso Robles on Wednesday and will be here a week. The weather has been cool and of course rainy most of the time. We are learning to go with the flow.

Today we woke up to sunshine and 65, so immediately the windows were opened to air out our house. Judy still has her Portland cold and of course felt I needed to share in the experience. So far only Mollie shows no signs of a cold.

We went to Cambria today and to a little Seafood restaurant on the water we discovered on our last visit here. We sat outside, it was cool but the sunshine did both of us good. We could just feel our vitamin D levels being restored.
We also stopped at a avocado farm, so I think fresh guacamole will be on the dinner menu soon. Life is good and we are enjoying even the cloudy days.

I read a story on another blog that I'd like to share with you.

A group of graduates, well established in their careers, were talking at a reunion and decided to go visit their old university professor, now retired. During their visit, the conversation turned to complaints about stress in their work and lives. Offering his guests hot chocolate, the professor went into the kitchen and returned with a large pot of hot chocolate and an assortment of cups-porcelain, glass, crystal, some plain looking, some expensive, some exquisite-telling them to help themselves to the hot chocolate. When they all had a cup in hand, the professor said: "Notice that all the nice looking, expensive cups were taken, leaving behind the plain and cheap ones. While it is normal for you to want only the best for yourselves, that is the source of your problems and stress. The cup that you are drinking from adds nothing to the quality of the hot chocolate. In most cases it is just more expensive and in some cases even hides what we drink. What all of you really wanted was hot chocolate, not the cup; but you consciously went for the best cups. And then you began eyeing each other's cups. Now consider this: Life is the hot chocolate; your job, money and position in society are the cups. They are just tools to hold and contain life. The cup you have does not define, nor change the quality of life you have. Sometimes, by concentrating only on the cup, we fail to enjoy the hot chocolate the Creator has provided us. The Creator makes the hot chocolate, man chooses the cups. The happiest people don't have the best of everything. They just make the best of everything they have. Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply. Speak kindly. And enjoy your hot chocolate."

In closing, I think somewhere along the way I started believing if I only had a different cup I'd be happy. So you go through life worrying about the cup and forget how good the hot chocolate tastes. And that a different cup will make our hot chocolate taste even better. It never does, but we keep trying different cups. I guess the answer for me needs to be to just enjoy the hot chocolate and quit worrying what cup it's in.

Jan 19, 2008

40 million bubbles

Saturday morning we awoke to a strange sight.  BLUE SKIES!!  This is great since we are off to the Russian River and the coast.  First though the Jeep needs a bath.  Our white Jeep looked more gray than white.  Our trusty Zumo GPS found us a car wash close by so we loaded up Mollie and headed out.  10 minutes later we had a clean shiny if old jeep.  20 minutes later we were at the Korbel Champagne Cellars.  Korbel is noted for champagne.  In fact it is the 3rd largest in the world.  We got there just in time to join a tour.   

And yes we learned that a bottle of champagne does contain 40 million bubbles.  I'd like to meet the guy who did the counting.  We were also able to take advantage of a sale, which came in handy since we have 2 children getting married this year.  By the way a case of champagne contains 15 bottles not 12 like a case of wine.  

We followed the Russian river west to the coast through little towns with strange names like Monte Rio , Camp Meeker, and Occidental.  Did you know that Monte Rio is a Hate Free Community?

Continuing west we soon reached the coast and the little town of Bodega Bay.  I have this thing for fish and chips, and we had heard about a little place there.  They were good but a little on the greasy side.  Are all fish and chips batter dipped?  I grew up eating lots of fresh water fish but Mom always breaded them before frying.  I think that's what I prefer.  Judy wants us to stay away from the fried food anyway.  

After lunch we headed back to Santa Rosa through the town of Sebastopol.  If you thought a hate free town was unique Sebastopol claims to be a Nuclear Free Zone. 

We still think this unique part of California is pretty special. 

Jan 18, 2008

On the Road Again

We left Portland Wednesday morning after spending nearly a month in the Northwest. We will try and publish a overview with a few pictures in the coming days.

We spent Wednesday night in Sutherlin, Oregon at an Escapees Park. We had our mail sent there and we needed to pick it up before moving on. After checking in at the park, we drove down to the post office and our package was there waiting for us.

Thursday morning we headed south on I-5 planning to spend the night between Sacramento and San Francisco. But a half an hour into our journey, we realized that we didn't need to rush through Northern California, and we made the decision to head to the coast instead. We picked up 199 at Grants Pass and it was a beautiful trip down through the coastal mountains to Crescent City, Ca. We continued south on 101 and spent the night at a little campground south of Garberville, Ca.

This morning we drove for 3 hours down to Santa Rosa. The weather is beautiful and we plan on staying here for a few days before moving on south to Paso Robles. We love the Napa Valley area and we're staying in a wonderful campground at the Santa Rosa Fairgrounds. And the price is great, only 10 dollars a night.