Monday, June 21, 2010

Days: 7,8 & 9

Driving, driving and more driving....Modesto CA, to Nevada....8 hours...yawn.....spent the next two nights at the Avi resort/casino which has a beach on some river at the corner of CA/AZ/NV. It was a cheap way to relax for a couple days. Just hung out at the beach and pool.

Then we drove home...we stopped at London Bridge in Lake Havasu along the way. Oh my goodness, totally stupid, in case you were thinking of bothering, don't....thank goodness it was on our way...








The girls found clay along the beach and decided to mold bowls and other various devices out of it. Then I had to take these lovely things home....they are sitting outside on the back patio table, as I refuse to have them in my house. The girls think the sun will bake them enough to use...I tried to explain a kiln to them, but they don't believe me...


London Bridge.....yep, there it is...

Day 6: More Napa Valley

The second day we drove up to Calistoga to start off at Chateau Motelena...a beautiful ivy covered winery. Then we took a fabulous tour at Beringer. We have a friend who works for the company and he was so kind as to get us a complimentary tour with extra tastings. Beringer was beautiful, the grounds, the estate... all of it. The tour was quite informative and included the caves where the barrels are stored. My girls even enjoyed it, and we gave them a sip of the wines when no one was looking...shhhhh don't tell :) The final wine on the tour was a sparkling white zinfandel, haha...that was my favorite...I am so not a wine drinker, can't you tell!!??

Then we got to pick more wines to taste at the main estate. They had a $115 a bottle of reserve Cabernet Savignon...but neither of us likes cabs, so we went for the lesser expensive varieties, including my favorite....a dessert wine :) I know, we are so lame! I did purchase a cabernet chocolate sauce and a coaster style fridge magnet.

Had lunch at a place called Taylor's refresher (Gott's roadside, now). Had very overpriced but seriously yummy food. Some of the best shakes I have ever tasted...
Spent the rest of the afternoon at: Close Pegase (nothing to write home about, the kids found a snail...), and then Castello Di Amorosa...ok that was facsinating! The same guy who owns V. Sattui decided to take his money and build a hand built castle that took 15 years, It is made of stone and has a draw bridge, moat, dungeon, dining hall...you get the picture. It is really quite impressive, although a little “Disneyland-esque”. Great photo ops and views of the valley!

The last winery was V Sattui, they have a great deli and picnic area. Across the street was Dean and Deluca, I have never been in one and so took the opportunity. The most exciting part for me is that they had Mariage Freres tea which is found in Paris...this probably means nothing to most of you, but being the tea snob that I am I was super excited. So instead of expensive wine, I bought expensive tea in Napa. We also we excited to pick up a Yunnan tea...it is hard to find.

Ahhh...so glad we went, wine country is truly beautiful....one more place to check off the list :)

Drove that night to Modesto.....wanted to get started on our drive back south...

Chateau Montelena




Beringer Estate

Hmmm....today's events at Beringer.....



Waiting for lunch at Taylor's Refresher!

A snail that the girls wanted to take home.....arghhh...why don't they want to believe that the snail will certainly die if we take it in the car....

Castello Di Amorosa










There is a chapel in the castel....complete with a confessional. We explained the idea of the confessional to the girls, which they thought was ridiculous...Abigail promptly gets inside pretending to be the priest and has Hannah "confess". Abigail loudly proclaims, "Nope, you're not forgiven, your sin is too bad!!" They cracked me up!!!!...I wonder, would a catholic see this and think it was sacreligious...hmmmm....


V. Sattui
My lovely teas :)

Days 5: Napa Valley

Another area I have always wanted to visit in CA is the Napa Valley. Whenever people tell me about their vacation to that area I have beautiful romantic pictures of what it must be like...well...it isn't quite as romantic as I pictured it, but it is very beautiful!

To start the day off we told the girls we has a suprise for them! We took them to the Jelly Belly factory and did their free tour. I knew they would be bored at the wineries, so I thought this might help their attitudes :) It was fun for them and vaugly interesting for us... a been there, done that, kind of thing......

We started off in Napa at a cute little bakery called Sweetie Pies, where we had lunch. Then we went and saw a few wineries. I must admit I am mostly into this for the achitecture and photo ops...I am not a huge wine drinker. But somehow wine always tastes better to me at a winery :) There are wineries all up and down the main roads in the Napa and Sonoma Valley....you could spend days here tasting wine.

The wineries we went to the first day were: Darioush (looks like a persian castle), Domaine Chandon (beautiful grounds, not much else), Mondavi (here we decided to do a tour...since it was inexpensive!) The tour guide was very relaxed, and since it was the end of the day, he took us on a longer tour. We got to see all the barrels at each of the stages, and taste a couple wines.

Spent the night in Vallejo, everything in Napa area was WAY too expensive!





Me letting Abigail hang her head out the window for the sake of a photo! I got teased that I allow many things for the sake of photography :)

Darioush


Mondavi




Sunday, June 20, 2010

Day 4: Monterey and Gamie

The next day we got up and went down to Cannery Row in Monterey. We had reserved kayaks to take out into the bay. Hannah wanted one of her own, so I rowed with Abigail, and Hannah and David each had their own. This was a fantastic experience, my favorite of the trip!! Abigail was freaked out to begin with as you launch from the beach and there were waves crashing...but it was suprisingly simple! She quickly relaxed and was rowing away. We rowed all down the waterfront area, over kelp “fields”. We saw otters, seals, sea lions and plenty of birds. Some of the sea lions were so close that we could almost touch them. We weren't trying!!! They just float with their heads just above the water, and sometimes you don't see them till you are right over them. They just sit there and stare at you...so cool!! The girls did awesome at rowing, and after about an hour and a half we were all pretty tired and ready to go in. It is kind of an awkward position, to sit in a kayak...so for most of us our backs and legs hurt long before our arms and shoulders. So glad we did this...highly recommended if you ever have a chance either in Monterey or anywhere for that matter! :)

We then walked around the shops in Cannery Row and had lunch at Bubba Gump's ... it was overpriced ok food...but we had never been...and now we have.

After lunch we drove to Los Gatos to visit Gamie and Tom. It was really great to see Gamie again, she has definitely aged since the last time we saw her, but she is doing really well. Her mind is more engaged in person than on the phone, so I was really glad to see that! I had an old photo album of her family that I needed people identified in, and she happily did so! That was a fun conversation...it brought up old memories for her that she was happy to talk about.

We then went out to dinner at a great family pizza/italian restaurant. It was cute as Gamie very much wanted dessert after dinner. Then she got all worried as she was the only one who ordered it...but she was very happy once she started eating her chocolate cake.

After dinner we said our goodbyes and drove to Sunnyvale for the night.




The kelp "field"








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