Thursday, June 26, 2008

California Day 2

Day 2, June 26, 2008 - Napa Valley

We got a good night’s sleep, not a long night’s sleep, but we slept well in our “green” bed that’s actually a very sterile white. We took our time getting ready and realized that the most important stop of this day would be Starbucks. We grabbed our lattes and were off to the Napa Valley. It only took us about 20 minutes to get into the heart of wine country. It was truly amazing how many vineyards there are. Big ones, small ones, fancy ones, simple ones. There are hundreds of them.

We started off in St. Helena at V. Sattui. This was also our favorite of the day. The main building of the winery was breathtaking. It was a four story building that we could have stared at all day. We had a picnic lunch in front of it after walking around and seeing everything we could see. They had an authentic Italian meat and cheese market which looked like something out of a movie. We shared an amazing, and I mean amazing Black Forest Ham Sandwich with smoked cheddar and chutney. We added a side of pesto pasta, and of course, a bunch of locally grown V. Sattui green grapes. It was all very good. The grapes really did taste different here. After that, we headed north on Highway 29 and came immediately to Sutter Home.

We weren’t expecting much at Sutter Home. The outside wasn’t near as elaborate as V. Sattui, but they had a nice house that was also an inn, but the cool stuff was reserved for inn guests only. We went through the gift shop and found the cutest little bottles of wine that we snatched up for some of our friends. We then came to the wine tasting counter, and we discovered that Sutter Home gives you samples for free. So we tasted about 8 different kinds of wine. A taste is really just a taste, not by any means a glass, and they hooked us up. They were supposed to give us a choice of 4 different kinds, but they kept asking if we would like to try all these different kinds. We learned that a reserve wine is made specifically from grapes on sight, and it is different from the wine that they ship out to the rest of the country. The reserve white zinfandel was our favorite, but we really enjoyed all of them. We browsed around the store, and headed further north. We didn’t spend as much time at any of the other places as we spent at these two.

Up the road, we went to the Behringer winery, and the Culinary Institute of America (which was a very impressive place). Holly wanted to check out some of the places that “A Walk in the Clouds” was filmed, and we found Charles Krug and Duckhorn wineries. Charles Krug was under construction, but Duckhorn was the first winery where we actually got close to grapes. We are officially enthralled with vineyards. After going to these places, we went on a hunt for the house seen in the new Parent Trap movie. Holly remembered that it was in Rutherford. So, we typed Rutherford into Gigi and she took us to what turned out to be one of the coolest stops of the day - the Rutherford Hill winery. This winery was off the beaten path, and the view was incredible. You could see the whole valley from this place. After walking around a bit, we ventured into the store and asked the gentlemen behind the counter about the house we were looking for. As it turns out, one of the guys lived on the same street as the house we were looking for. Needless to say, our directions were quite good, and we drove right up to this house which was very fun. This was Holly’s highlight today. It was a very beautiful house.

We made our way into downtown Napa around dinner time to find a place to eat. We made an attempt to eat at Copia, which is where Julia Child’s restaurant is, but we thought it a bit pricey. So, we went down the road and found a very cool street festival going on. We walked through and found a cool little Italian place called Piccolino’s. We ate Italian, and sat by the windows and watched the locals. After dinner we stopped by some of the booths and sampled peaches, dips, peanut brittle, and Greek yogurt. We purchased some kettle corn, chocolate covered strawberries, and cabernet flavored fudge. Delicious.

We came home, webcammed with Jacob and Carol for a bit, uploaded our 259 pictures, yes 259 (we did delete a couple, but not many) from the day to the computer, and dropped in the hot tub before retiring to the room - which is where we currently find ourselves. All in all a very productive, relaxing, and fun day.

We spent all day looking at grapes, and on tap for tomorrow.. more grapes. We’ve got another full day of grapes planned, but we’ll wait until tomorrow’s blog to tell you about that.

California Day 1

Day 1, June 25, 2008 - Austin/Oakland/San Francisco

After taking up the better part of three days of taking Jacob to Burleson, doing laundry, packing, and crossing things off of our work lists, we were ready to go. Our personal sky hop (Lance) picked us up just before 5pm and took us to Austin to catch our flight. We were amazed at how few people were at the airport. We breezed through checking our baggage and security. Upon checking the monitor, we found our flight to be delayed about a half hour. It actually ended up being more like 45 minutes. So, we got some tea (I had iced and Holly had chai) and some pumpkin bread and awaited our departure.

The flight was fine, but at one point, we looked at each other and said the same thing, “Do you feel like there’s a lot going on in this plane.” It seemed like we were the only ones not moving about the cabin. We read, I snoozed a bit, and we landed in Oakland about 9:45 after circling around the bay area for an added 15 minutes (probably because our plane was late). After waiting what seemed like an eternity for our baggage, we snatched it up, got on a Rental Car Shuttle, and bussed 5-10 minutes away, picked up our luxurious, light blue Kia Spectra, and were off to the hotel, which according to GPS was only about 40 minutes away.

So, we drove from Oakland (which one of the first things we passed was the A’s stadium - very cool) Northbound. We saw what we thought was the Golden Gate Bridge in the distance, but was actually the San Francisco Bay Bridge. It was huge, and thanks to not understanding what Gigi (my cell phone GPS) was telling me, I ended up on the road that took us to the bridge. It was a $4 toll to go across, but we were stuck. It was beautiful, and we ventured just a bit into San Fran before we turned around and got to drive back over the bridge, but on the bottom of it this time. We got some cool pics, and I’m lucky to still have my sight after all the flash bulbs Holly instigated. Anyway, we were back on track after that, and it was only about 45 minutes to our hotel which is at the “Gateway” of Napa.

We checked in right at midnight. Our hotel is new and boasts in being a “Green Hotel”. They have monitors displaying their energy consumption at all times. It’s pretty cool. There was a bit of confusion when we checked in because we paid for a King room with a “Lagoon View”, but we didn’t get one, and they didn’t have any available. So, we’re stuck with a plain King room - which is still quite nice and big, but not what we expected - which seems to happen to us on every trip we take. Oh, well. It was disappointing, but not the end of the world. Apparently, elevators are not green because there’s not one that we can find. After lugging our stuff up the stairs we arrived at room 245 (The Nighthawk Room), and to our surprise, Lance and Christina had ordered a bottle of Sparkling Wine for our anniversary. It was sitting on or table, chilling in a bucket of ice with two wine glasses and a card that read “Happy Anniversary from the Yarbough Family”. It was a great surprise! We dropped our stuff and went to Walmart (which is like 30 seconds away) to grab a couple of things we needed and some sandwiches b/c we were starving. After scouting out some of the vineyards Holly wants to go to, we got to bed around 2 local time which felt like 4am because of the time change. But I must admit, the king-size “green” bed and comfy pillows were mighty inviting after a long journey to Cali.

Friday, June 06, 2008

National Doughnut Day

In case you didn't know, a couple of Fridays ago was National Doughnut (or Donut) day. One of the highlights in my life of the past couple of years is regular donut dates with my boy, Jacob. If it were up to him, we would go every day. On my days off, or a lot of Saturdays, we try to let Mommy sleep in and we head to Shipley's for donut goodness. Jacob rotates between cherry, strawberry, and chocolate (all with sprinkles). My staple is the jalapeno sausage and cheese kolache. Jacob always likes to sit on the barstools (unavailable on Doughnut Day due to high traffic). On the barstools, we sit, spin, talk about life, look at the pictures in the newspaper, talk about what new movies he wants to see and usually run into someone we know. On this particular day, we wondered why there was a line to the door. It was the first Friday of summer for San Marcos students, and we thought it might be that was cause for doughnut celebration. So, I consulted the Blackberry browser and discovered we were a part of a worldwide event. In many places, the doughnut places were giving money to charity on doughnut day, but not ours - anyway - I digress...

The point, my friends is this... I could care less about doughnut day or most other holidays for that matter (especially those created by Hallmark and other marketing geniuses who make me feel guilty for not giving cards on random days throughout the year), but Jacob doesn't miss an opportunity to celebrate. When we found out, I think his reaction went something like this, "TODAY IS DOUGHNUT DAY?!?!? DADDY, THAT'S AWESOME! I CAN'T BELIEVE IT'S DOUGHNUT DAY! I CAN'T WAIT TO TELL MOMMY WHEN WE GET HOME! I WISH EVERY DAY WAS DOUGHNUT DAY!" It's the same excitement I see when I come home. The same excitement about going to a movie, going to a friends house to play Wii, meeting new people, getting to go outside to play with Aaron, Ashley, and Bianca. Do you know that when we pull into our driveway, Jacob's neck is turned 180 degrees looking to see if the neighbors' garage doors are open (which means his friends are outside)? I know I'm going to have to change the name of my blog to what I learn about my faith through my son, but that kid loves life. He loves people. He loves to be with people he loves. He knows how to make people feel special. He doesn't see skin color (except when he referred to Cooper as a blackneck when I made a redneck joke in reference to Cooper's Nascar shade in Yarbough truck), doesn't care about age, doesn't care about differences, he just knows how to celebrate what God's put in his world. Whether it's doughnuts, Kung Fu Panda, Grandparents, friends across the street or at church, someone coming over, etc. I have a lot to learn about excitement, joy, and love from him.

Isn't it supposed to be me teaching him?