Vino in the Valley (September 4th - September 13th, 2019)
We left off our last blog with the Rolling RV on the Barf Barf Road and since I was sleeping on the last part of the drive, I wake up in Napa Valley, CA! Whew, the motion sickness will stop for a bit now. We check into the Napa Valley Expo RV Park and link up with an old Sky Soldier for a savory dinner at Fume and, of course, some vino! Now, y’all that know me, know I have had a love affair with wine for years. I was definitely the abusive one in that relationship, yet after the first night something didn’t sit well. Almost like my body telling me it’s had enough and I need to slow my party roll-train down quickly. So I did but that didn’t stop me from having a phenomenal week in a phenomenal place! The next morning, September 5th, we walked about 4 miles or so near the Napa river and then spent the day doing grown up stuff like meal planning, grocery shopping and meal prepping. September 6th we rolled out in the Glamper to pick some Cougars at the train station. Before your dirty mind starts thinking we were on the prowl for some muscular, handsome young men, let me explain that the Army unit we were a part of in Germany was represented by a cougar, the animal. Hence, Cougars Napa Reunion 2019! The Cougar Crawl. The train station pick-up scenario did not go as smoothly as I had hoped considering we waited at the wrong station and then hit a huge pot hole on the way out of the parking lot going to the new station. This said pot hole did a Bruce Lee crazy kick and opened the microwave door assisting the glass microwave plate to do a swan dive onto the counter. I thought we broke the chassis (undercarriage) it was so bad. So now I start freaking out because glass has shattered all over the seats and floor, I’m trying to clean it while we are rolling (insert Barf Barf sensation here), and I keep thinking ‘Shit! I haven’t seen these ladies in so long and my welcome will be along the lines of: sit down bitches, I’m gonna cut you’.
I managed to get everything mostly back in order with only a small cut on my finger as proof. No matter though, we had a fabulous lunch and drive to Napa...without any bitches getting cut. Thank you Ted for driving us!
This is where the story splits and here is my part:
The other two ladies joined us at our rental an hour later for a cackling group totaling 7. We sipped wine, caught up, did some inebriated arts and crafts, and finished off the evening with a superb dinner at Basalt.
Saturday morning we were all up early for coffee and conversation. To commemorate one of the girls’ 40th Birthday and our reunion, we commenced the day by meeting our driver and connoisseur for a day of wine tasting.
Pre-First Stop: Castello di Amorosa for a look and some photos of an authentic replica of a Medieval Castle winery built from antique stone imported from Europe.
First Stop: Reverie II, a winery tucked away in a valley on the eastern hillside of St. Helena. We started at the main modern-style house and rode a Side by Side ATV up the hill to a lovely patio overlooking vineyards. We tasted a few wines up there while we lounged (or awkwardly slid) back on old oak barrel chairs. The next selection of wines were tasted on some sofas on their grassy yard. All but one were red wine, so I was a happy camper being that I prefer big bold reds. Or at least I used to. I have found on this trip that my preferences are changing. We parted our Taste Master with several bottles and the possibility of ordering some of those cool oak barrel chairs.
Second Stop: T-Vines was where our guide saved the day with some rosemary crackers, salami, and cheeses. Since none of us are in our 20’s anymore, pounding some wine before noon might or might not affect some of less than well....we needed food and water, simply put. Once we feasted in the parking lot ala tres chic, we went inside to sit around a beautifully set table for a selection of 2 types of tasting. I was the black sheep and order the big bold reds menu but was fortuitous enough to taste all the wines thanks to my amazing friends that let me drink their wines! We chatted enthusiastically between pours and were all giggly at this point. Then, I sneezed. My expression changed. Our Taste Maestro wished me blessings and offered a tissue. I thanked him and muttered under my breath that I needed a pad instead. Yep, I peed myself when I sneezed. It happens when I jump or laugh too hard as well. Child birth will do that to you. We recovered from a roar of laughter that followed and finished our tasting.
Third Stop: Lunch @ Buster’s Original Southern BBQ. Our driver had been wonderful enough to grab the pre-ordered lunch for us while we were at T-Vines and we gratefully gobbled it up in order to keep our time line for our 3rd tasting of the day. The food was ok, I had a chicken sandwich with a side of beans in a vinaigrette. It was either this or all the previously consumed wine that did me in.
Fourth Stop: Mumm, a sparkling wine winery specializing in the traditional method of wine making boasting a background in Champagne. We sat in a cozy nook facing a beautiful vineyard. The spot was perfect for us to chat and hang out. While most of the ladies prefer white wines and sometimes even champagne, this little concoction left much to be desired. With my tummy already hosting a soccer game, I decided not to drink these bubblies.
Fifth and Final Stop: The house. Our driver kindly gave us some bacon and the crackers to add to our spoils for dinner. We go for a walk to find a razor (don’t ask) and some extra cheese and salami. The menu for the night was an aperitvo arrangement of olives, cold meats, bread, cheeses, honey, fig spread and chocolate Birthday cake!!! We (except me) drank the wines we bought that day complimenting a lovely food spread. Two of us jumped in the hot tub for a bit and then we all headed inside. This is the first place I went to that had a 9pm quiet time. During our wind down session we busted out some Korean Face Masks and made sure we laughed our asses off while our faces became fresh and dewy.
The next morning, one of us left at the crack of dawn and the rest of us chatted and ate breakfast at a leisurely pace. Everyone packed up and we took another walk to get more wine to send home. Ted joined us before we headed towards San Francisco for departure flights. Ted, one crazy lady and I rode in the Jeep with no doors and the other 4 were in a rental car. The drive over the Golden Gate Bridge (GGB) was epic! Due to some construction at SFO we got to see everyone again and then started splitting off from there. Crazy Jeep lady, our 40th lady, Ted and I drive down the curvy Lombard Road, walked around the Palace of Fine Arts, and snapped some GGB photos from across the bay in a park. Dinner at an Italian restaurant followed, and we dropped my last 2 Cougars at the airport. I am so thankful one of them left me her sweater. The ride back to Napa, in the Jeep with no doors, in 62 degree weather at night, was really...I mean really...cold. All the ladies made it back to their respective parts of the US without too much drama. Considering these ladies know ALL about some travel drama with countless PCS (Permanent Change of Station) moves, this was great news!
Ted’s part of the weekend:
Alright, here we go...Daisa has several girlfriends coming into Napa for a wino weekend and I am going to drive to pick up four of them in the Glamper. We have a SNAFU (do you know what that means?) but get the girls, pull into a parking lot, pour wine and have lunch. I get back on the road and the girls are raising Cain in the back, it was fun! Great to see all these ladies again, they were great support to each other and the Soldiers through an Afghanistan Deployment. Drop them and all their shit off at their AirBnB house and get out of there. Daisa calls to get me to bring her something...and go get wine...they are out already...when I get there the other two ladies have arrived. I go take a nap and then go out to play pool and hang out with a very close friend from Italy...and Bragg...it was great to spend time with him. We drink and talk and later go get food. The next morning I get up and go get the birthday cake for the birthday girl and deliver it to the house for them. Then my buddy and I go to the grocery store and then his house where I meet his sweet girlfriend and we have an awesome BBQ. We spend a couple hours on the phone with some other Sky Soldiers, which I think is a bit of a shock to this non-military affiliated lady, but it’s all good, she better get used to it! Pass out at their house and the next morning return to the Glamper. Today, we end up going to San Francisco with the ladies as they get ready to catch their flights out. Great to see them all again and the Jeep ride over the Golden Gate Bridge was pretty awesome! But the ride back in the dark with no doors was a little brutal, you would think I’d learn, but fuck it, you only live once!
Monday morning Ted and I did laundry at the Cougar house since we had a minimum of 3 night rental. We also had some quality time in the hot tub, stripped the sheets and locked up 1 minute before check out. We spent the rest of the day hanging out and relaxing. Tuesday, September 10th our Sky Soldier hiked Skyline and Manzanita Loop Trail with us. It was a good 4 mile tromp up and down a hill and he pointed out several things for us to see. Right before our Greek lunch and crazy drive into Green Valley, we all got cleaned up. I rode in the back seat since our buddy knew his way around...I had to focus on the road but was still able to enjoy the gorgeous hills and valleys. Vezer winery was a destination, and what a picturesque one at that! We sat on an empty back patio and tasted some delicious wines. We worked our way back into Napa after checking out his cool sail boat and linked up with his girlfriend for dinner. It was nice to finally meet her.
The next day, our friend picked us up and took us wine tasting at some excellent places. Sequoia Grove Winery was our first stop, they had these cool aerator wine stoppers with animals set up like gargoyles spewing wine from the mouth instead of rain water. The Rutherford Grill served us a fantastic lunch before we tasted some more wines at BV across the street. By the time we finished that I was really buzzed and sleepy so we started heading back stopping at a few signs for photos on the way. We grilled out at the Glamper after a nap.
Thursday, September 12th, we got up early and ride with our friend into San Francisco. He’s got a meeting and our other friend from Korea is in town. We drop him off, park his massive truck into a tiny spot and go for brunch to reminisce our time in Korea. We finished up brunch at Delores Park Cafe and caught an Uber to the Golden Gate Park where we walk around a bit, strolled the rose gardens and then took an Uber to Union Square. During the ride our other friend finishes his meeting. We say good bye to our awesome Korean friend which we have now seen in NY and CA - Coast to Coast baby - and head back to Napa in the truck. After indulging in yet another nap, we cook dinner at our friend’s house and watch as the skies over Napa turn pink. A great end to a great week!
Friday, September 13th, we pack up in the morning and roll out towards Yosemite.
Stay Tuned for the next blog!!!
Daisa, Ted and Azlan
PS- Azlan is having a blast in Miami with grandma and grandpa!