Sunday, November 11, 2012

Hobbit country

We kept seeing hobbit homes in the woods.

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The banana slug and new clover

Before we started our walk, I saw one of these, as a chocolate, in the gift shop. It was a good bit longer in person than as a chocolate.

Tress was discovering how different the landscape is, west coast versus east. She exclaimed, "Even the clover is different!"

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Tress and Melissa love trees

My travel mates each wanted to show love for the forest in turns.

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The Muir Woods are fantastic. Tress and I both nearly wept as we moved through the ancient forest, a reaction that I haven't had since the glacier in NZ.

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Saturday, November 10, 2012


Sadly, horrifically, an owl flew into our vehicle last night. It wasn't killed but broke a wing--and was caught in the grill [shudder]. I got out of the car to try to free it, but was defeated by flapping, screaming (owls scream), and talons. It freed itself, eventually.

We were calling bird and animal rescue agencies, and the California Highway Patrol, and weren't able to get assistance from anyone. The poor bird moved itself off the road. If it had not been an owl (we thought at first that it was an egret), we would have tried to capture it. The talons and the bird's clear panic complicated things.

Melissa spoke this morning to an animal rescue person, who said there wasn't a lot more that we could have done. We stayed until it just about disappeared into the brush at the side of the road.

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Friday, November 9, 2012

Thursday ends

We had dinner at the Culinary Institute of America, where the food was every bit as good as it is at Tra Vigne, but IMHO no better. I had a cheese sampler to start, then a stone fruit salad with pistachios (not as nice as it should have been), and a house-aged steak.

Laden olive tree at Tra Vigne:

Another couple of Markham images:

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Tra Vigne

Melissa had a food epiphany during the starter course of Mozzarella Il Minuto, and it deepened during the first course, a fig and gorgonzola pizzetta with balsamic reduction.

The entry door at Tra Vigne:

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Napa Valley

We got started pretty early, at the hour when the tasting rooms open, 10am. We told ourselves that, where we live, it was already 1pm!

We went to Beaulieu first (above), then Grgich, Jessup, a room offering two wineries' wines (was one Rios?), August Briggs, Markham, and Merryvale. We had lunch at my favorite restaurant on earth, Tra Vigne in St. Helena.


Lime ?bush? at Grgich:

Olive tree at Grgich:


The trio at Markham, Tress mid-word:


Old cask room, above, and new below:

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Thursday, November 8, 2012

View from our room

We are staying in Marin County, directly south of Sonoma. We have a 2BR suite with full kitchen and breakfast provided free. There's a huge flat-screen TV, and there was a bottle of wine and a box of chocolates waiting for us when we got here. OK, I ordered the wine and chocolates.

I cannot wait to use that whirlpool. The (saltwater) pool is set at 85 degrees.

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San Francisco!

Tress, Melissa, and I left Boston yesterday with only minutes to spare before the wind, rain, and snow took over. It was a long flight (Tress is already dreading the flight home), but we are in CALI, baby!

Although we flew Virgin America, and Virgin used to have great food, the food on the plane was minimal, expensive, and arguably nasty. So when we got to San Fran, we were hungry!

It proved difficult to find a place whose kitchen was still open. Then we found Mel's on 101. You gotta love a diner. I had a meatloaf sandwich, and Tress and Melissa both ordered chocolate (fountain) shakes with their meals.

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