Revisit: California!

Every Fall, the Cache Valley Bottling Team invades JRickards Winery in Sonoma County.  This Fall was to be no different except for one thing:  FIRE!  With no containment in sight, all wine festivities were canceled.  However, by the time the weekend rolled around, the fires were mostly contained and folks were being allowed back in the region.  In fact, the County and cities were asking that tourists return.  By the time we arrived, one wouldn’t have known that a fire had so threatened most of the region, and devastated areas of Napa Valley and Santa Rosa.  Comparatively speaking, the area we were in was untouched.  Santa Rosa is visible via 101, and we did catch a glimpse of some of the devastation from the car.

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Over in the Cloverdale area, the threat was floating/flying embers igniting brush and trees. Our favorite walk from last spring was the Russian River walk; a 4 mile walk along the Russian River in Alexander Valley.  The following is an example of an ember fire which was quickly extinguished.  The closest fire, Pocket Fire, was just up on the hillside above the Russian River.

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Along this same walk, were huge turkey vultures sunning themselves in trees along the river:

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The spread out wings is not take off.  They camp out on the branches “spread eagle”.  It looked very cool.  I am convinced that these birds have no idea just how huge they are.

We spent one afternoon with Jim Rickards at his winery.  Another wine maker was visiting the winery and Jim invited Liz and I to join them for a vertical tasting of Zinfandel from 2008-2014.  After that, we went in the tasting room and tasted his regular current line up (You’ll have to visit us in Utah if you want to taste them!).  Then we went outside and barrel tasted two Rose wines.  What an afternoon! ZZZZZZzzzzzzzz……..

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Jim decided that he wanted to reschedule the bottling so it looks like we will get to blend a bottle a Barbera after all!  We had dinner with our very dear friends and airbnb hosts Todd and Susan at Diavola, our fave restaurant in Sonoma Valley.  We also visited and bought wine at White Oak Winery.  Clark came to visit and since he is in the wine business, I wanted him to taste the wines and tell me that I was right; these are damn good wines.  Clark agreed!  Of course we bought a case.

On Sunday, we drove to Sausalito to visit Clark, Paul (on the house boat) and Mark (SF retired principle trombonist).  We stayed at the Acqua Inn, the same place we stayed last spring.  It is a wonderful hotel.  Here is a shot of the two of us along the water right outside our room:

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That picture was right side up when I copy/pasted it.  Bah.

Clark took us on a walk to Cascade Falls which is in the Mill Valley, the town where he resides.  This little canyon is full of redwood trees, a stream (this time of year) that runs down through it, private homes and public spaces.  Here are some pics of this wonderful 2 hour walk, starting with a photo looking straight up between the trees:

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Finally, we went to see Eric, our band director friend at UOP in Stockton.  Klinkerbrick Winery has a fabulous Albarino and we wanted to be sure to pick up a few.  Since they are releasing their 2016 Albarino in a couple of weeks, they were selling the $15 2015 vintage for half price!  Sign me up!  We bought 2 cases.  Down the street was another winery that was built around an organ.  The organ is from San Francisco and performances are given each month at the winery.  All performances are digitally recorded, so we listened to the recording of Toccata and Fugue by Bach, performed in 1991.  The pipes are built in to the walls of the tasting room.  The wines?  Well, they had a really good Port.  Eric bought a bottle.

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Notice that some of the pipes were obtained from an organ in Provo, no less.

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Tuesday, we made the 11 hour trek back to Logan.  All in all, a fab trip.  It was really nice visiting or should I say, re-visiting, all of our haunts from our 5 week residency in California last spring.

Ok, one more shot of trees, and then a road named after me near Santa Rosa on 101.

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Next up:  Nutcracker ballet performances over US Thanksgiving weekend.  If anything else happens between now and then, I will blog once more!

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Tony Grove!

Have I ever mentioned to you that we live in a beautiful part of the country?  Well, we do.  And every season brings stunning pictures of nature.  We live in Northern Utah, and one of the nation’s scenic highways is Logan Canyon, right outside our back door.  This canyon leads from Logan, Utah to Bear Lake, Utah and the scenery along the river in Logan Canyon is stunning.  One of the prettiest places along the route is called Tony Grove.  Tony Grove is a glacier lake located 7 miles above the canyon at an elevation of 8000 feet.  (Last winter, TG had over 15 feet of snow)  We try to visit Tony Grove a couple times a year, particularly in the spring and the fall.  Since most people think I am retired already, we decided to drive up on a Thursday afternoon.

Tony Grove gets its name from the late 1800’s.  A few times each year, the wealthy of Northern Utah, or, the “tony” set, would carriage their way the 20 plus miles up the canyon, and 7 miles up the mountain, to spend the weekend on the glacier lake (really just a big pond).  I imagine our 35 minute drive took about all day by horse and buggy.  Here are some really beautiful shots of the area, including one not so beautiful shot of me:

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Some snow already!

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Did I mention that this is range land as well?  Fall means rustling up the dogies for the winter transfer.  We were heading down the mountain, and apparently 50 or so head of cattle were using the road as well.  Smart people stop, wait several minutes, try not to piss them off, and snap a few pictures.  The cowboys don’t take much notice of you either:

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Well, I blogged that you wouldn’t hear from me again until our wine bottling trip in mid October.  But when one gets to see such beautiful settings, one must snap pictures and send off a blog for all to see.  Oh, wait.  One last thing.  Remember the picture of the family of owls that my father-in-law took in the Okanagan?  Well, right outside the condo, they have had several sighting of eagles as well.  Last weekend, Dad nails it again.  The proof is in the picture!

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Cows and eagles.  Who could ask for anything more?  Ciao!!