"Life is either a daring adventure or nothing"
- Helen Keller

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Sonoma Getaway and Rescue at the Park

Helicopter landing with injured person

Let’s start with the rescue at the park. Remember that hike that John and I did a couple weeks ago? I mentioned that it was one of the most difficult hikes we have ever done. Well, someone got in trouble on that trail and a helicopter rescue was necessary. This trail is notorious for problems and Adolfo told me in the summer the helicopters land here at Canyon Creek about every 4-6 weeks to pick someone up. They usually send an ambulance up to the area, bring them down and load them to the medical helicopters here and take them out. Today we saw the ambulances go by and soon after a lifeguard helicopter landed in the grassy area by Putah Creek. A short while later a Highway Patrol helicopter showed up too. They couldn’t get the injured person down to the ambulance so this copter was outfitted to let the personnel get down on wires and haul the person up to the helicopter. So we watched them get the personnel and basket ready to go up for the rescue. That copter took off and then returned about 20 minutes later. They then transferred the injured to the lifeguard helicopter. It was pretty interesting to watch. It looked to be broken bones and not life threatening so that was good. 
Off they go....
John at VJB Winery
Last Sunday John and I took off for our little getaway to Sonoma. It was kind of our Christmas present to each other. The forecast for the weekend did not look promising. We had beautiful weather earlier in the week so I was bummed they were calling for rain all three days we would be gone. It rained all the way there but mainly it was light rain so we still wondered around the plaza and did some shopping in the afternoon. We had reservations as part of our package at the Glen Ellen Inn just a little north of Sonoma. The rain was more significant now so this was a good plan for the evening. We had a great meal. We laughed at how this was the first linen tablecloth and napkin type restaurant we had been to in a very long time. I had a grilled salmon and vegetable ratatouille that was to die for and John tried his hand at mussels, which are a little work but he enjoyed them. We don’t often splurge on meals like this but since $50 was part of our “stay and savour” package, we looked at it as our Christmas dinner.
VJB Winery

Ledson Winery

Monday, I awoke to what looked like the sun peaking through the clouds. The day started somewhat cloudy but improved as the day went on. We headed to VJB Winery in Kenwood to pickup a wine passport that I had purchased on This is a small winery and we got our complimentary tasting with our passport. The passport was $29 and the tastings would have been $10 each so it looked like it would pay off if we did a couple more wineries. Not all the wineries are part of this program so check online for the places that honor it if you want to get the most for your money. 

Wine Tasting Room Ledson Winery

Fountain at Ledson Winery
The next winery on the passport was the Ledson Winery. This was our favorite of the day. They are considered a boutique winery. They make small batches and do  not distribute their wines commercially. To get their wine it has to come from them directly, at their tasting rooms or by mail-order. The fella giving us the tasting (I’m sure there is a title for this function) was very knowledgeable and tailored the tasting judging from our comments on the first couple wines. Our passport here got us an upgrade from a 6 wines to a 9 wines tasting, saving us about $5 each, so now we had broken even on that deal. Of course we did buy wine at both wineries so really we are in the hole but at least we got some good wines. 

Looks like fall not winter in places

Coppola Winery

We took a little break in Healdsburg and just walked around their downtown. Very nice upscale shops, art galleries, tasting rooms and restaurants. The sun was out now so it was a great time to walk and enjoy the sunshine plus let some of the wine wear off. We decided we could only take about one more winery and still be sober enough to drive back. The Coppola (as in Henry Ford Coppola, the famous movie director) was just up the road a little so we decided to check it out. This one is also on the passport but they only give you a tasting of their cheaper wines and truthfully they weren’t that good. The grounds and building though were worth the trip. Lots of movie memorabilia from his films and beautiful bars, lounges and gift shops. 
Coppola Winery

We headed back to Sonoma and for a change of pace we checked out the brewpub, Hopmonk Tavern. Hopmonk does have several of there own brews as well as many other microbrews on tap. Its not the best microbrewery we’ve been too but its always fun to try something new. We did luck out on their happy hour and ate dinner with $3 appetizers. Sonoma is one expensive place so this was a good deal.

All in all it was a nice getaway, we didn’t try to pack too much in, instead just tried to enjoy being there. It is a beautiful area to drive through. So many hills and fields filled with grapevines and the buildings at these wineries every few miles are extraordinary.

Its hard to believe that Christmas is almost here. The time really does go quickly. It has been an eventful year for us filled with travel, friends, a wedding and a new grandbaby on the way.  I wish you all a very Merry Christmas. May we all count our blessings and treat each day as a new beginning.

Happy Trails..............................

Monday, December 10, 2012

A beautiful day in Northern California

Coffee and Internet at Steady Eddy's, a great combination.

Its a gorgeous day in California. We are sitting outside at Steady Eddy’s enjoying a cup of coffee and soaking in the sunshine. Last week there was little outside time as a string of 3 storms came through Northern California. We had plenty of rain and there were some mud slides on Hwy 128 but nothing too bad and though we got about 5 inches of rain we didn’t have the flooding some areas had. So the sun is back out and all is well.

Two of our work camping couples left yesterday for different jobs. This park has issues keeping their work campers because of the lack of internet and phone service. We have decided to honor our commitment and John likes the work so we will stick it out until the end of January.

Next week we are going on a little vacation to Sonoma for a couple days. I found a little Inn (Sonoma Creek Inn) just a few blocks from the Plaza that had a good rate of $200 that includes a dinning certificate for $50. That’s our Christmas present to each other. I did get a wine passport on Groupon for Sonoma County, hopefully that will pay off.
Tree lighting in Winters, CA 
I just mailed off lots of Christmas Cards and gifts, always nice to get that done. I still have packages for my sons but I need to do some baking before they can be sent.

Just got off the phone with the ranger for Heceta Lighthouse just north of Florence, OR. We are going to spend the month of March volunteering there. We have really wanted to work in Oregon so we are excited. So another new adventure is on the way. I have had a hard time lately being away from my kids. With a new baby coming and Mitch and Emily working on buying a house, it’s hard not being there but luckily they are getting great support from Emily’s folks. Holidays are always the hardest for me. I do love this lifestyle though and opportunities like this one in Oregon make me remember why we are out here.

Hope you all are having a wonderful Christmas season and the next post should have plenty of photos from our Sonoma trip.

Happy Trails....................