Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Bike Ride in Napa

Curt and I took a trip to California last week. This was our first-ever vacation without the kids since our eldest was born. (They survived. So did we.) Our first stop was Monterey, for one night, then on to Yosemite for four days, and then finally to Napa Valley. Rather than provide a long, detailed description of the trip (I can see your eyes glaze over at the thought), I thought I'd just touch on a couple of highlights. And I see no reason to go in chronological order ;-)

So here we are, near the end of the vacation, early on our bike tour in Napa Valley.
That's Curt on the left, Lauren Kolbeck (who was a delight to get to know) and our guide "Just four more miles" Joan of Napa Valley Bike Tours. Joan may not have a good sense of mileage ... *everything* was just four more miles, even when it was closer to nine ... but she outpaced and out-biked all of us with ease. I was definitely the weakest link in this group and I appreciated everyone's patience when I needed to walk my bike that mile and a half straight up to the Rutherford Hill Winery. Lauren said she had to walk a bit, too, but she made it a whole lot farther than I did! Curt walked with me even though I knew he could press on longer. What a good guy!
Just as I got off the bike (about one-tenth of the way up) our youngest called to ask if she could have a Color Guard sleepover at the end of June. "Wow, you're out of breath, Mom," she said. I explained. "You're still on the bike ride? How long have you been on it?" When I told her we were getting close to three hours at that point, my then-sixteen-year-old actually sounded impressed. Little did I know that I had another three-plus hours to go before Curt and I gave up totally and requested a pickup from Paul and the van.

Here we are at the last stop we were able to manage before we called it quits.

Along the way we visited Sequoia Grove vineyards, and Elizabeth Spencer's as well. We bought olive oil at a neat little shop (I think it was called "The Olive Oil Store") that didn't charge for tasting, and some wine from the excellent Rutherford Hill. (Our favorite stop.) We had a great host at Rutherford. His name was John, but Lauren thought he looked more like a Bob. We all loved the Cabernet Sauvignon, and John suggested we try a little of their port. I don't care for port, but we followed his instructions: small sip, then a chocolate-covered blueberry, then another sip of port. Wow. Heaven! Yep, we bought the port and the blueberries ;-) And now we can't wait to have friends over to share the experience.

Our last stop was Saddleback. Not my favorite place mostly because the young woman in charge of the tasting seemed rather disappointed that we showed up there so close to closing time. She "made time" for us, however. But the experience left a bad taste in my mouth - and not from the wine.

Although we rode a lot longer than we'd originally planned -- we had signed up for a three-and-half hour ride, and wound up closer to six hours -- we had a wonderful time. Absolutely great.

The best part was the camaraderie, and all the laughs. Lauren and Joan were wonderful and I'm very glad to know them.

Would I do it again? Sure. But maybe next time I'd sign on for just an hour or two... and please, no more hills!

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