Sunday, July 22, 2012

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles...and Wine!

Hello all!

As I sit here, in the 65 degree wonderfully chilled hotel room in northern California's Napa Valley, I am quite content. Figured I would write a blog about it, even!

For those who don't know, vacation started officially today. The flight to San Fran was about 4 hours and 15 minutes. Surprisingly, I did well. Normally I go a bit wiggy after about 3 hours, but for some reason, this time I was fine. Delta has certainly expanded their service since I last flew them across-country. They have extra goody snacks for sale, along with recent movies and headsets that are a fraction of a movie theater ticket.

No, I didn't watch one, though I was tempted to watch "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" once again. Instead, I read on my Kindle and worked on my writing notes. A good flight, overall.

That was the plane part.

Then we take the "air train." This is a welcome experience because it is only about 60 degrees in San Fran, and it's the first spot where there is cool air. It winds us around the airport to the car rental place, and looks like a giant snake curling its way between stops around SFO. 

That was the train part.

The automobile part? A bit more complicated. May I just ask this 1 question of the car rental world - WHY do you rent out cars that are blocked by other cars and can't be driven? Even if you tell a customer "your car is in space 950", that doesn't mean that when you get there, it will be AVAILABLE in space 950.

I swear-- I wanted to channel Steve Martin in "Planes, Trains, and Automobiles." Click here for the video. And warning - bad language for those of you with sensitive ears :)

After much confusion and playing elevator hop for about 30 minutes, we finally got to a replacement car. I suppose our original car is still blocked by 20 others. Who knows? Since our flight had landed 30 minutes early, this helped because by the time we left the San Fran airport, it was probably an hour and a half after we landed. Luggage plus car rental plus delays = ugh.

Then YAY! We go out on 101, head up on 80 North, and make our way to Sonoma Valley Highway - Hwy 29. Then we kind of got lost, but found our way back.

Napa itself, as we entered, was quite a cute little place. Gothic cathedrals, historic town squares, little shopping plazas. Even the Wal-mart building was charming.

We check into our Napa Valley hotel (note: this is 3 hours after we landed) and then go out for some tastings around Napa. And we promptly get lost as we try to find our way to a winery. Even though grapes and vineyards surround us on both sides, we can't seem to find the right road we are looking for! 

Eventually we find our way back, and head toward some recommended wineries. THIS is the good part!  Before we reach the first one, I look to the left and see a beautiful Southwestern-looking building with tile roofing and Mayan Sun ironwork in the front (who wouldn't like Mayan Sun stuff?) and I say with a happy glee, "Oooh, that one!"

Carol swerves left and we go to our first winery. It's called Luna winery, which I find cool because Luna is also the name of one of my granddogs, so there's a hidden meaning there. It is the first winery we walk into, it's the first experience of Napa, and it is the highlight of my day. Most wine tastings charge a modest fee for tasting a variety of wines, and because it was my first winery, they gave me 7 tastes for the price of 5. Not only that, but they answered my questions about what it's like to work in the business (ahhh, book research. It's a wonderful thing!) and I found the place beautiful.

View from the balcony (with a taste of Merlot)

Around taste #4 of a Merlot, she recommends we take our wine upstairs to their tower balcony, which overlooks the vineyard. We do. It is beautiful. This is when my breath is taken away and I realize how glad I am to be here.

Yes, all the travel and hustle and bustle was worth it. To drink from the fruit on the vine, while overlooking the vines shadowed by gorgeous mountains - - yes, this is great.

We do try a few more but they close at 5p so we pick up snacks and head back to the hotel. Tomorrow, Monday, is a full day of seeing things, and we plan to do a special lunch at one of the local fave wineries.

Hope you and yours are doing well, and if you have any wine in your fridge, raise a glass and enjoy!



Robin Weaver said...

Hey Elaine,

Thanks for sharing. I'm headed to the fridge for a glass myself.

The Writers Canvas, Author Elaine Calloway said...

Marilyn Baron wrote:
“Great post. I only visited Napa once but would love to go back. My daughter is going there next month. If I went back I would take the Wine Train from San Francisco to Napa. I hope you have a great time. I loved the picture you posted.”

The Writers Canvas, Author Elaine Calloway said...

Hi Robin,

Great to hear from you! Thanks for commenting. Yes, wine country is absolutely amazing. I will have to share my pics with you sometime soon.

I'll miss you at Nationals this year, hope to see you soon!


The Writers Canvas, Author Elaine Calloway said...


Sorry you had trouble posting your comment, but I appreciate the kind words. Napa is wonderful - I think you should definitely come here. I remember the fun time we had in SFO at Nationals a few years ago. Napa is a wonderful start to a great vacation :)