Monday, March 22, 2010

Catching up....Part One: California

Frequently I'm behind on my blog. I've got good excuses this time! First, Steve and I went to San Francisco and Napa Valley. Second, I went for a week to Birmingham and Nottingham in England. Third, I came home to the inevitable pile of work that waited for my to pick up gigantic paintings salvaged from the River Course Golf Clubhouse fire on Kiawah Island. It's been quite a time! (All images can be clicked on for enlargement!)

So....San Francisco! We love this city! The mix of architecture is wonderful. The arts and cultural opportunities are tremendous. We took in San Francisco Ballet's triple bill after a fancy dinner at Indigo on Thursday evening....after shopping in the Ferry Terminal market.

We just don't have anything like this in Columbia....or in South Carolina for that matter!

We have mushrooms.....but not all these....and certainly not packaged so attractively!

If we have these....I don't know about them; but, I also don't really know what they are....they seemed to be for eating though and PRETTY!

Sure....we have pasta, even "fancy" pasta....but not in these colors, patterns, and packaging!

We even have a farmer's market on some Saturdays....and a few organic vendors....but not a well established, second generation, permanent store in a high traffic area! It all seemed a little overwhelmingly wonderful.

Another thing we noticed was the proliferation of signs for other organic items....especially t-shirts.

Praise the's Praise the Lard! This was undoubtedly my favorite t-shirt design seen over the long weekend. (No, I resisted a purchase but almost regret doing so.)

One of the great things we noticed was that recycling efforts are the norm....and colorfully everywhere.

We made this trip so that I could revisit Colma, City of the Dead. Colma is the suburban town on the public transportation line just outside San Francisco. After the earthquake in 1906, San Francisco banned future burial within city limits and were physically relocating almost all the early graveyards to Colma by the 20s and 30s. Three-quarters of Colma's land is divided between seventeen cemeteries and a Pet Cemetery. Steve and I visited last May. (I blogged about it here....with dozens of photos!) Yet, one day wasn't enough. We had to go back. I came prepared with silk, crayons, a notebook, and camera and spent all day Friday making grave rubbings, collecting epitaphs, and snapping images of angel sculptures. I was fantastically productive.

On Saturday we rented a car and drove to Napa Valley. Our hotel included free wine tastings in five vineyards....we made it to three. Above is Black Stallion Vineyard, a small boutique winery with great tastes in buildings and art.....and, of course, WINE!

This is Steve enjoying our tasting at Black Stallion.

This is Steve enjoying our tasting at V. Sattui.

This is Steve after enjoying our tasting at Rutherford Grove....where we bought handmade soap.

This is Steve enjoying more Conn Creek....which wasn't on our free package deal but where we bought a case of wine and had it shipped home! Thankfully, all the vineyards close around 4 - 4:30. We were quite loopy by that time.

On Sunday we went on the Napa Wine Train. We thought this might be a bit touristy....even tacky....but far from it! It was great and able to cater to EVERYONE! One could simply ride the train, have a three-course lunch on the train with or without the additional wine selections, have several wine tastings in the tasting car, visit one of two vineyards, and even enjoy a vegetarian selection. The staff came from all over the world. The nice girl above hailed from Russia. Our waiter came from Bulgaria....yes, we had the lunch!

This is Steve at our table. Unfortunately, I forgot to take a photo of the food....and it really was picture-worthy!

After we ate, various staff members immediately fixed the car up for the later lunch ride.

We were escorted down the train....past the on-board kitchen....

...past windows to the vineyard filled vistas... the dessert car.

This is Steve in the dessert car....

...where I remembered to snap a photo of both our desserts!

The view was tremendous. The weather was perfect. The wine was....from Napa Valley, of course....and EXCELLENT!

I even shot a video. It is posted HERE on my video blog.

Mustard plants were blooming everywhere. They grow them in order to rejuvenate the soil.

Our train ride included a tour of Domaine Chandon, the champagne vineyard. Two of the train staff accompanied a group off the train and during the walk through the facilities....

...and to the tasting! We learned a lot....and enjoyed it immensely!

Cheers....with bubbly!

By the way, they recycle in Napa too....with a twist!

Before heading back to the airport, we visited the historical cemetery in Napa too. Of course we did! I love this series! There's a cemetery everywhere we go. Steve loves the series too....there's a legitimate, partial tax deduction everywhere we go!

1 comment:

Wanda said...

Your eye is incredible. Your pictures are the best! look GREAT! Thank you for sharing! I love those fiddlehead ferns even though I've never heard of them before!