NC to CA

Any sanity or sense Steve and I had two years ago must certainly be long gone. If you need proof of this we thought driving from North Carolina to California would not be so bad. We’re pros at this, right? While the trip was really smooth, it was long and tedious and left us questioning are reasoning abilities about making the decision to go all the way from east coast to west for a short-term winery job.

To our credit we did try to plan things to do along the way to break up each day a bit. This is easier planned than executed as more often than not we just didn’t have the energy to take a big white van off the interstate to track down the local charm. That said there were a few highlights. We visited Stonehill Winery in Missouri. Way, way back, 1800’s back, Missouri had a fantastic wine industry. Today they have a surprising number of wineries producing lesser known grapes / wines that are well suited for the climate. We bought a bottle of sherry- our first. Next up was barbecue in Kansas City at Gates Bar B.Q. where much of the restaurant was shrouded in smoke from the pit. It was obvious that half the customers eat there weekly and the other half stagger in as if on a pilgrimage to a distant, holy land.

Steve having a come to BBQ moment in Kansas City.

Our new climbing partner in Denver.

That was about the extent of our tourist stops on our westward trek. We did visit pals in Denver and met their adorable little boy.  With a little luck we made beers happen with our wildland firefighter buddy as we passed through Winnemucca, Nevada. He is good at being anywhere and everywhere in the American West. I’m not sure how he has such mastery over his geography. It is a mysterious combo of truck, helicopter and I suspect nose wrinkle.

Picture perfect Lake Tahoe.

Stellar Jays are a fixture on the Tahoe landscape.

Just before reaching our final destination we spent a cool (literally- there was snow at elevation) weekend in Tahoe. This was a favorite spot of mine from our 2009 travels. With my foot swelling (sting ray) and weekend crowds on the trails, we kept our hikes short and our vista lingering long. For such a touristy area somehow parts of the Tahoe area manage to be not only bearable but actually pleasant. With a mellow weekend behind us we rolled on into northern Sonoma County and a tiny but just right apartment on a big ‘ol hill overlooking the Russian River Valley. More to come!

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