Days 79 & 80 : Next time, no kids.

Trip Start Jul 01, 2008
Trip End Sep 27, 2008

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Flag of United States  , California
Friday, September 19, 2008

Time for wine country. First up we stopped for breakfast in Mendocino, a New England style village just south of Fort Bragg, which was pretty but still a bit gloomy in the fog.
We'd followed the coast - and been under cloud cover - so long now that we headed inland in desperate search of the sun, and found ourselves driving through the spectacular Anderson Valley. It was a surprise to find the road here dotted with wineries, and chancing upon Husch Winery, one of very few Californian wines we were familiar with, had to dash in for a tasting. The kids were entertained by the server who was both knowledgable about the wine she was pouring us and simulatenously proficient at making paper aeroplanes from the tasting notes for the kids. We zigzagged a bit throughout Sonoma county, meandering first through the Russian River Valley and then back to the coast to see if the weather had improved. It hadn't - warm, sunny skies inland, cool, foggy skies on the coast. Headed back to Napa, by this time getting quite late in the afternoon, we entered Sonoma and liked what we saw, so decided to stay for the night. Great food, excellent wine, Sonoma was lovely. We had planned to make an early start out to Napa, but the excellent wine from the night before made us a little slower than usual. And then stopping to fill up with gas at a grotty little gas station, Aviva lost a tooth, which pretty much took us to lunch time before starting our wine trail.The first winery we stopped at for a tasting (Clos du Val) along the Silverado Trail in the Stags Leap district had decent wines but an attitude that may be common in the area but was so off-putting I took the kids outside to play in the rose garden while Matt gulped his way through the 4 offerings. Not one for the kids!
One winery down and we were ready for lunch. We snuck a look at the French Laundry just in case, but settled for Taylor's Refresher at St Helens. Taylor's is fast food, Napa Valley style, with very tasty burgers, cooked to order after visitors mingle in line (about a 1/2 hr wait) to place their orders, and then retreat to the picnic tables under the oak trees to wait for their food. The kids ordered and looked at their burgers, but when the mint-chocolate milkshakes arrived, they were dazzled and could only slurp their way through lunch. We thought about another tasting, but having reluctant children and a desire to get to Carmel by the Sea later that night, we decided a drive through the area would have to suffice this time. One day we'll go back, without the kids!
Despite both wanting one last look at San Francisco, once we got on the fastest route south to Carmel, neither Matt or I could bring ourselves to detour. Internally we are now programmed to head south, so we just gazed across the bay at the Golden Gate Bridge from the Richmond Bridge and continued on.
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