Thursday, December 31, 2009

Day 56 -Dec. 30 Wine country

Welcome to northern California!!

It's off to San Francisco and up the California coast!!!

WOW! Look at the green grass!! I now have a clear understanding of what it must be like for people who visit the Northwest that have never been here before. After spending weeks in the desert where a tree is out of the ordinary and grass doesn't exist, I can smell the plush, moisture in the air.
As I worked my way towards San Francisco, I passed a city all of its own. A windmill city. Blow wind blow!! I am such a huge fan of wind energy. It intrigues me for some reason and I would love to see us use it more. What about using it in cars? I have a design in my head that would allow a car to start on gas and run off the wind generated as the vehicle moved forward. Hmmm... Oh, I think I'm getting close to the city...

Yep, not only through this sign but through the driving techniques. I am from a state where old lady driving is the norm, and I was way out of my comfort zone here.

Let's go over a few techniques I learned while driving in California:

1- Speedometer? What speedometer? Throw that thing out the window. It's useless!!!

2- Maintaining a speed of 4 mph over the speed limit will only get you killed. Just keep up with traffic and make sure not to be the fastest one on the road.

3- Blinkers? Who needs those? Simply push your way in. A blinker only gives the neighbor driver the signal to speed up so you don't get in their way.

4- Whatever you do, don't drive in the left lane. Speed demons don't like you very much and will flash their lights at you and honk to make you move quickly!!

5- know your lane before you get close to your exit because you will have to refer to the pushing your way in technique at 70 mph. Easier said than done!!! And yelling, "Aaaaaaaaaa, help me!!!!" Doesn't make them want to let you in!

After sitting in traffic for what seemed like days, I reached the toll booth. I don't have fond memories of toll booths, so I was praying this was not going to become a norm. I asked the toll lady how many of these things were left and she spoke music to my ears, "This is the only one!"


Typically, when you leave a toll booth, the traffic opens up and picks right back up to speed in no time. Not the case here...

Look at all those stop lights!!! Each lane had one and it was like a dance of cars as the lights would flash green in a sequence that allowed each car to blend in with another. A musician must time these things.

And you must be a musician to read these signs and know where to go...
I pulled up to the intersection right after this sign and had to get the attention of the neighbor car to find out which lane to be in. (The sign I saw said stay in the middle lane, but in my mind the middle lane both went straight and turned left, so which did I want?) At first, they ignored me, but I have a nice, healthy horn so I made myself well known until they rolled down their window.

In an short voice, the man in the passenger seat said, "Can I help you?"

"YES!! What lane do I want to be in to go north on 101?"

They proved to be really nice and we ended up getting a whole conversation in while waiting for traffic to move. They were my new traffic friends that got me all straightened out and headed in the right direction!!!

You know you are in a large city when the Goodwill is designed like Gap...
And the houses are in a row without one inch between them...
and you come to a sight like no other...
Welcome to the Golden Gate Bridge!!
This place was a zoo filled with people from every country, culture and society!!!

The wait to get into the parking lot was about 30 minutes and the bathroom line was just as long.
There were tour buses and people from all nations crammed into a parking lot that totaled maybe 3 acres!!

Silly me, put 50 cents in the meter at my parking space assuming I would only be there a few minutes. WELL, I used up 20 in the bathroom line and then had to wait another 20 to get this picture. Goodness gracious alive, it's time to get out of here. While the people watching is wonderful, lines don't soothe the soul when you have 300 miles to drive and the clock just passed 1:00.

I headed north on hwy 101, thinking this would get me out of traffic and into some beautiful country.

Well, it got me into some beautiful country...

but the traffic didn't let up and the bathroom lines got longer!! After stopping to use the restroom about 20 miles north of town and having to wait another 20 minutes at a KFC, I whipped out my two-foot atlas and looked for plan B!!

Ah-ha!! Highway 128 cut over to the coast and looked like a nice red road on the map. I'll take that!!

So I hung a left at Cloverdale and headed for the ocean.
This placed me on the windiest road I have ever seen in my life. Usually, my technique for not getting car sick is I drive. BUT this road would prove to be a challenge even with me driving!!
That's some curves.

But it was worth every turn. The scene changed each mile from a canopy of moss covered trees...

to vineyards tucked into the hills...

I passed quite a few vineyards and got to thinking that maybe I should actually stop at one. People come from all over the world to see wine country and I was just whizzing by like it was nothing because I wanted to see the sun set over the ocean. I put my sunset desires to rest and decided that the next one I came to, I would stop...
What a great decision! This led me to the Meyer Family Cellars where I met the most wonderful people!! Here I am with my new found friends!! They were traveling too and had stopped in to taste the wine. These were some Louisiana folk and back when I was in that state, I passed right through their area!! Those Louisiana people really are a delight!! I love their energy!!! Next road trip, I have more people to visit. That means I will have to take more time!!!
And the gal that worked there had traveled our nation quite a bit and we had fun talking about where we had been and the unexpected places we loved the most. You didn't think I was going to leave without tasting what the talk is all about, did you?
I learned to hold the glass properly by the stem so it doesn't break and my hands don't warm the wine, and took a sip.
That was some pretty good wine!! I recommend buying a bottle!! Their website is if you would like to check them out!

Here is just a little bit that I found interesting about making wine:

The wine they made here was called cool climate Syrah. The cool climate part means it is not as peppery as hot climate.

I see red wines and white wines, but I had no clue where the color came from. The nice lady said that they leave the peels in during the first fermenting stage and that creates the red color. She said the longer you leave the peels in, the more dry the wine will become. Huh!!!

For some reason, I thought the grapes were only picked by hand in movies. I figured there was a machine that did it in real life. I was wrong!! People actually pick every grape and the average crew of 6-10 men will pick about 20 tons a day!! WOW!! That's a lot of grapes!!!!!!!!!!!!!

My favorite tid bit of information I learned was about the bungs (corks) in the large wood barrels the wine ages in. She said that so much pressure builds up in the barrels that the bungs shoot out. They have to allow enough room for them to fling about and then they go along and pick them up and replace them.

What a new world to me. I just love learning new stuff. That brings me to think of another road trip I must take to learn about how things are made and created!!!

For now, it's time for this tired body to sleep!!! Good night!!!

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