If I were to go into all the details then this post would be as long as the last one and the longest blog post in the world is not the best blog post in the world.
For my birthday, Erik and his parents took me on a trip to Napa. Other people came too--El's sister Joyce and her two daughters (and my friends) Emily and Kathy, and Rick's sister Tippy and her daughter Lynzi, who area also my friends. We stayed in a great house in Napa. It was in a subdivision but you wouldn't know that from the backyard. Vines as far as you could go. We started the trip Friday night at the Robert Biale Vineyard with 6 delicious tastes of wine (we were only supposed to get 5, but we're charming. And people bought some bottles!) Then, we went to Dean & Deluca where more wine was bought. We also put dinner together from an array of cheeses and salads and roasted beets and the meats I bought: mortadella, sausicon de vic, pate champage, mousse pate, some salami similar to sopresseta, and prosciutto. We had grapes, bread, cheese at the dining room table and had one more glass of wine while lounging around the living room. Rick picked the house and it was perfect. A park across the street made it easy to run even if it was so pouring down rain Saturday morning my shoes still aren't dry today. Then we were off to Cakebread were Nancy (at 10:00 a.m.) gave us a tour and some more wine and told us how the Cakebreads bought the first 18 acres there for $2500. The barrels they house the wine in, once, cost $800-$1200 each. $2500 went further in 1969. Then, off again! This time to Inglenook/Coppola/Rubicon (it keeps changing hands). We had 4 delicious sips here and Erik bought about bottle of Inglenook 4 lot to go with the bottle of 1985 Inglenook Larry Chatacombe gave me when we worked at the Oregon Winegrowers Association together in the 1990's. It is sometimes only in retrospect that people have been so generous to you for so long. Speaking of generosity, Tippy bought the tasting at Rubicon/Inglenook/Coppola for my birthday. It is so great to be loved by Californians who love great wine.
In the parking lot, before the tasting, we ate the rest of the chaucuterie and cheese. Picnicking appears to be illegal in Napa wineries. We called it tailgating and ate from the back of the car. We were not arrested.
We had hours! (an hour) to kill before our next tasting at Opus. We went to Turnbull Cellars whose wine wasn't that great but their showing of original Ansel Adams photographs was. Then to Opus which was annoying because for $35 you got half a glass of wine but you did get to see what it looks like (and imagine what it costs) to grow grass up the slopes of your building.
Then, to dinner at the Presse! I do not get many oysters in Flagstaff. Here, I got oysters, lobster and shrimp on the cold seafood platter I shared with Erik. We also shared a Wagyu Flat Iron steak which was delicious but maybe not quite as good as the one from our local ranch where we get most of our meat--Flying M. So, it's a trade-off. Oysters for steak.
But then we were all exhausted, as if somehow drinking tiny sips of wine all day was hard work. We sat and stared at a football game for 10 minutes and then went to bed.
Sadly, the other folks had more tastings on Sunday but Erik and I thought we shouldn't make the kids or the babysitter stay together for three nights so we packed up in the morning, drove through the town of Napa, and made our 8 hour trip home.
But this is also what I'm grateful for. Ali, the world's best babysitter/housesitter/dog sitter. We got home. The house was clean. The kids had eaten and she had put them in their pajamas, teeth brushed. The dishwasher was empty. The dog was fed. The sheets Ali had slept on she had washed. Zoe's lunch was made. It was like coming home not from a vacation but to another vacation, one where the kids were peaceful and happy and bathed. It was a dream to come home to and reminded me how rare it is to truly get a full-on break and she made it so the vacation was the truest vacation. I am so grateful to her and to Tippy and Rick who put the whole trip together and Erik who bought the plane tickets and the rental car and drove through crazy Oakland traffice on Friday and El who gave me for my birthday the outfits for me to wear on the winetasting.
It's so impossible to say how grateful you are over and over to people, filling their cups with these words of gratitude because the cup gets full and they get it and one thank you is enough but they have no idea how deep in the marrow of my bones where I mix my metaphors and make my tea of gratitude how grateful I am to everyone who seems to give me so much for no good reason.