The End of our Trip

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Back in our room at the Little River Inn we started a fire in the fireplace and looked out at the Pacific Ocean.  Marti choose to take a bath in the sauna and I turned on the TV.  Our evening was special and very relaxing.  Sleep was restful and the next thing I remember is waking up on the last day of the 2011.  Marti and I decided to go exploring both Mendocino and Fort Bragg.  Mendocino was a beautiful quaint town.  The homes in the town were built-in the early half of the 1900’s.  They were well-kept homes with great views of the area including the Pacific Ocean.  Many homes were converted into business.  We bought some great chocolates in one converted home.  Marti and I shopped for jewelry in another converted home.  We even ate a wonderful French lunch in a converted home.  Our visit to an art museum was inside a converted home.  I did not understand the real reason for converting homes instead of just building a structure to accommodate the business.  All I can say is that it worked in this town very well.

In addition to visiting the town we walked along the headlands of Mendocino.  The weather was wonderful and nothing like we would expect on the last day of the 2011 year.  The views were so special both Marti and I took more photos than we normally take.  There was a little funny incident that occurred at the headlands and I would like to share it with you.  Marti and I were looking down at the Pacific Ocean pulsating into the various coves along the headlands when I spotted what I thought was a seal in the water.  I pointed it out to Marti and as I did we both thought there were many seals in the water.  We were both very surprised to see what we thought were a large number of seals.  At the next cove we were able to move closer to the water and discovered that what we thought was seals were in fact seaweed.  Oh well it was exciting for a little time.

Next we were off to visit Fort Bragg, a short drive just eight miles north of Mendocino on HY 1.  I must have missed whatever was special to Fort Bragg.  After arriving we drove down the main street, took a few turns and discovered nothing of interest. The homes were normal as were the business establishments.  From the golden arches to your standard Safeway store nothing stood out to distinguish this town from any other town in California.  Yes you could still see the beautiful Pacific Ocean and the inlet to the harbor was nice but different or unique.  No it was not!

Prior to returning to our Inn we decided to stop and pick up some “boy friend food” so we could enjoy our last night of 2011 together.  For those of you who do not know what “boy friend food” is I will explain.  Before Marti and I became the couple we are today we dated.  It was during this time that Marti impressed me with her skill with various foods.  These various prepared dishes became known to her children (Chris and Alex) as “boy friend food”.  The reason was simple after Marti prepared the treats she would store them in the refrigerator and inform her children to not eat her boy friend’s food. Soon it became a question the children would always ask, May I eat this or is it “boy friend food”.

So after picking up some wine, olives, salami, cheese, salads, bread and of course chocolate we returned to Little River Inn.  I started a roaring fire in the fireplace and we settled in to welcome the New Year.  As we set out the boy friend food we realized that forks and spoons would have been a good idea but even without those items we enjoyed our evening.  Welcome 2012!

The Little River Inn

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A little over two hours later we decided to stop for lunch. There was not much to choose from so we found ourselves at a lodge along the highway. Time was 11:55 AM we were informed by a hostess that we must wait until 12 noon for lunch. We sat down in the lobby and waited the five additional minutes. This lunch stop turned out to be a very lucky stop for us. The food was prepared from scratch and they even made their own mayonnaise. Both Marti and I enjoyed our lunch and the quality of the food. Soon we were back on the highway heading north. Normally if I am driving, I do not get motion sickness. However, driving in the fog seemed to nauseate my stomach and gave me a slight headache. Approximately one hour later I saw the Little River Inn on the right hand side of the road. Turning onto the property we headed to the office to check in to our room.

The room is beautiful. It is on the second floor above a business conference center. We have a deck just outside the room looking out over the Pacific Ocean. The view from the deck is breathtaking. I can see the crashing surf, gigantic rocks embedded in the sand and majestic trees. I am struck by both the ruggedness of the coast and the beauty of the view. This is one place that I hope I will return to in my future. Inside the room, we have a fireplace, couch, refrigerator, table and chairs, and an elevated bed. Oh yes, there is a television as well. The bathroom is enormous with two sinks, a toilet, shower and a Jacuzzi bath large enough for two. It looks like I’m going to have fun tonight.

After a brief rest we headed north up Hwy. 1 to the town of Mendocino. It’s not a very big town so driving for a period of 10 minutes we had seen everything there was to see. We enjoyed a little more sightseeing and selected the Mendocino Hotel as our dinner restaurant. Lucky for us we were on vacation. The service at the Mendocino Hotel was anything but prompt. The bartender was providing drinks to all the guests at the hotel. In addition she was trying very hard to wait on tables. It was a gallant effort on her part. However, that in no way overcame the hunger in my stomach. Being on vacation, I asked my stomach to settle down and I started to enjoy a conversation with Marti. I was surprised 30 minutes later when the bartender stopped at our table and asked if we were ready to order. We said yes. I ordered a mushroom sandwich and Marti ordered the meat loaf. Our conversation was interesting and soon another 30 minutes had passed and our dinner arrived.

I cannot tell you how surprised I was to find my sandwich still warm. In fact, after biting into my sandwich, I was so impressed with the quality and beauty of the presentation that the wait time became a faded memory. Marti was very impressed with her meal as well. The gravy that covered the meat loaf was wonderful with a meaty flavor and a hint of wine. The mashed potatoes were mashed, not whipped and they were presented hot with a perfect smooth texture. We relaxed and enjoyed our meal and a few extra glasses of wine. With dinner over we headed back to our room for a restful night before New Year’s Eve.
For those of you who would like more information check this out http://www.littleriverinn.com/

End of a Beautiful Day

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Returning to our hotel room Marti and I went directly to our room for a short rest. Alex and Allie chose to head to the Napa town square to shop and see other items of interest. Around 6:30 PM we met up with Allie and Alex at the Napa square. It was getting close to dinnertime and we were all hungry. A suggestion to go to a French restaurant was soon vetoed by John. The second choice, offering an American menu, was selected and soon we were sitting down reviewing the menu. We selected a good bottle of Napa wine and an appetizer of calamari to start. Marti selected a main course of beef stroganoff. The girls, Alex and Allie, chose to share a salad and pizza. I had sausage with penne pasta in a spicy red sauce. Both the wine and the meal met our expectations. The ambulance of the restaurant was cute in a little old world way. After dinner we walked to the car and were soon on our way back to the hotel.

Prior to returning to the hotel the girls suggested we stopped at a liquor store for a bottle of wine they could enjoy in the hot tub. It is here that I should remind you about our stop at the Elizabeth Spencer winery. If you recall the girls Alex and Allie had purchased some small bottles that they could consume in the hot tub. I chose not to ask why those bottles were not good enough for the hot tub here in Napa. Instead, I went looking for a liquor store, so the girls could purchase some wine. With the assistance of Alex’s iPhone we located a whole foods store just a few blocks away. Alex entered the store and selected a bottle of wine for her an Allie to enjoy later that evening. After this detour for a bottle of hot tub wine, we returned to the hotel. Marti and I were at the hotel for a night of rest. Alex and Allie were back at the hotel to enjoy their wine and the hot tub.

Marty and I had an enjoyable night and awoke in time to enjoy some coffee with the girls. After coffee, the girls left for San Francisco and Marti and I left for the Little River Inn. Marty had a great idea about cutting across the valley and driving up Highway 1. This was to be a scenic drive with Marty and I enjoying the rugged northern California coastal community. Around half way to US Highway 1 the fog surrounded the car and it became difficult to see anything but the road. After turning onto Highway 1, the fog was still with us and all we could see was the road. We continued heading North up Highway 1, when I realized we were in the cloud. It seemed funny to me that we were driving up Highway 1 in a cloud of fog. I thought of my Apple iPad and how it and moved all of my music to the Apple Cloud. I asked Marti to look around and see if she could see any of my music. That was worth a little giggle.

Wine Tasting – NAPA

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Our first stop was the St. Supery winery. I was the designated driver so I was allowed only bread sticks and water. The girls were able to enjoy some Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot and a Cabernet Sauvignon. Around 45 min. later we departed the winery with two bottles of St. Supery wine. Our next stop was the Elizabeth Spencer winery. Here the girls were able to enjoy more Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, Pinot Noir and another Cabernet. Prior to departing the girls ordered some small wine bottles. They told me these wine bottles were perfect for the hot tub. I knew better than to argue with them. Our next stop was the Darioush winery. With wine tasting at a cost from $35 to $150 a flight I was pleased that it was so crowded we decided to skip this winery.

Soon we were back in the car and headed down the road when we saw a beautiful building. Turning off the road we entered the vineyard of Chimney Rock. This winery was to become a turning point for our Chardonnay drinking girl Marti. The girls again tasted multiple bottles of wine but it was Marti who left the winery with two bottles of Rose of Cabernet Franc. She had a sparkle in her eye as she held her two bottles and said I will enjoy these later. Once back in the car we drove to the hotel for a rest before dinner.

To all of you who have not been to the Napa Valley in the past 20 years. I have some sad news for you. I discovered that you have to pay to sample wine in Napa Valley. Lucky for us Allie was with us and in her purse were a handful of her uncle’s business cards. These business cards were from the Bargetto winery in Santa Cruz and had her Uncle Paul’s name on the cards. She would present the cards to the individuals who were responsible for providing potential customers with samples of wine. She identified herself as the daughter of her Uncle Paul. This was then followed by a discussion on the types of wine the Bargetto winery produced. I am sure Uncle Paul would have been very proud of his daughter Allie. She not only held her end of the discussion but on occasion even stumped the person behind the counter. We were all proud to be with her.

Napa – Sonoma

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Shortly after Marti and I became a couple. We decided that it would be fun for us to spend New Year’s Eve together in a romantic place. For the first two years we spent New Year’s somewhere along Highway 49 in the California gold country. This year was going to be different. We were going to drive up to the northern coast of California. Specifically we were on our way to the Little River area. Our plan was to stay at the Little River Inn. We would say goodbye to 2011 and say hello to 2012 at the Little River Inn. We shared this story with our daughter Alex. She suggested it might be nice to spend at least one night in the Napa Valley together. We modified our New Year’s Eve plan and now we were going to spend one night in Napa Valley.
So today I’d like to tell you a little story about my trip to Napa Valley. Prior to our trip to Napa Valley we decided to check out the various hotels in the area. After a thorough and exhaustive search we selected the Lodge at Sonoma Renaissance resort and spa. Two days prior to our departure, we received a reservation reminder from the Lodge at Sonoma Renaissance resort and spa. We had reserved a cottage room with one king bed and a fireplace. After driving for a period of 2 1/2 hours we arrived at the hotel. The lobby to the hotel was magnificent. On either side of the lobby were two large rooms one was a restaurant and the other a spa center. We checked in and were given the keys to our cottage. Leaving the hotel lobby we headed directly to our cottage. Our cottage was on the second floor of a small compact unit.
As we entered our cottage we were stuck by the size and the beauty of the room. The room had a king size bed against one wall with a refrigerator, TV, couch and two chairs on the other side of the room. On the wall opposite the bed was an electric controlled gas fireplace. The back wall of the cottage had an entry for the closet and off the closet was an entry to the oversized bathroom. Entering the bathroom you were immediately impressed by the size of the giant bathtub. Much to our surprise we found that directly above the bathtub were wood shutters that could be opened and someone in the bathtub could watch TV or talk to someone laying on the bed. Moving through another door we found the toilet and a standup shower. I do not know the exact number of hotel rooms I’ve slept in but this room by far was the largest and most spacious.

I would like to have a little side note here and let those of you who know me understand. I checked out the towels and they were very soft and fluffy. The bed was firm and the pillows were soft. I was happy that we had selected this hotel for our stay in Napa Valley. Marti and I had just sat down when Marti’s phone rang. It was Alex and Allie they had arrived at the hotel and wanted to know when we would start the wine tasting. I said that I would be ready in 30 minutes and Marti agreed. Soon we were leaving our room and heading to the lobby to meet the girls. After saying hello we headed to the car and started our journey to the wineries.