Monday, July 18, 2011

The View from the Passenger Seat 4

Sonoma and Mendocino have the most spectacular coastline, add to that vineyards, fresh produce, breweries, flowers, art laid back attitude  and easy access to major cities and to me it is heaven.   Mind you the roads are potholed and parks closed but that is the human failures.
Here is the fab bakery in Sonoma.

This is a bicycle rack in the town of Sonoma.  gorgeous little square.  lots of B&Bs and vineyards. 
 In Santa Rosa are first winery was D'Argenzio.  It was in the town and we were there a long time and had a case shipped!!  (We brought two bottles home and tried one this die for smooth, exquisite taste)  next  on to the only one open and way off the beaten track.  The gardens were better than the wine.

Next morning it was overcast, raining   and cold.  We headed to hog island for oysters.  Brianna at D'Agenzio recommended it.   She failed to mention you have to shuck your own!  Chris only broke one knife. 

it was really a river estuary.

Then it was to Petulma, a city lined with gorgeous gingerbread houses,  it was raining so hard we just slipped into a coffee bar and headed for Bodega Bay.  We ate at the Tides, as we had 20 or so years earlier.  I had Ciopinno, a dish full of all types of shellfish in a rich tomato base.  

Then we went to the head and actually saw wales flopping around and spouting off.  That's is them just off the rock to the right!  White sprays are the splash of their tails.

 Next day we left for Mendocino and Boonesville , surfing wine in 
Healdsburg.   We stayed at Boonesville Fairground surrounded by sheep, goats and vineyards.  this is the town of Mendocino and 20 mile drive through twisting roads and towering redwoods along the Navarro river

the gardens are just gorgeous, sort of English , below is an Angels trumpet, brugmanesia.

These are very expensive boutiques that have lovely items.

 it is also where they grow medicinal marijuana, sure were a lot of sick people around! We visited many of the wineries.  This is Navarro.   We joined their club 30 years ago and visit then whenever we come west.

I think i over brightened this photo.  

Friday was Farmers market in Mendocino.  the prices were high.  2 ozs of sea salt $15.

 Off to Fort Bragg, the brewery and fish and chips for dinner.  Fish from the local fishermen!
Then the botanical garden on the cliffs.

this is the redwoods forests along the river road. 

Roses in Philo.  They grow wild all over this area of CA.
this is the Husch Winery.  We first visited it 30 years ago.

Saturday night dinner at the Bonneville Hotel, it was an in spot in the 70s and remains popular and "in"
last time apples were falling on our heads and kittens scapered around.

It was a very fresh meal all local produce and they served lamb. 
great last night

The View from the Passenger Seat 3

Sears Point, Infineon Race tract is located in Sonoma County CA.  It is a road tract, and unlike an oval you don't see all of the race.   Sonoma is one of the finest wine regions in the world.  it is the first tract where we saw bottles of wine out on tables everywhere!  They did not sell wine at the tract.
Here is our Phoenix Cruiser (PC) in our place at the RV camp called 50 acres.  We were soon surrounded by hard drinking party goers.

like most parks at a racing weekend they came to party.  At Sonoma the crowd was quite younger than other race traks and very friendly.  They stop and chat whenever they see you sitting outside.  The weather was perfect but dry so no fires and no open pit barbecuing.  Also like other tracks they had come for years and had the same spot.  This guy even had couches and had set up a bar.

 our friendly neighbors quickly told us the grand stand was not the best seats but Turn 7.  Chris bought grandstand so i would be out of the sun.  he is so thoughtful.  Well we checked Turn 7 and it was a very exciting place with two sharp turns.
 Here is Chris the only guy covered up.

 It was a very exciting spot but the main race started at noon and it was hot and sunny so we retreated to the grand stand.
  We could see the pits but they seemed to come into the pits less than usual.  loce watching them change the tires and fill up, so fast and organized.

This is Rowdy the M& M mascot for Kyle Busch # 18.  At Bristol he won all 3 races   He lost to his brother Kurt.  
I just knew Rowdy was very pissed off.

That was the last race and most people packed up after the race and left when the day car parks emptied, about 4 hours later.  We left Monday for Santa Rosa stopping in Sonoma for coffee and pastry at the Basque Boulangere .  bliss!  then on to the Santa Rosa Fairground and the start of our wine surfing!

Since CA is a very politically correct state and the current buzz words are sustainable, organic, recyclable and artisanal.  the race track ran lots of stuff off solar panal but the grass lands were maintained by sheep.  it is very weired to see sheep noshing on the hill side as cars wiz by at 125 mph. Then we saw them all line up and then they were gone.  Probably decided to sheer them.
Sheep at Infineon Raceway.JPG

Monday, July 11, 2011

The view from the passengers seat 2

 The distant mountain is Cloudcroft NM.  below the  camp at Mayhill at dawn.

We set off up the mountain, from about 8,000 to  10,000 feet it was 14 miles of forest
through the tunnel, far easier than in a big Alfa
 And a quick descent to the valley, Quite different

 then a ride across the valley and onto some terrible side roads to Williams AZ

The next day we headed across the Mojave.  Since the water is harvested the mountains are quite barren and the grass is dried up and golden.  when you descend into Bakersfield you suddenly are confronted by a patchwork of green and some earth tones.  Bakersfield is in the central valley where  citrus fruit, vegetables, and nuts  are grown year round.  that day it was 104 degrees.
We were happy to leave and head for Sears Point and NASCAR.  Travelling along 101 the scenery is  incredible as the central valley run N to S with  mountain chains lined up on each side.  one citrus frmer even put up signs showing what fruit tree you were flying by, oranges, lemon, limes, mandarins and then almonds.  That solved the endless guessing games that help pass the time away of what is growing in that field.  On this trip we had a Garmin that tried desperately to get us to go through San Francisco and then to Berkeley.  it managed to lead us into Crockett where a fast Uee (u Turn) by DH in Main S. put us onto the right bridge and to our destination.

Note Photography through the windshield does not yield national geographic material!

The view from the passengers seat.

With the AC fixed we set out for Sears Point and northern California changing the original plans to avoid the  burning heat of the stopover cities along I10.   We set out at 7 am crossing over parched miles of a landscape that seems to never end on I 10 to Fort Stockton, making the phrase from the 19th century "go to hell or Texas" no idle threat.  

A back road led us through Pecos where oil rigs nodded, reminding us that black gold is in some really hot spots. We headed west through  Artesia, an isolated town in the Sonoran dessert that has an interesting sculpture celebrating drilling and drillers,then for 80 miles climbing up into the Sacramento mountains to Mayhill.  The landscape from Artesia to Mayhill changes from arid scrub to tall trees, scared by forest fires, meadows and a cool swift flowing mountain stream.  The temperature was a cool 89 and the next morning we had to switch on the heat.  It works! Ready to leave.
Now where have all the photos gone and the cable to download from the camera?