Tag Archives: wine tasting

Hello Washington

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We entered Washington via Idaho into Clarkston for a quick one-night stay at the Granite Lake RV Park. What a weird feeling to be back in our home state after all of this time. Our campground was in a beautiful location right at the confluence of the Clearwater and Snake Rivers. This was just an overnight to break up our long drive before heading to Walla Walla.

The next morning, I loved the drive east as it felt like I was back in the Palouse! We arrived at the Blue Valley RV Park in Walla Walla, our home for the next 3 nights. It was a perfectly located park, just a mile to the downtown area. We were here to visit friends, Don and Trudy, and of course do some wine tasting. The weather was perfect and we were able to visit some places we had not tried before as well as some old favorites. We had a great dinner out with Don and Trudy and a lovely afternoon on the Amavi Cellars deck with them sipping a delicious Rose. So great to be able to see them on our way back home!

Mike and I, Don and Trudy at Amavi

Mike and me, Don and Trudy at Amavi

Cougar Crest!

Cougar Crest!

Pepper Bridge, one of our faves

Pepper Bridge, one of our faves

Mike

Mike doing his “wino crossing” imitation

Next up was Yakima and Camp Cameron for Memorial Day Weekend. Well, we actually stayed a full week, but we had a few friends come and go throughout the weekend. Sunny & Mitch have a perfect set up for our MoHo with full hook-ups right in their driveway. We had a great time catching up with friends, hanging by the pool, wine tasting, hiking and storm watching. We were even able to clean out the entire “basement area” of the MoHo and organize a bit in preparation for putting it up for sale. We said goodbye to them on Thursday morning and made our way to Wenatchee (we left the MoHo parked in their driveway and just drove the car). Huge thank you to them for this and their hospitality!

The group hiking in Cowiche Canyon, Yakima

The group hiking in Cowiche Canyon, Yakima

The three amigas!

The three amigas!

Cidery Tasting

Cidery Tasting

Our camping spot at Camp Cameron

Our camping spot at Camp Cameron, five stars

Amazing views of Mt. Adams from Camp Cameron

Amazing views of Mt. Adams from Camp Cameron

Next stop was Casa de Pflu in Wenatchee to see our other great friends, Marc & Shelly. We spent 4 nights there hanging with them and just enjoying the views from their home, cooking and watching softball and movies. Got a lot of errands done in anticipation of our arrival to the west side. Our 16th anniversary was on May 30 so we had a delicious celebratory dinner with them. The time was too short and before we knew it, Monday June 1 had arrived, our official re-entry date. Big thanks to them for hosting us on our final destination!

Mike & I with the amazing view at Casa de Pflu

Mike & me with the amazing view at Casa de Pflu, Wenatchee

Mike chillaxing

Mike chillaxing

Happy friends

Happy friends

Marc and Mike enjoying their crab

Marc and Mike enjoying their crab

We left Wenatchee, drove to Yakima to get our “house” and headed over the mountains to Bellevue for official re-entry. I can’t believe this time has actually arrived. What a ride it has been and such a great adventure for us, full of amazing memories. Our home for the next 10 days is Vasa Park in Bellevue, then we take the MoHo to the Puyallup Fairgrounds while we volunteer at the US Open golf tourney in Tacoma. After that we are hoping to have found a place to live. Currently, we are catching up with friends and family, looking for a vehicle for Mike and a place to rent. Then, we’ll really ramp up the job search and selling of the MoHo. Lots to do, but exciting to see what the next chapter holds for us.

 

New Mexico, some seriously high desert 4/13/15 – 4/22/15

View from the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge

View from the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge

After leaving Texas, we made our first stop in Carlsbad, NM, staying at the KOA just about 12 miles north of town. A nice, quiet park with an in-house BBQ restaurant, serving up some good food. Our stay here was only for two nights, as our goal was to see the caves at Carlsbad Caverns National Park. We had done some caving in South Dakota, so we were excited to see the differences. The park service was set up differently here, with the majority of the cave open to people via a self guided tour, instead of a ranger led tour. This was nice in that we could go on our own time, but it did give us less information as to what we were seeing. The entrance is a huge opening and drops to the main room, some 750’ lower. Now remember we have been in the flats of the east coast for some time, so this little hike down was a wake up call to our legs! Both of us looked at each other and said, “wow, my legs are heavy and feeling it, can you say out of shape?” The caves did not disappoint, with some beautiful structures all around. The size of the great room here is truly awesome, some places over 100’ high. So glad we decided to head here, one of those places you must see to believe.

Walking down into the entrance to the Caverns

Walking down into the entrance of the Caverns

View looking back up once we were down inside

View looking back up once we were down inside

Formations in the cavern

Formations on the ceiling of the cavern

Inside the Great Room of the Cavern

Inside the Great Room of the Cavern

Mike

The pictures just don’t do this natural wonder justice

We made an appointment to get the MoHo serviced here; replacing the fuel filters and getting an oil change, on the day we headed out. There was only one place in town that could do the work, a very busy truck repair shop, with a corner on the market. After licking our financial wounds, we headed north to Albuquerque, and our campground at the American RV Park on the west side of town. A nice park with a very new area we were placed in, a good place to explore the city from.

Carlsbad, NM is known for an alien landing, so these little green men are everywhere around town

Nearby Roswell is known for a supposed UFO landing in the 40’s, so these little green men are everywhere around town

We made our way into town the next day, exploring and getting the lay of the land, making a quick drive through the Univ. of New Mexico. We ended up in the Old Town area and had a nice lunch outside, as the weather had warmed enough to sit outside. The food here is spicy, known for their red and green chile sauce. We wandered through some of the galleries, and I spotted something in a window that looked familiar. We went in, and there was an artists’ work that we had run into back in Sedona, and had liked a lot back then. We spent about 30 minutes here, and eventually walked out with our money in our pockets. But I am sure we can call back and get some stuff shipped to us when we get settled, it was some amazing art work for sure. We spent another day here exploring some of the Petroglyph National Monument. The rock carvings date back to about 1,100 AD, amazing that the drawings still are etched into the rockery. The area here is also known for some vino, so we made an afternoon of visiting some of the local wineries. We did learn that NM is home to the first wineries in the USA, dating back to the 1,600’s. We bought a few bottles, needing a few bottles to replenish the fridge.

Old Town Albuquerque

Old Town Albuquerque

A good example of the many petroglyphs

A good example of the many petroglyphs at the National Monument

Awesome desert landscape

Awesome desert landscape

There is a Breaking Bad Tour in this RV that is like the one in the show.

There is a Breaking Bad Tour around town in this RV that is like the one in the show

The mighty Rio Grande River

The mighty Rio Grande River

Wine Tasting in Sante Fe and my new Beagle friend, Sparkler

Wine Tasting in Albuquerque and my new Beagle friend, Sparkler

Our next stop was Santa Fe, staying at the Santa Fe Skies RV Park, about 80 miles north. A nice short drive, after some very long drives the past few weeks. We got set up and headed into town right away, as we had a lot of time because it was such a short trip up. We found the old town area, and just did a quick drive through, wanting to return later in our stay and explore more. We stopped at the Capitol building for a quick walk around, then to the railroad district where we found the Second St. Brewery for a late lunch and couple of really good beers, before returning to the park. When we got back, we noticed that there were some really big rigs in the park; one had been unloading their Porsche from the enclosed trailer they haul behind their coach. We have seen some nice coaches over the trip, but this was amazing. Then we realized there were more than one of these “Mack-daddy’s” in the park, eventually about 22. I did some quick research online and found out it was a Newell owners rally, and we just happened to be there at the same time. These massive 45’ motor coaches (ours is 40’, but seemed tiny compared to these) sell for about $1.7-1.9 million. That is about $40 million in motorhomes, truly impressive rides! We just loved walking around and looking at the beauty that can be bought when money is not an issue.

Our spot at Santa Fe Skies Campground, great sunsets

Our spot at Santa Fe Skies Campground, great sunsets

The next day we decided to head north, and take a drive up to the Taos area, about 80 miles north. We took some “back” roads on the way up, the High Road to Taos, stopping in a few small towns along the way. We eventually got to Taos, and walked through the central area. It was quiet, as this town is more of a skiing town, and April is not a tourist time of year for them. We then headed east, and made the drive around the Enchanted Circle loop, some 80 miles around the mountain just northeast of town. Taos is at about 7,000’, and this drive took us up to over 9,200’ in elevation. A pretty area to explore with a few more high mountain towns and ski resorts along the way. When we ended this portion of the drive, we then headed to a place about 28 miles northwest of Taos. We stopped at the Taos Mesa Brewery for a beer, and then crossed the Rio Grande River Gorge Bridge, some 680 feet above the river! My destination here was a tiny little piece of dirt that my Grandfather Miller had won in a drawing back at the 1960 Worlds Fair in Seattle. Nobody in the family had ever seen the property, so since we were close we made the venture out to find it. Unfortunately for us, there were no good roads in or out of the area I needed to get too. We tried a couple rutted and rocky roads that others in the area had traveled, but our car was not made for that type of travel. We got as close as possible, took a couple picture as the hail/snow was starting to fall, and got out just before the dirt turned to mud and we would have been stuck. We then turned back south for the two-hour drive back to Santa Fe and watched as the sky opened up all around us, some amazing views of mother-nature’s beauty.

Santuario de Chimayo, a legendary place for curing the sick

Santuario de Chimayo, a legendary place for curing the sick

San Francisco de Asis, a church that painter Georgia O'Keeffe

San Francisco de Asis, an 18th century mission church that captivated painter Georgia O’Keeffe 

Rio Grande Gorge Bridge

Rio Grande Gorge Bridge

The storm was starting to settle in

The storm was starting to settle in

We were driving right into it

We were driving right into it

The next day in Santa Fe we returned to the downtown area and walked around, again a bunch of galleries and artists everywhere. We found a little roof top bar at the La Fonda hotel for a cool beverage, and then made it to The Shed for lunch, a recommendation from one of the winery owners we had met. It was busy, but we got a table, and were so happy we made it our choice, very good authentic NM food! We were both stuffed, and eventually made it home, wanting to see the MoHo as we had scheduled a local guy to give the old girl a much-needed bath. Would have been nice if the rain had held off a few days, as it had already rained a bit and kicked up some dust onto the windows, but at least the heavy layer of road grime was gone.

Downtown Santa Fe shopping

Downtown Santa Fe shopping

Rooftop Bar at La Fonda Hotel

Rooftop Bar at La Fonda Hotel

Our last day in Santa Fe, we returned to town and hit another couple of breweries and recommended restaurant, the Blue Corn Café and Brewery. Traci said this was probably the best Quesadilla she had ever had, and she is a bit of an expert; again, very good beer and food, leaving us full and satisfied. We relaxed back at the park, and started to get ready for our trip the next day to Raton, a halfway point between Santa Fe and Denver.

We made it to Raton, and stayed at the KOA in town. It was odd as we had made the reservation online, and when we arrived the office was closed for lunch, but our reservation was on the board, so we made it to our site and set up quickly. We stayed here one night and left the next day for Denver, without any interaction with any of the staff, a first for us. While in Raton, we made a drive out to the Capulin Volcano National Monument. This was a volcano that you can drive up to the top and peer down inside the crater. It was stormy that day, and we actually drove through a bunch of hail on the roadway, a bit slick like snow. With the storms in the area, the N.P. Rangers closed the hiking trails around the crater, but we still could get a great view of the area, as well as a pack of mule deer in the upper portions of the crater. We headed back to the MoHo, after another back road drive, seeing only 3 other cars over the 50-mile trip back to Raton via that route. We were way out in the middle of nowhere, and it was some beautiful country. So glad we made time on the trip to explore New Mexico more, very dramatic high desert country with amazing geological formations around. The cold temps were definitely a shock to the system, but worth it to see this area.

View from the top of the Capulin Volcano

View from the top of the Capulin Volcano Road

History Lesson in Virginia – 5/11/14 – 5/15/14

Colonial Williamsburg

Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia

We had a short drive from Charlottesville to our next stop at Rockahock Campground in Lanexa, VA which is about halfway between Richmond and Williamsburg. Love short drives! The weather had really heated up and we were expecting temps in the 90’s for the next few days. We decided to just hit the grocery story and BBQ at the MoHo and enjoy the evening sitting outside.

The next day, we headed out to drive the Colonial Parkway, which is a historic road that connects Jamestown, Williamsburg and Yorktown (and the James & York Rivers). First stop was at the Jamestown Settlement, which was a museum with exhibits surrounding the start of Colonial America (the first permanent English colony of 1607). We opted not to pay the entrance fee and instead drove into Colonial National Park where we could use our NP pass. Nothing too exciting, but then we discovered the Glass House, which is a working glass blowing studio. We learned that glass blowing was the first industry in America – back then it would take 2 weeks to heat a fire hot enough to melt the sand to create the glass. They were creating very cool wine decanters, so of course we had to buy one! This turned out to be a great, unexpected stop. We headed out on the Parkway which was actually a bit unexciting, but scenic with the river views and greenery. The big allure is just the significance of the area and picturing what went on so many years ago, but not really a lot to see. We drove the 20 miles or so to Yorktown, which had another pay museum (dedicated to the Revolutionary War, the end of Colonial America, and where independence was won in 1781), which we opted out of as well. Another part of Colonial National Park was here, so we drove in and could see some of the actual battlefields of the war. Yorktown had a very quaint town right on the York River with a beach. It was a hot day, so there were a lot of people hanging out. We drove back to Colonial Williamsburg (which we had already passed, but knew we would come back to after we drove the parkway). We got a bite to eat, then decided to walk down the historic street, which is a restored 18th century town complete with people in period costumes. We didn’t pay the entrance fee to get into any buildings but just walked instead. It was in the 90’s and we were both overheating so didn’t stay too long. It was neat to see this area, but for some reason it just really wasn’t that interesting for us. It felt more like something we just needed to cross off the list.

The Glass House in Jamestown

The Glass House in Jamestown

Adding  the handle to our wine decantur

Adding the handle to our wine decanter

Meticulous gardens in Williamsburg

Meticulous gardens in Williamsburg

The next day we decided to have a fun day more up our alley. After a stop at Costco, we hit Williamsburg Winery for a tour and wine tasting. It is the largest winery in VA and they produce 46,000 cases/yr. The wine was just ok, but interesting to hear about the grapes they use (Viognier is the grape of VA) compared to what we are used to in Washington. We felt the whites were definitely better than the reds. We headed to the adjacent tavern for lunch and a bottle of white, perfect for a hot day on their nicely shaded patio. We then headed over to Aleworks Brewery for some craft beer tasting and met two nice couples who were very interested in our journey, so we chatted with them for awhile and they gave us some tips for our upcoming travels to the NE. Back to the MoHo for Costco flank steak, salad & asparagus. A great day!

Wine Tasting at the Williamsburg Winery

Wine Tasting at the Williamsburg Winery

The winery has one of the largest collection of these historic wine bottles

One of the largest collections of ancient wine bottles

We had another short travel day down to Virginia Beach and arrived at First Landing State Park by noon. This was a “pick your own site” campground, so we got a good one and had an easy set-up. The park is located right on the Atlantic Ocean/Chesapeake Bay, so we packed up a picnic then walked the 75 yards or so on the boardwalk out the beach. The temp was perfect and I even took a little nap while Mike explored. Later, we drove to the main resort area of VA Beach where all the action is and popped into a place for happy hour (.50 wings and $1 tacos – perfect!).

Site of the First Landing of English Settlers

Site of the First Landing of English Settlers

We rarely go out to breakfast, but I had been waiting for this one! The next morning we hit another Diners, Drive-Ins & Dive’s place, Citrus. Their two specialties are Banana & Pineapple filled pancakes with an orange glaze and Crab Omelets (exactly what we ordered complemented by mimosa’s). Can you guess who ordered what?! Then we drove to Cape Henry, a military base where the Old Cape Henry Lighthouse and First Landing sites are located. This was where the first English settlers touched shore in 1607 and where they later built the lighthouse in 1791 (oldest government-built lighthouse). We were able to climb to the top of the lighthouse and have a great view out to the ocean and the entrance to Chesapeake Bay. It was a bit hazy out, so we couldn’t see the 3rd lighthouse on the north side of the Bay. We headed back into town and walked down the boardwalk and just took in the scene. This area is on the verge of its busy season, so it wasn’t in full swing yet, but for a Thursday afternoon pretty crowded. I can only imagine how crazy it would be for Spring Break and in the heat of summer – 40 blocks of bars, souvenir shops, hotels/motels and restaurants. Reminded me a lot of Myrtle Beach. The wind had started to pick up, so we headed home for the night. The rain and wind are due to roll in, so I foresee a day of itinerary planning and catching up on shows, then we head to Delaware on Saturday.

Old Cape Henry Lighthouse

Old Cape Henry Lighthouse

A steep climb at times

A steep climb at times

Not a bad view from the top.  The new lighthouse behind me and the entrance to Chesapeake Bay

Not a bad view from the top. The new lighthouse behind me and the entrance to Chesapeake Bay

Bears and Wine in Virginia, who knew? 5/6/14 – 5/10/14

Wine Tasting

Wine Tasting

We left Louisville and started to head east once again, crossing through West Virginia along our way. We stayed one quick night in a nice campground just about 20 miles west of Charleston, WV, the Huntington Fire Fox KOA; nice stop after driving about 230 miles. We decided to eat in and did not even unhook the car. I think it was only the second time on our trip we did so. We had a lot of little chores and laundry to do, so this was a good time to get some stuff checked off our lists. Later in the afternoon, I headed over to one of the private lakes on property for a little evening fishing, and they were hungry for my hot dogs. Large mouth bass, two different types of catfish, and a sunfish of some sort, lots of fun on the catch and release only lake.

The next morning we headed towards Charlottesville, VA. After our 270-mile drive we arrived to the Misty Mountain Campground 10 miles west of town. We checked in and headed to our site, a water and electric only location (no sewer connections). After about an hour of fighting with the soft ground, the maintenance guy bringing in a truck load of gravel, and all sorts of other ideas, we finally went up to the office and amazingly they found us a full hook up site. We moved over to that site, and had similar issues with the soft ground, but found a way to make it work. Tired and soaked with sweat, it was time to cool off with several cold beverages and get some dinner. We ran to the local grocery store in Crozet for taco fixings and as a bonus found what I would call the best cookie in the world! A little bakery nearby had this perfect dessert, a “monster cookie,” that I should have bought more of, but did not know how good they were till we got them home and had one, opportunity missed there!

Hiking in Shenandoah National Park

Hiking in Shenandoah National Park

The next day we headed out for Shenandoah National Park and Skyline Drive, which runs along the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains. We grabbed a couple maps from the entrance ranger, and decided to take a couple short hikes through the park. We drove along the ridgeline, stopped at several of the pullouts and took in the views. Unfortunately for us, there were some forest fires burning on some neighboring ridges across the valley, and it made for a very smokey and hazy day. We got to the trailhead, and headed out on a short little 1.3-mile loop hike. A fairly simple little walk, until Traci rolled her ankle, and then it was a bit more of a challenge for her. We got back to the car, and that was the end of our hiking for the day. We decided there was no need to push it and take a chance her weakened ankle could not perform on another trail. So we continued to drive, and just about 3 miles from where we were planning on exiting the park, we came upon several cars parked on/off the roadway, and we immediately knew this sign; there had to be some sort of wildlife worth stopping and viewing. (We saw this in Yellowstone a lot.) Sure enough, we got out and walked over to the edge of the roadway, and there were two mother bears with cubs; one set looked like they must have been about a year old, the other set could not have been more than 2-3 months old. We stayed there and watched the little ones climb the trees and hide, and their mother just chilling at the bottom of the tree. The other mother was knapping with one cub on the ground next to her, and one up a tree above her. Our vantage point was up a ridge, probably about 75 yards away, close enough to keep your attention in case something spooked them and they wanted us all out of there. Several cars stopped, and eventually the park maintenance staff came by and it was time to move on, but what a surprise! We headed back to the MoHo, on a high, and got cleaned up for a night out in Crozet for dinner. I found a local place called Fardowners, featuring local food, beverages, and vibe. We ate a nice pub style meal and then returned to the MoHo and relaxed.

Before ankle incident

Before ankle incident

Made it to the top!

Made it to the top!

Mama Bear

Mama Bear guarding the babies in the tree

This little guy was about 40 feet up in the tree

This little guy was about 40 feet up in the tree. 

This one stopped about 20 feet up.

This one stopped about 20 feet up. He was so small, maybe only 10 lbs. 

The next morning, we headed into town for a meeting at 10:00AM. We had decided a while ago it was probably time to sell the kayaks, we just weren’t using them and they cause a lot of drag on the MDX when we are out on side trips. We had been advertising on the local Craigslist sites in each town, and finally found a buyer in Charlottesville. We now want to get bikes as we think we’ll use those a bit more. After making the transaction, we walked around the corner into the outdoor mall area of downtown. This is one of the coolest little market/restaurant/bar areas we have come across on our travels. It is about 8 blocks long and ends up with a huge covered stage for concerts right in the heart of town. We would have loved to spend more time here, but we had other plans for the day. (We did have a quick late morning beer at “Miller’s”, a local bar that Dave Matthews used to bartend at back in the early 90’s when the DMB band was formed.) We then took a drive to Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, and it was super busy, and a bit pricey so we skipped the tour, and returned to town and drove all through the Univ. of Virginia campus. After a quick lunch, we then headed north into wine country. Virginia now has over 250 wineries, and we just happened to be right in the middle of the Monticello AVA. We hit 4 different places, the last one featuring a guitarist Dave Tewksbury. We sat out and had a glass of vino on the deck overlooking the lake, and left just minutes before the clouds opened up.

The outdoor mall in downtown Charlottesville

The outdoor mall in downtown Charlottesville.  Traci enjoying gelato.

Our spot at Glass House Winery listening to live music

Our spot at Glass House Winery listening to live music

Pollack Winery was our favorite, can you tell?

Pollak Winery was our favorite, can you tell?

The next day, Saturday, we planned on more vino tasting south of our park. We got a late start, and found out how popular this area is with the locals. Our first stop we stood in line for 15 minutes before we could get a spot at a tasting table. It was still a bit showery, so I think everyone else in the area had the same idea, lets go taste some wine. We hit three wineries, a cider place (actually bought a case of local hard cider) and returned to the MoHo that evening and stayed in for dinner. This area has a very fast growing wine region, and we got to sample some of it, but there is a lot more to see, only if we had more time. Sunday we head to Lanexa, VA – right between Richmond and Williamsburg.

 

Asheville, NC – worth the stop! 4/15/14 – 4/17/14

The impressive Biltmore

The impressive Biltmore

We left Augusta with mixed feelings because it was such an amazing week at the tournament and spending time with our friends. But, time to get on with the next part of the trip. Asheville, NC wasn’t originally on our itinerary, but we had several people along the way tell us that this was a must-stop, so we added it in. The weather had turned cold, windy & wet, which made for a bit of a challenging drive for Mike. Luckily it was a short one, only about 3 hours. We arrived at the Bear Creek RV Park and decided to just kennel in for the night. Temps were expected in the high 20’s, so we bundled up, ate in and caught up on some shows.

Blue Ridge Parkway

Blue Ridge Parkway

Asheville is located near the south end of the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway, so we decided to drive part of it and take in the scenery. This was the first we had seen some elevation in a long time, probably since December, so we welcomed this familiar landscape. Much of our drive was through the Pisgah National Forest which consisted of many tunnels, tons of mountain viewpoints overlooking the valleys below and vegetation that was about 2 weeks away from full bloom. We saw huge rhododendrons, which are a familiar plant from home. It was very cold the night before, so there was still a bit of residual ice and snow in areas. What a change from the 80-degree weather we experienced in Augusta. We returned to downtown Asheville and somehow fell into a mini-pub crawl (surprise, surprise!). Started at Asheville Brewing Company, then found Green Man Brewery. This turned out to be a soccer bar with a game on the big screen so Mike was in heaven! One last stop at the Wicked Weed Brewing then ended at Pack’s Tavern for dinner. Mike had a huge order of ribs and I had fried green tomatoes and salad. All very good and classic southern hospitality y’all! This downtown area was very fun and kind of reminded us of Bend, OR. A very funky and hip vibe with lots of cool little shops and tons of interesting looking restaurants and bars.

Ice from the cold temps the night before

Ice from the cold temps the night before

HIghest Elevation

HIghest Elevation on the Parkway

On our pub crawl

On our pub crawl, the Wicked Weed Brewery

On our last day, we decided to be tourists and go to the Biltmore. It was a bit pricey ($64 per person), but we had heard so much about it and it was another strong recommendation. The Biltmore is an 8,000-acre estate with a 175,000 sq ft mansion that George Vanderbilt built in 1888 (took 6 yrs to build) and was the largest private residence in the country. I believe it still is. This place is HUGE! It has 43 bathrooms, 250 rooms and a 70,000-gallon indoor pool. We toured the inside of the house, then headed out to the impressive gardens and grounds. Photos weren’t allowed inside, so we only have shots of the outside. It was a beautiful day, so we spent a couple of hours walking the grounds. Unfortunately, the azalea and rose gardens weren’t quite in bloom yet, so we could only imagine how gorgeous they will be. But, the tulips in the walled garden were pretty spectacular and the conservatory housed some unique plants. There is also a full hotel, winery, restaurants, farm and shops on site. The winery area was our last stop where we enjoyed complimentary wine tasting and a delicious ham & cheese fondue appy at Cedric’s Tavern. It was a perfect day and we were so glad we did this tour. We heard that locals buy an annual pass so they can visit the gardens multiple times of the year to see the different cycles of flowers and landscaping. I can see why!

Walled garden - tulips galore!

Walled garden – tulips galore!

Bass Lake on the Biltmore Estate grounds

Bass Lake on the Biltmore Estate grounds

Perfect end to the day at Cedric's Tavern

Perfect end to the day at Cedric’s Tavern

Click HERE for more photo’s at the Biltmore!

Our next stop is Knoxville, Tennessee – a new state! Happy Easter all!

 

End of the wine trail…boo hoo! 10/9/13 – 10/15/13

Paso Robles, Eberle Winery

Paso Robles, Eberle Winery

We headed out of Monterey to Paso Robles, a nice short and easy drive of just about 2 hours. We arrived at the Wine Country RV Resort around noon and got set up quickly. So quickly we had the rest of an afternoon to head out and find some wineries to enjoy! The resort had free coupons for tastings at several different of the local wineries, so we grabbed our daily allotment of 4 coupons and headed out for the afternoon. First stop was Vina Robles, a newer tasting room that spared no expense. Very large and open building, with great service from Bob, and a nice assortment of wines. A very nice concert venue here and we almost bought tickets to the John Fogerty show the next evening, just could not commit.  Next we were on to Eberle Winery. Again, great service from Sarah, and a nice little tour of the wine cave there. The wine owner, a Penn St. grad who played football many years back, has a great little thing going. He has been there for decades, and everyone knows him and respects his wines – the godfather of Paso. The third stop that day was at Tobin James winery. We were told this was a party site, and it felt a little more lively when we arrived. There were several different people at stations pouring wine, and the atmosphere was definitely more alive. We had some okay wines here, and did a little shopping in the store, but were rushed out the door promptly at 6:00PM when they closed, even though were still had a few more wines to try, a bit odd. Returned to the park and the MoHo for dinner and some rest.

The next day we were off to the other side of town, the west side of highway 101. Headed out highway 46 and made several stops, first of which was at Grey Wolf. A very small outfit, with average wines, dog friendly, and not much more to talk about. Next stop was Zin Alley. We got some great recommendations from a friend Traci worked with, Dana. This winery was right on highway 46, but not listed on any of our maps. Very basic, almost seemed as if it was closed. Well, the owner, wine maker, farmer, property manager, etc. was there with a lively couple of ladies at the tasting bar. They were having a great time, and it was only noon! We sampled his 5 Zin-based wines, and he knows what he is doing!! This is a great stop, not to be missed, but get out your wallet, wines here are not cheap, but the pricing reflects the quality. Third stop was Turley, just south of highway 46. A very nice place, and good wines here, but again just missing something to make it special. Next we were on to Tablas Creek, just off Vineyard Dr. to the west on Adelaide Rd. Beautiful grounds, free waters served in re-usable aluminum water bottles. A very nice place, we would have had lunch if we had time, definitely a great place! Next on to Lone Madrone, a new location for them, but you would never know it. We had great service here and chatted with another couple who were there picking up theire shipment and they gave us a recommendation for our next stop, if we hurried. We did, and got up to DAOU Vineyards around 5:30PM. This place is on the top of the hill, and the views do not fail! A must stop if you get to the area, and good quality wines to add to the ambiance. We headed back to Paso for some dinner, and accidentally found another place to stop, Paso Underground. This tasting room is a place that the little guys share, there were 4 tables here, only one tasting that night though, Edmond August. He had a group of 12 coming in and as soon as they arrived, we quickly finished and headed out to find some grub. We both were in the mood for Mexican, and found a nice little place called Estrella’s. We had great food, and went home full and tired, but happy with our full day of wine tasting!  Overall, the vibe in Paso was very relaxed and casual and we would highly recommend a visit to this area. And, the RV Park we stayed at was probably one of the nicest yet.  Clean, friendly and the customer service was second to none!

DAOU Winery - beautiful view!

DAOU Winery – beautiful view!

Our last full day we went over to the coast, another friend Bruce had recommended we go see Morro Bay. Oh how I wish I had looked it up on the map before we headed out. This is an amazing little town on the coast with a very large natural bay and would have been great if we had brought clothes to go kayaking, damn! We walked up and down the main road, and stopped for lunch at a little bar on the water. Did a little more scenic driving around and then it was time to head back to Paso Robles. The resort had a free tasting that night in the clubhouse, but the wine was not good, so we went back to the MoHo and made dinner and stayed in for the night.  Oh, and we got a few loads of laundry done!

Morro Bay

Morro Bay

The next morning we were off to Cachuma Lake Recreation Area, a reservoir above Santa Barbara to the NE about 20 minutes. This place is an old Mobile Home park that had been converted to a campground. We had a nice big pad to park on, it was quiet and a great location for everything in the area. We got in early enough that day to sit back and chill and watch some football, Dawgs and Cougs kind of stunk it up, oh well.  We decided to drive into Solvang to grab a bite to eat at the local brewery.  This little Danish town was hopping on a Saturday night.  Our dinner was just ok, then we headed home for the night.

Sunday we met up with Traci’s friend she worked with, Dana and his wife Sharon. They offered to take us around Santa Ynez Valley and show us the wine region that is in the valley just north of Santa Barbara to Los Olivos. A small area but it did pack a great punch when it comes to the wine quality and wineries. This is the area that the movie Sideways was filmed.  We started the day at Rideau. A wonderful little place, with very nice wines and great grounds, easily could have spent a whole afternoon here, but we had some other venues to explore. The next stop was at Arthur Earl, a winery that Dana and Sharon are wine club members with. Again, very good wines here, with a nice little tasting room, and very friendly help. The last stop of the afternoon was at Demetria. After a long drive up the entrance road, we arrived at this amazing gem in the middle of the valley and secluded as if you were in the middle of Tuscany! WOW!! We had brought some lunch from town and found an open table outside and sat down and enjoyed lunch and a bottle of wine, amazing place! You would never believe how many people were here, so far off the main highway, but when you are good, they will find you! We headed back to the MoHo, an early evening set in, so we got out the fire pit to keep warm and enjoyed a couple of our wines we brought from home with our tour guides. A great day, a huge thanks to Dana and Sharon for taking care of us and showing us the valley!

Demetria Winery with Dana & Sharon

Demetria Winery with Dana & Sharon

The next morning, moving a bit slow, we decided it was time to wash the house…in the heat of the morning. Long story short, 3 plus hours later the dirt and bugs were cleaned off the outside of the MoHo and car and we were really tired. Quick trip into town for some groceries and we were just happy to relax the rest of the afternoon.

Our last full day in the area, we headed to Santa Barbara for the day. We drove down to the waterfront and headed to a little bar in the Marina that Dana had recommended, Brophy Bros. His tip was to sit at the bar (the best seats in the house).  We did exactly that, had a beer and peered out at the marina, what a little gem of a location. Next we headed back up the beach to another little restaurant for lunch, the Shoreline Cafe. We sat on the beach, feet in the sand and enjoyed the sun and sand, along with a nice meal. We headed into town, I dropped Traci off at the Color Room for a hair appt (another rec from Dana & Sharon), and I headed back to the beach for a couple hours, super relaxing. I picked her up and we headed to Dana and Sharon’s for dinner in the Santa Barbara hills. A gorgeous home with amazing touches and an incredible patio, we sat outside for appy’s and dinner and wine. A perfect finish to our weekend in Santa Barbara, we again can’t say enough thanks to our hosts for a great time!  We really loved this portion of the trip.  Paso Robles, the Santa Ynez Valley and Santa Barbara are places we will return to for sure.

Toes in the sand, Shoreline Cafe in Santa Barbara

Toes in the sand, Shoreline Beach Cafe in Santa Barbara

Tomorrow we are off towards the Phoenix area, with an overnight stop just east of the CA/AZ border. It is another double, Seahawks on Thursday, Husky’s on Saturday, sandwiched with a birthday party for a good friend in Scottsdale. Then, finishing the weekend with two more couples in the area. Going to be a great weekend!

 

Vino – now we’re talking! 9/24/13 – 9/28/13

Mendocino, CA

Mendocino, CA

I had been looking forward to this part of the trip; especially after all of the rain we had been experiencing!  Sunny skies and wine tasting – right up my alley! We have been to the Napa/Sonoma area a few times, so we were excited to try out some new wine regions in Northern Cal.   Mendocino County is more known for whites and sparkling wines due to the colder weather and close proximity to the coast.  Our campground in Albion was our home for the next 3 nights and jumping off point for exploration.

Our site in Albion (just south of Mendocino). Right under a cool bridge and up against the ocean.

Our site in Albion (just south of Mendocino). Right under a very tall bridge and up against the ocean.

On our first day, we drove into the quaint town of Mendocino, located right on the cliffs of the Pacific, where we shopped around a bit and hit the visitor center for a wine map.  We decided to stay in the Anderson Valley and go to Boonville, about a 45-minute drive, then work our way back.  Ideally, we should have kept driving toward the Russian River region but we didn’t want to get too far from Albion. The first order of business was lunch.  We found a great spot, the Buckhorn, where I had a French Dip and Mike had a Ruben.  The waiter gave us some recommendations on wineries to hit.  We were able to make it to five as we drove back through Philo and Navarro.  It was interesting that most tastings were complimentary which is definitely not the case in Napa or anywhere in Washington.  Kind of refreshing.

  1. Scharffenberger – They specialize in sparkling wines, which we did enjoy.  The tasting room was small, but we had fun chatting with the other patrons.
  2. Husch – A cute tasting room in a little cabin.  Many people were buying the non-alcoholic grape juice but we opted for a nice Zin!
  3. Navarro – Nice tasting room with a pretty outdoor sitting area above the vineyard.  We stayed here awhile talking with the woman who was pouring.
  4. Roederer – Another one that specializes in sparkling wines.  They produce a lot of wine and mass distribute so we will look for them on the shelves at stores.
  5. Handley – We were the only ones in there and they were getting ready to close for the night.  An interesting tasting room with unique carved teak furniture.
Navarro Winery

Navarro Winery

Husch Winery

Husch Winery

We had one more day in the area and decided to head up to Fort Bragg and explore a little.  This would be our last stint on the coast for a few weeks as we were heading inland next, so decided to go enjoy the amazing views of the Pacific Coast.  It was a gorgeous day so we had some pretty nice scenery! We had an early bird dinner in town at the North Coast Brewing Company, then back to the MoHo to relax and get ready for an early departure the next morning.

Mike on the beach right behind our campsite

Mike on the beach right behind our campsite

We got on the road by 9, always later than we think.  Our destination was Lodi – more wine country!  We actually had to retrace some of the road we had traveled when we went to Boonville, so we knew we were in store for windy roads, which are not fun in the MoHo.  This didn’t last long though, then we were on decent roads east to Lodi.  We arrived at the Flag City RV Resort, which was a very nice park with lots of amenities, but right off of I-5 and near a truck stop.  Surprisingly, it was very quiet and a perfect location for our 2-night stay.  Since we wouldn’t be here long, we quickly got set up and headed out to do some wine tasting!  Our friend Bill, recommended Jessie’s Grove, which we absolutely loved.  We had a very personable young gal pour for us who circled some of her favorites on our wine map.  Next stop was Michael David, which we could have skipped, but they had an amazing store with very reasonably prices fruits, veggies and baked goods!  We then headed downtown where the wineries are open a bit later.  We hit a new one, Toasted Toad, which is owned by a father/daughter.  We had a nice time chatting with them and got some great rec’s for dinner.  We decided on Rosewood Bar & Grill, and were able to sit outside as the temps spiked up quite a bit for us here vs. the chilly coast.  We had an absolutely delicious dinner!  French Onion Soup, Filet Mignon (Prime Rib for Mike) and Crème Brule to top it off.  We were stuffed and slept well!

Great spot for dinner!

Great spot for dinner!

We had a leisurely morning (well, started out this way), until we noticed the ANT PROBLEM!! Holy crap, there were these tiny ants everywhere inside and outside the MoHo.  Gross.  After inspecting outside, we noticed there were thousands of them making a trail up our water hose and one of our jack stands and making their way onto the MoHo and inside any opening they could.    Because of our slides, there are some access points that these little creatures can make their way through.  They are so small, but this just completely grossed me out that we had lines of ants making their way into our home.  Mike went to the store to get some spray for the outside areas and I began vacuuming up lines of ants.  They were everywhere including inside cupboards.  We think they were ‘sugar ants’ looking for food.   We asked our neighbors and they were having the same issue.   The front desk was very apologetic and said they would get out to spray our area.  Too late – the damage was done!  This was really an unfortunate incident because we really did like the park.  (Side note – we are still dealing with these ants days later even though we have left this RV Park – arghhhh!).

Tasting Room is a wine barrel!

Tasting Room is a wine barrel!

We headed back out for some more wine tasting.  It was a gorgeous day (85 degrees), so we decided to forget about the ants for now, and just enjoy Lodi!  First stop was Oak Ridge, which was cool, as their tasting room was a large wine barrel.  We didn’t care for their wine though.  Next stop was Klinker Brick, which was recommended by a few people including our good friend Marc Pflu.  The Lodi area is really known for its Old Vine Zins and this winery did not disappoint!  We enjoyed our time here tasting outside on their back patio.  Next stop (and last of the day) was Harney Lane.  For me, this was my favorite one.  The tasting room was cool and modern with lots of cute gift items and the grounds were beautiful.  We ended up meeting a couple from Mill Creek here and ended up ordering a few bottles of wine and sitting outside for the afternoon. They were so easy to talk to and gave us some great tips for some upcoming stops.  We exchanged info and hope to meet up with them again somewhere along the way or back in Seattle.  A really fun way to end the day!  Unfortunately, we had to go back to the MoHo and deal with Ants!!!  More vacuuming and spraying.  Amazing that something so tiny can wreak so much havoc.  Mike was a bit more easygoing about this than me – surprise, surprise!

Harney Lane - Loved this one!

Harney Lane – Loved this one!

Off to Yosemite in the morning.

Note: We haven’t had wi-fi for a week, so we are a bit behind.  We will post about Yosemite later this evening.