Thursday, February 20, 2014

day 32: Sonoma Valley

Wine!  Yay!  We woke up, got ready, ate breakfast at the hotel and were on our way!  First, we had to stop by FedEx to print and sign papers for the house.  Now we really were on our way!  This is no surprise but wine country is really beautiful!  I loved driving through there.  I'm pretty sure I had a huge smile on my face at the first sighting of a vineyard.  Obviously, I'd been looking forward to this for a long time.

Beautiful Sonoma

The first winery we went to was Jacuzzi Vineyards, this is the only one with a free tasting.  It was a larger, Italian winery.  The guy serving us was very nice and informative.  The wines were all really great, there wasn't one I didn't like.  After the tasting, John had to call someone about the mortgage so I strolled the grounds.  So gorgeous!  Very Italian.

 The front of Jacuzzi

Rows and rows of grapes

We left Jacuzzi and went to Larson Family Vineyard.  This was a much smaller, more intimate experience.  This vineyard had a much more rustic, cowboy feel which was really cool.  The woman who helped us was really nice.  We were the only two customers in there for awhile which we enjoyed.  Then a crowd arrived but we were almost done so that was fine.  They really like dogs there, they had one of their labs strolling the property which I loved, of course.  And they had wines name Three Lab Cab and Three Lab Chard.  We really enjoyed Larson (this was definitely one of my favorite vineyards we visited). 

Happy, happy girl

John and I at Larson

After Larson, we headed to Homewood Winery, another smaller, family owned/operated winery.  Also, a neat place, it had a very homey feeling.  The wines were all really good, including a port the server had me try.  Well, good for a port (this is not my favorite type of wine).  I liked the wines here but we didn't purchase any. 

Now onto Nicholson Ranch Winery.  Beautiful place and pretty big.  The views of their vineyard were really gorgeous!  We were the only two people there, a big tour group had just left so we got a little more attention/information from the server.  Really nice guy and really great wines.  After the tasting we looked around the grounds for a little bit and decided to go to lunch.

 The grounds at Nicholson Ranch


We went into the town of Sonoma and ate a delicious lunch of salad and pizza at The Red Grape. 

From there we went to Gundlach Bundschu, one of the oldest wineries in Sonoma.  We toured their grounds with a guide (who was from TN!).  It was cool to see some of the behind the scenes stuff and to learn more about the wine making process.  We also got to go into their cave which was really cool.  They store the wine in the cave because of the natural coolness. 

 Wine being stored in the cave at Gundlach Bundschu

The tasting area in the cave at Gundlach Bundschu

Then we hopped on over to Ravenswood and did a quick tasting (I wanted to try this winery because it's one that you see in wine stores and I wanted to be able to say "I've been there!").  All the wine was really good, which has been the case at every place we've gone to.

 Beautiful tree outside of Ravenswood

After Ravenswood, we went to Sebastiani Vineyards, a winery recommended by a friend.  This had more of an Italian feel and was a big place.  It didn't feel crowded, I guess because it was so big.  The server was so nice, I talked to her about our trip and hiking the JMT.  She was really impressed because her roommate had attempted the hike last year but couldn't finish because it was too hot.  Again, all of the wine was great!  We bought Dixie some little dog treats in a mini wine bottle.
Huge barrels inside Sebastiani

Us outside of Sebastiani, after a long, hard day of wine tasting :)

After Sebastiani, we returned to the hotel and rested a bit before dinner.  For dinner we went into downtown Santa Rosa (really cute area) to La Rose, a Mexican restaurant, because I was still craving Mexican food.  Great food and great atmosphere!  After that we were done for the night, returned to the room and went to bed.

Another beautiful view, looking up through a tree

(Yes, we did buy more than just dog treats for Dixie while in Sonoma.  We bought a few bottles of wine for family and some for ourselves.  We haven't tried the ones for ourselves seeing as a little surprise--our baby--came shortly after the trip and I've been unable to drink wine.)

Sunday, February 16, 2014

day 31: Yosemite to Mono Lake, Panum Crater, Bodie State Park, Lake Tahoe and Santa Rosa, CA

We were awakened by annoying campers who don't know how to keep quiet while packing up stuff.  Oh well, we wanted to get up and get out of Yosemite so now it was just a little earlier than expected.  After we got ready, we packed up everything and started walking to our car.  Our car was still there and completely intact!  No bears had tried to break in (yes, this really does happen) and no humans either.  It was completely dirty though!  So much dust and dirt!  But I was so happy to see that car!  We rearranged some things in the car, got a quick breakfast from the store in Curry Village and got the heck out of Yosemite!  (It was funny, we told another camper or 2 that we had just finished the JMT and they told a couple of people  So word spread and a few people asked us about it and congratulated us on the accomplishment.  It felt pretty good, I felt like we had gained some trail cred.)

The car after sitting in a dirt parking lot in Yosemite for 3 weeks

Leaving Yosemite

Then we drove to Mono Lake, which we'd heard was really cool.  It was very pretty and very "beach like" in the middle of the desert.  We walked the loop trail, took some pictures and left.

 Mono Lake

Then on to Panum Crater, the inside of a volcano.  It was a short hike up and into the crater (another guy was winded and said "that's quite a hike!" and we both just smiled).  The crater had some really cool rocks inside, some looked translucent and sparkly at certain angles which was neat.  But other than that there wasn't a lot to it, I guess we had high expectations for going inside a volcano.

 Panum Crater on the inside

Looking at the crater from the outside

Landscape views

Just another long, straight road in the middle of nowhere

Now onto Bodie State Park.  The road to Bodie was ridiculously rough, I felt like the car was going to fall apart.  It was a dirt road with huge rocks, potholes and lots of ridges in the road.  Once we got there it was pretty cool because Bodie is a gold mining ghost town. It is literally a town that has been left in "arrested decay" since it became a state park in the early 1960s.  The historical geek in me really enjoyed walking to each of the remaining buildings, looking in the windows and reading all of the descriptions.  We really enjoyed this, we probably spent about an hour or so exploring then packed up and left.


 Old church at Bodie

Inside the church

Us at Bodie

Inside one of the abandoned homes

Looking at what's left of the abandoned town

Inside another home

Inside the school

More ghost town

Pool hall

The local watering hole

When we were leaving Bodie we drove past a flock of sheep and an actual shepherd.  With a shepherd's crook and all.  Sadly, we couldn't get the camera out fast enough to catch him but here's a picture of his sheep.

After Bodie we drove to Lake Tahoe.  Our first glimpse of it was magnificent!  It is so huge and beautiful!  We drove up to Emerald Bay Vista Point to take some pictures but even the pictures can't do it justice, it's just that beautiful.  But that's really the case for most of these amazing views in nature.  You really have to be there to experience the true grandeur of what you're seeing.  After we took pictures at the vista point we drove back down the mountain to eat at a marina.  The food was tasty but it was really the view that was the best part.  We were right on the shore of the lake, so gorgeous.  We are so lucky to be able to experience all of these American treasures.  Once dinner was over we hit the road to wine country!!

Famous mansion built around 100 years ago at Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe, the beauty and grandeur was hard to capture on camera

Our view at dinner

Us at Lake Tahoe 
(still in hiking clothes because we hadn't stopped long enough to fish regular clothes out of our trunk)

It was a 3.5 hours drive to Santa Rosa, a town near wine country where we found an affordable hotel.  John drove the whole time and we arrived before midnight.  We unloaded the car and headed to bed.

Monday, February 10, 2014

day 30: Pasadena back to Yosemite

On this day, we woke up and got ready.  We got all of our stuff together and had Kyle and Colleen drop us off at the Amtrak bus stop.  We took a bus to Bakersfield, CA then a train to Merced, CA and then a YARTS bus to Yosemite. 

We arrived in Yosemite a little after 8:00 p.m. We bought some souvenirs and ice cream, then proceeded to hike to the backpacker's campground.  And just like the first night we camped there, it was impossible to find (in the dark, obviously).  But we found it and we were so thankful!  We were really tired, frustrated and annoyed by the confusing layout of Yosemite.  We quickly set up camp, got ready for bed and went to sleep.

This was the original day we planned to summit Mt. Whitney, pretty cool that we finished early. :)

Sunday, February 9, 2014

day 29: Pasadena, CA

**I am attempting to re-start our road trip journal since one of the main reasons I kept the journal was to post it to share with family and friends, here we go...**

On this day, Kyle and Colleen had to go to work so we hung around the house, took showers, washed our hiking stuff, relaxed and researched our upcoming trip to Napa/Sonoma Valley.  John went to pick us up some burgers for lunch from a restaurant called Rounds, they were so great! Mine had mashed avocado, bacon, cheese and 1000 island dressing on it, delicious!  Kyle came home early and hung out with us for a bit.  I was able to talk to my dad and sister for quite awhile on the phone which was nice.

This day was pretty uneventful, which was really good so that we could just relax.  When Colleen got home we all decided to go to Smitty's for dinner, a cute little place where they had previously had a celebrity sighting.  The food was good ol' comfort food.  I ordered chicken pot pie (it was huge!) and John ordered meatloaf, they were both really tasty!  Great place, great food.  No celebrity sightings this time, but oh well.  After dinner, we walked around a little more and went to this swanky little place on Cal Tech's campus.  It was a beautiful building, sadly I can't remember the name.  After that we returned to their house and went to sleep.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

28 years old and 28 weeks pregnant

I took this picture on my birthday a few days ago and thought I'd share it with y'all!  I thought it was kind of neat that I was turning 28 and I'm currently 28 weeks pregnant.  The pregnancy is going well, I went to the doctor earlier this week and everything is progressing along really nicely.  Healthy baby and healthy mama.  I'm officially in my 3rd trimester which kind of feels like the home stretch!  I can't wait to meet our boy! So here's some updates:

Cravings: the occasional BBQ chip binge, onion bagels and milk chocolate anything (not all at the same time though).  I've been eating a lot of citrus but I think that's mostly because it's the type of fruit that's on sale right now and I'm trying to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. 

We took a birthing class last weekend and I thought it would be traumatizing but ended up being only mildly scary. Honestly, I'm glad we took the class because I feel a little more prepared and like I have an idea of what to expect. Obviously, I have no idea what this labor and delivery will look like but I feel somewhat prepared.  

The baby's nursery is next on our to do list!  We're painting the walls green and will decorate with navy and white accents.  Lots of people have asked if there's a theme and there isn't, I just wanted to keep it as classic as possible.  We're almost finished fixing up our room so in the next week or so we'll start cleaning out his room (read:storage area) and get started. And yes, pictures will come one day, I swear! :) 

Hope y'all are doing well, thanks for being faithful readers!