I’m sure you’re aware of that highly successful franchise entitled “_____ Soup for the Soul.” They’ve filled that blank in with more drivel than the “_____ for Dummies” franchise. As such, I’m sure they won’t mind if little ole bloggin me lifts it for my own personal usage. Right?! Right!
As all three of my loyal readers know, about a year and a half ago I went through a separation that was perhaps the hardest period of my time here on earth to date. For those who have ever suffered through a separation, especially if kids are involved, you understand the range of emotions that one can go through. But as this new year has dawned, I’ve begun to feel the sun creeping through the darkened windows of my soul. Life just might be all right after all!
And so, it was with great excitement that back in February, I began preparations for a weekend getaway with two of my closest friends who we’ll affectionately call Starshine and Sugartoes (much like the military’s very misguided policy, we don’t ask and don’t tell when talking about these names except to say that it is to protect the not-so-innocent). Those early sketches of a plan eventually evolved into something that looked like it might just be what the doctor ordered.
In an effort to set the tone for the weekend, Starshine ordered up an electric blue VW Jetta (“ole blue”) to haul our butts up from sunny Southern California (Starshine in Newport Beach and me in Silver Lake) to first Placerville and then San Francisco where we would meet up with Sugartoes. I’m sure you’re wondering why the heck Placerville and well, if I’m being honest, I wasn’t too sure either. It quickly became apparent when ole blue showed up and Starshine’s puggle waddled it’s way out of the backseat where it had already managed to deposit enough hair to reupholster my sofa. I knew immediately that we were in for a great time!
By some point later than anticipated we hit the road with me behind the wheel and Starshine safely ensconced as the navigator. Given the lateness of our departure, I hauled ass (not that I don’t anyway, but I was definitely carried away with a stronger sense of urgency). What I should have hauled was a map, because before too long, we found ourselves on one of LA’s many freeways pointed in a decidedly less than North direction. Another hour lost. Once you’ve lost an hour, it never seems as though you can make it up, but damn did I try! Despite driving rains starting on the 5 somewhere before Stockton and continuing through Sacramento, we made it safely to Placerville where we dropped off Happy with Starshine’s gorgeous mom. Despite her pleas otherwise, we had to hightail it out of there. Deadlines are a b*tch sometimes!
Over at Sugartoes little place on these interwebs, you’ll find a recap of our time together in the City, that beautiful City by the Bay. I won’t regale you with stories of our time together because it’s already been done and better than I could. I will say that it was damn near perfect! I’ll start where Sugartoes left off –
After tooling through some beautiful neighborhoods with the sun shining on us, Starshine and I rushed over to SFO to pick up a colleague before heading up to god’s country, also known in these parts as wine country, or Napa Valley. Of course, said colleague’s flight was delayed and I was hungry. I know that Sugartoes said something about a food coma and not being hungry, but get real, I like to eat. No, take that back, I need to eat constantly. It’s a real miracle that I’m not some two-ton-bessie given my monstrosity of an appetite. For some reason not quite clear to me, it was decided that to properly view the gems and fabulous geegaws that have besplendored (and don’t tell me it’s not a word, it’s my weekend and it’ll be a word if I want it to be) the arms of so many of the uber-rich society matrons (you know, the ones who look like they’ve been sucking at the teet of the lemon tree), one should do so on an empty stomach. But, I’ve digressed. After circling the airport, we decided to park the car and find some food. Thankfully there was a little bitty food court that served up a lovely soup to go with some decidedly suspect pasta both of which soothed the raging beast that was my stomach.
Once we collected said colleague (who of course managed to show up as soon as my food did), we hit the road. Again, I hit it hard because, well, surprise, we were late for our first wine tasting/tour. Oh, you should probably know that said colleague attended college with a guy we’ll just call wine god who has proved to be quite successful at managing a little thing called a vineyard that produces some mighty fine wines, including a little Pinot that damn near sent me over the edge (more about that later). We did arrive in Napa, but late and as such missed our 3p.
Wine god said not to worry and with a flick or two of his phone had made other, possibly better arrangements. Wine god made it clear that ole blue would not be needed for the next leg of our weekend. Rather we should pile into the Porsche Cayenne parked on the side of the house. Now listen, here’s the funniest part of that deal, for the next 20 or so hours, we spent a great deal of time in that beautiful specimen of a sports car meets SUV and every damn time we hopped in, wine god made sure to tell us what a total “piece of sh*t” it was.
I won’t bore you with too many more details. We tasted some great Pinots at Etude, followed by a sunset tasting of some beautiful sparkling wines at Domaine Carneros after which we checked into our hotel (Avia Napa) for some quick spramping before our 7:30p dinner reservations. Dinner was at this fabulous new little place called Farmstead (part of the Long Meadow Ranch). There really aren’t words for the delightful (and lengthy) meal we enjoyed. And it’s here where that lovely bottle of Pinot was uncorked, allowed to breathe and then savored. Listen, I don’t know sh*t-from-shinola when it comes to wines, but this little bottle the wine god brought made me want to marry wine god! With visions of Pinots and Napa Valley weddings to wine gods meandering through my head, I somehow managed to climb into my bed at the Avia and drift into a most beautiful dreamland.
Next morning dawned gorgeous (again! Starshine kept saying we brought the good weather with us) and, prodded by a call from the colleague, we hopped up, threw back some coffee and headed off towards for a little winery up by Mt. Veeder called The Hess Collection. It was here at The Hess that I got my first real glimpse of the amount of blood, sweat and tears that go into making a beautiful wine. Following our private tour, I was left in awe and vowed never again to drink two-buck-chuck. It just wouldn’t be fair!
Speaking of unfair, at some point, I was reminded that I had to leave paradise. What to do though? Starshine had to stay for a conference and Sugartoes was dealing with work drama and I, well, I was stuck. Except of course I wasn’t. One of the many amenities of the Napa Valley was a lovely transportation service called Evans Transportation that had me out of Napa by 2:30p and at SFO by 4:00p giving me ample time to shop for the progeny (he wanted a key chain) and catch a 5:30p flight to LA. I was home allowing my dog to put a massive wreck job on my face (yeah, I look like I’ve been in a bar brawl) by 7:30p.
This morning, despite being awakened by a strong jolt (damn earthquakes) and stuff falling off the walls, I’m still blissful. I needed to get away! I needed a little pampering! I needed to spend a little bit of quality time with two of the bestest friends a boy could ever ask for.
Here’s to friends both old and new who enriched my life and provided the soup to sooth my soul!