Saturday in Napa

Yes, I know we’ve been home a week already, but I needed to think about how to best convey the utter perfection of our second day in Napa, and these things take time to percolate. Plus, the hustle & bustle of real life intervened, so there’s been a mountain of laundry, baseball games, homework, and errands aplenty since our return from the Golden State. Then there were some humorous interruptions, like Payton’s poker face (or utter lack thereof) and a couple of doctor appointments forcing themselves to the head of the blogging queue. Couple all of that with the arrival of our dear friends from Boston for their semi-annual visit, and you get a better idea of why this little blog has been neglected. Never fear, it is back to business now.

I’m not quite ready to let go of the Napa trip. So much of what I blog about is yucky stuff–cancer, infection, surgeries, drug therapy, and assorted pain & suffering–so when I have a lovely topic, like a trip to Napa, I’m gonna milk it for all its worth. Then maybe milk it some more.

If I still write about the trip and continue to post pictures, it lives on in the forefront of my memory and isn’t yet consigned to the dusty, slideshow status of trips gone by, and it doesn’t quite get crowded out by the workaday stuff that has to get done around here to keep this household running. Our long weekend in Napa to celebrate one of my BFF’s entries into the “Over 40 Club” was the stuff that legends are made of (at least in my mind). It was a celebration of Yvonne’s 40 years on this Earth, and for me, a smaller celebration of life finally, at long last, returning to some semblance of normal after a long, unpleasant, bumpy ride.

Which brings us to Saturday, Day Two in Napa. Friday, Day One in Napa, had been what I thought was the perfect day in Wine Country, but Saturday was even better.

Before I get into the nitty-gritty details, let me share two of my favorite photos from the preceding days. This one  is from Thursday afternoon at the Franciscan in San Francisco, before we left the Bay City for Wine Country. It’s a fave because The Birthday Girl had arrived to start the party-filled weekend, because we’re surrounded by great wine & yummy food, and because it was a harbinger of all the fun times to come. We were still waiting on the rest of our crew to arrive, but we went ahead and got the party started.

This was at Silver Oak on Friday, where we met the infamous Walter, who will live forever in our memories of Napa. In fact, if I recall correctly, the infamous Walter took this very photo. Just after this photo, we moved on from Silver Oak to Quintessa, and the day just kept getting better and better.

But back to Saturday. The day began with mimosas and a bloody mary to toast The Birthday Girl at breakfast. I mentioned before that this was the best-ever bloody mary, and I stand by that claim. Wish I had one right now. But I’m drying out, so that would be inappropriate.

After breakfast Saturday morning, we grabbed to-go cups and hustled outside to meet our ride and the rest of our merry party. While these aren’t exactly Texas-sized to-go cups (or “roaders” as we like to call a drink on the go), they certainly were tasty and really, who needs a Big Gulp when you’re off to taste a hundred wines in one of the best places on Earth? As delicious and festive as those bloody marys were, I’m glad I wasn’t confronted with the dilemma of having a refill to say no to; that would have been tricky.

We were off to Quixote, my favorite of all the wineries we visited. Suffice to say that if our trip had ended after the visit to Quixote, I would have been satisfied. The fact that it didn’t was icing on the cake. Or an extra olive in the bloody mary. I will write about Quixote soon; need to sort through the photos and do it justice. For now, know that it was phenomenal in every way.

None of us really wanted to leave Quixote, and once we were ready to shove off, we were delayed a bit while our driver borrowed a toolbox from Quixote to remove the limo seats to retrieve a fallen iPad. Once that was done and we packed into the car, we headed to Mumm, on the suggestion of Robert, our tour guide at Quixote. He did not lead us astray. Like all of the wineries we visited, Mumm is gorgeous. Stunning views and beautiful flowers everywhere. And the champagne–did I mention that? My favorite drink, being produced in plentitude. Ahhhh. Happy girl.

We hadn’t scheduled an appointment, and Mumm was bustling and busy on that beautiful Saturday, so we each ordered a glass off the tasting menu and strolled the grounds.I’m not sure where I was in this shot, but hopefully I had a glass in my  hand. I might have been in the restroom, checking out the great quotes on the walls, like this one from Bette Davis:

And this one from economist John Maynard Keynes:

Or I might have been mesmerized by this display in the gift shop:

Also in the gift shop was a small shrine to Carlos Santana, who we had seen the previous day at Silver Oak. He’s a regular around there, and Mumm had a signed guitar, a couple pieces of Santana-inspired artwork, and his own vintage of bubbly.

The patio at Mumm was beautiful, overlooking the vista of the vineyard. The weather was perfect, with blue skies, abundant sunshine, and cool breezes. 

There’s also a small art gallery at Mumm, with rotating exhibits. The day we were there it featured black & white photos of “then & now” shots of all sorts of people. Siblings as kids then as grown-ups. Mamas holding babies, then grandmas holding their generation’s next generation. Cool.

After Mumm, we headed back to V Sattui for picnic provisions and ate a quick lunch before our appointment at Stag’s Leap.

The wines at Stag’s Leap were not my favorite. In fact, of the 7 tastings they poured, I didn’t finish any of them. It was still a lot of fun, and being in the tasting room while the rest of the visitors milled around the common area was nice. We had a place to sit while we dissected the wine, and a chance to catch our breath before moving on. 

With our visits to Quixote, Mumm, and Stag’s Leap, we were done with tastings for the day and headed back to our hotels to get ready for dinner at Bottega. Just in case the day hadn’t been perfect enough, we still had a fantastic dinner to look forward to. Rest assured that dinner lived up to its expectations. Being at the chef’s table toasting The Birthday Girl with wines chosen from our tour will forever be one of my all-time favorite things.

The day was indeed perfect. Every bit of it was just plain perfect. Each winery we visited offered something different, and while Quixote was my favorite, by a lot, I enjoyed the others, too. And as if the wine wasn’t good enough, there was the uninterrupted time with great friends, gorgeous scenery and beautiful weather, and for me, freedom from cancer and its messy aftermath. Now that’s a great day.


Tomorrow is a big day

I’ve learned the hard way from all this stupid cancer business that every day truly is a gift, as hokey as it sounds, and that life is short, as cliched as that sounds, and that you gotta grab each day and milk it for all it’s worth (I think I just made that one up).

It’s pretty easy to get bogged down in these crazy-busy lives of ours, which by the way, are supposed to be made easier and more relaxing with all the time- and labour-saving devices we have, yet it seems that everyone is still rushed off their feet every single day. Which kinda makes it hard to unwrap the gift that is each day and to savor the little things that form a meaningful amalgamation of life as we know it. I know my to-do list is always a mile long, and some days I have to rewrite chores on the new list, since they didn’t get done on their appointed day.

My to-do list is again long today as I prepare to go out of town for the weekend.

Yes, you read that right: I’m leaving town.

Finally.

After an unfortunate series of non-starters all summer, in which no less than 3 much-anticipated trips erupted in a giant puff of post-mastectomy-infection-tinged smoke, I’m finally going on a trip. First it was the Duke girls’ trip to Tahoe. Gone. Then it was the All Star state baseball championship. Adios. And finally, the annual trek to Boston and Salisbury Beach. See ya. Missing one trip was a hard pill to swallow; missing 3 was just plain cruel. No way around the choking down of that horse pill.

But now, there’s Napa.

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My beacon of hope in a long, barren season of maladies. Could it be that the end to that dreadful season truly is in sight? I’m starting to believe that it is so. There is a part of me, a teensy part, that still fears a blow-up. But just a teensy part. Or a woonty part, as our friends at Salisbury Beach say. The rest of me is full-steam ahead, preparing for one fabulous weekend full of bottled poetry.

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Last time I was in Napa, I was pregnant with Payton, who will be 12 (gulp!) next month. Talk about needing a do-over. And what better reason for a do-over than a BFF’s birthday bash and a celebration of her “40 years of good living,” as the invitation states. I’m in. For celebrating my BFF, for getting a change of scenery, and for relishing this life of mine. 

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This “cancer journey” has turned out to be a bit more complicated than I thought. I’m still a destination girl rather than a journey girl, and I don’t think that’s going to change.

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But starting tomorrow, if only for the celebratory weekend, I’m going to savor every bit of the destination.

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Even if my titanium port-a-cath sets off the security alarms and I ended up getting frisked.

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Even if traffic is heavy and the plane is late.

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Even if I’m stuck sitting next to a mouth-breather on the plane (no, I’m not talking about Trevor).

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Even if the weather turns yucky.

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Even if the ever-present antibiotics have killed off some of my wine-savoring tastebuds.

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I’m going to suck up every ounce of enjoyment from a trip that has been much anticipated, meticulously planned, and a very long time in coming.

 

Our first stop in Napa is Domaine Carneros, maker of one of my favorite champagnes.

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I may just skip all the other wineries and stay right there.

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