Monday, June 23, 2014

Escape to the wine country

I took advantage of a big event happening here this past weekend and escaped to have some fun with some old friends. Dave was my boss at Honig, Cooper and Harrington (at the time, the largest ad agency in San Francisco) way back somewhere around 1970. We've stayed friends since, even though years pass between personal visits. Karen came into the picture about 25 years ago, and I think this was maybe only the 4th time I've ever met her, but she's interesting and nice and we all had a good visit.

They bought a second (and possible retirement) home in Healdsburg a couple of years ago, and are in the middle of having it renovated -- almost finished. Lovely location, a dream kitchen (naturally, for them!). We were slated to meet for lunch at the Healdsburg Bar and Grill, with the first one there scoring seats at the bar. I left here early, did my laundry, still got to the square and found a parking place an hour early, so I strolled around town for awhile, sat in the park, took a few pictures before the battery in my camera died. I had thought I wouldn't use it, so hadn't bothered to charge it. I should know better!

It's lovely, charming square, so here are the three photos I managed to take. Had I really thought about the battery dying, I might have been more judicious in use of the camera. For the most part, I took advantage of moments when there were no crowds of people on the sidewalk.

I took this last photo in a quick (and people-free) attempt to show two signs that were so apropos of me -- one for Scharffenberg chocolate, the other for some wine company. Unfortunately, they are too far away to really see even if I crop the hell out of the photo. I would have taken another closer, but....

So -- when I got to the restaurant just before noon, the bar was empty. I snagged 3 seats anyway, but as time passed and Dave and Karen didn't show up, the bar started to fill up and I felt a bit guilty about holding the seats. Finally, maybe 12:45, I mentioned to the men on either side that I'd call them and see what was holding them up, but their cell phone numbers were in my car. They told me to go get it, they'd hold my seats! So I popped across the square and when David answered they were across the street from the restaurant, just getting out of their car. So we all got there at the same time, and the seats were still there. Turns out they knew one of the guys holding our seats, and of course the bartender, since this is one of their favorite lunch places.

Later, we went to Coppola, which is Francis Ford Coppola's latest wine country property. Turns out it is where the old Chateau Souverain was -- I recognized it immediately as we pulled into the gate. It was owned by Beringer back in the day when I worked for Beringer, so I'd been there once or twice. Completely remodeled -- includes a huge museum of his movie history. His place in the Napa Valley, which used to be Inglenook many years ago, had a small museum, but this one was huge. There was the car used in the movie "Tucker", a big martini glass used in one I can't remember, and all kinds of other large and interesting bits and pieces from various film sets. There's also a restaurant there, which was our purpose. Since I'm not used to eating an evening meal (and since I'd had a big lunch), I just had a Caesar salad, which was very nice indeed and quite sufficient.

Then back home, watched the end of the Giant's game. They have an incredible digital library of music, all controlled by an iPad. Speakers in the ceiling in every room (good speakers!), and synched with on-line music sources so he has a virtually unlimited selection of music. Dave and Karen are like me -- we all like music and can't imagine being in a house or car without music playing. Their taste, like mine, is eclectic and I thoroughly enjoyed this aspect of the visit. Actually, I thoroughly enjoyed all of  it. We walked down to the Russian River (just a short walk from their backyard, which overlooks the flood plain for the river), visited with one of the neighbors. Karen and I went for a walk around the square yesterday, visiting art galleries and things I hadn't done the previous day. It was good to get out with her and get to know her better.

So, today back to 'normal' here in the forest. And  you know what? It's good to be back. I'm kind of sorry I'll only be here for another week -- but also looking forward to the stay at the Vihara for July.

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