Sunday, November 29, 2009

Thanksgiving Weekend Memories

We spent Thanksgiving weekend as far away from shopping malls and Christmas tree lots as possible this year. Not a single gift has been procured, but that's OK, because how often do you get 4 days to spend undivided time with the one you love?

Thursday started out with one of my famous "exploring" rides. This is when we go a general direction into the Los Altos Hills looking for itty-bitty connector roads. We were trying to find an alternate route between Moody and Page Mill that we saw on Google maps. Unfortunately, first stab dead ended into a dirt road (that was probably it). But, we decided to try to go up the other road, which was one of those gnarly, 20% grade jobs - only to end at a dead end about 1/2 mile up. So, back down to Moody to do the proper Moody climb, which felt pretty easy after the prior climb. We descended to Via Ventana and then made the connector over to Altamont and down Taffe and back home. We'd earned our turkey dinner at that point.

Thursday afternoon was spent welcoming Claire Elizabeth, born to friends Ann and Stephen. Hooray! Then, we were off to dine with Stephen and friends while Ann enjoyed turkey loaf at the hospital. They have much to be thankful for this weekend.

Friday, we set out early for our Wine Country adventure. Unfortunately, it was raining, so we opted for the non-cycling activity. We stopped just outside Santa Rosa to explore Annadel state park on foot. What a great spot! We hiked for 2.5 hours, exploring the oak/madrone forest, fir forest, and open meadows. There were some great bits of single track there that make me want to go back with knobby tires some day.

After the hike, it was on to Healdsburg - our home for the weekend. We had a nice rest before our 8:15 dinner reservation at Scopa. If you are ever in the area, I highly recommend it. We discovered it last winter during the Tour of California. It's run by a young couple and is just a really nice, seasonal, rustic menu in the Mediterranean style.

Saturday, we started off with a lovely ride around the Dry Creek and Alexander valleys. We were hoping to squeak back before the wine tasting got going - especially as there was a passport in Alexander Valley this weekend. We mostly accomplished our goal. The only rough patch was being passed by buses headed up to the casino. Dang casinos!

We headed back and cleaned up and then had lunch at the Dry Creek General Store - another nice spot. We had staked out Peterson Winery on our ride. I had a bottle of their wine (zin) in Burlingame about 4 years ago that knocked my socks off. But, you cannot find it ANYWHERE. Turns out that they do 90% direct sales and about 10% to restaurants. Anyway, with the long weekend, the vintner himself was there and poured about a gazillion tastes for us and talked all about his wine. He seemed pretty stoked that we had sought out the winery specifically. He opened a bottle of what I'd had in Burlingame, even though they weren't pouring it this weekend. And, we walked out with half a case of stuff. Highly recommended if you are in the area. No charge tastings, a very knowledgeable vintner, and wines that taste great to my palette. They even had a $12 bottle, which I know is an endangered species in Sonoma Valley these days.

We checked out a few other family vineyards who were sharing the complex along with an olive oil maker. We bought two more bottles and then sobered up on the Adirondack chairs on the porch before heading back to town. We dined Saturday evening at the Bear Republic Brewing company - great beer and decent pub food. I had the Racer 5 IPA and Rick had some sort of lager - both excellent.

This morning, we got up early and headed out for the "Eastside/Westside" ride, as we wanted to get back and shower before checking out. It was a gorgeous, clear morning. The cold sinks around the Russian River were pretty cold, but we were plenty bundled. We hardly saw a car all morning. We pulled off on Sweetwater Springs Road so I could do some hill repeats that were in the plan. Man, that is one gnarly climb - reminds me of the climb at Kern - too steep to spin and lots of cattle guards. And, it apparently goes on for 10 miles. We only made it about 3 miles in because of the repeats. However, the views are absolutely fantastic -  soft green hills up close and sweeping views of the valley. Once done climbing, I was pushing to get back so I could eat. I was HUNGRY. And, we'd made the strategic error of forgetting our pocket snacks for the weekend. So, both rides were done on the fat and glycogen stores.

We had a quick lunch at the deli across from our hotel, gassed up the car and headed south. We were absolutely thrilled to make it home in 2.5 hours. What luck! What a weekend! I am so thankful for the time spent with my hubby and all the wonderful memories we share.