Sonoma Road Trip with My Parents!

Sonoma road trip with wine!

When SMS and I got married, we had pretty basic vows. I mean, don’t get me wrong, the basic vows are pret-ty serious. Love for a lifetime? Sign me up! But if we had been the type to write our own custom vows, would we have included the vow to take epic road trips with our parents? Hell yeah!

So, the epic road trip with my parents is first up! For those of you wanting SMS’ parents, wait a few weeks. It’s coming!

My parents were in Wyoming for a mini-siblings reunion (Dad’s side). Back in June, I said that since they were 2/3 of the way across the country, why not complete the journey and come to Northern California for a vacation continuation? Who can argue with that logic? No one. So, my parents arrived on Monday for a six day NorCal adventure.

For the first two nights, my parents stayed at the Hotel Lucent in Menlo Park. SMS has a 1B1B apartment and we’re just not air mattress people. Haha, we totally could be but we don’t even own one now. So, my parents stayed at HL, which they recommend for nice rooms at a reasonable (for SV) price.

On Tuesday, we had breakfast at our place. Canned hash and poached eggs for the win! Then we headed out to Filoli, which is really beautiful. Gorgeous gardens that have a timeless feel. The original owner planted them knowing full well the peak would be in 100 years, well beyond his time here on Earth. The combination of impermanence and legacy is a dialectic beyond the scope of this blog but still interesting to reflect on.

That night, we had dinner at our place since the next few days would be pretty restaurant heavy. Wednesday morning, we headed up to Sonoma for our first day of wine-tasting and culinary delights! BTW, planning tip. While I have turned into much more of a planner over the years, it is crucial to pre-plan at the current time. Most places have limited seating and time-slots and you have to plan your trip as soon as you think of it. The further out the better. It’s a little much but since Hot Vax Summer was thwarted by the Delta variant, I think this is going to be the reality at least through 2021.

Our first stop was Medlock Ames. This is the only wine club SMS and I currently belong too. I think the wines are delicious, and I really like their thoughtful approach to farming and wine-making. I am a little less thrilled that they’re turning more to single-varietal ($$$$) and abandoning their blends. Mostly because I really love their estate blends they make each year. Alas, RIP. 2018 is the last year they’re making an estate red. I would say I should stock up but I seem to drink the wine more than collect it so I guess I should embrace the change.

ANY-way, we had a reservation for the “Olive Grove Experience.” This included a white/rose bottle per 2 people and a picnic basic full of delicious provisions such as Mt. Tam cheese, Bouchon bread, olives, MA jam, MA olive oil, and salami. We had a rosé and chardonnay, both of which were delicious. It was a gorgeous day and a beautiful space. It was the perfect start to our vacation and no matter what the occasion, I alway recommend Medlock Ames.

Then we went into town and had a Northern Italian varietal tasting at Idlewild. I love those Northern Italian wines. Strong reds with a hint of dirt. Yum!

Afterwards, we headed to Chalkboard. SMS and I had been several years ago, but I had forgotten. It’s pretty good but the portions are on the small side. Especially when the waitress claimed that they encouraged “family-style” eating. I guess by family-style, they mean that everyone can stick their fork into everyone’s decidedly individually-sized portion. The food is delicious, but the comic relief was when we all ordered the soup and instead of a cup of soup, received teeny-tiny shots of soup. Several pictures were taken to document the size relative to common objects. I realize this paragraph sort of makes me sound like a pig, but this restaurant was a little on the ridiculous side. But still, delicious food!

We headed back to our hotel which, by the way, was a complete delight! The Camellia Inn was reasonably priced and in the heart of downtown Healdsburg. The rooms were great and the breakfasts were quite nice. We also went swimming both afternoons, which was refreshing after some pretty warm temperatures!

Only two of us got the memo that on Thursdays, we wear pink!

The next day, we drove to Sonoma proper to have lunch with my Mom’s cousins at The Girl and the Fig. It was such a lovely afternoon. The cousins are younger than my parents, but older than SMS and I. We had such a nice lunch and it was fun to catch up. We all had to head out after a couple of hours. The cousins went back to work and we went to Silver Oak.

SMS prefers the Sonoma Silver Oak vs Napa. The tasting room was beautiful. We were outside, which was warm but tolerable since we were in the shade. The view was beautiful, the building gorgeous, and the wines delicious. We all really liked the experience.

After heading back into town, we went for a quick swim and then got ready for dinner. Dinner was at Bravas restaurant, where we had Spanish tapas and split a paella that was phenomenal. We sat in the back courtyard and it was such a beautiful, bug-free space.

The Sonoma part of our trip was awesome. A fair bit of pre-planning and reservation-making, but it made for a smooth trip with delicious wine experiences. Next up, our Northern coastal adventures.

Highlights: August 2019 (Part 1: Road Trip Edition)

SMS and I are YouTube stars.  Yes, really!  Ok, no, not so much.  But we do have our own channel with 11 subscribers and a few hundred views.  We’re going to go viral any….second…

But, yes, I’m going to be a little bit lazy and start off with the YouTube channel first since it covers our entire cross-country trip from Norfolk, VA to San Diego, CA.  We had a really nice time although, surprise, surprise, it was a lot of driving.  (This blog: come for the pictures, stay for the insights.)

But I do have pictures!  Yes,  I’ll go into a few highlights and lessons not really covered in the Vlog since our main focus there was the logistics of driving an EV cross-country.

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Birds go first!

Lesson 1: There is always more stuff than I think!  Argh, yes, I envisioned a completely clear back seat so that the car was less of a target for break-ins.  But, yet again after many moves, the “small amount” I left behind blossomed and filled the trunk and back seat.  While this may have been a predictable outcome, it was still annoying.

Our starting point was Virginia Beach.  We actually touched the ocean before leaving, although by the time we got to San Diego, we were over it and didn’t make it to the coastline proper.

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Breakfast with Dad at Three Ships coffee in Virginia Beach.  I love that place and their country ham biscuits are delicious!

After breakfast with Dad and dropping him off at the airport (you can’t ride with us!), we went to the hospital for my final checkout.  There, I had my first Bates blowout of my career.  What’s that, you ask?

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Bates Blowout

A Bates Blowout is when your overpriced, cheaply made Bates uniform shoes completely fall apart on you in very short order.  I never really believed people before it happened to me, but it’s real.  In the span of walking 30 feet down a hallway, my shoes completely fell apart, shedding chunks of black rubber along the hallway.  It reminded me of a line from a Will Farrell movie: “I’m not angry, I’m impressed!”

So, we finally hit the road where I promptly sliced the tip of my finger open.  See vlog for evidence.  So yes, the road trip was off to a rough start and SMS is a saint.  The end.

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Kidding!  Our first stop was Charleston where we stayed for two nights.  It kind of squished the rest of the trip but this was the city we wanted to explore a little more.

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Charleston was very pretty.  I was somewhat tempted to go on some sort of tour, but after a crazy month, I just wanted to relax and walk around.

We ate a few delicious places, some planned, some not.  167 Raw is a delicious temple to awesome seafood.  It has a pretty relaxed vibe and it was fun to learn a little bit more about oysters from the really nice bartender.

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We stayed at the Grand Bohemian hotel, which offered overnight charging.  The hotel was pretty awesome with a lot of contemporary art works on display and a cool gallery on the first floor.  We met up with my cousins at the Eleve rooftop bar, which had a really nice outdoor space.   I felt very cool because my cousin’s girlfriend said she had been wanting to go there for a long-time so I felt in the know, even though I had no idea what was cool!

The next night, we went to Chez Nous, which has a really good reputation with a very small menu and cool interior.  Honestly, we didn’t love it but it was fine.

Afterwards, we went to Edmund’s Oast because I had lasting FOMO from when I was in Charleston for a bachelorette party and I didn’t have the PB&J beer because I was worried what it might do to my stomach at the beginning of a night of dancing and drinking.  Ha!  Don’t tell me I don’t have good judgement!  Well, maybe it’s not perfect judgement because I still wanted to drink it and it was, at best, so-so in my opinion.  Win some, lose some!  The outside courtyard was a total winner though and it was nice to relax outside.

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Then, we were off!  We met up with our Yokosuka friends while charging in Atlanta.  Emily is out of the military and studying to be a CRNA while her husband continues to work as a civilian as well.

Another awesome meal stop was in Birmingham where we stopped at Saw’s BBQ.  We both ordered the Pork ‘nGreens, which I rhapsodize about on the YouTube episode.  SMS ordered it the last time we were in Birmingham and this time, I didn’t make the same mistake of not getting a plate for myself.  It’s a dish with a delicious nest of grits with collard greens, pulled pork, and fried onions on top.  This does not sound amazing but I promise you, it is completely insane.

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We pulled into Memphis late that evening and the next morning, we had brunch with more Yokosuka friends!  I am so happy to have seen my friends, whom I basically just messaged out of the blue to see if we could meet for a meal.  I didn’t invite ourselves over to Brooke and Aaron’s but because of the kids and visiting parents, it was easier for them to meet at their place.

After brunch, we hit the road.  Aaron lent us a Route 66 book that we used during our trip.  They also recommended going to Bass Pro shop inside a former basket ball arena, a 535,000-square-foot pyramid!  We took the slow elevator to the top and had a pretty incredible view of Memphis.

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On our way West, one of the Tesla Superchargers was in the town of Shamrock, TX.  There’s an old restaurant (no longer in service) and U Drop Inn, a highlight featured in the Route 66 guidebook!  The building is featured in the animated movie Cars.  It’s very cute.

It’s also staffed by the most aggressively nice volunteers I ever met.  We were strong-armed into a photoshoot, posing in the restaurant and sticking a pin in the town we’re from.  The map, aided by the fact that every visitor is forced at nicepoint to place a pin, is pretty impressive in showing the worldwide appeal of Shamrock, TX.

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SMS drove the car up to the pump and pretended to fill the Tesla.  We’re hi-wa-wi-ous!!!

At another Texas BBQ stop, we came upon a DeLorean time machine.

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Another highlight featured in our YouTube episode: The Continental Divide.  You will see SMS pour out water from a bottle.  Where will it go?!?!

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The Grand Canyon State…*sigh*…someday I will see the Grand Canyon.

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The Petrified Forest vista.  I wish we could explore the park more but our charge was low, which meant our AC wouldn’t work in Park mode.  This was problematic since there were four feathered friends in the car that would have roasted.

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Thank you for caring!!!

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Random food shot- looks delicious!