Taken Hawaii, Nov. 2012.
With kids and summer camp and vacation and work travel, it’s easy for the grown-up birthdays in our home to go unmarked.
And so for Dave’s birthday, I invited some close friends round for dinner and decided to do a South-African braai — something we never do.
Our local supplier of all things South African provided the wors and the pap, and the good people of the Internets provided the wisdom:
Rather sad that I’ve been out of South Africa so long that I need directions on cooking mielie meal and making bredie!
We enjoyed Dave’s birthday out under the stars, with a bottle of sparkling wine to toast him, followed by something from our German vino stash. And a good time was had by all.
At Tau’s recent grad ceremony, as each kid came up to get his or her diploma, they announced what the child wanted to be when they grew up.
We had veterinarians, scientists, baseball players and quite a few rock stars.
Our kid? He wants to be a DAD. And what better testimony to his own dad?!
Happy birthday, Dave!
A final wrap-up on our trip — the last Thursday, we left Santa Cruz for Buellton just north of Santa Barbara. One rough night’s sleep there was enough to prompt us to just keep driving South and home the following day.
Tau was so happy to be home that every single toy he has was dragged out onto the patio or into the living room and briefly played with before he retreated to his bedroom to find others. On his way to bed that night, he pauses briefly and says to me, “Dad, the living room is a MESS!”
That weekend we caught up on chores, resumed our normal weekend activities like a trip to the library, and celebrated Father’s Day by sporting our handmade-by-Tau-and-Sue tie-dyed shirts. Monday was back to normal for both Tau and Sue — I still had another week off on my sabbatical. The time away was wonderfully relaxing for all of us. My wine fridge is fully stocked with some incredible wines made by interesting and talented people.
A collection of the four sets of pictures from our trip is up on Flickr.
One last note. My wife has now completed her 200 Situp Challenge. When she started this over 6 weeks ago, she could only manage 26 situps. Last week she able to crunch out 210! Next time you see her in person or on the Web, tell her she looks hot!
Empire Grade Road,
on the Boony Doon Road ride
A couple days in Santa Cruz saw us visit Healdsburg (very much worth it), drive the scenic Westside road past the wineries to our hotel, stop in at Flying Goat Coffee and Bottle Barn, stop by Enkidu‘s tasting room (their wines are fantastic and very well priced), and spend some time at Howarth Park with lunch at Superburgers (insert from Sue: BEST burger and strawberry milkshake I ever had!) . Not bad!
We left Howarth park with a screaming three-year-old who insisted he needed to ride the “digger” but his evil parents declined shelling out $2 for the ride. Quick lesson in “life’s not fair” and “you can’t have it all kiddo.”
So p*ssed was he that at sleep time that night, when Sue asked him what his “best thing” of the day was, he blurted out “No, I’ll tell you what the baddest thing of my day was, and that was not going on da digger.”
Stu and Kristi will be happy to know that we stopped by ChezShea in Half Moon Bay on the drive down to Santa Cruz. It’s a funky eatery with world cuisine – Brazilian, Thai, South African etc. The restaurant and Half Moon Bay is a recommended stop along the coast.
We have been staying in a family neighborhood in Santa Cruz, two blocks from the ocean. At night you can hear the waves crash against the cliffs. Here, we have discovered the neighborhood library and park, local beach and organic grocery store. And Tau has had a lot of fun playing with the kids of our hosts.
Trying out a two-wheeler
I took a ride along the cliffs yesterday afternoon and witnessed a pod of dolphins steal a set of waves from the local surfers in one of the nearby bays. Two to three dolphins a wave, they jumped and spun through the waves into the shore break, where they then turned around and swam back out to sea, right under the surfers. Pretty darn cool.
Today I headed out to climb Donny Boon Road which was part of the 2009 Tour of California route into Santa Cruz. Leaving Santa Cruz, you ride 10 miles north along the coast before turning onto Bonny Doon Road and then head directly inland. After about half a mile the climbing starts with an 11% grade. The climbing continues for another 2-3 miles of varying steepness before “leveling out” on Pine Flat road (nothing flat about this road) then finally turning onto Empire Grade Road and heading back into Santa Cruz. The descent was incredible as the redwood forest finally gave way to open grasslands and ocean vistas. Certainly worth dragging some other cyclists here to do this ride with me again sometime.
Mark and I were up early Tuesday to start a road ride that we had been researching and talking about for months — King’s Ridge in Cazadero. This is a 37 mile loop with 3500 feet of climbing that starts and finishes in Cazadero near Santa Rosa. Add more mileage by starting and finishing in nearby Monte Rio. For San Diegans, 3500 feet climbing is about equivalent to 7 Torrey Pine repeats!
I will spare you the details as our pictures on Flickr speak more clearly than I can and this website along with Dan Goldfield’s description do the ride better justice, but the ride reminded me why I love cycling so much. This was definately one of the most beautifully challenging rides I have ever done. Climbing over 1000 ft through wooded mountains for the first 8 miles to the ridgeline, holding onto that altitute for several miles before dropping the same altitute in a couple miles and having to climb it over again.
This happened a couple more times before the final downhill on Fort Ross Road into Cazadero. The scenery, weather, challenge, lack of traffic (~15 cars in 3 hours of riding), sense of freedom and riding partner made this one very memorable morning.
Later, after some serious food intake and vegging out in front of afternoon television, I met Mark and his family for a drive down to the Sonoma Farmers’ Market. On the way, Tonya eyed the Enkidu tasting room on Highway 12. Having enjoyed her glass of 2007 Diener Ranch Zinfandel at Zin on the Sunday night, she was keen to stop. The wines are elegant, well structured and not over-the-top high-alcohol fruit bombs. Reasonably priced as well. I left with a bottle of the 2007 Humbaba Rhone Blend (70% Syrah and 30% Petite Sirah) and 2007 Diener Ranch Zinfandel knowing that Sue would enjoy both.
Arriving at Santa Rosa after nine hours of driving, I hit Flying Goat Coffee (for an Americano) and Bottle Barn (beer) before meeting up with Tonya and Mark in Healdsburg for some wine tasting and dinner at Zin (southern fried chicken with mashed potatoes, biscuits and collard greens).
The next morning, Mark and I were up early to ride the Westside Road from Santa Rosa up to the Alexander Valley, with a stop in Healdsburg for breakfast. The weather was perfect for cycling, cool and slightly overcast. Not too many cars either as most of the wineries were not yet open for tastings. We crossed the famous Russian River, before turning onto Westside Road proper and ended the ride at Geyser Peak Winery with a two-hour personalized tour and tasting in the Members Lounge (Thanks Tonya and Mark).
Despite Geyser Peak’s large production scale, their wines are very well made, and at the 25% members discount (again thanks Tonya and Mark), I felt compelled not to leave empty handed. We tasted over 11 wines and I could easily have left with over a case but narrowed the purchases down to the 2004 Meritage, 2006 Zinfandel (made from 50 year old vines) and a 2008 Late Harvest Riesling.
Next stop, Gary Farrell. Having sold his winery a couple years back, Gary’s legacy of producing fine Pinot lives on at the winery that still bears his name. Another tour and tasting. We all agreed that their Pinots are still very well made, especially the 2006 Ramal Vineyard Pinot and the 2006 Starr Vineyard Pinot. By late afternoon, the cycling miles and wine tastings were doing me in, so I retired to my motel for an early evening before Tuesday’s ride.