Sunday, March 15, 2015

Free Champagne and Caviar! (Well, okay, I'm only HALF lying.)

James had a conference up north in Sonoma county this weekend.  Jess and I and the boys went up that way, too, but stayed in a B&B near Cazadero (which is near Guerneville, which is not too far from Healdsburg, which to any of you who live on the East Coast can only be described as being about 80 miles north of the San Francisco Bay Area) in the redwoods.  Jimbo came "home" to the place each of the two nights after the day's conference - about 20 miles away, across winding precipitous Fort Ross Road.  By precipitous, I do mean scarey.  Hardly any sections of it have guardrails and there's dropoffs at many points along the way that seemed to go down at least 50 feet or more.

On the way, we stopped off at Korbel vineyards in Guerneville and took the tour of the building, ate lunch at their deli, and sampled some of their champagne.

Special seating for CJ:

The Ted-ster enjoyed fine dining, too. . .

Ba-Baab took TJ

Whilst CJ got a lift from his Mommy

Historic stand of redwoods that the Korbel family preserved.  Originally, the family bought the land to do lumbering but when they ran out of trees took up other businesses, among them grape-growing.

Out tour guide showed us how the railroad loaded the Korbel's products right "at their front door". . .

CJ and Teddy were not as interested in the tour as the rest of us. . .

Hey, Daddy James!  How about these woodworking tools?

The ribbons were awarded many times. . .

Big casks, over 120 years old. They only stopped using them about two years ago.

Eric demonstrated how the product was made and corked in the early days. . .

Charlie normally likes machinery and tractors, but I think he had no idea what this old contraption is:

After the tour, lunch and a few samplings of the Korbel product (by us grownups only, of course), we continued on our way to Raymond's Bakery and the Elim Grove B&B, both owned by a very nice couple - Mark and Elizabeth - near Cazadero.

Here's some photos from their website, which pretty accurately show what the place is like.

To the left in the photo, there's an outdoor dining area surrounded by redwoods.  We had pizza and a live band entertaining us there on our first night there.

This is pretty much what our cottage's living room looked like, tho this photo was apparently taken a few years ago. . .
CJ & TJ set themselves up in the living room for some of the time.

Unfortunately, Charlie was a bit unsettled our first night there, and Teddy got sick our second night there.  Looks like Teddy has the croup. . . .  I'm hoping he gets past all of the worst of it in the next few days.

The exterior of our cottage, again from a few years ago as shown on their website:

The bakery was a great place for the boys.  They had a toy "kitchen" in one corner of the dining room there that Charlie especially put to good use:

On Saturday, we packed up and took off for Fort Ross. . .  

Jessica drove and I "white knuckled it" in the passenger seat.  The dropoffs on my side of the road were gorge-eous.  These photos don't tell the true story of what I saw, but I include them anyway. . .

We got to Fort Ross and enjoyed the Russian-ness of it:

The Russian community is obviously very proud to have had a "toehold" in California from 1812 till 1841 here.  Some Russian-American civic organizations have helped support this state park.  I viewed some of the plaques on the property, and caught a bit of Russian being spoken between some of my fellow "tourists."  I noted that in 2012, Russia itself issued a commemorative postage stamp, but that no such stamp was issued by the United States:

The windmill there (first windmill in California - which now has plenty) and the fort are, of course, reproductions.  But they are very well-built:

The fact that the Russians came there to hunt and trap fur-bearing animals was brought out:

But that they were well-armed was also demonstrated by the firing of the canon at noon.  I didn't get a photo of the actual firing, since I had to cover Teddy's ears while Jess took care of Charlie's.

AND that their armory was well-stocked with the latest in 1812's other Russian "weapons of mass destruction":

Charlie, after seeing the armory wanted no part of it:

Jess and Teddy strolled around the grounds while Charlie and I lagged behind a bit on our way back to the Visitors Center and a snack at one of the picnic tables in front of it. . .

After our snack I consulted a map, . .

. . .to try to figure out the way back to our B&B without going on the hair-raising "overland route" and came up with the brilliant idea that we should take the coast highway.  I actually felt very safe and secure on this road than if we had gone back over the Fort Ross Road that we took to get there.  And, of course, the scenery was stunning:

There were plenty of steep drop-offs, but for the most part there were guardrails. Took these next three photos at a stop we made at a turn-out:

It was obvious that in some places there had been landslides:

Seals were basking on some of the rocks below.  Hard to see them, but there's a big bunch of them on the big rock towards upper right in this photo:

Surfers were all over the beach when we got to Jenner, near the mouth of the Russian River: 

It was a bit of a surprise to me to see a cattle ranch on the western side of the road at one point:

And the farmhouse near the field must have the absolute best view of the Pacific Ocean of any farmhouse in California:

But anyway, when we got to the mouth of the Russian River, we followed Route 116 back inland (a far better road than Fort Ross Road), and made our way back to our 'hideout in the woods' for another night.

We got some sandwiches at a deli in Cazadero and made our way back to the B&B.  Tried to get the boys to sleep, but they were both a bit too fired-up.  Finally got them to bed, but during the night - as I said above - Teddy let loose with a really, really bad honking cough.  Jess and James phoned Kaiser-Permanente and were told that by the symptoms they described it seems TJ has croup.  We'll have to keep close tabs on him the next few days.  K-P advised that the symptoms wouldn't be too bad in the daytime, so we decided to continue with our plans to visit Susan and Gary Goss - old friends of Eleanor and mine from the days that Eleanor and Susan worked at Touro Law in New York. Jess and I drove to Susan and Gary's in Healdsburg - getting there at about 12:30 and had a great time.  Teddy was doing very well and we stayed until about 5pm.  Jimbo showed up after his conference was finally completed, at about 2 or 3pm.

So, all-in-all, it was a fun weekend. . . .  the only damper on it was Teddy's getting sick.  He should be better soon, tho.  I felt reassured after J&J talked with them at Kaiser. . . .  I'm sure the little guy will get over this and be back to his normal "Guy Smiley" self soon enough!