Going Away Party and a Road Trip to California

I’m packing up my place today, hoping to put the final touches on tomorrow before my going away party to be held tomorrow (Wednesday, December 15th) night @TopTenWines here in Columbia.

Top Ten Wines has been my “go to” bar here for years. The owner, Paul, and the regular wine lovers have turned this once small wine shop into a bustling bar, music venue and the best wine tasting room in mid Missouri. Saying goodbye to Top Ten Wines is like saying goodbye to one of my friends, many of which I have because of Top Ten Wines. It only seemed fitting that I had my going away party there!

Oh yeah, everyone is invited! So if you are in Columbia and free tomorrow night, stop by Top Ten anytime after 7:00pm. There will be a champagne toast, ping pong, great music and more!

In an attempt to avoid the slick winter roads of Colorado, I’ve decided to take a somewhat southern route to San Francisco. All going as planned, I will depart Columbia Thursday around noon and drive to Amarillo Texas. Sleep there and then drive west to Kingman Arizona. Next stop, San Francisco!

The plan is to leave December 17th 21st and arrive December 21st 24th in San Francisco. But I’ve given myself an extra day to make it so, perhaps it will be the 22nd 25th that I get to the city.

It’s going to be a LONG drive in my rented minivan but I’m hoping to make it fun with awesome music, informative podcasts and interesting audiobooks. If you have any suggestions for traveling music, standup comedy routines, audio books, etc, leave them in the comments!

Also, if I’m driving through your neck of the woods, let me know! I’m sure I’ll need a coffee break (or 90). Leave your suggestions, invitations and whatever else in the comments! Thanks friends!

Cruising the Wine Valley

My best girl, Kayla, planned a sensational day in the wine valley for the two of us when I was in California back in September. We hit up six (?) wineries for tastings and were driven from one vineyard to the next in a limousine. How fancy huh? Thanks to Kayla for setting that up, it was an amazing trip through the valley. Every time she sets one of these things up she totally eclipses her previous efforts.

These are the wineries we went to and that I still remember. We had quite a wine between the two of us so my memory of the trip is a bit fuzzy… 😛

I went on this day trip intending to purchase a bottle or two, at most. I ended up buying nearly a case and a half. Add this to the wine I bought at the wine tasting in San Francisco… It wasn’t long before I was swimming in wine!

Our first winery was Seghesio, where Kayla works. I love visiting this place. If you have never been, you must put it at the top of your To Do list. The vineyard has been family owned since 1895 and it shows. Their wines are carefully crafted into some of the best Zins in the state. Their food and wine pairing are legendary and the parties they host are the envy of just about every winery. At least, that’s what I was told from just about every other winery we visited that found out Kayla worked at Seghesio.

Our next stop was Moshin Vineyards where a charming Scotswoman gave us a taste of some of their wines. There we enjoyed some Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and some fun Zins.

Amista and Preston Vineyards were both awesome. Amista’s wines tasted perfect. It felt like they had an equation for each of their wines, mechanically perfect. It was there that I had the first Chardonnay that I really loved. Of all the wines I’ve had, I’ve never had a Chardonnay good enough that I felt compelled to buy it. Of course I also haven’t had that many Chardonnays

Preston’s wines are organic, clean, crisp and pleasing. The winery is also an organic farm with fresh produce, organically raised hens and sheep. Their extra virgin olive oil is awesome and I’ve hear they have equally as tasty cheeses? Next time!

Kayla’s boyfriend Matt gave us a tour through some of their wines prior to our wandering of the grounds. I don’t think I got out of there with less than five bottles of their wine haha. Almost all were whites, seems I was in a mood for white wine that day.

Next up was a surprise. Jordan Vineyards, easily the most beautiful winery we visited this trip. There Kayla and I joined a few others in a wine and food pairing. Once again, great wine and a wonderful guide through the tasting and history of the winery.

The tasting ended with a taste of a dessert wine that was pretty damn awesome. It was a bit out of my price range but seemed like a bargain at around $50.

Every winery Kayla chose was awesome. Not a single hiccup or disappointing wine. The entire trip through the valley was just about perfect.

Well, that is until we took on the task of kicking out the squatter living in my house out in Forestville. That is an entirely different blog post though.

We capped off the night with a fabulous dinner at Barndiva with Kayla and Matt and a killer (in more ways than one) cocktail at Willies Seafood and Raw Bar.

The drive back to San Francisco gave me time to contemplate the day’s events. I thought about my friendship with Kayla. I thought of the early morning drives into Santa Rosa to open Starbucks or go to class. I thought about the house Seth and I lived in with the creaky wood floors and obnoxiously fertile fig tree in the back yard. I remembered the parties, the coffee shops, the podcast with Callie and how much I missed all of that.

It became clear to me on that long drive south into San Francisco that a change soon needed to be made.

True/False Film Festival

I’ve live in Columbia Missouri, off and on, since 2003.  In my nearly seven years here I have managed to miss True/False 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009!  That’s pretty despicable if you ask me.  This year, with the help of Laura (@BigRed77) I vowed to make it to at least one film.

True/False started out for me with a wine tasting at Top Ten Wines (@TopTenWines) with Laura.  The wines were delicious, a selection from Latin America, a wine region too often overlooked in a country seemingly obsessed with Australian, New Zealand and South African wines.

I feel I must confess that this picture isn’t exactly from the wine tasting but from a few days earlier.  I just wanted to feature Laura’s husband (@EricCox) in a post, it’s been way too long since we’ve gotten to hang out!

Just before our tasting began, the True/False Film Festival parade broke out.  It’s one of the most unique parades I’ve ever experienced, reminded me a lot of the Houston Art Car Parade. Crazy costumes, grandmas dancing, marching bands marching and artists just doing their art.  So much fun and love and happiness.  Oh, and a side of just weird!

I bumped into my friend Paul shooting as a volunteer for True/False, something else I always forget to do.  Apparently, volunteering not only gets you into the fun after-parties but also a sweet hoodie and access to the films!

Laura and I saw Colony together which investigates the vanishing bees all across America.  The film started out really strong, mixing comedy with the serious ramifications of a bee shortage but began to fall apart towards the end.  Still, a definite recommendation if you can find it for rent somewhere.

After the movie, and a little more time at Top Ten Wines, we caught a late dinner at Sycamore followed by a short stint at The Blue Fugue for some live music.  It was a great evening and a wonderful start of my very first True/False Film Festival.

The next day I wandered around town, shot some photos with my new Nikon 85mm f1.8 lens and just generally enjoyed the wonderful weather gifted to us for the weekend.

I managed to snag tickets to the closing ceremony and film on the last night of the festival.  The film was Last Train Home, a film about the annual migration of Chinese workers back home for Chinese New Year.  It’s the largest migration of people in the world and it happens once a year, every year.  The film was pretty great and will be shown again at SXSW.

However, perhaps the best part of the finale was getting to see a short recap video that the company I work for created.  As a bonus, it turns out a great friend of mine did a large portion of the video!  I was so impressed and pleased to see that they put it on Vimeo so I can share it with you guys right here.  If you’ve never been to Columbia Missouri, here’s a wonderful look at our amazing city.

True/False 2010 Closing Night Video from Boxcar Films on Vimeo.

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Kaldi’s Iced Coffee is Yum

I’ve wanted to record my daily iced coffee creation for a while now.

I have a few of these every morning, probably too many really!  I typically used Kaldi’s coffee brewed and then chilled overnight.  Just a little ice, some fat-free creamer and I’m ready to go.  I used to never put creamer in my coffee, wonder why I do that now…  Never-the-less, I’ve settled on this recipe and it has never failed.  Oh but what a difference quality coffee, water purity, grinding and proportion matter.

I grind my coffee just seconds before I brew.  I use only fresh beans and as I said earlier, I prefer Kaldi’s coffee though I’ve recently heard good things about Dunn Brother’s Coffee (c/o @samuelaveryhunt).  I use filtered water, once through a triple-stage Pür filter followed by a two-stage Pür filter. We have really metal-rich water in downtown Columbia so this is a necessary step to take all the copper etc out.

Perhaps tomorrow I’ll do a few more, trying out different angles and lighting techniques.  The video today was really just a test or proof-of-concept. I think this angle might be fun…

Though the real fun will come once I modify my Kodak Zi8 with different lenses.  Maybe someday I’ll own a proper HD video camera.  @ZackLuye‘s Canon 7D is such a sexy piece of equipment.  Too bad I’m a Nikon guy.  Next time Zack and I shoot an AdagioTeaV together, we’ll have to do some experimentation with his camera.

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Free Lunch Rocks

Free lunch is the best lunch.

I went to Shakespeare’s Pizza today after they Twittered (@shakespizza) lunch slices at $1.50. I didn’t really want pizza but found it hard to pass up. Shakespeare’s Pizza is a local, famous (?) pizza joint here in Columbia Missouri, best pizza in the city IMHO.

It was delicious! I got a slice of the vegetarian and an iced tea. Being the celebrity that I am (cough cough, friend working the register) I got my slice gratis!

THANKS!

As you can see… I ate it all.

If you ever visit Columbia, you’ve gotta visit Shakespeare’s Pizza for lunch or dinner. I recommend the Darwin and the Vegetarian on the wheat crust. Yum!


BBQ at the Palace

The Princess invited a few friend over for BBQ at her place last weekend. It was just such an awesome time! The people were great, the wine was awesome and the food… amazing. Her hubby can really cook!

The entire time, not matter what we did, booze, food, Guitar Hero… this girl kept getting all of the attention. Gah!

Even Ben had no power over the baby.

Well, actually, that talk about nothing be able to draw them away from the baby? That wasn’t exactly true.  Ryan was allll about the doggie.  It was the cutest thing, and it’s what happens every time Ryan and I go to Karen’s.

We really need to get a cat or dog… or bunny.  It seems like Ryan was just made to have a pet. It’s just too adorable.

Curtis was kicking ass at Guitar Hero and then I’m not exactly sure what happened…  Karen walks over to Curtis, bends over….

Curtis starts to pull $1 bills out of his wallet. I’m not saying Karen was extending “favors” to Curtis for change but shortly after she was playing cards with nickles.

I’m just sayin’!!!