I’ve Always Loved Healdsburg

For as long as I have been visiting California, I have been visiting Healdsburg. I remember coming here as a kid, going to Oakville Grocery for the most amazing sandwiches and then heading west to Armstrong Woods in Guerneville.

If you haven’t visited Healdsburg California, you really must. It’s like one of the picturesque scenes from the movie Pleasantville, only more wine, color and public displays of affection.

After my court date, I headed up here for some time at The Flying Goat, one of my favorite coffee shops for a fantastic cappuccino and some wifi time. Unfortunately the wifi didn’t work out so I was forced to head over to Starbucks for actually functional wifi.

I got a lot of work done there, more than I’ve gotten done in a single day since moving back to California! It felt great knocking so many tasks off my todo list. Afterwards I met up with Kayla and proceeded to pour a venti mocha on her driver’s seat… Yeah, that happened.

So while she worked out, I washed, vacuumed, shampooed and otherwise cleaned her car. I mean, after making it smell like chocolate (and not in a good way) it was the least I could do.

Later dinner at her aunt’s house, where I am being graciously hosted for the night, with Matt and a fantastic bottle of French wine.

The photo up at the top is of my little work station here at Kayla’s aunt’s house. It’s just about perfect for me and my laptop, the heater on the left is keeping me warm as I type this out and the lamp provides a perfect blanket of light across my keyboard.

Now it’s off to bed for me. I’m hoping to get an early start to the day, get some more work done before meeting up with Kayla back at The Goat around 9. After that, we head south to San Francisco!

Justice One Year in the Making

Lady JusticeAfter nearly a year, or two years depending on how you look at it, justice was finally served today.

Some of you know of the issue but for those who do not, here is a short explanation of a very long story. We have a house in the wine valley that had some work being done. Our contractor doing the work started getting a little shady, started living in our house and eventually became hostile about the situation.

We served him, twice, eviction notices with multiple verbal instructions to leave the house. Today we had our day in court and the judge ruled in our favor and we now have legal possession of our property again.

So that’s what I’ve been tweeting about a squatter and then going to the Sheriff’s Department or the courthouse. I didn’t mean to be ambiguous but for certain reasons I couldn’t elaborate on the situation.

For the longer story (including murder), follow on. Continue reading

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.

Cake Moda Cupcake Wars at Crush Barrel Wine Market

That might be the longest post title I’ve ever used.

There are few things in the world better than cupcakes and wine. I mean think about it. Excluding Life’s essentials, what’s better than delicious gourmet cupcakes and free wine? Nothing right? Not even cats in top hats!

Since Ryan was going to be working much of the time that I would be in California, I asked him to find a few things for me to do while I was out there. Ryan is incredibly good at this sort of stuff. He planned the epic spring break we had a few years that went from Kansas City to Buffalo New York to Niagara Falls Canada to Toronto to New York City to Washington DC and back to Kansas City. Quite possibly the best vacations of our lives.

Never to disappoint, Ryan managed to find three of my favorite things as events in the city. Cupcakes, wine tastings and a half-off coupon, in this case, all together. It’s the San Francisco Cake Moda Cupcake Wars at Crush Barrel Wine Market. I’m in and so were my friends Kevin and Dave.

We made the bus ride to San Francisco’s wharf to the Herbst Pavilion and readied our tickets, thanks Eventbrite and Yelp for the hookup. We were in for the gastronomic time of our lives. Right? There was lots of fun live music, great wines to try out and a coupon for $10 off any wine purchase. Win!

Alas, who knew it would be possible to go to an all-you-can-eat cupcake and wine tasting and not have a single cupcake? Also, who knew that not eating all day coupled with drinking lots of wine could be a bad idea?

Both lessons were learned on this voyage to Cupcake Desert, Wine Oasis. Apparently 1,000 other people had the same idea and the free cupcakes became $1-4 cupcakes and all you can eat became all you can afford and dare to wait in line for. We wandered around for a bit, enjoyed some wine, kevetched on the complete absence of free cupcakes, took some photos and eventually decided this wasn’t our scene.

Instead we opted for a cupcake from Ghiradelli Square and dinner with Ryan and Mark at Home.

The next morning I woke up extra early, picked up my rental car, a sweet Volkswagen Jetta and headed north to Healdsburg where a limousine, Kayla and a great time awaited me.

2010 Missouri State Fair

The Missouri State Fair Colosseum

The Missouri State Fair Colosseum

Three weeks ago, yes, I’ve been bad at updating, Amy, Korrie, Dave and I went to Sedalia Missouri to check out the 2010 Missouri State Fair on its last day. I was partly there for fun and partly there to take pictures and video for work.

Of course we all had our reasons for wanting to go. Amy wanted to experience cheese on  stick, Dave wanted a foot-long corn dog, Korrie wanted to ride the tilt-a-whirl and I… I wanted to observe the people. There are always the most interesting people at fairs and by interesting I mean completely different than me.

And by completely different than me I mean this.

Republicans are Cool

Republicans are cool?

I haven’t been to a fair, carnival or the like where I didn’t feel like I was the only liberal-minded person around. The disparity between the Democrats and the Republicans at these sorts of events is truly remarkable. It reminds me of my participation in the 2004 George W. Bush reelection rally at the Boone County Fairgrounds.

Geoff and I were given tickets to the event through a fraternity brother and were told to do our best to fit in. We were given instructions on what to wear, to carry, how to act. All this so they wouldn’t figure out we were actually Democrats. They made me take off my suit jacket and my oxford, presumably to make sure there wasn’t a “Kerry 2004” t-shirt underneath.

We bumped into a friend who got in without inspection by carrying a bible under his arm. How apropos to Palin’s recent rant.

Fire Pelosi

Fire Pelosi, the perfect disguise

Pretty sure in this election season, a Fire Pelosi sticker could be your ticket into just about any Tea Party or RNC event!

But I digress.

One of the first things I did was check out the Missouri Wine tent. I’m not the biggest fan of Missouri wines but I’m also not really familiar with too many of them. So, what better way to familiarize yourself than to taste a few?

Missouri Wine Tasting

Of the wines I tried, Stone Hill was definitely the best. Missouri wines are typically described as jammy, sweet and a little over-the-top. I tried some from St. James Winery and, while it wasn’t too crazy sweet, you could actually taste the steel from the stainless steel tanks in which it is fermented. This was a bit remarkable since part of the point of stainless steel is that it doesn’t carry a flavor or smell. It’s why they make stainless steel odor removers.

Metallic wine is no good.

Amy and I enjoyed some pretty delicious cheese on a stick, Dave got his giant corn dog and Korrie got to ride her rides.

Ride in the Sky

I love theme park rides, even though they scare the crap out of me. Two years ago, Ryan and I went to Six Flags, or some similar theme park, and rode the rides all day long. It was an absolute blast. However, my better judgement normally tells me traveling carnival rides aren’t for me. I have this vision in my head of a bolt snapping, just as I reach the top of a a ride at full speed, sending me flying into the air. Thought, that’s not the part that scares me. It’s the part where gravity starts to pull me back down and I come crashing into the ground. Ouch.

But you can’t deny the fact that Dave and Korrie were definitely having more fun on the rides than I was sitting on the sidelines.

I do wish we had gone a week or so earlier. I would have liked to have had the full fair experience. By the time we got there most of the stuff was closing up. We didn’t make it to any shows beyond pig races and stunt dogs. There was an exhibit of farm animals which was kind of fun. Pigmy goats are adorable by the way.

Tiny full-grown goats aside, nothing says farm life like a big ol’ red rooster.

The Rooster

The Rooster

Next time around, I’ll go to the fair earlier. I’ll wear sunscreen, I’ll check out some shows, a rodeo perhaps and I’ll ride the rides. In the end though, I think we all had a great time.

Holy cow, I almost forgot to show you the creepy trash receptacles they had all over the fair grounds!

Clown Trash Receptacle

Creepy as All Get Out Clown Trash Receptacle

Felt very weird putting my trash into a clown’s mouth. Just say’n.

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Independence Day Eve

I can't help but want to watch the Will Smith movie, Independence Day every Fourth of July.  Just say'n.

Some how I managed to miss all the fireworks this Independence Day weekend.  No worries, I had a great time with my friends drinking wine, listening to music and chowing down. David, Alex and I headed out to Les Bourgeois for their BBQ, live music, wine and awesome view of the river.

There were a ton of people there, not an open table in sight. Luckily this really nice, really redneck, family gave us some room at their table.

One thing I love about Les Bourgeois is the dramatic shifts in populations there. One moment someone is in heels and a sun dress and the next it's a guy in his rugby outfit. You just never know what you're going to get.  All you really do know is there will be a lot of people there enjoying a lot of wine and some of the best food Mid-Missouri has to offer.  Seriously good food.

Unfortunately it started raining, and then it stopped and then it started again… Yeah, so we went back to Columbia, before the fireworks show started. I got dinner at Flat Branch and then we headed to Tropical Liqueurs.

There we met up, by accident, with some friends both old and new. I have lived in Columbia for seven years and I still seem to meet new people regularly. That's pretty awesome.

Off to the condo where we watched a horrendous "scary" movie called The Fourth Kind.

Despite the lame movie, the Third of July turned out to be one of the best Fourth of Julys I've had in a long time. Good friends can do that.

On second thought… all the more reason to be sad about so many of my friends moving away!

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