We are in Seattle, a little chilly in the rain, but making it through. My brother and I have about 3 weeks left to train for the climb up Mt. Rainier, and are going into the final push together. The Scotty is parked in Shary and Ryan’s driveway and it has been pretty nice having hot showers and flush toilets for the last 10 days! Not to mention a refridgerator and full kitchen : ) Oh, and the company has been pretty nice too ; p
Haven’t taken too many photographs since we have been here, as the rain makes me a little camera shy~
But, I would LOVE to work a bit while I’m here! If you or anyone you know in the Washtington and / or Oregon area needs any type of wedding or portrait photography, please have them get ahold of me : )
And here is a map of our crazy progress so far, over 5000 miles!
After hiking my booty off in Yosemite, I meandered my way over to the wine country in Napa. I unfortunately only had time to spend 1 night, but I made sure it was a good 24 hours : )
There are several campgrounds throughout Napa Valley, I paid $20 for my site at a state campground. They had the same ‘no dogs on trails’ rule as other California State Parks, but for once I wasn’t bothered since the focus was drinking and not hiking ; p.
As a budget minded lady, I stopped at a Costco a couple of hours before we arrived in Napa. I picked up a local bottle of wine and some cheese, sausage, bread, yummy! Those things, the doggies and a good book kept me plenty of company that evening at the campground. And we always have plenty of visitors : ) Between the pups and the Scotty, people are always stopping by our campsites to say hello~
Before settling into the campground, I stopped by 2 places in Napa proper. The Napa Valley Visitor Center was very helpful with maps, brochures and plenty of information. There was also cute little wine tasting shop practically next door to the visitor center. The cool thing about this place was that they carried wines from 8 different wineries, all in 1 location. The guys there were awesome, and even called the campground for me to help me secure my reservation for that night.
A few things about California wine country
~wine tasting here is not free : ( Depending on the winery, tastings are usually $10-$20 for 5-8 tastes. You can pay a few $$ more to add a few reserve vintages to your tasting experience, something I highly recommend!
~many wineries require that you make tasting reservations in advance.
~some wineries don’t have snacks or picnic areas. I brought my own water and bought a delicious bar of chocolate to accompany my wine tasting.
~there an awesome free guide at the visitor center. It has a ton of information on all the area wineries, as well as info on wine tasting etiquette, the history of wine and winemaking, and how to get more out of your time in Napa. Please forgive me that I cannot remember the name of the guide, currently….maybe something to do with the drinking, again : ) But, if you ask around about ‘the bible’, someone will hand you a copy.
~one of the tips in the above mentioned ‘bible’, said to take notes at the tastings, and gave other tips for having a more enjoyable tasting experience. It also mentioned that the more you seemed into the tasting, the more likely it was that you would get more than that stated number of tastes. I only tested this theory on one winery, but it definitely held true! I was supposed to get 8 tastes, but I’m pretty sure I had something more like 16. I pretty much got a pour of anything that anyone else was trying, as well as the wines that I myself wanted to try. Of course, getting you drunk is probably not a bad way to get you to spend lots of $$$ on wine, and it definitely worked in my case! Then I had to walk around and sober up for another hour before I got back on the road. : ) : )
~the Castello di Amorosa is pretty fabulous! They are the one tour and tasting I had the time to participate in, and I am glad I chose them! The weekend tour and tasting is $30 or $42 if you add in the reserve wines and speciality chocolates…which of course I did : ) The castle is pretty amazing, made with 80% imported materials from Italy, Austria, Germany, etc. The stones and many of the furnishings are 100s of years old, and artists were brought in from all over the world to create the woodwork and frescoes. The castle has all the traditional and authentic trappings, including a torture chamber, chapel, candle makers room, etc. All VERY COOL! Click on the photographs below to link through to their site~
Oh!! and the wine was pretty tasty too : )
And, If you make it there for a tasting, try and get Joshua. Of course, the other guides may be even more fabulous than him, but he was pretty great. He had a pretty good knowledge of the castle and its background, as well as lots of information on the wine itself. Plus, he’s cute and pretty charming….what more could you ask for in your sommelier and tour guide??? I know, a few extra pours goes down pretty well, and Joshua assured us that even though he was supposed to give 5 pours (for the regular tasting), he made a vow to stop counting properly after he left college : ) Ahh, good stuff!
And…Missouri is better because wine tastings there are free, and so is the zoo!
So, I just have to start this off with a disclaimer….to see the most classic and beautiful photographs of Yosemite National Park, please go to www.anseladams.com. You just can’t beat the master : )
Yosemite has many of the same anti-dog rules as the rest of the National and many State parks. No dogs on trails or more than 100 feet off of paved areas. The great thing about Yosemite is that there are many many miles of paved trails!! Although I was bummed to not be able to take the doggies with me to the falls, we were able to walk and jog for several miles on paved trails every day. While I was out hiking the longer trails, they stayed in their fan cooled Scotty (aka, the luxury dog house) and although not ideal, it wasn’t a terrible arrangement : )
We were really lucky and secured a campsite for 5 nights with a walk up reservation! At $20/night, it was a bit pricey and crowded, but they had running water and flush toilets available, in addition to picnic tables and a fire pit at each site. One of the highlights was free showers over at Curry Village!! Ah, hot showers with no timers or need to constantly add more quarters…it was NICE!
I met a bunch of really great people while staying at Yosemite, including my cute Spanish neighbors Bera and Mark (who cooked me steak for dinner and gave me red wine ; p ) Yami, my Panama born hiking buddy (we met up on the Upper Yosemite Falls trail, which was her first big hike ever, and got to know each other pretty well over the agonizing 3000ft down, and some drinking buddies who had a spiffy new airstream. Although I spent a fair amount of time with my drinking buddies, I can’t seem to recall their names right now….hmmn, was it the margaritas, makers and 7, or the bloody marys?????
In between all the hiking and drinking, I also managed to take quite a few photographs! The parks service in Yosemite offers several free photography walks throughout the week, you just have to go to the Ansel Adams gallery to sign up. The gallery itself offers a few paid talks and classes throughout the week as well. I signed up for a ‘walk in Ansel’s footsteps’ tour, which was pretty cool. There was quite a bit of f-stop, iso and shutter speed talk (so, I was able to help the ranger teach the class : ). But, it was pretty nifty to see some of the places where Ansel took a few of his most famous photographs!!