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April - June, 2009 BLOG ENTRIES
MAP - today's hike --
This is a repeat of a hike we did last summer.
Some pretty hot weather (carry extra water) so we got started shortly after 8:30 a.m. knowing it's going to be a 3+ hour circuit (8.0 miles). It's a clockwise loop heading out of the Tennessee Valley parking lot trailhead to Oakwood Valley, then up (steep) Alta, viewpoints above Sausalito, then to Bobcat and Miwok, past the impressively strange FAA antenna, down steep Miwok, right on Wolf Ridge trail to climb up to the Hill 88 old Nike Missile base (anti-Soviet era bomber defenses) overlooking Rodeo Lagoon (scenic overlooks!). At the right, Cindy near top of Hill 88 (where Wolf Ridge Tr. ends with junction at Coastal Tr.), with Rodeo Lagoon and Pt. Bonita/Battery Wallace in the far background (further still in the back is SF's Lands End/Seal Rocks which I visited last week). More on the FAA antenna from Mr. Donal Mountain: "This VORTAC beacon in the Marin Headlands helps pilots figure out where they are using radio signals. Vortac Beacons are slowly being replaced by GPS technology."
Chugging my Nalgene-encased hydration early on, at the Alta Trail viewpoint above Sausalito. We're only 45 minutes into the hike at this point. A perfect spot for a water break - on such a hot day - after that last little steep climb to Alta.
On Hill 88 and in the HEAT of the day -- just over 2 hrs. into our hike. The final .25 mile of the Wolf Ridge Trail ending at the old paved road to Hill 88 is a steep grind--you definitely earn this one.
The Coastal trail down from Hill 88, it's just below the pine trees in this image. It is VERY Steep (including the first part at the top leaving the Hill) in three of its sections back down to Tennessee Valley. I slipped a little on the descent, lucky to have caught myself. You see several runners climbing this 1.2 mile section out of Tennessee Vly -- what a work-out!
Paraduxx tasting photo --
We visited three winery tasting rooms: Paraduxx (Duckhorn) (appointment only), Cliff Lede (Canadian, formerly S. Anderson winery), and Domaine Carneros (Taittinger).
The weather was on the oppressive side -- way too hot, but it happens --
Paraduxx wines photo.
Paraduxx takes reservations over Opentable (nice!) and we were there on time. We sat outside under the tree on a couch and chair and tasted five of their wines: the Paraduxx 2006, the three Postmark Zin/Cab blends (higher end at $70 each), and an awesome Syrah/Grenache blend. Complimentary cheese & crackers are served making for one heck of a pleasant experience. Paraduxx has been open to the public since their grand opening 4 years ago. We love these smaller Riedel 'O' wine glasses and bought a pair.
Cliff Lede is only one mile from Paraduxx -- Cliff is on Yountville Cross Rd. just west of the Silverado Trail -- and occupies the site formerly belonging to the S. Anderson (sparkling) winery & tasting room. $20 tasting fee at Cliff for three wines: Sauvignon Blanc, and two Cabernets; all three tasted *excellent*. The sauv blanc was $22 while the two cabs were each in the $60-65 range.
Bubbly tastings photo. Domaine Carneros was packed! Especially packed inside since it was largely too hot to sit outside comfortably (and your wine warms up too quickly). Also tasted was a very value-priced pinot noir.
Bubbly photo tech specs: EOS 40D, Canon EF 16-35 2.8L at 35mm, ISO 400, 1/30 f/5.6, pattern metering. Server: Dean.
They say they "come in threes" and this week three celebrities passed away: Ed McMahon, Farah Fawcett, and Michael Jackson (born Aug. 1958 in Indiana, same as yours truly).
Jeffrey Mayo pouring the bubbly.
Mayo Family Winery, at their Glen Ellen location in Sonoma Valley, threw a members party of "Champagne and Oysters". Two of us got in free, I paid $10 since I can handle the most (outweigh each member of our party by more than 60 lbs.). A few weeks ago when we had the Zinfandel blind tasting judging party next door at Dave & Heather's, the Mayo Zin took first place among the six bottles. At this event Mayo was tasting the new release of the Ricci Vineyard Zin and it tasted a LOT better than the "Barnstormer" Zin (50% from Ricci) we judged--I can hardly wait!
Our nice picnic setup -- was good to get there early (at noon).
Sutro ruins from on high.
I finally visited these ruins at Lands End on the far western S.F. Pacific coast. Also visited was a moving visit at the USS S.F. Memorial -- a large destroyer that played a key role at Guadalcanal, 11/13/1942, in winning the War in the Pacific against the Japanese.
At the right: the famous Cliff House sits above the Sutro ruins. Sutro baths were burned "accidentally" down during demolition in 1966. The Cliff House burned down approx. 1910 and of course rebuilt.
Fishermen omnipresent at this locale. The Sutro baths/Swimming Pools were opened to the public in 1896. Mayor Adolph Sutro was responsible for getting this done.
At the right: Tunnel bored through the cliffs at the ruins -- caution, slippery!
Lands End is also at the Seal Rocks (in the photos above). Many ships have wrecked here and now rest underwater.
Another photo looking south on the ruins.
Cruising out the Golden Gate --
Photo: SEA PRINCESS Cruise Ship (856' length, 77K tons) sailing out the Golden Gate on a pleasant Saturday afternoon; photo from
high atop Hawk Hill in the Marin Headlands.
Canon EOS 40D, 16-35 2.8L lens at 26mm, 1/200, f/13, ISO 200, 4:50 p.m. with Superb light and clear air.
The Toronado at right.
Brews pictured are Lindemans Framboise, Chimay Trippel, Russian River Blind Pig IPA, and Bear Republic Racer 5 IPA.
CAPRICA promo poster just released. This show will be on SciFi channel in September (I think), else Jan. 2010?
"Caprica is a television series set in the fictional Battlestar Galactica universe. Beginning 58 years before the events seen in Battlestar Galactica, Caprica tells the story of how Colonial humanity first created the robotic Cybernetic Lifeform Nodes or Cylons, who would later plot to destroy human civilization in retaliation for their enslavement."
There I am now: www.facebook.com/westcoastken
So far this is one of the strangest June weather months in the Bay Area in many a year. Overcast clouds with light rain off and on all month so far. We were out of town on Memorial Day weekend but by all reports it was freezing here then. For sure, I am not a fan of hot weather--anything over 80F degrees--but, it's been silly the weather here lately. I look forward to getting my road bike back Friday and test riding it over the weekend (basically testing myself and the strength, flexibility, and mobility of my right hand healing up).
Yesterday evening enjoyed tasting (v. small tastes poured) Russian Hill pinot noir at Rick's Wine Cellar. Heather & David also joined me there. (shot in Raw mode, ISO 1600, no flash) After the Russian Hill we split two half-bottles of Consilience Santa Barbara and Merry Edwards Russian River Vly pinots (photo). Right: wine tasting Tuesday evening - Rick's.
New TV shows or seasons of Top Interest:
NURSE JACKIE on Showtime. A brand new show, which premiered earlier this week looks promising. Edie Falco plays a very twisted, cheating, & addicted nurse in the E.R.
WEEDS season X also this week on Showtime. Have they already, or will they jump the shark this season? Tune in I guess, I am.
MAD MEN on AMC, season three starts Aug. 16! Finally, season two of TRUE BLOOD begins Sunday (HBO). Season one was fun! Cajun coon-ass vampires in Louisiana piney woods bayou country.
MAP - today's hike -- trail map is from the book HIKING MARIN, Don & Kay Martin, 2nd ed. (c) 1999.
Step by step instructions guide for this hike.
This was 3.5 hours long and 9 miles, maybe 9.1. Right - myself standing on Eldridge Grade near its top, above Bon Tempe Lake. [Last year we hiked up Eldridge]
It costs $7 to enter the area -- MMWD's Sky Oaks Watershed Headquarters. Pay at the ranger station entrance kiosk (takes credit cards) then drive another mile-plus to the parking lot next the lake and along a nice picnic area with running water and facilities. The hike starts around the lake and below Pilot Knob hill. You take the Lakeview fire road to the junction up at Eldridge Grade fire road. It's steep in parts getting to Eldridge and there were a lot of mountain bikers climbing up this morning. It's a nice walk up Eldridge, about 3 miles to the top with stunning views to the north and east.
Left - hike up Lakeview F.R., Mt. Tam summit in the distance (our midpoint for this hike).
SIDE BAR: I've mtn-biked Eldridge many times, first time only was back in 1996 from the Oacis building (next to the Rowing Club) in Greenbrae, thru Ross, via Phoenix Lake to Eldridge, to top of Tam and back down that jarring descent -- I borrowed a friend's bike -- hell of a first mtn bike journey for me!
Right - view east to the I-580 Richmond-San Rafael Bridge from Eldridge (85mm f/1.8 lens).
Back to today's hike--Indian F.R.
Left - pausing on Eldridge, view is to the north.
It was a pretty warm morning hiking this loop -- even though we started at 8:45 a.m. it was warm due to the total lack of fog and just a slight breeze. Overall, this route is more shaded than exposed and offers many wonderful views as I said. Some of the junctions with multiple trails can get tricky if you're not completely on the ball -- especially the many-way junction at Collier Springs below Middle Peak. There are three ways down and out of there and you must take the middle path (Lower Northside Tr.). Some day we'll do the Collier Tr. down -- the direct path to Lake Lagunitas for more of a thrill ride. Anyone else? Email me.
Official, updated Tour de France route map just released... Mt. Ventoux, stage 20, the penultimate stage -- insane this year!
BREAKING BAD -- season 2 on AMC cable just ended the other night. Best show on TV, easily. Too bad so few discriminating viewers caught it. If you love most or all of these Top shows you should appreciate Breaking Bad: The Sopranos, Dexter, Weeds, The Shield, Battlestar Galactica, True Blood, Mad Men, and most especially, The Wire. (I'd throw in The Tudors, Californication, and Entourage, love 'em, but rather askew from the B.B. vibe.) [B.B. official site] [Save Walter White] AMC TV is on Comcast HD at channel 769. Mad Men season three starts there in August. DirecTV does not get AMC HD.
I am representin' 93 Facebook friends now. Wow. Humbled. I am also officially YELP.COM reviewing now -- my first two reviews were posted for Rick's Wine Cellar (Corte Madera) and Aziza restaurant (S.F.).
My right hand is getting much better: more flexibility in the fingers, the hand itself (2nd metacarpal), as well as the wrist. I can almost make a complete, loose fist.
Still a lot of tightness, but not bad after 9 days out of the cast.
My left cheekbone (the ZMC Fx) is doing much better too -- I am about 80% fixed there and eating normal food with hardly any painful resistance.
Left photo - the main passenger deck of the new (to the GG Ferry Fleet) Napa ferry -- it's a fast boat, a catamaran diesel powered that just replaced the 30-year-old Del Norte workhorse last week.
MAP - today's hike -- from the book HIKING MARIN, Don & Kay Martin, 2nd ed. (c) 1999.
Step by step instructions guide for this hike.
Right - the trail in the marine layer of fog, elevation 1320 ft. This is at the top of Firtop hill on the Stewart Trail leading to Greenpicker. This hike was a good 7.5 miles; we did in under 2 hrs. 40 mins. at a moderate pace. Saw more horses than hikers on all of the trails. In some areas of the mature, old growth Douglas Fir forest, the fog condenses on the trees and it comes down as very light rain. Trails can be pretty muddy in those locations. We also passed some birders a couple times; they were equipped with tripods, cameras, and binoculars. the Greenpicker trail - the first half (below Firtop) especially is a strange one, and still appears pretty raw for long stretches. Many newly cut down trees are along it -- probably felled in the past several months I'd guess. The trail still a work in progress. I'll post photos of what I mean, see below.
Right - our Olema Valley hike map, outlined, from the large National Seashore publication. Photo at Left - men on horses on the Stewart Trail at the Firtop Meadow. Trail descends here as it enters the fog. About a quarter mile down this trail road we took a right and started the Greenpicker Tr. for the next 2.3 miles.
Greenpicker Trail photos. Left and right.
"...Over the winter [Dec. 2008], an old logging road that was part of Greenpicker Trail was torn up and the trail was partially rerouted. Greenpicker starts at the end of Stewart Trail, which is about a mile from Five Brooks Ranch. It is a designated wilderness, but despite prohibitions to operate heavy machinery in such areas, park staff determined that the long-term benefits of removing the road justified the short-term disturbance. The backhoe work is complete and the trail should be reopened this spring [April 2009]." -- Complete Article here from the Point Reyes Light.
4:30 p.m. was the wine judging kick-off -- CHEERS!
The Six Zins and ranked -- these Six wines were judged and we had a clear winner as you can see. We discovered the winner by tallying up our votes, shortly after 7 p.m. This was a totally blind contest--maximum points were 200 (25 points per wine person times 8 people) per wine (200 is an impossible score, even 190 is probably not in the realm of the actual). The winner, however, scored very well at 160 points.
Three gals with the empty Zins -- Cindy, Linda, & Grace.
We had plenty of food -- snacks to soak everything up -- crackers and cheeses especially. All the wine bottles had their neck labels removed and were decorked in the dark so no one knew what bottle was being tasted. Then each bottle stayed n a brown paper sack with a letter "A" thru F on each. We passed through each bottle twice and scored on a five 5-point scaling system for each wine: Appearance, Aroma, Body, Taste, and Finish. A perfect score from one judge would then be 25 points. Some wines by some judges didn't even score ten points while the highest score was 22 points for a certain wine.
Scores: 160 - Mayo 2006 Russian River Vly "The Barnstormer" 145 - Ridge 2004 Paso Robles, Dusi Ranch 142 - St. Francis 2005 Old Vines, Sonoma Valley, Pagani 130 - Wilson 2006 Dry Creek Valley "Tori" 102 - Little Vineyards 2006 Sonoma Valley 92 - Williams Selyem 2004 Russian River ValleyJudging Table in full swing.
We stayed at the Venteux Vineyards B&B in Templeton, on Las Tablas Rd.
The closest winery tasting room to here is Turley, barely a mile down the road.
Venteux has their own (new) tasting room managed by Bobbi, while her husband Scott takes care of the vineyards and wine making.
If you want a fun, pleasant, comfortable, friendly (and excellent breakfasts) stay with a gorgeous porch, Venteux's B&B is HIGHLY recommended (and their
wines rate with any of the top Rhone varietal wineries in Paso -- especially the mourvedre, grenache, and red blends).
Photo at left: Venteux in the morning fog in the Templeton Gap region -- by approx. 10 a.m. each morning the fog burned off to clear blue skies.
It's just over a 230-mile drive south for us from San Rafael to just south and west of Paso and easy access to the wine country. It was fun to stop off at our first, Terry Hoage Vineyards. We also visited Hoage last year (photo top right is at Hoage).
[Click here for my Paso 2008 trip report blog entry. Click here for my Paso 2007 trip report blog entry. I am organized.] We visited Hoage again because last year's was fun & tasty. Terry was there again in person, and his defensive-minded, NFL-themed wine names are very good on the palate. Next was the nearby Windward Vineyard winery, famous for their pinot noir (and nice pinot glasses). It's a dusty, white rocky road drive from Hoage to Windward. At the right: Windward tasting bar photo.
At the left: Turley wine tasting photo.
Next was Turley to taste their Zins (always top of the list quality, photo at the left) and finally Venteux and check-in there,
with a wine & cheese get together on their porch.
We had dinner at Berry Hill Bistro (we were still hungry!), downtown Paso, because the Downtown Brewing Co. seemed too chaotic and disorderly--I am sure the beer there is excellent.
What a fun first day!
Saturday - Caliza, Booker, Jack Creek, Denner, Jada, and Calcareous; dinner in Templeton at McPhee's Grill (never miss 'em). Denner is nearing completion of their impressive, large COMUS (members) only clubhouse with private tasting room. Jada was packed -- their wine & cheese pairings attract a lot of people to a winery that's been open only 53 weeks--good for them! The views at Calcareous are tops anywhere -- high above the valley and they too feature a new, large tasting room. We were last there two years ago so it was fun to experience the wine vibe in such a cool new building. It's obvious that lots of money being spent in Paso on architectural infrastructure. The economy benefits from such direct, private enterprise investments, not having to ask taxpayers (you!) for bail outs.
Caliza Winery was our first stop of the day -- I had heard a lot of good stuff about them (David Martin's visit being one) and looked forward to our first visit there. We spoke with Carl Bowker there (photo at right - Carl & Cindy) -- he's basically on stage one of a 5-stage plan for Caliza. His syrah was outstanding -- in fact we tasted three reds all superb. (nearby on Anderson Rd. is a huge new winery complex being built -- Niner Wines -- I think their business model is going to be closer to pure volume rather than quality) So far it appears that Carl has a good start with Caliza's top notch tasting room (he also sells a little olive oil there, we bought a small 110 ml 'sampler' bottle for $6.).
Next door to Caliza is Booker Vineyard winery, who was doing a thriving business. Nice to see too Eric Jensen giving a small tour -- he's their co-owner/wine maker ("It takes a lot of beer to make good wine", an expression I overheard this weekend). We visited Booker last year for the first time, I didn't remember it too clearly then EXCEPT FOR the top notch reds we tasted. Only took one single photo there in 2008. Was distracted! Booker's Rhone reds, especially their syrah, are of the highest quality. Booker photos below:
Back to the business at hand -- Booker and Caliza are the current new "stars" of the region. Paso Robles is an official AVA which is located in SLO (San Luis Obispo County). There's an eastside and a westside. The westside is hilly and calcareous -- limestone dominates the soil -- hence the many fine names: Calcareous, Linne Calodo, Caliza... Last year Jada was the star along with Booker. In my opinion this notoriety is well deserved and seems to harken back to huge influences from Denner (vineyards and facilities) and Linne (style). Turley's on their own due to their focus on Zinfandel. All the new stars are Rhone Rangers and associated prices of $50/bottle and up are not slowing down, alas!
Sunday - Linne Calodo, Villa Creek, Alta Colina, Chronic, and Edward Sellers; dinner at Thomas Hill Organics (pizza!).
(Villa Creek wines, photo at left) Villa, Alta, and Chronic were brand new to us. Linne's new construction is nearly complete -- my guess, they've 8-times sized their original square footage with some impressive wooden buildings. Any day or month now that new campus will be complete. Ed Sellers' downtown location is very convenient and only a block away from Thomas Hill Organics for food & dining (pizza!). Also -- what's a trip out here without a stop at Pasolivo for olive oil tasting?
[Villa Creek wine flight photo] Going back to today's agenda -- Alta Colina was founded and being run by a retired H.P. engineer. He has 31 acres planted and sells most of his grapes.
(Linne Calodo winery photos, left and right)
Motion Blur at the bar: exposure of 1.6 seconds, f/16, ISO 200, 16-35 lens at 16mm (EOS 40D camera). $10/person to taste, but free for their 'LC Experience' members (like us). Linne's Website]
There is not enough time to visit all of the best wineries in Paso in just a few days -- there are close to 140 wineries here, nearly all of them open to the public. You need to focus and make a list and see which 20 or so wineries fit your style then plan your order of visit. There are so many Web resources that can be found to help guide you, including I hope, my honest impressions in this here "photo" blog. CHEERS!
MAP - today's hike --
Beautiful views this VERY hot morning! (My camera battery though died early on my little point & shoot camera, darn it.
It's still too much to carry & operate my normal pro DSLR as I cannot handle it L-handed only.)
Right - Dipsea steps begin above Old Mill Park at Cascade Way (off of the narrow Cascade Ave.).
Left - myself about to start the 600+ steps to the top. Many people work out and train on these crucial steps which represent the first mile of the Dipsea Race held every year in June. It starts downtown Mill Valley, then to the Old Mill Park, and finishing at Stinson Beach - a hilly cross country trail romp of 7.5 miles. [Click for Course] This year's race is June 14, 8:30 a.m.
Right - Dipsea sign on side of the house.
Left - top, steps end at Edgewood Ave. If there really are 672 steps total then I did 65 steps/minute -- 9:02:45 a.m. to 9:12:57 a.m. (pretty much exact timing).
Right - View and last shot of the day, battery died. The Dipsea Trail resumes here after crossing the Panoramic Hwy above Muir Woods. From here it's a nice hike full of top views, past the Tourist Club, and to the halfway point at the Mountain Home Inn.
Web sites: [Nature Friends Tourist Club] [The Mountain Home Inn]
MAP - today's hike -- Miwok Fire Trail is now closed (restoration purposes seemingly) so we had to backtrack to get back down (through the strangely closed campgrounds which reopen May 21 -- they closed Apr. 21 for what reason?). This was Mothers Day and our moms had beautiful flowers delivered. This was a fairly easy hike -- I've mountain biked these trails here any many more (way difficult ones too) MANY many times since '98.
Wine Tasting today at four locales: Duckhorn, Dutch Henry, August Briggs, and Napa Wine Co.
At the left - Cindy inside Dutch Henry's relatively new wine cave with barrels aging.
[cave photo 1/2 second, f/13 exposure, ISO 1600, EOS 40D] Since we are members of Goldeneye Direct (pinot!) we reserved our free primo tasting at Duckhorn (Cindy at right) for 1 PM. After Duckhorn we tasted at Dutch Henry and toured the cave, then some top wines at August Briggs (NASCAR related), and finally the varied tastings at the collective (grange) at Napa Wine Co. in tiny Oakville.
Crashed face first, Monday morning at 7:30 a.m. on the Golden Gate Bridge -- why? Solo crash, I lost memory of it approx 30-45 seconds before
the crash occurred. I woke up when ambulance EMTs attended to me, waking me up, and moving me from the
sidewalk onto the ambulance off to S.F. General Hospital. Wow!
Fracture to my face and right hand (seen here, left and right images). Most severe are the nondisplaced fractures of the ZMC (left side my face) and 2nd metacarpal (connects your index finger to your wrist). ZMC = "An acute, minimally displaced left zygomaticomaxillary complex (ZMC) maxillary fracture is identified, sparing of the left zygomatic arch, with blood in the left maxillary sinus. No other acute fractures. There is associated left premalar and periorbital soft tissue swelling."
I had nose bleeds for two days and lots of vicoden & ibuprofen the first five days. On May 11 I got a new purple, smaller cast on my right hand. May 26 I'll have that cast off and replaced by a removable splint for another two weeks. Face is healing up fine; still limited largely to soft foods though (5/15/09).
The bike is fine, just a couple extra scratches on it but I sure am getting tired of all this left handed only B.S.!
Left: two weeks after the crash (5/11) a new purple cast on my hand to isolate the 2nd metacarpal fracture.
There is an oblique fracture of the right second metacarpal, at the proximal metaphysis, with mild proximal retraction and radial angulation of the distal fracture fragment, with respect to the proximal. Triquetral fracture is seen [a much older injury]. S.F. General E.D. (Emergency Dept.) gave me a CD-ROM with all the X-ray and CT scan images and findings on it. Thanks!
Actual X-ray image at the right (including the LiveStrong bracelet!):
UPDATES: got seriously back on the bike a day short of seven weeks since this accident, June 14, for nearly two hours. I started my bike commute two days after that, June 16 (about 58 miles round-trip). I'll do that three times per work week. Good times!
Facial CT Scan - just in time for Terminator IV - Salvation Day"!
Final cost tally:
SF General Radiology... $860
Radiology Associates..... $40
SF General Emergency $5240 (8 a.m. - 3 p.m., or $750/hr.)
SFGH Med Group/Emergency $450
TOTAL................... $7830 !
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