When I was a kid, I only dreamed of a trip to California. I sat in my little TV-room in northwest Indiana, watching old movies and imagining Hollywood—that, to me, was what California was all about, that and Disney Land, which I only knew from watching The Wonderful World of Disney every Sunday evening. Then, after Husband and I had been married for about a year, we went to California to visit his family—his parents were living in Pasadena at the time, and they hosted a long-overdue reunion. I was 23 or so, but in an instant, I turned 10 and could hardly contain myself for all of the excitement. I'm pretty sure I literally skipped when we went places because the circumstances seemed to warrant something more festive than mere walking.
Since then, I've been to California so many times, I stopped counting, and most of the shine has worn off. But trips to San Francisco and to Berkeley to spend time with No. 1 remain a highlight. For New Years, we flew to San Francisco with the kid, who we sometimes call The First One, as Eustacia is sometimes called The Other One. We then went to Berkeley and relaxed for a while, trying to figure out how to eat vegetarian and still not be hungry and how to stay awake past 8:00 in the evening. The very next day, No. 1's spinning wheel arrived. We had given it to her for Christmas and then promptly shipped it to Berkeley to arrive in time for her to assemble it before the New Year. She did, and here she is trying it out on some fiber:
Later that day, we drove an hour or so north to Sonoma to spend a couple of days at the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn and Spa. It's one of our favorite places, and I highly recommend it. It ain't cheap, but the atmosphere and service and food makes the splurge well worth it. I don't have reasonable photos of the place to show you because you can get those from the website, but here is the scene we viewed every time we walked from the main lobby to our suite—it gives you the feeling of welcomed seclusion, walking over a babbling creek with tall trees on either side. Just lovely. We had fires in our fire place—with actual wood burning—and restful naps and complimentary champagne.
And we visited a couple of wineries. Again, I don't have reasonable photos of the places, but the best stop of the trip was the Robledo Family Winery. It's a small place with unpretentious buildings because the wine is the thing, not the structure. The place is run by the Robledo family—Mr. Robledo came to California from Mexico when he was 16. He was a migrant worker, learning everything he could learn about vineyards and wine making. He saved his money and worked as hard as he could, and now, with his wife and nine children, he owns his own winery and has been visited by both President Obama and Felipe Calderón, the president of Mexico. Every variety we sampled was wonderful, and we ended up joining their wine club before walking out the door. Here is Husband and No. 1 with the Robledo vineyards behind them: