(Somehow I skipped posting this one a couple of weeks ago -- I'm sure someone was crying or pulling on me or I maybe I just got up to pour more coffee and forgot to post.)
This once a month posting thing I'm doing is just garbage, I know. When I started this blog, I intended to post weekly, but life has gotten in the way of my blogging about life. I'm going to stop beating myself up about this and hope my children will forgive my lack of documentation about their little lives. I'm the youngest of four, so you can imagine how much my parents worried over writing down every little thing I did. Seriously, they only have like 7 photos of my childhood and a few things scribbled in a pink baby book, but I have somehow managed to live a normal life without hating my parents.
So, anywho, the Darby family is still recovering from a looong trip -- but a trip that has been one of my favorites. We packed way more than necessary into 10 days but somehow never felt too rushed. We drove to Memphis then to my hometown of Corinth, Mississippi . . . then to my college town of Oxford, Mississippi . . . and back to Corinth and then to Memphis . . . and then back to Corinth . . .
. . . okay, you can take a break here if you need to and scroll down to look at pics or use the bathroom . . .
. . . and then Clint and I caught a plane to California ALL BY OURSELVES (woo hoo!!!!!!!!!!!) and drove to Pebble Beach and after a few days to Calistoga in Napa Valley . . .AND THEN flew back to Memphis and FINALLY drove back home to Chicago. I just got out of breath typing all of that.
Running around barefoot in the Darby's backyard. Being barefoot outdoors is so foreign to my children. In the city they would surely contract some sort of disease that would cause their toes to turn green.
Super Mimi!! Her new fave pose.
Fun at Bebe's house.
Mimi and her sweet cousin Anderson.
Mack had so much to tell Top. "Abba do? Dubba dubba dubba. Ha ha ha ha ha!!!"
Mack's favorite toy.
Like a little boy in a candy store.
No golf for this girl.
I had no idea how cute this town would be. There was a film festival going on while we were there, and I stared and squinted and craned my neck but saw no one who look remotely famous and fabulous. Well, lots of fabulous but not famous.
On our way out of Pebble, I made Clint stop in Carmel so we could eat brunch at a place that looked like this:
That served coffee on a tray like this:
And had French toast that was oh so divine . . .
It was in the 60's and a little drizzly (is that a word?) in Pebble Beach, but I was blown away by how wonderful the wood burning fireplace in our room made me not seem to care so much about that.
And then came my favorite part of the trip. This.
Drop. Dead. Gorgeous.
Just to prove I was here and I didn't steal the photos from Wikipedia.
This one makes me roll my eyes. Looking to the south while brushing my hair out of my eyes and wearing boots on a beach. Whatever, Jeri Anne.
My handsome husband . . .
After getting many fabulous recommendations, we were able to plan a very successful day in Napa Valley. The last time we visited I was about 30 weeks pregnant and would have been happy eating and watching TV in the hotel. Oh wait, that's what I did. Because of that, I wanted to make this trip awesome, which we did. I like reds like Cabernet Sauvignon the best (Napa is the perfect place) but can definitely appreciate most other reds along with Sauvignon Blanc. I know that soil and humidity and temperature are factors, but I really don't get it and don't really care. I just want something yummy to eat with frozen pizza, so if you're as dumb as I am about being a wine snob and about this area then feel free to steal some of my suggestions.
A Dummy's Guide to Napa Valley (by another dummy):
1. Stay in a really cool bed and breakfast or old hotel in a neat area. We stayed at Mount View in Calistoga -- the area that is at the top of the valley with the best views. The hotel was quaint and comfortable, which was all we wanted. Next time I would like to stay in St. Helena, which was also my favorite place on our last visit, because it has the cutest shops and restaurants.
2. Use a driver or shuttle service and share the cost with friends. The drivers can give good recommendations on wineries and on the order of visiting them that makes the most sense. Do not gripe about the costs -- no one needs to drive after tasting wine. If the weather is nice, bikes may be fun but even though cops don't give DUI's to bikers, it might not be the safest idea.
If you don't have a driver, then who else will take a goofy touristy photo such as this?
3. Try to get suggestions for a winery that is educational, one that has pretty views, one with laid-back and friendly people, and of course some that have really tasty wine.
These are the ones we visited:
Sterling -- I do recommend visiting this one FIRST. Visitors take a really cool tram up the mountain to the winery, and the line can get really long early.
Our buddies on the tram with us.
We also visited Frank Family -- Clint's VERY favorite wine (and one of mine, too). Definitely recommend this place.
I also recommend Conn Creek, where you can actually make your own wine. There is a room in the back that I totally snuck into that looks like this:
You can taste all the wines and then make your own tasty blend. They had one of their own that was called Anthropology (I think) that consisted of about 9 different types of grapes that is oh so yummy.
Twomey was started by the same folks who have Silver Oak, which was also good but a little pretentious at the moment we were there. Maybe it was the group of overdressed women with way too much make-up and big hair and crazy tall skinny heels that turned me off. So the wine was good but those women were obnoxious.
Our last visit was at Peju, and I'm so glad we visited this one at the end. We were exhausted and everything started tasting the same, but we had a few minutes left before it closed -- so why not? The guy telling us about the wines was also, get this, a rapper. Hilarious. So glad he busted out some cheesy rhymes about his wines. Loved, loved, loved him. Peju has a wine that is a mix of red and wine that would be so, so yummy with Thanksgiving turkey.
The only one we skipped that I really wanted to visit was Cakebread. But there's always next time, right?
Check out Taylor's Refresher for another fantastic burger during lunch if you can handle the lines. We hit this place in both Napa AND San Fran the last time we visited, so, yes, it's awesome.
Several people recommended Auberge de Soleil and the Culinary Institute.