It was decided before we left that I was going to be the designated driver at the end of the day as I was officially the only one of the five of us who's not a huge wine connoisseur. Perfectly fine by me. We took a scenic route through San Francisco as our plans to see it on Monday have changed (where the Red Bull Flugtag was going on, don't ask, I have no idea and neither really did Mark who was embarrassed to bring it up in the first place), and then finally got on the road. We stopped at a little gourmet grocery and picked up bread, cheese, and olives to have for lunch, and then made our first stop at Beringer. This was strictly for the tour as they go through the tunnels and such. One step inside, and I totally disappeared from the tour inside my head and started wondering how in hell I could get a fic set primarily in wine tunnels.
This might be weird, but I've always loved small, dark, enclosed spaces. As a kid, I routinely hid underneath any piece of furniture that would let me, or in the back of closets, and while I can't stand the sense of being suffocated when spaces are too small, things like the tunnels send me into heaven. The scent of wine in the air---kind of like me and coffee, absolutely adore the smell, very ho-hum on the taste---the cool temperature, the ambience of the stone and the wooden casks...god, I'm getting goosebumps just thinking about it. And all this revelation is going to sound even weirder in conjunction with hearing about the next part of our day.
Next was Sterling, mainly for the view and the ride up the hill, and because Mark is a club member which means we got to go into the special club room for private tastings. Did I mention the view? :) The most phenomenal I've seen in absolutely forever. I just stood there looking out over the fields and mountains for nearly fifteen minutes and very easily could've stayed there until it was time to go.
Which brings me to one of the reasons I'm chomping at the bit to make this move happen now. Outside of Michigan where I grew up (and that's more about nostalgia than anything else), there are few places that get to me on a visceral level when I see it---Scotland, primarily the Highlands; Greece, both the mountains along the coast and Athens; and now Northern California. The common denominator? The mountains. I never really realized it before this trip. Coming in for our landing, I was treated with magnificent views of the mountains before we touched ground, and just seeing them in the distance here and then up close and personal when we've been out and about, has excited me in a way that hasn't happened since the last time I saw Scotland or Greece. It's almost a sense of coming home, and I'm convinced is one of the reasons I'm much happier about this potential move.
Anyway, back to my day...I took it easy on the tasting, Craig bought 4 bottles of wine for us to take back for Christmas this year, and I started the drive back to Palo Alto (where we're staying). It was decided that we'd eat at the Outback that we saw in Marin/Sausalito, so when we got reasonably close, Mark called ahead and got our name on the list. Of course, nobody was certain which exit it was at, so it meant asking the guys to keep an eagle eye out for it, and then I was the one who eventually spotted it anyway. Oh well. But after we arrived, we still had to wait almost an hour just to get seated, simply because they were severely understaffed. It was a nice meal, though, and Craig decided he was sober enough at that point (since it was 4 hours since our tasting) to finish driving back. I fell asleep in the car at that point, and next thing I know, Craig is dragging me upstairs where I promptly crash.
All in all, a wonderful day, and one I can't wait to repeat.
Today is shopping, taking Andy to the airport, and having a barbecue at Mark's, so again, I'm unsure about the Voiceschapter. I'm really, really hoping to get it up before I leave on Tuesday, but I'll keep people updated as to how that goes. evenstar_estel made a gorgeous pic for it that I plan on putting up and pimping when I post the next chapter (as well as pimping her other stuff, god she amazes me), too.
And kallysten? I'm so totally blaming you for the insane desire to write a Spuffy babyfic. ;) Between the ideas for that and the wine tunnels, my head has been totally distracted from the two stories I've got on the board already. It's a good thing I haven't been near a computer so at least I can blame the lack of progress on Voices and Rook on real life than that. :)
And totally silly and OT, but I'm all squee!! now because I finally got my Clay Aiken CD yesterday. Go ahead, flame me. I don't care. Me likes Clay. Me lurves Clay's voice. Me is in heaven for getting this CD. :)