#EAV11 - Return to California
Now in its 11th year, three of us - Tom Green, Doug Winnie and I - spent the Excellent Adventure (#EAV11 - look it up on Instagram and Twitter - it's a real thing, yo) once again in Sonoma County. This time there was a difference - our base of operations was Ranchero Del Bevo (Grande); the stunning mid-century escape that Doug and his husband recently purchased in Santa Rosa, California. I don't think I have the words to truly describe this beautiful home, but I'm pretty sure I've got some photos to do it justice.
I took this opportunity to make some images I had wanted to make for many years - long exposures of carnival rides. I further tempted fate by doing all of this handheld, no tripod.
Ranchero Del Bevo
Of course, we also spent a good deal of time at Doug's place - did I mention it is amazing? He and Mike are also owned by two gorgeous cats (I have cats, I know the deal). Rocket and Shadow were not too sure about the intruders to their castle at first, but eventually warmed up and graced us with their presence.
Russian River Winery
What started as a simple wine-tasting and lunch, expanded into an entire afternoon of conversation, laughter, wine appreciation, lunch and photo session. Russian River reminds me a lot of the ambiance of Ontario wineries - lots of character to the location and no one is pushing you out the door.
On the second last day of EAV11, we met mutual friends Patti and Michael Clawson in Walnut Creek for lunch. We had a wonderful time catching up over lunch at Va de Vie bistro, and then after hugs and a group photo, we went our different ways. The EAV team had to conquer Mount Diablo!
I have never, in my life, driven up so many switchbacks; not to mention that none of them even had a guard rail! Not a good road for night driving. But once again, the view was worth it.
Final Day of the Excellent Adventure - Petrified Forest and Korbel California Champagne Cellars
There's something about roadside attractions, sometimes corny, sometimes cliche, other times impressive and surprising. Like a "box of chocolates", you often never know just what you'll get. The Petrified Forest in Calistoga was a bit of everything. I admit my first thought of visiting the forest was, "It'll be cool to see all those stone tress standing up," but in that regard, I was disappointed. Not surprising, really when you realize that most of this forest was made up of massive redwoods - there's just no way they'd still be standing as stone giants. And if they were, I doubt the State of California would be letting visitors in. Just think of the lawsuits if one were to fall...
At any rate, it was an interesting little jaunt through the forest of long-dead, often moss-covered giants lying on the ground with red-barked Manzanita trees and Poison Oak peppering the landscape. Often we found ourselves walking on what I thought was poorly poured concrete, only to learn that the same ash that covered and killed the trees also coated the forest floor in a light grey coating, hardening over time.
Korbel Champagne Cellars
Yes, you read correctly. Korbel is one of the very few wineries outside of France that can actually use the word "Champagne" in its products without getting sued by France, all due to a loophole. The Korbel brothers began making champagne back in the 1880's, before the international laws protecting the brand of sparkling wine created in the French region of Champagne came into being. An agreement was struck between France and Korbel that they could continue to use the name Champagne, but it had to be in conjunction with the word "California". Hence, Korbel California Champagne.
The saw blades and "fairy-ring" Redwood tree you see below are symbols of what the Korbel brothers encountered when they first bought this land and decided to build a business; the land had to be cleared of the towering redwood trees to make way for the vineyards. With no power tools at their disposal, all the trees were cut down by hand, sometimes taking up to two weeks to take down a single tree.