Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Californication Part 3: Napa

Napa trips have become a family tradition. For the past few years we’ve gone to Northern California in late summer or early fall for wine tasting, fine dining and relaxation. Of course there have been some moments of bickering – My family is very much like a dysfunctional but extremely loving Brady Bunch – but overall any time spent together is fun and full of love. What’s great about our crew is that we actually like each other. Which is lucky considering we’ve survived divorce, remarriage et al. I feel extremely fortunate to have my amazing non-nuclear, and growing, family. 
And speaking of feeling fortunate, this year’s Napa visit had extra special meaning: We were celebrating the 10-year anniversary of my Dad’s stroke. A “stroke-aversary,” if you will. Ten years ago on August 11, out of the blue, my Dad suffered a massive stroke. In layman’s terms: He randomly contracted a rare infection in his blood that caused a blood clot and ultimately a stroke. He had to undergo months of rehabilitation but fortunately he was OK physically. One side of his body feels a bit numb sometimes, but he can do all the important stuff like play golf, dance his crazy dance moves and, soon, walk me down the aisle. He does have aphasia, which makes communicating a lot harder than pre-stroke. He’s a brilliant doctor who still maintains his extensive medical (and general) knowledge, but it takes some extra time to process information and communicate his thoughts. Initially after the stroke my Dad couldn’t say his own name. He eventually relearned his entire vocabulary, starting with some curse words thanks to my stepbrother Brandt. Anyway he’s doing remarkably well and there was (is) definitely cause for celebration. My Dad now calls August 11 his birthday – and this year he turned 10.
My family believes in celebrating the good stuff, and Napa is one of our favorite spots to celebrate – so much so that Justin and I have decided to plan Napa nuptials. But first thing's first; a recap of this past trip:
We drove some more along the precarious PCH from Big Sur to Napa – but I admit the views were worth my having a bit of angst. See below.

Side note: People in California pull over along the roads to take in the views. There are outlooks carved out for just this purpose: pure appreciation of beauty. I can’t imagine this happens much on the East coast… But I really value the idea of taking a moment to really be in the moment and stop and smell the roses (or salt water).
We stopped in Carmel for lunch. We didn’t spend much time there but the town seemed adorable. Next we took a wedding-venue-hunt detour before meeting my family for our annual Napa adventure. 
This trip we tasted at a few old standbys (Caymus, Duckhorn and Stagecoach) along with a few new gems (Krutz, Paul Hobbs, Rafanelli and Ridge). We also visited extended family (my Grandpa’s cousin and his wife) that live in Healdsburg on a gorgeous vineyard. And we ate at some delicious restaurants (Brix, Farm, Redd Wood) and got sandwiches from Soda Canyon Store – the cutest old-town feeling general store (stocked with top quality wine, of course).
Overall the stay was a delicious celebration. And I’m looking forward to going back again soon to plan our wedding! I’m so excited to be celebrating there once again with even more friends and family.



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