Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Vacation update~~Lodi Review, wine and yard sales~~~

Well Darklings, I have a lot to post~~~

The beauty about laptops is they are much like a portable typewriter that the war correspondents used during World War II, Korea and Vietnam, now with a laptop and flash drives you can get the story out quicker or save it till one returns to home base.

So while I have a chance this morning I’m going to post a lot of “posts.”

Starting with this one~~~~

If you live in the Bay Area, do not discount Lodi as a place to get wines, I was very pleasantly surprised by the variety and quality of their wines. Of course if you go down the main drag all you see are just box stores and strip malls, but I did some serious research and found that they have an “Old Town Lodi” and wonderful one of a kind shops.

I love cheeses, but I have to be careful as sometimes too much cheese can cause problems, and as an Elder/Elderly Goth I know that problem all too well, but if you can go to Cheese Central on School Street you will not be disappointed. Now I happen to purchase some of their cheeses at the Thursday evening Farmers Market and they have fabulous jams and jellies. Another Shop in Lodi that I heard mentioned on “Eye on the Bay” is the Sea Salt Cottage, and it is as fabulous as they said.

I enjoyed lunch at the Dancing Fox Winery and Bakery, and went back on my last day before I returned home to get some bakery goods, which I know will last for several days. Just Heaven is the best way to describe it. Although some people said that their lunch was a “mixed-bag” in quality I felt that my lunch was quite good.

On the wines, I’ll leave that to your own choosing but I have to say I was not disappointed with the selection from D’Art Wines. Just excellent. There are many wineries in the area, and I recommend that you take just a week at least to enjoy the wine tasting rooms, but be prepared to have a very nice place to stay so you are not driving in an inebriated state.

I splurged and stayed for 4 nights at the Wine & Roses Hotel, it is a Hotel, Spa and Restaurant, a lovely romantic place for romantic couples, but not good for children---in that case take the kiddies to Disneyland. It was relaxing, pampering and well worth the big bucks that I spent there. On the Spa I went for the Wine & Roses Ultimate Treatment, the only thing that could equal it are the treatments at the Claremont Hotel and Spa…Ahhhhh Heaven.

For the remaining 3 nights I spent in Lodi I stayed at the Hampton Inn on Beckman Rd, don’t let the location put you off, it was very nice there, and priced very reasonably. And if you have children it is child friendly. Check out Trip Advisor for other places to stay.

There are in Lodi at least two child fun places, one of them is a science museum and the other is a small children’s amusement park perfect for the really little ones, check Lodi’s web site for more information.

While I was in Lodi at one of the wine tastings I met up with a young lady (well anyone under the age of 50 is young to me, but she was in her early 30’s) who is studying to be a Sommelier, not an easy thing to do as I understand it, having read a news article in a local paper. Her knowledge of wines was, in my opinion, amazing, but she said that she is not yet good enough to be considered a master at it.

I told her about my “middle class” wine purchases and she said that for California wines in my price range they were good choices, she did recommend a few to me that although more expensive I should treat myself to at least once in my life. Something I’m going to have to save up for.

I asked her what she was partial to and she said she had a weakness for the Portuguese Dry red wines and the Southern Italian Reds as well, she felt that the French wines could be “finicky” which was her word for it, but she was still tracking down a French red wine she felt good with. She still had not determined which of the white wines would be her favorite.

She was very into the history of the different wineries both here and in Europe and told me that if California had not rescued the French vines when France had that dreaded moth invasion many of our fine varietals would have been lost forever, she felt that France really doesn’t give California enough credit for having saved the wine industry. She also is studying California and other wines made here in the United States and said that we can sometimes be surprised by what can turn up.

Because we wanted to continue our conversation she joined me as my guest back at Wine & Roses for Dinner and we had a marvelous conversation over the wonderful food that was served, about the twists and turns in our lives, she agreed with me that we may not live the life that we want but we do live the life that we need to live.

We exchanged business cards and e-mails and made plans to get together in the latter part of October at an Oktoberfest she recommended and told me to bring Doyle as well.

I had so much fun at the Thursday Farmer’s Market in Lodi, and it is so interesting to see the differences in produce that each Farmer’s Market carries in various areas. I had fun making what I call “pantry purchases” of spices, jams, preserves and such that I will enjoy stocking my pantry with.

But home again, home again on Saturday so I would have had at least Sunday to do my laundry and get everything ready for work on Monday. But even on Saturday I had a chance to stop at a Yard Sale---yes Darklings, maybe I should put a banner on the back of my car that says “I brake for all funerals, cemeteries and Yard Sales”, and this one was a delight to check out.

I found a wonderful incense burner in a type of bronze of an Indian chief with a peace pipe, sitting on a blanket, the chief and the blanket are two parts with the blanket (also made of metal) to hold cone incense and then you place the chief over it and it looks like he’s blowing smoke and smoke coming out of the pipe as well. I determined that the style was from the late ‘teens to 1920’s when such things were very popular.

I also found several 1920’s fortune telling decks, and a peculiar looking tarot deck, it was only the major arcana but the designs were from the 1920’s but with the faces of skulls. I thought these decks would look good in my cabinet of curiosities in my library.

It turned out that the yard sale was really an estate sale, an elderly relative had died and I found a darling sugar and creamer in the darkest blue color I have ever seen right from the 1940’s, and a dark grey handbag from I. Magnin’s of San Francisco from the 1950’s which will go very well with my hat that I bought at the Vintage Fashion Fair a few days before I left for Lodi.

There were other things as well that I purchased, some period costume jewelry, and other things, and then I had to leave, since I knew I would be driving west and towards the setting sun, I wanted to leave before the sun was so low that it would be in my eyes while driving, not a good thing really, especially as one gets closer to the insanity of driving in the Bay Area.

If there is one thing I learned Darklings is this, if you are driving East in the early morning the Morning Sun will be in your eyes but will rise higher and get out of your way, but driving east in the late afternoon is fine, but if you are driving West it’s better to do it in the early morning with the sun behind you as the late afternoon sun can be blinding. North or South is not a problem.

But I always make it a policy to never drive after 3 p.m. when I’m on a trip, it’s always better to find a place to stay, otherwise you’re heading into commute traffic or evening can quickly come upon you during the late fall and winter months especially in the mountains.

And then I was home, happily greeted by Doyle who helped me unpack my car, and put away my wines and panty supplies as I loaded a load of clothes into the washing machine and finished unpacked my bags and putting things away, Doyle later stored the suitcases away with cedar blocks in them to keep out moths and such.

We went to pick up my little Belladonna who was delirious to see me, with barks of “Mommy you found me, don’t leave me again”. My sitter told me that she and Belladonna got along fine but she did miss me. With that in mind I am more determined than ever to not leave Belladonna behind if at all possible.

Fortunately I did not have to make dinner either Saturday or Sunday as Doyle wanted to stretch out my vacation just a little more without having to worry about dinner preparations, also he wanted to celebrate as he had successfully concluded his part in the investigation and it was all turned over to lawyers. I told him about the Oktoberfest in October and he said he would make sure to have that time free.

So now I am putting together my lists of places and events, things to see and plan on. Already I’m feeling a tug to explore something strange and new but I’m going to have to wait and save up my money and plan. I know I want to go North again but this time further North, to drive through huge trees and see if I can spot Sasquatch, to see bizarre things and hear the roar of the ocean on the Northern Coast, sort of a touch of “Dark Shadows” in a way, find my own “Collinswood”. Who knows…..maybe find Barnabas Collins…..???

Later Darklings.

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