Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Cloverdale, California (June 9-June 14, 2012)

The nice thing about belonging to a large extended family is no matter where one travels you will be close to them. California is no exception. We have many cousins in California and we were hoping to be able to meet a lot of them, unfortunately though, several were not in town at the time we were there. Ken Berry (yes, the actor notable for F Troop and Mama's Family) was out of town on business and our cousin Cookie and her husband, Bob, were on a missionary posting in Bulgaria. Not to worry, though, we had a lot more family in the area and by the time we arrived in Cloverdale we had two family meetings already setup.

June 10, 2012

Our first family get together was with cousin Jack Berry and his family in Palo Cedro, CA so we were up bright and early to make the 200 mile trek north. The beautiful town of Palo Cedro is nestled at the very northwestern end of California's Central Valley, which transitions into the Cascade foothills and is in the shadows of Mt Shasta.

We arrived on time and were met by Jack and his wife, Thelma. After introductions to our new cousins we started to get ourselves more acquainted and began sharing stories of our ancestors. As more family arrived a huge, delicious lunch was being served. Yes, nothing like meeting family for the first time and sharing a meal together.  Thank you Jack and Thelma for a wonderful time and thanks to all of this branch of the Berry tree for being so kind, hospitable and caring. We will be looking forward to meeting with you all again.

The host and hostess, Jack (foreground right) and Thelma (foreground left).

A patio covered in Berrys

Mean Ole Jack...NOT! He is one of the kindest and endearing souls one could meet.

June 11, 2012

Today we had another family meet with more cousins. We picked up cousin Carolyn at her home and drove a short distance to the Redwood Cafe in San Rafael, CA. Shortly after arriving Carolyn's niece and, yes, another cousin of ours, Natalie came in.  It was great to see Carolyn again for we had been corresponding since the first time we met at a family reunion in 2007.

We all had a great lunch and even better conversation. Natalie had to depart early so Carolyn, Joyce and I remained and chatted for a while more. All too soon we took Carolyn back home and with many hugs we headed back to our boys at the RV park.

The rest of the afternoon was spent playing with the boys, enjoying a light dinner and watching the sunset over the vineyards.

June 12, 2012

Today we decided to continue our exploration of the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH).  We started by driving south on the 101 to Santa Rosa and taking CA SR 12-CA SR 116 to the PCH. Once out of the city limits of Santa Rosa the scenery became awesome.

Having lived on the east coast most of my life I have had the opportunity to travel the entire Atlantic coastline in segments. I will have to admit, the Pacific coastline is so much more scenic and less inhabited. I can see why people love it.

Reaching the PCH we turned north. Like most of the PCH the road is at the edge of the Coastal Mountain Range and the Pacific ocean offering stunning views and, sometimes, white knuckle driving. After about 80 miles and three hours on this stretch with no facilities what-so-ever, we decided to head back to our abode in Cloverdale.

We turned east onto CA SR 128.  This road took us through some amazing country, basically, following the Navarro River Valley and then into the Anderson Valley all the way back into Cloverdale. Along this route we encountered beautiful redwood forests, quaint ranch villages and just plain breath-taking scenery. The 60 mile/2 hour journey was exceptionally pleasant, but all four of us were tired and looked forward to returning home and resting.

Tomorrow, our last full day here, we decided to try a self-guided wine tasting tour. This should be interesting.

June 13, 2012

While watching the sunset the previous evening, a very nice couple who were in the RV park, gave us a short tutorial on wine tasting.  They, also, gave us a list of the local vineyards and what their specialties were. Since we were new to this we soaked in as much information as they could impart. Later on that evening we looked at the map and chose three vineyards to sample.

Our first stop was the Francis Ford Coppola Winery. We chose this for the name and the recommendation of our fellow RV travelers. They had a wide variety of different wines available, but most impressive was the museum honoring the five decade career of Francis Ford Coppola.

This is the original Tucker automobile which was used in Coppola's movie "Tucker: A Man and his Dreams".

The wine tasting room was huge (as was everything else about this place) and their selection was no different. We were surprised to see a small section of Inglenook wines and found that Coppola had owned that vineyard since 1975.

Wine tasting, so we were told, would cost between $5 and $7 dollars each and if wine was purchased the fee would be taken off the purchase price. So, with that in mind (always frugal) we began our wine tasting experience.

We had several types of wines to try and they were based on each of our preferences.  Joyce prefers the aromatic, light bodied white wines and I the full bodied red wines. We each tried the others selections and narrowed our choices down to two. Joyce found a light, fruity Moscato rosé and I a beautiful Pinot Noir. We chose these for we both liked their flavor and, yup, they refunded our wine tasting fee.  Life is good.

Feeling good about that experience we hit the wine trail again for the next vineyard on our list, The Trentadue Winery. Here the wine tasting was similar to our previous stop, but these wines, however, seemed to have a better flavor quality than the Coppola wines. Maybe because it was a smaller operation?  Don't know, but regardless, we enjoyed their wines and had a tough time choosing two. I chose a rich flavored Zinfandel, the Trentadue 2009 while choice leaned more toward a dessert wine. They had several ports and, after several more tastings, finalized them into two selections.  The first was a chocolate Port and the second a Viognier Port. After several more tastes she chose the Viognier. We had never had this kind of wine and we were very impressed. This is fun and can be very addictive.

 Our next and final stop was the Ferrari-Carano Winery located very close to our RV park. Nestled back in the hills it was a beautiful setting for a fine wine tasting, but alas, they were not open for what ever reason. So now what? We had been gone for several hours and it was getting on into the late afternoon so we decided to ride through the town of Cloverdale. We found it to be a very nice, quaint and interesting place.

While cruising the main street we ran upon a store by the name of Vino di Amore. It was the wine tasting room for the Milano Winery. Stroke of luck. As before, we tasted a varied selection of wines and we chose a red a white to the liking of us both.  With vino in bag we trucked back to our RV and admired our adeptness in choosing wines that we not only both enjoyed, but now understanding what to look for in a good wine. Far from being a sommelier or even a very knowledgeable wine taster we still prided ourselves with this tiny accomplishment.


After dinner and with a glass of our purchase we walked to a bench overlooking the Sonoma Valley below. As the sun was setting, the boys laying at our feet and sipping on some fine wine we reflected back on the last several days. It had been a very busy time for us, but it had been very rewarding, also. First of all we felt very blessed to have met some of our extended family and that they were some of the kindest and most gracious people anyone could ever want to meet. Next we were able to see part of a great land that has become famous around the world for its fine wines and lastly, well,  we made it through the last four days.

Tomorrow we follow the coast north to our next destination, Camp Rilea near Astoria, Oregon. This trip will require several overnight stays along the way and we are eager to see the NorCal and Oregon coast. But first, a very good night sleep awaits us.

1 comment:

Jack Berry said...

Hi Dane:
Great write-up We all enjoyed your visit and meeting you, Joyce and the boys. Thought I would ID the relatives present for the reunion. Pic. #1 Joyce Berry's knee, Thelma Berry, Lindsay Berry, Neal Berry, Lynette Berry, Lance Berry, William Berry, Lubya Berry (sp?), Anita Berry, James Berry, Leroy Berry, Brian Berry's knee, Jeff McCollough and Jack Berry. (If pics. are in sequence; #1 Jack eats; #2 Jack gets beer; #3 Jack tries to dislodge item from #1 stuck under his dental bridge) Lol
Pic #2 also has Jamie Berry next to Lyndsay, Traci Berry (behind Jack at the beer cooler) and Brian's face behind Jeff. Lastly, L to R, we have Charlie, Kate & Zoe.