The last time we’d visited California, Ian and I had used UPS to ship our newly purchased wine home. Something Bob from Butterfly Creek Winery had said in one of his many stories had stuck in Ian’s head, though, and he decided it would be prudent to check if UPS still performed this function. Turns out, UPS now only accepts packages containing alcoholic beverages from licensed shippers.
We’d purchased 15 bottles of wine and a bottle of cider, and we hadn’t even been to Napa yet! Faced with the conundrum of how to get our wine home, we considered the options.
- Lie. I’m not necessarily opposed to breaking laws when they are stupid, so I had no particular qualms about lying to UPS regarding the contents of a shipment. However, considering that getting caught would mean not only possible fines but also confiscation of the wine, lying didn’t seem worth the risk.
- Drink it all before we went home. OK, this was not really an option. We’d be ill and probably wouldn’t remember the latter part of our vacation.
- Buy a new suitcase and some packing material and check it on the return flight. After all, it wouldn’t be the first time I’d purchased a suitcase to bring wine home .
We still had a few days before we went home, so we decided to defer the decision, at least until after breakfast. We’d been considering two places for our morning meal and decided to try the closer place with the other one as a plan B if the first one seemed too crowded. Upon seeing a bunch of people waiting at plan A, we continued walking toward plan B. A light rain started to fall, and I became irritated with myself for leaving both my umbrella and my rain jacket back at the inn. We arrived at plan B, Jantz Bakery, only to find that they did not serve breakfast per se. They sold pies, cookies, and other baked goods, but did not serve pancakes, waffles, or other breakfast items. The employee there informed us it was their other locations that served breakfast, a fact that (at least at the time) was not clear from their website.
As we walked back to plan A (the Sugar Pine Cafe), I grumbled about all these first-world problems (the wine conundrum, forgotten rain gear, breakfasting options) combing to make me cranky. However, the wait at the cafe turned out not to be too long, and all the while we were there, I was oddly uplifted by the voice of Morrissey as Louder Than Bombs served the restaurant’s background music. The Smiths had provided much of the soundtrack for my teenage angst, and hearing them reminded me of all the ridiculous wallowing I’d done over trivial problems at that time in my life. My crankiness dissipated. I laughed at the inexplicably priced pancakes ($6.50 for a stack of two, $3.00 for a single pancake*) and enjoyed my breakfast.
Afterwards, we packed up and headed out of Mariposa. As we drove along Highway 140, somewhere between Mariposa and Merced, I noticed an oddity–a stone fireplace sitting in a field that was otherwise populated only by grass and trees. I did a double take, but there was no mistaking that it was a fireplace. How did it get there? What possible reason was there for its placement? Were aliens involved?? I didn’t get a photo of it, but once again, I searched handy-dandy Google Earth and found one. No amount of Googling provided an explanation for the presence of this fireplace, though. It remains a great mystery to me.
In Atwater, we stopped at the Castle Air Museum. Again, for some reason, I neglected to bring my umbrella or rain jacket with me, so we were, of course, caught in a downpour. Thankfully, the deluge was short-lived.
Seeing the planes was cool, but this piece of patriarchal bullshit rather ground my gears.
Having made the decision to bring our wine on the flight home with us, we stopped at Target to buy a suitcase, bubble wrap, packing tape, and plastic bags to accomplish the task. I wanted to get the suitcase with adorable little foxes on it (it would be so easy to spot on the baggage carousel!), but Ian wasn’t too keen on that. Being a child-size suitcase, it was probably too small for our intended purpose, so I guess we made the right call.
In Livermore, we stopped at Retzlaff Winery for a tasting, knowing that we couldn’t buy anymore wine during the trip unless we wanted to purchase still more luggage!
Not far outside of Napa, we passed a farm that had several signs proclaiming, “We’re using recycled water!” Perhaps I’m being pedantic when I ask this, but isn’t most water recycled?** Sure, it’s possible to make water, but doing so on a large scale is generally considered too costly and potentially dangerous. Boasting about recycled water struck me as a weird flex.
We arrived in Napa, checked in at the Napa Inn, where we’d stayed during our last trip to the area (same room and everything–but with an updated, non-growling bathtub!). We had a lovely dinner that evening at the Napa Valley Bistro. I hadn’t recalled eating there before, but once we walked in, Ian was certain we had (he was right if my past blog post is to be believed). After dinner, we returned to the inn, where we opened a bottle of wine (giving us one less to tote home) and sipped while Ian began to experiment with different ways of packing the wine to minimize the risk of breakage, or, as he referred to the process, The Anal Retentive Chef Packs a Suitcase.
* I have to assume that extra fifty cents is for the labor involved in stacking the pancakes. I did wonder what would happen if I ordered two single pancakes, though.
** I actually do understand (roughly anyhow) the intended meaning of the signs, but I rather enjoy poking fun at them.