Central Park Wheels

This weekend my sister came up to New York City for a visit. We both have done so many of the tourist attractions throughout the years and decided that it was time to do something new and different.

My first idea was a horse and carriage ride. The week before she visited, Central Park was extra inviting with the snow covered trees, icy ponds and freezing temperatures. I was dreaming up hot chocolate and blankets. However this particular weekend greeted us with a winter heat-wave of sorts and the carriage ride seemed less attractive as we saw the melting snow mixed with horse poo.

We settled on a less conventional route: a bike ride. I am talking about a tandem bike ride to be exact. It was down-right hilarious. I literally couldn’t stop laughing during the first few minutes (and each time after we took pit-stops and worked to get back on the bike, moving in unison.)  It was a rocky start, especially because the breaks were less than effective and we didn’t even have a bell….but once we got the hang of it (and once I learned that slacking off with pedaling in the back messes up the pilot up front) we were pros.

I would recommend it as the best way to see the park in its entirety while also being able to chat with your copilot. What a great memory on a beautiful day.

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Down the coast of California

The beauty of traveling to the West Coast is that you naturally wake up early, meaning more time to seize the day. And seize we did! The last morning of our road trip we woke up before the sun and made our way to the farthest edge of California. I drove the windy drive through Big Sur down through to Santa Barbara. I highly recommend this to anyone spending time in the San Francisco area. I am pretty sure that during the first hour I pulled over almost every 5 minutes. It was a cold morning that warmed as the day continued, and the fog coming off the ocean crashing onto the rocks was eery and picturesque.

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The drive from Carmel to LA was diverse and relaxing. The drive through Los Angeles was another story entirely. Luckily I was not behind the wheel because the heart attack I was having from the congestion and stop-go traffic was enough as a passenger alone. I’m not going to write about it because I am still trying to forget about it. We arrived at the airport and dropped off our car (on which we had racked up some 900 miles ), met our best friend there and headed to LA Fashion Week event with her in West Hollywood. Us “road-trippers” were less than dressed appropriately for such a function (I remind you that this is all one day–early morning to Big Sur, to Santa Barbara lunch and toes in the sand to LA sweaty traffic congestion). What’s a girl to do in a moment like this? Oh that’s right, you just act like it’s no big deal to grab some clothes and change in a restaurant bathroom. Walk in looking like traveling grease balls–walk out looking like sexy mamas…all in a day’s work. 🙂

We enjoyed a party scene with drinks and a swanky Sunset Blvd hotel, but mostly we enjoyed the following two days spent relaxing in the beach towns surrounding Newport Beach where our friend lives. We explored, bummed around and simply caught up as friends. It was the best part of our action packed trip.

A redeye flight home to top it all off and I can honestly say that I was not my normal self for at least a week. What a busy whirlwind trip, but totally worth it!

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Exploring Wine Country

A quick drive from San Francisco and my partner in crime and I were lounging on Adirondack chairs over-looking the golden vineyards in Sonoma County. Our first stop on the winery trail was Copain Wines and from there we stopped at Arista Winery. It was late in the afternoon so most other places were just about closing as we passed by.  While enjoying a glass of wine and the setting sun from the unique Japanese garden on the Arista property, we began to get hungry and made our way to Healdsburg.  Healdsburg is a quaint town that is home to many of the winery workers in Napa area.  There are many small shops and restaurants to choose from. That night the temperatures were quite cold. It seems that this was the trend of Northern California: warm days and cold nights. It is definitely important to wear layers.

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The next morning we continued our drive down from the hills to Napa Valley. The landscape of rolling hills and farmland was a bit surprising and in the distance we could see the high hills of Mount Helena. Once we arrived in Napa County itself, I was reminded of France’s Cote d’Or the way Highway 29 is bordered by vineyards and wineries with a large hill on the western side.

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We started the day with an amazingly educational tour of the Long Meadow Ranch estate, which consists of acres of vegetables, chicken, herbs, and orchards as well as vineyards on the hilltop. My favorite part of our nearly 2 hour excursion (perks of being in the business I guess) was when we entered the winery itself. It was perched on top of the hill with a breathtaking view of Rutherford below. But more than the view and the peaceful quietness that accompanied the location, I was soaking in  the smell of fermenting wine. I associate this smell with my time living in France. It is like home to me in a strange way. In fact, this smell, and the equipment inside the winery feel comforting to me. Like home in a strange way.

Walking back into the cave of the winery, we were able to see some of the oldest bottles of wine that the winery has kept in their cellar. After this, we continued the journey up the mountain and found the some horses, bulls and old olive groves. I learned (by way of experimental tasting) that olives taken off of a tree are hard and the oils released are toxic tasting and bitter. To make edible, delicious olives these little guys need to be soaked in salt water for months on end. Lots of work!

When we finally returned to civilization off of the secluded hillside, we enjoyed a delicious farm to table lunch at the wineries restaurant. It was so neat to have seen where the kale, beef and tomatoes we ate had come from. The meal was absolutely delicious and a recommendation even if you don’t take a long tour beforehand.

With our full bellies, we made our way to a few more wineries along Highway 29 before switching over to Silverado Trail and going off the beaten path to White Rock, one of the wineries that I represent in New York . This was the only winery where we got to see the actual harvest taking place (most of the grapes had already been picked the week prior to our arrival). When we pulled up to the cellar the team was dumping the grapes from  large crates into the sorter which pulled off the stems. It was a cool experience to see the machinery we had seen “off duty” on other tours actually being used for it’s purpose.

Visiting the wineries in California was a treat for me and a learning experience for my PIC. We had seen a lot, drank a lot and learned a lot about wine during those two days.

Next stop: the coast road!

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