Tag Archives: Sonoma

Is There a Place Like Home?

7 Oct

This weekend, we were tailgating with some friends before the Tennessee Titans game, which turned out to be historic for all of the wrong reasons. Anyway, the conversation turned toward moving. One of them said that she would like to move somewhere else, but that her boyfriend would never leave town. My wife, who has lived in different parts of the country, said that she knew when we married that we would live here forever.

I said that I have been lucky enough to have traveled in every state and have spent time in most of the major cities. I love visiting them, but I have never seen anywhere that is a better place to live than right here in my hometown. They both looked at me funny and said that other places have culture, art and different lifestyles. That is when I said that is true, but they are missing one thing. They are not home.Tennessee

I understand that a lot of people have to move for jobs and other reasons. Some people move because they hate where they grew up. Heck, there are people from my graduating class who left the day after the ceremony and have never been back. However, I have always thought it important to have roots and contribute to the place that made us who we are. It is a place of family and old friends. Like I said, it is home.

All that being said, the conversation made me think of an assignment that my therapist had me complete. I had to list ten places, other than here, where I would like to live. I remember most of the list, and I know that it would be slightly different if I did it today. That is why I am going to do it today. If I was going to live somewhere else, then it would be, in no particular order, the following:

Santa Fe, New Mexico

Durango, Colorado

Sonoma, California

Asheville, North Carolina

Maryville, Tennessee

Austin, Texas

Prescott, Arizona

Waialua, Hawaii

What do those places have in common?

I have spent time in each one and thought they were worth more than a visit. They struck me as good places to live. Some of them have rich culture, and others are just good towns.

None of them are huge cities where the buildings block out the sun. They have that small town feel with a little extra thrown in.

They all have great things around them. It would not take long to find a good hike or a another cool place to visit.

Will we ever move? You never know what the future holds. However, if it was going to be one of these places, then it would make the decision somewhat easier.

 

 

The Honeymooners – An Offer We Couldn’t Refuse

20 Jul

Day 4 of the honeymoon was supposed to be a day of rest. I promised Necole that we would have some pool time, and this seemed like the right place. The weather was warm and the pool chairs looked comfortable. However, plans changed when one of Necole’s friends suggested a winery for us to visit. Luckily, we were able to get a midday tour and tasting.

We drove to the Inglenook Chateau, owned by Francis Ford Coppola, and it was what one would imagine when they think about a winery. Of course, our idea of a California winery comes from Falcon Crest, the old television series. Walking up, I expected to see Jane Wyman at any moment.Honeymoon 017

The tour guide took us through the wine making process at Inglenook. He also took us through its history as one of the area’s great vineyards until it fell into decay under corporate ownership. Coppola saved it with money from The Godfather and has spent decades bringing the estate and wine to its former glory.

After the tour, we tasted fantastic wines and spent a few dollars shipping some of it home. The tour and tasting whetted our appetites, and the guide suggested the Rutherford Grill, which sat across the street. When Necole and I sat down, we both commented that the restaurant reminded us of Houston’s, a place that used to be in Nashville.

Later, I found out that the Rutherford Grill and a lot of other restaurants in California are owned by the Houston’s corporation. It began and was headquartered in Nashville until the owners decided that they were too good for us. They would probably find it interesting that Nashville has one of the nation’s best food scenes and has dozens of restaurants better than the ones they own.

Anyway, I am getting off track. We returned to the hotel and made it to the pool. I got under a cabana and took a nap while Necole got some sun. It was late in the afternoon, and we learned from experience that the Sonoma temperature changed quickly as the sun goes down.

Soon, it was time to eat again. As you can tell, we did a lot of eating on this honeymoon. This time we wanted some casual and laid back, so we went to Mary’s Pizza Shack on the plaza. It was as good as any other pizza, but my focus wasn’t on the food. My mind kept going over the history that was around me.

I had read that this plaza was an important part of the Bear Flag Rebellion, when California declared its independence from Mexico and asked to become part of the United States. That’s the simple version. Like all things, reality is a bit more complicated. I won’t use this post to provide a history lesson because that’s not what I was thinking about while eating pizza.

I was thinking that President James K. Polk, from Columbia, Tennessee, wanted to bring California into the fold and used every means necessary to get that done. I was also thinking about Peter Burnett, native Tennessean and California’s first governor. I was wondering if the people of California realize the role Tennesseans played in the history of their state.

After dinner, we went back to the hotel and found ourselves wanting more. With this in mind, we went to Carneros, a place that was recommended by one of my Twitter friends. We sat at the chef’s bar and watched them work in the open kitchen. Necole had an awesome creme brulee, and I had a so-so cookie concoction.

The day was great, and I realized that the Tennessee guys who moved Houston’s could not have gone to California if some other Tennessee guys had not gotten it in the first place.

The Honeymooners – The First Tastes of Sonoma

19 Jul

And on the third day, we left Half Moon Bay. However, we didn’t leave before having lunch at an awesome sandwich shop. All of the ingredients were fresh, and they put a bunch of them on the sandwiches. After lunch, we drove up Highway 1 toward San Francisco. We had no idea what we would see along the way, but we knew it would be different from what we saw going south.

The road had a little more traffic, and the coast had a little more development. Before we knew it, we were on the coastal edge of San Francisco. It was like driving anywhere else, but I noticed something strange. You couldn’t turn left at any intersection. Necole and I had a whole conversation about how you can get anywhere without turning left.

Some of the neighborhoods we went through looked somewhat rundown. But, we also passed a mall with a Nordstrom, which I know is fancy because Necole and I saw Nicole Kidman at the one in Nashville.

As we went further up the road, Necole was getting more nervous. Once, she had panic attack going over a bridge in Florida, and this road was taking us over the Golden Gate Bridge. She asked if it was a suspension bridge. When I said yes, she began to squirm. As it turns out, Necole did great. She busied herself by taking pictures and felt better when she saw people walking a riding bicycles next to us. Unfortunately, she took those pictures on her iPhone, and I don’t have any to put in this post.

Crossing the bridge took us into a completely different place. We went from city to suburb, and it must have been a heck of a suburb. We passed a Ferrari dealership and a Bentley dealership. We also passed another Nordstrom. Nashville thought it was a big deal to get one, and we saw two on the same road.

We took this route because our next few nights were going to be in Sonoma – Wine Country. Here, we would see fields of grapes and wineries around every bend. We saw those things, but some other stuff surprised. The land without grapes reminded me of Montana. Also, we passed a race track. Somewhere in my mind, I recalled that NASCAR has spent time racing in Sonoma. There’s just something not right about that. The people I see at Talladega don’t seem to be the Wine Country type. In short, NASCAR needs to run where they make whiskey, not wine.

We made it to the city of Sonoma and our hotel, The Lodge at Sonoma. It was not the Ritz, but it was an alright place to stay. The put us in a dinky room, so we had them swap us to a bungalow. This room was better but not great. However, what we found around us was awesome.

After checking in, we went to the Sonoma Plaza. This thing was huge and dwarfed the plaza I have visited many times in Santa Fe. City hall sat in the middle. I thought it was interesting and took a picture of it.Honeymoon 014

I wonder if I am the only person who ever took a picture of city hall. Anyway, we immediately went to a wine tasting. After all, that’s why we drove all the way up there.Honeymoon 015

After some wine, we walked around the plaza, ventured into some art galleries and had dinner at this cool restaurant. Then, it was on to another wine tasting. Little did we know that this was just the beginning of our tasting experiences.

We went back to the hotel and found a spot in a bar/coffee shop/cheese place. I had beer and cheese. Necole had wine and cheese. The beer was good. The wine was good. The cheese was awesome.