Thursday, September 22, 2005

West Coast Wandering Wisdom

As y'all know, Sassy and the Cap'n just returned from a wonderful 10 day trip out to the West Coast. We flew from Fort Lizzle to Seattle, drove to Anacortes, chartered a yacht, crossed the Puget Sound via the San Juan Islands, and lived on the hook [that means "anchored offshore" for all you landlubbers] for 4 days in lovely Port Townsend during the Wooden Boat Festival. Thereafter, we made our way back to Seattle, where we spent the night before flying down to San Francisco. Our week in San Fran was filled with great trips to Sausalito, Stinson Beach, and the Muir Woods. Near the end of our stay, we traveled out to the Napa Valley area and spent two glorious days in St. Helena.

Without boring you with too many details (and also in the interest of avoiding any inadvertent TMI), here are some general "Do's and Don'ts" for those of you planning a trip to the West Coast:


1. Do enjoy a picnic at the V. Sattui winery. They have a full Italian deli market (do try the garlic-stuffed olives!) and a great wine-tasting bar with very friendly staff. Also, the grounds are really picturesque, with roses and countless other flowering trees and shrubs in full bloom at this time of year. [NOTE: Post-picnic headstand on the winery's lawn (as performed in the photo by the Cap'n and Jud) is optional and may require the consumption of at least two bottles of Sattui's very excellent Dry Johannisberg Riesling beforehand.]

2. Do spend a night at the Hotel St. Helena on Main Street. Its Victorian quaintness will amuse and delight you. [NOTE: Don't let the countless dolls dangling from the tearoom's ceiling scare you. Ben and I are pretty sure none of them came alive during breakfast.]

3. Do drink as many glasses of Joseph Phelps wine as humanly possible. It's simply DIVINE! [NOTE: If you can, try to get an appointment to visit the winery as well. The view from the back terrace is a tranquil delight, notable for the absence of traffic noise. Check out Ben's photo on the left.]

4. Do eat at Terra Restaurant in St. Helena! After you pass through the flagstone facade of this fancy restaurant, you will be treated to an extraordinarily exquisite meal and spectacular service!

5. Do turn on your boat's radar before crossing the Puget Sound in pea soup fog.

6. Do dine at Adrift in Anacortes. The restaurant is cozy, the food is phenomenal, and you can browse an eclectic assortment of old books while you nosh. Impeccable service too! I mean, our waitress didn't even bat an eyelid at my soot-covered jeans. [NOTE: The soot came from an abandoned tractor I was "driving" earlier on....but that's a whole other post....]

7. Do sample wild blackberries along the roadside in Anacortes......

8. ...Yep ... and do remember to pack Pepto-Bismol. [By the way - if you are already bored with this post - I recommend you visit the Pepto website and create your own nausea-indigestion-diarrhea dance with the cowboy! And no, I didn't make that up.]

9. Do visit the Jeff Leedy art gallery in Sausalito. We promise you will laugh your ass off! Don't forget to give Rex a bellyrub for us!

10. Do count your blessings when standing on the Muir Beach Overlook. We still can't believe the Gov't lets you walk across a long, rickety, wooden path - in gusty winds, I might add - all the way out to the furthest point of the cliff.... If you are brave enough to walk the planks, and then look down, the view at the point is not only breathtaking, it's mess-merizing [as in - I nearly "messed" my pants....but I managed to snap this shot for you guys!]

Ok - so there are a few "Do's" for you. And now let's hit the "Don'ts"...


1. Don't steal grapes from unknown vineyards as you drive by them in Napa. [NOTE: That just seems like good advice and is in no way indicative of actions taken by yours truly....]

2. Don't drink a Big Gulp before you get onto the Bay Bridge at rush hour.

3. Don't laugh at this guy in Port Townsend....He really can play 4 instruments at the same time and he is truly talented. His music is serene and will put you in a happy trance (especially if you just spent 4 hours in the Beer Garden at the Wooden Boat Festival).

4. Don't buy a four-stroke, 4HP outboard motor. They suck. [Ok - that's not specifically a West Coast travel tip ... It's just general advice. ... Sorry.]

5. Don't go to the Cow Palace [yes - that's the real name] in San Francisco unless you're interested in guns, recreational vehicles, rodeos, and/or attending this year's Exotic Erotic Ball.... [Are we the only ones that found that combination of events weird?]

6. Don't get deceived at Deception Pass in the San Juan Islands. The current RIPS through there!

7. Don't let a friendly waiter (I think Rocky was his name) encourage you to drink 5 "personal pitchers" of beer the night before a 5 a.m. flight. [Personal pitchers look like normal mugs, but they hold 32 ozs of beer.]

And most importantly of all....

8. Don't save any of your wine for friends back home. It never tastes as good as when you drink it in Napa! So, drink up, baby!

Well, we hope you enjoyed these little pieces of advice. Remember [insert legal disclaimer here], we drink a lot and don't always know what we're talking about.

[Ed. Note: A big shout-out and thanks to our hosts: Pete - The Prince of Port Townsend; Jud - The Best Damn Ballon Artist Period; and Rob - The Knight of Nimes. We also send warm greetings to all the friends we made along the way: The Lynch family of Shamrock (we stand ready to crew that yacht for you!); Karin (can't wait 'til you move back to Napa so we can come visit!); Nina (good luck with the "rearrangement"!); Max (remember - real women drink scotch!); Bonnie (incredible olive oil!); and newlyweds-at-70, Bernie & Brenda of Yorkshire, England (congrats again on the nuptials and we look forward to seeing you when your cruise ship arrives in Ft. Lizzle!)]

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