Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Family Ties

We visited the Pride Mountain Vineyard, which sits at an elevation of 2000 feet straddling Napa and Sonoma counties at the summit of a mountain... a small mountain, perhaps!

Since our last name is Pride, and the owners' last names are Pride... we must be related! Okay, we didn't really expect Susan, Steve and their mother Carolyn to coming running out to give us hugs and welcome us into their home, and they didn't! We were just more faces in the groups of people who make the trek up Summit Trail Road off of Spring Mountain Road for the opportunity to taste some fine wine. (It is a twisty, turny road. I haven't decided if it is easier going up, before wine.... or coming down, after some wine!)

Mr. Dreamy had stumbled upon "Pride" wine two years ago when we were in the area. Unfortunately, when he realized there was a winery using his name, we didn't have time to take a tour. Since then we have had to enjoy their products from afar. And now, we had the chance to visit.

The tasting was great fun. Many of the local wineries offer tastings, but generally they take place in a tasting room, albeit most are beautifully and tastefully decorated with interesting things to look at, and perhaps purchase. And Pride Mountain Vineyards was no different. Of course I was attracted to a mural with Haflingers pulling a wagon through the vineyards!

Like other tastings, this tasting also began in the tasting room. We had a dabble of Chardonnay while our guide gave us the history of the winery. We strolled into another room where we could see a map of the vineyard showing what grapes grow in each area of their property. This room also had a display of the types of soil found in the area. All of the soil is rocky, but the size of the rocks may be different. We learned that the vines appreciate the heat that reflects off of the rocks, so you won't see grass growing among the vines. The soil in most areas of the Pride vineyards has a bit more clay in it, which means the soil holds more moisture than some other soils. We proceeded outside walking past some vines. The grapes were beginning to turn a stunning deep purple, with only a few grapes in each cluster that were still green. This change of color that signals ripeness is called "véraison".

We walked to the entrance of the winery where the grapes begin their journey from field to barrel, to bottle and your glass! Pride Mountain Vineyards straddles the county line between Napa and Sonoma counties. The winery must keep the grapes grown in each county separate while being processed. Therefore, there are two crushing operations and two different sets of tanks. Once the wines are blended records are kept so the labels on the bottles can accurately reflect the percent of wine from each county.

Harvest has not begun, but it is close. The sorting and crushing equipment on the Sonoma side of the property was being washed on our visit.  
We entered the underground cellars at the winery and had a taste of Pride Mountain Vineyards Merlot. I found this wine to be very "soft" and fruity. Mr. Dreamy did not care for it.

While sipping the Merlot we learned about the cellars, which were dug into the mountain. The cellars are a series of tunnels and the temperature stays around 65°. We learned that the barrels come from France and can cost up to $2000 each. The barrel might have a "36" or a "48" burned on the end, which means the oak that was used to make the barrel was aged 36 or 48 months.

Once the oak is aged and the barrel is constructed, the interior is burned or charred. The amount of char influences the flavor of the wine. The "MT" on the barrel indicates a "medium" toast. If the char is heavier the barrel would be marked "MT+". After doing a bit of research online after our visit, I learned that "Troncais" indicates the forest from which the oak was harvested. Oak from this region is sought after as the tight grain promotes "*more finesse on the palate". "TH" means that the heads have been toasted as well. Each barrel is used three times and then sold. The flavoring from the Oak diminishes with each batch of wine.

As we walked among the barrels we could see that barrels came from different distributors in France, and we were told that the impact of barrels from each distributor is consistent. Thus, the vintner chooses specific barrels for specific effects. Each barrel is carefully marked with the contents. Pride Mountain Vineyards also processes grapes from other local wineries.

We stopped at another area and were treated to some wine straight from the barrel. I found it a bit harsher. It still has more time to go.

We enjoyed a few more tastes while in the cellars and exited with a panoramic view of rows of grapes stretching almost as far as one could see.

Then we made our way back to the tasting room and the tempting bottles of wine and other goodies, all with the Pride name. Of course we had to bring some home.... after all, that is our name on the bottle!!


Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Scene Along the Side of the Road: Bridges, Tunnels & Gates

Mr. Dreamy does most of the driving. He has always liked to drive and he is a terrible critical restless passenger. I get to do a lot of the watching. I stare out the window to see what I can see.

One thing that intrigues me is seeing different forms of wildlife gates along the road. Large animals crossing highways cause serious accidents. Animals trying to jump fences may also get injured or suffer a prolonged death if they get caught in the fencing. All states are seeking ways to keep deer, elk, burros, bear, pronghorn, sheep and other large animals off the roads. Some areas use "funnel fencing", an offset, perpendicular fence that encourages animals running along the highway fence line into a one-way gate.

Image from the Internet
Image from the Internet
Other highways build dirt hills or "jump outs" that end in a drop off into the open area on the far side of the fence. Animals can go out, but can't get back in.

Image from the Internet
While heading west on I-80 in Nevada we saw three wildlife bridges under construction. The first was almost complete, but I stared in amazement and neglected to get my camera out. My brain was struggling with why a bridge of that size would be built in the wilds. Then.... I figured it out!

When these are completed, fencing to funnel animals toward the bridges and plantings to make the bridges seem natural will be added. The completed bridges will look something like this rendering of a wildlife bridge planned in Washington state.

There are some smaller species that need to cross highways to get to breeding or feeding grounds. Efforts have been made to find safe passage for these animals as well. Many of those efforts aren't as easy to see. I do recall seeing a sign for a tortoise tunnel that went under the road we were driving on, and I remember reading about the Toad Tunnel in California many years ago. (It turns out the tunnel was for frogs, not toads, but whoever named it, like me, enjoys alliteration! It also turns out that we drove right over the tunnel, in Davis, CA, and we weren't aware of it!) At one point Mr. Dreamy saw some cattle coming up beside the highway from a tunnel under the road as we made our way west on I-80. Not only did I not have my camera ready, I missed it altogether!

For some other interesting animal passages, visit this website.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

From the Flats of Utah to the Heights of Nevada

I love the drive from Wyoming into Utah. As you leave Wyoming you begin heading down from the high plains and the hills begin to show more green. They are simply gorgeous. It's a postcard around every corner!

Once we hit the Park City area, the road dropped even more, a whopping 2000 feet, into Salt Lake City, Utah. We have been on this route before. But, this time we turned west on 201, along the southern edge of the lake, to reconnect with I-80 on the west side of the city. This was all new territory for us. Driving along the lake and seeing all of the salt that has collected was interesting. We drove by several mineral companies and two salt companies. The salt from the lake is not used for table salt. It has too many impurities. But, it is used for water softeners, salt for de-icing and industrial purposes.

As we moved away from the lake, turning to the west, we encountered signs warning drivers to stay alert. How interesting.

From the Internet
Why had we not seen signs like that before? It turns out that one must drive about 100 miles until he or she arrives at the Nevada border. And, most of those 100 miles are along salt flats, the last 50 miles of which are straight as an arrow, with very little to look at to break up the monotony. Now I understand why they have those signs!

Despite the flat, straight road we did see some interesting sights:
  • Many folks used rocks to leave messages or names in the salt flats next to the road
  • We saw sharks in the salt... well, maybe we were hallucinating!
  • We both laughed at seeing a fake Christmas tree "planted" in the salt field
  • As we neared the Nevada border I could see Floating Island to the north. It really does appear to float above the salt flats
  • A Swedish artist, Karl Momen, created "Metaphor: The Tree of Utah" and had it installed just over 20 miles from the border to Nevada. It is an 87 foot tall sculpture with colored spheres as leaves. The sculpture sits along the highway, but there is no access to park and view the piece up close. 

We spent that night in Wells, NV at an older RV park run by owners in their 70's. They were a very caring couple who leant us a battery charger for the Jeep, which decided it had too many things going on to keep the battery going strong. We ended up walking up to a local NAPA store to buy our own charger, a jump box and jumper cables. We do own all of these, but two are with the MINI in storage and one already made the trip to Florida and is awaiting us there!

The next day we drove through Nevada. I am convinced that God made Nevada as a reminder of choices we can make in this life that might influence our afterlife. Most of what we saw looked very Hell-like. Wow! Talk about desolate, rocky and arid! And look, there's a dust devil. We saw a lot of them. That ought to be proof positive!

(My apologies to folks who live in and love Nevada. It is beautiful, but at least along I-80 it is rather barren.)

Friday, August 25, 2017

Scene Along the Side of the Road: Little America

For miles before you reach this oasis near the southwest corner of Wyoming you will see signs for $.75 ice cream cones (not long ago they were only $ .50!) on billboards advertising "Little America". This area of Wyoming is a high desert. It is beautiful in its stark rugged way, but it is empty.  One can drive miles without seeing a sign of civilization. The ice cream is sold at Little America, truly an oasis in the desert. As you approach you can see the bright green of trees in sharp contrast to the dusky prairie. This screen shot tells it all. A lot of nothing surrounding vibrant green. 

As often happens when we are driving, we begin speculating on the why's or wherefores of what we see.  How fortunate in this day to have the Internet at our fingertips to get instant answers to our questions. (But maybe in days gone by, when things moved at a slower pace, our lives might have been richer if we took the time to stop and ask questions to our queries.) As we drove past the oasis I checked it out on the satellite view of Google maps. The spot of green has a huge hotel complex with multiple buildings, a large gas station and truck stop and what looks like a service area for vehicles. Behind the facility is a cluster of twenty or so homes. (The population in 2010 was recorded as 68.) With Little America being 40 miles from Rock Springs, to the east, and 30 miles from Lyman to the west, housing for employees would be a necessity. 

Picture from the Internet

Toward the end of the 19th century Stephen Covey was herding sheep on the high prairie in Wyoming, somewhere in the 1600 square miles of land his family owned in this desolate area. He was caught in a blizzard and forced to "lay out" in the exact area where Little America now stands. While hunkering down in miserable conditions Covey imagined how wonderful it would be to have a cabin with a fire, warm blankets and food. He vowed that he would build something like that some day. He opened his oasis for travelers in 1934, with a small hotel, a cafe, a bar and a gas station, and it has grown from there. 

Picture from the Internet

Oh, and the name? Covey saw pictures of Admiral Byrd's "Little America" in the Antarctic and felt the isolation on the Wyoming prairie was not that much different than the isolation Byrd experience in a land of snow and ice. After miles of seeing nothing but sand and rock, I think I just might agree with him!

It's Moving Day

The song for today is sung to the tune of "Closing Time"...

Moving day
Time to let the packers take over the job for me.
Moving day
Hope they pack it all up and nothing is left to see.
Moving day
Walk through the house that is now just an empty shell.
Moving day
When will I see my things again only time will tell.

I know it is time to move on.
I know it is time to move on.
I know it is time to move on.
Time to move on...

Scenes from the day:

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

its a Done Deal

It must be a dream!
The papers have all been signed. The money has been wired to our account. We no longer are home owners. It is a very strange feeling, but I’m thinking it might grow on me! This afternoon we came back to the motorhome and I had the chance to do something I have not done in weeks. I sat down and relaxed. Truly relaxed. I had nothing to do: no packing, no cleaning, no sorting, no gardening. Nothing. What an unusual feeling. Closing day was about as nerve wracking as they come. After the last week of getting a new roof, having the roofers damage the hot tub cover and a solar light and then having the movers come, then cleaners and carpet folks, and the walk through with the new owner, I thought things would slow down and we could sail into closing. It was not meant to be. We went back to the house one more time in the morning before closing. We had some bits of this and that to collect, some garbage and some things that could be given to charity. We had to sweep out the garage and take my car up to storage. Mr. Dreamy stepped inside to wash his hands and discovered we had no water. None. Zip. Zero. He called the well people and their two crews were already out on jobs, far out, but they would call when a crew could come. After fretting and pacing, and fretting some more we received a call, they had pulled a crew off of one job to attend to our problem. The crew would arrive in 20 minutes. Hallelujah! We might make the 1:30 closing after all. It turns out that the bladder in the pressure tank had finally given up the ghost. (It had been acting up recently, cycling on and off at more frequent intervals.) A new tank was on its way, and while waiting the 30 minutes for it to arrive the guys drained the old tank… the bladder had collapsed over the drain so they had no recourse but drill holes to release the 40 gallons of water! Within a short period of time the new tank was in place and water was flowing throughout our house. Phew! We made it to closing and that proceeded without a hitch. We are now homeless. Perhaps in a more positive way I could say we are “full-timers”. Onward…keeping the wheels between the lines.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Looking Up

This is out of sequence, but might be interesting to read later on.
We had an adjuster from the insurance company inspect our roof. We were not exactly happy with his report. Oh, yes. Look. There is hail damage on the hot tub cover., he reported. But... oh, no... there is no evidence of hail damage on the roof. All he saw up there was normal wear and tear. BS! But, he knew we were moving and why should the insurance company pony up for something that we won't enjoy. We objected and asked for another inspection. Sadly, they could not get an inspector here in time to get the roof replaced before closing. We did not want to extend closing, so.... $$$$ We'd rather spend some of the profit from the sale of the house to have it sold than to wait and perhaps have something happen to the deal.

On Wednesday the truck rolled in with the materials:

I wouldn't want to be a shingle delivery person. They off-loaded each and every square by hand.

We were intrigued by the process of estimating the material requirements. Our roofer has a program that downloads a satellite image of the house. He can then plug in information about the pitch of the roof, dormers, etc and it yields the number of squares of shingles he needs for the roof. 

On Thursday the roofers woke us shortly after 6 AM as they walked around the house and put tarps down. The dogs were caught napping! They didn't bark until they heard voices outside the window!

The roofers made quick work of stripping the old shingles off of the roof. I worried about their slipping and falling as our roof is rather steep. My worry monitor was in high gear anyway as when I stuck my head out the back door first thing in the morning a roofer, on his way up the ladder, had the ladder slip and he fell off, landing half on and half off the concrete walkway. He lay writhing on the ground until a fellow worker helped him up. I have to give the guy credit. After about an hour of relaxing he was back on the job. Ouch!

We had a crew of 6 laborers. It seems that our roofer has connections with a fellow who manages several crews of roofers. Each crew has one worker, at minimum, who speaks English. Our crew had another fellow who spoke and understood a bit. The guys worked until 8 PM Thursday evening and finished the back half of the roof.

Friday was a bit hotter and the roofers found they had to take a few more breaks under the trees, so they needed to come back on Saturday morning to finish. 

There were nails and bits of shingles all over the place. Not to mention bottle caps, food wrappers and food. Gypsy scarfed up all of the food! She was in seventh heaven! The guys picked up most of the detritus that was left, but I find bits of things each time I step out into the yard.

We now have a new roof to enjoy for a few days as we move the last bit of stuff and clean up the empty house. Oh, and the new owner will enjoy a new hot tub cover! This was one of the rips on the hot tub cover from shingles hitting it, or being pulled off of it. The roofing company is making the arrangements to get a new one. However, the crew will end up buying it. They weren't exactly happy, but they might have felt a bit better when Mr. Dreamy later proffered an unopened bottle of Tequila he found in the back of the liquor cabinet!

Other collateral damage included a broken "lens" for the upstairs bathroom light and fan. I guess some of the thumps and hammering wiggled it loose and it fell on the tile. A replacement will be on its way soon. The shingles also smashed a solar post light we had on the banister for the front stairs. And wouldn't you know, I just figured out how to get those lights to work?! Well, that will be replaced, too, but the new owner may have to paint and install it. 

Sunday, August 20, 2017

3 - 2 - 1.... Lift Off

We have two one nights left in our house. Two One nights! Our decor consists of boxes, rug pads and a bit of furniture. There are still some things to pack, but we did pay for the moving company to pack some of our stuff. I think they are getting a good deal as I continued to pack up things after the estimate - you might say it became an obsession!

Tomorrow Today we must get everything on the motorhome that we plan to carry with us. If it doesn't fit we need to be able to go to plan B and have it go in the moving van, store it and collect it later.

As far as "what's next?", we have all but 2 days accounted for from Monday, August 21 until Monday, October 1. We have reservations at a number of campgrounds north and a bit east of Oakland. We also signed up for a Fantasy RV Tour Rally in the San Francisco area. It was a "while we are there" sort of thing!

Mr. Dreamy pulled all of the liquor out of the cabinet. That cabinet is kinda like the fridge. Things get pushed to the back and forgotten. He sorted good stuff and not-so-good stuff. This morning, a helluva time to do this, we opened questionable bottles of wine, took a taste and poured them down the drain.

We tossed 20 or so empty bottles into the roofer's dumpster. Someone may wonder about our roofers! (But, maybe they should wonder since they damaged our hot tub cover and a solar light at our entry!)

Our "To Do" lists include taking stuff to a charity (towels and blankets went to the Humane Society today), taking papers to be shredded (we had a truck come to shred 5 boxes of papers.... but found more!), getting the Mini to storage (and maybe storing a few things with her), and lots of other last minute stuff that I haven't thought of yet!

This is totally unbelievable!

Friday, August 18, 2017

Adventures Await

I could begin another countdown... only X days until we pull out on our motorhome. However, I'll spare you, because, truthfully.... it scares me!

I have made reservations at Cherry Creek State Park, which is 11.8 miles from our home. We will pull out on packing day, August 21. If things go as I imagine they should, the moving crew will box everything we have not packed, and load it and our furniture into a truck. Then we will all leave. Our belongings will go to storage, and we Dreamers will head to the park.

The next day we Dreamers will return to help clean the house, barns, garage and grounds. I have arranged for the carpets to be cleaned and for a few cleaning gals to help us clean inside.

On August 23 we are slated to close. I assume that after all the paper work is completed we will come back to the property for a walk-through, where we will share as much as we can with the new owner in a short period of time.  We will head to our home on wheels and begin our trek to California the following morning.

I have reservations at several campgrounds between here and there. Nothing is an extreme drive. I've come close to sticking to the "330" rule: drive no more that 330 miles or drive until 3:30 PM, whichever comes first.

I wonder how long it will take my head to wrangle with the reality that I won't be returning to my Colorado home?!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Hoofing It

A farmer traveling with his load
Picked up a horseshoe on the road 
And nailed it fast to his barn door,
That luck might down upon him pour;
That every blessing known in life
Might crown his homestead and his wife,
And never any kind of harm, 
Descend upon his growing farm. 

- from the Internet

While cleaning out the garage at the barn I stumbled upon this relic (not in the Ecclesiastical sense of the word). Do you see it? At the back of the barn? Pippin was wearing this shoe when I bought him. He had suffered a terrible case of founder a few months before the sale, and apparently an Amish farmer had crafted this shoe to support Pippin's damaged hoof. 

Here's a close-up of the hand-crafted orthopedic shoe:

Pippin's hoof was in such bad shape that shortly after I brought him home to my barn the farrier had to build up and supplement the hoof wall with epoxy. 

Seeing the shoe makes me sad. It reminds me of what an amazing guy Pippin was. I can only begin to imagine the pain he went through, and how strong he was to endure it, and come out the other side with such a spirited personality - or should I say, horsonality! In some ways the shoe represents my dream of living in Colorado and having horses in my back yard. I no longer have the horses and in just a short time I will no longer have my back yard, but I have so many wonderful memories. I placed the shoe by the tree where Pippin & Doc would stand on warm, sunny days. It's a tribute to my horses, and to my dream.... fulfilled.

What is Four?

Have you ever thought of the meaning of "four"?  Four is the number of: seasons in a year. corners and sides to a square. virtues....