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Wine, Napa Valley, CA
5th Jun 2008
Napa Valley vinyards

After a night in the sauna in the hostel, which was so hot that it melted the glue binding my book and every time I turned a page it fell out, I spent the day dehydrating myself even further.  I'd been to Sonoma valley twice, but never to Napa, the world-famous region north of San Fran in which many fine wines are produced. I headed over the Bay bridge to Treasure Island for some great views of the city, Golden Gate bridge and Alcatraz, before going past Oakland to Berkeley.  The former deserved its satirical dedication in the sone Welcome to Paradise, while the latter really was delightful:  tree-line streets were everywhere.

The Napa tourist office recommended some famous and free vinyards for me to visit.  Three years ago, most of the Sonoma valley vinyards offered free tasting, but last year none did.  In Napa the prices were higher and the tastes of smaller portions, but its standing in the world market commands this. I sampled 20 wines in 5 vinyards over the entine length of the valley, including two that, for once, I had actually drunk from:  Mondavi, Sutter Home, and three smaller boutique vinyards.  The wines ranged from $5 per bottle to $150, and that really was the best I have ever tasted.
My lunch was mousse de frois de canard avec truffe et porto on fresh bread, enjoyed in the Sutti gardens in the sun.  Very nice.

It was not until 5pm, when the booze ran dry, that I thought about where to sleep.  It was tempting to pull over at the side of the road, but I thought that the police in Napa might frown upon vagrantry a little more than those in the inner city. In the end I decided to push up the coast to Redwood National Park, but I underestimated how long it would take.  I drove for 6 hours and arrived in the dark, where a note waited for me on the door of the hostel (it contained the code needed to get through the door, rather defeating the security measures).  I went immediately to bed, having had a very disturbed night, but was still wired from the drive.

While driving along the never-ending US-101, the Redwood Highway, I saw some excellent scenery.  At times I descended hills for 45 minutes at a time, without any uphill parts.  One interesting turn-off was Chandalier Tree, the tree that I had confused in my mind for Tunnel Log.  This was the baby that I wanted to see, where 1900s vandals (sorry... "pioneers" cut a hole in a living redwood, through which one can still drive.

Next: Redwood Forest National Park
Previous: Mountain View, Ellie in Palo Alto, being towed

Diary Photos

Wine, Napa Valley, CA

Napa Valley vines, CA

Chandelier Tree, CA

Chandelier Tree, CA - the money shot

Warning in Hostel, Redwood, CA

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