Friday, January 25, 2008

Weekend Review, Part 4: Calistoga

It was so nice for a change to not have to get up at the buttcrack of dawn. We slept in until well past 9, then geared up and took up the breakfast recommendation of our wine sherpa from the day prior and tried Center Street Cafe right on the square in Healdsburg. It was outstanding- if you ever find yourself in Healdsburg, CA then I cannot recommend it enough.

We were planning on doing a mountain bike ride either in Annadel State Park in Santa Rosa or maybe Robert Louis Stevenson State Park near Calistoga, but the weather was dodgy, and we were undecided, so we decided to go for a nice drive through Alexander Valley and over the mountains to Calistoga, which is at the northern end of the Napa Valley. We figured we would go check it out and then decide what to do from there.

{click pics to enlarge}

Old Faithful Geyser of California

Beautiful drive through intermittent rain showers and sunshine, but by the time we arrived it was clear that this would be a cloudy, chilly, and rainy day. So we decided to check out the Old Faithful Geyser of California. One of only 3 geysers in the world which can be called 'Old Faithful', it normally erupts every 45 minutes to an hour, but when we went in it was erupting every 10 minutes. This was cool, as we got to see it 4 or 5 times while we ambled around and saw all that there was to see on the grounds, including llamas, fainting goats, sheep, etc.

Llama's eye view

Finally found the best framing, but didn't feel like standing
in the cold rain for another 10 minutes to get the money shot

Back in the car and the weather was still crap, so we succumbed to the cross marketing at Old Faithful Geyser and drove about 8 miles to another place called The Petrified Forest, and toured through there. It was pretty neat, with lots of petrified redwoods, although in all honesty not as cool as the trees on offer at Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona.

Cool mist on the mountain

But still worth the $5, if for anything else than to see Guido The Killer Pimp Squirrel in the gift shop.

Guido the Killer Pimp Squirrel

After that it was getting late so we decided to drive back along the Silverado Trail, a road that bypasses Napa Valley to the east of the main drag.

Roadside orchard near Calistoga

Calistoga and this area in general are famous for having natural hot springs, and it was really cool that we could see steam rising in many places from the various springs in the area. They complimented the clouds and made for pretty scenery on a cold and rainy day.

Steam from hot springs & clouds near Calistoga

On a whim I decided to stop of at Franks Family Vineyards, mainly because my dad loves this place in a freakishly cult way, and he told me recently that there is a picture of him, my mom, and their friends on the wall there. I had the idea to take my picture in front of his picture and send it to him, but when we went in the dudes there were beyond cool, and they poured us champagne while we searched for the photo. We are not ones to turn down free, high quality champagne, so we assented. This turned into a free pouring of all their champagnes, and then a few more people showed up and dude took us all in the back for a full on wine tasting.

Me at Franks pointing at the picture of my parents
the picture below the picture of my parents. D'oh!

All I can say is that my dad is right: this is some excellent shit, and if you are ever in Napa this is the first place I would recommend to you. Very cool people and great wine. I think we tried 12 wines in about 30 minutes, so after purchasing myself a birthday present of the best champagne I have ever tasted, we got some food to sober up for the drive home.

Suffice to say, we were beyond exhausted and it has taken a good chunk of this week just to get back to normal, whatever that is.

Here's the full set of pictures from our day in Calistoga.

Weekend Review, Part 3: Winter Wineland

Woke up early on Sunday, helped The Hit off to the airport, then returned the mountain bike that we rented for him and finally drove up 101 north to meet some friends for a day of wine drinking, specifically the Winter Wineland event along the Russian River Wine Road.

In English, what that means is this: for $30, you get a ticket, a bracelet, a commemorative glass of wine, and entrance to and free tastings at any of the 119 participating wineries. Oh, and each one has food as well. Considering the price of a wine tasting is often $10-15 with no food, this is beyond a great deal.

Kendall-Jackson Wine Center: A Gooner lies within

We started at Kendall-Jackson Wine Center in Fulton, where we met up with a group of friends including among others my homies Joe Gizzle and John John. Initially I was kind of hoping that there would be someone at KJ to talk about Curlin with, since the horse is owned by Jess Jackson, founder of Kendall-Jackson Wineries, but it never worked out. Even better was the woman who served our Pinot tasting who had a Brit accent. I asked her where she was from, and she responded that she was from Somewhere-Upon-Something I had never heard of. So of course I followed up with "what is your favorite football side"? to which she most epically responded "Well, although I was only a few miles from Manchester, I could never root for Manchester United, so I have always supported Arsenal." Yeah, this day is off to an excellent start.

Joe Gizzle: Wine Sherpa Supreme

As a sort of local, Joe Gizzle served as our Wine Sherpa for the day, and he and his wife picked out 7 other wineries for us to try. And what a sherpa he was. Without his guidance, all of the rest of us surely would have gotten lost on the extremely over the river and through the woods trip from Kendall-Jackson over the the Alexander Valley. The second winery we hit was called Field Stone. Of all the wineries we went to I have to give this one extra props because they are obviously down with college football. Observez:

{click to enlarge}

Which one of these is not like the other?

Initially I was disappointed that there was no Georgia bottle, whilst there was a Florida Gators 2007 National Champions bottle, but fair play to them- they did win a national title. At least there wasn't a Georgia Tech one, or an Auburn or Tennessee. I get most of the rest- PAC 10 schools & national powerhouses- but Iowa? Seriously dude- Iowa?

Then I realized that it wasn't so bad that there wasn't a UGA bottle, because I would have paid whatever they were asking for it {i didn't look}. Orson Swindle, Peter Bean, nor DCTrojan wouldn't have gotten out of there without the compulsory souvenir purchase.

White Oak Vineyards

White Oak Vineyards

I won't bore you with all the details of each place, but we moseyed down the road and hit several more wineries along the way, each of which was cool in it's own way. I will say that Russian River/Alexander Valley/Sonoma in general is more my speed when it comes to wine country: much more down to earth, laid back, and less glamor/glitz/ostentatious than some places in the Napa Valley. I'm no expert- hell I'm the other dude in "Sideways" when it comes to wine, but there is definitely a more laid back, chill feel in this area, and I dig it.

Alexander Valley, Sonoma County

Places we went in Alexander Valley:

1. Kendall-Jackson Wine Center
2. Field Stone Winery
3. Hanna Winery
4. Alexander Valley Vineyards
5. White Oak Vineyards & Winery
6. Stryker Sonoma Winery
7. Robert Young Estate Winery
8. Mosaic Winery

Caves at Robert Young Estate Winery

Afternoon sun, Alexander Valley, Sonoma County

I will mention the story behind the epic picture below. John John had a DD wristband and couldn't get served at the wineries, which was fine by him because he is a beer man. Feeling his pain after we had hit about 5 wineries, I mentioned that I had a gift for him in the car: a giant bottle of hefeweizen in my car that had been sitting on ice for more than a day, as it was to be for the post bike & hike sunset the day prior that never quite happened. I told him he could sip on it throughout the afternoon. He was super appreciative, and off we all went in our cars to the next place, which was a nice 5 min drive down the road. I parked a the next winery and turned around a John John was chugging the beer out of a brown bag in the winery parking lot. My favorite part is that I gave him just the beer bottle, but he just happened to have a brown bag in his car that would serve his purpose beautifully. Sober it would have been funny; six wineries in it was beyond hilarious.

You stay classy, John John.

Afterwards we went over to Healdsburg, where I had reserved a hotel room for the night because 1) I didn't want to drive back to SF after the wine-a-thon and 2) we had Monday off so we brought the bikes and were planning on doing some adventurin' the next day. I even managed to slip in a call to my friends Peter & Orson en route. After a nice long dinner everyone else rolled home and we made it to the hotel in time to see the Hippies complete their return from the brink to win The Amazing Race, which pleased us to no end.

Here's the full set of pictures from our Wine-A-Palooza.

Weekend Review, Part 2: Big Basin Redwoods State Park

Fortunately there was an Arsenal match on at 7 a.m. so I was up and about: barring that I would have struggled a bit. The Hit slept in until the match was over, then we all had a mondo breakfast, geared up, rented him a mountain bike, threw all 3 bikes on my car, and rolled down the coast towards Santa Cruz. It was a deliciously beautiful day so the drive down was perfect.

{click pics to enlarge}

Pidgeon Point Lighthouse, California coast

Our destination was a sweet bike & hike from the ocean up into Big Basin Redwoods State Park, where there are 3 waterfalls that you can hike to from the end of the bike trail. The idea was to start by 2 p.m. which would have us finish back at the car, right on the ocean, in time to chill out on the beach, have a drink and some snacks, and watch the sunset.

The view from the trailhead was decidedly average.

As it turned out we didn't leave the city until almost 1.30 p.m. and we didn't set out until 3.30. In other words, we were up against it, as sunset was at 5.20.

Let's roll

The Hit, pre-bonk

As we rode up into the hills, it became apparent that we were going to be chasing the daylight, and also that the Scorpion Bowls and jetlag had teamed up on the Hit and caused him to begin to bonk. Waterfalls 2 & 3 were soon ruled out, and as it was it was going to be tricky just to reach the first one and descend back out of the forest in time.

This might be my fave mountain bike trail evah

We finally made it up to where the mountain bike trail ends, locked our bikes, crossed a stream, and hiked about a mile up to the first waterfall.

Damn treehugger

It is a really beautiful spot, down in a valley between towering walls filled with redwoods, and we stopped to rest a bit and take in the scene.

Berry Creek Falls

Made it

It's hard to look happy when you are an hour into your bonk

Time check: 5.20, meaning the sun had just set and we were staring at a hike back to the bikes and then several miles back down through the forest in ever darkening skies.

How much would Olin Mills give me for this photo?

By the time we got back to the bikes it was damn near dark. I did have a little headlight on my bike, so I took the lead and called out obstacles, sticks, mud, etc to The Hit & Bonita who were close behind me. This "worked", although we had to go really really slow just to be able to see what we were doing. By the time we were halfway down, it was full-on dark. Thankfully we had a new best friend: the three-quarter moon which helped illuminate our path in patches.

It was at the same time miserable and exhilirating; frustrating and one of the most fun things I have done- mountian biking in the dark in the middle of nowhere with help from a bright moonlight, through forests and next to a mountian stream with various unknown animal noises from time to time.

La luna: our new best friend

It felt great to finally put the forest behind us, and the last mile or so back to the car was out in the open, where the unobstructed moonlight really took over and lit our way. I sorted out the bike rack in the dark and we headed back.

It was a very fun time, and I have to credit the Hit, who valiantly fought his way through the biggest and longest bonk I have ever witnessed. Dude is a soldier.

Here's the full set of pics from our coastal bike & hike adventure.

Got home, ate and crashed, but there would be no sleeping in on Sunday.

Weekend Review, Part 1: Scorpion Bowl Odyssey

The last time The Hit visited me back in August was a pretty epic weekend, and one day I'll get around to recapping it, but this past weekend was very fun as well, with way too many activities that I am still recovering from.

So after we met near my work and walk home, it's up to the rooftop for beers and sunset chill time. Then we scooped up Bonita and went out to a great seafood dinner at Pacific Cafe, where they serve you free wine if there is a wait for a table {genius, why don't more family owned restaurants do this?}, and continue to top you off until you are seated. After dinner I tried to explain Trad'r Sam to my companions, as neither had been, but it is something that can't really be explained, it must be lived, so we all decided that it was something that we needed to do right then, so over we went.

Spelling: bad. Drinks: good.

Plain and simple, Trad'r Sam is one of the best dive bars there is. The highlight of the Polynesian theme is not the decor but these things called Scorpion Bowls, which come literally in a salad bowl and are filled with more alcohol that should be legally allowed, yet they taste yummy enough that you don't notice the damage that they are doing to your body. Oh, and in a city where a beer runs you $5-7 each, the Scorpion Bowl can be yours for one easy payment of only $14. A good deal in any town, a great deal in SF.

Scorpion Bowl I, frozen

Even after a few glasses of wine at dinner, Scorpion Bowl I was a lighthearted affair: all fun and games. I showed my co-drinkers how to take two straws and join them together to create a super long straw so that you don't have to bend down so far to reach the fruity goodness. It was all smiles and fun.

Scorpion Bowl I in the 1st person

Scorpion Bowl I in the 3rd person

Midway through Scorpion Bowl I, a local tipped us off to the fact that you can order Scorpion Bowls on the rocks, something that I was not aware of. He also said that they were even better, so shortly after pimping SB I we went for SB II on the rocks.

When SB II arrived, we all took a hearty sip. Immediately thereafter, The Hit, a linebacker who goes at least 250, turns to me with wide eyes and says slowly and loudly, "Dude... HO-LEE SHIT!!!".

Scorpion Bowl II: the really happy zone.

From there it just got a bit silly, and by the end of SB II we were all well into the happy zone. I did a little dance, grabbed the plastic guns from the shoot-em-up video game in the corner, did an ode to Texas Tech's "guns up", did a crazy improvisational latin dance to some cuban music, and even flashed my titties to some people.

It took us considerably longer to pimp SB II than it did SB I, but we managed. At that point we had a choice to make: SB III or bust. We were all in the state where SB III sounded like the best thing in the world, but we also knew that SB III would probably destroy our plans of driving down the coast on Saturday and doing a bike & hike up into the redwoods. After some deliberation, we wriggled free from the grip of Trad'r Sam, and went home to crash out. There were doubts all around about getting up early the next morning.

Here's the full set of pics from our fruity alcohol adventure.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Happy Weekend

The Hit is in town- should be epic as always.

Just back from sunset chillin' on the rooftop.

Happy Hour indeed

Many fun adventures planned for this weekend.

Happy weekend to all.


Feel Good Friday: Vagina Couch Edition

'Pardon me, Kanu: did you just say "vagina couch"?'

Why, yes, I did. And if you act fast, it can be the new centerpiece of your living room.

I don't even know what else to say.

The mother of all caption contest photos.

Have a great weekend.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Some Pics From My Heavenly Weekend

So this year I am hoping to get back to doing a better job of chronicling some of my adventures, which was one of the original purposes of this place, as well as catching up on adventures from the last couple of years as well.

The weekend was great. Went up to South Lake Tahoe and skied two days at Heavenly, which you always remember is aptly named when you see the views from the upper half of the mountain.

California Trail, which straddles the state line

Skiing was great, although as usual the first outing of the season is a stark reminder of just how out of shape the legs are.

California Trail

A great weekend overall- good weather, a little fresh snow overnight, hot tub, clear roads, no chains, and occasional glimpses of Mr. Sun. Oh, and in addition to In-N-Out, I got to eat Chick-Fil-A. Twice. It doesn't get much better than that.

Here's a few pics- the full set can be found here. I hope you had a great weekend as well, whatever you got into.

Canyon trail, California side

Canyon trail

Top of Stagecoach lift, Nevada side

Monday, January 7, 2008

Dodgy At Best Exclusive:
BCS Unveils New "Minus One" Format

Immediately after Tonight's Allstate BCS Championship Game, outgoing BCS commissioner Mike Slive, Fox Sports, and Axe Body Spray announced that going forward, there will not be a playoff nor a "Plus One" model, but rather a "Minus One" model to end the college football season.

The final game will be called the Axe Body Spray Notre Dame Memorial BCS Disappointment Championship and will feature Oklahoma and Ohio State as long as they have gone to and lost their respective BCS games. If either team is not eligible, then Notre Dame will be the first alternate if they are BCS eligible. That should not be too tough for the Golden Domers, who simply have to win 9 games against a majority crap schedule to earn their BCS asskicking, although this year they did fall just 7 wins shy of that 9 win BCS guarantee threshold. If one of the 2 slots in the game cannot be filled by Oklahoma, Ohio State, or Notre Dame, then a five man selection panel consisting of Ron Powlus, Ray Goff, Reggie Ball, Ron Zook, and Todd Marinovich will determine which of the BCS teams was the biggest disappointment in their BCS appearance.

Fox Sports president Ed Goren said "We are excited to be involved in this project and add the Axe Body Spray Notre Dame Memorial BCS Disappointment Championship to our Fox Bowl Bash lineup. Our production staff is already working on creating new audio and graphical special effects and nonsensical halftime promotions to celebrate and grow the ABSNDMBCSDC brand and maintain the Foxtastic quality of our college football broadcasts featuring the JumperScope PCS vision replay camera - in theatres on 2.14.08!" Rumors are already flying about Fox signing Ryan Seacrest to a multiyear contract to host the pre and postgame shows.

Axe Body Spray Vice President of Marketing Lance McTool was estatic about his company's involvement. "Everyone at Axe Body Spray is incredibly pleased to be involved in this exciting and unique event. We feel that it is a perfect match for growing our brand, since most of our customers feel great disappointment that after using our product they are not actually attacked in public by packs of beautiful and extremely horny women. We couldn't be happier about the ABSNDMBCSDC."

Growing the brand

Of course, this will not end the annual controversy surrounding the college football postseason. Savyy analysts have already pointed out that if the ABSNDMBCSDC had existed this season, then it would feature Oklahoma and Ohio State by rule, and Hawaii would be unjustly left out. WAC officials were quick to point out that the system is inherently biased against the smaller non-BCS conferences. "Hawaii more than any other team in the country would have deserved to play in the ABSNDMBCSDC this year, but the big money BCS conferences want to keep the little guys out, which is a shame because a school like Hawaii would be robbed of showing the entire country what they are capable of."

Next year's inaugural ABSNDMBCSDC game will take place in Shreveport, Louisiana.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Memo To Overhyped WAC Teams
On Long Winning Streaks:

Date: January 2, 2008

To: Overhyped WAC Teams On Long Winning Streaks

From: University Of Georgia Bulldog Football

Subject: Playing Us


Stop playing us.

Although it sounds appealing and we appreciate your ambition, trust us, it is not in your best interest and you will be worse off for it.

Colt Brennan = Jared Zabransky 2.0

As an alternative may I recommend a little school just down the road. They would be much more amenable to such pursuits by schools such as yours, and getting tickets for games in which they are involved is quite easy as well.


UGA Football

cc: The World

Thom Brenneman... You're A Douche.

Look dude, I understand and appreciate that you had to break out the filler material before halftime, and by the 4th quarter you had run out of the 28 pages of written filler material that your producers and research staff had prepared and were winging it. I also understand that you are on Fox, so I know ahead of time what I am going to get with your broadcast: a steady 4 hour helping of shit. We really should all be thankful that Fox only has the rights to a handful of games at the end of the year. If we had to endure this worse than horrid duo calling other things regularly it would be truly unbearable.

Still, your extended self-righteous rant against Mark Richt for going for it on 4th and 4 from the Hawaii 5 yard line when up 41-10 with 10 minutes left in the 4th quarter was completely ignorant and uncalled for. Your lazy, I don't cover college football all year but my network is all about the NFL and the big NFL story this year is big, bad, Bill Bellichick going for it on 4th down to run up the score ass, who knows little about the circumstances/ins and outs of a major college football team that would come from covering the sport all year, saw a lazy and easy comparison and you went for it. The trick is, that unlike the Pats that your network usually covers, our starters were not in the game. Among other non starters was QB Joe Cox, who basically got demoted when Stafford came on the scene and hadn't played in a year and a half. At RB was Kregg Lumpkin, the Job of Georgia football the last 4 years with his injuries and adversity, who was playing in his last game as a third string tailback, and the coaching staff really wanted to reward his incredible journey with a parting gift of a touchdown. The 4th down play was a pass to WR Sean Bailey, also a Senior who was playing in his last game after also overcoming the adversity of a blown out knee and 12 month rehabilitation.

If all the starters were still in then your rant may have had some merit, but they weren't, and it didn't. Presumably you wanted Georgia to do the honorable thing and kick a field goal to make it 44-10, because 44-10 makes us totally classy, sporting and honorable winners somehow but 48-10 makes us evil and classless out of control bullies.

I wouldn't be irritated enough to waste time and energy to write about this if:

1. Brenneman had made any such similar commentary whatsoever earlier in the game when the Hawaii dude thought it would be cool and fun to run full speed and blast a stationary Mikey Henderson, who is like 5'6" and weighs a buck fifty, right in the face of his helmet with an early, illegal, unsportsmanlike, and highly dangerous hit, and then follow that up by running around and jumping up and down and celebrating {Henderson missed the rest of the game, the final game of his football career, with a concussion}. Where was your ethical soapbox in the first half, fuckwad? Nowhere to be found, but later Richt is described as a classless asshole for letting his backups/seniors try to score a TD in a game that had ended about 2 hours before.

"Very, very close to helmet to helmet contact"?!??
Davis tried desperately all night to out-moron Brenneman

2. When Georgia got the ball back with 2:01 and Hawaii had no timeouts, and Richt called for victory formation and took 4 knees to run out the clock, why was there no mention about how that was a sporting and classy thing to do by coach Richt? More than half of coaches out there call for handoffs in that situation which 99% of the time amount to nothing, but occasionally the RB busts it for a big gain or a TD. Here you were given an opportunity to counteract your ignorant self but you said nothing.

3. Dude, you work for fucking Fox. Not exactly the best position for giving diatribes about being classy.

Writing about douchebags on Fox, be it sports or "news", is the ultimate form of shooting fish in a barrel, but for some reason you struck a nerve which merited me wasting 20 minutes on your ass.

Fortunately, pretty much no one was watching at that point.

In conclusion:

Thom Brenneman: you're a douche.

Here's lookin' at you, Thom.

Oh, and one more thing, fuckface: Don't ever call us the Gators again.

Solon's Thumbs Were On Fire Today

Today {well technically yesterday now, as it's past midnight} I received 3 non standard "Happy New Year!!!" texts, all from Solon, each of which were not only incredibly on point, but also mirrored exactly what I was thinking at the moments that I received them.

Tue, Jan 1, 1.58 p.m.
Once again, I am blown away by Tebow's will to win. He only lets his team lose 4 times a season. Thank you media, for your endless promotion of this storyline.

Tue, Jan 1, 8.10 p.m.
Kudos to the BCS for giving us such compelling Rose and Sugar Bowl matchups this season.


Tue, Jan 1, 9.46 p.m.
Thom Brennaman can go eat a dick. Fucking self-righteous piece of shit. You work for Fox, take the ethics lesson and stick it up your ass.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New Year

Happy New Year to all you boys & girls.

Mimosas on my rooftop, file photo.

The Dawgs are back today after a long layoff, and I think perhaps I might be as well- the blog juices are flowing freely once again. Enjoy the games and Happy 2008.