Posts Tagged With: Stockton CA

BY WAY OF WINE COUNTRY

Oh, blimey, I’ve been home for five days and in my blog I’m still on the road. My brain has this need for chronological order, which Jim would refute. But, travelers, even if you don’t stop and sip, you can’t help but love wine country. The vines change character depending on the time of year. In places they undulate across the hilltops in beautiful patterns. We traveled twisty, quirky highway 128 until it ran out. Switched to 29, then 12.  The back roads whenever possible.

At a pull-out we stopped and grabbed a couple of pictures of plump grapes waiting for their transformation to wine.There are now hundreds of wineries to choose from.  Move in for a year or two and try them all.

At the main intersection in Calistoga, Busters Smoked Ribs and Chicken is some of the best barbecue you’ll taste West of  Kansas. No fat on these ribs, no steam cooking, simple wood smoke does the entire job. At this point, we could have driven the Silverado Trail, which parallels 29, a gorgeous scenic drive. It bypasses the small towns, Napa, Yountville, St. Helena, and others. We chose to wend our way through the  colorful towns,  both have something to offer.

A friend once complained the drive on highway 12 through the Delta is boring. Not to me. Rough and too many potholes is a fact. Jim has to cover his head when I open the cupboards for fear a can will drop on his head after a road like this. A wind farm popped into view,  new since I’d driven it.

Small sloughs,  fishing and boating defines much of life here and gives you a feel for the place even without stopping.

The  island ferrys are gone.  The time will come when  drawbridges will be obsolete. Even now,  the amount of traffic on the road that stops for a single small boat whizzing under seems ludicrous. River traffic isn’t what it used to be. Paying a bridge tender is costly. The only constant is change, so enjoy them now, they are an endangered species.

We arrived in Stockton on October 9th, missed the Derby, and missed a train museum on Highway 12. I promise myself every time I drive that road to stop at the train museum.  There are no warning signs. Suddenly, the driveway appears and you are past it before you can say:  the space between the words Pig and And, and And and Whistle is uneven.”  You won’t find a place to turn around on Highway 12  until you are several miles past.   “Such is life,” says Jim.

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WHAT TO BE THANKFUL FOR

At 5:56 this morning, I received a call from my youngest son. He wanted to tell me some good news.
“Its Black Friday,” he said as a lead in.
“Yes.”
“Well, to cheer you and give you some good news, I thought I’d let you know that I drove down Pacific Ave. (this is in Stockton) and all the big store parking lots were full. There were people standing out in the cold waiting for the stores to open. Lines of people waiting to go in to do some shopping. That is the first time I’ve seen those lots full in a long time and I wanted to share the happy news.”
It is happy news. I would probably have been just as thankful for this evidence of an improved economy if he had called a bit later. But, we are a family of early risers, so I thought I’d pass it on to you.

Jim settled in to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and alert us to a special event.

The parade, famous throughout the U.S., was also the venue for my Grandson, Mason, who played his clarinet along with the rest of the band members from Green Valley High School. I know you can see him there, on the right, in the back. We all decided his five seconds of fame is the predictor of a greater future.

Truth to tell, we were excited to know he was there, and thankful he had this great thrill in his young life, to play in the parade and also to perform at Carnegie Hall, even if we couldn’t actually see him.

Ten year old Owen helped peel potatoes. He got quite good at it. He likes to count things and arrange things in a numerical way. He wouldn’t quit peeling until the pan had 25 potatoes in it, plus, it was important to him to peel the last potato.

Doug and my brother Clark, fired up the pit to smoke the turkey. Later, when it was brought in to carve, the kids declared it looked like black leather.

Cedric baked walnut and pumpkin pies. Here he is making a bean and cheese dip.

Virginia and Theresa set up a nice table of hor d’oeuvres in the living room. Virginia prepared her special dishes and Theresa brought her famous cranberries, and Clarks shrimp avocado appetizer.  The main event was a table overladen with all the special foods.

Most of the big day was spent relaxing. Playing games. Enjoying being together with nothing to do but play.

Doug taught 8 year old Theo to play chess.

Theo liked replacing his powerful queen with r2d2, an equally powerful robot.

Cedric and Owen drooled over some neat Lego structures.

Owen perfectly assembled a complicated Lego structure, later in the day.

Everyone was thankful for a great day of family fun, feasting and relaxation. I’m thankful for many things, but having a day dedicated to getting together and feasting and playing is a wonderful tradition.

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