California, Here I Am: Day 2

Miles and miles of curves were driven on this trip. A sign on Mountain View Road pointed out 22 continuous miles of curves. Let the nausea begin.

A few years ago Bill met a woman on a plane to London who owned a vineyard in Calistoga, CA. He was apparently very kind to her and made sure she got where she needed to go before he headed in a different direction. The woman gave him her card and invited him to visit her winery if he was ever out her way, so off we went.

On the way to Calistoga, we stopped at the market just off Highway 101 to pick up provisions for our stay up North. I picked up some smoked tofu by Tofu Life. It’s made locally in California and I haven’t seen it in Chicago. I bought the garlic/lemon and hot/spicy flavors. The texture was different from other smoke tofu products I’ve bought back home. The texture (not the taste) reminded me of feta cheese and would make a good substitute. With our shopping complete, we jumped back on the road.

Highway 101 is just another four-lane+ busy highway but as soon as you venture off to smaller two-lane roads expect to drive up and down steep hills and around miles upon miles of sharp curves as you wind through the mountains. By the time we arrived at Diamond Creek Vineyards, I was over driving and handed the keys to Bill. Exhausting. Not what I had in mind for a relaxing vacation. Little did I know it would only be worse in the passenger seat.

Waterfall at Diamond Creek Vineyards

We met Boots at the vineyard and she invited us to a tour. It’s a small winery but unique in that it has several micro-climates within about 22 acres. I’m hardly a wine expert. If you hand me a glass of red wine, I will drink it — no questions asked — whether it’s a $3-bottle or $200-bottle. As soon as we started our tour, she let us know they produce only high-end wine. The least expensive bottle is $175. This vineyard is special in that you can’t just drop in for a tasting like most vineyards. So it was a treat that the winery had a tasting earlier that morning and we were fortunate to be able to taste the leftovers. OK, so I could taste a difference. The wine was so smooth. It was good. Too bad it’s out of my budget.

Back in the car, we headed to Cafe Gratitude in Healdsburg for a late lunch. Healdsburg is a cute little town with shops situated around a small park. I had been to Cafe Gratitude before and was looking forward to going back. There’s a funky little shop attached to the Healdsburg location, so be sure to leave some time to browse if you visit. Cafe Gratitude is mostly a raw food restaurant but some locations also serve cooked food. The Healdsburg location does not. Either way it’s all vegan. Every dish is named with an affirmation, so it takes a bit of getting used to when ordering. We enjoyed the “I am thankful” coconut curry soup, the spicy “I am honoring” live nachos and the “I am accepting” sushi bowl. Everything was delicious and I was stuffed but that didn’t stop us from ordering a slice of peach pie for dessert.

With a full belly, we began our journey further North on hilly, winding roads that a full belly doesn’t support. Nausea be damned, we made it to The Corey House where intense relaxation was about to ensue.

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