From Luxury to Love’s1 April 2012 in Memories, Traveling
Our mission today was make our way down to wine country. Specifically Sonoma. We awoke early after a night of cold rain and after a quick breakfast we were on the road.
Our surroundings slowly began to open up. The forested hills thick with various pines and Redwoods were gradually infiltrated by trees of a more deciduous nature. Then holes began to open revealing patches of meadow. And eventually these patches gave way to vineyards and fruit and nut trees. Neither of us are quite sure why, but these rolling foothills are some of our favorite areas. Maybe it’s a reminder of the south western half of our home state – Wisconsin with a dramatic flare. They just seem so pleasant and inviting. Like you could have a little farm at the bottom and whenever free time permitted, pack a picnic and wander up the side of a hill for a afternoon basking in the golden sun.
A little after noon—and after a brief detour—we arrived in the valley of the grape. We planned to hunker down in Sonoma where there was allegedly an RV park or two. On our way we swung into a visitor center in need of a restroom and some information regarding the area. After attending to nature’s calling we entered the information center and asked the two ladies behind the counter where we might find a place to park our rig and unhitch. Surprisingly this seemed a question they are rarely asked. We had assumed old timers in their giant RVs would migrate to wine country in some reasonable capacity and warrant a park or two. But we were told there was only one park and it was a substantial distance north in the Napa Valley to our east. This seemed it might be an expensive detour both in time and money.
We ventured back to the trailer with literature to review with lunch and talked it over deciding to just have a tasting at the small tasting room right next to the visitors center. I was up for this but feeling a little out of place amongst the BMWs and Mercedes in the parking lot, out of which people dressed in freshly pressed fashions were emerging to wander the art galleries and shops also in the area. Lindsay changed and made herself presentable, but there’s not much you can do to hide a messy, flat mohawk or a giant, untamed beard so I decided to stick to the dirty work pants and old t-shirt I had on. We were only doing one tasting and then hitting the road again.
Feeling a little apprehensive and out of place already I went to relocate Rambo from the truck to the trailer and upon opening the door out came the bucket of food and ceramic food dishes. CRASH! Cat food went everywhere and upon it lay a shattered dish. All this in the middle of a parking lot full of well to do whom were probably already bewildered by our presence. I was mortified to the likes of which I hadn’t felt since high school. I’ve never been one to care much about what others think of me, but then again I don’t spend much time out of my element amongst the rich. This triggered panic and an overwhelming sense of insecurity in me.
Thankfully after cleaning it up Lindsay was still game for tasting. If she had not been we would have surely left the valley without a drop of wine touching our tongues. While I was still apprehensive I was willing to look past my unease for her.
So entering a tiny, classy tasting room I was of the mind set of “fuck it” let them think what they may of me. Within five minutes I was completely at ease. I know it’s service people’s job to be accommodating and friendly, but that doesn’t seem to stop many of them from gauging their treatment of patrons by their appearance and the tip this might foreshadow. These two ladies couldn’t have been nicer. They inquired at length about our trip and where we had been, what we’d been doing. They were friendly and attentive, making the whole experience—which I had dreaded—a wonderful, memorable one. And we got to try a couple of new wines from Meadowcroft Winery – a Vendelho and a Meritage, both of which were so delicious we bought bottles to take with.
With no prospects for a place to park for the night we decided to take a quick trip into the town of Sonoma and then head south. The town of Sonoma is small and not as fancy as we had envisioned, but it was nice. The main square encompassed a nice park with plenty of green space, trees and grass. The businesses were what one might expect, tailored towards tourism and specifically wine. We ducked into a large shop selling cheese, olive oil, and breads amongst other artisan goods. Never one to pass up a free meal I made three passes of the cheese samples while Lindsay perused the rest of the shop. After a little more window shopping we hit the road again.
After an hour or two we made our way to highway 99 which runs parallel with Interstate 5 – the main vein of the west coast. We chose 99 because it ran through more towns that could possibly provide a couple of weary travelers with a Walmart parking lot or a truck stop to sleep at. We were hoping for a large travel center with an all night dinner and free wifi. We had a dream of spending the evening and early morning hours consuming obscene amounts of coffee while trucker watching and catching up on our internet.
Unfortunately the truck stop of our dreams was nowhere in sight and after a long day on the road we settled for a Love’s with an all night McDonald’s and Subway. After splitting a veggie footlong and checking our email the allure of an all nighter washed away and we retired to our trailer. I was convinced I wouldn’t sleep a wink, but after an hour or two of reading I drifted off to the subtle droning sounds of traffic on the highway and an array of vehicles coming and going through the night.
It’s fun to span the extremes every once and a while. We went from the land of the haves to the land of the have just enough for a value meal in the middle of the night. The gamut of wealth in this country is shocking and sad. While some live lives of leisure free of want and ripe with self-indulgence others struggle their whole lives just to get by.
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