Well, it wasn’t our smartest move to leave 73-degrees Marina del Rey to drive to 113-degrees Paso Robles at the start of our 7-week RV trip through the Pacific Northwest and the Rocky Mountain states. We survived and enjoyed our first week with lots of visits, great food, and wine tasting, of course! We did decide to avoid the 100+ heat on the drive going up I-5 to the 46, and instead took a slightly longer, but much cooler, route through Ventura and Santa Barbara. Fortunately, there were no fires on any of our routes thus far.
Paso Robles – The heat wave was serious, and we are very thankful for the two air conditioners on our motorhome. Our first evening, when it was in the high 90s, we relaxed at the campground clubhouse where live music and wine/beer helped us feel like we were really on vacation.
The next day we started wine tasting early in the day, to try to get ahead of the heat. Thanks to Whitney and Kirk (niece and nephew) and their great recommendations, we had a lovely time at Still Waters (great views, super-friendly staff), Cass Winery (great barbecue/taco stand, super-friendly staff), and Herman Story (great, chilly tasting room in town). Suffice it to say that getting back to the RV at 3:00 when it was 113 degrees outside pretty much limited any additional activities for the day, except listening to the Dodgers as they routed the Diamondbacks 22-1.
Bay Area – Food and wine are checked off the list, so what’s left? Family and Friends. We drove up the 101, rather than the 5, which felt much more humane and scenic, camping in the East Bay of the San Francisco area so we could visit a bunch of folks that we hadn’t seen in more than a year, and in some cases, much longer.
My big brother Brad and his girlfriend Jennifer hosted us for a wonderful dinner just a few hours after they returned from a weekend trip to Yosemite, where they were also dodging the heat. We caught up with them and my nephew Jay, since it had been more than 2 years since we had seen them. And of course, the food and wine were fantastic (my apologies to our vegetarian readers, but the Carsons are definitely carnivores).
We got to have lunch with my college roommate and senior recital singing partner Alice at a halfway meeting point. Since we had not seen each other for several years, there was a lot of catching up to do on families, careers (Alice is a high school choir director and voice teacher), and what it’s like to teach choir and doctoral students via Zoom (her job was way harder than mine).
A dinner with my “little” brother Chris, his wife Laura, and their older son Richard capped off our time in the Bay Area. Richard is a biologist whose company is developing COVID tests for the variants out there. We all traded stories of working and limited traveling over the last year and enjoyed catching up on family stuff (their younger son Will is getting married next month ). Chris works at Livermore Labs, doing contract work for the U.S. Department of Energy, studying the nuclear proliferation capabilities of various countries around the world. He’d tell us more, but then he’d have to kill us .
Sonoma County – Leaving the Bay Area, we again headed up the 101 and settled in a campground on the Russian River for some Sonoma County wine tasting and family visiting. Kokomo Winery was a great recommendation, with personalized tasting services in an air-conditioned space, and we enjoyed driving past all the wineries and vineyards on Dry Creek Road near Healdsburg. This is an area we need to come back to and spend more time exploring.
We spent the evening enjoying an amazing meal from my niece Leah (Brad’s daughter) and her husband Brendan. They are quite the foodies, and we were treated to a fantastic spread, including appetizers from Leah’s company Cowgirl Creamery, and a barbecued turkey from Brendan’s expert hands (see previous note about being carnivores). And by the way, Kokomo Winery supplied the wine for Leah and Brendan’s wedding two years ago, so it was a good choice for our wine tasting today.
Thus concludes the first installment of the 2021 Kratzer West Coast/Rocky Mountain RV trip—family, friends, food, and wine is an accurate summary. Our apologies to those friends we weren’t able to see with our limited time in each place. Next installment will have a little more nature—we’re hitting the California redwoods and the Oregon coast. Till then, thanks for reading.