Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Wine Country

Yes, it's wonderful to be home with the kids. I'll post more photos later.

Race results were posted earlier this week, and here's where the dust settled. My personal worst time for a half marathon (2:17:02) netted:

- 10.27/mile pace, 40 seconds per mile slower than my previous worst half
- 34/72 among men 40-44
- 198/580 among all men
- 2,651 among 11,540 half marathon finishers

Dori and I drove part of the course Monday before heading to the Wine Country. She gasped as we drove the hills at Miles 6 and 8.5. Honestly, it made me feel better to drive the course and experience the inclines that way. It was also great because Dori and I were able to experience the beauty of the course.

Dori and I ate a late lunch at Thai Time in Cloverdale, about 90 minutes north of San Francisco. Dori was skeptical of Thai food, but had a conversion Monday. It was the best Thai I've ever eaten. We checked in to The Old Crocker Inn, then headed to the Dry Creek Valley to sample wines. Reds no longer agree with Dori post transplant, but she sipped a little white. We visited Quivira (hit and miss), organic producer Michel-Schlumberger (pricey but very good reds) and Stryker-Sonoma (nice visuals, weak wines) in Alexander Valley.

A highlight of the first day was a visit to Locals, which samples nine micro-wineries from the area, in tiny, picturesque Geyserville. I sampled four whites and three pinot noirs, and was simply blown away. The pricing and quality were outstanding. Afterwards, we ate at Santi, which served some tasty Northern Italian. My chicken over soft polenta with figs, garlic and onions was terrific.

The next morning, we enjoyed a marvelous waffle, fruit and bacon breakfast with unfiltered apple juice. Dori decided to get a massage, while I peeled off to sight-see and fish the Russian River. I caught a small trout, smallmouth bass and an unidentified species before heading back to find a very relaxed, ache-free Dori. We ventured out again and sampled some wines at Hawkes (excellent 2004 cabernet sauvignon and a nice chardonnay) and Field Stone (average), then grabbed a bite at upscale Jimtown Store. Dori had a white bean vinaigrette salad while I had a hearty chili with tender pork and beef. The food reminded me of the cuisine at Marche in East Nashville.

I proposed to Dori that we take out more food from Jimtown, grab my favorite white from Locals (Portalupi biancho fusion) and enjoy dinner on the Old Crocker deck with a view of the sunset over the Dry Creek Valley. "I love that idea," she said. We ate a ham and butternut squash gratin and crisp cole slaw. I added a hard salami that was stellar, and we finished with a chocolate chip cookie.

We could have enjoyed a few more days in the Wine Country, but we decided to act mature, rise early this morning and head east to bail out the grandparents. An oil tanker, unfortunately, collided with a car near the Oakland Airport, our destination, which made the trip much longer than we had planned. But we had allowed for something like this and made our flight on time. Meanwhile, some state workers probably are still cleaning up some of the 8,600 gallons of gas on I-880 and repaving where the freeway melted. This disaster forced us to re-route through some tough neighborhoods in Oakland, which didn't impress.

But we'll soon forget Oakland. The power of Wine Country memories will simply be too pleasantly overwhelming.


Renee Brown said...

Jim, Sounds like a wonderful vacation.

Congratulations on your race. What difference does time make, when you have raised so much money for the cause, and inspired so many of us.

You and Dori really are the "Dream Team".

We are all so proud of you both and thank you for allowing us to share in the e-version of your amazing adventure.

Love to your whole family,

Renee, Bob and all

Dan said...

Jim, way to go.

Ronni Gordon said...

Great race, great photos, great food...and Haven't had a drink or gone to a restaurant in more than a year! Loved the descriptions. I felt like I was there. Tell Dori her hair looks great. And her smile is the best. (And Jim you look good too!)

jjspring said...

Hi Jim and Dori,

Your stories and your efforts are inspiring. It was a pleasure meeting Dori and you. On behalf of myself, my long lineage of James Browns, and the whole crew at Hawkes Winery, keep fighting the good fight.


Jim said...

Thanks, Dan and Renee. Ronni, can't wait til you enjoy a nice glass in a good restaurant. Jeremy, you did a nice job hosting us and not overselling some very good wines.