When my Aunt called to wish Logan a happy birthday, we hadn’t intended to visit them. But there it was, the invitation hanging in the aether between our two telephones, “You should come out and visit, we’d love to have you.”
I’m accustomed to getting these kind of invitations from friends and family, and I find that I usually have to run them through a social interaction filter to determine if the invitation was made as a polite gesture, never intended to be accepted, or as a genuine request for a visit. It wasn’t necessary for this invitation, as my Aunt Linda is among the most sincere people I know. Also, she lives in Napa, and who doesn’t want to take a trip to wine country?
As it turned out, we didn’t have any plans for Veterans Day weekend, and we had been looking for some kind of short trip. A weekend in Sonoma County sounded like the perfect thing. Schedules were compared, plans made, websites looked at and plane tickets purchased.
For the first time, Logan got his own seat on the plane.
Michael and Linda have a beautiful home in what must be one of the most beautiful places on the west coast. I can see why people want to live here. The weather is pleasant, even in November. As the vineyards turn to autumn, the gentle hills are transformed into a patchwork quilt of fall colors.
Even the roads are picturesque.
We visited the Robert Sinskey winery and sampled several of their outstanding red wines. We really went to see the fish though. The winery has a pond stocked with koi near the entrance. Fish food is available from the counter, and the koi are accustomed to receiving treats to such a degree that they’re nearly domesticated.
I can now say that I’ve pet a fish, an achievement so unlikely that I was unaware of it. Logan had a ball feeding the fish.
We also visited Train Town, a mini amusement park with a working rail line in 1/5 scale. Passengers sit in the cargo cars, and are pulled through an extensive wooded area featuring waterfalls, bridges, and stops at a tiny frontier town with a petting zoo.
Two full sized cabooses are open for excitable toddlers (and adults) to scamper through. In between the cabooses was, inexplicably, a passenger car outfitted with precambrian video games, most of which were in varying stages of decay.
A short walk from Linda and Michaels house is Connolly Ranch, a 12 acre remnant of Napa’s agriculture heritage with a focus on teaching kids about nature and sustainable living. They weren’t open for general tours, but were kind enough to open their doors and let us wander around anyway.
We saw a lot of critters,
took a short hike in the hills,
and tumbled off a hay bale once or twice.
Logan spent some quality time with gourds,
,sat on a saddle,
and spent some more time with gourds. He loves gourds.
Mostly, he just loved Connolly Ranch.
Logan got to spend some time with his cousins we rarely get to see.
He spent enough time with them that Cameron and I were able to get away for some adult time and visit Artesa winery.
On Veteran’s day, we drove down to the veteran’s cemetery.
Even though it was sprinkling, the view was still breathtaking.
A good trip isn’t just marked by the places you visit, or the things you do. The best part about a trip is the people you visit and the ones you travel with. I couldn’t have been in better company.
In conclusion, here is a picture of Logan in the bath wearing a lunch pail as a hat.