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Joyfully married May 15, 2010, living in Troy, AL, Engineer and Pharmacist, "parents" of sweet puppy Gidget...

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Tour de California 2011

Warning: this is a very lengthy post :)

We spent the last week having a blast in California with 6 great friends - the Cassidys, the Hayes, and the Murphys. We toured on foot and bike in Calistoga and other parts of Napa, and then spent the weekend in San Fransisco fitting in everything we could to our short visit. It was hard to leave the breathtaking scenery and humidity-free, cool air to come back to Alabama!
I will give the highlights, and some pictures, of our trip out west...

We arrived in Calistoga on Tuesday afternoon after flying into Oakland a renting a minivan to carry us and our massive amounts of luggage. We stayed at this fabulous house/lodge on the Lawer family vineyards...

Tuesday night we enjoyed a delicious dinner at SolBar in Calistoga where, after filling ourselves with FABULOUS food, the boys found a bocci ball court and us ladies found a fire pit for warmth...

Wednesday we were up and at 'em to head to Schramsburg, a champagne winery, for a tour. It was fabulous! We got to go inside the caves where they "age" and make the champagne. It was a real treat! It was a history lesson, too, as Schramsburg champagne is the choice for State dinners and other events at the White House for decades.

After Schramsburg, we headed to Chateau Montelena. A beautiful, old building from the 1800's on the vineyard with an amazing view...

For lunch we headed to V. Sattui for a picnic on the grounds with fresh cheese, bread, sandwiches and salads. The flowers were so plentiful and colorful at V. Sattui that it felt more like a garden than a vineyard.

After successfully stuffing ourselves once again we went to Caymus and made it just in time. They were getting ready to close for the day, but they squeezed us in.

At this point, we were pooped and headed to the grocery store to pick up some 2" steaks and veggies for dinner. The guys swam while we lounged around by the pool until we got hungry again. We cooked, relaxed and spent hours on the patio and at the dinner table before calling it a night. These nights hanging out at the house with our friends were some of my favorite memories of the trip!

Thursday was the big day - the bike tour through Calistoga. We were all a little nervous but it turned out to be our favorite part of the trip! We started downtown Calistogo and toured through busy streets and side streets alike. We stopped by 4 vineyards and had a fabulous picnic under the trees at Cuvaison. Here are some of the pics from the biking...
We stopped first at Envy where we took this group picture...

Next stop was Lava Vine. This was great because we had little snacks and were able to sit down under a cover with water misters to cool us down before we went to our next stop - the picnic lunch!
It was an amazing spread of cheese, crackers, bread, meat, fruit and sweets! There was even a birthday cake for Laura and Leigh! After lunch we visited Cuvaison - but were almost too full to entirely enjoy the experience. The ride immediately following lunch was the MOST difficult bike ride of my life. Our last stop was Bennett Lane where we were able to cool down and relax before making the trip back to our starting point. The scenery was beautiful but I was not talented enough to photograph and ride so I left that to other, more coordinated members of our group!

Here is the whole crowd...

The biking wore us out and we made another grocery stop before heading home to relax and, of course, eat some more. I would be remiss if I did not mention the massive quantities of cheese and crackers/bread consumed on this trip. It is the sophisticated thing to snack on, after all.

Friday morning, we woke up and packed up - ready to hit the road to San Fransisco. We made one final stop in Calistoga at Cafe Sarafornia for breakfast. then went on our way.

Once in San Fran, we drove through Sausalito and stopped at the Golden Gate Bridge for a photo op.

From the Golden Gate, we went to check out the Pacific Coast. Wow, is it different from our Gulf Coast. Cold and grey and rocky. It was neat to see, though, but I think I'll stick with Orange Beach for laying out!We went and left our stuff at the hotel before heading to China Town, and then onto Top of the Mark for some food, rest, and an amazing view! We could see Grace Cathedral from Top of the Mark and knew that it had to be our next stop. It may get it's own post because it was so amazing! Here is just a glimpse...

We were spent after all that walking so we went to the hotel to rest and get ready for Leigh's birthday dinner at Twenty-five Lusk. It was a FABULOUS meal and a great time to celebrate.

Saturday, we made the most of our one full day in San Fran. We started at the Farmer's Market. Our senses were assaulted (in a good way) with beautiful flowers and the freshest foods. After eating breakfast and some fries as Gott's we headed for a very long (and hilly) walk to Coit Tower. Another breathtaking view awaited us at the top of the long stroll.

We went back downhill to the Ferry building to see the Sea Lions and get lunch from street vendors. (Corn dogs, cotton candy, happiness!) Then it was on to Alcatraz. Alcatraz was such a neat experience. I learned so much that I did not know, but still want to learn more. It may need its own post as well!

After Alcatraz, we obviously had to eat again. I think that might be all we did. We found a great little sushi place (we took a cab) and relaxed! Before heading back to the hotel we visited Union Square for a little shopping. We didn't go overboard with it - only because we didn't have much time. Somehow, we had not cared about shopping up to this point, but all of a sudden wanted to buy everything in sight once we saw all of the shiny things. We finished the night at the Ritz with dessert in the lounge before falling into bed. After our 6 day adventure, we were ready for some rest! We were sad to part ways and head home but we brought lots of memories and souvenirs with us!

If you can believe it, this is just a glimpse of all we did! This must become a yearly trip - the destination may change but the company should remain the same. We had a blast - sorry this way so long, but I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did!

Thanks for reading! Love, The Millers


  1. i LOVE LOVE LOVE this post! Ben and i have been to Napa and san fran 2x and absolutely LOVE IT! We are dying to go out there with friends some time too. looks like it was an AMAZING trip! i reminisced because we have been to schramsburg, chateau montelana, & caymus too!!!! thanks for sharing!

  2. Wow, what a fun getaway! Reading your post, I feel like I was right there with you :) What a blessing to have such wonderful friends to travel with. I can't wait to read the "need a post of their own" posts, and yes, I'm going to hold you accountable ;) Don't leave us hanging!