Skip to main content

California Vacation 2011 - Part Five

Day six of the trip began with breakfast in our room.  Yes, blue skies again greeted us for our morning departure.  We ran by Starbucks to snag some drinks and then hit the road.  The leisurely drive lead us back to Napa Valley, as it offered many more enticing destinations yet to behold.  This would be our last full day so we planned to drive to the furthest winery away first thing in the morning and then spend the day working our way back toward Sonoma.

On the highway between Sonoma and Napa you can't help but see Domaine Carneros dominating the hillside.  It was early in the morning so they were not open yet but the French style architecture begged to be photographed.

Domaine Carneros

After a quick stop at Domaine Carneros, our next destination for the day would be Mumm Napa.  They are a sparkling wine producer and offer tastings out on a picturesque veranda.  The Ansel Adams photo gallery was another highlight to this unique place.

Mumm Napa

The town of Yountville looked to be a fun stop for lunch and more sightseeing.  There is free public parking right in the heart of town and there are shops and restaurants within a short walking distance.  The well known restaurant The French Laundry (owned by Thomas Keller) is located in Yountville.  Just a few doors down we found lunch at his Bouchon Bakery.  We sat on a shaded bench outside the bakery and enjoyed our sandwiches while shooing off the hungry birds.  A large marketplace offered fun shopping from local artists and featured the signature store of Napa Style.

Bouchon

The French Laundry restaurant
Yountville Marketplace
The next two wineries we visited were just walk through and photographic visits.  Clos Du Val and Andretti have really unique buildings as seen in the pictures below.  Walking out of Andretti I heard the distinctive sound of radial engines and caught a glimpse of two Stearman's flying over head.  A few moments later a Howard DGA roared by.  I bet they all had the best view of the valley that day!
Courtyard at Andretti

Candice and I both agreed that our favorite winery was Coppola's near Geyserville.  My second favorite was Jacuzzi in Sonoma.  We stopped in at Jacuzzi on our way back into Sonoma towards the end of the day.  Being that I am such an aviation enthusiast you think I would have spotted the propeller art work on the Jacuzzi sign out in front of the winery.  No, it was my wife.  She pointed it out and said we HAD to stop in.  Well, of course we did!


The Jacuzzi family is best known for their whirlpools and spas, but they have also built a magnificent winery.  The stone building has a two room tasting area, one for wine tasting and the other for olive oil tasting.  We spent equal time in both.  The propeller on the sign?  In reading a history of the Jacuzzi family I learned a piece of history I had never heard.  Before whirlpools the family made irrigation water pumps and before that they made propellers.  Cool.  An aviation link to a common name!  Check out their web site - Jacuzzi


The Jacuzzi winery is right next to the Sonoma Valley airport so I drove us by to see if there was any airplanes we hadn't seen before on the ramp.  A T-6 and Stearman were taxing out for rides as we pulled up.  I was taking pictures when Walt, the owner of the Ryan ST we saw earlier in the week stopped to visit with me.  We talked vintage airplanes for a few minutes before he went on his way.  It is always good to meet the owners of the airplanes featured on my web site face to face.
Walt Bowe's Ryan ST
With some daylight and energy left we made another swing through the Sonoma square.  A little shopping to find something to take home to remind us of the Sonoma area.  Is this weather for sale in one of these shops?  We want to by some of that!  Oh look, ice cream!  Just the treat to finish off the day!

Once back at the Fairmont we saw that the pool side seating was quiet and fairly empty so we snagged our books and a notepad to go sit by the pool.  There was a light breeze and the temperatures were coming down.  We found some seats in the shade to enjoy being outside knowing that the Texas summer heat wouldn't allow much of this when we get home!  Candice did some reading while I jotted down my notes to write up this trip blog.  The sun light faded after about an hour so we turned in for the night.  Our last night before returning home.

Fairmont
On the last morning we took things slow and made a gradual departure from the Fairmont to enjoy our final few hours in Sonoma.  There is so much to see and do in the area that we knew we would have to plan another trip!  Our conversations for the day were full of what to see NEXT time.  The last lunch stop for the trip was at Sunflower Cafe, a place we had read about before we arrived.  It was worth the stop.  The servings were large enough to pack up a snack for later.  Those would come in handy later in the day as we hurried towards the San Francisco airport.

Our final stop on this California trip was the Livermore airport to see a gorgeous Spartan Executive.  The connections I have made through my web page featuring Spartan Executives lead to a meeting being set to see Spartan Executive serial number 11.  Steve Marini was gracious enough to take time out of his day to open the hangar for us to see his beautiful ship.  He shared his story of seeing a Spartan at a young age and how he came to own a Spartan of his own.  To say he is enthusiastic about owning a Spartan is an understatement!  He gave us the full walk around tour and let me sit in the cockpit.  Our visit was too short as I could have listened to Steve's stories all day!  Take a look at the pictures below of his magnificent ship.  Thank you, Steve, for your time.  You have an amazing piece of aerial art!  (Look for Steve and his Spartan on display at the Reno Air Races this September.)





Steve and Dan


The clock was ticking and now we needed to race towards SFO.  It took awhile but our Prius finally got up to highway speed.  We made it across the San Mateo bridge and slid right into the rental car return at SFO.  Candice and I both let out a big sigh and breethed in our last deep breath of cool California air.  Time to go home.

It has been about two weeks since we returned from our vacation.  Texas has been on a hot streak with over 20 straight days with temperatures over 100 degrees.  You can imagine that my wife and I have mentioned almost every day that we wished we were back in northern California where it is about 20 degrees cooler!  Maybe next summer we can stay longer.

Links - see our Ryan and Spartan web pages at Another Time

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Howard 500

The Mighty Howard 500 was a conversion from a Lockheed twin that makes a ramp presence like very few airplanes today.  If you were to see a Howard 500 on a ramp full of Challengers, Gulfstreams and Falcons... which do you think YOU would be drawn to?  Watch the video above and tell me you wouldn't skip the others and walk around the Howard!  Thanks to collector Toni Phillippi in Minnesota there are now two preserved Howard 500's in flying condition.  I first saw the Howard 500 at Oshkosh and walked by it several times a day for the week that I was there.  The powerful twin just draws you in.  If I were assembling a dream fleet of airplanes for my personal collection, A Howard 500 would be my traveling machine!  The video above shows that Mr. Phillippi flies his Howard's all over the country and even went to great lengths to return one from Europe to the United States.

For more on Mr. Phillippi's aircraft visit his web site - http://www.tpaero.com/

For more on Lockheed…

Ford TriMotor - Two TriMotors For Sale

It is a cold and icy day here in North Texas.  So that has me looking over aircraft for sale around the country.  The internet sure makes dream airplane shopping fun.  All your dream airplanes right on your screen!

Two of the coolest listings I found are on www.courtesyaircraft.com and if I were to buy a time machine back to the 1920s I would snag one of the Ford TriMotors!

N9610 and N9645 are Ford Trimotor's that have been restored to flyable condition. N9610 is base in Minnesota with the Golden Wings Flying Museum.  N9645 is base in Oregon with the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum.  Both look outstanding!

Below are my photos of N9645 when I visited the Evergreen collection back in 2007.






Which one should I pick?  Maybe I should just snag them both!

Great Lakes Biplane For Sale

When a unique airplane comes up for sale and deserves a good home... I just have to spread the word... Dan



Exceptional 1977 Great Lakes 2T-1A-2 offered for sale.  The Great Lakes is a wonderful biplane and is a very capable entry into moderate level aerobatics, that is also fun to fly low and slow with the wind on your face.  It will do everything a Stearman does, but fits in a t-hangar and only burns 10gph.  It can easily be rolled in and out of the hangar with one person.
This offering is N3823F, serial number 791, aircraft total time approx. 2050hr, annual Inspection May 2013, Engine-Lyc. AEIO-360-B1G6, approx. 40hrs SMOH by Buldoc 2009, Prop-Hartzell HC-C2YK-4F, Overhauled by Maxwell 2009, Factory new in 2000. Completely disassembled and restored in 2009-2010. Reassembled with all new hardware. Fuselage completely stripped, inspected, and refinished. Wings completely disassembled, inspected, replaced one wood spar (small end crack).  All fabric replaced with Ceconite.…