Surprise, Surprise, Surprise

I read on Rob’s Facebook page that he was coming back to the States for a 3-week stint in Milpitas. Knowing his wife was a schoolteacher and assuming she was off for the summer, I asked him if he was bringing her out this time.

And so began the collusion.

In fact, Rob informed me, Amanda WAS coming out this time and would be here for a week. A which time they’d be leaving for a vacation to New Zealand. It was up to me now to figure out how to squeeze in a visit to Milpitas between her arrival and departure times, my work schedule and my own vacation schedule. And to keep my arrival a secret.

4 hours after l left home heading for points north, I got a page from Rob saying they were heading into San Francisco for the day for site seeing and shopping. I arrived just as they were heading into Macy’s to look at watches. Telling Amanda his friend from work wanted to meet up with them, I became “Joe” in this intercontinental conspiracy.

Sneaking around the jewelry counter to one side, while her husband distracted her from the other side, I heard her ask her husband, “What do you think of this watch?”

“I don’t like that one as much as the other”, I replied.

Amanda turned to look at what busy body was butting into her holiday shopping spree. It took her a second to recognize me, being around 17 years older, around 17 lbs heavier with around 17 inches more hair than the last time we saw each other.

We spent the day wandering around San Francisco, catching up on almost two decades of family news, job stories, travels and all those other stories that make life interesting. The next day we headed into Napa Valley, to tour the countryside and visit a vineyard or two.

I’ve never been to the UK, other than getting stranded there on my way to Sicily, but I hear it’s lovely. Probably too cold and rainy for my tastes, but pretty, nonetheless. Of all the places I’ve been to on my drives through California, I don’t think that any of it is as beautiful as the Napa Valley. Judging by Amanda’s comments, she seemed to find Napa just as beautiful as I did.

_MG_4176Driving along Highway 29/128, in search of Sterling Vineyards, my fair-haired, fair-skinned friend almost melted. We heard, through the grapevine, that Calistoga would probably be less busy and more enjoyable. Finding Sterling Vineyards, we took their self guided tour that started with an aerial tram ride up to the Greek architecture inspired winery. Imbibing in some refreshments, we cooled off before again heading off into the heat of the day. _MG_4182

Down the road from Sterling was Castello di Amorosa, a winery built to look like a 12th century Tuscan castle. We wandered around the castle, but not being much of a wine drinker, it turned into a wonderful place for a photo. Leaving there, we headed down the Silverado Trail, the roadway that shows the “back door” view of wineries and vineyards. I had taken this path years earlier, during a Thanksgiving holiday and took a picture along a stretch of the roadway. I was searching for the same spot to see how well the view remained.

It was a wonderful visit that ended much too soon.


(more photos at flickr)

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