Napa Valley – October 2014

DSCN4073As we drove south through the Napa Valley we were impressed by the vast number of wineries and vineyards. We knew this was THE place for wine, but never imagined this scale.

We stayed at the Skyline Wilderness Park. This is a nice campground with a large network of trails in the hills above the park. They were a great place for exercise – a major challenge! It was surprising to find such a wilderness area within a few miles of downtown Napa. During a visit to the visitor center in Napa we discovered there was a ferry that ran from Vallejo to San Francisco. We decided to make that the next item on our agenda.

DSCN3897As we rode the ferry to San DSCN3943Francisco, we had great views of the surrounding area including the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz Prison, and the San Francisco waterfront. This was much better than driving into San Francisco in our one-ton, dual-rear wheel pickup truck!

DSCN3947Our first stop was Pier 39 on Fisherman’s Wharf. It was fun wandering through the various shops. We also visited the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park. DSCN3962I enjoyed viewing the displays that described the history of San Francisco harbor and the maritime trade. On the pier there were several ships tied up that we could go aboard to tour. As a maritime history buff, I admired the extent that these historic vessels had been restored.

DSCN3970No visit to the Fisherman’s Wharf area is complete without a visit to Ghirardelli Square. We were able to read about the history of the Ghirardelli family and the free samples were the best part of the visit.

We walked (climbed) Hyde DSCN3981Street to Lombard Street – the curviest street in the US. The view from here was phenomenal. Cable cars are emblematic of San Francisco and our next DSCN3997stop was the Cable Car Museum. This museum is housed in the central station for the cable car system and we could see the actual cable driving the cable cars on their routes. The history of the cable car system was very interesting, seeing it in actual operation was the icing on the cake.

We walked through Chinatown, DSCN4020with all of its interesting shops on our way. We passed through Nob Hill, representative of the “high class” neighborhoods of the past and boarded a cable car to ride to the Embarcadero. The best way to ride a cable car is to hang on to the outside rails.

DSCN4027Although it was overcast, we had a view of the sunset over the Golden Gate Bridge on our return trip on the ferry.

Of course we had to visit some wineries. DSCN4030Our first stop was the Sutter Home Winery. In the early 1970s, Sutter Home started a trend when the company created White Zinfandel, introducing a new, sweeter flavor profile. They changed the way Americans enjoyed wine by offering them high-quality varietals at an affordable price. Years ago, Vera Trinchero, one of the owners, was diagnosed with breast cancer. So, in 2001, they launched Sutter Home for Hope, with the goal of raising money to help find a cure. Since then, they have raised over $900,000.00 for breast cancer research, treatment and education.

DSCN4032The Robert Mondavi Winery was DSCN4046our next stop. We had a great tour through the vineyard, fermentation vats and bottling area. This was followed by a wine tasting that was the most informative wine tasting I have ever attended. Our guide was just a wealth of information.

DSCN4063On our last day in the valley, we had a light lunch at the CIA – Culinary Institute of America. We wandered through the public areas and were able to see some of the kitchens and classrooms. DSCN4070On our way back to the campground we stopped in at the Beringer Winery and toured some classic architecture. It has been interesting to see the uniqueness of each winery and how they reflected the character of their founders.

On Monday, October 27th we departed on a two day sprint to Las Vegas.

About Michigan Traveler

Bob and his wife, Pat, are fulltime RVers. They sold their home in Michigan in June, 2011 and now travel the country, living on the road. Home is Where You Park It!
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