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.
As we rode the ferry to San Francisco, 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!
Our 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. I 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.
No 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 Street 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 stop 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, with 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.
Of course we had to visit some wineries. Our 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.
The Robert Mondavi Winery was our 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.
On 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. On 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.