Wednesday, March 30, 2005

House of D

I love film and I hope to see David Duchovny's new film "House of D" while in San Diego next month. Not only is he directing it, he acts along with Robin Williams, Tea Lione (his wife) and Erykah Badu. Cross your fingers that it will be in a theatre while I'm there, otherwise, it'll be months *probably* before it hits a theatre here. Fortunately, I won't go hungry for independent film thanks to Landmark Theatres.

The film opens April 15 so forget about your taxes and treat yourself to what looks like a wonderful film.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Gone to the Grape

Callaway Coastal Barrel of Berry Juice, Temecula, CA.

I can tell you exactly when I acquired a taste for wine: October, 2003. Leah introduced me to Black Opal Shiraz and I was immediately infatuated. A committed relationship developed, Me and a Red Wine, who would have ever thought it? Since nursing a baby bottle, I've always been a beer-drinkin' girl; my descendents are German, it's no wonder. But I turned over a new leaf: I've gone to the grape.

Ever since discovering
Shiraz, wine-loving friends have recommended wines to taste but I never would. For me, the discovery, the experience, the sampling was something to be shared. My taste buds were stuck on one wine until I rode to Paris at the end of February. Yes, Paris. One can ride there from Florida. It's in Tennessee, you see. It was there that I stayed with friends Bill and Susan and had the pleasure of tasting three more varieties to add to my I-Like-These wine list. Knowing of my relationship with Shiraz, Bill introduced me to Rock Rabbit, a California central coast Syrah which I really liked. It was smooth and peppery. In addition, I sampled another Syrah as well as a Beaujolais which was very different and delicious in its own right.

My next wine adventure took place while visiting San Diego in early March. Michael and I spent a spectacular Sunday tasting our way through the
Temecula Valley wine country. Having seen "Sideways" I had some idea what to expect from such an outing but I was truly a student in this world. I clearly had much to learn about the varieties, the terminology, and the tasting technique. Enjoying wonderful company while taking in the sun, scenery and effects of the wine were all an added bonus.

Vines sans grapes, Temecula Valley, CA.

Patricia Schultz's
1,000 Places To See Before You Die: A Traveler's Life List mentions California's Wine Country as one place to not miss. When she wrote of "wine country" she was referring to the premier vineyards of Napa and Sonoma. Perhaps some day I'll experience those vineyards but for now, I am quite happy to say I've been to:
  1. Hart Winery
  2. Thornton Winery
  3. Bella Vista Cilurzo
  4. Wilson Creek Winery & Vineyards
  5. Callaway Vineyard & Winery

Bella Vista Cilurzo, Temecula Valley, CA.

Inside BVC, Temecula Valley, CA.

Sunset in Temecula Valley, CA.

On another day, I sampled Orfila while stopping at the Julian Tasting Room and Art Center.

Orfila Tasting Room, Julian, CA.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

First Stop in San Diego

First off, let me say this trip was not a riding trip. A few readers have contacted me about the ride to California but this particular visit was a fly n' drive. I DID ride to San Diego last April and will have to post pics from that trip just to show the bike in different locations as proof, although, I did post about it last April or May. (pics have since been removed due to space) Anyway, for those who think riding in the desert and along the west coast is very cool, you're right! I've done it and plan to do it again--soon.

In the meantime, here are a few more photos from my first stop in California this month. After a quick lunch in
Old Town, Michael drove us north along the craggy coastline to visit La Jolla Cove where the harbor seals now called home. As someone who lives on the northeast Florida coast, it is fascinating to see the difference along the shore. The animals are different and the terrain is dramatically different giving me a totally unique feeling while being at the beach. Our sandy and flat beaches vary greatly from the cliffs skirting the Pacific. I love the California coastline.

Caca along the coast. La Jolla Cove, March 2005.

Seal and seagull. La Jolla Cove, March 2005.

Beach squirrel. La Jolla Cove, March 2005.

Shame on me for not taking pictures of the wildflowers from the desert! These flowers in La Jolla were the only flowers to make their way to my camera.

Fleurs. La Jolla Cove, March 2005.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Rainer Maria Rilke

On more occasions than I can recall, I've read references to Rainer Maria Rilke and his "Letters to a Young Poet" by authors and artists I like. About a week ago, I found myself in a bookstore tucked away comfortably in an oversized chair reading a copy of the book. Without fail, I found a couple of exerpts that seemed to talk directly to me. I scribbled them onto a subscription card from the Mental Floss magazine I'd just perused and thought they were worthy of sharing:

Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.

Perhaps you do carry within yourself the possibility of shaping and forming as a particularly happy and pure way of living; train yourself to it--but take whatever comes with great trust, and if only it comes out of your own will, out of some need of your inmost being, take it upon yourself and hate nothing.

A Night Out in San Diego

A visitor to San Diego would surely be cheated without an evening spent in the city. We drove to the Gaslamp Quarter for an Italian dinner at Osteria Panevino and a magnificent live performance by Pat Metheny at The Spreckels Theater. For the perfect nightcap, we went to Little Italy to experience Extraordinary Desserts.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

The Desert, Part Deux

Unfortunately, I didn't take pictures of the desert as we descended into it. (Truthfully, I'm not sure my little Olympus Stylus 300 could have captured the view and feel.) At times I felt like an eastern pioneer as we drove around corners that revealed the view from the elevated and rocky mountains. This was truly new terrain unlike the lands where I come from. Every vista offered a wider and wider view of the desert floor. Every slow slope presented pretty flowers in bloom. Warming golds sprinkled among greens and browns and slate grey. Spiky branches and lush shrubs showed us the way to the desert where there was more plant diversity waiting to be discovered.

Ocotillo, not yet in bloom. March 2005

We stopped at the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park visitor's center to pick up reading material and walk through the garden in the surrounding grounds. It was there that I learned there are fish in the desert. (I must have missed that episode on Wild Kingdom.) Desert pupfish were swimming in a shallow pond in the garden containing brittlebush, cholla cactus, chuparosa, creosote and desert lupine. There were more tadpoles than mature fish but the pond was active and the fish were in clear view.

Succulent. Anza-Borrego Desert S.P. March 2005.

From the visitor's center, we drove to the trail head leading to the desert oasis that has made hiking in the park such a highlight. I couldn't really conceive what this oasis would look like. The only ones I'd ever seen were in a B-movie's dehydration dream sequence. Would I have to hallucinate in order to see this oasis? I'd been drinking water the entire morning and feared I'd fail to see the oasis that I'd heard so much about. Much to my pleasant surprise, no mind altering was required to see this fascinating feature of the desert. After hiking along the trail for about a mile, mile and a half, there it was, tucked away in a tight, craggy valley. The palm grove was an almost-enclosed room. I felt cooler just by looking at it and the dark protective shade the bushy date palms offered from the sun. Walking inside it made me feel like a child who'd discovered a fort. There were large boulders bordering one side and a couple trails leading in and out from other angles. Standing in the canyon-like cave felt 10 degrees cooler on my skin and 30 years younger in my soul.

Desert creek. March 2005.

Date Palm. A-B S.P. March 2005.

Date Palms. A-B S.P. March 2005.

Oasis Room. A-B S.P. March 2005.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

I Am Not Alone

Someone else loves post offices as much as me. I got a postcard today from someone saying:
I totally love post offices! People think I'm nuts, but they are great places! I especially love a long line so I can spend more time there without being creepy.

Monday, March 21, 2005

The Non-Deserted Desert

It has become apparent to me in the past year or two that I have a love of the desert. I have ridden my motorcycle through deserts at night in an eerie silence and during the hottest heat of the day when all creatures seek solace of shade. Prior to my recent hike in the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, my only knowledge of the desert came from childhood years of watching the Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom.

For weeks (months?) before my trip to southern California, Michael had been telling me about the
blooms that attract spectators to the desert. Waiting for the blooms is like playing the lottery. Will there be blooms? If so, when? As my luck would have it and with the thanks of the recent rains in the area, the blooms did appear for all to see. The desert was far from being deserted. There were hikers, walkers, photographers and blooms, blooms, blooms. What a wonderful view to witness.

The most magical view for me was the creek that flows near the Palm Canyon Oasis.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Mistake #34

Caffeine at 9pm causes me to:

More Manatees

I am done with my sea cow search. In fact, I ended the hunt several weeks ago and am just now getting around to posting their pictures. It's an ok filler until I feel up to writing. I'm getting close... I feel more human today than I have all week so expect my daily posts to return very soon.

The map provided on the website was helpful but it didn't list all the manatees. For example, the Friendship Fountain location lists two sea cows. I took pictures of three. Even though math has never been my strong subject, I can handle counting in the single digits. Besides, I have photographic proof. I'll admit to not taking notes while out on my hunt so I may have some of the names messed up due to my reliance on the map for information. That explains why I don't know the name of this manatee. I call it the ball-less cow since someone stole one of its antenna bulb things. This photo provides a nice view of the St. Johns River's northbank in downtown Jacksonville.

"Jane Doe Sea Cow", February 2005.

This photo is proof positive that I was at Friendship Fountain. What a gorgeous winter day in northeast Florida!

Mana Lisa, February 2005.

Winn-Dixie, the soon to be out-of-business grocery chain, sponsored this sea cow and what a silly name they gave it. Is the mama manatee offering the baby as a selection?

Sea-lection, February 2005.

Not only did I find the name of this manatee dull, so was the artwork. As someone who plays with art, I shouldn't criticize, I know, I know, shame on me. It just pales in comparison to so many of the others.

The Ocean's Secret Lagoon, February 2005.

This manatee was located near the San Marco Bookstore and a fire station. Thanks to Michael for giving me the assignment of visiting the bookstore. I enjoyed my first visit there after lunching at the Pizza Palace.

Marco, February 2005.

Friday, March 18, 2005

I Feel Like Snot

That's not a pretty description but my reality isn't pretty right now. I just woke up from sleeping 12 hours and it wasn't nearly enough. Somewhere between San Diego and Jacksonville a collision of germs occurred in my body and now I've got the west-coast-meets-the-east-coast-battle-of-the-bug. Oh how I hate germs in the first place! Clearly, I didn't use enough wet wipes on my trip to So. Cal. I'd sigh right now but I'd end up coughing or blowing my nose and possibly crying so I won't even bother. Since I feel like a Mack truck mistook me for a speed bump, my latest news will be postponed a few more days. Gifts of Posh Puffs and chocolate covered cherries are always welcome in the meantime.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Serendipity And Why I Love Bookcrossing

This is all the reason I need to continue releasing books into the wild.