Wine, Wine, Wine, OH MY!!

At some point it is our intention to head back to the east coast for the summer. It makes sense we’d want to take a different route back east than the one we took to get here, right? Growing up on the east coast we’re both spoiled with interstates and expressways everywhere. Even though I have lived in the ‘burbs my whole life I have never lived further than 10 minutes from a major interstate. We could jump in the car and be anywhere in no time flat.

Not so out west. See the map below? Getting back east from California can really only be done on a few routes. All the southern ones we’ve done getting out here or during the kids summer vacation. Mike said he’s not interested in going through Las Vegas again. Only because we’ve “been there, done that”. He wants something new.

Western US map

He knows I love wine – so he suggested we head north to wine country for a short stint then head back via a northern route, then perhaps I-80 or I-70.

I believe my exact words were “HELL YEAH! Don’t have to ask me twice!”

I started doing research on where to RV in Napa Valley. Finding RV spots isn’t exactly as easy as booking a hotel. I found places in Napa and Calistoga. I wasn’t familiar with Calistoga but I was able to make a reservation online rather than having to wait to call for “regular workday business hours” since I was doing this all on a Saturday. I didn’t have a few days to wait to call on Monday see if there was availability since we had to leave our current campsite on Monday. So we are living here at Calistoga RV Park during our time here.

Now this, folks, is livin’ life by the seat of your pants! 😉

I knew nothing of Calistoga before we got here. It’s at the north end of Napa Valley so we had an opportunity to drive through Napa, Yountville, Oakville, Rutherford, St. Helena and then to Calistoga. We essentially toured Route 29 through the valley. But what I didn’t know, until a friend of mine heard we were staying in Calistoga and clued me in, is that Calistoga is known more for their natural hot springs than wine!

Sure enough, this cute little town has a plethora of spas. I read this in the history section of Calistoga pamphlet.

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So, it’s the Saratoga, New York of California! Kinda…

Of course I booked us a spa treatment!!! Tonight we have a couples mud bath then massages at Golden Haven Hot Springs Spa & Resort. I’ve had a lot of different spa treatments (a lot paid for by a former employer for product research!! No, really! True story!) but I’ve never had a mud bath. This will be interesting. We sit in a mud bath, rinse in a hot mineral water shower then get wrapped in blankets. Hmmm…

From the website:
“The combination of clay, peat and hot springs mineral water in the mud bath relaxes muscles and joints, detoxifies, and leaves the skin soft and renewed.   While you relax, your attendant will apply a clay facial mask and a cold compress.  The mud bath will be followed by a hot springs shower and refreshing soak in your private jacuzzi that uses the natural hot springs water that comes from the geothermal aquifer under our spa. You will next be escorted to one of our blanket wrap rooms.  Here you will relax, cool down, and maybe even drift off to a blissful sleep.”

When I booked our reservation I was told we should bring our swimsuits because we also have access to their hot springs pool.
“As you enter the pool area on cool days, a blanket of steam rises from the waters – an inviting sign for you to come in and enjoy the warm hot springs. The pool is heated by our hot springs mineral water, which emerges from the ground at between 140-150 degrees.”

I CAN’T WAIT!!! *jumping up and down in excitement*

As if that’s not enough to immediately fall in love with this quaint little town, we had a blast just strolling Lincoln Avenue (aka: the main drag) last night. We’re going out again today so I hope to get some great photos… but this town was settled in the mid-1800’s. Lincoln Ave. is lined with historic buildings housing shops, restaurants and spas. We decided to grab drinks and appetizers at a few places and just walk around.

What an adventure!

First stop, Hydro Bar & Grill. A glass of wine and their Thai Curry Mussels. They were delicious! Even if I couldn’t figure out why they added toasted sesame oil to the dish.

Next we hit up Pacifico Restaurante Mexicano. I know, I know. We’re in wine country and we just went into a Mexican place and yes, I ordered a margarita. But hey, I figured I’ll get my share of wine in the next few days! We had shrimp ceviche, chips, salsa and guacamole.

HOLY GUACAMOLE, BATMAN!

It was all delectable! The salsa was freshly homemade, as was the guac. And the ceviche…. mouth watering and a good sized portion too! Since we were at the bar during happy hour the ceviche was only $5!!!! A cereal bowl full of it!! I’m not used to getting that much ceviche in an order nor paying so little for such good eats!

And to top it off – we ran into three guys at the bar from Ithaca, NY! Cornell grads!! One lives out here in California, the other two were out for their annual visit from Manhattan! I will say they were looking a bit worn… We did meet them while trying to do a tequila shot. I say “trying” because the third friend didn’t even attempt to get it down. Talk about a glazed-over look in his eyes! They explained they’d been enjoying each other’s company since Tuesday. And by “enjoying” I mean they’d been drinking the Napa Valley out of wine and spirits for the past three days.

Oh, but our fun didn’t end there! We strolled a bit and hit up the brewery at the Calistoga Inn. The bartender, and I’m assuming brewmaster, we at the bar and we chatted them up. They gave us the scoop on Calistoga, where to go, what to do. So friendly! And wouldn’t you know it, the brewmaster is originally from Rochester, NY!  And then the guy next to Mike struck up a conversation with him and he is from Long Island! We ran into more New Yorkers last night than Californians!

I had an amazing glass of wine here, the first of many, I’m sure. Only 200 cases made, and now, Calistoga Inn is the only place left where you can get it! :-/

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At some point during our chattiness with these guys, a gentleman sat next to me, and quietly ordered a beer and an appetizer. I finally pulled him into our conversation and noticed his European accent. He’s from Switzerland! And when I asked what brought him here to the US? THE CIA!

The Culinary Institute of America, of course!

We finally decided it was time to head home. We had about a 1/2 mile walk ahead of us. As we were walking by a restaurant I stopped to look at the menu and a couple passing by mentioned the place had great pizza. The next thing we knew we had been standing and chatting at the corner of the street with them for a bit. They too, had been to Golden Haven for a mud bath! After about the third or so cross walk sign all four of us finally made it across the street and kept on chatting.

Joe and Erica are from Reno and raise labrador retrievers. But Joe has an IT past and Erica interacts with SAP at work (and isn’t in love with it) so we essentially stood on the sidewalk for probably an hour 1) pitching our IT services 2) explaining how we work and full time RV. They were in love with it! It’s so fun to meet people who want to do this RVing thing too!!! They even invited us to stay at their place in Reno next time we’re out that way!

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Telling people you live in an RV is a great conversation starter!! (or stopper, depending on the kind of people you’re talking to.) And you get to meet the most wonderful people along the way from ALL OVER!

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