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Christmas Holidays 2002

Mi flew east to join Jean and family for Christmas holidays. During the weekend prior to Christmas, we drove north to Mendocino and Sonoma counties, checked out wineries, the rocky coast, and artsy small towns sitting atop cliffs, overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Have been gotten used to the crowd and subways of New York City, Mi's eyes had to adjust for the open horizon, every-changing cloud formations, skyward redwoods, foggy valleys and twisting mountain roads in the wild California air. It was an interesting experience, to say the least.
We drove home on Monday the 23rd. Spent Christmas Eve with Mom, Alice, and Emory.

01_victoriaSecret 02_moma 03_moma_photographer 04_moma_skywalk After almost a week of rain storm, we woke up to a beautiful Saturday. The City Shines! I've been to MOMA so many times. But when I followed Mi's lense, I discovered light and compositions that I've never known existed!
We stayed in Ukiah for the night. The one and only theatre in town had showtimes for the "feeling good" kind of movies. "Gangs of New York" was not one of them. We called it a night at 8pm! :(
Woke up to a foggy dawn that was pretty and cold, just like a drop of winter dew... Andersen Valley was barely awake. It was quiet and the fog made everything look so mysterious and gentle. Most of the wineries in the valley wasn't even open when we drove past them. Greenwood Ridge was the first one that opened its big colorful wooden door to us. Up the road, we stopped at Roederer Estate, where the Champagne folk from Reims, France have been making sparkling wines in this valley since 1982. We were a few minutes earlier than its official opening time:11am. The friendly ladies at the tasting room opened their doors to us anyway, 05_navaroRiver 06_andersenValleyWineries
"Came in! You are probably our only guests for the day. We won't keep you waiting in the cold."
Our tour ended in Chritine Woods, where the owner and wine maker himself served us in the little front "room". He was a soft-spoken, grey beard gentleman in his 70s, wearing a blue jeans overall. "80% of our wines are sold right here in this room." He told us proudly. Moved here in 1974, the San Francisco native bought 40 acres in the valley and started making various kinds of wines. Eventually he simplified his winery to make Pinot Noir and Chardonnay only.
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"Where are you from?" Mr. Woods was obviously not a chatty person, but he tried to make us feel comfortable.
"I'm from New York." Mi said. "Have you been there?"
"Ah, New York." Mr. Woods paused, "Never been." He finally said, thought for a second and added, "Chichago. That's as far east as I've gone. Enough city for me!" He laughed a quiet laugh, "Couldn't wait to come home."
Both Mi and I were well taken by this quiet and proud gentleman. "Someday, I would come back and I wonder if he would let me stay to help him in the vineyard and photograph him." As we were driving away, Mi said. "He reminded me of Mr. Gerzy." Immediately I had the picture of the old Pole with his puppy in the snow. Both the puppy's "beard" and the old Pole's hair had icicles...

A couple of shops alongside the road, flashed passed. That must be Navarro. The town we heard about at Greenwood Ridge tasting room. The friendly lady there told us, "...it used to be a bustling lumber town, but as the forest was gone, so was the town. Even its original name has been forgotten today. Navarro was the name of a little village at the mouth of Navarro river, where it enters the sea. One year there was a flood, and the survivors of Navarro moved inland to this forgotten lumber town and they took the village name with them, so it is now called Navarro." After Navarro, we entered a tunnel of Redwoods. Sun lights streamed through the thick branches, formed layers upon layers of Curtains of Light. Our little white car waved in and out of the shades and lights on the twisting road, it was like a dream. Suddenly, the forest ended, our eyes had to adjust for the bright day light. Pacific Ocean was sparkling in the sun. The road delivered us to hwy 1, snaking along the wild rockey shore.
The change of scenary made my heart leap. We stopped by a drift-woods covered sandy beach, stood on the large tree trunks with sea gulls, admired the thundering waves. Mendocino turned out to be a disappointing touristy little town. But we had the good luck to enjoy one of my best brunch experiences at "The Resturant" of Fort Bragg, a little town north of where Noyo River entered the sea. Egg Benedict and Stuffed French Toast, Hmm, hmm, hmm!
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We drove south on hwy 1, sea stacks, wind sculpted cypresses, and slightly green rolling hills were along side the highway. TUrned inland at Fort Ross, where a restored Russian Fort was rather impressive looking in the setting sun. Drove past Russian River resorts in the fading dusk. We spent the night in Santa Rosa, where we finally got to watch "Gang of New York." Downtown Santa Rosa even sported a decent Chinese Resturant, where we ordered take out after the movie. Had dinner in our hotel room, together with loverly wine! :)
09_RussianRiverWineries 09a_RussianRiverWineries_j Another sunny sunny day awaited us. Due to its aproximity to the Bay Area, Russian River Wineries were a lot more popularous than Andersen Valley. We fianlly stopped being the only guests in the tasting rooms. 09b_RussianRiverWineries_j 09c_RussianRiverWineries_j
We headed home in the afternoon, after visiting Hop Kiln and Korbel, where we had an interesting winery tour. During the tour we learned the history of Korbel and the making of Champagne.

Then came the pigging-in on Christmas Eve and opening of presents!
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