Saturday, February 22, 2014

Orfila wine

Meg, Pat, Mar, and I spent the afternoon wine tasting at Orfila winery.  This was my first visit to the winery but I think I will join 3,000 others and become a wine club member.  The membership is free (you just need to buy three bottles every quarter), and you get to bring three people wine tasting for free, as often as once a day.  
A guy working at the pharmacy already told me he would be one of my three guests... being a member will make me popular.  

We ALMOST did not do the free tour which is offered daily at noon, until someone informed us you get free wine.  The tour was interesting as it was very specific to the winery.  We learned about the owner, who grew up on a vineyard in his homeland of Argentina, we learned about the winemaker Justin Mund, who often works the vineyard hot and shirtless, and about the property, which is part of 14,000 acres in the San Pasqual Valley that is owned by the city of San Diego and leased for agricultural purposes to preserve the watershed and reduce urbanization.    

Cindy, our docent, only had wonderful things to say about the winery (and hot and sometimes shirtless Justin Mund).  
We did much better on this tour than my bachelorette party wine tour, when we had to excuse ourselves one by one as our enlightenment came from laughter instead of learning.  
Luckily Cindy was open to our humor.  

After savoring our wine flights, we narrowed our favorites down and all agreed on a bottle to enjoy outside  in the sun with our potluck picnic (we went with the rosé).  The only thing better than drinking outside on a sunny day, is doing it with some of my favorite people.   

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Ancient Bristlecone Pines

It was nice to wake up in the morning, look outside and breath in June Lake.  It was worth the drive just for this.  

We drove to June Mountain right when they opened, but didn't even get out of the car.  There was just not enough snow, and the quality of snow was poor.  From June we drove to Mammoth but one again decided it was not worth it.  
It is a good thing we had a plan B.  

We knew it was the perfect opportunity to explore the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest.  
The sign says 24 miles to the forest, but at mile 21 there is a locked gate.  From there you have to get out and walk to Schulman Grove, where some of the oldest bristlecone pines are located.  To see the most ancient ones in Patriarch Grove it is 12 miles further.  During summer and fall you can drive on a dirt road to get to Patriarch Grove, but walking this distance (with a late start) was not going to happen for us.  
We now know that this is a not a quick stopover from the 395.  Next time we come it will be for the entire day, not just a few hours.  

The drive on the 168 is gorgeous.  

A small portion of the drive is a single lane road.  
We are very glad to have our first exposure to the area when crowds were low.  We saw maybe five people the entire time we were there.  Winter is the time to come.  

Bristlecone pines are the oldest trees on Earth, some are over 4,700 years old.    

The roots of the bristlecone pine grow close to the surface so they can capture scant moisture before it evaporates.  The roots become exposed because the trees are so old, and the soil erodes at the rate of one foot per thousand years.  

The slow growth of the bristlecone pine produces very dense wood that is resistant to disease and insect penetration.  The slow growth also means that the trees do not grow very tall.  

The light colored rock is dolomite.  Bristlecone pines are common in this type of soil because the rock is alkaline and most plants cannot survive in this pH.  The lack of competition with other species increases their population.   

Monday, February 17, 2014

June to find snow

While much of the country is snowed in we are on a hunt to find snow.  
We took Highway 14 north to meet up with the 395.  I had never been on this highway before.  Red Rock Canyon State Park is absolutely gorgeous.  I was a little disappointed that our time was so limited.  
I look forward to meandering along side the red desert cliffs some time soon.  

One spectacular view leads to another; Owens Valley is breathtaking.  

Six hours later we were eating pizza and watching the Olympics in June Lake, with high hopes for good snowboarding conditions.  

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Beach camping day 2

By the time I got to the beach yesterday it was so overcast that you could not see the ocean.  (This was not good for the man on the cliffs just north of the campsite, in a suit and tie, sitting at a table set up with a white table cloth and a vase with a rose in it, wining and dining his Valentine.)  
I went surfing but had to use the force to know when waves were approaching.  I freaked out when I saw a black fin coming towards me, knowing full well my fears were coming true... that I was being chosen to be attacked instead of the perfectly edible surfer near me.  
 Luckily I evaded danger, being that the fin belonged to one of a pair of friendly dolphins. 

Today is a brand new day.  It is beautiful and totally clear.  It is the perfect beach day.    

Friday, February 14, 2014

Ruby's 6th birthday beach party

It is Valentine's Day, but more importantly it is Ruby's birthday!  Marla and Dan got a bluff side campsite for two nights at Carlsbad State Beach.  

Ruby waited until 6:30pm to open her presents!  She has great discipline for a 6 year old. 

My aunt, uncle, and their two best friend's Robin and Janie joined us to celebrate the day.  
Trader Joe's wine was had by all.  

Dan manned the grill.  
Thanks Dan!  

Marla found the coolest light-up toy for Ruby.  After Elle figured out how to work it the girls were fighting over who would use it next, and by 'girls' I mean Elle, Ruby, Marla, and I.  

Happy Birthday Ruby!