found us within striking distance of Zinfandel country. And
so the assembled group headed out to the wineries of the Sierra foothills,
in search of the red stuff and the white stuff at its source.
We found the Montevina winery, whose size and tidy layout led us at first to fear the polished corporate affair that we had sought to avoid during the wineries tour in Australia. But this fear, along with further concerns about Fetzer-type cloyingly sweet liquids, were put to rest as we tasted over a dozen of their truly excellent products. At the end of the tasting, we worked out what we wanted to purchase, based on Mark's utterly illegible tasting notes. The high marks that we had given to so many of the varietals meant that we ended up buying a volume of the stuff so large that it caused the other group in the tasting room to break into applause. Mark flinched only slightly as he saw the number at the bottom of the bill.
We made the first dent in the collection we had just bought over a sunny picnic lunch, in the grounds of the winery, and wondered whether we could stay there for ever, and how long it would take for our credit cards to be cancelled if we tried.
we concluded that we would in fact have to move on, and so after a longer-than-average
lunch break, we headed for the hills. The trees, rocks and water
become genuinely spectacular as you proceed towards the Nevada boundary.
Many stops were made for photos.
And after one of those stops, after we had taken plenty of breaths of healthy mountain air, we noticed something amiss as we got back into the car. The problem was summed up best by the remark: "Bloody hell, it's minging in here!" Consideration was given to what might be behind this localised environmental difficulty. We recalled that our diet over the last few days had consisted substantially of the garlic sausage, boiled eggs and cheese with chillies in it mentioned yesterday, plus the output of California's Mexican restaurants. Windows were left open and as much mountain breeze as possible passed through the body of the car.
And so to Lake Tahoe, an expanse of water surrounded by the snow-topped mountains. And, as noted in the plan above, tonight was the night of the lunar eclipse. So we spent the night fumbling with cameras in the dark, trying to get a decent shot of the phenomenon.
It gets blimmin' cold at 6200 feet, and a lunar eclipse lasts a long time. As we started to freeze, we noticed that Rupert wasn't there any more. Soon, however, he was back, accompanied by a waitress from a nearby cafe, between them carrying supplies of hot chocolate to fortify us. After we had finished the chocolate, Rupert disappeared again to chat up the waitress - okay, he claimed that he was returning the empty beakers to the cafe, but he did seems to be taking a very long time about it....*
Anyway, this is what the digicam reckoned the sky looked like that night:
More shots to come, once we get David's photos developed.
* Anticipating slightly, it should
be noted that jokes about Rupert's supposed syzygy with the chocolate girl
became the staple of puerile humour for the rest of the tour. Rupert
quickly tired of cracks about getting his Curly Wurly out, getting into
her Snickers, etc. etc., and so we'll hear no more of that here.
Well, not much, anyway....
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