Today something different by way of an expensive lunch. One of the World’s most expensive restaurants, “The French Laundry” is located in the Napa Valley and another equally prestigious dining location is “Bouchon’s” in Youtsville. Today its Bouchons and its our special dining treat of the week.

The Beemer is ready for action, the weather is gorgeous so off we go drinking in all the late crop aromas from the vineyards as we ride down towards Napa.


Youville looks a little “artsie fartsie” but we find a Beemer slot and wander in. They have used every square inch of floor space so seating is very friendly! Nice selection of oysters and other seafood delights.


Nice setting for a restaurant….. now what’s the food like?

No seats at the bar so we make do with a small booth and survey the menu when we find it!!


No, its not a wrapper!


Ah, here it is


Waiting for the seafood

With an expensive glass in hand we order the huge seafood selection followed by the steak. The seafood was good with their oyster selections but the clams tasted dirty? and were certainly not good. Lobster and shrimp were fine but those clams were off!!


“My clam tasted off”

More wine and along comes the steak with a huge pile of French fries dumped on the plate ? Well a big fat zero for presentation in my mind and no garnish other than the sauce in a separate dish. I was expecting something with a bit “more” elegance for a $62 dish.


A very low score for presentation of a $62 dish

Overall we both agree NOT the best value for money but at least we tried it.


Our local $12 steak in Dolores …… salad included

On the way home stop at Dean & DeLuca’s for some cheese tasting ready for our big day out tomorrow.

The wine taste buds are at the ready, the cheese is purchased and fresh bread in the morning.













Parked in Calistoga after 1081 miles

Monday morning, keys in hand the trailer is approached. First lock undone, move slowly to the other and gently open the door……..


Fingers crossed ……..


It survived! …. now for that flat tire

It survived! Out of 8 tie downs only 2 have been shed and its still upright. I’ll rebuild 2 others to replace the cheapos and all should be well for the return journey. First order of business replace the tube on my bicycle but closer inspection shows the tire is toast too. A half mile walk with the bike to the local shop and as they are too busy I fit it myself and ride back. Mission 1 complete.


Meanwhile Brenda has re-glued the wing mirror glass and now its that bit of trim to fit. Fortunately I remembered to bring the Torx screwdrivers and after getting the sequence correct it goes in place and the Beemer is whole again.


Damage from previous CA trips


Expensive bit of chromed plastic


Ready for the new one


Ready for those bendy curves

Well its very warm at 93F and no wind so several refreshing beverages later we cycle into town to find our evening appetizers and first taste of Napa 2014.

First stop the cycle shop for a new light for Brenda and while there she can’t resist the “pink basket”


Ready for “night ops”

The scene has changed a little and the wine has nearly doubled in price and the appetizers are much reduced in quality on this first showing. Mussels are all shell and no meat ……. well never mind we have done what we set out to for Monday so enjoy!









Now only the two issues of the alarm system and the hydraulic center stand. Much talk of “how to” from Beemer owners on the center stand repair and following one of their videos on u-tube it doesn’t look that difficult a winter project as opposed to $1300 for a new unit.

The constant fuse blowing for the horn and brake lights that Grand Junction BMW had never heard of seems to be related to the central locking and alarm system and occurs when the alarm unit goes bad. Once again Beemer people have listed how to solve it but there are some problems along the way and from a frustration point of view it might be simpler to just replace the alarm unit. More winter fun in the workshop.

Hot this afternoon at 93F but with repairs complete out with the bicycles and an easy sea level ride into town. Quite amazing how easy it is to ride 7000′ down from our usual habitat. A new pink basket for Brenda’s bike and a front light and now time for a few bar snacks and our first splash of Napa Red.

Prices seem to have shot up and the quality of the bar snack has gone down and the mussels were quite disappointing being only the size of almonds despite their giant shell!


Saturday morning and I’m still tired and not keen on getting up. 2 coffees later and the brain is clear and ready for action. Tools and other essentials are on and now the two other bikes of the pedal variety……. both need a little air and my back tire is flat. 40 lbs goes in and then BANG! 40 lbs comes out! New tube goes on the shopping list.


“The wheels on the bus go etc, etc”

At 1030 with 5 dogs and the new cat on board we leave harbor for the first 575 miles to our planned night stop at Elko NV. A long way but with 1081 to go and a week’s food shopping still to do its a night stop at Walmart which are a little few on our stretch of I 80. Roads are not quite as bad through Moab and continue through Utah and up the big hill out of Price on US 6. Long descent to I 15 for the 50 mile run up the side of Salt Lake City which was previously non stop roadworks and today is quite pleasant. Now on I 80 across the desolate swamp of the salt lake which has plenty of water in it from all the recent storms.


Coming down the long hill to I15 and Salt Lake


The Great Salt Lake with water in it!

Generally the roads are much smoother than CO and NM and can be driven without the bus bouncing up and down. Some quite big hills that I don’t remember after Wendover where we cross into Nevada. The bus soars up the hills with no overheat problems and with dwindling fuel we arrive in Elko after 575 miles. The saving grace is also we are now in Pacific Time which is in our favor going this way.

Sunday and with shopping completed and the holds bursting with vitals we refuel and are on the road by 0930 PT. Gorgeous smooth roads (even with the roadworks) until Reno and then the climb up Donner/Truckee and the changeover into CA. Through customs and immigration……. “where are you from?” ……… “what’s in the trailer?” “do you have any firewood ?”………


A bit of repaired CA concrete freeway before the top of Donner

This stretch was always little better than a cart track and was a concrete freeway with huge chunks missing! It was also “dished” where all the heavy 18 wheelers had worn grooves in the concrete, no need to steer you just get taken for a train ride in the rails of the concrete. Some stretches have been repaved but it was a very poor effort and the blacktop is also dished and peeling away from the underlying concrete…….. then we come to bridges!!!  what is it about bridges that we cannot cover them with rubberized blacktop ?? and we can’t get a level transition between the crap they put on the bridge and the two adjoining bits of roadway. Eventually we come down off the ridge and descend the 7000′ to Sacramento where some portions are actually smooth and level but just as you start to relax and think that they may have heard all the driver’s tales of woe you hit another section of unbelievable horror and the bus is airborne once more !


Off I80 and into grape country on C12


Been there, done that one!


Here we are again for a week

Finally up C12 to Napa and this is as bad as it gets and I’m reduced to 40 mph …….. gum shields in place and sports bras on but the end is in sight. 1081 miles complete and an adult beverage in hand …. all is well. Tomorrow I’ll peek inside that trailer and see if Houdini has escaped the 8 tie downs?






Arrive back from Tucker’s at a reasonable time and leave all the unloading for Monday as I’m up again at 0430 for that School bus! Only 3 days this week as it’s Parent/Teachers Conference time so we have Thursday and Friday off.

Only another week and we will be on our way for some serious wine drinking in the Napa Valley. The Beemer gets to be the mode of transport once we get there and to that end got a new set of tires recently, and this week gets the NEW windshield as the 9 year old one has gone cloudy and needed replacing.


Windshield off, old cloudy one bottom left by the flowers


What a difference!

Also a NEW set of grips as the others had started to perish. All it needs now is a replacement chrome plastic right bumper trim which got broken when the bike fell over on the dreadful California roads while strapped in the trailer.


Old grips off showing the heaters


New grips on…… ready to ride

Something else that is “time expired” is the hydraulic center stand which is now low on fluid but not something that is dealer serviceable and a new unit is $1300 !! However some dedicated enthusiasts have rebuilt theirs so I may be going down that road in the near future.

Finally the rose bed surround has been weeded which was perhaps the most unpleasant bout of groveling on my hands and knees in the gravel.

The Cadillac goes in on Monday for the power steering leak and what I thought was just a leak from a pressure hose is the whole bloody unit and another $700 bill. So I take it in and 30 mins later the service manager tells me they have been sent the wrong part! We will try again on Thursday.

Thursday and the Cadi job gets done……. now its time to think Napa and loading.

Friday morning and post the bus run load water and check all other liquids. Diesel on, another 22 gals of LP which has gone down 70c a gallon for some reason? Now all hitched up to the trailer and ready to load the Beemer. 2 straps around the fork legs, 2 more around the rear footrest boards and yet another 2 below the rear luggage racks. Finish off with another 2 to stop the rear wheel moving laterally and hope that I can contain the “Houdini” BMW over those awful CA roads!

Big plans to finish loading after my afternoon bus run but I’m way too tired so it will have to wait until morning or I will forget what I’m doing.