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CHRISTMAS LIGHTS !!

CHRISTMAS LIGHTS !!


CHRISTMAS LIGHTS !!


Ho-ho-ho !

Is it just me or does the entire World suffer the same frustrations of lights at this time of the year?
Everything was working on 12th Night, it was carefully put in various boxes and suitably stored ready
for the next festive season. The post Thanksgiving ritual of humping and dumping the said boxes was
duly done and lo, once more fully functional 2010 decorations are now caput ?
Of the outside lights three sets from 14 have failed and Brenda’s new sets for the downstairs tree
may just as well have been tossed when the tree was taken down. My first visit to Walmart to restock
rusults in none of last year’s type being on display ! Well think again Whittington, so lets try 3 forty six
feet long strings of the new LED type and hope they work. Replace all Brenda’s tree lights and return.

With howling winds the outside stuff is on hold but the Lodge Room decs are coming along………. but
one string of the new tree lights only half works!! No messing with the new tool here this lot are for
exchange.

Harley is dressed again

Bambi joins in

Monday, and Brenda is off to town but forgets the “return” set but buys four more strings. Meanwhile
I’m completing my first run of outside lights and find myself about 10 feet short ! As I unload the car
I notice her new lights are different ? Obviously a “pick-up” error as all her new ones are on white wire
and won’t look good on a green tree. Another run to Walmart and exchange everything. The next batch
all work and the downstairs tree is complete and shines brightly once more. While I’m in Walmart I
now notice the lights that I was looking for are back on the shelves!!!

Downstairs tree all done

The “cozy’ lodge room here at the Cozy Comfort

just begging a fire

Tuesday, and between driving stints two more outside runs of lights are completed along the upper
and lower balcony and two more deer are assembled, leaving the final row of lights over the
windows and connecting up for Wednesday.

My this is taking a long time this year but we are not in December yet so don’t despair. Wednesday
and getting colder so Brenda becomes a plumber and attacks all the water spiggots in the RV park
with my Makita and then fully insulates all the water pipes. The final run of upper lights is up, 2 more
sets along the fence then set all the timers and connect up. When I return post the afternoon school
run I’m met with a blaze of color and it seems all those hours with the stapler were worth it.

Not done yet, still the outside garden area to do with the two new deer to go on the waterfall and
some new netting over the biggest outside fir tree. Two more stands are cut out of a board and 8
more pipe clamps are hammered flat to act as the restraints for the legs. More big rocks humped
round to hold the little buggers in place from the high winds and with 15 mins to spare the last timer
is in place before I have to leave for Ouray with the girls Basketball Team.

The new deer are placed on Eagle Falls

Flattened pipe clamps secure them to the boards

Predictably it starts snowing just after Rico and by the time we get on the Lizard the roads are
covered and its hard pack over ice……… by Telluride its clear again and no more problems to Ouray
where it is just bitter cold with high winds.

Not nice climbing the Lizard

Dolores win both their matches and we are on the way back just before 7 pm and its plain sailing to
the food stop in Telluride where I check the weather. The pass is open but hard pack over ice with
strong winds! Back off the loud pedal, gentle use of the retarder, and smooth steering inputs and we
make it home about 30 mins later than planned. Bus back in the barn all refuelled and collect Brenda
from the Brew Pub and back along main street towards the “glow” in the East. Cozy Comfort is now
doubling as Bethlehem and is adorned in lights! Closer inspection reveals a section of ice lights out
and about 10 feet of the new guaranteed LED string not working!!!

Friday morning so time to pull down the two offending sets of lights and set off once more for
Walmart. Collect another 2 sets of the ice lights, as we don’t want another failure come Christmas
Eve and try and find an exchange set for the LED ones. Nothing!! ……. back to the desk and ask if they
have any more in the stock room. A less than helpful employee finally arrives and tells me “They are
seasonal goods and when they are gone thats it”……… I point out to dumbarse that this can’t be the
case as its 23 days until Christmas and a good many people haven’t even started their decs yet and whichever way you look at it this is piss poor business acumen if you have products that customers
would buy and you refuse to reorder. Seems Durango have some but they can’t deliver store to store.
Well nothing for it but to drive to Durango after my School bus run at Mancos this afternoon as at least
I will be half way there anyway.

Problem strings stripped down again

Leaving Mancos it starts to snow and soon becomes thick and heavy and I’m now dealing with some
real lemons (or experienced rally drivers) as they hammer past as though nothing has changed.
Finally with the required lights I’m homeward bound and the conditions are much worse and its a bit
like the Startrek scenes as the mini asteroids come straight at you out of the darkness. Home by 7
and the lights can wait.

Saturday and another school bus run taking the girls to Mancos for more basketball. Conditions are
poor to say the least, roads covered and slippy, and snow still falling. Bitter cold, full heaters and
30-35 all the way but arrive alive and 16 little girls get to play again.

Saturday in Mancos and still snowing 

A trudge up main street to a little breakfast bakery and cafe certainly gets the seasonal juices flowing.
The bakery is nearly full and doing a roaring trade with a non stop stream of visitors taking breakfast
and hot coffee……. regular gold mine here!

Breakfast at the Bakery

It snows nearly all morning but by 2 pm the roads have melted and its easy driving back to Dolores
and now pick up Brenda and go to the two Christmas craft fairs. A few purchases including a snow
man and a stop by at the brew pub for supper and a few pints. Back to the star in the east, more dog
walking and log chopping and then Hallmark Christmas movies by the fire.

Sunday and still snowing but those lights WILL go up today no matter what. Bitter cold and I mean
BITTER, some snow showers and a crisp bone chilling wind. The LEDs work and are soon up and
working—— Good! Now for the ice lights and make a critical error and assumption that the string will
be the same length,….. with 3/4 up starting at the same place this string is about 9″ shorter than last
years model!! Finally its up and working and now all that remains is the Father Christmas center piece.
All done, connected up so wait for the timers to all cut in………. 4.30 and the town lights dim as the
mighty surge sends electric meters spinning!

Need a wide angle lens this year

Ready for another “Grizwold Christmas”

TONY DOWN

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THANKSGIVING PART II

THANKSGIVING PART II


THANKSGIVING PART II

As Thursday comes round I have my last rest day so, other than chopping logs and making the
“Dangerous Cocktails”, (limit 3), my kitchen services are not required but of course I have to return the
favor with the traditional all British Christmas Lunch in a few weeks time.

Several small tasks finished while catering worked its magic in the kitchen. By 4 the scene was set
and another first class meal was consumed…… and all I did was a little carving and refreshing of
drinks.

Turkey carves well…..

Today its decorations and all that is entailed in the mega operation. By now having been established
in this household for a few years most set pieces have their place so time frame wise it should come together in a fairly well ordered fashion. Of course the outside lighting is another matter!

As yet nothing new in the stores and no “must haves” to complete the set…….. but of course its early
days. It did occur to me that I could decorate the Cozy sign this year but I’ll see how enthusiasm and
cold fingers get on. 3 planned days to complete the task so up and at em this morning dragging box
after box out of the loft and then after lunch first go at the outside stuff while its a bit warmer. A surprize dusting of snow overnight just to set the scene and delight Brenda who has been secretly wishing for
snow.

Day 1 of 3 goes well with all upstairs decs up in record time and no light failures! Outside time to
make a base for the reindeer which only stands on 3 legs and was forever falling over last year. By
3 pm he is on his stand and other outside goodies are carted out and positioned……. now its getting
cold and bloody windy! Why does that wind pick up every time you want to string lights??…… well they say Mercury is going retrograde again so be prepared for the unexpected.

A windproof stand for the reindeer that looks like the Wooden Horse of
Troy

Back inside at around 4.30 so time for a coffee and a quick check of e-mails…….. hmmmm! The
computer has gone loopey and won’t respond…… a different sort of “Black Friday” in the Down
household.

Day 2 of 3 and a sporting 20-30 mph wind and temps around freezing…… no lighting today! Brenda
toils furiously with my rogue computer and after about 6 hours it now works again, I’m suitably
impressed! Flush with success we are off to the Hollywood for some drinkies and pool. Decorating
can wait.

Well pool certainly is a funny game. Today we have a competition full house with 16 players and with
double elimination what that means is if you can win your first 3 games straight then you are
guaranteed 1st, 2nd or 3rd. Should you win a straight 4 then you are guaranteed 1st or 2nd. I win my
first quite easily and then take on Wayne in round two who has just beaten Greg who would be today’s favorite. The game goes back and forth with some terrible leaves but then I get a couple of super
shots and manage to clear the table. Meanwhile Brenda wins her first when the opposition knock the
black in and then in round 2 when it looks like its all over the black goes in a non nominated pocket !
A bit of luck never hurt anyone! So now we are both 2 for 2 and a lot of favorites are already battling on
the losers side.

As we enter round 3 on the winner’s side we are down to 4 undefeated players of which Brenda and
I are 2. I play Bob who is the strongest and most consistent player and he is on a roll from the break. I
get back in and take 5 in a run but let him back in from a position I should have won from. First loss.
Brenda starts well but her opposition is looking good but then a random ball strikes the 8 and it
wanders into the middle bag and once more Brenda is the victor. She is now guaranteed 1,2, or 3.

Another win coming for Brenda

Over on the losers bench I play again and produce a good game to finish 4 balls ahead so I’m now in
the 3rd or better and 4th playoff. John, a regular winner breaks and knocks down his first 6 but with his
last and the black in a fairly easy position misses. With only one of his balls left I manage to work my
way through mine with some good play and cue ball control finishing up with a reasonable cut on the
black for the game. I take my time and the black goes in the corner bag but even from a soft shot the
white comes off the top rail and gently falls in the middle pocket……… well Crap!!

Fun over back to decorations

It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas……..

TONY DOWN

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THANKSGIVING WEEK

THANKSGIVING WEEK


THANKSGIVING WEEK

Pot or pardon ?

A week off as schools are closed so time to enjoy a little more bed time in the mornings and venture
into the workshop and start all the mental planning for the 2012 season. All the forecast bad weather
seems to have drifted by and it just cold and crisp.

For once I seem fairly well prepared with good stocks of firewood and chainsaw at the ready to tackle
some big mothers in the other pile. Post Turkey Day it will be Christmas decs and this year I’m one up
on the lights having bought this classic little repair tool that supposedly repairs strings that are not functioning……. we will see. Like Quartzite in Arizona another of life’s mysteries as to why fully
functional lights that were working when put away should now be toast on their next outing. Either last
year or the one before 11 out of 14 strings refused to play ball when they were brought out to light up
the town.

The answer to the Maiden’s prayer

Locally I qualified at Mancos for their pool competition and though I say so myself I was actually
playing pretty well so I’m feeling fairly confident I should qualify over here in Dolores in the near future. Brenda’s game is improving as well and I expect she will surprize a few of the locals …….. we had
better get practicing as they are all good!!

On the local  scene I saw the Black Goat, not just once but 3 times! The last time we actually had the
camera at hand and Billy Goat cooperated for a few nice shots. This goat is wild and has been up on
the town cliffs for many years and as far as one can tell is completely on his own.

More local news from the Cortez bus barn comes in the shape of 2 routes suddenly looking for
drivers as on one, just before the break, there was a fight which the driver had to break up and now
one of the parent’s is claiming excessive force! Not sure of the details but sounds like the driver has
told them what to do with the job. On the other route the driver has resigned and it looks like I may be
driving that one for the forseeable future until someone bids for it. Good for me as it is one of the
three routes that the new buses were allocated to. Only problem with driving a new bus is that when
the activity trips come round yours is one of the first to be hauled off and you get a “once round the
globe” spare!!

What will be my “New” bus come Monday

Talking resignations there is a “biggy” coming up on the Ahrma front so watch out for it as we cross
over into December.

Another good thing that happened this week was with HM Customs & Revenue with whom I had not
been corresponding for some time. Their annual tax returns never arrived to me in time for filing as
they were always sent via Malmo in Sweden 2nd class seamail!! Anyhoooo, now that I’ve started my
UK old age pension they were in touch and I now see they are still sending stuff 2nd class via Valetta
in Malta. Seems I haven’t filed a UK tax return, although I’ve been paying the taxes, for many,many
years. A phone call reveals lots of late filing charges…… but now I can file on line ……… and if I file the
last 7 years before 31 Jan next year all the charges will be washed and I may even get a refund ???
Some more phone calls to find all the missing P60’s from the RAF and BAE and some more to
financial institutions to get all the insurance premiums I’ve paid were all amazingly easy and caused
no grief at all so I’m well pleased.

Now I can do this on line

Tuesday and a warmish afternoon so time to get on with it and tidy up the workshop. Much humping
and dumping and putting things away and then dusting and hoovering and the workshop is ready
for work.

Nicely returned to engineering

Let the Enfield project begin

Beemer battery comes out and this time is happily taking a charge ready for action when called for in
the spring or even January if AZ Cycle Park is on the Trials calendar.

Beemer battery on charge and green light flashing

Final chopping of wood and the day is done…… maybe Fish n’mushey peas tonight? Then it will be
Turkey in all shapes and sizes for a week.

Ready for couch potato time

TONY DOWN

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CLEANING UP

CLEANING UP


CLEANING UP

Time has come to start some projects and get my mind in order for the 2012 trials season which I will
be contesting with a new vigour and determination.

It’s currently snowing and my workshop is a **** tip with a LARGE amount of “her” gardening bits in
there!! Well clearly gardening and engineering are not compatible in the same shed so ….. pots and
bags are going to find a new winter home and the work bench cleared once more for fettling and
polishing.

What a tip !

This lot does not belong in here

First up all the garden chairs need their soggy cushions cleaned off and stored to dry in the boiler
room along with 5 bags of top soil that have sat on the path since spring. Various plant pots have mysteriously gathered in front of my big tool chest along with bags of potting compost.

Wet and soggy into the boiler room to dry

With winter officially here the Beemer which has been in regular use through 2011 must now seek
shelter in the trailer and have it’s battery put on winter charge. Trailer is secured to the Cadi, as we
don’t want the trailer standing up (yes, you learn from your mistakes in this game) and then time to
wait for a break in the weather as the diamond plate can be pretty slippy with 850 lbs of bavarian
beast to ride in. The rain eases off and Beemer is stored once more. Method to my madness here
as in previous years I put it in the workshop but it took me 2 days to dig out enough snow that I could
turn it round and put it in the trailer to go to Arizona.

Time to put you into hibernation

Previous winters have revealed the workshop in not the place to put the
Beemer when “she” wants to take it to AZ in January!! 

A day’s digging to get it out

By 1600 I’m wet and cold and another two baskets of logs are humped upstairs so enough for one
day and a good start to winter ops.

Next week schools are closed for Thanksgiving so I should have a few days to think Christmas lights
and all the rituals involved as once again we go after the covetted town lighting prize. However I’m
mentally geared up to start work on the bikes and see how I can improve that gun carriage Enfield
thing. If only the front were lighter.

A lot of work to do here on neglected bikes

My trusty little chainsaw, purchased in the UK in 1976, is now refurbished and ready for logging
action, so with some pinion limbs and logs that were too long for splitting last year time for some
Christmas cheer in the fireplace to be different from our normal Aspen……. of which our stocks
(investment portfolio in these parts) are enormous!!  Might even try to burn some of that bloody awful
Cottonwood which has been drying for 18 months.

My 1976 saw ready to go

In Colorado a man’s net worth is judged by the size of his woodpile

All this for $30…… but wait theres more

Some aspen, pinion and that bloody awful cottonwood!

Meanwhile on the bike front parts have been sourced in the Canadian wilderness for the next project
and now they need to be ferried to the mainland. Might have to get Santa’s sleigh out which is currently
on lease to Fed-Ex prior to its year end seasonal run.

I wonder where this is going ?

TONY DOWN

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CLOSED AGAIN

CLOSED AGAIN


CLOSED AGAIN

The Guests arrive

With fall seriously upon us and winter waiting in the wings the annual “Closing the Shade Garden Ceremony”  was duly arranged, trustworthy guests invited, and was conducted in time honored
fashion.

An offering to the trees is made

Taking in one of the last warm days of fall the table was laid, more cheeses selected and some
suitable bottles from our cellar offered up for the guests to savour.

The table is laid

Some selections from the cellar

Unlike last year they turned up on time and very soon bottles were cast aside as the tastings began.
With Brenda at the helm, no “light pourings” here!

“For what we are about to receive”

Much talk of the Napa Experience and tales from the garden with next year’s plans as wine was
consumed, music played, and the leaves continued to fall. Now all that remains is the rescue act to
save some of the plants from the second bout of frost which we know is just around the corner.

With ritual dancing completed and the guests now talking (I assume that was what it was) in their
own druid jiberish the Shade Garden is now officially closed until next spring when all those leaves
will be bagged and life and growth returns once.

It begins !

Definitely fuzzy !

By now things are degenerating fast and I fear our guests will not make it until nightfall and see the
Shade Garden lights one last time. In fact looking at things at this point some are not “seeing”
anything!

……… “and another thing”

……a little later…..

focusing is getting too difficult

All too soon the “fun police” arrive to put an end to all this merriment and debauchery, although
some did stay for a glass or two.

The fun police arrive to stop all this “wickedness and paganism”

“It was only some harmless fun…… honest”

TONY DOWN

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  • 11/17/2011 8:49 PM John Bodkin wrote:
    During the long winter how about an article covering the aircraft you have flown and your opinions about them.
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THE BUCKET LIST

THE BUCKET LIST


THE BUCKET LIST

With the financially enforced Trials Sabatical Year now behind me time to think of the “Bucket List” for
2012 as after all, post the 2012 season, the world comes to an end doesn’t it ?

Friend and blogger Dave Rhodes, who writes daily on his blog spot www.outlawtrials.com has just
come up with a NEW proposed class for his 25th annual Outlaw Trial.  As Dave was the Canadian
importer for Yamaha for many years and of course in the TY heydays he is thinking of a Yam Class.
This would give me the incentive to meet him in person and resurrect the Super Glitz which was last
ridden by Mick Andrews at the 2008 Sandia Classic.

Perhaps the best Yam I ever built ?  … “Superglitz”

Last ride for Superglitz with Mick Andrews

Another place I always have great plans to do is Steamboat and Jenny Ranch. Try after try it just
never seems to happen.

More locally the Ute Cup is usually on my doorstep in relative terms, but again plans dwindle as the
event gets closer.

On the Ahrma scene I would really like to do TTC as the going looks reminiscent of my trials
childhood and even with the long drive involved it might be in with a chance in 2012.

If money were no object, ho, ho, ho! ………. then a NEW John Bull DOT …. another ride in the Scottish
Pre 65 and then after suitable time travelling Europe the 2 Day in Madrid for the Robregordo with Big
John and Javier Cruz . After riding that disgrace of a SM prepped BSA I would dearly love to ride the
Pre 65 on a bike that was personally prepped by ME and one that was set up to ride rock sections
and although the “Mick” variants of the James go well that DOT looks like my kind of bike.

How the Pre 65 ride felt on the SM BSA heap!

It did finish though

The DOT drooler !

What a beauty !

On the home front a major assault on both Premier divisions would be good but funds don’t quite go
that far to ride 14 events so still a big ? as to which one to go for.

Just a joy to ride

Still toying with changing the front end of the Enfield and if Graham Foster can get away with those
“square” 1980’s Montesa forks I can’t see my plans should draw any comments.

The 2011 Premier Heavyweight Champ’s front end

Something out of here maybe ?

Another thing I’ve been planning is of course an in-town Vintage Trials School so whether with
increased enthusiasm that will get off the ground remains to be seen. Plenty of local land suitable
for Vintage bikes, just persuading a few landowners it will be good for town business.

TONY DOWN

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  • 11/8/2011 10:16 AM Dave Rhodes wrote:
    Hi Tony – A bit of a correction required as I only “Worked” for the Canadian Importer – which was Yamaha Motor Canada – recently taken over pretty much by Yamaha USA. – It was a fun period of my life from 1973-1984.
    Reply to this
  • 11/8/2011 7:26 PM Steveo wrote:
    Hi Tony,it’s been awhile.I am simply amazed at my Fantic’s front brake period!After 3 years of riding ,with no cleaning or servicing ,many deep water rides,I can easily lock the front wheel on the road with an easy single finger pressure,better than many disc systems.It took at good year for the brake to glaze up enough to be friendly,prior to that it was a mite scarey.I have a complete front end & wheel,minus the fork crowns.If you are interested I could spin the wheel over and see if it runs true,interested?
    Reply to this
  • 12/12/2011 8:54 PM Jimmy Allison wrote:
    Let us know when the local trials school will be and be sure the bars order extra beer. Gotta support the local economy. Oh yeah, reserve me a spot at your RV park too.
    Reply to this
  • 12/13/2011 5:08 PM John Holbrook wrote:
    I’ll second Jimmy, park me next to his rig. He does an awesome cobbler, and his beer ain’t bad either.
    Reply to this
  • 12/18/2011 11:44 PM Jose Bustamante AC wrote:
    WHENEVER you have a Trials, or Trials School down there, count me in. It’s only 9 or 10 hours one way, while towing the trailer. Less if I haul the bike on the back bumper of the Subie.
    Reply to this
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HEADING HOME WITH A HEADACHE

HEADING HOME WITH A HEADACHE


HEADING HOME WITH A HEADACHE



I’m not enjoying this

Monday, Monday and to complete the holiday its raining! …… alas all good things come to an end so
time for some “loin girding” and get the proverbial in gear. Response is painfully slow and a general
lack of interest is shown by all.

The life giving fluid of coffee is swilled, the bouquet enjoyed, but the taste is another thing with it’s
own “wine taster’s” description…………well perhaps I’ll come back to that…..
” the careful blend of coffee beans and yesterday’s over indulgence in Merlot and Cab tanins result
in a surprising taste of sour milk washing over aged cheddar and stilton with just a hint of pate to
set the taste buds alight and ask for more”

The dogs are reluctantly walked and are now sopping wet with dirty muddy feet…… the trailer needs
to be reloaded with wet Beemer and some carpets that were left outside are now sodden and need
to be wrung out and put in a lower bin. Dump tanks and take on some fresh water and with all
ancillary pipes, cables and hoses stowed with yet more head banging on panels we must be
somewhere close to leaving?

I’m the only dry one here

Another cup of coffee, hands washed, glasses on and Miss Garmin given her instructions time to
fire up the CAT and get this show on the road or whatever and see how far we can get. Inside of
windscreen de-dogged we leave and say our goodbyes to Calistoga for another year. It’s wet…..
very wet and Miss Garmin wants us to drive the Silverado Trail and we don’t want to…………her
continuous “Recalculating” is becoming very annoying as we miss turn after turn.

Leaving a very wet Napa Valley

The rain continues and we make I80 for our run out of California passing Sacremento, over the
Donner Pass and down into Reno and finally the wonderful Nevada roads. Miss Garmin finally shuts
up and we continue in the pouring rain and it seems they have actually made an effort to resurface
some areas of this dreadful road system.

Still raining as we approach Sacremento, and I’m happier about the road surfaces but the
navigator wants us to go to Redding and then go south on I95 ??? We ignore her and carry on
climbing the Donner Pass. Some improvements here and we trundle on in the rain and in the
upper reaches see all the recent snow still piled by the road.

Climbing Donner 

Really nasty!

Well some improvements to the roads and not before time, I can only imagine that California have
been shamed into it by comparison to the gorgeous smooth Nevada roads. Down the hill and it
stops raining at last and here comes the state line deliniated by the changeover to smooth
rubberised surface.

Smooth Nevada roads at last

Refuel, check that tire again and press on down fairly empty roads. Last year we made it all the
way across Nevada to Wendover but that isn’t happening today as we were 4 hours behind leaving
Calistoga. Maybe Elko, but even that is a long way today so plan on Winnemucca and call it quits
at that.

Tuesday morning and now running on Colorado time I see I have 698 miles to drive…. joy of joys!
During my walk round checks I notice that a side panel has broken loose but good old Duck tape
has it suitably bodged for the trip.

Nevada is never ending but good driving all the way and eventually we crest the hill at Wendover and
see the salt lake beyond.

The “tacky” town of Wendover with salt lakes beyond

Last refuelling at Tooele and just under 400 to go. The roadworks on I15 are nearly finished so
progress is good and we make the turn off for 6 and Price. They have even improved this section
from Price to I70 so things are looking good.

The pleasant drive through the valleys and mountains along 6

Great scenery and fall colors

From 70 to Moab is still a disaster zone and Moab itself was resurfacing at 7 pm and we are forced
into a slalom weave through the cones which are narrower than the bus, hit 1, ran over the bases
of 2. The last 100 through Monticello and home and once again I’m reminded how pathetic my
headlights are! Must get some of these brighter lamps!!

At just after 9 pm we are home after 13 hours wheel time but Safari has done all that was asked of
her and should be in pretty good shape, with a few fixes for next year’s trials season.

TONY DOWN

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BACK TO YOU BACCHUS

BACK TO YOU BACCHUS


BACK TO YOU BACCHUS

Sunday morning and time to get ready for our big day out tasting with Jason our regular driver. We
have a special caves visit at Rutherford Hill which we have never seen and Jason has a place or two
to see prior to the trip up the hill and others post picnic.

Ready on time, but minus breakfast, we enjoy Jason’s gift of a free bottle of bubbly to refresh the
palet!  First stop, some fresh bread for the picnic, and then over to Vincent Arroyo to see what he has
on offer. As we arrive so does the grape harvest but some over enthusiasm from the driver results in
an overturned container and grapes and juice are everywhere.

Ooops ! a bit too fast with the forklift

well they are only grapes

It’s in the bag !

Some pleasing tastes here and the first few bottles go in the trunk and we set off up the hill for our caves/cellar visit. Arrive with time to spare but are immediately told the tour has started already and
we are duly whisked away into the bowels of the hill.

Into the caves we go in search of the other tasters

Everything is beautifully laid out with just enough light from the chandeliers …….we catch up with the
main party and host in full flow. The aging process is explained along with coopering while sampling delights along the way. Some visits into other rooms where fine dining can be experienced and a
spot more vino collapso in case we run dry.  A fantastic place and all extremely well thought out over
the years. The visit comes to an end and we emerge once more to the daylight.

Quite an operation and drop dead gorgeous

Equally nice outside

Back to the reception area and main tasting zone when we are informed we have just been sent on
the wrong tour and our host is waiting to take us barrel sampling?  Lead on!   A nice young
enthusiastic man, Ryan, takes us back into the hill again and this time we get to sample directly from
the casks from what we will be their upcoming vintage……. all taste pretty good to us on our private
tour.

Ryan “dips” us through the barrels

Outside once more and after suitable photographs back to the main building again where Ryan
treats me to some extra tastings and goes in search of the elusive 2001.  Having lost Brenda to the
picnic area I pick up our selection and a 2003 for lunch. A fine lunch it is indeed …….. and some time
later we are off to yet more vineyards.

Two visits to the caves for the price of none!

That perfect picnic setting

Next up Honig, where the hostess looks like Shirley Maclaine. They have a pleasant shade garden
tasting area but have little for my palet although Brenda buys a red for some reason. They did have
a very sweet dessert wine which surprised me insomuch that the description seemed to actually
match the wine…… or maybe I’m becoming a James May ?    “a hint of crushed butterfly wings
mingles with honey bees and a grapey honeydew essence like a warm mead finished with hot
buttered toast served with pineapples”

On to another and here the gardens were delightful and the wine wasn’t. Nothing purchased but
the eyes were rested, or so I’m told.

The Peju’s Tower

Final port of call is at Peju where apparently we have to experience  “the Alan experience”. Alan
knows his wines and will burst into song at any time from Rap to the Peju’s anthem sung to the
Beatles song of “Hey Jude”.

The guitar comes out for the Beatles Pey—Ju’s anthem

Sales were inevitable after this and very soon it was time for us to go, say goodbye to Jason for
another year, and maybe see his selections in the other valley of Sonoma next time and also take
in the wine train on our 2012 visit.

Thanks Jason,     Sonoma next year you say ?

The pilgramage comes to an end once more, the taste buds are satisfied, the wallet is empty, and
our thanks go out to all those that made it possible including dear friend Bacchus without who’s
knowledge and continuous testing of the grape we are forever indebted.

Thanks again for a lovely day out Bacchus

The happy tasters at the end of another magnificent day

TONY DOWN

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GATHERING GOODIES

GATHERING GOODIES


GATHERING GOODIES

You can smell them on the bike

Saturday morning and much planning to take in all the required venues. Brenda wants to visit a
couple of wineries, one with her family name, we need the Dean & Deluca cheese selections for
tomorrow’s wine tasting lunch at Rutherford Hill and after a chance meeting over dinner we now have
a wine tasting in Pope Valley.

Through the Avenue on a delightful day

First stop is over in the “other” valley of Sonoma to visit the Jacuzzi family and see if their local
produce is as pleasant as their offering that Brenda sells at the Brew Pub. Seems that this family
were mad keen on flying in the very early days and were forever crashing until father told them to get
into wine making and also develop the hot tub with bubbles.

The run goes well in pleasant sunshine even stopping in the No 1 slot at the railway crossing where
we wait for the wine country train or Napa’s answer to the Orient Express which apparently could well
be worth a trip in the future and looks like fun with on board bars and 3 upscale restaurants.

Stopping for the Wine Train

Looks like a lot of fun next year

About a 40 mile run on the bike in nice conditions and we find the place right beside an old airfield
still flying vintage biplanes! The place is chock-a-block with tourists and it takes a little time before we
make it to the front row to be greeted by hostess who tells us she is a light pourer!!  She isn’t kidding
and samples barely cover the bottom of the glass. Not much here but Brenda buys the duty “two” and
off we go to our next stop at Dean & Deluca for our cheese selection for the Sunday picnic.

The Jacuzzi Winery…….. um, stick to bubbles and baths me thinks!

Usual selections and tasters and then over to BV for another wine map to replace the one that got
left in the Beaver Marquis when it got handed back after the great recession. Shopping complete time
to find the Pope Valley Winery.

Find the turn off and up and across the Silverado Trail and into some spectacular bends!! Well this
will be fun even if the wine is rubbish. Lots of oooohs and aaahs from Brenda as we negotiate the
bends and then we are down in Pope Valley and locate the Winery.

Grapes spoken here

Definitely rustic

Pleasant pourer, Rachel, clearly hasn’t heard anything about “light pouring” and from my calculations
as we survey the complimentary selection and then the reseve it looks like a tasting here is around
the two bottles a head variety while we work our way through the cheeseboard. With all those bendy
curves still to come on the way home I opt out of the reserve tasting!…… but I do have a sip of the port.
Might come back here again next year!!

Home of the 2 bottle tastings!!

The whole venue is definitely rustic and the wines are pretty good so we buy a case and stuff it in the
top box of the Beemer. A fun run back to Calistoga and the bends before we swop Beemer for bicycles
and set off for our anniversary meal.

Here we go again……..

Another zippy right …..left

left…right…..left….

top of the hill

Back home with Bacchus on the Beemer….. looks a bit like Valentino to
me

We have to wait for our seats at the bar but as it’s our preferred dining area and the service is better, definitely worth the wait. Overall a wonderful day and the “full” tasting day tomorrow.

The “worth the wait” seating area in our favorite restaurant bar

TONY DOWN

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CONVALESCING IN CALISTOGA

CONVALESCING IN CALISTOGA


CONVALESCING IN CALISTOGA

State Fairgrounds at Calistoga and without Rosa Klebb this year!

A cold damp morning in Calistoga after yesterday’s rain but the forecast looks good so time for a
rectification day. The fridge is off, no 12 volt lights either, and nothing on the monitor panel…….. great!
Wonder how the front tire is?? …… and I can hardly wait to open the trailer door and see the carnage to
the Beemer after yesterday’s Monty Python’s Flying Circus up I5 !

Well suck it up, it isn’t going to solve itself ! Out with the battery tray and before blowing everything
perhaps a diagram before taking off the wires. By 1000 the two new batteries are in and fridge power,
albeit small, is restored and now all the other services can charge the two new batteries to full power.

Diagram first!!

Tire has held the pressure and isn’t flat…….. so now lets survey the disaster area in the trailer…….
keys are offered to the houdini locks…….. one open…….. two open……. the drawbridge is lowered and
the first peek inside……..I don’t believe it !!! The Beemer has survived the ordeal and is upright…….
however, one of the helmets has somehow jumped out of the roof helmet box and closed the door
behind itself ??? My bicycle has a flat front tire??

A clean and happy “unbashed” Beemer to St Helena

The Beemer is unlashed and cleaned and the bike gets a new tube so all seems well. Today a
simple plan down the road to St Helena, a little bottleneck town, going down the valley. The place is
always busy but we have never stopped there so time to explore. In truth not much to explore as
revealed by a walk up and down both sides of the street where a ton of high end second hand
clothes are for sale. Not much here so back on the Beemer and retreat to Calistoga and find some
cheese and wine!

Normally chock’a’block with cars and tourists

Some impressive buildings

We find exactly what we are looking for and enjoy some “Red Tractor” vino at happy hour and a
cheese platter. Other things look good on the appetiser menu so dinner now becomes a walk
through down the appetiser selections. Mussels are up next and are spot on for our taste buds along
with the rest of the farmyard wine offerings.

Fantastic mussels

A little while later Rolf, a misplaced German, who has been here since 1965 joins us and invites us
to his vineyard over in Pope Valley, an area we rode through last year on one of our “bendy rides”. A
quick visit to the very nice town supermarket and we buy a bottle of the Tractor Red ATF we had been
drinking along with some french breakfast raddish that I normally grow at home.

……. now let’s see if it’s true

TONY DOWN

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