Saturday, July 25, 2009

Ballooning and Driving From Coast to Mountains

After having gotten up at 4:30am on Tuesday and told we couldn't go hot-air ballooning because of the fog we were dutifully up again at 4:30am on Wednesday to try again with a different operator.  This time things went much smoother.  A driver picked us up and took us to Napa where we joined other people heading out.  The pilots indicated there was fog again that morning, but instead of cancelling they took us over the hills to Winters in the Central Valley to take off.  While the basket was a bit crowded with 16 passengers plus the pilot the ride was very pleasant.  The hour-long trip took us over a variety of fields (including sunflowers which we wouldn't have gotten to see in Napa).  The price of the flight included a delicious champagne brunch back in Napa as well.

When all was done we went back to camp and packed up.  Before leaving Napa Valley though we went to one more tasting.  This one, at Frog's Leap, was very relaxing with some really nice wines.  Soon though we were on the road to our next destination, Mendocino.  The road to get there (CA-128) was long and twisty, but the redwood forest we drove through was very beautiful.  Once there, we were greeted with the coastal fog we had grown to expect.  It did however make our cozy bed-and-breakfast cottage that more attractive with its little fireplace and thick sheets.  After dinner in town we had no problem getting to sleep with such a long day behind us.

The fog was even thicker when we got up Thursday morning and we were reluctant to leave our cottage.  Once out though we took a stroll through town to see the boutique shops and get some lunch for the road.  We even found a nice, secluded trail down to a small cove where we found several shiny pieces of abalone shell.  Soon though we were back on the beautiful, twisty road as we made our way to Lake Tahoe.  With heavy traffic north of the San Francisco bay and construction at many places our trip took close to nine hours.  Arriving at our campground in the dark it was all we could do to set up our tent, blow up the air mattress, and roll out our sleeping bags before we crashed into them.

In the morning we awoke to what turned out to be a beautiful, relaxing campground.  We took a walk down to the beach to dip our toes into the clear, cool water before relaxing for a spell.  Then, for one of our most enjoyable parts of our trip, we got on a sunset, sailboat cruise of the lake - including beer/chardonay and appetizers.  As the first time either of us had been on a sailboat of this size (35') we were both impressed with the cruise.

While we hadn't seen too many people when we got in to Lake Tahoe on Thursday or driving around on Friday, we certainly found plenty of them Saturday afternoon.  In the morning we had a chance to lay out on the same beach we had walked to the day before.  After that though we found the crowds hovering around a final look over the lake at Inspiration Point.  They continued to be a problem as we went into town looking for a place to change the oil on the car.  We finally gave up and have come to Reno to get it taken care of.  Now we start our long trek back to Colorado.

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