I had been planning this Napa trip since January. Almost nothing went according to plan, and the way things turned out, it was much better than I planed.
To begin with, I must introduce the main characters for this story. Firstly there is me. If you have been reading this blog, probably you know me pretty well by now. Then there are the main characters that you know from the Coast Trip and other posts: Grace, Sohyun and Keiko. Grace is calm, very easygoing, and is witty in both English and (I assume) Korean. Sohyun is very health conscious (she describes herself as "sporty"), is sweet and motherly most of the time, but when she is overcome with affection for another person she has a tendecy to bite (hard). Keiko has a habit of singing responses to questions that I ask her. Her favorite is a simple down scale "Um-um-um-um-um, I don't kno~w...!"
The character that I may need to introduce a little more, because she has not been on many trips, is Boeun. Boeun is very feminine and very Korean, but she is neither so "feminine" that she is weak-willed, nor so focused on Korea that she is closed-minded. She wants to learn, and is really good at asking questions. Somehow she is able to get me to divulge large amounts of information about myself in a short time, and it's not just because she's gorgeous.
Lindsey was going to come with us this weekend, but on Friday she cancelled. Unfortunately, she changed her mind again and decided to come on Saturday, but by that time we had already left. So we missed her, but I'll try to make it up to her next weekend.
On Friday I did errands and prepared for Saturday. On Saturday morning I drove by to pick everyone up, and by 9:20 we were on our way to our first stop...
The Budweiser Brewery in Fairfield!
I have wanted to tour the Budweiser plant for years. Everytime I drive by I think, "I should really go on the tour." I have tried to go on the tour on 4 separate occasions, but everytime the group I was with was not interested, and why on earth would I go by myself? It is difficult to understand my strong desire to visit a beer plant. I hate beer, especially Bud. I am a non-drinker, plain and simple. But I do so love learning how things are made. (Darn you Mister Rodgers Neighborhood and your amazing crayon episode!!!) So, at 10 am sharp we arrived at the Budweiser factory in time to be the first tour of the day. As it turned out, the factory gave out free samples, so the girls had beer and pretzels for breakfast.
By the way, even though the cups were huge and full, nobody drank very much. In fact, none of us got drunk the entire trip (though Sung Eun turned a little red in the face later on). So, the other cool thing about the Budweiser factory tour was the blind test that Sohyun and Boeun got to do. Here is Boeun trying to figure out which beer has been "punished" and which is regular.
This task was no sweat for Boeun. Budweiser is her favorite brand of beer. In fact, Budweiser is her favorite beverage, period. Sohyun seemed to guess correctly as well, because they were both awarded with certificates that declared them to be "Brewmasters".
And here are me and the Korean girls posing with the full selection of A.B. products.
So, after our tour (which I recommend) we went to Trader Joe's to get supplies for lunch and Grandma and Grandpa D's house. We then made sandwiches and ate them on the porch.
After lunch, Grandma sent us out to pick oranges. Well, as you can see, I was in a shirt and tie, and I couldn't be soiling my fine clothing by picking oranges, so I assumed the role of foreman.
Actually, not really. We posed that picture to make me look like an imperialist. Man, can I look the part of an imperialist.
At about 2 o'clock we went to Domaine Chandon to see if we could get their hourly tour. Well, it turns out their public tour is on the hour every odd numbered our, so we accidentally joined a private tour before they kicked us out.
Then we went to the town of Napa and used one of the coupons I had to get a free wine tasting! This is the part where Sung Eun turned red, although the heat could have also had something to do with that.
In fact, it was really hot in Downtown Napa, so we began to look for a place to buy water or soda. It was then that we walked into this fudge shop.
Well, when the guy behind the counter saw me walk in with4 Asian girls, he was dumbstruck. As I tried to buy fudge he kept telling me that I was an amazing man to be able to manage 4 women. He congratulated me. I sort of smiled and nodded and made some comment about it being fun to hang out with them, my eyes fixed and focused on the fudge that he was cutting for me. He was so impressed with me, and also attracted to the girls, that he really went out of his way to help us. It was a very interesting experience. I was able to discover that I really don't enjoy it when men are envious of me. Anyway, the Keiko was able to get great service. She got free samples of candy that were not offered for sampling. She was on a quest to eat the most sour candy in the shop. Keiko quite weak against spice, but very strong against sour. She can eat stuff that makes me cry without flinching. She loves to eat lemons.
After the fudge shop we returned to Grandma and Grandpa's house so that Sohyun, Sung Eun and Boeun could change out of their street clothes and get ready for dinner. While we were there, Keiko played piano. Eventually, Luccina came over and joined Keiko at the piano.
Then it was off to the Napa Valley Wine Train, where we had this picture taken. I asked an older gentleman if he could take a photo of us, and when he saw who I was with his comment was something to the effect of "Four Women! Good job!"
The Wine Train was nice. We chose a good time of year to ride on it. The valley was green, and the sun stayed up late enough so that the lighting was great. I think the girls liked it. The sad part was there was no way to fit 5 people on one table. So we had two tables right next to eachother.
I tried to encourage everyone to practice speaking English by making sure one table wasn't all Koreans, so Grace and I took the table for 2.
Us in the western car.
So when we got off the train I went to call Zio, and realized that I hadn't told him we would be going on the train! By the time we got to Calistoga, everyone would be asleep, so Zio gave me the code to the lower gate and we just slept in the lower house. Just as we were going to bed Sung Eun started explaining the Korean concept of incest. Did you know that in Korea you can't marry anyone within eight degrees of relation to you, and that in Japan you can marry your cousin? The countries are close geographically, but the cultures are very different.
The next morning we went up to the big house to eat breatfast. The dogs were a big hit. The cat was popular with everyone but Boeun, who has a strong phobia for cats and can't stand to even look at them. She avoided the cat quite well. Here is Dag.
Everyone eating the whole wheat pancakes that Josh made. Good pancakes.
Josh and I have been having a bit of a jolly limerick swap over at his blog, by the way. Check it out if you wish. Anyway, here are Keiko, Josh and Oriana in the hidden room.
Alright, here comes the most interesting part of our trip to Calistoga, our visit to the pond. Now, I have to admit, I keep underestimating how cool the girls are. I thought to myself, "we'll go to the pond, they'll see that it is a strange color, I'll jump in, they'll think it is gross and we'll leave." Since we wouldn't be there for very long, I put sunscreen on my neck and arms. Well, we began our hike from the big house to the pond.
By the time we got to the pond, the girls were a little tired and when they saw the color of the water they declared (as I had expected) that they were not going to get in the water.
On the dock we saw this snake swim up out of the water. I pointed it out to everyone. Keiko hates snakes and declared once again that she was not going to get in the water.
Well, Josh showed up, so he and I jumped in.
Me. Waterproof cameras are great.
Eventually, the girls got in the canoe and began to paddle around the pond, but there was still know way they were going to get in the pond.
Josh and I were getting pretty annoyed by swimming in our pants by this time. It is so much harder to swim in clothes, especially in freshwater with nothing to hold on to. Since the girls weren't going to come in, we removed our pants and placed them on this floating pipe.
Well, immediately after we removed our pants, the girls decided to get in the water. They really wanted to experience swimming in the pond, even though they were scared. This is one of the reasons I think they are so cool. They may seem at first to be like the stereotypical girls from Asia, but in fact, they are tough and adventurous. Grace was the first one in the water, and as soon as she was in and had gotten used to it, she began to swam over to me. I tried to think of a subtle way to tell her I was naked. Finally I said, "I'm naked." She let out a single chucke, then with out saying a word turned around and headed the opposite direction. Josh and I went and retrieved our pants. Eventually, everyone but Boeun (who was feeling a little sick) got in.
They actually swam all over the pond, even to the part that I am a little so scared to go.
Here is Josh paddling the boat and looking like a stud.
Zio swimming in his pond.
And Josh looking insane.
Oh, and this is me doing an impression of Dag.
Keiko, Grace and Sohyun paddling some more.
In all, we spent maybe two hours playing at the pond. At the end of this time, I realized that I had never put on sunscreen. Shortly after realizing this, the pain began. Speaking of pain, as she was getting out of the pond, Sohyun managed to get a massive splinter, so everyone but Boeun and I rode back on the 4x4. Keiko fell of once, but was uninjured and got right back on.
After digging out Sohyun's splinter down at the lower house, Zio gave us a tour of the cave. He and I conspired to turn the lights off once all of the girls were in the cave. We expected them to scream. This is what we got. The light turns off at about 6 seconds into this clip. Like I said, the girls only appear to be like the stereotypical Asian girls. Here we are getting a tour of the rest of the winery.
We retuned to the big house and jumped in the pool. Here is Keiko's underwater shot.
And Sung Eun's.
Well, at around that time my sun burn hit me like a ton of bricks. Suddenly I had no energy, and the only thing that I wanted was ice cream. We showered, thanked Zio, Josh, Oriana and Ellen and drove to Mumm Napa Valley. They weren't giving tours, but we didn't care. By that point no one cared about wine; we all wanted ice cream. So we went to the nearest ice cream shop.
Once again, the guy behind the counter thought I was an amazing guy for being with 4 Asian girls. However, by this point I didn't have enough energy to be polite. I was the first to the register. He said "So you are paying for all of your women?" Normally, I would probably pay for everyone, but I was tired and thought this comment was insulting to the girls, so I said "No, we are all paying for our own ice cream." He replied that I should pay for all of them, hinting that it would make them think I was a gentleman. I stood there for 10 seconds arguing with the ice cream shop guy, but finally I realized that everybody wanted to sit down, so I gave in to his demands that I pay for the girls. I don't know how much of this exchange the girls saw, but as we went to sit down, they paid me back for their ice cream. Here are Grace and I sitting down. I was very tired at this point. Nothing takes it out of me like intense sunlight and arguing.
So, we drove back to Davis and, since Boeun will leave for Korea at the end of the week, we all went out to a restaurant of her choice. Here I am drinking water, magically.
After dinner we went to ice cream again. Here is Keiko using my glasses to see the menu. She forgot both her glasses and contacts at home, so she spent all of Sunday unable to see anything. She paid for my ice cream by the way, maybe because I agreed to help her write one of her papers tomorrow. Maybe because she didn't want me fighting with anymore ice cream shop guys.
And here we are all eating ice cream, for the second time in 3 hours.
Well, I think the girls had a good time. As I said, Boeun will be going back to Korea this week, so I will probably meet with her one more time.
As a post-script, I had a great time, but I haven't been this badly burned since high school.