. . . I've been told that I write novels for email messages. Perhaps this is the way to go. I'll try to make each entry, or Gemstone, a "precious" one. On mediocre days, all I might be able to produce is a "semi-precious" entry. In any case, an entry might be a "neat" Gemstone--something that is uniquely mine.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Exploring in Napa Valley, CA

So after being home for just two days, we left early this morning for our "real" summer vacation. We spent the day in Napa Valley, CA, starting off with a lunch at In N Out Burger. We do this every time we come to California: search down the nearest In N Out and go for it! I must say my cheeseburger, fries, and vanilla shake was just as good today as in the past and worth having to eat a salad for dinner tonight.

Rocks of Ages Trees, 6 ft in diameter
Anyway, we drove from one end of the valley, through all of the wineries along HWY 29, and ended up at the Petrified Forest up in Calistoga. (We'll hit some wineries for wine tasting tomorrow.) At the petrified forest we saw petrified trees all along a trail through the grounds. About 3 million years ago a volcano near Mt. St. Helena 7 miles away erupted and took out the giant redwoods with fire, ash, and molten lava. All of the petrified trees were felled in one direction, away from the volcano. Of course, they weren't petrified until silicate-rich waters from the ash seeped down into the gaps of the wood and replaced the organic material with quartz, turning it into stone.

Robert Louis Stevenson Tree, mentioned in a book of his, over 8 foot in diameter
Waiting for Old Faithful to burp
After visiting the Petrified Forest we drove down the road to see the Old Faithful Geyser (also in Calistoga). There are only 3 "old faithful" geysers in the world. This one erupts about every 30 minutes, sending steam and scalding water spraying 60 to 100 feet in the air. I learned that this geyser has been a good predictor of earthquakes. When it's regular cycle is delayed or diminished, an earthquake is likely within the next couple of weeks close by.

At first, we sat on the benches and watched as a few puffs of steam came out of the rocks surrounding the area of eruption. Then, we heard some percolating sounds that were followed by some spraying. This happened about 3 times and I couldn't help but think, "Is this it?" Thankfully, that was not it and it spewed water and hot steam for about 5-10 minutes total. It was really cool. I'm sure it was nowhere near what the one in Yellowstone does, but this was really worth the visit. We all got quite a thrill.
Thar she blows!
So what's on tomorrow's agenda? A lot of relaxing, I think. Before that happens, I believe we'll go sample some of the local wines at whatever winery offers free or low-cost tasting. Of course we plan to visit our favorite winery, V. Sattui, in St. Helena. Their wines have always been my favorite since I first came to Napa Valley back when I was in college (and that was a long time ago!). They have this fantastic deli and picnic ground so I'm sure we'll spend a good lunch time there.

No comments: