Friday, February 17, 2017

Home For the Holidays

Tom enjoying a nice single-malt on the patio of our temporary home in Santa Rosa. Nice view eh? 

Because of back-to-back cruising seasons, Nov - April in Mexico (northern hemisphere) and April - Nov in French Polynesia (southern hemisphere), we hadn't been home in a year. After leaving Raiatea we were looking forward to spending the holidays with family and friends.

After our two-day journey from Raiatea to San Francisco, we arrived in San Jose and pulled our trusty Toyota out of its storage spot in a friend's back yard... 

...and immediately drove up to Santa Rosa to "meet" the house where we would be house-sitting. We had a good laugh when we drove up to the gate and our Google Maps announced "You have arrived!" I'll say...

Meet the "Novak Shack"! (photo Zillow)

Our friends Nancy and Rob were about to head south to La Paz and were kind enough to let us house-sit at their fabulous new home in north Santa Rosa. They greeted us with a delicious BBQ and a wonderful bottle of Ridge Zinfandel. Oh how I missed California Zins.

Nancy, Rob and Sylvia about to dig in.

After spending a couple of days learning all the systems of the "Shack" we returned back to Los Altos to spend Thanksgiving with our family and long-time family friends in Los Altos. I wish I'd thought to take some pictures of my sister, Heather and me cooking up a storm. 

Ava and Kellen are thrilled that Uncle Tom is back.

Ava loved the Tahitian pareo I brought home for her. She asked if she could wear it to soccer practice. 

A few days after Thanksgiving our friends treated us to a day in Napa of wine tasting and picnicking. This was very convenient for us since we were based out of Santa Rosa. 
Tailgate picnic at Signorello Winery with Win Sr., Sheryl, Heather, Wynn Jr., Sylvia

We stocked up on magnums of wine for Christmas dinner.

Little did we know that the cool but sunny days were soon to be replaced by days of deluge followed by icy cold. The entire bay area was hit by a massive rain storm (with others to follow) and Santa Rosa received 7" one day! We sure were glad that the "Shack" was on a hill high above the creek.

The vineyards were flooded.
The tranquil creek below the house transformed into a raging torrent.

Christmas and New Year were a whirlwind of activities as we tried to fit as much visiting-of-friends and taking-care-of-business as we could cram into our schedule.

Who is having a better time, Kellen or Tom?
Dressed up for church Christmas morning. Wynn, Heather, Sally, Sylvia, Don and in front Kellen and Ava.

We visit Dom, Dina and new puppy Neville in Alameda.

For the past few years we've had a tradition of rendezvousing in September at a friend's cabin in Inverness. We were sad to have missed it in 2016, but our friends Mike and Linda, along with the other couple Torben and Judy, suggested we do a New Year's celebration instead. Great idea!! 

While driving cross-country Mike stopped at this quaint store to pick up some fun things for our New Year's celebration.

We got to Inverness in time to get comfy, have an Irish coffee at Vladimir's restaurant, cook some Dungeness crab for dinner and then head down to the beach with armfuls of illegal fireworks fun things to celebrate ringing in the new year.

We ran into some crazy kids at the beach who were happy to celebrate with us and our pyrotechnics.
The next day we went over to the Point Reyes Lighthouse. Unfortunately it was so windy (gusting to 60 knots) that they wouldn't let us hike down to the lighthouse, so we headed back to the cabin.

Freezing in Point Reyes. Mike, Linda, Torben, Judy, Sylvia

Torben and Judy brought along the day's entertainment, 40 pounds of pork and the equipment and spices to make Judy's famous Hungarian Sausage, aka kobas. We got to work cutting up the pork, grinding it, seasoning it, then cramming it into the press that extruded the sausage into casings that miraculously became big circles of delicious sausage ready to go into the smoker (which they also brought).

Judy (left) and Torben (right) instruct our hosts Linda and Mike on the finer points of grinding pork.

Needless to say we had a most excellent meal of roasted sausage, potatoes and braised red cabbage. Delicious! The next day Judy generously divided up the sausage and we all went home loaded with some most-excellent kobas. That will be a New Year's celebration we will never forget.

Torben is exceedingly proud of his sausage.

It was now January and getting colder and colder. One morning we woke up to a frost-covered environment, the fountain had frozen over, and we knew it was time to shut down the Shack and head to the warmer climate of Mexico.

Beautiful but oh, so cold.

We managed to squeeze in a day of wine tasting and visiting my cousin and aunt in Kelseyville.

We spent our last week in Cupertino juggling a busy schedule of final preparations, packing up the truck with things to take down to Mexico, and trying to see as many friends as possible before heading south. 

We are doing the Puddle Jump again this March aboard Shindig, so the Toyota was packed with items we are hoping to eventually get to Cinnabar, as well as a number of items for Shindig that had not arrived at their house before they left.

We go on a chilly hike with our crewmember Bruce and his friend Josh who helped us with weather routing when we crossed the Pacific last year.

We weren't able to visit all the friends we were hoping to see, but the clock was ticking and it was time to rendezvous with Rob and Nancy in La Ventana for some warmer weather and kiting. More about that later.

Adios Alta California...Hola Baja California!!

Album:  Home For the Holidays