11 December 2010

Danger & Delicious-ness

19 September 2010
We left Yosemite and headed for Napa. It was one of XBFJ's better ideas. He got really good at finding ways to take full advantage of having the car out of the city. We stopped at a coffee shop in Groveland and hit the road. While making a three point turn after leaving the parking lot, Henry stopped running. He just stopped. But then he started right away. It's disconcerting when your car stops running, and you're blocking all lanes of traffic for reason you can't explain. And I wasn't even driving. Once the car started, honestly didn't give it a second thought. We were on the road.

Leaving Yosemite is nicer than going there. Getting there involves a lot of climbing along the edge of a mountain. Cars seem to be inches from steep drops. Leaving involves coasting between a wall and oncoming traffic, cushioned from any steep falls. Each turn on the descent brings a wider view. It was while marveling at that view (and discussing Adam's extensive knowledge of The Most Interesting Man in The World) that Henry again stopped running. So there we were, four 20-somethings careening down a mountainside at about 50 miles in a car that was not running. It was probably the scariest thing I could imagine at that moment. And I thank God XBFJ was driving. If I had been behind the wheel, we could have seriously all died. I mean that. I had no idea what to do. XBFJ put Henry in neutral and he started right away. I would not have done that, not even if someone had told me to do so. I would have slammed on the brakes, maybe brushed up against the mountainside, over corrected and sent us to our doom. I prayed. And I called my dad.

Here was another instance of an earlier folly biting our bums. Remember that cheap gas we bought to avoid getting gouged near the park? Well my dad said it was probably mixed with water. Adam had suspected the same thing. I had no idea gas stations did such a horrible thing. My dad said the car would stop running every time water got into the engine. He was right. We had four or five shut downs on our way to wine country. Each was just as scary. We were either on a hill or a highway. And the only way to tell was by the gauges. The radio would still play and the speed would stay steady. While that was all the excitement I needed for the day, we had more. Fortunately, it was the edible kind.

We had lunch at Bouchon in Yountville. Foodies be impressed. It's a Thomas Keller restaurant, where the food is phenomenal and you have to wait more than an hour on a Sunday afternoon in September. We killed time browsing. I posed with a metal chef. Some woman thought Amber & I could actually afford a 6 foot textured canvas painting. She was just silly.

Eventually we did get seated and we did order. The food was otherworldly. I obeyed XBFJ's tacit rule prohibiting flash photography of food and I shouldn't have. The pictures I have don't do the food justice, although you can see them here. We ate more than we should and we washed it all down with coffee and desserts from the bakery next door. And since nothing goes better with food than more food, we went to a garden.

This the garden for The French Laundry. If the restaurant's reputation isn't enough to make you want to eat there, the garden should be. It might have been the clouds on the horizon, or the food coma, but the garden seemed extra inviting. And the pictures I took came out pretty close to accurate. We walked through the peppers and pumpkins just because we could. It was another beautiful day, full of something you would want to share with someone. Loneliness crept into my eyes but did not spill. I took that as a sign things were getting better. Score one for the good guys.