Monday, June 20, 2016

Paso Robles Wine Country....living it up on the wine trail

This past weekend was Paso Robles Wine country 2.0.  AS in our second time and with a group of former coworkers hell bent on a good time tasting wine on the Central Coast.  Added bonus is we got to enjoy cooler weather than home as So Cal was broiling in record breaking heat.

I've reviewed the wineries in more detail on Yelp.  Click that link for the details.  

First up having toured more than a few wineries over the years its imperative you have a designated driver as you get tipsy without trying after a few stops.  In our case since we had a group of 7 we opted to rent a limo for the day and be escorted to the wineries rather than drive ourselves.  We use Grand Cru in Paso Robles and was not disappointed.   If you can ask for a driver, ask for Kyle was really terrific.


First stop on our tour was up a barely one lane wide yak trail to Le Cuvier wineries.  Don't let the drive scare you, this place is worth the drive to get up there.  The wines from this boutique winery are among the best I've ever had. The tasting experience is at the top as well.  Then you get the incredible views from the cliff side patio overlooking the Paso Robles valley.  Amazing experience.  A must do.

Another hilltop stop with views to die for is Calcareous.  This winery is named for the limestone formation in the area that adds to the terroir or minerality to their wines.  All very good wines, terrific gift shop and very friendly staff.  Meg was terrific in lightening up the day and setting us off on the right foot.

Next on our loop of the West Valley of Paso Robles was Minnassian-Young Winery.  This winery is unique in that it is a dry farming operation relying only on local rainfall to keep the grapes growing.  They do several varietals but specialize in Zinfandel.  Truly one of the highlight stops for us of the day.
 

Oso Libre is a winery more need to model after.  Its a sustainable winery and cattle farm.  The two working to keep each other going.  We were there the day before Fathers Day and hit it just right.  The place was crowded yet Kyle was able to maneuver the limo to the main tasting room and there we joined the celebration of a fresh Angus beef burger cooked over a wood fire with a glass of their award winning "Carnal" red blend wine.

Next in our round of stops was Thacher Winery. It was a decent winery, tastings were #10 flight and their Zin was pretty exceptional.  Ditto the Grenache.

Our last and final stop of the day was Rabbit Ridge.  The place was a ton of fun and needs to be on anyone's must stop list.  Its set up in a warehouse with barrels and cases of wines. Joanne and her daughter Sara made us feel totally welcome, led us through a tasting flight of 12 wines that were all good to excellent...more of the latter than the former and they are priced so well we came home with a mixed case!

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Aquarium of the Pacific


"Undulating Jelly"

Aquarium of the Pacific is a must see place, not as big or dramatic as the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, but it does a marvelous job none the less of presenting local sea life to the visitors.  They do an exceptional job of displaying local aquatic habitats found here along the Pacific coast.

They even have shark and stingray tanks where you can use the two finger stroke to "pet" those creatures.  Having been stung by a 'ray once, I've learned to give them a healty respect and give them ample leeway...but that's another story for another day.

There's even a Lorikeet aviary where you can buy "nectar" concocted to match what the birds feed on in the wild.  Its a hit among all the visitors as the Lorikeet will land on your arm for that tasty treat.
"Lorikeet feeding"

On top of the exhibits where you get to touch and feel they have a variety of movies available during the day that are either free or need special tickets to see that address the sea, its life and vitality and what we can do to protect it.  

"Undulating Jelly" was simply post processed to remove the blue cast caused by the water and artificial lights and wall color.  Clarity was amped up a bit so details were retained when resized for the web.  "Lorikeet feeding" got a similar simple post process from RAW to remove the blue cast from an overcast day.



Friday, March 25, 2016

What lies ahead


Like this image the foreground in the now is focused, but the future and what lies beyond today is a bit fuzzy and out of focus.

I've been busy on several fronts including the home front that has kept me from writing as much as I'd like.  Or shooting for that matter.  Grrrr....

I did snake up the domain TheSoCalAutoBlog.com as it came back as available after a year being taken by some damn interloper.  I'm waiting patiently for the domain without "The" in the title so I can have it back too.  I know, you snooze you lose when it comes to domain name purchasing.    At least I have one and it links to my blogspot car lifestyle blog.  The snakes grabbing it up may try to imitate, but I have the pixel trail to show I've been using the domain and name since 2010.

And onto that blog a bit.  I'm a digital influencer with Ford, in other words my use of social media and followers and views is such that I'm considered to be a minor authority on topics I post and certainly influence to some degree what they see and might think.  I don't know how much influence I really bear, but I do come up with some corkers on twitter and Social Media in general that can be at least midly entertaining.  

Ford is upping its game with social media this year. They've whittled down their focus and selected a team of "Elite influencers" of which I made the cut.  What it means I don't know for sure at this point.  I do know it going to be an adventure so that makes it worth the effort to go down that path with them.

This image was shot the other morning during a stroll through my garden.  It kind of sums up the future for me now.  Foreground is sharp and saturated, the future in the back well its colorful just not fleshed out and in focus with a hint of things to see.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Fun with Siri

No graphic here as it would be a spoiler.  Ask Siri if he/she can beatbox.

The result is hysterical.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Cars meet art, well Legos

Lego and Ford joined forces and the result was Legos used to sculpt a Mustang in the iconic Ford blue. 

Also available this spring as part of the Lego Speed Champions will be a Raptor with a Ford hotrod on a trailer behind it. Look for the models that replicate key design features of these Ford cars in Lego Stores and select retailers this spring.  

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Ruminating at LAX


Free wifi is nice even if they limit it AND it's hard to connect to. This Boingo hotspot is ok for light surfing and general Words with Friends bs. After that...forget about it.

Normally one swelters at the airport. Not here today. Doors are open and there's a cold damp breeze by good old gate 53b. Jacket I packed is for below freezing Detroit so even if I could get to it, why bother ad I would be overheated in no time with that thing here. 

I'm impatiently waiting for a flight that's been delayed by half an hour. No reason given which makes it frustrating. 

Commute gawds smiled on me today. Add in TSA precheck and I made it from home to gate in 55 minutes. Certainly nothing to complain about. I remember another trip last summer that took 2.5 HOURS.   

I may update here from along the way in Detroit for their auto show. Providing my hosts at Ford give us a little free time  to write during the day. 

Life as a "Digital Influencer" is fun...except for killing time at airports. C

Monday, January 04, 2016

Pondering what the new year holds in store...

In the SGV area of Los Angeles that I live in it ain't the New Year until the B2 bomber buzzes the Rose Parade in nearby Pasadena then cruises over my 'hood making a turn back to its home base.  Its been that way for years.  Precisely at 8:02AM me and my neighbors out squealing with glee at the sight of it passing over us.

2015 was a kick ass year for me.  Long over due, greatly appreciated and humbled by some of the experiences.

2016 is shaping up to be more of the same.  In 6 short days I'm off to NAIAS in Detroit as one of Ford's guest "digital influencers".  Who said social media doesn't have benefits for even a hack like me?

Other trips include one possibly to MO in the spring, definitely TX in the spring.  We'll do a trip in April to Paso Robles with friends to see another dear friend up there who works at one of the wineries.  A couple of trips to Palm Springs, one with and another without kids.  Then a big trip in the fall...East Coast.  Either DC/Norfolk area where my youngest is stationed if he doesn't deploy.  If he deploys well then we're taking a fall color tour in NE.  Meander much?