A Slice of Heaven with Thanks to Steve and Maria Frailey

There are moments that just flat stick in my mind as wonderful. Last night, i revisited one.

We were on the cusp of sunset, which comes a bit early in our home but lasts almost fifteen minutes more if i climb to the top of the hill to watch the orb settle beyond the Pacific and give me hope of witnessing another green flash. i’ve seen about four from my perch over the years.

But not last night. i rested, luxuriating almost in my office as Maureen put together yet another gourmet meal).

i played early golf at Miramar with my long time Navy buddies at Miramar, a very respectable and, for old guys, long course where Top Gun used to be, but BRACC gave it to the Marines and Top Gun moved to Fallon, Nevada (Pity: i’m pretty sure the Navy wouldn’t have allowed Denny’s to occupy the new clubhouse after one of my favorite 19th holes of all time burnt down years ago) — oh lord, i just thought of about ten stories around my father-in-law, Ray Boggs and his escapades with our group: saved for later. Regardless it was a pleasant Southwestern corner weather day, ’bout perfect in spite of my sporadic pretty good and damn awful golf.

Even with a beer afterwards, i got home before noon. The ladies were out doing good deeds. i had my standard (when those two women aren’t here) crackers and cheese, and took a nap. A long nap. Actually completed a couple of tasks, took a deep soak epsom salts bath and retreated to this home office where i sit now trying to catch up on emails and Facebook, organize the rest of my day, tomorrow, and my life, and the world in general although i don’t think the latter is going to take…so to hell with that one.

And up on Facebook popped a memory from five years ago. It was a wonderful trip concocted by Steve and Maria Frailey. They asked us to join them for a day and overnight trip to north of Warner Springs proper, a small country community almost to Riverside County in the country. And i’m talking country like nothing of the country were i grew up. We met the Frailey’s at our “glamping spot,” two tents, the interior of each looking like something out of a luxury travel bed and breakfast photo. We lunched at the County Line BBQ Cafe, a ramshackle, rambling, redwood crazy place with incredible barbecue. From there we went to a new winery. The wine was too young and the setting, though nice was a bit too fancy for me. Then we spent a goodly time on the patio on top of a mountain at the Hawk Watch Winery where we would go into a barn filled with wine casks and a huge long haired cat. Good Wine too, real good wine.

From there, we drove up the gravel road to Sierra Roble Winery, another top of the mountain place again with great wines.

To end the afternoon, we drove back to the “glamping tents” between the vineyards and the house and tasting room for the Shadow Mountain Winery, a little slice of heaven. Steve and Maria introduced us to Pamela McGreary, the wife and tasting room guru who is also an artist. They provide the San Diego Zoo their wine and Pamela creates the labels, both for the zoo and their wines. She is a wonderful artist and a superb hostess.

At the end of the day, we gathered our prepped ingredients from the cars and walked to the covered patio. Steve pulled out his little made-for-boat propane stove. We dined with superb food and a bottle of the wine we had purchased that afternoon. The country air was cool that night, perfect for sleeping.

The next morning, the McGeary’s had set out a continental breakfast on the patio. As we were winding down with another cup of coffee, Alexander, the husband and co-owner wandered by and asked us about our stay. Then, without  provocation, he offered to give us a tour of the vineyards and the production process. The man is flat amazing. He pointed out the wines in the different sections of the vineyards, including “Old Gus,” the original section for the vineyards from the 1930’s, and a section where Alexander used the different styles of staking and and hanging the wines. He provides lessons for fledgling vinters and other students and dedicated this section to illustrate the various methods.

Alexander was so good, this guy actually understood the intricacies of the cultivation of the grapes. We concluded with a trip around the processing plant.

It  was one of those short trips that fall into the category of perfect.

And of course, there was one of Steve’s classic photos. Adjacent to the “Old Gus” vineyard was an old bathtub. Steve coaxed Maureen into the photo shoot because i had already laughed and sat in the tub. Maureen sat on my lap. It was only later when my cousin, Nancy Schwarze from Florida told her about the connection with the viagra commercial.

i’m still laughing.

Thanks, Steve.

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