We left home at 4:30PM yesterday to drive to our daughter's house where we went to dinner at Eden Café with her family. She then drove us to our hotel near Houston Intercontinental airport and returned to her home in our car. We joked that buying them dinner provided really cheap parking of our car for four months!
We hate travel days and did not sleep well. Dick was up at 5:30AM and looking for coffee at 6:00. Our Marriott Springhill hotel was a typical airport, high-turnover hotel. The room was comfortable but the included breakfast left much to be desired; dry scrambled eggs, O'Brien potatoes, no meat choice, stale breads, juice and Greek yogurt. Oh well, better fare is on the way.
We took the hotel shuttle to the airport, checked in and went through security without a hitch. Our TSA "Trusted Traveler" cards are worth the effort and cost! Spent an hour in the United lounge and boarded our 767 in seats 18A&B in economy plus for our flight to San Francisco. The small up charge was worth it for the leg room!
The 9:30AM flight left on time and arrived a little early. There was lots of carry-on luggage and we just waited for the cabin to clear before getting ours down. Once off the plane, we walked "several miles" to the baggage claim area and by the time we got there our luggage had been pulled off and set aside with several other unclaimed bags. No harm, no foul and we head out to find our rent car. Ok, so we take the sky train to the rent car area. Whoever designed this airport got a bonus for stairs and elevators and we have to change levels four times before finding the sky train platform. Fortunately we can take our luggage cart with us. Oh, by the way, did I tell you that a luggage cart at Bush Intercontinental and in San Francisco costs $5 freaking dollars?!! In most of the rest of the world they are free or cost a deposit that you get back when you return the cart to the rack.
Anyway, Dollar Rental has our reservation. The attendant asks where we are going and we tell him lunch in Sausalito and then up to Napa. He tells us that you can no longer pay the Golden Gate toll in cash but must have a toll tag and he would be happy to let us have one on our car for the cost of the tolls plus $15 per use up to a maximum of $105. I just love being a tourist!!
Our car is a Buick Regal with 43,000 miles on it. It is clean and non-smoking but very small and we need all the space for the luggage. The next crisis is that we cannot find the GPS. Both of look in the electronics bag and find only the cord and windshield mount. The garage is dark, the case is black on black on black. A few nasty recriminations are exchanged as to who left the GPS at home. Fortunately, we call a truce and decide that if it is not found by tomorrow we will spring for a new one. There goes $250 plus the cost of Australia and South Africa maps!
The simple map we do have gets us across the Golden Gate and into Sausalito the back way and we have a very pleasant lunch at Salito’s Crab House and Prime Rib. Carolyn has a Bellini to steady her nerves and we each have the crab chowder in a sourdough bread bowl. Delicious!
|Give Me a Brake!!|
From Sausalito it is about an hour up to The Cottages of Napa, a little south of Yountville, CA. Our cottage is #5 and very cozy with a Bose CD player, Kiva style (corner) gas fireplace and a chilled bottle of Chandon Reserve Brut with two flutes and a nice card from the Cottage's staff. Our 50th anniversary celebration is off to a good start!
We head out to find some basic groceries as we have a small kitchen and we booth need some Jack Daniels. With a false start in Yountville, we head down to Napa and eventually find a small liquor store whose clerk, when asked about a grocery store, says, "Me no live here." Anyway someone else does give directions and we find a Lucky store. Actually, we see several so they must be a local chain; not impressed! Oh well, some eggs, cheese, mini-Snickers, etc. and we head for the self-scan checkout where we are told we can’t use the self-scan as we have a bottle of wine. Dick says something unkind under his breath and presents the attendant with a gift of Fetzer Chardonnay and we proceed to use the self-scan checkout; thank you very much!
Back to our cottage where, several stiff drinks later we are in a better humor! We decide we are not hungry and settle for some cheese and other nibbles while we read, get our baths and head for bed about 9PM local time.
All in all, not a bad start.