On the Sideways Movie Trail: A Wine Tasting Tour of Santa Barbara

Far from home, in the Macedonian capital city of Skopje, the American wine-lover’s flick Sideways was providing background fodder at a wine event. For a second, Shawn and I thought we’d been whisked back to the United States, until we spotted the Academy Award winner’s subtitles written in the Cyrillic script, an alphabet made even more foreign afterContinue reading “On the Sideways Movie Trail: A Wine Tasting Tour of Santa Barbara”

Tasting Central California: A Paso Robles Wine Tour

Six decades ago, my grandparents and their then-eight children piled into the family car and drove to San Luis Obispo from Minnesota. My grandfather was to begin a teaching position there. Though the family’s chapter in San Luis Obispo (SLO) ended up being a short one (frankly, I don’t know how they bid farewell toContinue reading “Tasting Central California: A Paso Robles Wine Tour”

Gentle Giant: The Touching Tale of a Dog’s Eternal Devotion

If you were to stroll the atmospheric Chippiannock Cemetery in Rock Island, Illinois, you’d likely happen upon the weathered headstones of siblings Eddie and Josie Dimick, which are guarded by a life-sized statue of a dog. The children died on the same day in 1878, and their family’s descendants left Rock Island long ago. Still, strangersContinue reading “Gentle Giant: The Touching Tale of a Dog’s Eternal Devotion”

Into the Wild American West: Genoa, Nevada

Named after Genoa, Italy, but pronounced juh-NO-ah, unlike its Italian namesake, the Nevadan town of Genoa epitomizes the American West. Founded in 1851, Genoa is Nevada’s oldest settlement, and it has the distinction of having had Nevada’s first court, hotel, newspaper, and even its first ‘thirst parlor.’ Like nearby Virginia City, which offers similar wild west charm, Genoa, NevadaContinue reading “Into the Wild American West: Genoa, Nevada”

Wine, Surf, & Sun: A Weekend in Sonoma County, California

Taking to Bodega Bay’s beach just before sunset, we had to pinch ourselves that we were really strolling through the golden sand in winter. Between us both, Shawn and I had endured our fair share of brutal Midwestern, Canadian, even Continental-European winters, but this weather, we were told, was even exceptional by California standards. DuringContinue reading “Wine, Surf, & Sun: A Weekend in Sonoma County, California”

Perusing the Pumpkin Patch

After ten years of life abroad sans an authentic jack o’lantern, I was delighted to awaken my Halloween spirit by visiting a veritable American pumpkin patch last autumn, following a splendid long weekend in Napa Valley. The California farm’s scruffy scarecrows, colorful gourds, and pumpkins transformed into storybook characters brought to mind some of my favorite HalloweenContinue reading “Perusing the Pumpkin Patch”

A Day at the Virginia City Camel & Ostrich Races

Every September, camels, ostriches, and jockeys from around the world converge on Virginia City, Nevada for the former mining town’s International Camel & Ostrich Races. We attended the quirky event last year, and it’s taking place again this weekend for the 54th time.

A Long Weekend in California Wine Country: Getting a Taste for Napa and Sonoma Wines (Part 2)

Note: This is part two of the series, Long Weekend in California Wine Country. Click the image for part one.