Perusing the Pumpkin Patch

Pumpkin Farm California 20

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 the Napa Valley.

The California farm’s scruffy scarecrows, colorful gourds, and pumpkins transformed into storybook characters brought to mind some of my favorite Halloween childhood memories: everything from dressing up as The Wizard of Oz’s Dorothy (sporting Mom’s wedding shoes, which she’d adorned with thick squares of red glitter; dog Jenny even trick-or-treated with me in a basket) to entering a chicken pox-stricken pumpkin donning a glass thermometer into my elementary school’s pumpkin contest.

Continue reading “Perusing the Pumpkin Patch”

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

cluster of grapes in NapaNoteThis is part two of the series, Long Weekend in California Wine Country. Click the image for part one. 

Sunday: Papapietro Perry Winery,  Trattore Estate Wines, Dry Creek Olive Company, Dry Creek General Store and Armida Winery

To commence our final two days in Napa and Sonoma, we drove to the Warm Springs Dam, where there is a scenic lookout over Lake Sonoma.

Napa hilly countryside with trees

open road in California

plant in sunshine

bridge over water with flowers in foreground


blue water near dam

dam in Napa

We then followed the Dry Creek Road down to a cluster of tasting rooms. Our favorites were the Papapietro Perry Winery and Trattore Estate Wines and Dry Creek Olive Company.

evergreen branch

tasting room in sonoma

wine barrels stacked on each other


peace sign outside of Sonoma wine tasting room

With an unassuming, but cheerful interior, Trattore offered friendly service and a lovely sampling of wines. We couldn’t resist purchasing the 2011 Viognier. Knowing that we would be flying back overseas soon, we didn’t snap up any of the wonderful olive oils and vinegar also on sale there. Shawn’s mother did, though, and we would later enjoy sprinkling both in our salads while preparing lunches back at his parents’ home. (Our favorites were a subtly-flavored lemon olive oil and pomegranate vinegar).

bottles of wine

Napa Weekend0575

Napa Weekend0584

Across the street from Trattore is the Papapietro Perry Winery, so we naturally headed there after trying Trattore’s wines. Shawn’s father purchased an extraordinary 2009 Pinot Noir, which we enjoyed on their cozy porch that overlooked a red barn, and more vineyards.

Napa Weekend0604

Napa Weekend0588

Napa Weekend0589

Napa Weekend0674

Napa Weekend0591

Napa Weekend0601

Napa Weekend0603

Napa Weekend0608

Napa Weekend0620

Napa Weekend0625

Napa Weekend0626

Napa Weekend0627

Napa Weekend0628

Napa Weekend0630

Napa Weekend0662

Napa Weekend0631

Napa Weekend0666

Napa Weekend0671

Napa Weekend0563

We picked up take-out sandwiches at the Dry Creek General Store before heading to the Armida Winery, a spot inextricably associated with bocce ball matches and wine for Shawn and his family. There, we savored our Dry Creek General Store sandwiches. (I had chosen well with a perfectly spiced chicken curry salad sandwich. Thank heavens this weekend landed on our agenda before I had to embark on a gluten-free lifestyle!)

Napa Weekend0720

Napa Weekend0717

Napa Weekend0719

Napa Weekend0724

Napa Weekend0735

Napa Weekend0736

Napa Weekend0737

Napa Weekend0740

Napa Weekend0744

Under the watchful eye of a lion sculpture, we played several heated matches of bocce, a ball sport popular in Italy and France that’s similar to games played in the Roman Empire. I was pleased that I experienced the beginner’s luck phenomenon during one of the rounds.

Napa Weekend0842

Napa Weekend0797

Napa Weekend0799

Napa Weekend0802

Napa Weekend0806

Napa Weekend0810

Napa Weekend0811

Napa Weekend0817

Napa Weekend0823

Napa Weekend0827

Napa Weekend0838

Napa Weekend0851

Napa Weekend0877

Napa Weekend0971

Napa Weekend0975

Monday: Petrified Forest and V. Sattui Winery

En route to Napa, signs to the Petrified Forest caught our eye, nudging us to pay homage to the park’s redwoods, which were turned into stone over three million years ago following a volcanic eruption. During all of Shawn’s familial pilgrimages to Napa, they’d never stopped at the Calistoga natural wonder. The park was small, but we enjoyed seeing the age-old redwoods (particularly since we’d just visited the famous coastal redwoods farther north, a bit earlier in the season). As we turned back to the car, a harmless fellow even slithered along our footpath, just to show that there’s much life among those stone, lifeless Calistoga trees.

Napa Weekend0985

Napa Weekend0989

Napa Weekend1004

Napa Weekend1013

Napa Weekend1014

Napa Weekend1019

Napa Weekend1041

Napa Weekend1053

Napa Weekend1067

man riding horse in California

Our last stop before heading back to my in-laws’ home was the V Sattui Winery. On the way, we passed through Napa’s charming downtown, and the Napa Wine Train zipped past us. (Both are on my itinerary the next time we are in California wine country!) As we entered the V. Sattui grounds, we brushed by chest-high buckets of grape bunches which had just been harvested.

Napa Weekend1068

Napa Weekend1091

Napa Weekend1093

Napa Weekend1116

Napa Weekend1135

Napa Weekend1150

Napa Weekend1170

Napa Weekend1186

Napa Weekend1190

Napa Weekend1206

Napa Weekend1208

Napa Weekend1209

Napa Weekend1210

Napa Weekend1212

Napa Weekend1219

Napa Weekend1242

Napa Weekend1245

Napa Weekend1250

Napa Weekend1259

Napa Weekend1293

I immediately fell for V. Sattui’s old world charm: its inviting grounds, shaded by a canopy of old oak trees; its flower-studded landscaping, and its classic stone structure, which was built relatively recently. I also loved our informal picnic offerings, reminiscent of those we’d feasted upon at Ledson two days earlier: cheese, bread and artichoke spread. A 2011 Gamay Rouge rounded off the picnic, and then we bode farewell to Napa and Sonoma. At least for now.

Napa Weekend0401

Where in the World?

Photography & text © Tricia A. Mitchell. All Rights Reserved.


Photo du Jour: Saved by a Superhero in San Francisco

Superhero directs traffic in San Francisco

During a recent jaunt to San Francisco, we were attempting to cross the street when a hurried driver came rushing into the crosswalk. In a scene out of a comic book, our hero stopped traffic — much to the chagrin of the motorist. :)

Continue reading “Photo du Jour: Saved by a Superhero in San Francisco”

Welcome, 2013!

Greetings Dear Readers, and Happy 2013!

2012 was an outstanding year, and it’s been a great pleasure sharing our journeys with you and virtually traveling along on yours as well. Thank you for your insight and support!

It’s been my tradition for several years to send out an end-of-year travelogue to my friends and family. Since I count many of you as special friends, I wanted to share our greetings here as well. If you click on the image below, you’ll come to a .pdf file with many of our globetrotting happenings. Brace yourself —  it was a jam-packed year for us! We have been very lucky to have had the experiences we’ve had and to have brushed shoulders with fantastic friends, old and new.

Many of you have likely made resolutions. I didn’t craft a traditional one this year, however, I’m now quite inspired to do so throughout the year, as a result of this wise quote from French-Cuban author, Anaïs Nin:

“I made no resolutions for the New Year.  The habit of making plans, of criticizing, sanctioning and molding my life, is too much of a daily event for me.”

Wherever you are in the world, I wish you a splendid 2013, and again, I say thank you for a fantastic year.

All the best,


Holiday Newsletter 2013, page 1

Appreciating the Flora of Fall

red and yellow fall leaves high desert reno nevada

Even in the buff-colored, high desert of Nevada, neighborhood trees and shrubberies are sporting their autumn finery.

pampas grass and yellow leaves in high desert

During most mornings these past weeks, we’ve pounded the pavement for three-mile walks up into the surrounding hills. Aiming to achieve a cardio workout, I’ve typically refrained from bringing my trusty camera along (an accessory for which I’m often teased; some joke it’s an extension of my body). With the oak and maple leaves, trailing ivy and rabbitbrush reaching their peak fall hues in the past days, however, I could not resist the temptation to indulge my shutterbug passion any longer.

Enter what my husband playfully calls ‘irregular walking,’ (walk, stop, snap, repeat) and these images through which to remember a glorious autumn…

autumn leaves collage reno nevada

pampas grass, desert rose in high desertrabbit brush in reno nevada hills

leaves autumn reno blue sky nevada

yellow leaves reno nevada high desert

red leaves in reno nevada autumn

autumn colors in reno nevadaautumn leaves in the high desertyellow leaves and rabbit brush in high desert

Some of my favorite ways to usher in autumn’s arrival are home-cooked pumpkin soup, warm woolen scarves I’ve picked up on my travels, and picking out the perfect pumpkin to carve and enjoy. What are yours?

Azure Skies, Emerald Firs & a Sparkling Lake Tahoe: A Second Anniversary Celebration

In 2010, I was twice married – to the same groom. As if describing two seasonal palaces, my husband and I like to playfully refer to our two marriages as the ‘summer wedding’ and the ‘winter wedding’.  Whereas some spouses have a difficult time remembering one wedding anniversary, we aspire to remember the date we met, the day of our engagement, and our wedding date x 2.

Wedding number one, the legal, summer-season nuptials, took place overlooking a shimmering Lake Tahoe, surrounded by the Sierra Nevada mountains. Our second marriage was celebrated in the chapel of the Heidelberg Castle, before friends and family who were able to make the wintry journey to the Doctor Zhivago-esque wonderland in Germany.

This past August, with a late summer sun overhead, we celebrated our second summer anniversary among magnificent Douglas Firs and a trio of pines (Ponderosa Sugar and White) of Tahoe National Forest. We recited the Apache Blessing that was read at both of our weddings, and reminisced about our whirlwind first two years together.


Now you will feel no rain, for each of you will be the shelter for each other. Now you will feel no cold, for each of you will be the warmth for the other. Now you are two persons, but there is only one life before you. Go now to your dwelling place to enter into the days of your life together. And may your days be good and long upon the earth.

– Apache Marriage Blessing

Lake Tahoe Pinecones

Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe VistaShawn at Lake TahoeLake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe TreesLake Tahoe Trees

Lake Tahoe

Lake TahoeLake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe Overlook

Tahoe PineconesCloud over Tahoe

Lake Tahoe Vista

Lake Tahoe Evergreen Branch

Lake Tahoe Fir Tree

Lake Tahoe Fir Tree

Cloud over TahoeTahoe PineconesLake Tahoe

Evergreen and Lake TahoeEvergreen and Lake Tahoe

Tree Trunks at Lake Tahoe

Bird Among Tahoe Pinecones in Tree

Lake Tahoe Fir Tree

Yellow flowers at Lake Tahoe

Boat on Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe TreesLake Tahoe Vista

Boat on Lake Tahoe

Tree Overlooking Tahoe with Clouds

Lake Tahoe Overlook

Lake Tahoe Overlook

Yellow Flowers Overlooking Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe

Where in the World?

Photography & text © Tricia A. Mitchell. All Rights Reserved.

Photo du Jour: A Corona & the Eiffel Tower – Las Vegas

Eiffel Tower in Las Vegas

Ce qui se passe à Vegas, reste à Vegas… Or perhaps, for French readers out there, Une indiscretion à Vegas reste un secret à Vegas. :)

During our visit to ‘Sin City’ while criss-crossing the continent earlier this summer, the Eiffel Tower – the symbol of the Old World ‘City of Lights’ – looked as though it was reaching toward a glowing corona radiating over the desert sky.

Where in the World?