4th of July at Carneros Resort in Napa

After months of sheltering in place, we started to have family gatherings with only Julie and Albert over the past few weeks. We’re deep into an already short summer, so we decided to break the seal on a vacation together, as things are both opening up and looking a little dicey. Amy and Mike’s family also joined us, which was great because we’re already indirectly part of the same group.

It took us 8 years to use a wedding gift and visit the Carneros Resort. At the time, it was one of my favorite vacations ever, despite me not really being that interested in visiting wine country. After that trip, my dream was to visit once a quarter. Seven years later and we have been back zero times, until this past weekend.

We were all navigating our new normal for seeing friends and vacationing while COVID-19 continues to spread. Most people at home and at the resort abided by wearing masks and/or remaining socially distant. The kids appeared to be a lot more vigilant about it, especially while eating. We all did our best.

This was everyone else’s first time at the resort. Theo continues to prove his worth, necessitating their clan to get a house on property. I didn’t even know they had them, but it was spectacular. It was a tight fit in our little cottage last time when Lucas and Olivia were 4 and 6. It was an even tighter fit now and somehow Lucas still ended up in our bed.

The dining situation was just opening up, so Grace brought up food and supplies to cook dinner for a couple nights, which was fine by everyone. Amy and Mike had a couple adjoining cottages, which was perfect for s’mores in their patio each night. Each morning we did our own thing for breakfast, which was usually carry out from Boon Fly.

On Friday, we borrowed bikes from the resort for a short ride through wine country. Lucas coincidentally had the same exact bike on which he learned to ride two-wheels. He’s on his third Cleary bike, which is a local brand and super awesome. The only bad thing was that it has no gears, which made the hills a challenge. It was kind of hard to complain though as Theo didn’t have any gears either, plus he was riding with a broken arm in a cast. Everyone made it.

Following lunch, we braved the family pool, thinking it would be nap time for at least some of the kids. it was pretty manageable and everyone did their best to remain socially distant. Julie is the mayor of everywhere she goes and the Carneros pool was no exception. She knew everyone there. Grace cooked dinner again at home, which was followed by more s’mores. We had a solid routine.

Saturday’s morning activity was a hike at Bartholomew Park. It was a decent hike with enough elevation to make it challenging and also offer beautiful vistas as the reward. Different parts of the group bit off what they wanted. The dads went to the top. Everyone earned a cool dip in the pool later that afternoon.

It was the 4th of July and Grace managed to get us a reservation at Farm. Our group was so big that they gave us a private room, which opened to the outside and made it al fresco – it was perfect. This was pretty much the first time dining out for everyone in months, which made it that much more appreciated and enjoyable. We hung out again after dinner, but everyone (parents included) were wiped out from all the activity. I don’t think anyone missed it, but we didn’t see any fireworks.

Same as last trip, I woke up before dawn on the last day to take some pictures of the sunrise. The full moon was also setting. I always forget that it takes a little longer for the sun to peak over the hills, so I ended up standing out there for an hour. It was worth it for some quiet time, though I did go back to bed for a bit.

For a lot of reasons, this was a memorable and well-deserved break from life at home (and in home). It was special to be there with our family BFFs (and extended family). We’re just practicing for the commune and scoped out some property to start building.

I’ll say it again that this is a very special place and I’m ready to go back for Labor Day. Even if it ends up being another 7 years, that would be fortunate enough. Stay safe, everyone.

Mother’s Day in Napa and Tiburon

We spent our 7th Mother’s Day with the Moons yesterday in Napa. Brunch was at Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc in Yountville. The chicken and waffles were amazing.

We went to the park for a bit. The benefit of brunching with a professional photographer is that we get one good family photo every several years. Thank you, Clara!

Clara and Grace went to the spa at Bardessono. Mike and I took the kids back to their house in Tiburon, took the kids to town for sugar, and then terrorized the park in Belvedere. We had Pho for dinner before heading home over our 3rd Bay Area bridge of the day.

Happy Mother’s Day to Grace, Clara, and all our moms!

Mother’s Day in Napa with the Moons

We’ve spent Mother’s Day with the Moons for at least the last 5 years. This year, the tradition continued. Mike has been talking about Auberge du Soleil in Napa for a while, so we decided to take the families there for brunch.

Initially, Mike suggested a pre-brunch hike, but we ended up just going over to their place early and taking the kids for a bike ride in Tiburon while the moms chilled at home for a bit. They live on a serious hill, so negotiating their street on the way down and back was a big part of the adventure. The kids never met a jungle gym they didn’t like, so we made a stop. I can appreciate any park with a view of the Golden Gate Bridge. We rode out to Blackie’s Pasture and turned around for home. This was definitely Lucas’s longest ride and I’m glad he’s enjoying his new bike.

By the time we made it to brunch, we had all definitely worked up an appetite. It’s a really beautiful place with gorgeous views of the Napa Valley below. Everyone enjoyed their meals, most importantly, Grace and Clara.

We all headed back to our favorite resort in Tiburon, the Moons’ house. We hung out for a few more hours and headed home at the end of another great Mother’s Day together. Happy Mother’s Day to our Grace, Clara and all our moms!

Celebrating the End of Summer at The Carneros Inn

Melanie and Nick gave us a very generous gift for our wedding – a gift certificate to the Carneros Inn in Napa. Eight years later, we have finally been able to use it. Between having the kids and schedules, it just never happened. We actually rescheduled 3 times already this year. Grace is imminently heading back to work, so I think she wanted to make sure we enjoyed it before we couldn’t again. It was always meant to be a getaway for two, but to make it happen, we had to settle for a getaway for four.

We drove up on Friday after work. The first thing we got to experience was the new Bay Bridge – impressive! We arrived close to dusk, when the light was really beautiful. I didn’t know much about the resort, but found it to be a quiet and idyllic enclave in the heart of wine country. We enjoyed a casual dinner on Friday. Grace wasn’t feeling well and passed out before the kids. It was close quarters for the four of us and by 9:45 pm, I was up alone in the dark, so I went to sleep.

On Saturday, we enjoyed an early breakfast outdoors until some pesky bees forced us indoors. We were in the kids-allowed pool by 10am and had lunch there. At 1pm, a sitter arrived and Grace and I went to play our last round of the Summer Golf Tour at Chardonnay, which was close by. When we came back, the kids were still out somewhere, so we went for a quick dip at the adults-only pool before getting cleaned up for dinner. We had neither the time nor the appetite for the tasting menu at Farm, but enjoyed our ala carte selections.

On Sunday, I woke up at the crack of dawn for no good reason, except to take pictures of the crack of dawn. At that hour, there was not a person or a coffee in sight. I enjoyed the peaceful time to myself while everyone else slept and returned with a couple Americanos once the resort opened up. We had another early breakfast and enjoyed another half-day by the pool before heading for home. We took a slight detour to stop back at the Moons’ house in Tiburon for an hour or so.

I should note that between the weather, the clear air and the vibrant colors at the resort, it was an amazing place to take pictures. So, I took more than a few – apologies.

I usually associate Napa with my job as designated driver. I have a newfound appreciation for it and am glad we finally were able to enjoy our gift from the Feleses. Next time, we should all go together!