Napa Road Trip minus the wine

My friend’s road would be slurried, she wanted a landscape of a vineyard, and I went along to capture some new images. No formal destination and no time constraints. Armed with ice coffee, plenty of water and music for the road.

Early morning departure means little sleep for me. My sleep cycle has really flipped this summer. Even if I try to get to bed early, I fall asleep around 3:30 am. This also seems to happen if I am going somewhere the next day. Need to start making a switch, and wake up early before the temperature rises.

Silverado Trail is our first stop. Vineyards on both sides of the road, but the fields planted along the mountainsides are not as mature and lush.

Grapes ripening on the vine
My imagination goes wild with the bark of the vine. Peeking animals.

I see a cute sign post with a donkey, and then I spot donkeys. I approach animals carefully, but one donkey was particularly friendly. Almost called her such a good puppy. A natural mistake given my situation.

I first spotted this cute garden art. Then OMG donkeys.
Ready to say hello
Just so sweet. Came right over for some love.
Pregnant donkey (called Jenny). Gestation takes a long time. 11-14 Months! I wonder how long this Jenny has to wait?
Good bye my donkey friend.

Facebook has been reminding me that nine years ago Liberty came into my life. Having her, missing her, and needing another dog is a tribute to my Libby.

We brought my Libby Love home 9 years ago.

David would want to have another English Lab, but I am open to looking at another breed. Looking for a medium sized dog. I would like to be able to lift the dog up, be easily trainable and have a good personality. Thought about a cocker spaniel, or Logatto Romagnolo.

I decided to go with an Australian Labradoodle. The DNA includes Labrador retriever, Poodle, and Cocker Spaniel. This is multigenerational hybrid that was essentially developed to provide canine assistance to those who are allergic to dog hair. Since poodles improve the chances for this characteristic, and the Labrador retriever has a proven track record for training the hope is for the best of both. The Labradoodle comes in three sizes, and so this satisfies my need for a more portable dog. Having less hair to sweep up is a bonus! Though I will need to become informed about the grooming. My Libby was a wash & wear dog.

My I have gotten off track. Back to my road trip. Remembering past trips our destination was the CIA – Culinary Institue of America. First stop was the CIA at Copia. I was pleasantly surprised to come across a photographic homage to Julia Child by her husband Paul. Such a wonderful collection of black & white photographs. Well worth taking time out to visit if you are interested in photography!

A Toast!

The space at the CIA was amazing. The light, design, and architecture captured my imagination.

I will certainly schedule another visit and spend time exploring the outside when the temperature is below 100 degrees.

Interesting staircase. Another place to explore next time.
Beautiful glass sculpture
Love the lighting here
Replica of sculpture that rests on top of building.
Serene setting.
These real spices fill the space with wonderful aromas. Makes you hungry!
Grand space

I didn’t spend too much time outside but the outside had much to see.

Outside seating under a pergola. Live music venue at Grove

Fork sculpture made out of forks. But where is the spoon it ran away with?

Went next door to the Oxbow Public Market. Another place I need to come back to for some great people watching with my Fuji x100f. Put myself in a street photography mind set. Ate an interesting gourmet oven baked Mushroom pizza with ricotta cheese sauce. No pictures, just good food!

Last place on our road trip was the Greystone Cellers. This is home to the CIA School. Interesting history. The building was impressive, but the view overlooking the vineyard was difficult to capture. Trees blocked the view. How rude! And then there is the parking lot to contend with. Not to mention the heat.

Massive doorway leads into Greystone Cellers
Impressive main entrance.

Cakes decorated by the students attending the CIA at Greystone. Reminds me of when my daughter decorated cakes in high school in ROP Bakery Academy. Being the good mom I sampled each creation. Made with lard and not buttercream the taste did not match up with the beautiful design.

Among the many collections I was drawn to this clown bottle opener.
Ironic that this truck advertising Vodka was parked next to the vineyard.
Not sure what kind of flower this is. Pretty in Pink.

So ends a day in Napa Valley. No wine was consumed. Any blurriness in the photographs are due to photographer error and not the vino!

Local View of Napa

Another Tuesday, and I am off to Napa Valley. I thought this would be a return trip to a familiar place. Wineries, galleries, and grapevines. Wrong. I was treated to an insider view of the beautiful landscape.

First stop Solano Lake Park.

Lake Solano Park

What do you see? I’m always seeing something. This time, a kind of rabbit. Or the shape of one of my grandson’s stuffed monsters

I looked up the Monticello Dam and found out that this spillway provides a safety valve during an El Niño. I guess I will need to make another visit since California is still in a drought. The concrete structure inspired this photograph.

Monticello Dam curves
Monticello Dam curves

Across from the dam a highway crew was shoring up a cliff to prevent a rock slide. I got the opportunity to photograph as the workers were scaling the sides since we had to wait for a lead car.

Cliffs found near the Monticello Dam
Cliffs found near the Monticello Dam

Highway crew scales cliff
Highway crew scales cliff

The Butter Cream Bakery located in Napa provided us with a real local dining experience. Yum!

I took this photo and processed it two different ways trying to get a feeling of the age. Dull versus extreme bright colors. Which do you like?


Butter Cream Bakery in Napa
Butter Cream Bakery in Napa

Does this bring back a 1950’s feel?


Or does the bright colors take you back?


Mustard flowers grow along grape vines
Mustard flowers grow along grapevines

Mustard blossoms all around
Mustard blossoms all around

Napa Valley view westward
Napa Valley view westward

Alpaca graze in the Napa Valley
Alpaca graze in the Napa Valley

Napa Valley Grape Vines and Mustard
Napa Valley Grapevines and Mustard


Ditto pokes his head out to say hello
Ditto pokes his head out to say hello

More concrete forms. What is it?
More concrete forms. What is it?

Tree in winter
Tree in winter

Wine Bottle Art Sculpture

Main Street in Napa at the Golden Hour.

City of Napa 

Hope this shows a different side to the Napa experience. Traveling with my camera exposes me to so much around me. (Pun intended!) Tomorrow I am off to explore with my great camera group. New name for group coming next time.