Anyhow, I reached Cowell park at 10 am sharp, and plunked down my $38 for a yearly state parks entrance pass accompanied by maps of the Fall Creek area. On the way back up to the Fall Creek parking lot, I stopped by the local organic foods market (this is after all just north of Santa Cruz) to buy a ham 'n' Swiss on an organic sprouted wheat roll. I had to stop by the wine section to ogle the new Bonny Doon wines just shipped in recent weeks - the Ca' del Solo Big House White, the California Syrah, the Moscato frizzante, etc. - but I was able not to blow too much time there and get on the trail.
Ugh. I don't like going uphill. After the first ass-kicking stretch (only about 400' elevation gain, not really THAT much), I thought that I really should just blow it off and head back to the car. But... you need to have some sort of excuse when you're about to blow $450 on a case of wine, and I decided I didn't deserve pricey wine unless I got my sorry ass all the way up to the Big Ben (virgin redwood) tree, which was still 3 miles and 1200' feet up. And, somehow, I made it, with only a minimum of borderline scary chest pain - I did stop to rest twice (arrivederci panini!), and after the second rest I, after walking onwards, realized that I had stopped only about 50m shy of the Big Ben tree, the goal of my hike. Oh, I thought, well, that isn't exactly a spectacular tree, but at least this means I can start back down the mountain. Heading down a different trail, I passed by an old cooperage and other lime production ruins before making it back to the car at about 2.30 pm. 4 hours, 8 miles, one tired Bear.
Of course, my T-shirt was completely soaked in sweat at this point, but what the fuck - if Bonny Doon can't deal with it, they really don't deserve my $250. Upon arriving at the winery, I stormed in to use the bathroom (or at least the bathroom sink - wanted to get some of the grime off my hands before tasting any wines). For whatever reason, a woman whom I didn't like the looks of had pulled up at the same time as me, so it was clear that the staff thought we were either together or wouldn't mind doing the tasting regimen at the same time - this is always OK by me, but I decided I didn't want to do that, having tasted most (all?) of the wines on offer already.
I was able to hijack one of the employees to assemble me a case, but it started gumming up when they asked if I were a wine club member. I didn't really know what to say - I had been, up until I left Netscape and lost my good shipping address - so I said, well, uh, yeah, kinda... and they actually checked. Lo and behold, their system indicated I had moved to a state that wouldn't allow shipment of wines, so I was able to get back in the club (oooh, one more shipment later this year) and get my precious wine (a Marsanne, a recioto di Barbera, and a bunch of other funky-ass stuff). Hallelujah and amen, they even gave me a 15% discount on the case, which was certainly welcome - the Madiran (er, Heart of Darkness) had gone up in price from $10 to $15 for the 1999, and the new 1999 Cigare Volant had similarly gone form $25 to $30. However, if you've ever been fortunate enough to have either of those wines, you too would gladly pay the extra $5. Trust me on this one.
I'm not sure why, but I thought I would just say 'fuck it' and press on about the wines I'd heard they were making but which I didn't see in the store. Specifically, the new The Heart Has Its Rieslings wine mentioned in the Spring 2001 newsletter. No one had ever heard of it, but a Grand Poo-Bah of sorts overheard me, and she came forward from the offices themselves to joke that it was being labeled now, that it might be ready by November 20, and that they probably still had "3 or 4 bottles left" to sell me. After some cajoling, she agreed to take a layaway order from me for half a case, and call me when it was available for pickup at BDHQ. Yay! Who cares if it isn't the greatest wine in the world - how can you know without having tasted it? - the very obscureness of it will probably make me like it intensely.
I'm now back at home in front of the 'puter (obviously), and pretty tired (oooh, definite good-kind-of-pains in the legs tonight). But I'm also pleased that I'm now slightly less of a pie-eating lardass, and even more happy that I have thirteen bottles of various wines that are not only obscure as hell but possibly also very good.
Seumas, when next you make it by these parts, one of the Cigares has your name on it. (Or if white wine suits you better, it's a bottle of the Critique of Pure Riesling then. Your call!)