The early bird gets the wine

We’re members of several wine clubs in the area, which encourages us to go visit the wineries to pick up our wine instead of paying to have it shipped.

But that means driving into the Santa Cruz Mountains on weekends – it’s not too bad except during the summer, when everyone wants to go to Santa Cruz and five-mile-long traffic jams on Highway 17 (two lanes and curvy) aren’t unusual.

Today, though, I had an idea – what if we left early and drove to Santa Cruz, took a walk there, and then stopped at the wineries on the way home? That would also let us put some mileage on Diane’s car and charge its battery – a double win!

“Early” meant we were in the car about 9:45am, but it was early enough – we had smooth sailing until about two miles before the summit. Google Maps said there was a 13-minute slowdown, and sure enough, 13 minutes later we passed a three-car accident that was blocking the left lane. And that was all the traffic we had to contend with.

We parked near Silver Mountain Winery‘s tasting room on Ingalls Street in Santa Cruz and visited 11th Hour Coffee to gird ourselves for the walk to the beach.

It was surprisingly cool in Santa Cruz with a bit of wind – I hadn’t bothered to check the weather before we left, so we hadn’t brought jackets. We survived.

It was nearly 11 by the time we reached West Cliff Drive, but it wasn’t very busy yet. There were still a few hopeful fishermen trying their luck.

We walked from Swift Street to a little past the Surfing Museum, stopping occasionally to enjoy the view.

The fog had lifted and there were lots more people driving on West Cliff Drive, so we left the beach behind and walked back to the tasting room.

We had a healthy lunch at West End Tap (well, we had salads and eschewed the beer, so we tried to be healthy), picked up our wine, and drove north to our next winery, Burrell School Vineyards.

I was shocked when we got there – the parking lot was empty! But there were signs saying “welcome” and music was coming from the garden, so we went to the tasting room and were warmly welcomed. Our server told us that it had taken her more than an hour to get to the winery from Los Gatos instead of her usual 25 minutes, even though she tried all the back roads.

We sat on the deck and enjoyed the wine and the music – the service was great, too! I went down to the garden to talk with the musician, Yoshi Senzaki and buy his CD. Another party eventually arrived; we left, so they could have the same private experience we’d had.

Timing is everything.

A sad day

I saw the news of the Dobbs decision and the overturning of Roe v Wade early this morning, and it’s been hard to think of anything else today. I can’t say that I was surprised by the decision, or even about Thomas’s “suggestion” in his concurring opinion, but it’s still hard to believe.

We got Diane’s car back today; they didn’t find anything wrong with it other than the U0111 code I mentioned yesterday, so I guess it was a transient problem caused by an insufficiently charged 12-volt battery and a long idle during the smog test. We’ll take it out on a long drive this weekend to let it gain back some strength.

We took a late evening walk once it had finally cooled down a bit, and I noticed an interesting antenna that I hadn’t seen before – it reminded me that tomorrow is Field Day. Maybe I’ll get on the air for a little bit and give out some contacts!

Problem? What problem?

We took Diane’s Prius to the mechanic today so they could work on it tomorrow; the “Check Engine” light and the red triangle of death stayed off on the drive.

The mechanic scanned the car and got a U0111 code, which means that the computer lost contact with the energy management system (or something like that).

His best guess is that the 12-volt battery is weak and having the car idling for a while during the smog test triggered the error, but they’ll do more research tomorrow to make sure it’s worth changing the oil. It better be – we have nearly a full tank of gas in the car!


I had to take Diane’s 2005 Prius for a smog check before we could renew its registration. The mechanic did the test, told me the car passed and gave me the certificate – then he asked me if I knew that the car said it needed maintenance. I did – the light had come on a few days ago and I planned to get it done this week.

After that, he asked me if I knew the “Check Engine” light was on – that was news to me! He said it came on right after the test results were logged, so he didn’t have to fail the car but suggested I get it looked at.

I drove home (the car seemed fine) and called my regular mechanic at Auto-Tec to make an appointment. An unfamiliar voice answered the phone; the previous owner had sold the business! But the same mechanics are there, and recent Yelp reviews are still positive, so I made an appointment for Friday.

I wanted to take a photo of the problem for the blog, but when I started the car a couple of hours later, the warning light was gone. I hope that’s a good sign, but I’m going to wait to send in the registration until I know more.

The Dog Day of Summer

Today was the first day of summer, and we’re having a spell of hot weather – not as hot as it was in Spain last week, but hotter than normal for this time of year here.

Normally, we’d’ve taken a morning walk to take advantage of the relative coolness, but our schedule didn’t permit it. By the time we were finished with our errands, it was well over 90F and we stayed home.

We did finally manage a short walk this evening after the temperature dropped back into the 80’s, but it wasn’t an enthusiastic walk.