Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Fall 2017 New England - Day 8

After a second night at the Birchwood Inn, we packed up, loaded the car and had a leisurely breakfast. We are continuing south. The plan for the day was another driving tour from the guide book. We followed the Litchfield Hills Loop.

We stopped in Norfolk. We walked through the beautiful Romanesque Revival library.

From there we headed to Lakeview. This area is home millionaires and movie stars such as Meryl Streep. Sharon saw a sign for a town called Sharon so we continued up the road. We stopped a took a number of pictures.

Getting back on path of the guide book tour, we stopped at the Limerick Race Track. Sharon wanted to stop there because Paul Newman had race there often. They actually let us in the facility and we drove around the infield and pit areas.

Fall 2017 New England - Day 8Driving through West Cornwall, we eventually stopped for lunch at the Fite N' Drum in Kent. From there we headed through Lake Waramaug to the Hidden Valley Inn. We got there about 2:00 pm, but the room wasn't ready yet.

Sharon wanted to visit antique stores as part of the trip. The town of Woodbury was billed as having over 30 dealerships and 20 stores along its historic main street. We headed there next. Unfortunately, the stores were spread over a couple of miles; they were not within walking distance. Additionally, some are closed. We ended up making five or six stops. It was a hassle from my perspective and somewhat of a bust from Sharon's perspective.

We ended up getting back to the Hidden Valley Bed & Breakfast about 4:00 pm. We are spending two nights. We unloaded the car and then took a bottle of wine and sat on the back den with our books. It is a great setting with a wonderful view of the valley. We have a very nice room: the blue master suite.

Originally, we were only going to spend one night. The next night we were going to head further south for one more night before the jump to Washington DC. After we booked the trip, the hotel for the last night was sold and we made a second night here. I am glad that we did...

We finished the night with dinner at at the White Horse Country Pub. I had Beef Stew and Sharon had a burger.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Fall 2017 New England - Day 7

Fall 2017 New England - Day 7

A lazy morning. Sharon, Tom and I eventually had breakfast at the Birchwood Inn. It was a great spinach soufflé.

After breakfast, we made a quick stop at The Mount. This is Edith's Wharton's home. After some discussion, we decided not to wait until it opened and headed down the road.

The goal for the morning was the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge. The museum exceeded my expectations. Rockwell's output was amazing. It includes an astonishing array of Saturday Evening Post covers, print advertisements, media promotional material (Stagecoach!) and portraits. I was particularly impressed with the portraits of Eisenhower, Nixon and Kennedy. They had a special exhibit contrasting Rockwell's works with Andy Warhol.

Given that Rockwell is viewed more as an illustrator than an artist, his works are not displayed at other museums. This is really the first chance that I have had to look at his art.

At this point, we parted ways with Tom. Both Sharon and I had thought that we were going to spend more time with Tom, but he seemed to be marching to a different drummer.

I have lamented in the past that we didn't have a guide book. This time we had Lonely Plant's New England's Best Trips. After parting ways with Tommy, we followed the Berkshire Back Roads trip.

We stopped in Stockbridge and walked around the town. From there we headed to Great Barrington. We parked and walked through the downtown. Based on a recommendation from the tour book, we did the river walk.

We continued winding our way through Monterey, Tryingham and Lee. We eventually stopped at Cranwell for a snack. Sharon had been talking about nachos for an hour. Amazingly, they had nachos!

Sharon had talked off and on about spending a couple of summer weeks in the Berkshires some day. Based on our driving tour, I was not impressed.

After a nap, we finished the night with dinner at the Wheatley Hotel. This will probably be our most upscale meal of the trip. We had the four course meal. I had Swordfish as the entree, while Sharon had Arctic Char.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Fall 2017 New England - Day 6

Fall 2017 New England - Day 6After last year's summer vacation that featured several long days of driving, we designed this trip with bit sized jumps on the travel days. After yesterday's two plus hour jump to Walpole, today featured another two plus hour jump to Lenox, Massachusetts.

Tom, Sharon and I had a leisurely breakfast with two other guests at the Inn at Valley Farm. The owner had a long soliloquy about the farm's operations.

Leaving the Inn late, Tom went on ahead. Sharon and I made stops at Alyson's Orchard and Burdick's Chocolates. We had a hot chocolate at Burdick's and then walked around Walpole a little.

Getting back in the car, we headed south. We took the Mohawk Trail Scenic Byway across west across Massachusetts. It was a beautiful drive. We stopped in Shelburne Falls. We walked through town, looked briefly at the glacial pot holes and walked across the Bridge of Flowers.

We took a very brief drive though Williams College before turning south towards Lenox. We spending two nights at the Birchwood Inn in Lenox. Tom is spending one night here before he moves on.

After getting settled in the rooms, the three of us explored Lenox. We ended up at the Get Lit wine bar in The Bookstore. We had a couple of glasses of wine with the owner [Matthew].

We had dinner at Alta. Sharon had Coq Au Vin, Tom had trout and I had pasta with shrimp. Sharon was very disappointed in the meal.

The three of us finished the evening with dessert and coffee in the library at the Birchwood Inn.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Fall 2017 New England - Day 5

Fall 2017 New England - Day 5

Up early, Sharon and I took off to hike the Crawford Path Trail. We hiked about 1.30 miles round trip in about an hour to Gibbs Falls and back.

Heading back to the hotel, we got cleaned up and packed up the room. Putting the luggage in the car, we had a buffet breakfast in the main dining room of the hotel. We spent almost exactly 48 hours at the hotel!

The plan for the day was to head South. We deigned the vacation with about two hour jumps between stops. At breakfast, we decided to head to the Long Trail Brewery. This side trip took us about 30 minutes off Highway 91 through Woodstock, New Hampshire. Sharon really liked Woodstock; the Woodstock Inn and Resort is on the itinerary for a future trip.

From the Long Trail Brewery, we headed to Morgan and David's new house in Acworth. They bought a 19th century schoolhouse about two weeks ago. I really liked their new house. Sharon's brother Tom met up with us at Morgans. He will be traveling with us for the next two days.

After a brief stop, we headed to the Inn at Valley Farm. Tom, Sharon and I are spending one night here.

The three of us took off for an early dinner at Leslie's Tavern in Rockingham>. We met Morgan and David there for dinner. Sharon had Halibut, Tom and Morgan had lamb chops, David had surf and turf and I had salmon.

We had a very nice dinner that got sidetracked by some upsetting developments. Given that Morgan and I were together, we were able to piece together some puzzle pieces that had been bothering me since Saturday. This put a number of efforts in motion and put a damper on the evening...

Fall 2017 New England - Day 5

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Fall 2017 New England - Day 4

Fall 2017 New England - Day 4Up fairly early, we got coffee and bagels at the hotel. The plan for the day was to take the 9:30 am cog train to the top of Mount Washington. When I went to get coffee, I noticed that the top of the mountain was shrouded by clouds. It didn't get any better over the course of the day. Yesterday when we got to hotel, the top of the mountain was clear!

We got to the Mount Washington Cog Railway just before 9:00 am. The visibility got increasing bad as we went up the mountain. At the top, you could see about 50 yards and the wind was about 30 miles an hours. We spent a little over an hour at the top, including touring the museum. Although the museum was not worth the price of admission ($2), I was amazed by the stuffed fox.

As we went down the mountain, the visibility cleared up. We got some great views.

We headed back to the hotel for lunch. We had a great table outside at Stickney's. Sharon had a chopped salad, while I had a melted salmon sandwich.

Fall 2017 New England - Day 4After lunch, we headed to Crawford Notch State Park for a hike. We hiked the Sam Wiley trail to the Appalachian Trail. We then hiked back along the Westside Trail. This turned out to be a little bit of a mistake. While the trail was well marked, it was not well traveled or maintained. It was very slow going. We ended up hiking just under 3 miles in two hours.

Back at the car, we drove about 15 miles further up the road before heading back to the hotel. While we were told that the peak of the foliage was a week ago, the scenery was still amazing.

We finished the night with a late dinner at the Bretton Arms dining room. This was the best dinner we had on the trip. After splitting a Tempura Artichoke (Crispy Prosciutto, Charred Baby Bell Peppers, Vermont Goat Cheese Pesto), I had Misty Knoll Statler Chicken Breast (Guajillo Chili Roasted Chicken, Grilled Corn, Chorizo, Sweet Onions, Queso Fresco Grits, Chicken Jus), while Sharon had Herb Roasted Rack of Colorado Grass Fed Lamb (Crispy Potato Au Gratin, Roasted Brussel Sprouts, Green Apple, Black Fig Demi Glace). For dessert, we had Maple Creme Brûlée. The chicken was very good; I never order chicken in a restaurant!

We went with their suggested wine pairing, including: Erath, Pinot Gris, Oregon with the starter; Jelly Jar, Old Vine Zinfandel, Nova Vineyard, Lake County, California with my entree; Mollydooker, The Boxer, Shiraz, Australia; and, Eden, Ice Cider, Heirloom Blend, Vermont with dessert.

Although we promised each other that we are going to check out the Cave speakeasy, we passed and crashed in the room...

Friday, October 13, 2017

Fall 2017 New England - Day 3

Fall 2017 New England - Day 3 - Vermont State House

Up fairly early, we had got cleaned up and had a lackluster continental breakfast. After breakfast, we walked about half a mile to the Vermont State House. With a population of only slightly more than 7,000, Montpelier is the smallest state capital. The building exceeded my expectations; I enjoy the intersection of architecture, history and geography.

We rolled from the Inn about 9:45 am. We are heading east to New Hampshire. After some debate, we made a stop at the Cabot Creamery. We watched a short video, did a tour of the cheese plant and tasted a wide variety of cheese. We also stopped very briefly at the Goodrich Maple Farm.

We got to the Omni Mount Washington Hotel about 12:45 pm and were in the room by 1:00 pm. The view of Mount Washington and and the surrounding area is spectacular. We had lunch in the hotel at the Rosebrook Bar (chowder, chicken sandwich and crab roll). The view was amazing. After exploring the property for a while, we did a 50 minute history tour of the hotel; there was just Sharon and I plus one other person with the docent.

We crashed in the room for awhile. Eventually, I took my book down, sat on the verdana and watched the sun go down.

We finished the night with a late dinner in the main dining room. We started with Tasso Ham and Crab Stuffed Oysters. We spilt a Signature Caesar salad. For entrees, Sharon had Maple Braised Beef Short Rib (Pappardelle Pasta, Roasted Mixed Mushrooms, Asparagus, Tomatoes, Spinach, Mozzarella Pearls, Toasted Pine Nuts, Red Wine Veal Reduction) and I had Georges Bank Scallops (Green Pea Purée, Artichoke Rice Cakes, Peppers, Spinach, Mango Pineapple Cipollini Relish, Cashew Crumbs). We walked through the Cave speakeasy before crashing for the night.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Fall 2017 New England - Day 2

Not moving very fast, Sharon and I eventually got dressed and out for the morning. We walked the length of the Church Street Marketplace. With very few places open, we eventually settled on a coffee and some scones at Uncommon Grounds. Jack is actually for a franchise of the same company on the Georgetown campus.

From there, we wandered down to the waterfront. The plan for the morning was a cruise on Lake Champlain on the Spirit of Ethan Allan. This exceed my expectations. The weather was nice. We got a great view of the city and the surrounding area. They did a nice job providing an overview, facts and history of the lakes and the area.

After a quick stop at the hotel, we had lunch at American Flatbread. We had a couple of lunch specials with the Evolution Salad and a couple of mini-flatbreads. We enjoyed sampling a number of beers from the Zero Gravity local brewery. During lunch, Sharon said "I could definitely live here."

With a late check out from the hotel, we walked back through the Church Street Marketplace. Although everything was closed when we walked through looking for breakfast, the area was crowded with people having lunch. Sharon made a quick stop in Macy's and then we headed back to pack up the room.

Leaving Burlington, we headed to Stowe. We are going to work our way east over the next couple of days. Parking in Stowe, we walked through the main part of town and then down to the Stowe Recreational Trail. We walked about two and a half miles out and back including parts of the Quiet Path.

We headed next to the Von Trapp Lodge. For the second time during the day, my expectations were exceeded. Given that we had taken a four hour Sound of Music tour last summer in Salzburg, it was a natural to stop at the lodge. I was impressive by the setting and the outside of the building. Sharon and I sat outside and enjoyed a couple of adult beverages.

Trying to get to Montpelier before dark, we continued east. We are spending one night at the Inn at Montpelier. We are staying in room one.

We finished the night with dinner at Kismet. We had a great meal of oysters, seared beef, halibut and polenta fries. Sharon judged the meal better than the first night!

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Fall 2017 New England - Day 1

Fall 2017 New England - Day 1Up about 4:30 am, Sharon and I had her nephew Eric take us to the airport. We caught a United 7:45 am flight from Sacramento to Dulles. This was followed by a 5:20 pm flight from Dulles to Burlington, Vermont. Using a bushel of airline miles, Sharon upgraded us to first class on both legs. It was very nice; I could get used to flying first class...

We hit the ground in Burlington just after 7:00 pm, collected our luggage and picked up a Hertz rental car. We are spending one night at the Courtyard Burlington Harbor.

Sharon made a late dinner reservation for the Hen of the Woods. After some oysters, we had small plates including Grilled Octopus (Sunchokes, Scallions, Ginger), Hen of the Woods Mushroom Toast (House Bacon, Poached Farm Egg) and Ox Tail.

After a quick nightcap at the bar at the Courtyard, I finished the night watching game five of the Yankees versus the Indians American League Championship Series. The Yankees won by the score of 3 to 2 and eliminated Indians.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Song for 2011

Drew spent five years playing with Milo Greene. Although I had heard some of the rough cuts earlier, they launched in early 2011. Drew left the group in December of 2015. Along the way, they got an opportunity to play Letterman and I was there!

The song for 2011 is 1957 by Milo Greene.

While I worked out of Napa in 2015 and 2016, I would hear this song often while I was having breakfast in the concierge lounge!

You can find the work in progress Soundtrack for My Life here!

Saturday, October 07, 2017

Celebrating Janie's Birthday

At Donum EstatesSharon, Janie and I rolled from Janie's house about 10:20 am. The plan for the day was wine tasting in Sonoma and Napa Counties and Dinner in Yountville to celebrate Janie's birthday. Following Waze through Woodland and Winters, it took us about an hour and 45 minutes.

The first stop was Donum Estates. They were having their Harvest Festival and celebrating the opening of their new tasting room. Sharon has been a wine club member at this winery since we stopped with the Sanborns on the way to Sea Ranch earlier this year.

From there, we headed to Bouchaine Vineyards. Both Sharon and Janie are wine club members and had a shipment to pick up. Sharon has been a wine club member at this winery since we stopped here on Valentine's Day in 2010.

After a stop at Cabi at the Outlet Stores in Napa, we headed to Ad Hoc in Yountville for an early dinner. The menu included Arugula Salad, Roasted Pork Belly and Lamb Shank Ragu. A copy of the menu is included after the jump.

We got back to Janie's house about 9:10 pm. A long day...

Friday, October 06, 2017

To SoCal and back

Up at 4:00 am, I caught a 6:25 am Southwest flight from Sacramento to Burbank. I spent the day working in Glendale. At the end of the day, I caught a 4:00 pm Southwest flight that actually left at 4:20 pm back to Sacramento. I was home about 6:20 pm. A long day... It seems like every Southwest flight that I have taken out of SoCal this year has been running behind schedule.

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Bill Simmons Podcast - NBA Over/Under - Western Conference

In today's podcast, Bill Simmons is joined by Joe House, Jason Concepcion, and Kevin O'Connor to discuss the NBA Western Conference Over/Under Wins totals for the 2017-2018 season. At 27 1/2 wins, the Kings have the lowest over/under in the Western Conference. Last year, the Kings won 32 games. Everyone on the podcast loved the over. Watching the Kings rookies on Monday night, I also actually like the over. I have to figure out some way to bet on this in the next two weeks...

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

2015-2016 Kings Season

During the 2015-2016 Sacramento Kings season, the Kings
were 2 and 2 in games which I saw in person, including:


10/28/2015: Clippers-111, Kings-104 [0-1] - Larkin
01/09/2016: Warriors-128, Kings-116 [0-2] - Larkin, Tomasin, Mikey, Snipes, Keith
02/19/2016: Kings-116, Nuggets-110 [1-2] - Sharon
04/09/2016: Kings-114, Thunder-112 [2-2] - Larkin {last game at Sleep Train}

2016-2107 Season [5-3]
2015-2016 Season [2-2]

2011-2012 Season [3-2]
2010-2011 Season [3-6]
2009-2010 Season [4-7]
2008-2009 Season [2-7]
2007-2008 Season [7-7]
2006-2007 Season [5-9]
2005-2006 Season [8-8]

Monday, October 02, 2017

2017 Kings versus Spurs

2017 Kings versus Spurs

Larkin and I went to the Sacramento Kings versus San Antonio Spurs preseason NBA game at Golden One Center. Holding on to a small lead for most of the game, the Kings won the game by the score of 106 to 100.

Frank Mason was the Kings leading scorer. Mason played four years at Kansas and was drafted 34th overall in the second round of the 2017 draft. Playing 22 minutes, he had 17 points on 5 for 10 from the field, 2 for 4 from three point range and 5 for 6 from the free throw line.

When he was in the game, I focused on watching De'Aaron Fox. In only 17 minutes, Fox had 16 points on 6 for 7 from the field and 2 for 3 from the free throw line. I was very impressed. I think that it is going to be hard to keep him off the court.

Looking at the box score after the game, I was surprised to see that LeMarcus Aldridge was the Spurs leading scorer. In only 15 minutes, he scored 17 points on 7 for 10 from the field, 1 for 2 from three and 2 for 3 from the free throw line.

Sharon and Janie were also at the game. Sharon got the tickets for her company's suite. We meet them at halftime. Rather than returning to our seats, Larkin and I spent the second half standing at the top of the lower bowl behind section 117.

Larkin said that he didn't think that he had ever been to a preseason game before. I can find at least three times that I went to preseason game: once with Snipes (10/26/2006) and once with Jack (10/9/2007).

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Larkin Ranch Hike

American River Canyon Hike

Maine Bar TrailAlmost four years ago, Sharon and I hiked with the Larkins and the Gainsley from the Larkin's property down into the canyon of the Middle Fork of the American River. At the time, I said that I would have loved to gone all the way down to the river.

Larkin and Cindy planned out a second hike for Saturday for the same group that dropped all the way to river. We left the Larkin's barn about 9:30 am. When we got to the river, there was actually a 50k from Foresthill to the Auburn Dam Overlook underway. The race was crossing the river at that point. We continued down river to Maine Bar for a leisurely lunch.

After lunch, we climbed out of the canyon. There were two pretty good hills: the Maine Bar Trail and the final section up to the Larkin's property. We stopped briefly at the memorial for Barbara Schooner.

American River Canyon Hike

In total, we covered 8.7 miles in six and a half hours. It was very nice hike. A map of the hike is here.

After the hike, we relaxed in the Larkin's pool house. We eventually cooked some steaks for dinner. It was late by the time we wandered home...

Friday, September 29, 2017


Finishing up a hectic week, Sharon and I had an early dinner at Serritella's. I had lasagna, while Sharon had veal.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Ancillary Mercy by Ann Leckie

My second book for September was Ancillary Mercy by Ann Leckie. This is the third book in a trilogy. I read the first book Ancillary Justice in November of 2014 and the second Ancillary Sword in May of 2016.

I finished the book on the flight to Burbank on Tuesday evening. I am now essentially reading everything on the Kindle app on my iPhone. While I have always viscerally loved the feel of real books, it is just too convenient to always have my book in my pocket.

Ancillary Mercy received the 2016 Locus Award for Best Science Fiction Novel. It was also nominated for the 2016 Hugo Award for Best Novel.

As I have said before, I read science fiction partly because I love to see how authors play with ideas about technology. This book concluding the trilogy plays with some interesting ideas about artificial intelligence.

While I enjoyed the first book, I was surprised that it won so many awards. I found the second and third books in the trilogy very pedestrian. I generously give this book a "B-". With so many great books to read, I don't recommend it...