I didn't expect to give up my tried and true 2005 Dodge Grand Caravan so quickly, as I had secretly committed to drive that thing until it fell apart. But, transmission issues, electrical issues and things just literally falling off along the I-5 on the way back from our Oregon excursion put me over the edge. Not to mention, on hot days, it smelled like old sweaty socks.
|Our old Dodge got one last hurrah through Northern California and Oregon.|
|These kids did their part to make this van lived-in: vomit, dog poop, foam stickers that never came off, and all the goo that babies and little kids create. This and our 2002 Mazda Protege are the only cars they ever knew.|
I figured out my price and went at it. The Internet has made the research process a lot better, but even then, there is much confusion and I'd figure out an "invoice" price and then not be able to find that number again. So, I printed reams of paper to cover my butt.
Every dealership within 100 miles sent me automated letters with quotes--that were all outrageously high. I went to one dealership for a test drive and really liked the sales rep. When I went back with my husband and he got to test drive, we were ready to make an offer. We did. They said no. We walked. I was certain he'd be charmed by my knowledge and bubbly personality. He was unmoved.
When I got back home, I had an email from a dealership across the bay with a price that matched what I wanted. I called and we set up an appointment for the next Saturday. When we showed up, he didn't have a color I wanted so we decided to wait. I don't know why white cars are so popular, but they are and that place was swarming with big white Mazdas. I will most probably be rolling in this thing for at least 10 years, so I was not getting a white car. We trudged home from that failed attempt, and I got a call from the first guy who was willing to work with me on price. Sold.
We now own a 2016 Mazda CX5 and it really does have "zoom-zoom."
|Super cute and affordable 2016 Mazda CX-5|
Once home, I packed my bags and headed up to Sonoma with my sister-in-law. (I have a very understanding husband!)
A New Ro-day
It had been a while since I had been up to wine country and to do it in a new zippy car was nothing short of exhilarating.
Karen (my sister-in-law) and I met in Healdsburg for brunch at The Parish Cafe. I'm always a bit skeptical of Cajun places, but the blue crab benedict and a mimosa was just perfect. I loved the spices, not overdone. We ordered the beignets that looked like the real deal, but they were room temperature when they got to us and didn't do it for me, sadly. Beignets MUST be scorching hot.
After brunch, we headed out to River Road for a couple of tastings. Woodenhead and Joseph Swan. Woodenhead was known for their Pinot Noir, as they should be and I came home with a bottle of their 2012 Buena Tierra, which won best Pinot Noir in California. Hoping to uncork this for our upcoming 15th wedding anniversary.
Joseph Swan's tasting room was really friendly and casual and we got a few bottles there, especially the Ritchie Vineyard Chardonnay for our upcoming pool activities!
It was so fun driving my new car on those wine country roads.
It was heating up in the valley so we checked into our hotel (Hilton Sonoma in Santa Rosa) and hung at the pool in the afternoon.
|The pool at the Hilton Sonoma.|
That night we had great pizza and salad at a place called Rosso Pizzeria and Wine Bar. Karen and I enjoyed sharing and not overstuffing ourselves. The pizza was delicious and we loved the pera arrostito salad. Incidentally, my sister-in-law is fluent in Italian so it's always comical when she sees things on the menu that are "made-up." We were cracking up because neither she nor the waiter knew what some word was. It was just on the menu, an imposter Italian word. Sadly, I can't remember what it was.
|Beautiful round barn right near our hotel.|
The next day we headed out again in the CX5 for a visit to Iron Horse and The Barlow. Iron Horse especially blew us away with their sparkling wine and their Rued Chardonnay. Not to mention the gorgeous view.
|Great views for sipping at Iron Horse Winery|
The fun gal pouring wine for us at Joseph Swan recommended The Barlow in Sebastapol. It's an old apple cannery that has been turned into a modern tin-shed food and wine court. We didn't know what to expect, but it was pretty nice, but a little sleepy. Surprisingly not crowded for Labor Day, which worked out well for us, but I wonder what it's like when it's a bit more hopping (is it ever?). We did a little wine sipping and had a nice lunch at Vignette. (You never have to worry about a lack of pizza and salad in Sonoma Valley, let me tell ya). I loved the big open sheds that allowed the breezes to flow. It was pretty hot that day, but all the spaces felt really comfortable.
|Wine bar at The Barlow in Sebastapol|
We went back to the pool again and when dinner time came I was determined to find something that was not pizza and through Yelp, found out about a Peruvian restaurant called Sazon. What a find! We had no idea what a treat we'd be in for. San Francisco has a couple of pricey Peruvian places. I really love the cuisine, but don't eat it very often because of the price. This place was very reasonable and the family that runs it made us feel like we were in their home. Amazing ceviche, empanadas. We were able to sample a few dishes and ended with a wonderful chocolate torte. I want to go back to Sonoma just to eat here.
|Fantastic Peruvian sampler at Sazon in Santa Rosa, CA|
Not a bad first ro-day for my new little toy!