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A Week of Contemplation and Thanks

By - November 25, 2012

I’m not writing as much as I’d like, either for the book, or here, on Searchblog or its “Four Letter Words” cousin. I hope to change that this coming week, as I settle back into my writing shack. I had family in town this past week, and I couldn’t very well isolate myself, much as I may have wanted to (at times, I’ll be honest, I did).

But the past week or so have had many fine moments of friends, family, and other wonderful things. Here are a few images of them.

Today we took a strenuous hike up the hill behind our house (it’s called Bald Hill, and it’s about 1100 feet up). We went mainly off trail, and found a buddah sitting on a rocky outcropping, facing West, into the setting sun. This statue was at 800 feet above sea level, and weighed at least forty pounds. Someone worked very hard to get it into position, and it really made our day. Thanks to whoever did that, this is our way of paying it forward….

Here’s the same fellow, in profile (that’s Mt. Tam in the distance):

This led to some contemplation by my daughter, who found the statue.

Here’s my son doing his impression, somewhat backwards, as is his want….

A holiday week means we can put some work in on my favorite hobby, which is playing with the (literal) garage band. We’re not pros, nor do we pretend to be. But being part of a community of guys who just want to play better is perhaps the best thing that’s happened to me this past year. Here’s what our whiteboard looked like last week:

If you don’t recognize some of those tunes, it’s because we’re also writing our own stuff. Never fear, Band of Horses, your day job is safe.

The week before last, I was honored with an award for innovation in the Bay Area by sfBIG (the Hal Riney Award). It was an incredible night, and I was asked to give a talk. It was wild to go down memory lane and remember the things I’ve been a part of for the past 25 years. I found this old cover of the first magazine where I worked, MacWEEK, and also, some old (and very fat) Industry Standards:

I started there in 1987.

That top issue had 225 pages of ads in it. Talk about fat!

My first slide was simply: Wow.

And yes, there was much wine over the past week (I’m still drying out!), but I’ll save those shots for another post. This one’s getting a bit long as it is. Thanks to those of you who read these “Four Letter Word” posts. It’s a nice place to put some memories – a place that feels more intimate and real to me than Facebook or places like it. Have a great week….

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A Moment To Appreciate The Place Between

By - November 13, 2012

Less than an hour North of  San Francisco lies a network of small towns that exist utterly detached from the hamster wheel of our nation’s obsession with technology. They have names like Dogtown, Bolinas, Forrest Knolls, and Olema. Somehow, they’ve managed to escape most trappings of gentrification. They feel authentic, real, and fragile – rather like hummingbirds feeding on flowers despite a gathering storm (or perhaps in spite of it). And I get to drive through them almost daily, because I’ve made Stinson Beach my new office (for more on that, see Time To Begin, Again).

Northern California has always meant the world to me, but moving my base of work close to these places has cemented my love for this special patch of the world. Today I left my hut on the coast and rode my bike up and over the 2,000 foot barrier between the surreal – where fairies dance – and the very real – where most of us live and labor to produce the information economy (also known, in this case, as Mill Valley – fast becoming the Brooklyn of San Francisco).

Here’s a picture of the view from the divide between the two. Looking, as always, to the west.

PS – I posted this picture earlier on Instagram, but that just wasn’t good enough.

A Worthy Wine: Orin Swift Abstract

By - October 07, 2012

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted in Four Letter Words, forgive me. I’ve still been riding, and drinking, of course. Just busy launching another thing, OpenCoSF. But tonight I took a step back and took my wife out to our favorite place, and we noticed a new wine on the menu, from the makes of The Prisoner. It’s called Abstract, and it’s got a wonderful etched label to which this picture does not do justice. But it’s moderately priced (for a wine from Orin Swift), and it’s a wonderful drinker. So go get it if you can.

And yes, I’ve not stopped riding. Here’s the view from the top of Tam on Saturday. The Bay was alive with boats – Fleet Week, the America’s Cup, the Giants in the playoffs, the Blue Angels….great day.

Catching Up on Life: Summer

By - August 27, 2012

It’s been a while since I’ve posted images and such from the other side of life. It’s been a rather strange, disjointed, fast-paced summer. No long breaks, no monumental family vacations. A lot more work than I’d like. But time for riding, mountains, and wine…and pictures of same. So to them:

My family has been going to Mammoth Lakes, California since the 1960s. My mother has a place there, and this is her dog, who lives to swim after sticks in Sierra lakes. Not a bad living…That’s Crystal Crag in the background for anyone who knows the area.

 

 

This is one of the many single tracks from the top of Mammoth Mountain down – this is the backside of the mountain, looking out toward the lakes and across to the Southern Sierra. That’s my son on the trail. We had a great day riding the mountain, which included some pretty ridiculous technical stuff, even some man-made nuttiness where you get essentially sideways, to wit:

 Yes, I did ride this. Several times. And yes, I don’t have any idea how or why I did. And it wasn’t even close to the scariest part of the trails.

More relaxing was the fishing, earlier in July in Colorado, then again in Mammoth/Yosemite. Here’s me, with a happy “I’m fishing and I don’t care if I catch anything” grin:

 

No, I didn’t catch anything. And nope, I didn’t care. That’s Convict Peak in the background, for those of you keeping track at home. It’s also called Mt. Morrison, but not to locals.

 This is Tuolumne Meadows in Yosemite. My son and I tried our luck in the river, but mainly the adolescent trout were rising when we were there. No matter. I mean, look at the scenery. Who cares.

Besides Mammoth, we had another “mini-vacation” – I took the whole family to the Outside Lands music festival in San Francisco. A great lineup, a great group of friends, and three days of pure music. A few shots:

A highlight was the renunion of Grandaddy, one of my family’s favorite bands. They played just about everything we wished they would. This is the drummer, who really did not look like Aaron Burch. But he smoked himself about ten cigs during the set. If that is Aaron, well, time has not been exactly kind.

Of course, highlights included Metallica:

(Love those flames!) ….and Stevie Wonder:

 We saw dozens of other bands, and we had some wonderful wine, including this vintage from Dave Matthews, courtesy of our friends at his management company Red Light:

 This is Dreaming Tree Cab, and the label was drawn by Matthews himself, I am told. We really enjoyed it, but I’m sure the music in the background helped…

Which leads me to a few key vintages for your consideration. In no particular order, above is the Chateau St. Michelle, which I love, and not just because it shares a name with my wife. It’s just a great drinking wine right now, and not expensive.

And while the last wine *sounded* French, this one actually is. We have four or five bottles of this in the band room, as you can see. Chateau Les Gravieres, 2001. Both came from WTSO, which I highly recommend.

This Tablas Creek meritage was a surprise, we had it at our favorite place, Picco, just last week. A bit pricey, but very nice on first blush. Didn’t age well in the glass, I am afraid.

And not for the faint  of heart, but this Handy sazerac is 140 proof. Yep. You read that right.

And lastly, one shot of my new favorite trail in Marin – Willow Camp, which drops down to Stinson Beach from the top of the coastal range. I know. It’s not fair.  I got to ride this trail three times in the past month. I guess looking back, it was a pretty good summer after all. Thanks for visiting….

Wine and Song

By - July 29, 2012

A good couple of weeks in wine, and a first ever for the garage band my buds and I have formed – we played our first gig in front of actual human beings, at a party last night. We even have a name: After.

To the photos.

First, the wine. I like to post interesting bottles here so I can pin them on Pinterest (the only active board I have is called The Wine of My Life). In no particular order…

This Chassagne-Montrachet reminded me that no one makes a white like the French.

 

Howell Mountain is the best place to grow grapes in Napa, I remain convinced. This Arkenstone Obsidian was wonderful.

This young Chateauneuf-duPape is a fine, moderately priced drinker. Just perfect for the band room.

 

Want one of the best Pinots from Sonoma? Hanzell.

Jayson Pahlmeyer knows his way around a blend.

Meanwhile, my wife and I decided to leave our house, and walk straight up Mt. Tam last weekend. Well worth the sore muscles.

Literally on a whim, our band, now named After, set up on our lead singer’s lawn yesterday. It marked a major milestone for us, playing in front of a (supportive) crowd. Turns out, the pressure of playing for people makes you way better. At least, that’s what people told us, and I’m sticking with the story.

The view from the drumset before we started playing.

There are a few places where I am really, really happy. This is one of them.

Meanwhile, my son came back from a month in China yesterday. He was in small villages, big cities, and trekking in the mountains. He found a great iPhone case there, proving that the Chinese do have a sense of humor.

A good couple weeks!

A Rare Treat: Midweek 20+ Miler

By - July 17, 2012

Today I got to steal a ride under the guise of bonding with a senior exec at Federated Media, Walter Knapp, an avid rider/racer who spends much of his time with our Lijit business in Boulder, Colorado. Of course, he’s younger than I, and lives at a higher altitude, which is why he went easy on me as I took him through one of my favorite rides – from my home in Ross out past Fairfax and up into Tamarancho, a unique single track haven built by bikers in cooperation with local Boy Scout troops. Then we headed up to Pine Mountain to take in some views – here’s Walter enjoying the Bay Area’s answer to Colorado high:

That’s on Pine Mtn. Trail, with Mt. Tamalpais in the background, and the East Bay over his right shoulder. One of my favorite “happy spots” within striking distance of my house. According to my AllSports GPS app, we rode 22.1 miles, climbed about 4500 feet, and were at it 2.5 hours. Talking business the entire time, of course. (Actually, that’s pretty much true). Here’s some context as to where we were in the world:

That’s the Golden Gate bridge at the bottom right. The blue line is our route. I love living (and working) in the Bay Area, but Walter’s challenged me to come to Colorado and try riding there. In.

Wines to Remember, July 2012

By - July 14, 2012

It’s been a good couple of weeks for good wine, so here’s the roundup thus far – mostly wines we’ve had while on the road in Colorado and New York.

The Cain Cuvee, Napa, is a blend that works with just about anything.

I’d never tried this Talisman Wildcat Mountain, Pinot, Carneros 07. It’s richer than most Pinots, which I prefer. On the wine list at our local favorite Picco.

In Colorado my pal Douglas broke out a few bottles of the 2002 Far Niente Cab. This is a very special wine.

Not sure what to get and not that price sensitive? Get the Sea Smoke Southing.

Mt. Harlan is a region that rarely produces anything but great grapes. This Calera 04 Pinot proves it.

Ross to Bolinas via McCurdy

By - June 24, 2012

Saturday presented an opportunity – two beach parties on the other side of where we live, the first out in Bolinas, a small, quirky beach town that values its isolation from the rest of Marin, and the second at Muir Beach, some ten miles by road south of Bolinas.

The opportunity was this: I got to ride to Bolinas, and take in some new trails I’ve always wanted to ride.

The first part of the ride was pretty standard, from my house in Ross up past Phoenix, Bon Tempe, and Lagunitas lakes to Portrero Meadows and on to the Ridgecrest Road. It’s about 2300 feet of climbing to get to this view of Stinson Beach and Bolinas beyond it:

Then the fun started – riding a portion of what road cyclists call “the Seven Sisters” across the top of the ridge that overlooks the Pacific. The ridge road turns to trail at the Fairfax-Bolinas road, and about 3-4 miles past that junction lies McCurdy trail. That’s where you see this sign:

You can get to a lot of places from this junction – including Oregon, if you’re so inclined. But for me, it was time to descend about 1600 feet to Bolinas lagoon. And what a treat that was. The trail was steep and very narrow, rutted with rain gullies, choked with underbrush – in a word, perfect. As I got closer to the lagoon the path spilled across rolling meadows – and it’s clear not many folks have been on McCurdy lately. Check out this picture:

I felt like I must have been breaking some kid of law riding across these meadows, rolling through waist-high grass, startled quail darting ahead of me, the knowledge that my family would be at the bottom of the hill waiting for me.

Here’s where we met – at the Bolinas cut, which has a very robust population of both seals and great white sharks. And no, I didn’t go surfing…..

Those hills in the background, those are the hills I was riding when I took the first picture above, FWIW.

I know, this is pretty much Marin porn at this point. So I won’t add a picture of the wine we drank once we got to Muir Beach…happy weekend everyone!

Good Ride, Good Wine: The Debut of “Four Letter Words”

By - June 19, 2012

Many of you have asked me to not mix business with the rest of my life, and thanks to my pals at Blend Interactive, it’s finally happened. I have a new section of my site, which I’m calling “Four Letter Words” – mostly photo posts about life, wine, and bike(s). Consider this the first post, in which I’ll catch you up on some good drinks and rides over the past few weeks. Searchblog RSS subscribers who take the main feed will NOT see these posts, but you can sign up to get them either as a separate stream, or with all other posts, on my feeds page.

First up, let’s get a bit of wine entered into my personal Database of Intentions (and I’ll pin these to my board as well). We had this nifty Chappellet 2002 Cab last month, and I’d encourage anyone within reach of a bottle to open it, immediately.

 

Another great Napa bottle, a blend, is this Collina Dalla Valle, 2009. Bad picture, epic wine.

Moving over to France, my pal Jordan surprised me in the band room with a magnum of this fine Bordeaux. I am utterly a newbie when it comes to this region, but I can tell you, this was a very special bottle of juice. Joseph Drouhin, Grands-Echezeaux Grand Cru. I did not catch the vintage.

Now to some serious bourbon news. Last week I ventured into my favorite restaurant here in Marin, Picco, and found they had a complete allocation of my favorite whiskey – Pappy Van Winkle. This stuff will set you back, but man, is it worth it. Here’s the murderer’s row:

That’s the Van Winkle 12, which ain’t really a “Pappy” per say, and then the 15, the 20, and the 23, all in a row, and all unopened.

I fixed that:

Finished the evening with a fine new Kosta Browne Pinot. An elite Sonoma vintner, and very tasty.

I also got a chance to go on a few really wonderful rides these past few weeks. Here’s one of my favorite places, on the west side of Lake Lagunitas in Marin, looking up at Pilot Knob:

And on Father’s Day, my son and I rode from our house over Mt. Tam down to Stinson Beach to meet my wife and daughters. What a treat. Here’s the view from the top of the ridge, before descending to the beach:

And here’s the Willow Camp trail, mostly a single track, that descends 2000 feet in about two miles right to the beach:

And yes, you purist riders out there, I have bar ends on my bike. I need the extensions for my back, which doesn’t like being all hunched over much. And yeah, they help on the uphills, I’ll admit it.

Well, that’s the update. I love living in Marin.

The Week in Wine, 5.26 Edition

By - May 26, 2012

Dinner with friends and a night in the band room proved bountiful when it came to trying new wines this week.

I tasted this Blackbird Vineyards Arriviste – a Rose that the gals had. They sure liked it. Proved a great start to the dinner for them.

We moved on to the Peay Sea Scallop, which I’ve already posted (it’s on my Wines Pinboard), then this swell finish, the Pahlmeyer 2009 Jayson (a blend), which held up to the steak we shared. It’s quite obvious the winemaker (Jason Pahlmeyer) spent a lot of time in Spain.

In the band room last night, we got lucky – our guitarist, a wine lover, brought out a rare beast: a 2006 Patricia Eason Pinot. This wine comes from a four acre plot in Willemette, Oregon. It’s very rich for a Pinot and just wonderful to relish. We drank it out of plastic cups and played music, which somehow worked.

Tonight is going to be a Pinot fest as we welcome a bigger group to the house, we had to find great drinking wines that weren’t going to break the bank, since there’ll be a lot of glasses flowing. Among others, we picked the Belle Gloss Clark & Telephone from Santa Barbara:

…the Hitching Post Cork Dancer, always reliable and also from SB (sorry for the image):

And the Etude from Carneros. Hard to do wrong with those.

Remember, Searchbloggers, I’ve got a new RSS feed that you can consume so as to miss these non-work related posts.