Tuesday, August 21, 2007

California 20 Aug 2007

We have had such a great week here in California. We have not driven many
miles but have thoroughly enjoyed ourselves catching up with old friends
and making many new acquaintances.

We left Peter and Tessa's house on Wednesday and, accompanied by a
neighbor in his sporty Lotus 7, we set off to Monterey down the scenic
Highway 1. We had not gone too far when we broke our clutch cable. Lang
managed to get rolling with the starter motor and we got ourselves back on
the freeway and sailed along, driving without a clutch for the next few
hours until we got into a traffic jam. We were able to peel off into an
industrial yard where they had a large jack and did a temporary repair
that saw us the rest of the way to Carmel Valley.

We had been lucky enough to be invited to attend the exclusive Quail Lodge
Car display, which is part of the Concours Week held in the Monterey area.
It is described as a display of all things elegant which includes not only
the 120 entrant cars and 3,000 spectators who pay $200 a ticket to attend,
but also the food and wine that is available all day featuring French,
Italian and Californian themes. The garden party setting is arranged on
the lush grass of the driving range of the Quail Lodge, Resort and Golf
Club, accompanied by appropriate music and the most perfect weather

The event director Mathias Doutreleau, a Frenchman, and also a Fiat 500
owner, made our little Bambino very welcome into this most prestigious
company. He insisted we bring the car unwashed and had it displayed in a
very central position. He also arranged accommodation with his friends
John and Vickie Edwards who were wonderful hosts and made as feel as if we
had been their friends forever.

Over the weekend there is also the Concours d'Elegance held at Pebble
Beach , Concorso Italiano, vintage car racing, air shows, etc. We
certainly had the most fantastic three days, sightseeing, eating,
drinking, and meeting so many wonderful people from all over the world.
In between all this Lang was able to use the golf buggy workshop at the
Lodge and do a more permanent repair to the clutch cable with some
clothesline wire, and also more running repairs and maintenance that had
been needed.

We again headed north meeting up with John Lanoue, at his hanger in Novato
before going up to St Helena in Napa Valley to join his wife Brenda who is
a Chief Instructor Chef at the CIA (Culinary Institute of America). We had
a wonderful Indian meal cooked by Shyam and Andrew two of Brenda's
students. On Sunday we were given a tour of the college which was
renovated in 1995 on the site of the former Christian Brothers Winery. The
100+ year old building was preserved with its cathedral ceilings and
massive hand cut stone walls.

The whole of the Napa and Sonoma Valley area north of San Francisco is
covered in vineyards, many of the vines with bunches of grapes hanging
ready for picking. There are hundreds of wineries and wonderful
restaurants, it is very much a tourist destination.