My husband and I spent this last weekend in Calistoga, a small town in the Napa valley. It was a belated birthday celebration for me and our first trip in our new travel trailer.
We arrived at the Calistoga RV Park on Friday evening, set up the trailer, got ready, and headed to dinner. I am admittedly a pretty picky eater, so I researched restaurants beforehand, scouring the menus online. A lot of them were way out of my comfort zone. (Grilled octopus? Mushroom risotto? No and no.)
But then I found the Calistoga Inn Restaurant & Brewery. And it was DELICIOUS. I had beef short ribs with a cabernet pan sauce, mashed potatoes, and Swiss chard. I could seriously eat that dish for dinner every night for the rest of my life and be happy about it. Justin loved his meal too — although I just took his word for it. Grilled swordfish on top of a seafood stew… um I won’t even eat fish sticks. But we did agree on an amazing dessert: a chocolate lava cake with raspberry coulis (shout out to Kids Baking Championship for teaching me what coulis is).
Saturday was spent wine tasting, because duh… Calistoga. It was a beautiful day with a bright blue sky and puffy white clouds sitting just above the hilltops. We started with a tour of Castello di Amorosa, a medieval Tuscan-style castle that was only built about 15 years ago, but you would never know it. Stone and brick walls, handmade antique tiles, iron gates. It was like being in a fairy tale — minus the torture chamber!
As we wandered the wine cellars, we were able to sample a 2017 cab straight from the barrel before it gets bottled and continues the aging process for another couple of years. And then the tour culminated in a tasting room and a flight of five wines. What I loved about the tasting is that the guide brought out two or three wines at a time, described them, and then gave us an option of which one we wanted to try (my favorite was the vermentino).
Next we headed to Clos Pegase, thanks to the Calistoga Shuttle (only $1 per person!). With modern white architecture and a beautiful, clean, almost desert-y garden, it had a very different feel than Castello di Amorosa. We didn’t have a reservation, so we ended up having to wait about ten minutes, but no big deal. They seated us with a super nice couple and as the tastings started, so did the conversation. We talked about how we all live in the Bay Area, how we were in Calistoga celebrating birthdays (mine and the other wife’s), how young you can take a baby camping, and Fraser Island, Australia (the wife is an Aussie).
And then, inevitably, the subject of work was brought up. I said I was a stay-at-home-mom and left it at that, although there was a little voice inside yelling at me to say that I’m a writer. But admitting that out loud is hard for me. It’s scary, like letting someone see into my soul or something. And it almost feels like a lie, or an exaggeration at the very least, since I haven’t been published yet.
But my amazing husband must not think I’m a fraud, because he brought up my book. I can’t even express how much it means to me to have his support. And on another note, I also can’t express what my book is about. At least not verbally. I wish I could have blamed it on the merlot that day, but truth is, every time someone asks me what The Words We Hold Deep is about, I clam up. I mumble something that is either incoherent or makes it sound like the most boring book on the planet. Not a good way to get future fans.
I’ve always had trouble expressing myself verbally (which, in hindsight, is probably why I like writing so much). So what’s a hopeful author to do? Well, I think my first step is to write down a short blurb about my book, just a few sentences that explain the premise and will hook readers. Step 2: memorize it. And step 3: practice it as much as possible (whether in the mirror, in the car, in front of my family, or in front of anyone else I can get to sit still for a minute). Then maybe that will even lead me to confidently declaring that I’m a writer instead of changing the subject to the size of Australian spiders.
So all-in-all, I’d say it was a very successful weekend. My husband and I got to relax and spend some much-needed quality time together. We got to enjoy the beautiful scenery, eat terrific food, and sip on some great wine. And I now have a set goal to improve my “elevator pitch,” because who knows — the next person who asks what my book is about just may be an agent, a publisher, or my future #1 fan.