Note that these blogs posted during the sheltering-in-place period of the coronavirus crisis
are meant as a virtual escape. Hopefully, the information will be of use to you
when it is safe to travel again.

April 2, 2020

Lee Vining: Mono Lake; things to do


High Sierra--Highway 395

Mono Lake  Off Hwy. 395, (760) 647-3000. 

trail leading to Mono Lake in Lee Vining in Eastern California
trail leading to Mono Lake in Lee Vining in Eastern California


John Muir described this desolate area as, "A country of wonderful contrasts, hot deserts bounded by snow-laden mountains, cinder and ashes scattered on glacier-polished pavement, frost and fire working together in the making of beauty."  Situated at more than 7,000 feet above sea level, Mono Lake is a high-desert sea.  It is one of the largest lakes in the state and the second-oldest lake in North America.  Mark Twain called it the “Dead Sea of the West.”  An ancient Ice Age lake, estimated to be at least 1 million years old, mysterious Mono Lake is twice the size of San Francisco and features an unusual terrain of pinnacles and spires formed by calcium-rich mineral deposits that spurt up from the lake bottom.  It is filled with water that contains almost three times the salt found in ocean water and holds not a single fish—though tiny brine shrimp flourish.  Perhaps this is what attracts the 50,000-plus vacationing seagulls that flock in during April to nest, stay into August, and then head back to the coast.  The South Tufa Area, which is on Highway 120 about 5 miles east of Highway 395, is particularly nice for a walk in the late afternoon light—the best time for a comfortable temperature and to capture good photos.  Fall is the ideal time for a visit Mono Lake. Campsites are available. 

unusual formations at Mono Lake in Lee Vining in Eastern California
unusual formations at Mono Lake in Lee Vining in Eastern California


photographers and seagulls among the unusual formations at Mono Lake in Lee Vining in Eastern California
photographers and seagulls among the unusual formations at Mono Lake in Lee Vining in Eastern California


Mono Lake webcam 



More things to do along Highway 395.

More ideas for exploring Northern California.

images ©2020 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

March 26, 2020

Kenwood: Deerfield Ranch Winery; things to do


Deerfield Ranch Winery  10200 Sonoma Hwy. 12, 707-833-5213.  Daily 10:30-4:30.

entrance to Deerfield Ranch Winery in Kenwood, California
entrance to Deerfield Ranch Winery in Kenwood, California

Entry to this small winery is through gates and past 14 acres of wetlands known as the Kenwood Marsh.  The marsh is home to the endangered Kenwood Marsh Checkerbloom flower, which is found only here in all the world.  The marsh also displays a trio of metal giraffe sculptures.  After walking through the production facility crush pad and by the fermenting tanks, you enter the winery through a Roman-arch portal with massive redwood doors.

metal giraffe sculptures at Deerfield Ranch Winery in Kenwood, California
metal giraffe sculptures at Deerfield Ranch Winery in Kenwood, California


cave entrance at Deerfield Ranch Winery in Kenwood, California
cave entrance at Deerfield Ranch Winery in Kenwood, California

The main hall is lined with wine barrels, and on the walk down into the wine-glass-shaped cave to the tasting room you’ll see hundreds more barrels in off-shoot halls--there are 2,500-plus in all.  Set back deep inside a hill, in a 23,000 square-foot manmade cave that was bored out by a mining company and is composed of compressed volcanic ash, the tasting room provides seating on comfortable overstuffed couches and chairs in a choice of several areas.  A 60-degree temperature is maintained year-round, making it a perfect destination on a warm day.  Art hangs on the walls, and most of it is for sale.  We were intrigued by some interesting Star Wars pieces.

cave hallway at Deerfield Ranch Winery in Kenwood, California
cave hallway at Deerfield Ranch Winery in Kenwood, California


cave tasting room at Deerfield Ranch Winery in Kenwood, California
cave tasting room at Deerfield Ranch Winery in Kenwood, California


"Star Wars" art for sale in cave tasting room at Deerfield Ranch Winery in Kenwood, California
"Star Wars" art for sale in cave tasting room at Deerfield Ranch Winery in Kenwood, California

Winery owner Robert Rex has a past that includes being trained as a chemist at Cal, then going into the tobacco business, and finally becoming a winemaker after mastering a hobby wine-making kit received as a gift from his wife.  Rex says you’ll be tasting “clean wine made with happy yeast.”  The organic wines are crafted with low histamine and sulfite levels, which prevents headaches and allergies, and are available for sale only at the winery.  My favorites include an unusual grapefruitty 2018 Sauvignon Blanc, a delicious 2012 Syrah Cuvee from the estate vineyards out front, and also a pretty, pink, and dry 2018 Naked ladies Sparkling Rose that comes in a lovely bottle decorated with the pink Amaryllis flowers it is named for.

winery owner Robert Rex holding a glass of 2012 Syrah Cuvee in cave tasting room at Deerfield Ranch Winery in Kenwood, California
winery owner Robert Rex holding a glass of 2012 Syrah Cuvee
in cave tasting room at Deerfield Ranch Winery in Kenwood, California


More things to do in Kenwood.

More things to do in the Wine Country.

More ideas for exploring Northern California.

images ©2020 Carole Terwilliger Meyers


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