If you read my post about 2022 Plan Your Vacation Day, and I hope you did, you know that I’ve resolved to go somewhere at least once a month this year. We hit the ground running in January with a mini-staycation, just one night away, that set the pace for the year. You know that I love traveling and wine, and this quick trip let me enjoy both.
First stop, Palisade—the heart of Colorado’s Grand Valley AVA. According to Coloradowine.com, it’s 75,990 acres along the Colorado River, once called the Grand River, forty miles east of the Utah border— beginning in Palisade. Sheltered by the largest flattop mountain in the world, Grand Mesa, the AVA then spills up onto East Orchard Mesa and Orchard Mesa along the south bank of the river, and stretches right to the foot of the Colorado National Monument west of Grand Junction. (Map of wineries in the Grand Valley AVA)
We just got back from a wonderful, wine-filled week in Sonoma and Napa. It was an actual work trip for our liquor store. How sweet is that? Before I get to the wine, and there’s so much wine to discuss, I want to tell you about four restaurants we loved in Sonoma County. Two were recommended by winery employees. Locals have the best insights on where to, or not to, eat. The other two were found on Google.
Happy hour on the patio at El Zocalo in Chandler, Arizona.
After a romantic Valentine’s Day in Scottsdale, Arizona, we headed to Chandler for a couple of days. Historic downtown Chandler is a gastronomic delight; if you’re dieting, you should not go there. The artsy area is just a few blocks long, but it’s packed with restaurants, pubs and specialty shops. Our intention was to have lunch and do a little window-shopping. We liked it so much that we ended up spending a good portion of our weekend there.
Pretzels and beer at the SanTan Brewing Company.
SanTan Brewing Company was founded in 2007 and is based in a renovated 1954 bank building. There’s lots of seating inside and out, but it was still pretty busy when we got there. I had a Sun Spot Golden Ale, which was light and refreshing. Scott tried the Sex Panther, because who doesn’t want to try a beer called Sex Panther? It’s a double chocolate porter that’s only available in early spring.
Part of the beauty of the empty nest is that it’s easier to travel. Since I can work just about anywhere, I decided to join Scott on some of his business trips. Our first opportunity was just a couple of weeks into emptynestdom. I started the research and planning early, which gave us both something to look forward to and helped keep my mind off the fact that our lives were getting ready to change pretty significantly.
Scott loves to drive, so my jobs are to generally plan the route, pretend to be able to read a map, find stops along the way and look up interesting facts about the area. I usually take a few involuntary naps as well. Continue reading