Photo by Jason DeVarennes

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Ice Whine in Napa

So just a few days after I post a picture of a 100 ml tube of sunscreen that was being rapidly used up in New England, I head off to the airport to fly to California where TSA threatened to take it away from me! In some wicked twist of fate, John had some vacation time to use up before April 1st, and we decided to head off the Northern California to do some early season hill climbing in nice weather. We booked our trip long before realizing that the world had flipped and Boston was now in the tropics. In the week before our departure, we starting crying over the forecasts, as Boston was to be 80F and sunny while Napa and Sonoma were to be 50s and rainy, as it should be in Boston at this time of year. We packed up warm clothes, but optimistically threw the sunscreen in anyway.

For some reason, most airlines have decided to make TSA's job harder by charging for checked bags, thereby encouraging folks to bring everything as carry on. The claim is that checked luggage uses more jet fuel that carry-on or some twisted logic like that. Personally I would like to just get a weight allowance for me and my luggage, so Kevin Smith gets to bring no luggage and is still charged for two seats, while I can bring my bike and some nice warm clothes, and get some money back! But that would be discrimination, so instead, some airlines charge for checked bags. For our trip to California, we had a choice of Southwest (my favorite airline for caring about the person squished into the seat next to Kevin Smith) with a change of planes and long layover and 2 free checked bags or a direct flight with Jet Blue and 1 free checked bag. So while I'd like to reward Southwest, the direct flight won out. We figured we could each check an S&S case with bike for free, and pack clothes in a carry on. But this would also mean TSA size bottles of liquid. Which brings me back to the subject of my sunscreen. 

So I'm at the airport, barefoot and beltless, with my pants around my ankles as I hold my hands over my head in the fancy scanner, and I see them pull my toiletries bag out of the x-ray, and start to carefully read the sizing on my tube of sunscreen. Yes, they are checking to make sure that I don't have enough sunscreen to blow up an airplane. In the meantime, the bag with 8 cables for the different USB standards for my phone, camera, gps and other assorted electronics, along with the assorted electronics has made it through just fine. 

I'm getting ready to show off the scar from my skin cancer surgery and beg them to let me keep my sunscreen, when they find 100 ml on the back of the tube and decide I am not a terrorist. So I pull up my pants, put my belt back on and vow to buy some better fitting pants. Then put my shoes back on and repack my laptop and toiletries and head for the gate! 

Yippee we are finally on our way from hot sunny Boston, to cold dreary San Francisco.


We've actually been pretty lucky with the weather, as evidenced by the shadow in the photo above. It's chilly, but we have had some sunshine, and I've been slathering the sunscreen all over my face, the only exposed flesh!

We are finding some great hills to climb...

And descend...

And some nice ridge-top views...

John's on the trip too!

John has a new camera, so we brought single bikes so we can get action shots, rather than just photos of Pamela holding the tandem up. We've had a great time exploring around Napa, and are now heading west to explore the hills closer to the coast. Look for a full report once we are back and John is able to sort through the thousands of photos!

Oh and I will be packing the sunscreen in the bike case on the return leg!


  1. I envy you guys, it's way too hot here! : )

  2. We started out just south of Santa Rosa and took Roberts/Pressley to Bennet Valley, lunch in Glen Ellen, then Trinity to Mt Veeder into Napa, where we stayed several nights. Day 2 - we climbed Wild Horse to the dead end, then down and back up to Lake Berryessa. Day 3, we headed up to Lake Hennessey, Chiles and Pope Valley to Ink Grade (the last photo is from Ink Grade), then Howell Mountain back along the main road before climbing Oakville Grade to Dry Creek. Today we loaded up panniers and headed west, climbing Dry Creek to Cavedale, which was spectacular, then back over Sonoma Mountain after each having half of a 5lb burrito in Glen Ellen, then through Cotati before climbing Burnside to get to Occidental. Looking forward to King Ridge tomorrow!

  3. I wish you could join us for CORPScamp Death Valley and Hell's Gate Hundred next week! Head south, quickly!

  4. Thanks Chris, but the kind folks at Ride Studio Cafe might be upset if I don't show up for the Brevet Season Kickoff Party that I have helped plan!

  5. I've argued that my bike, gear and me altogether weigh less than many of their other passengers so the airlines should just stop charging me extra for my bike. They don't get it, they just can't understand why!..... Oh well, have fun, happy pedalling! By the way, I met someone from your club at the Westfield St. Paddy's Day ride. He was very fun to ride with, I suspect I could only keep up because of his leg cramps......

  6. Really enjoying hearing about your California adventures - and watching the metres climb on the Strava challenge!! And hey! I am also a skin cancer survivor and passionate fund raiser for fighting melanoma. Great to be in touch from the 'other' side of the Pacific! Sarah - www.adventurecoaching.co.nz