Saturday, June 01, 2013

Exploring Sonoma & Stanford

Memorial church on the Stanford University campus.
Copyright (c) 2013 Wendee Nicole

I arrived in San Francisco on Wednesday evening, and have had a great time so far. Tomorrow we're headed to Big Sur to go camping. But first, a quick update on what has been happening!

An article I am proud of came out today... CAFOs and Environmental Justice: The Case of North Carolina (or the PDF here which looks even better). This feature article for Environmental Health Perspectives is about factory hog farms and how they are disproportionately located in low-income, minority neighborhoods. I am increasingly trying to write about topics that not only cover environmental issues, but also that touch on poverty and social issues.

The most important news, most dear to my heart, is that my sweet, amazing and smart daughter, Savannah, graduated from high school. I can scarcely believe it! I am so very proud of my girl. She was #9 in a class of 700-something, in National Honor Society & a National Merit Scholar Finalist!

The night before Savannah's graduation, my mom and stepdad came in town, and we took Savannah out to dinner at Jasper's in The Woodlands. This is all of us together at the restaurant.

I don't have a lot of photos of me and my two kids together, especially now that they're older, so I love the photos my parents took!

Sam and Savi being silly at dinner.

My sweet girl with my son, Sam, after graduation, the next morning.

Savi hugging Sam. She is going to school for neuroscience!

San Francisco baby! This is the Golden Gate bridge.... Before I left for SF, I turned in a feature article about EARTH University in Costa Rica, a sustainable ag school that is very impressive. It comes out July 1st. Then, I flew to SF, and the next day I had a few meetings at Stanford, and then Miranda and I drove north to Sonoma.

The first order of business involved stopping at Envolve's Tasting Room. For you Bachelor fans out there, this is the winery of Bachelor Ben Flajnik. Yes, I'm embarrassed to say that though I do not own a working TV (it only plays DVDs), I got addicted to The Bachelor at the gym. And I thought it would be cool to see Ben's winery. It actually is just the tasting room, not the vineyard. I interviewed Ben's partner Mike Benziger, but unfortunately we didn't get to see Ben. I was impressed that the wines are organically grown and they use biodynamic farming practices. Mike Benziger is the nephew of another Mike Benziger who started Benziger wines, which Mike Jr's father also works at, and which are also organic and biodynamically farmed. Because we couldnt see the Envolve vineyards (they just lease the vineyards to grow their grapes), we went on a tour of the Benziger winery but those are on my Canon camera, and I didn't bring the cord to download the photos, so... that will have to be another blog post. These photos are all iPhone pics.

Miranda and I being silly and taking pics at the Envolve tasting room.

This is the only iPhone ic I got at the Benziger vineyard. The land was gorgeous! California poppies are one of my all-time favorite flowers. They remind me of my early childhood!

At 7pm, we had an appointment at Golden Haven Spa in Calistoga for a mud bath! This was suggested by Miranda, who had never had one but heard of them, so I was all, yes let's! You soak - and float - in this giant vat of hot mud that smells somewhere between sulfurous volcanic ash and manure. After just having written an article on hog manure, I must say, it was a bit gross. Ha. But thats' ok, #YOLO right? I can now cross that off my bucket list. After a 15 minute soak in the mud poop stuff (just kidding), you shower off then soak in a hot tub, then you get wrapped up in a blanket and relax for 20 minutes. All in all it was a nice relaxing thing to do. Then we drove back down to Sonoma where we stayed with Miranda's cousin - whose son goes to school with my niece! Small world!

In the morning, my sweet friend Zofia (my niece's mom) picked me up early and we went to breakfast at Sunflower Caffé in Sonoma. I had a salted caramel latte. Um, two. Yum! And we caught up on all the things. :)

Zofia and I taking a self-portrait in the park in the middle of Sonoma.

She had a baby miniature goat in her car! Kira (my niece) is really into animals and these guys are the cutest!

And last but not least, inspired again by the article I just wrote about being carbon-neutral (I am Carbon Neutral. Are You?) and by my editor friend's Terrapass luggage tags, I offset my "lifestyle" again for the past year, and got these handy dandy luggage tags to prove it!

No comments: