We had planned on a curriculum retreat for months in the office. We finally picked a date and I asked "So where did you go last time?" Lauren's answer was absolutely shocking: "We had it at Barbara Kriz's house." I said there is no way I will go on a "retreat" if it is not in a retreat-like setting. We had the budget, so sure enough, we agreed to find such a place. There was talk about Napa, Sonoma, and of course I was rooting for Mendocino or Big Sur. Planning was farmed out to Glen the amazing wheeling-and-dealing miracle worker and he got us $250/night rooms at the Timber Cove Inn for about $160 and a conference room. Rooms all have fireplaces, views of the water and jacuzzi tubs. Sign me up! I know the place, I know the location and I was thrilled to bits. I pay homage to Glen. The man is amazing.
Wednesday, May 18th
Charlene and I played hookie from work to go and play on the way to Jenner so I picked her up at 10am and away we drove. Highway 12 is the scenic route, and it hooks up with 116 which takes us to Jenner. There are a million wineries along the way and we planed to stop at as many as possible. It was about 11:30am by the time we got to the first one: Sebastiani Vineyards. It was a grey and drizzly day and occasionally the drizzle turned to rain, perfect for wine tasting since we were generally the only people out! Sterling has some lovely wines. We both bought a bottle of a nice rich and fruity red zin and this incredible chardonnay: tastes like fruit with this beautiful nose and although aged in oak, just the smallest hint of oakiness in the wine. Lovely. Sebastiani is probably the last family-owned winery in the whole Napa/Sonoma region which makes it extra special.
In Sonoma Charlene brought me to this fantastic cheese place called Vella where you can taste the cheese. She likes a aged cheese and I generally go for the creamier ones, so I ended up buying a monterey jack with habaneros in it, and this fantastic stuff called Toma which is like a very mild brie and some crackers.
Lunch was at a restaurant in the middle of the extremely charming town square of Sonoma at a fresh California/French type place called the Girl and the Fig. I had a nice big salad with- get this- mashed potatoes with syrah. Go figure! While they weren't anything I'd make again, they were extremely interesting.
The next stop was Kenwood and it was rather lackluster since we weren't trying the reserve wines and the rest of what Kenwood generally makes are those table-type wines meant to be drunk as soon as you buy them and serve their purpose. They sent us in the direction of their sister winery, Valley of the Moon when we expressed a wish to find a Barbera. What a lovely place Valley of the Moon is- and the wines were quite nice. The Barbera was unfortunately lackluster, but we both bought a bottle of red zin that was fantastic. Zippy and rich- blackberry, a little anise and just a bit of tannin on the finish. It bit me and I bought it. We met up with a cop and his wife who were visiting for the day from LA on their way Thursday to the east coast.
Driving still north, a sign advertising a free tasting at a vineyard neither of us had been to before drew us into a cellar called Imagery. Arrowood was just a bit farther up the drive and while their wines are on the simple side, I generally find them a reasonable value. Imagery is also an art gallery, and it is really beautiful on the inside. And who is at the bar but our friends from LA.. very funny. There were 8 wines on the tasting menu, and the lovely woman offered to let us try a red zin and one other that was open, so we were in for a total of 10. Charlene and I had been splitting the glasses, so we got in double the wines which was nice. Oh, Shelby. I threw self-restraint out the window I was so wowed I bought a bunch: two bottles of this incredible (amazing, extraordinary, fabulous etc) white burgandy (the white bordeaux wasn't quite as impressive, but still a really beautiful wine), a Lagrein, a cab, a red zin and a petite sirah. And I joined the wine club. And somehow, to my utter amazement, I missed the fact that they also make a Petit Verdot! Forgive me father for I have sinned- I didn't see the Verdot! Searching for what, 5 YEARS now for the elusive varietal I discovered at a tiny shop in SF and I miss it from this top-notch winemaker!? It truly is the one that got away... perhaps they will send it to me in the wine club. I can only hope and pray...
We made one final stop at a winery that was advertising up to 70% off on this huge sale, we found extremely lackluster wines at this place who just was bought out by another vintner. I hope they make better wines.
We checked in to the Timber Cove at about 6:30pm to find Emily and JoAnn both already there. Charlene decided to eat dinner with them, and I wasn't particularly hungry so I skipped dinner and went to my room. What a room it was... exposed beams, a gas fireplace, and sliding glass doors to a view of the expansive rocky mendonoma pacific. Wow. I opened my doors to let the sound and smell into the room, turned up the fireplace and settled in with this book I haven't been able to put down for the past 2 weeks. Around 9:30pmI hear this rusting like somebody's walking in the grass outside to my room. I peek out to investigate and two beady eyes stare back at me from the grass and the face of a raccoon emerges. I snapped the screen shut and he waddled on by.
Thursday, May 19th.
8am was breakfast in the restaurant. The restaurant is fairly lackluster and overpriced, but there is nothing but a small little deli barely half a mile south of us in Fort Ross that closes at 6pm and has no breakfast, so our choices are next to nothing. We ate together and headded over to the conference room. What a room this was- it's hard to describe... Probably the best room in the whole place, it's huge and it's situated right on the bluff with an enormous deck and probably the best view in the entire place- over the little kay in the coast. The deck comes complete with hot tub and patio furniture. The room is wild- strange. There is this large and beautiful stained glass round window that is above this ling medieval looking slab of a table that's set up on two large rocks. There were several little seating areas and we picked the one near the TV and windows to start with today. Thursday was kind of my piece of the retreat- we talked about the academic curriculum. I had opened a real can of worms by asking a simple question: "Why can't we move all of anatomy into the first block?" That literally snowballed and became this huge restructuring and rearranging of the whole didactic year. It took the entire day, but lo and behold, we emerged from the room on time Thursday evening with a rearranged year that made all of us feel good. It was incredibly productive. We were all relaxed and comfortable, it facilitated great discussion and I still am amazed at how much we got accomplished in that room.
For lunch, we ate together in the restaurant and Charlene, Emily and JoAnn and I decided to take a little hike around the grounds of the timber cove inn.
Before dinner, we celebrated our achievements with a little happy hour fun. I brought my hard drive with my music on it, and my little computer stereo system, opened a brick of the Toma and the crackers, and Charlene opened two of her Sebastianis for us. The Timber Cove was so wonderfully accommodating for us: they offered 5 wine glasses, buckets of ice to chill the wine, plates, knives, bread. They were wonderful to us- despite all the laughing and noise! Amazing!
Thursday night we ate in the restaurant, I had a good halibut steak in a lemon/caper sauce which was quite good with a bed of rice and steamed vegetables. We watched a brilliant sunset, and saw the raccoons start to come out: climbing all over the oak tree right outside the restaurant. While the rooms lack an alarm or a clock, they do have telephones and tvs complete with HBO. I filled up my hot tub, opened the door, turned on the fireplace and took a nice long soak and watched a movie. Life as it ought to be.
Friday, May 20th
Breakfast again and back to the room for the second day where we planned to go through the clinical year structure. This was going to be complicated, and I was dreading anybody getting heated or any arguing happening since the state of things is a mess. I think it had to be all this scenery and salty air because everybody once again was just totally relaxed, and we got a metric TON of work done and we all left feeling pretty good about what we had. After lunch (we went to the little deli this time) we settled down at the outside table on the deck, and moved the meeting there. Nobody seemed to want to go back indoors. We really got a lot done, and although I knew I was going to get a sunburn (which I sure did), it wasa great afternoon. At 5pm, actually a half an hour early, Emily closed her binder and I said "Wow, I can't believe we're actually done!" We went back to the bar for more wine glasses, I got out the brick of toma again, turned on the tunes and happy hour officially began. The Timber Cove had really filled up by Friday, so we made dinner reservations for 7 at 7pm. Right on cue, Mindy came in as we were starting happy hour and we spent a couple of hours telling stories and jokes, laughing and making way too much noise for a place where couples come for a quiet romantic weekend.
A libra finds out she has been getting walked on...
At 7pm we retired from the room and headded over to the hotel's lobby to sit near the gigantic fireplace before dinner. John showed up just after we sat down, and boy did we have a wild time at dinner. Once again, waay too much noise and fun for a quiet place for weekend romance. Shame on us! It's a miracle the Timber Cove didn't kick us out! We laughed, we joked, we talked shop, we talked philosophy, we even got a little choked up (well, one of us did anyways). It was a night I'll remember for a long time.
Lauren had way too much wine by the time she took this dinner shot- ha, ha. And John- you're late.
At about 9:30pm, we all hugged our goodbyes and retired for the night. I think this retreat really helped quell my feeling that I will never work in education full-time again. I think what it is is growing pains. You make any really major changes in your life and the first few years are invariably the hardest as you learn to adapt to your new situation. Education is a world away from clinical practice, and I think what's been going on is just the adjustment. It's harder for me to be in education because I'm so young. Mindy really brought it home when she said that although she's only been a PA for 4 years, the class assumed that since she's older she's been around forever and that just earns respect right off the bat. Although I've been a PA for almost a decade, I'm also not a lot older than many of the students in the class. "Ooh, that's got to be hard for you Shelby" Mindy said. Then she hit the nail right on the head with the age and respect issue.
I can only age so fast, really, but I think I might be more rewarded than I think if I stick around in education. Thanks, team for a fantastic retreat and a real feeling of accomplishment. I'm really proud of us.