Birthdays Are Perfect

Except this one.

I've spent next to no time exploring the Napa Valley. I have a business relationship with it. I commute 50 miles to get there, spend eight hours or more making sure employees get whatever they need, and head the 50 miles back home at the end of the day.

I wanted to do something special for Brandon's 25th birthday. I requested a night at the resort and luckily enough got approved! This was Napa's opportunity to show off. I wanted a speed date with it, and I fully expected it to leave a life changing impression on me.

The weather had other plans...

We began the day by grabbing lunch at Boudin, as requested by Brandon. The inside was packed so we sat outside...in the rain...and cold...Brandon had no jacket on.

Little did I know Brandon was coming down with a cold/flu thing.

I'd done a bit of research of possible cool places to visit. One of them was the Bale Grist Mill State Historic Park. I looked at the photos and thought it would be such a nice place to explore. Plus, it happened to be en route to the castle we planned on exploring! But when we got there -- and by there I mean the gate -- we realized the mill was not open at all. We were trying to play tourist in the middle of slow season, so I wasn't entirely shocked, though I was disappointed.

Then we set off to visit the Castello di Amorosa. It's a castle built using traditional methods of medieval architecture, even though the structure itself is relatively new. The owner has an extensive history of the project listed on his website. Pretty cool thing to nerd out over.

Anyway, I chose it because I knew Brandon would enjoy it. We pulled into the parking lot and the sprinkle of rain that had been trailing us turned into true rainfall. We sat in the car for a minute trying to decide if we should even get out. I was determined to (read: stubborn) have something to show for our drive out there, so we braved the rain. We walked up the steps and were quickly topped by a woman who ushered us into what I guess is the lobby to purchase our wine tasting passes. Uninterested in a tasting, we walked back into the rain to try and explore the grounds. We were unsuccessful, so we walked back down to the mini stables. The rain refused to let up and Brandon was feeling progressively worse, so we gave up on the outdoor activities for the day.

We still had a bit of time to kill before check in and were both pretty cold, so we headed to Bouchon Bakery in Yountville to get some pick-me-ups. We patiently waited in line outside under the awning until we could fit into the small bakery. We picked up some warm drinks (coffee for me, tea for B) and each got a large macaron to enjoy for dessert later that night. There's no indoor seating and it was still raining outside, so we huddled back to the car. At this point, Brandon was out of it. He was not feeling well and it was clear he needed to sleep. So I took the wheel...and the scenic route to the hotel.

Check in was a surreal experience for me. As someone who regularly interacts with all departments on property, I've come to know nearly everyone by name and face. So it was a little strange to have employees wait on me the way I usually wait on them. I have to give it up to my colleagues and superiors: they really treated me as a guest and not as their co-worker who was using her free night at a luxury resort. The reception agent that checked us in gave us a cottage in a "desirable neighborhood" (yeah, there are neighborhoods) with the most requested layout. I was thrilled even though I had no idea what it meant.

I'd made our dinner reservations for closer to 7:00 than 4:00pm, so we threw on the fireplace and the warmest robes and Brandon crashed while I relaxed.

Can you blame him? He was such a trooper.


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