Wednesday, August 09, 2006
Wine Country Encore
With our belongings loaded into a U-Haul, we pulled out of St. Louis, headed for California, Kerri driving our Toyota, and me following behind in the moving van.
We had an unscheduled longer stay in Abilene, Kansas. Kerri rolled the Toyota in the center median of Highway 70. She was okay, but the car was totaled.
As a young boy, I attended "August Moon Concerts" at the Mondavi Winery in the Napa Valley. One summer during college, I lived in St. Helena, and helped build a winery. In the 60s and 70s, the Napa Valley was the mainstay of the California wine industry, and Sonoma was just getting started. Access was easy, and the area was uncrowded.
By the 80s, much larger crowds started to tour the area, especially the Napa Valley. Wineries started charging for wine tasting. The Napa Valley Wine Train started rolling. Lines of tourists were a common sight, especially on weekends.
In 1989, I started working for a homebuilder based in Sonoma County. Approvals for housing developments were slow to come by, so the company started looking further out for buildable sites - and affordable projects. By this time, in search of affordable housing, Bay Area workers were buying houses in the Central Valley, and making bleary-eyed, 2-3 hour commutes back and forth to work. Fast forward to 2006, and you have to wonder how these commuters are faring with today's gas prices.
Meanwhile, we maintained contact back in St. Louis. We made trips back to visit about every six months. We knew we belonged back there. Then in 1992 Kerri became pregnant. We both wanted our child to grow up in St. Louis, so we started making arrangements to move back.
In Feburary 1993, we arrived on our return move to St. Louis. A day later, we became first time homeowners, closing on a story-and-a-half bungalo in the City of St. Louis. In March, Matt was born, and the same couple who had invited us into their Dutchtown two-family seven years prior would be his godparents.