Wednesday, August 18, 2004

No Tri-Tip This Time

Last year I visited the Old Town Tavern to play NTN at lunchtime during this conference. I headed back there again today. I sat down and asked for a Coke and a menu. (Happily, I didn't even have to ask for an NTN board, as they were set up along the bar.) The bartender obliged with the Coke, but said that their cook had quit, so they didn't have any food.

Hmm. This looked like it was going to put a crimp in my NTN plans, but the bartender suggested that I could get take-out from the Chinese restaurant across the street and eat it at the bar. A little bit weird, but at least I got my NTN fix in.



I've enabled a feature to add comments to this weblog. I think it would be nice if this site were more interactive, but I will probably end up turning off this feature if I get no comments, or annoying comments from random people. (Annoying comments from people I know are expected, however.)

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Wine Tastings

Today was our free afternoon for the conference, so I decided to head to a winery. What better way to get a souvenir, I thought, than to taste some wine at a winery, and then bring a bottle of my favorite back home?

I selected the Fess Parker Winery on the basis that it was relatively close to my hotel, and I had heard of it. Granted, I had heard of it mostly through the Fess Parker Doubletree Resort, which I couldn't afford to stay in, but I had definitely heard of it. I try to avoid "celebrity" wines, but I gave this one pass on the basis that I was a little bit unsure who Fess Parker was. (It turns out he's most famous for playing Davy Crockett.)

I tasted the wines, and they were OK. In particular, the Sauvingon Blanc managed to overcome my usual distaste for whites. But I figured I should do better than OK, so I left with my only souvenir as a glass with a coonskin cap logo on it. It was tempting to get an actual coonskin cap to replace the one I had as a boy, but I restrained myself.

Still in search of my California wine to bring home, I headed down the road to Firestone Vineyard. Again, the wine was OK, and I left with another souvenir glass. I also left with an admonition to try the wine at Curtis Winery. My souvenir Firestone winery would get me a free tasting at Curtis. I tried the reds there (to avoid getting too wine-d up to drive, I poured out a lot of the stuff I didn't like), but was unimpressed.

There was a recurring taste that put me off, and I wish I could name it, so I could find out how to avoid it in the future. Maybe it's a component of Santa Barbara county wines inherent in the soil? I don't know whether to call it licorice, plastic, chemical or what. I taste it in a number of wines at Corridor Wine, our local wine mega-store, where I go to weekly tastings.

Well, at least I have my two glasses.


Monday, August 16, 2004

Really Not In Santa Barbara...

Last year when I came out here for a conference, I was staying over half an hour away from the university as part of my quest to make 50 nights with Marriott, and the associated gold status. Well, I made the 50 nights, I have the gold status, but I couldn't get a room there to enjoy the status.

No matter. Gold status with Marriott was last year's goal. Hilton is this year's goal. Hilton requires 14 fewer nights, allows me to count 13 nights that Christina stayed, and counts free stays (2 nights so far this year). That puts me 29 nights closer without really trying. 21 to go -- of which I've had 11 already this year. So I'm staying at an Embassy Suites. Ironically, I pass the Marriott and drive 20 miles past to get to the Embassy Suites in Lompoc.

It's a nice enough drive, unless Avis has upgraded you with an Isuzu Rodeo without great shocks and you've generally overindulged the previous 24 hours (brats while tailgating before the football game the previous night, 4 hours of sleep, too much creamy pasta and free booze on the upgrade to first class from BWI to LAX, all-you-can-eat shrimp and salmon at the conference's opening reception... Not a pretty sight.

The hotel itself was nice, but as there are evening receptions for the conference each day, I don't plan to see too much of it. It's set up like a compound of villas around a pool and a garden. The "suite" is really spacious and comfortable. The cook-to-order breakfast was nice this morning. I'm booked into an Embassy Suites in New Jersey in October; it should be nice if I end up going to the associated conference.