July 22, 2009

Taking a break to attend the wine festival - and the race track

WATKINS GLEN, New York, USA - The weeks since our last national holiday (July 10) have flown by, with all the usual great lake stuff and this past week a sojourn to a huge wine festival, held at the Watkins Glen race track, better known for its NASCAR racing events.

But it transformed nicely for the wine event.

The great lake stuff included more sailing with my sailboat partner/co-owner Jennifer, who sadly had to leave Seneca Lake with her family to go back to Arizona and work after only one week here in Valois. :-(

She reached her goal - and very quickly. She wanted to learn the basics of sailing which she picked up in just a couple of days with a little direction from me. By the time she left, she was watching the wind on the water all the time - and then (like a good sailor) racing to take advantage of the weather window to get some sailing time in.

She did not miss many weather windows in her short time here.

Jennifer solo one
Jennifer solos for the first time

Jennifer with first passenger
Jennifer with her first passenger

Admiral Fox and I took out the Red Rocket for a sail a few days after Jennifer left, covering about five miles in a very short time. With some practice, we should be ready for this summer's Peachy Dandy sailboat race in the August. The annual race is part rum, part pureed peaches and lots of wind, most years. The past two years I have crewed for cousin Roger Beardslee on his boat. But this year it is time to strike out alone to see what the Red Rocket can do - unless we have 25 knots of wind that day, in which case I will see if I can jump on Roger's vessel (a stout 25-foot rig) again.

Here's last year's report on the Peachy Dandy events and race:
  • Peachy Dandy Race - 2008

  • The other regular summer event around the house has been evening barbecues. After years of struggling with those $20 tiny portable units (the ones that last one summer and then turn to rust), the Admiral and I bought a full-size barbecue and have been cooking everything but scrambled eggs on it. (The eggs seem to fall between the grill bars... I must be doing something wrong.)

    And a favorite - in addition to the normal burgers, steaks, chicken and sausages - is to barbecue vegetables.

    Veggies cooked for Anne
    Veggie night at the Fitz/Fox house

    Last weekend, though - when we went to the race track to attend the wine festival (our first time attending) we were not disappointed.

    Ironically (for me), we went up early in the day (10 a.m.) and though I came home with bags full of goodies by early afternoon, I never touched a drop of wine - though it all was tempting. We saw many familiar faces, including amigo Brad, marketing director for Hazlitt Winery, who showed us one of the Hazlitt offerings, a four-pack of one-serving bottles of Red Cat wine. Red Cat is the signature wine of the company and attracting a lot of national attention.

    In the photo below, I am wearing one of my purchases - a hat made of genuine sea grass while attempting to mooch some vino from Brad. Sea grass? Ok, that's what the vendor said it was. It could be ragweed for all I know.

    But it fits, dammit, it fits. And it is soooo comfortable.

    Red Cat promotion
    Brad shows me the Red Cat four-pak, but my glass stays empty!

    Sign of the Red Cat
    Sign of the Red Cat

    Hazlitt's had their own large tent and display area set up at the race track, but most of the area's winery's clustered in other large tents, making for great people watching, even if it was a little crowded.

    We stopped by the Pompous Ass Winery booth - not to sample the wine (which is supposed to be good), but to pick up some souvenir T-shirts.

    Are the shirts obnoxious? Absolutely... And that's the point.

    Pompous Ass Winery sign
    Pompous Ass Winery

    The capper to the day at the wine festival, however, was hopping a ride in a pace car.

    I have driven at speeds in excess of what the pace car did (100 mph) but never taken sharp curves at that speed!

    When I got in the car - a Toyota Camry hybrid - I asked the driver if I really needed a seat belt.

    I think he drove even faster than he normally would have, though the video below seems almost sedate compared to what it felt like riding in the car.

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