This is really an old story, but one worth sharing since it involved one of Scout’s favorite destinations in California. It’s a cautionary tale, of sorts. It’s wrought with familial conflict, misunderstanding, and one rabbit’s powerful hunt for culinary justice.
We went to Napa and drove right past.
How we managed to wander the Silverado Trail of Sonoma County for hours upon hours without so much as a winery sighting perplexes us to this day. For starters, you must see a map since all cautionary tales begin in a seemingly benign location that later transforms itself into some kind of haunted house of horrors. (We heard your pain and regret, Goldilocks, and have refused to sleep in strangers’ beds ever since. That is, until “Airbnb”.)
If you’re looking at that map and fixating on the lists of wineries to the left, I caution you to remember that we were inside that map and engulfed by those Sonoma hills. I wish I could say that we missed Napa the way you miss an exit on a back road country highway and drive for miles upon miles until you come across a friendly looking ridge, make a U-turn, and happen upon an idyllic village. But that’s not how we missed Napa. No, we missed Napa the way that some people set out to see the beach, make it to the swimming pool, admire the sunshine, and say, “Wow, I imagined it bigger”. Sound unbelievable? Well, THIS COULD HAPPEN TO YOU.
We’ve jumped ahead though and Scout is reminding me that he hasn’t introduced the characters yet. Well, there were 4 sisters + 1 infant + 1 Scout. It was the first time in ten years that all four sisters had been together without kids or husbands or boyfriends or friends or social cushions to fill the voids now gaping with 10+ years of familial misunderstanding. So, as you can imagine, cramming all 4 sisters + 1 infant + 1 Scout into a 2008 Honda Accord for hours without food or wine was absolutely no. big. deal.
Sister 1 (Rebekah) is the oldest and default mother of the group because she is, quite literally, the only mother in the group. While she only officially became a mother five years ago, she’s always possessed a maternal nature and is a natural hostess who anticipates needs and serves without expectation of return. She is, in short, a beautiful person. She is also, in short, an idealist. And we all know how idealists can be when things go terribly wrong.
Sister 2 (Sarah) is an adventurer and artist who gladly embraces the unknown and transforms the ugliest of experiences into something beautiful. Traditionally, her unwavering contentment in all circumstances has made her the ideal peacemaker. But there’s just one problem with peaceful people: when that vision of beauty in chaos is snatched from them, they are like a star collapsing in on itself. The remaining black hole is, quite frankly, terrifying.
Sister 3 is yours truly (Anna of Team Frymire). Scout describes me as a mostly stable person who needs to fix [help] people, places, and situations until they’re comfortably chaotic. According to Scout, I also believe that all familial conflict, whether minor or catastrophic, is representative of deep cognitive dissonance as we all try to reconcile our independent lives to the memory of the cohesive family of our childhood. Scout feels that if I was a therapist, this level of psychoanalysis might be justified. Unfortunately, I’m not a therapist. You should know that I mostly reject Scout’s assessment of my personality since I’m pretty sure I’ve been a pillar of calm and reason among the family. At this point, Scout wants me to add something about a lack of self-awareness, but I told him we’re running out of room on the internet and must choose our words wisely.
Sister 4 (Deborah) is the baby of the family and affectionately known as “The Deb”. She’s smart, determined, funny, and stubborn. Her stubbornness and unrelenting loyalty to those she loves has kept her from fleeing this family at the earliest opportunity. It’s no easy task growing up in a family of seven where two people are your actual parents and four people act like your parents. Through it all, “The Deb” has remained balanced and thoughtful as she looks for ways to encourage the problematic people around her. Which is why it’s still unclear if she insisted on driving the car that day in a city she’d never been as an act of service or as some kind of revolt against the pseudo-parents that had continued to boss her well into adulthood. After all, no one could blame “The Deb” for wanting to take the driver’s seat for a change.
Finally, there’s the infant. At the time, our “Liddy Kitty” was three months old and perhaps the most flexible member of the group. “Liddy-Kitty” happily rode in the car for hour upon hour with smiles and only the occasional cry that sounded more like a tragic meow.
At this point, Scout would like you to know that, like all cautionary tales, the warning signs were there and like all white women in summer flicks, we were the first to open the door in the dark without turning on the light.
Like all cautionary tales, the warning signs were there.
There are a couple of versions of this story since there were more than a couple of perspectives. As always, this perspective is brought to you by Scout (and Anna who’s typing on Scout’s behalf). Scout’s chuckling as I write this, but the humor is still largely lost on me. You see, Scout is a bit of a Napa expert. He’s hopped over to the Napa Valley dozens of times to visit Chateau Montelena and relax in the V. Sattui vineyards. Visiting Napa is an afternoon diversion for Scout so I assumed it would be the same for me and my sisters. No need for planning. We’d just “do Napa” in an hour or two. Apparently, you don’t “do Napa” in an afternoon. (Scout derives a great satisfaction from knowing that he sat back, watched, and proved me wrong. He’s really very smug for a rabbit entirely reliant upon my benevolence.)
The Unrelated Stop and Food
Our day in Napa began at Walgreens. This shouldn’t surprise you since it’s family tradition to make a minimum of two unrelated stops before arriving at your intended destination. At 2:00 in the afternoon, we were finally headed out the door when (and we won’t name names) one member of the group needed a particular test before they headed out for an afternoon of wine tasting. There was at least one phone call, three purchases, and a snack break before we were sure that everyone could drink wine that day. With Unrelated Stop #1 complete, we finally arrived in downtown Napa at the famous Oxbow Public Market.
Overwhelmed by the options and our ever-growing hunger, we all opted for tacos from C Casa.
We averaged 3+ tacos/person and sampled 90% of the menu, but if we had to choose just one taco, we’d ALL reach for this one:
Let’s just take a moment to discuss texture and temperature. Is there anything more wonderful than a good crunch topped with creamy avocado? Or a fork-full of cold, fresh crab drizzled in hot sauce? Well, if your answer was no, then here’s a free Scout tip: go to Napa and order a crab taco from C Casa. You live on the other side of the country and flights are expensive? Excuses, excuses. You have tacos in your town? Uhm… that’s actually a pretty good excuse. But seriously, you should want these tacos MORE. Don’t be discouraged by downtown Napa’s limited parking, long lines, or boojee white people. Ignore it all. Tune out the tourists. Carve out a window of time for lunch. Arm wrestle a small family for a booth. And sit down to a crunchy n’ creamy Tex-Mex delight!
Tune out the tourists. Carve out a window of time for lunch. Arm wrestle a small family for a booth.
And while you’re at it, refuel with some delish coffee from Ritual Coffee Roasters at the booth right next door.
Scout and I are glad that we snapped a few smile-filled photos before this next part of the story. Those photos will give you something cheery to cherish as you suffer through this next unfortunate event.
The Fairly Public Sister Fight
We’ve been trying to think of ways to put this gently because we really don’t want you to get the wrong idea about our perfect family. Yet, we’re committed to honest storytelling (yes, that’s a thing) so there’s no getting around this next part. There was what therapists like to call a “familial misunderstanding” and what regular people like to call a terrifying, fairly public, SISTER FIGHT. Scout and I have debated this for months now, but it can be argued that I (Anna of Team Frymire) started that fight. However, Sister 4 (“The Deb”) had the audacity to disagree with me so I think it’s pretty obvious who really started this SISTER FIGHT. In an effort to remove bias from this emotional event, we’ve furnished you with the following transcript.
Anna of Team Frymire: I’ve called EVERY vineyard in Napa and they all close at 4:00. That’s ridiculous. This is California. Not Oklahoma.
Sister 4 (“The Deb”): Vineyards and wineries are two different things. You should call the winery and not the vineyard.
Sister 1 (Rebekah): Actually, you want the “Tasting Room”. You should call the Tasting Room.
Anna of Team Frymire: It’s all the same number and the same place. It’s really bad business to close so early on a Friday.
Sister 4 (“The Deb”): I think we should just start driving and see what we find. Things don’t have to be perfect all of the time, Anna. We just want to be together.
Anna of Team Frymire: If we just wanted to be together, we would’ve stayed home. WE CAME TO NAPA.
Sister 1 (Rebekah): When I was in Europe, the wineries closed early there too.
Anna of Team Frymire: This isn’t Europe and we are going to a vineyard.
Sister 4 (“The Deb”): It’s called a winery. The vineyard is the grapes.
Anna of Team Frymire: Wine is grapes.
Sister 1 (Rebekah): When my friend came to Napa, she went to a Tasting Room.
Sister 4 (“The Deb”): Can we JUST GO. It’s getting late.
Anna of Team Frymire: I’m not going without a plan.
Sister 4 (“The Deb”): I have a plan: let’s drive down Highway 29 and see what we find. I’ll drive.
Anna of Team Frymire: Why would you drive? I LIVE HERE.
The Infant (“Liddy-Kitty”): Meow.
Sister 1 (Rebekah): I’d feel better if Deb drove.
Anna of Team Frymire: You’ve always thought I’m a bad driver. I’m a GREAT driver.
Sister 4 (“The Deb”): Can we just go?
Anna of Team Frymire: NOT. WITHOUT. A. PLAN.
Sister 4 (“The Deb”): ANNA. Lower your voice.
Anna of Team Frymire: No one is listening to me and I’m the one who LIVES HERE.
The Infant (“Liddy-Kitty”): Meow.
Sister 4 (“The Deb”): You don’t live in Napa… You live in Vacaville.
Anna of Team Frymire: …
The conclusion of this familial conference? Anna of Team Frymire was the driver (my car, my state) and sister 4 (“The Deb”) was the navigator (her GPS, her state-of-mind). If you think we lost silent sister 2 (Sarah) along the way, we had not. She was operating in crisis management mode with only a few ancillary comments along the way. She kept saying redundant things like “I think we might be overreacting a little”, “perhaps we can set our differences aside”, and “how about we stop by the informational visitors center for a map?”
Yeah… We ignored her.
This unfortunate story is only half-finished, but Scout needs his breakfast and I have work. (Coffee and blood pressure medication don’t come cheap.) Catch us on the floppotty-flop for “We Drove Past Napa Part 2”.