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A vulgar title, I know.  It really fits well though, you’ll see.

Let’s go back to last Wednesday night…

Wade and I packed our bags before we went to bed.  We also watched the Rangers and talked for a while before we went to sleep.  We had a very early morning ahead of us as I had to be at the airport by 7AM for an 8AM flight to San Francisco.  Wade was catching a flight to Detroit for a wedding in Ohio later Thursday afternoon.  I woke up at 3AM and could NOT go back to sleep.  I don’t know if it was nerves, excitement, or what, but there was no fighting it.  I was AWAKE.  I did a little work, took a bath, made sure I had everything I needed, fed the dogs and then, at 6:20AM I woke Wade.  We were out of the house by 6:30 and on our way to the airport.  They sky was dark and the clouds seemed purple.  We saw lightning flashing all over the place.  It had been a very long time since I’d seen lightning and this was a particularly scary show.  I was worried my flight would be delayed.  Just as he dropped me off, it began pouring.  We hugged and kissed goodbye.  By the end of the day, we would be two time zones apart with a 3-hour difference.

I headed to my gate to get a feel for the crowd.  I decided to just walk by the waiting area instead of taking a seat because I was thirsty and I knew I needed to get some snacks.  As I passed the seating area, I recognized a girl I went to high school with.  I couldn’t remember her name, but made note to try not to make eye contact with her.  It was too early and I just didn’t want to deal with that.  I walked around DFW looking for water.  I found Aquafina and couldn’t force myself to buy it.  I hate that stuff.  It tastes like pure lead and rocks.  I couldn’t do it, so I went thirsty.  I did find a couple of granola bars that I never ate.  After walking back and forth past my former classmate 20 different times, I’m sure she saw me and had the same feeling.  Eventually, I took a seat and waited for my two friends who were on the same flight for our trip to Napa.

They showed up and I pointed out our old classmate.  You see, I went on this trip with 4 other girls (Stephanie, Courtney, Kristen and Paige) whom I have known and been friends with since at least 7th grade.  So Kristen, Paige and I tried to avoid her (Kristen remembered her name) and she tried to avoid us.  Awkwardly, we were seated right behind her in the lobby.  We were in the last boarding group for this Virgin America flight…

“A for Awesome.
B for Brilliant.
C for Classy.
D for Daring.
E for Extra-special.
And, finally, F for Virgin Fanatics.”

We were the only 3 people in group F.  We boarded the plane and did a little seat swapping so we could sit together.  We chatted the whole way to San Francisco and we also began our “tasting” early with mimosas.  At one point, each of us had to use the bathroom and Carrie was sitting in the very back row of the plane, right next to the bathroom.  This could not be avoided.  We all said hi and exchanged uncomfortable “Hi’s” and “How are you’s?”.  Great.  That was done.

Our 3 hour flight landed in SF around 9:30 and we took a cab into the city to meet up with Stephanie, who lives in Nob Hill.  We headed out lunch at Witchcraft (of Top Chef fame) and did a little walking tour through Union Square since Kristen and Paige had never been to SF.  We spent some quality time in Steph’s neighborhood bar, which is conveniently located next door to her building.  It’s a really cute place.  Courtney’s flight got in at 2PM and she rented a car to pick us up at Steph’s apartment.  At this point I could not believe that I had yet to nap.  I was fading fast.  Courtney got to us at 3PM and we loaded up the SUV with all of our luggage and headed across the Golden Gate Bridge toward wine country.  Ironically, the girls who had never been to SF rode over the Golden Gate Bridge, but didn’t see it because it was too foggy.

The drive took about an hour and a half.  It was scenic.  The closer we got to Napa, the more vineyards we saw.  There was a lot of traffic because apparently there was a race in town over the weekend.  The 5 of us checked into our hotel.  We only got 1 room so we had to be sneaky.  We stayed at the Marriott in Napa.  Once we put our bags up, we headed to the lobby to make a plan for dinner.  I noticed a bunch of really large men in the lobby bar.  I mean, REALLY LARGE.  All of a sudden, it hit me…Oakland Raiders training camp.  Duh!

Yep, so the Raiders were staying at our hotel.  None of the girls believed me at this point.  They all tried to ask hotel staff, but of course, the staff isn’t allowed to advertise that they have an entire professional football team checked in.  We had some free wine at the hotel happy hour and then caught a cab to downtown Napa.  Our driver was super-slimy, but entertaining nonetheless.  He had a nude picture of Angelina Jolie attached to his clipboard and he kept making super dirty jokes.  Since we were already a bit loosened up from happy hour, we probably encouraged it.  Anyhow, he dropped us off at a bar and gave us his card so we could call him to pick us up.

We sat at the bar for about 2 hours and then made the call to Chris (the cab driver).  He picked us up and then we asked him to take us to the liquor store.  He did.  We wreaked havoc in there.  We ended up with two bottles of vodka, lots of mixers and two bottles of champagne.  When we got back to the hotel we changed into our bathing suits and went to hot tub with our booze.  We went through the bar and past an outdoor fire pit when, suddenly, Courtney stopped dead in tracks, pointed at a good looking man wearing a black shirt and yelled “DALLAS!” at the top of her lungs.  Obviously, this got all of our attention.  We turned to look at her discovery just as she yell, “We’re from Dallas too!”.

At first, I was confused, but it only took about 2 seconds for me to realize that she had spotted Glenn Pakaluk, the Raiders kicker, who is also currently starring on a new Bravo reality show called “Most Eligible Dallas.”  Finally, my proof that Raiders’ training camp was, indeed, being held at the Marriott.  We all got a good laugh at that and continued to the hot tub.  We talked for a long time and then were joined by two young guys who were interning on the Raiders’ equipment staff.  They really pissed me off.  They had no interest in football and I told them that they were wasting space for someone who was passionate about working in sports.  This went on for a while, but they stayed for my verbal lashing and when I decided I was done, we all left.  Courtney, Kristen and Paige went up to the room and Steph and I moved to the fire pit.  We met a group of 3 people from New York who were in town for a conference.

While we were sitting there a man walked up to me and said, “Mam, were you just over at the hot tub?”.

“Yes,” I said with a side-eye to this stranger.

“Oh, well I think you left your card over there.”  He lifted a room key from his pocket and offered it to me.  My demeanor changed immediately.  I thanked him and we started to chat.  He asked me my name and I told him it was “Stephanie” without missing a beat.  She just looked at me and sighed.  When he asked her name, she said “Bertha.”  We started talking about sports.  He was the head trainer for the Raiders, used to live in Texas, went to school near Austin.  I offered that I used to work for the Rangers, grew up in Texas and went to UT in Austin.  He said he worked for an Arena Football team in Austin; the Wranglers, and asked if we had ever heard of it.  Ummmmmmmm, I worked there too!  What a small world?!?!

We talked about former colleagues and all kinds of stuff.  We ended calling DK, one of each of our dear friends.  Unfortunately, it was 3AM in California and 5AM in Baton Rouge, where DK lives.  He answered because he was getting up to go to work.  This was a great surprise and I even think I was able to secure a Terrell Pryor autograph with my new-found connection.  We all moved inside to the bar and hung for a bit with other people that were in town for the conference from New York.  It was circus to say the least.

Steph and I headed up to our room at 4AM and I texted to tell him good night.  My phone rang almost immediately after I pressed “send.”  He was up.  It was 7AM in Ohio and he was getting ready to play golf.  We talked for a bit and then I dozed off until 7AM Pacific time.  A solid three hour nap and I was up and ready to go.  I rallied the troops, passing out bottled water and Advil to my wounded warriors.  Courtney and I went for a 3 mile walk and when we got back to the hotel we all watched some “Law & Order” and decided to go to lunch.  Everyone wanted In & Out.  I had some fries.  After lunch, we went to the pool.  They all laughed at me because I had on a hat, sunglasses, a light throw and a ton of sunscreen.  Steph said I looked like the Taliban or an undercover cop.  A waiter came out with a bottle of champagne and 5 chocolate covered strawberries.  It was a gift from Kristen’s husband.  Very nice!

Since Friday night was our nice dinner at Bottega, we all headed up to the room at 3PM to start getting ready.  We left the hotel at 7PM.  It’s not easy to get 5 girls ready to go in a tiny hotel room with only 1 shower and 2 mirrors.  The hotel we shared the hotel shuttle with a couple that didn’t want to sit next to each other.  The guy sat in the very back and the girl sat shotgun.  We offered to rearrange so they could be closer and Sam, the girl, said that she didn’t want to be near him.  We asked how their vacation was going and Sam scowled and said, “Well, I thought I was going to be engaged while we were, but I’M NOT!”

Wow!  How do we ALWAYS find the action?  We decided that we really liked Sam and that she would probably be better off with someone else.  Our reservations were at 8 so we hung out on the lawn for a bit.  There, we met two older couples from Michigan.  They took pictures for us and we took pictures for them.  Each of the wives insisted that the husbands get a picture with us, so we obliged and here it is…

From left to right: Stephanie, “Green”, Courtney,
Kristen, me, “Yellow”, Paige

After we finished our photo shoot on the lawn, we headed into Bottega for dinner.  We were so excited about this dinner.  Bottega is one of the finest restaurants in the country and one of our main events of the trip.  Before we left the hotel, I had the concierge call the restaurant and tell them we were celebrating Kristen’s birthday and to please do something to celebrate.  We get seated and a woman comes up and begins pouring “sparkling wine” into our glasses.  She didn’t say anything and then asked us what we’d like to drink.  We had yet to be offered menus and I didn’t know if that was part of the birthday bit so I said, “I know this question is totally inappropriate, but what is that for and how much is it?”.  She said it was complimentary and walked off toward a gentleman who would shortly introduce himself to us as our waiter.  They made no attempt to hide their mocking of our table, which all of us saw.  This was an issue.  He came over and took our drink orders.  He was extremely rude.  Paige asked for a glass of champagne and he corrected her (knowing full well what she meant).  At this point, all of us were on high-alert.  This man did not know who he was dealing with.  10 minutes passed and Paige realized that there was a fly in her complimentary champagne.  She asked the waiter to please get her a new glass and he did.  We all had appetizers.  I had the best calamari on this planet (not an exaggeration).  Steph had a poached, fried egg (incredible) and there were other apps as well.  We ordered our entrees.  I had the pork chop (which I didn’t eat), but I shared Steph’s meal with her.  It was awesome.  We were still being mocked by the waiter and the dining manager.  He made a comment about us not ordering from the wine menu and I took the bait.  I ordered a $110 bottle of wine.  It was my pride and a dumb decision just to make a point to this jack-ass that we weren’t idiots who had never been out.  At one point he asked us a question and my response was, “Well, were just from Texas and we don’t know about that kind of stuff.”  A little later Paige made a sarcastic comment that one dish should be entered into the state fair.  We were so ready to go.  We had been treated so poorly after we had our hopes up about a wonderful dining experience.  Unfortunately, we had to stick around for the birthday surprise.  They brought out lava cakes and everyone except for me ordered Bailey’s and cappuccino.  Note: that’s 4 bailey’s and 4 cappuccinos.  Finally, we were ready for the check.  The jack-ass made the worst decision of his life and handed it to me.  He quickly walked away.  As I read down the check, my blood began to boil.  He had charged Paige for her glass of complimentary champagne that had the fly in it and there were 6 Bailey’s and 5 cappuccinos on the bill, as well.  I got his attention and when he came to the table I told him that I’d like to speak with him away from the group.  He motioned for me to follow him to a quiet area and I began…

“There has been an unfortunate mistake with our check and I’m sure you’d like the opportunity to handle this in a manner indicative of your fine reputation…”

I didn’t know where these words were coming from, but I just kept going.

“You charged my friend for the complimentary glass of champagne that had a fly in it and we both know that’s not correct.”

He said, “well, she asked for a new glass.”

I took a deep breath and smiled patronizingly, “again, I can’t imagine that you wouldn’t want to handle this mistake on your own before we need to get someone else involved.”

He grabbed the check out of my hand and walked away.  He came back to the table and had removed it. I was too beat down to even deal with the extra Bailey’s and cappuccinos.  If the restaurant was hurting so badly that it needed to nickel and dime the patrons, they had far more to be concerned with than anything I could present them with.  We settled up and left.  The hotel shuttle service picked us up and Kristen and Paige wanted to stop for cigarettes.  They came back to the shuttle with (5) 40 oz. Bud Lights in brown paper bags.  They definitely lightened the mood.  In the shuttle, we called a gentleman we had met in the hotel VIP lounge at breakfast.  He looked Tongan so we started talking to him.  He was Samoan, but was familiar with Euless, TX (our high school town).  We found out that he owned a nice bar in downtown Napa so we got his number and told him we’d call him after our dinner.  We had Hardt, the shuttle driver, drop us off.   We finished our 40’s on a corner and then we went into Morimoto (his club) and stayed for 45 minutes.  It was packed and we were just so annoyed.  We ended up going to another club down the street.  This was more laid back and we met some other people there who offered to open up their restaurant for us to use the restroom.  Since the line was 80 miles long, we took them up on it.  After that, we called a cab and had the driver take us to the liquor store for more champagne and beer.  The cab driver dropped us off at the hotel and as we were walking in Kristen was complaining that we wouldn’t have anything to drink.  She was obviously inebriated since we had just purchased about $100 worth of booze at the liquor store and she didn’t notice.  I sarcastically said, “We just got a ton of beer and champagne, ya Nightmare Bitch.”

Everyone died laughing.  It was determined that “nightmare bitch” was an instant classic.  I felt proud.  This night had turned around.  We took our drinks to the lobby and got kicked out of every possible area in the hotel.  Finally, we decided to head upstairs.  It was 4AM…again.  We had to be on our tour bus for wine tasting at 10AM.

I woke up at 8 on Saturday morning.  Again, I passed out Advil and bottled waters like a busy army nurse and the girls were ready in no time.  We skipped breakfast and walked like zombies to our tour bus.  Thankfully, it was just us on the bus.  Our tour guide Sue probably wanted to die when she saw us.  She kept talking to us and she kept getting zero response.  I can’t imagine what our faces looked like.  We were all exhausted and dehydrated from our adventures up to this point.  Sue kept talking and talking.  Nobody was listening.  We were asleep with our eyes open.  Somehow, we made it to our first winery – Domaine Chandon (sparkling wine).

Look at those fake smiles!  Left to right: Courtney, Steph, Kristen, me, Paige

The property was beautiful and the building had a very modern, but natural look and feel.  This is one of the larger vineyards and the winery was packed.  We wasted no time bellying up to the bar for some bubbly.  We walked out of there with 2 cases of champagne, Courtney and I had joined their club, and we were back to our old fun selves again.  I’m sure Sue wanted to verify that we were the same people that she had dropped off an hour previously.

Our next stop was Keenan Winery.  This was the complete opposite of Domaine Chandon. The produce only about 10,000 cases a year.  It’s family owned and operated.  The vineyards and winery are way up a mountain and the steep twists and turns quickly turned our buzz into car sickness.  Everyonen was winding down again.  When we had arrived and stepped out of our bus, we were in front of a quaint, but charming little cabin-like building.  It felt like Europe.  My ears couldn’t even comprehend the deafening quiet.  It was incredible.  To top it all off, a big black shaggy dog greeted us.  His name was Scrappy.  This was HEAVEN.
In front of the vineyards at Keenan.  It’s solar powered and
sustainably farmed.
This inside of the winery was dark and the air was thick.  This place was old.  The first thing I noticed was a giant armoire.  It was absolutely beautiful and it must have been 14′ tall.  I asked about it and it was built in France in 1750.  I was in awe.  One of the ladies walked us through the wine-making process and we even got to eat grapes right off the vine.  Some were not ready yet, but the ones that were were magnificent!
About to eat some grapes!
While we were doing our tour, Sue had set up a picnic lunch overlooking the vineyards and all of Napa Valley.  This was perfect!  I couldn’t even believe how perfect it all was.  I really felt so blessed to be with my dearest friends in such a beautiful place eating a simple picnic lunch.  After lunch, we headed out to our 3rd stop.  Sue said that we HAD to go to this place.  It was a store, Napa Valley Oil Shop, that had all kinds of locally grown/produced bath and cooking oils.  I chose to stay in the car because I didn’t want to spend a million dollars and I needed a nap.  I got a 20 minute nap in at the back of the bus and that was probably the BEST decision I made the entire trip.  When the other girls got back, Courtney gave me some “bath tea” which was really sweet.  I can’t wait to use it.
On to the next winery – Frog’s Leap.  This was a hippie little place.  It had the most beautiful gardens and the place was packed.  There were games on the lawn and bush mazes.  It was awesome.  Again, totally different from the other places we had been.  We sat out in some adirondack chairs and began to recap our trip.  “Nightmare Bitch” was a hot topic.  We decided that it’s the name of our company.  I can’t even begin to tell you what our company does besides “event planning and taking care of business – hardcore.”  We were delirious, but we were in tears from laughing.
Me and Kristen…where Nightmare Bitch was born.
We got back to the bus and on the way to our last stop Sue overheard us planning world domination with our new company.  Apparently, Sue used to pitch show ideas to networks and she thinks that we would make for good tv.  Seriously, this came out of nowhere.  Sue had been strictly business up to this point; only talking wine and scenery.  Suddenly, Sue was not just the bitter lesbian driving us around to get drunk.  The second Sue offered up this information, we took it and ran with it.  Sue was a nightmare bitch too.  We could probably use a lesbian to help us “take care of business.”  We said that Nightmare Bitch offers quick solutions to any problem.  For example, if a guy broke up with you and took your stuff, Nightmare Bitch would take the NB semi and back it up into the guy’s house.   A team of NB’s would jump out of the truck, grab your things, load ’em up and the semi would screech it’s tires as it sped away.  NB could also be subtle.  Sue suggested injecting tapeworms into a person’s steak if they pissed you off.
We could hardly talk.  It was the most fun I’ve had in years.  When we got to our last winery, Silverado, we we continued our business plan for nightmare bitch and determined that we would probably take over this winery as our World Headquarters.  The view was amazing…
Nightmare Bitch, Founders.
This was a perfect way to end the day.  Yet again, this winery had a personality all it’s own.  It was big, but very quite and upscale.  Nightmare Bitches probably didn’t belong there after a day of drinking, but we enjoyed it nonetheless.
Perfect end to a perfect day!
Sue got us all onto the bus and we continued making up NB scenarios.  She was definitely sad to see us go when we were dropped off at the hotel.  She did get all of our contact information though.  She seemed pretty serious about developing a treatment for a TV show.  Well see how that goes…
When we got back to the hotel, we ran into Danica Patrick.  Remember that race I mentioned earlier?  Yeah.  Courtney literally ran into her.  I mean, could we have chosen a cooler hotel?  We ended up having dinner with her assistant and then we went off to the hot tub again.  After the hot tub, we showered, packed and laid in our pajamas and rented “Bridesmaids.”  It was a great way to end our trip. We ordered pizza and laughed even more.  I didn’t get to sleep until about 1, but I was up at 6:45AM.  There was no point that I wish the trip ended.  Certainly, I missed Wade and the dogs, but I was so busy and so entertained the whole time that I didn’t have a chance to sit and wish I was at home.  Now,every beautiful view and delicious sip of wine I thought, I want to be sharing this with Wade, but it wasn’t about being home in my own bed or anything like that. It probably helped that he was also 2,000 miles away from home and being in your own bed isn’t fun unless you have someone to cuddle with!
Sunday morning, we loaded up the car, drove back to SF, dropped off Steph and the 4 Texans headed to the airport.  Again, I was on the same flight as Kristen and Paige.  We didn’t have to beg strangers to trade seats.  This time we were all in the same row.  Unfortunately, that was one row behind a man that puked violently the whole flight home.  I’ve never been so happy to get off a plane.  It was disgusting – the sounds, the smell, the thought…YUCK!
My mom picked me up at the airport and I came home to my Wade and my pups.  It felt awesome to unpack and to take a bath.  Wade ordered pizza and we laid on the couch and watched TV.  I slept well last night, but I woke up 5:45 this morning.  Where did all this energy come from?  I like it!  I’ll keep it!
Now, things will settle a bit.  No traveling, just normal life and baseball play-offs.  Thank goodness.  I could go without any big accomplishments, trips, changes for a a while.
Blessings!
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