July 5, 2014

Stonewalled by Russian River

I had been wanting to make a beer run back to Russian River Brewing to snag a few bottles of Pliny the Elder. I mean, who wouldn't, right? It's typically found near the top of any beer favorites list, I'd have to agree and I don't normally care for IPA's.
Our quest.
My nephew, who lives in Oakland, was away on a camping trip so K and I opted for a day trip to snag some Pliny. It was Sat. July 5th, another good day for standby travel to the bay area. The flight schedules were a bit goofy, so my master-plan to save time was to fly into SFO, take the BART over to OAK where we'd pick up our rental car for the day, we'd then fly back home out of OAK. This would give us approx. 3-4 hours up in Santa Rosa with an outside chance of hitting a vineyard in Sonoma.


Baggage prep was easy, one carry-on going north with a bunch of ski socks for packing the bottles along with a couple of large trash bags for a makeshift cooler - gotta keep Pliny on ice until we get back to OAK!!

We got right on the flight to SFO and enjoyed some stellar views flying over the Sierras.
Mono Lake & the eastern Sierras.
Mammoth Mtn resort.
El Capitan in Yosemite.
San Mateo bridge on the edge of the fog, Mt. Diablo on the horizon.
We coughed up $19 for the two of us to ride the BART across the bay, waiting about 10 minutes for the train to arrive. The BART didn't drop us in the airport like SFO & the BART extension into OAK is still under construction. $3 more and we were on a shuttle over to the airport. OAK lists the rental cars as 'on site', but it's a rather large property, so once again a shuttle was required. By the time we picked up our rental, we could've saved the transport fees and flown directly into OAK arriving at the same time!! Lesson learned there.

Part of the reason we didn't get the rental in SFO was to avoid some traffic, that too failed miserably!! The 880 Fwy was jammed, then the 580 was slow going. Time was ticking as we exited the 80 fwy onto route 37. Ugh. More delays. Traffic was reduced to walking speed for what seemed like miles!! Things finally opened up a couple miles before hitting the 101, that too slowed down a bit through Petaluma.

We finally arrived at Russian River around 2pm, quick math told us we needed to leave Santa Rosa around 3:30p if we were to catch our 7pm flight home. Naturally, the brewery was packed, line of people waiting to get in and we were starving for some lunch.
We had to roll the dice with a line like that.
The brewery has great food, but with a line so long we knew we didn't have time to wait. We opted for a nice Italian place down the street. After lunch we bolted back to the brewery to grab some Pliny bottles to go. The line out front hadn't changed much, so we went to the backdoor - the to-go line!! It was much shorter, only 7 or so deep. By now we only had 25 minutes to get the prize. The fella in front of us was getting worried about his parking meter, when I mentioned we were catching a flight in OAK in a few hours!! He offered to switch line positions with us when I happened to overhear the doorman, 'We sold out of Pliny bottles 45 minutes ago'. What!?! Say it again? It was true, bottles were OUT, but growlers could still be filled. Unfortunately, we didn't have a means to transport a growler home. Rats.

He suggested a quick stop at the local Whole Foods, but that too was a bust. Sold out. So there we were, at the brewery, no beer available to take back home and we didn't have time to wait for one or two inside. Nothing. Zip, Zero. Zilch.

All we could do was laugh it off and head back to OAK without a vineyard stop too. At least it was a beautiful day outside and we escaped another hot desert day in the summer.

A few lessons learned for sure. Plan on spending at least one night, check traffic websites for the best route and don't get too fancy with travel plans!!
Probably the last time I'll see Candlestick Park.
Fog lifted over the east bay.
49ers new home, Levi's Stadium.
Caught a beautiful sunset illuminating the ground.
You win this time RRB!!

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