Loma Prieta Wine Tour – by Ed Benson, President of the Bay Area Thunderbird Owner's Club

President’s Mystery Tour – Retro Birds Lead the Way

Submitted by Ed Benson, President

Bay Area Thunderbird Owner’s Club

Well, the morning of January 21 arrived with threatening skies, and a trip over the route the day before by Prez Ed and Ms Donna, caused Ed to put out the call, “Don’t bring your classic Bird on this trip unless you want to spend several hours cleaning the undercarriage!”  So, when the 28 participants gathered at the Buttercup there wasn’t a classic Bird in sight.  Who then was best to take the spots behind Ed?  Of course, it was the retro Birds and they slipped proudly into their spaces.  We were to leave promptly at 8:30 (many complaints about the early hour), and who should call at 8:25 but Vice Prez Dave saying, “Don’t leave without me!”  We waited (naturally) and pulled out of the Buttercup ten minutes late to embark on our day’s adventure.

The group was promised a mystery, a ghost town, a nice lunch and a pair of winery stops (naturally, again), so our almost birdless group headed south on I680 to our first mystery stop, the Mystery Spot in the Santa Cruz mountains.  When we arrived the reactions ranged from, “what’s this, to I didn’t realize this place was still open; I was here when I was a kid.”  For those of you in the “what’s this” camp, the tourist attraction purports to be a place where a gravitational anomaly alters the laws of physics and gravity.  Actually, it’s really a perspective and spatial illusion designed to confuse one’s senses.  How else could Jim Hickey be shorter than Tom Schaffer?  The tour was great except for the rain squall that broke as we were standing around outside while being introduced to the world of wonder.  I told all of them to bring umbrellas!

At the end of the tour Secretary Kim took pictures, and they’re elsewhere in this Birdland.  Then it was off to the Santa Cruz Wharf for lunch a Gilda’s which has pretty good food and prices for a touristy location.  After lunch, Ed showed everybody the “ghost town” by pointing them to the Santa Cruz boardwalk and saying, “Now, what’s the best description of an amusement park that is closed on a winter, rainy day?”  Why a ghost town!  OK, it’s corny, but it got a laugh anyway.

After lunch, it was back to the mountains again; well, Ed took a bunch of participants on a short tour of downtown Santa Cruz by taking a wrong turn even though he wrote the directions just the day before.  The retro Birds were smart enough not to follow him, and they won the “race” to the winery.  Our first winery stop was Loma Prieta, and the owner, Paul Kemp, really rolled out the red carpet and poured his wine freely while giving us a history of the winery and the grape varieties.  He said that the winery was a hobby that kind of got out of hand, and we nodded sagely as some of us have experienced that with our Birds too.  The winery specializes in Pinotage, a varietal that many of us were not familiar with.  There was almost unanimous agreement that all the wines tasted were first-rate, if a bit expensive.

The second winery stop was Burrell School Vineyards, where the Sales Director, Dan Jackson poured the group tastings of several wines, and the samples we had were uniformly good.  If any of you want a nice day trip, head down to the Santa Cruz Mountains and go wine tasting.  There are three or four more wineries where we didn’t stop; all are on or near Summit Drive.  By all means, hit Loma Prieta though, and tell Paul or Amy, his wife, that BATOC sent you.

Around 4:30, most everybody headed back on 17 to return home.  I think I can say that a grand time was had by all.  Those of you who missed it missed a great tour of distorted special illusions, a corny joke, good food, good drink and even better fellowship among your fellow Tbird’ers.  Maybe next time, the classic Birds can even make the trip.