Logical Art Thou Among Vulcans

It seemed only fitting to choose Spock for this year’s holiday greeting. And just as our venerable Vulcan does, I will you all a most logical holiday, however you choose to celebrate the season. Here’s to 2016 and all the rambling I hope to do here at the lair. I hope you all will drop by every now and then for a visit. I mean, I can totally ramble to myself…but company is nice, too 🙂

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Fabulous Photo Friday: Zoonami!

This is the post that started the downfall of the lair last September. I wanted to find a nice photo gallery plug-in, which I thought I had. Turns out, though, that because my CMS was already crashing, the plug-in just served to bring it down even more. Strangely, that same plug-in still won’t play nicely with my blog. Oh well, just had to find a new one.

These are photos from a trip I took to San Diego in January 2014. For a couple of exquisite reasons, my time at the San Diego Zoo quickly became the pinnacle of my time there. I spent practically from the moment the zoo opened until right when it closed, roaming the paths, snapping tons of photos, and just standing, mesmerized, while watching all the marvelous beasties at play.

Here, then, are my favorite photos from that day.

Cinco de Loba

My world started falling apart a few months ago.

Not my actual world. That’s still quite spectacular, thank you. No, my virtual world. My online lair. Here. You may or may not have noticed it. Things started slowly shutting down. Things were never quite right with my WordPress CMS after some kind of glitch in a regular update many many moons ago, but it was never bad enough to cause me to have to fix it. I just had to work around the inconveniences. I couldn’t save drafts. I couldn’t schedule uploads. I wasn’t able to preview posts. Stupid things that started adding up to larger, more irritating things.

Then the degradation began to become worse, until finally one day my site simply stopped working. The posts on the front page would load, but links to other pages stopped working and links to the individual posts stopped working. And then.

Poof.

Nothing would load. Nothing would back up. Nothing would save.

Honestly? I was a little heartbroken. I thought that I was going to have to scrap the entirety of my blog and start fresh. Somehow, though, I was able to force the CMS to give one final push and dump out the text. I was then able to get Adobe Acrobat to give me a PDF of a significant portion of my site, and I was able to save the photo folder from my ISP.

It took a hot minute, but slowly, I got the blog back together, purged my old WordPress site and built it back up, new. I haven’t completely finished tweaking and adding everything back, but the foundation is there, and it’s finally and once more solid. It’s taken me another hot minute or two to finally eke out the time to make this first new post to my “new” blog. My actual world is, as I said, quite lovely holistically. Certain cogs in the wheel, however, are squeaky and require far more attention than I used to have to give them. Those cogs have been consuming not just a lot of my time but more of my energy than a salt vampire at a Morton’s Factory.

Yeah, I’m still a nerd. Nothing’s ever going to change that.

However, the longer the time that passed since everything went Louie Kablooie, the more I realized how much I missed coming here and writing, even if it was just a review of whatever book I’d just finished. Oh, and for the record, I’ve been keeping a running tally of all the books I’ve read since my last BookBin review and I plan on posting reviews of them. I just need to decide whether or not I want to do individual reviews for all the ones I finished in 2014 or just lump them together into one summary. Because, see, I don’t want this to just be a book review blog anymore. I kind of lost my way for a while and didn’t really have a whole lot to write about. I think that’s changed.

All I know is that I have missed coming here. I’ve missed my lair. I’ve missed writing for fun, for myself. So, like Norma Desmond, I’ve come home at last.

And this time will be bigger and brighter than we knew it
So watch me fly, we all know I can do it

Okay, enough Broadway. You’ve survived to the end of this post. Have this photo of an adorable kitty as a reward. He’s my dad’s newest cat. He’s skittish as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs and when my dad found him outside, he had puncture wounds in his neck from being attacked by a dog. He’s so nervous that it took three days of patience before he was finally comfortable enough with my presence to allow me to pet him. But he’s adorable, isn’t he? Who doesn’t love adorable kitties?

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Wine A Little

I went really deep into the contemplative weeds on that last post, eh? Thought I would lighten things up a bit by finally discussing something that I’ve discovered I really, really love doing. A lot. A LOT.

Naughty denizens, whatever you’re thinking right now…I’m proud of you. But it’s not that. Or that.

No. See, while another one of my Internet PersonalitiesTM might be known as a whiny hater, Loba would now like to declare her passion as a wine-y lover. (Ooh, overwork that pun, Loba!) I love to drink. True, I used to love to drink because I loved the numbing insouciance of total inebriation. Rite of passage and all that jazz, I suppose. I’m a bit of a higher-class drinker now. I drink to enjoy the flavors, the craft, the love that goes into these libacious fineries. I’ve already proven myself to be quite the beer snob, both through Darktober and Febrewary.

Now it’s time to do the same with wine.

For several years now, we’ve been making regular trips to both the East Coast (Virginia) and West Coast (California) wine regions. Virginia has surprised us several times with some really fabulous wineries nestled throughout the Shenandoah region, but none so far has come close to competing with what California has to offer. Whatever miracle of wind, water, fire, earth, and air that winemakers have captured out there, they have become masters (and mistresses) of bottling the magic in the most delicious ways possible.

First, a few points of clarification. When we visit California wine country, we stick with Sonoma. Why? Personal preference. Experience has left us with the opinion that Napa is overcrowded, overpriced, and overhyped. They have decent wine, sure, but not decent enough to support the fees and prices they charge. Napa is the Disney of Wine Countries.

Conversely, Sonoma is bucolic, relaxing, and they offer wines that are the most appealing to our palates. If you lean toward Pinot Noirs and Zinfandels and shy away from crowds and empty fanfare, then Sonoma might be the side for you, too.

The other thing that we love about Sonoma is the abundance of small wineries. I love going to wineries so small that their bottles don’t even have bar codes on them. I’m not trying to be “I liked that wine before they had bar codes” hipster or anything. I’ve simply learned that a lot of times (but not always), if a winery has become large enough that they’re able to ship large batches of multiple varieties and vintages all the way over to the East Coast, then it’s because they’ve hit upon a process that allows them to produce bottle after bottle after bottle of generic wine. Again, it can be generic and delicious—but it’s still generic.

Think of it this way. When you buy tomatoes from a chain supermarket, they’re tasty, right? Nice, pretty little hothouse on-the-vine tomatoes that all taste fine…and the same. And then you get tomatoes from a farmers’ market or, even better, from your own garden. They might not be as refined or as pretty as the hothouse tomatoes, but they’re fresh and warm and succulent. And the flavor! You can taste the difference—intense, rich, robust. That’s kind of how I feel about wineries large enough to mass-produce versus the smaller wineries. The mass-produced wines can be great (there are a few I love), but the smaller wineries are free from the pressures of mass production and can focus on cultivating a wine of intensity and surprising variation.

Like I said, today is my declaration of wine snobbery, denizens.

That all being said, whenever we’re about to take a trip to Sonoma, I spend a good week or more doing research. I pull out my map of the region and I begin to cross-research wineries there against wineries recommended by different sites related to the area as well as against personal reviews on Yelp or Trip Advisor. I narrow down the selection to a list of places I think will be good (or places we’ve been to previously that we enjoyed and want to revisit). I group them according to area, charge up my GPS, and I’m ready to go. So far, we’ve made it to more than 50 wineries (in both Sonoma and Napa). That might sound like a lot (okay, it actually is a lot), but we haven’t even scratched a patch on wine country, considering that Sonoma alone has almost 400 wineries.

So what’s the point of this post? Well, I’m not Yelp or Trip Advisor, but I do have some recommendations. I’ve narrowed my first list down to 10 (because that sounds like a lovely even number, right?). Some of these are wineries we’ve been to more than once. Some are wineries we just discovered—but their wines were so delicious, I couldn’t help but praise them. All of these wineries produce rich, bold, complex reds—so sorry if you aren’t a red wine drinker. I’m admittedly just starting to learn more about white wines, but I will be sure to indicate if any of these wineries have whites I enjoyed.

Oh, and enjoy a few of the multitudinous photos I took recently while driving around Sonoma. That’s another thing I love about Sonoma—even if you don’t like wine, you’re going to love the area. Stunning vistas and long, winding roads that duck through groves of ancient, gnarled trees cloaked in Spanish moss and meander through orchards and rustic valleys full of flowers and farmhouses and collapsing barns. I could drive around these areas all day. Plus, the perfectly aligned rows of grape vines do wonderful things for my mild-grade OCD.

And now, in alphabetical order…

Loba’s Top Ten Sonoma Wineries, 2014 Edition

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A. Rafanelli. We visited this winery for the first time during our most recent trip. It’s by appointment only, but it’s well worth the effort. They also are very amenable to making time to welcome you for a tasting. I didn’t realize we needed an appointment, so we ended up literally phoning them while sitting outside their gate; 15 minutes later, we were driving up to one of the most beautifully kept wineries we’ve ever visited. Seriously, this place is beautiful. Do not miss the opportunity to wander around the property after your tasting. We entered the rustic tasting room and immediately received a glass of the most delicious Zinfandel I’ve ever had. It was dark and luxurious, with a fine floral finish. They don’t offer many wines for tasting, but this Zin was wonderful enough to make the trip worth it. We also were lucky enough to meet the owner (who looks eerily like actor Ray Wise, who will always be Leland Palmer to me). He’s quite a gentle, genial gentleman, and the history of his family’s journey from Italy in the early 1900s to this beautiful winery and its wonderful wines is lovely.

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Bacigalupi Vineyards. This was another recent discovery, but another winery that shows the strength of its age and experience through delicious wines. One of the things that we learned from other wineries’ staff is that Bacigalupi is a well-respected vineyard. Several other wineries purchase grapes from them because of their quality and consistently praise them (which is kind of nice; Sonoma wineries are very supportive of each other). It’s only been since 2011 that Bacigalupi have run their own tasting room to let others sample their own blends. The winery produces a lovely Chardonnay, but we instantly fell in love with their Pinot Noir. Again, this is a wine that speaks to a deeper level of care and skill, with delicious complexity. Additionally, the family-run tasting room was a lovely experience; we even ended up meeting both the Bacigalupi twins, Katey and Nicole, as we stopped one day for a tasting and the next day to pick up a bottle of Pinot because we couldn’t stop thinking about it. Great experience.

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Frick Winery. What do you get when you combine a charming tasting room, an eclectic wine maker, and a line of wines so delicious that it’s virtually impossible to select one favorite? You get my favorite winery. Bill Frick is a viticultural virtuoso. He’s been working his vines since 1976, and it’s pretty much just him running the whole show. He only produces 1,400 cases each year, which grants him the ability to be very hands-on and selective with the whole wine-making process. The end result is a series of some of the most holistically pleasing wines I’ve ever had the honor of experiencing. He also offers one of the most diverse line-ups, especially for Pinot Noir and Zinfandel-heavy Sonoma. He excels at both reds and whites; his Viognier is elegant and coquettish, and his Cinsaut and Counoise are bright bold streaks of incomparable flavor. There’s a reason that we have more Frick in our fridge than any other winery’s offerings. Simply put? He’s amazing.

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J Vineyards & Winery. This is probably the most mainstream winery that will be on this list. It’s also one of our first truly great wine-tasting experiences (and the winery that introduced us properly to the Sonoma side of the wine coin), so J has a special place in my heart. They are gifted at Pinots, including several single-vineyard rotations that definitely wow and surprise with subtle flavor variations that make each worth trying. They also surprised me with some truly exceptional sparkling wines. I’m typically not much of a sparkling wine fan, but J’s line is atypically sweet (without being cloying) and refined (without being overly processed). Be forewarned though: They are also one of the most expensive wineries we’ve ever visited in Sonoma. Definitely a treat reserved for when we feel like splurging a bit.

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Matrix Winery. I nearly didn’t stop at this winery because of the name. Unless Trinity is going to be my sommelier and Morpheus is somewhere in the back, adding blue and red pills to the wine, I kind of think the name is a little silly. Then again, I go by LobaBlanca, so what do I know about serious names? I’m so glad we stopped, because Matrix has become one of our favorite stops since we discovered them a few years ago. They are a premier producer of fabulous Pinot Noirs, Zinfandels, (sensing a theme?) and Sirahs, including several awarding-winning vintages made with…Bacigalupi grapes (insert “It’s a Small World” theme here). Their tasting room can get a little crowded on weekends, which detracts from the experience slightly, but their wines have always impressed.

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Merry Edwards. Ms. Edwards, one of California’s first female winemakers, has been cultivating her viticultural skills since 1974. The result is unquestionably stunning Pinot Noirs. In fact, I would be so daring as to state that I think her line of Pinots are the finest we’ve yet experienced. Considering the competition (even on this list alone), that’s about the highest praise I can offer.

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Moshin Vineyards. What’s not to love about a winery with a giant hummingbird statue out front? Even when we don’t stop to go in, I love driving by this charming little tasting room. Inside, though, I know is a sublime line-up of amazing reds, including a fantastic Cabernet Sauvignon (which is more prevalent over in Napa than among Sonoma vintners). They also make a couple of delightful Chardonnays, but I always come back to their wonderful line of Pinots. One thing that I haven’t yet noted is that, with smaller wineries, variation is a reality…a beautiful, delicious reality. Vintages at these wineries will change depending on how well (or not so well) that year’s grape crop did. With a winery like Moshin, with several different types of Pinot Noir, you are bound to find yourself switching preferences based on all the wonderful, magical things that transpired in the process of getting from grape to wine. What’s even more fun is when wineries let you do a side-by-side comparison of different vintages of the same wine (something that Moshin has let us do). So much can change in the span of a year…

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Porter Creek Vineyards. Roll up to this vineyard and you might find yourself greeted by a friendly vineyard pooch. You will definitely find yourself floored by the beautiful view from the tiny tasting barn (yes, it’s a barn). Again, this winery can get crowded easily because of the small size, but the wines are worth the stop. Pinots and Zins, of course, dominate, but Porter also makes an exceptional old vine Carignane as well as a silky Russian River Chardonnay.

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Thomas George Estates. This was another recent discovery, but their wines were so amazing that I ended up buying half a case of their varieties (and would have bought one of each if I could have). They are equally skilled at whites and reds, with divine Viogniers and Chardonnays and Pinots and Zinfandels of impeccable caliber. Plus, their tasting room is located inside their wine cave, which makes for an awesome tasting experience. We were lucky enough to have a great sommelier, who had recently taken a trip to Virginia to sample some of their wines, so we were able to compare notes and exchange recommendations. We were also lucky enough to finish up our tasting and purchases right as a limo-bus full of tipsy bridesmaids (and presumably a bride) arrived to make the wine cave echo like it was being invaded by drunk chickens. Why mention this? To point out that wine tasting is not just about the wine. It’s about the sommelier, the location, the other patrons. I have no doubt that my experience there would have been far different had we arrived while the bridesmaids were getting their drunk on. In fact, I probably would have left without even going in. Just keep in mind that sometimes a winery needs a second chance to impress you (or disappoint you twice).

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Zichichi Family Vineyards. If you are looking for a unique boutique experience (try saying that five times fast after a day of wine tasting), then I direct you to Zichichi. This winery does barrel tastings, which means that they take you directly into their fermentation area and draw samples straight from the barrel. It’s really quite awesome. (True, they might do “regular” tastings, too, but I don’t think they do; at least they haven’t either time we’ve been to their winery). Also, they make some truly remarkable Zinfandels. I vacillate in preference between their Estate Zin and their Old Vine Zin (see? Tasty, tasty variation), but both are extraordinary. Plus, the vibe here is so…chill. You enter a beautiful tasting room and are greeted by some of the friendliest, most relaxed sommeliers possible (I’d be pretty mellow, too, if I had their view all day). Nice, friendly, informative staff and some amazing wine. Seriously, what is there not to love about a place like this? Just note that what they are offering from the barrel hasn’t yet been bottled…so if you like what you try, you can order it, but then you’ll have to wait a few months for it to finish aging. Trust me, though, when I say it’s well worth the wait.

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And there you have it—Loba’s top 10 Sonoma wineries for the moment. I’m sure this list will change. I’ve already started a list of new wineries for our next trip. Who knows what those might bring (other than more delicious red wines)? If you ever find yourself roaming around the back roads of Sonoma and you stumble across any of these wineries, I hope you give them a go. Or head to their Web sites and see what they’re selling (if you’re lucky enough to live in a state that allows wine shipments). Whatever you decide, I hope you enjoy. I also hope you have some really strong tooth paste…or just enjoy having a purple smile. Red wine—stainfully delicious.

St. Patrick’s DIY

Lå fhéile Pådraig sona dhuit, denizens!

Aye, tis a grand day to be Irish. Or partially Irish. Or just someone who likes to diminish an entire ethnicity down to one stereotypical pastime.

SlĂĄinte, indeed.

Regardless of your reasons for celebrating the day, please stay safe. As for me, the sudden return of winter dictates that I shall stay within the warm, dry confines of my lair for any celebrations. That’s fine with me, because I have the perfect brew to mark the occasion.

[Loba Tangent: I also fail to spell occasion correctly 95 percent of the time I write it. I don’t know why. Thank goodness for spell check.]

Remember back during Febrewary, how I returned to my ritual of brewing my own beer on a work holiday? Well, turns out that the prep schedule was such that my White House honey porter was officially ready to crack open for consumption this past Saturday. Rather than drink it then, I decided to give it a couple extra days and celebrate today with my very own beer.

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Look at that beer, denizens. Even though it’s not present in this photo, this porter poured out with a fizzy accompaniment of froth that dissipated to lines of carbonation crawling up through its beautiful carnelian center. I took a backlit photo, just so you all could see this gorgeous color:

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Also, look at how clear it is! I’ve finally gotten the bottling correct!

To be fair, even though this is supposedly a porter, that color, the mouth feel, and the taste are all more indicative of a red ale than what I would typically attribute to a porter. I wonder if perhaps the age of the recipe lends itself to this less-than-modern-day-porter conveyance of flavors and feel. Or maybe I simply didn’t steep the malt mix long enough. Not sure.

Whatever the reason, I hesitate to praise this as a porter. I also kind of wish I’d refrigerated it before drinking because, again, it’s not really a “serve at room temperature” beer. Then again, it’s cold enough in the house that this time, “room temperature” was still nice and cool.

Beyond the points I’ve already mentioned, this porter has a beautiful bouquet. It’s wonderfully malty with a frisson of honeyed sweetness. That honey plays through into every other aspect of this beer, with a soft, smooth mouth feel and a delightful flavor that remains on the safe side of sweet without toppling over into saturation. I do wish that it had a bit more carbonation, because if you don’t drink it quickly enough (and I honestly didn’t want to drink it too quickly because it was that tasty), it does start to go a bit flat.

In other words, Irish you all could taste this beer.

Ha. I see what I did there, and I LOLed.

Seriously, I am supremely pleased with this latest homebrew adventure. Northern Brewer wins as a new supplier for my homebrew dabblings. I have their Caribou Slobber kit downstairs right now, awaiting brewing, and then there are a couple other kits that I would love to try as I get more and more confident with this new process. All that being said, I would not be averse to giving this honey porter another go once I finish tackling these new flavors.

Putting the “Brew” in Febrewary

So how could I possibly call this “Febrewary” without actually brewing some beer? I just can’t, denizens. Therefore, I give you this:

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Seems that I’ve made a bit of a habit in recent years of spending my cold weather holidays brewing beers…a habit that I sadly didn’t continue throughout 2013 because…well, because life. That’s pretty much why.

Now, not to say that I don’t have a life this year, but I do have a bit more free time than I did last year. Plus, with about a foot of snow still on the ground and daytime highs still below freezing, I’m thinking that staying indoors on my day off isn’t necessarily a bad idea.

Plus, there’s the added bonus of recently relocating a gift card that my cousins gave me to Northern Brewer Homebrew Supply, that must have gotten lost in our recent move. When I looked through Northern Brewer’s brew kits and saw that they offered, among other tasty concoctions, a White House honey porter? I took that as a sign that my Presidents’ Day was set.

I’ve written before about my beer brewing adventures. I have to say that those previous kits can’t even compare to the simplicity of the Northern Brewer kit that I used today. In some ways, I feel like it was almost too easy…like I missed a step or didn’t have all the ingredients or forgot something or…I don’t know. It just wasn’t anywhere near as complicated as the previous kits made the process out to be.

Instead, the Northern Brewer White House honey porter kit was a breeze as well as way neater, way quicker, and way more fun. I’m not saying that the other kits were bad; on the contrary, they were the ones that got me hooked on homebrewing in the first place. However, Northern Brewer has shown that applying a little bit of creativity to a process can simplify and streamline it in ways that make everything more awesome. And who doesn’t want more awesome in their lives?

So right now, my gallon jug full of honey porter is sitting down in the dark coolness of our storage room (a storage room! Such beer-making luxury!), its little airlock in place, just waiting for the yeast to start the fermentation process. Minus the feeling that this was simply too easy, I’m very pleased with today’s brewing exercise. I was also very pleased with the Star San sanitation process I used. Again, made everything way easier.

This whole experience has revived my love for making my own beer. I guess I had forgotten how much fun it can be to create something that I love…and obviously, I love beer. Now that we have more space, including an area of the house where I can keep my brews cool and dark while they beerify themselves, I might start doing this more frequently. Hell, I might even start moving into deeper homebrew waters, beyond the relative safety of these types of one-gallon kits. However, I already have another gallon kit waiting in the wings once today’s batch has finished fermenting and I’ve bottled it. Plus, I have a little more money left on my gift card. Methinks it’s time to treat myself to some more professional brewing equipment.

Stay tuned, denizens. Bottling is only two weeks away…and then, two weeks after that? It’s Millah Time! (Only way better than actual Miller. I hope.)

OMG Update!

While testing the links in this post, I loaded Northern Brewer’s home page, only to find this: Wil Wheaton’s VandalEyes PA!

SHUT. UP!

Seriously, I wrote in my first blog post about my homebrewing adventures that Wil Wheaton was the main inspiration for my interest in this hobby in the first place. What can I say? I really am just a geek. Just like Wil.

I wish that I liked IPAs, because I would buy this kit in a heartbeat if I did, just to experience the love that he’s invested into creating his own beer. I bet it wins everything. But it’s an IPA. With an awesome name. So if that’s your bag, denizens? Give it a go, and be sure to let me know how it goes!

Also? This makes me love Northern Brewer that much more. Wil Wheaton. So much awesome.

Merry X-mas!

No, denizens, I’m not contributing to the “war on Christmas.” You know me, though…always looking for a loophole. And, in this case, our two lovely well-wishers would say nothing less than Merry X-mas. Think about it…what if, at the end of the series, Mulder and Scully disappeared to the North Pole and took up residence as that mythical toymaking duo, the Clauses? We’d all want to believe then, eh? Plus, they’d still be having crazy adventures with strange UFOs…just now, Mulder would be at the helm!

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As a special treat, click the small and get the full-sized version. Use as you wish. Share as you wish. I hope it brings you joy. And, whatever your pleasure, denizens, I hope your day is marvelous. Just like you.

Saturdays Are a Scream

Hey, there denizens. I was actually planning on doing a holiday-themed Flashback Friday for you last night. However, my plans were thwarted by the subject in question being way too overprotective about YouTube clips. And, trust me, this is definitely a visual.

Instead, I’m giving you this alternative. A few months ago, we took what has become in recent years an annual trip to San Francisco, both for a little bit of work and a little bit of play. Okay, it was all play for me. Part of that play was spending a few days up in the Sonoma region, as any fan of drinking is apt to do. Honestly, though, it’s also a beautiful region; I’ve got loads of photos that I really need to upload here at some point.

Today’s batch of photos, however, are all related to a bit of a pilgrimage that I decided to take this year. Any regulars to the lair know that I have quite a bit of love in my heart for the horror movie Scream. The film, set in the fictional California town of Woodsboro, actually was filmed all throughout northern California, including the towns of Glen Ellen, Sonoma, Healdsburg, Tomales Bay (where Sara Sidle was born; geek love crossover!!), Santa Rosa…places that we go through or to every single time we stay up in this area.

So I did a little surreptitious research prior to leaving, tracked down addresses, made sure I packed my GPS and car charger, made sure I had fresh charges on my camera battery packs…and we were off! Time to track down the locations where director Wes Craven made the idyllicly horrifying town of Woodsboro come to life…and horrorific death.

First stop was Woodsboro High:

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The location they used was in fact the Sonoma Community Center in Sonoma, California:

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The filmmakers were supposed to use Santa Rosa High School, but the City of Santa Rosa reneged after reading the script and deciding that the movie was too violent. If you watch the credits all the way through, you will notice that Craven gives a “special” thanks to Santa Rosa for this decision.

I found it amazing that Craven was able to take such a small space as the community center and make it believable as a public high school. I was honestly stunned by how small the center is, and how tucked away in a neighborhood it is. If you didn’t know its horror history, you’d drive right past it without a second thought, merrily on your way to one of the nearby wineries.

Of course, associated with Woodsboro High was Woodsboro Square, where all the kids could hear Principal Himbry tell them over the PA system how much he cared about them:

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This pavilion is still in Healdsburg’s town square, minus the overhang they built in front of it:

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And of course, the fountain where Sidney and her friends met up?

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It’s still there as well. I hung out for a little while, but Sidney never showed.

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Healdsburg actually doubled for Woodsboro in several scenes, including the police station scenes. The “police station” is now a little market. Ironically, the Healdsburg Police Station is right next door, which means that this alleyway, soon to be the location of “Bam! Bitch went down!”:

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Is still a police-associated alley…just with the police station on the opposite side:

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Next stop on my creepy stalker tour was Casey Becker’s house:

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The house, located in Glen Ellen, actually isn’t visible from the road. I found this to be true for both the houses I tried to visit. These foggy early morning shots of the mountains near where the Becker house is located are the closest I could get:

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Same with the Prescott house:

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The closest I was able to get to this house was to take a photo of the drive leading up into the neighborhood, but the big gate at the beginning prevented me from actually driving up there…unless, of course, I had been daring enough to buzz the guard and explain that I just wanted to creeper-stalk the “home” of Sidney Prescott. I’m sure they would have immediately let me in. Totally.

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It’s a shame I couldn’t get up to this house…not only because Sidney Prescott is one of my favorite horror heroines, but also because I would have loved to have been able to catch a glimpse or two of this amazing view that the Prescott house overlooks:

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These two experiences with trying to get to these houses got me thinking a bit more about the movie in ways that I hadn’t really considered all that closely. Got me thinking to the point where I started formulating my own “thesis” for some imagined film studies class…I would call it “Woodsboro: The High Cost of Isolation” or something equally undergrad-clever. Almost every house they used for Scream fit this same mold: beautiful, sprawling property, nestled far off main roads, cut off from traffic, from city life, from everyone. The initial purpose of this is obvious: You want your characters to feel cut off, alone, trapped by the killers. But there’s more to this if you keep looking.

Houses like where Sidney, Casey, and Stu live are muy expensivo. Takes a lot to afford these levels of privacy. So you’ve got well-off families, enjoying the privilege of solitude that money can buy. The parents of all these kids also obviously enjoy other privileges of money. Think about it: The parents are almost non-existent in this movie (as is usually the case with teen-centric horror movies). Casey’s parents are out enjoying an evening alone while their daughter settles into an obviously familiar “all by myself” routine, Sidney’s dad leaves her alone because he has an out-of-town work meeting (can’t afford a view that beautiful and sprawling unless you’re working some serious hours, Mr. Prescott), Billy’s dad stays out late, Stu’s parents aren’t even seen. The only parent that seems even remotely interested in her children’s lives is Mrs. Riley, Tatum and Dewey’s mom.

Even worse? Sidney’s dad leaves her alone on the first anniversary of her mother’s murder. Here’s a man either so uncaring or so emotionally damaged by what happened to his wife that he removes himself from the entire scene rather than deal with the emotions that such an anniversary would no doubt incite. Everyone has their own way of dealing with trauma, but he has completely ignored the needs of his daughter at this time. True, he was captured and perhaps he was meant to be home by the actual anniversary…but I don’t think so.

Then there’s Billy. They don’t really go into it a lot, but obviously Mr. Loomis was a bit of a dead-beat dad. Even though he was still there, taking care of his son in light of the fact that Billy’s mom left…well, let’s be honest, Sid…the reason she left was because Billy’s dad was a naughty boy who still liked staying out late, even when his son finds himself locked up by the local police. So the only time we see Mr. Loomis is when he comes to bail out his son. There financially, not there in any other way.

So no real parental supervision, including one parent who disregards the fact that he has a daughter still damaged by what happened to their family a year prior and another father not really that interested in how his son is coping with the fact that he caused the son’s mother to leave through infidelity. Oh yeah, infidelity with the now-dead mother of his son’s girlfriend.

Kids raised in environments in which they obviously never want for anything material…but are sorely lacking in emotional guidance and nurturing.

Of course, I’m probably reading way too much into all this. But I think there’s something there, some commentary on the darkness of material wealth when combined with moral or emotional bankruptcy. Of course, Mr. and Mrs. Macher might have been Ward and June Cleaver. We don’t know, though. Never will.

And now I need to go watch this movie yet again and look for moments to support this new thesis. Hope you enjoyed my tour of Woodsboro. Haddonfield next time?

H Is For Horror…

Ah, denizens, you know I love you all even when I’m not around. And you also know that I love Halloween most of all the holidays…so I simply had to come back one more time for October.

So I’ve been binge-listening to a “new” podcast recently (they’ve been at it for a while now, actually, but the show is new to me, as I have failed to keep up with several podcasts lately, including this one). The podcast in question is The Little Pod of Horrors, featuring two of the loveliest, funniest horror fans I know. Of course, listening to their shows has once again reinvigorated my love of the horror genre. This whole month, in fact, I’ve been watching pretty much only horror movies for my daily workouts. I’ve caught up on quite a few movies that slipped off my radar, fallen in love with a few, and even added one to my personal collection!

Now, some of you might recall that I have posted a few entries here at the lair dealing with my love of horror. A few Halloweens ago, I even posted a list of what I consider to be Loba’s Most Viewed Scary Movies. What I’d like to do today is expand that list alphabetically. Here’s the deal: I have 26 letters, to which I will be matching 26 horror movies that I consider personal requirements for that mysteriously contrived desert island stranding for which we all feel compelled to prepare.

Now, here’s where I’m slightly “tampering” with these rules (and they’re my rules, so I can bloody well do with them whatever I want). I don’t yet have personal horror movie favorites for the letters Q, U, X, Y, and Z. I just haven’t seen any movies that start with these letters that I consider necessary to my interests.

HOWEVER! This works perfectly for me, because there are a couple of letters for which I simply could not pick just one movie. Apparently, there are certain letters in the alphabet that are exceptionally popular with horror movie writers.

Do I think these movies are the hands-down, absolute best horror movies ever made for their particular letter? Objectively, no (for the most part). However, for me, these are the ones that bring me the most joy whenever I watch them, either for their merit to the genre or for purely nostalgic reasons. Will these choices change? Most assuredly, especially now that I’m getting back into the genre with much more gusto than recently. I noticed that a lot of these are older movies (and movies that I write and talk about a lot), revealing that it’s been a while since I was really dedicated to watching horror. Time to change that…but for now, this encompasses what represents, to me, really enjoyable horror (with, admittedly, a couple of thrillers, just to mix things up [and piss a few people off]) and a good sampling of movie options for people who might want to get a good idea of classic (or classically terrible) genre gems.

All that being said, I’m not going to write a lot about these films because: A) I wrote about several of them already in my previous Halloween list; and B) I don’t want to hype them up too much. This is a purely subjective list, so I know that there will be several selections that a lot of horror fans will respond to with “WTAF” looks…and that’s okay. But if you haven’t seen any of the movies on this list, I would hate to build up any of them and cause you to be horribly disappointed by your own experience. Really, just take this all with a grain of salt, eh?

Now…shall we begin?

alien

True, this is technically a science fiction film, but I believe this one falls squarely in the “sci-fi horror” subgenre. I saw Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner before I saw this movie, so I was already well and truly in love with Scott as a director by the time I saw this movie. This simply made me love Scott all the more. Plus, Sigourney Weaver is positively bad-ass as Ellen Ripley and makes an amazing genre heroine (of which there can never be enough). Also, H.R. Giger’s designs for the aliens are horrifyingly beautiful.

bwp

I will always have a special place in my heart for this film for many reasons…filmed in my home state, first “found footage” movie I ever experienced, atmospheric as all hell (which you all know I love more than anything), and utterly fun (unless you suffer from motion sickness). Yes, the three protagonists wear on your last nerve quite quickly at points, and, yes, they’re terrible actors…but that works for this film! If they were great actors, who would believe them as “real people”? Also, maybe the fact that they were so terrible in this movie is proof that they’re actually brilliant actors! Okay, probably not…but you can’t fault me for trying 😉

carnivalofsouls

Another one I’ve discussed here at the lair before. I wish I could explain more precisely why I love this movie so much. It’s so low-budget and silly at points, and I know that it’s not going to be everyone’s particular cup of pickled bat juice. But I love everything about this movie…how it was the only “big” movie the director ever made…how the idea came to him from seeing an abandoned resort at dusk…how many consider it to be one of the earliest “zombie” movies…there are so many aspects of this movie that could have spelled out “Disaster.” Instead, it all comes together as a wonderful little horror gem, waiting to be discovered.

dragmetohell

Spoilers: This is the only Sam Raimi film to make it to this list. As much as I respect his original Evil Dead and actually quite enjoy a great deal of it, this 2009 offering had me at evil buttons and grossed me out and scared the hell out of me and made me laugh in ways that only Raimi can make a viewer laugh. I haven’t watched this in several years, but when I came to the letter “D,” it was the only movie that immediately sprang to mind…others surfaced later, but I’m going to have to go with my initial gut response…I’d hate to suffer a face-gumming for my Raimi insubordination.

exorcist

This was a tough letter…and this was a tough decision. I love William Friedkin’s take on William Peter Blatty’s book (which, by the way, is an excellent read). I think this is one of the pillars of my own House of Horror Love and solidifies my opinion that practical effects still trump CGI in so many ways. Is this a movie I can watch whenever? No, I definitely need to be in a particular frame of mind to watch this one. It’s not a “put it on in the background” or “let’s crack open some rum and have a horror movie laugh.” This movie petrified me when I first saw it, and still sends chills through me whenever I watch it. I also love the poster art (and am now reminded of a feature at the lair that deserves to be revived at some point soon).

fauno

Okay, I’m kind of cheating with this one. The English title of this film is Pan’s Labyrinth, and when I first read the “original” Spanish title, it was listed merely as El Fauno. For years, that’s exactly what I’ve called this movie. Now I realize that it’s really El Laberinto del Fauno.

I don’t care, dammit. Pikachu, I choose you for my “F” film. Again, my rules. I think Guillermo del Toro is one of the most amazing directors in today’s cinema game. I’ve yet to see a movie from him that I didn’t love. His horror movies just keep getting better and better (so wonderful, in fact, that another of his films will be coming up soon enough). He is so masterful at delivering scares that so easily turn into moments of utter pathos. Horror with a soul. Beautiful. And scary as sin.

gremlins

Here’s a purely nostalgic pick. It’s even also shown up in my Poster Picks feature. True, this isn’t the scariest of scary movies and could have been quite scarier (the filmmakers wanted something that could attract a larger audience, however, so they toned down the gore a bit). It’s still a wicked little film with some pretty solid scares, great special effects, extremely funny tension breakers, and awesome little villains. Billy might be a terrible pet owner, but we all benefit from his inability to follow three rather simple instructions.

halloween

All right, you’re more than welcome to flash that “WTAF” look my way now, denizens. Not for the first choice, of course. Only if I meant Rob Zombie’s abomination of a remake would I deserve castigation for selecting Halloween as my first choice for “H.” Carpenter’s masterpiece is just that. There are so few movies from the horror genre that receive almost holistic love from fans (it is such a subjective genre, after all, because it really comes down to the purely subjective answer to the question “What scares you?”). I’ve encountered very few fans who do not feel similarly toward this movie as I do. Bottom line is that this is, hands-down, another undeniable giant in the pantheon of Horror Classics.

haunting

The second choice shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone either, especially considering that I even recently featured this movie in a Flashback Friday (which conveniently saves me from having to write about it now, other than to voice once more my love for this movie).

hellraiseriii

Now, Hellraiser III is a totally different story. I could have gone with the original from this franchise, which is sublimely scary in a rather surrealistic way. However, I love Pinhead. Doug Bradley is delicious as this villain, who wasn’t even slated to be anything more than a bit character from this particular horror world. However, you simply cannot deny the horrifying appeal that Bradley brings to Pinhead. The third installment is pretty much the movie makers acknowledging the gift of Bradley to their franchise. He absolutely makes this movie what it is: a cracking representation of B-horror at its best. Terrible acting (other than Bradley), cheesy script, wonderful practical effects, new Cenobites!, and Jadzia Dax without her spots.

Like I said, this is my very subjective list…

iamlegend

Nothing is more terrifying than a movie that totally destroys a genre literary classic. This piece of crap does just that. It absolutely dishonors Richard Matheson’s novella in ways that are brutally awful, including changing the ending and thereby nullifying the original meaning of the title. Well-played there! Besides, I’m trapped on a desert island. I need something to use as a mirror or a Frisbee or a way to signal passing ships.

P.S.–Did any of you really think I was serious with this selection? I’m not. I’d actually choose Interview with the Vampire because, dammit, it’s such schlocky fun. I just thought I’d give you all a bit of an extra jolt on this fantastic All Hallow’s Eve.

jaws

Back on track. Another one of those widely accepted classics and a perennial favorite at Chez Loba. I wish the Spielberg who made this movie still existed instead of the Spielberg who has to make most of his movies insufferably sweet. Oh well. If wishes were Horta…wishes would be really gross and kind of freaky and no one would make them anymore.

Or something.

Scary shark movie is scary. And fun. And really makes you think twice about dipping skinnily into the ocean (actually, the real horror of murky brown grossness now does that…I kind of prefer the fake horror to the real).

kalifornia

Here’s another contentious one, mostly because…is it really a horror movie? I would posit that it contains many horror elements…which I can’t really get into without spoiling a lot of stuff. It’s definitely a creepy movie. It’s also very violent and disturbing in a lot of ways, which means that it’s another one on this list that I can’t just pop into the player for casual viewing. It’s a “mood” movie. It’s also a movie that puts to great use Juliette Lewis’s natural ability to play characters that are both charmingly fragile and off-puttingly naive, as well as lets Brad Pitt excel at being something other than “sexeh.”

He is most definitely not sexeh as Early Grayce. Unless that’s your thing. Then go for it. He’s all yours. I’ll just be in the back of the car with Fox Mulder and Ensign Ro Laren (trivia: Ensign Ro rocked that red headband for several episodes because Michelle Forbes had hacked off her bangs for this role…).

letright1in

I love two types of vampires…and neither type sparkles. No, I either like my vampires horribly campy (thus, my real pick for “I”) or brutal and primal. Eli is the latter type of vampire. She does what she needs to do to survive. She’s also capable of protective acts of kindness, as shown in her relationship with Oskar, the boy next door. This is actually quite a beautiful story that just happens to rock some awesome horror moments. There’s a rather pointless American remake (because prophets forbid that Americans have to read subtitles), but I strongly recommend the original Swedish film.

maximumoverdrive

No excuses and no apologies for this one. It’s the only original screenplay Stephen King has ever written. He also directed it. He even appeared in it for a brief cameo. It’s terrible. And I love it. How can you not love a movie about possessed trucks, led by a toy company truck bedazzled by a giant Green Goblin head with glowing red eyes? Plus, AC/DC, King’s favorite band,” did the soundtrack, including this little gem:

//www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/_jvqPvDUEW8

VIDEO SPOILERZ.

Seriously pointless. Seriously awful. Seriously fun.

nightmareonelmstreet

Another double-header, with a twist. The first is the original…the second is the remake.

Craven’s original movie is the movie that introduced me properly to the slasher. Freddy Krueger truly is the man of my dreams when it comes to this subgenre. Don’t get me wrong: I love Michael Myers…but I feel that each subsequent iteration of the Halloween franchise slowly whittled away at Myers’ awesomeness, while sequels to this film…well, didn’t necessarily make Freddy Krueger more terrifying, but instead morphed him into a weirdly likeable villain. You might still be rooting for the good guys to defeat him, but you enjoy him while he’s around. I talk a bit more about this in my Poster Pick on this film, if you’re interested.

nightoflivingdead

As for Tom Savini’s remake of Romero’s classic zombie flick…again, this is a “soft spot” movie for me. The remake features two of my all-time favorite Trek guest actors: Tony Todd (whose turn as the Candyman so very nearly made it onto this list), and stuntwoman Patricia Tallman. Plus, it dramatically improves upon the character of Barbara, giving her far more modern sensibilities and turning her into a right and proper bad-ass. I’m not saying the remake makes her a better character, but it makes her a character I’d follow into the zombie apocalypse.

elorfanato

Uno, dos, tres, toca la pared!

This time, Guillermo del Toro puts his money where his acumen for choosing great films is, again showing us why he’s such a force to be reckoned with, not just in Spanish horror but in the entirety of the genre. He helps director J.A. Bayona bring to us another beautifully macabre story with one of those endings that just gut-slams you as only truly well-done horror can.

poltergeist

Tobe Hooper’s 1982 ghost story was the very first truly scary horror movie I can remember seeing. I get all soppy-nostalgic for it in a previous Poster Pick/Flashback Friday combo. For this reason alone, this movie will always have a special place in my heart. Plus, it’s quite a well-made movie, and one that I’m really not looking forward to Hollywood remaking.

petsematary

As for this second appearance from Stephen King, so many aspects of this movie are just absolutely spot-on: the gore, the scares, the creepiness, the ickiness, the humor, the Fred Gwynne. And Gage Creed. As if I needed more reasons not to like kids… o_O

ring

I’ve yet to see the original Japanese film. To be honest, if it’s scarier than the American version (which I’ve heard it is), I don’t think I could make it through the original. This movie scared the living love of horror out of me…and then right back into me. Plus, it’s one of those rare instances where an American remake does the original justice (because, again, we can’t be bothered with reading!). I have to admit, I’ve only sat through this movie once, in the theater. I own the DVD, but…I’m scared to watch it again.

SHUT UP.

I figure, though, trapped on an island, I’d have to get around to watching it again sooner or later, right?

silenceoflambs

scream

I’m not going to write a lot about either of these movies because I know I have written plenty about them both here already. If someone told me, after reading this list, that I had to pick one letter and I could only keep in my collection what’s associated with that letter? “S” wins, hands down. These two movies are the two on this list I have watched the most of any others and the ones I love more than any others…even when their franchise sequels horribly disappoint me.

trickrtreat

Relatively new find for me, but one that really surprised me…in great ways. Several vignettes come together to form quite the excellent story, with great special effects and a pretty impressive cast (I love how the stigma of appearing in a horror film seems to be less and less present for a lot of actors).

vertigo

Know what I love most about this Alfred Hitchcock thriller (yes, I confess, it’s not a true horror movie)? Watching it is like watching two movies in one. Admittedly, the first part is a bit of a slow-burner, but it’s filmed all through San Francisco, which I love. And the second half is so redeeming, you can forgive the first half for being somewhat lackluster at times. I wouldn’t say this is my favorite Hitchcock movie, but it’s definitely in my Hitch Top 5.

whatever

If you have never seen the glorious hot mess that is this movie, then get thee to a rental source STAT. Joan Crawford and Bette Davis, two actresses who notoriously loathed each other, as grand dames of Grand Guignol cinema? It’s just too wonderful not to include on this list. Watch the movie, learn all about the back story and what these two would do to torment the other…things like Crawford loading her pockets with rocks for a scene that called for Davis to drag her around…and Davis “thanking” her with a couple of cracked ribs during a later fight scene.

DIVAS. I love them. Subsequently, I love this film.

And there you have it, denizens. I hope this list gives you some ideas for movies to visit or revisit for some fantastic horror viewing…and if you have any suggestions for the letters I skipped…or replacements for the letters I used, click that little question mark below and drop me a line!

Unleashing the Writer: Switchbacks, Starshine, and Sunrise

I still exist, denizens. I haven’t holed up in a shopping mall to hide from the zombie apocalypse or gone looking for the Blair Witch or spelunking and never returned.

Apparently, I have been watching a lot of horror movies lately. What? It is October.

Things are running at warp speed on many planes of my existence right now, and sadly, I have had to reduce my time here at the lair in response. Only temporarily, though, I promise. I think about you all often, and I have been working on things to post here. I just need to find the time (and energy) to finish them.

Case in point? I’ve been working on this particular piece for an embarrassingly long time. It’s about our trip to Haleakalā National Park in Maui to watch the sun rise. It was one of the most beautiful natural events I have ever experienced, for many reasons. I desperately wanted to capture some of that morning’s events. I hope that’s what I’ve done with this piece. Even if it’s not that great, you at least get some lovely photos at the end, for your effort 😉

Eyelids begrudgingly slip open, pupils swiftly dilating, as my brain registers but refuses to comprehend the startling electronic trill or the cool blue glow against the otherwise perfect blackness of the room. The digital numbers pulse gently as my eyes struggle to focus and my brain drags itself from the shallows of an uncertain sleep. Those numbers: 2:45. In the morning.

In the morning.

Several fuzzy, futile attempts at addition and I realize that in “our time,” it’s really 7:45 a.m. In another world, thousands of miles out of sight and blissfully out of mind, I’d be at the office, pouring my first coffee of the day and mixing blueberries and cinnamon into my oatmeal. Morning rituals designed to ease my descent into another workday.

Cool blue numbers flicker to 2:46. Morning rituals are temporarily on pause and there’s no way but up today.

Roll out of bed and dress: T-shirt, long-sleeved shirt, jeans, baseball cap, and hiking shoes. Pack a sweatshirt and a hoodie. Try not to feel utterly ridiculous at the incongruity of such a wardrobe when it’s still a solid 75 degrees outside. Paradise should not require hoodies.

She’s already packed Kashi bars and fruit strips in her backpack, plus the water bottles the hotel staff so kindly left when they prepared the room for our arrival the previous day, and is standing next to the door, similarly sleep-deprived yet incongruously wide awake. “Don’t forget your cameras. We’ve got to go.”

Hustle across the softly lit lobby to the sound of waves cresting and crashing against the distant shoreline. We marvel at the fact that we’re not the only ones scurrying about. Families wait in irritable impatience for the valet to pull around their minivans. Other couples slouch toward their self-parked rentals. One young woman unrepentantly drapes one of the hotel’s bed spreads across her shoulders as she traipses off into the darkness. It’s surreal and slightly absurd, but the night-shift staff all smile knowingly at us as we pass, completely unsurprised. Nothing more predictable than the tides or tourists, I suppose.

Finally in our rental car, top definitely up for this excursion, and out on the main highway, I settle into a comfortable speed, roll down the windows and listen to the cadence of tires spinning us toward our destination. No other sounds but that. No other lights but our headlights, piercing the nothingness of night. We’ve left the other tourists behind as I roll through the blackness in this still-unfamiliar beast of a rental that growls obstinately at the slightest press of my foot against the accelerator. He’s seen rough roads, this one, even for a relatively new model. I can’t help but wonder where those roads might be.

I’m about to find out.

The GPS finally directs us off the main highway and onto a narrow road barely visible minus the crisp British voice entreating me to “Turn here.” I obey, and the ascent begins immediately.

The rental’s four speeds dwindle to one–a churlish, lumbering grumble as I force it upward along a seemingly endless parade of switchbacks that float out of early mists and bend onward into blinding blackness. Only the distant glimpse of headlights far behind and below shatter the surreal solipsism of this long night’s journey into day.

The world diminishes to the breadth and depth of our high beams as we wind upward, stopping once to pay our entrance fee into the park (even this early, the booth contains a pleasant-faced ranger, donned in forest green and topped by Smokey the Bear headgear) before continuing on to the parking lot at the very end of the line. We glide past a sign that marks our elevation—10,000 feet above sea level—and slip into the first open spot in what seems to be a nearly full lot. Check the temperature gauge: 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Twenty-five degrees colder than when we left the hotel more than an hour ago.

Twist of the key and the whisper of illumination inside the car falls silent against the indigo rush surrounding us. Already the cold presses in around us as well, and in only a few moments, the inside of the car matches the chill of the outside. In that instant, I make my choice: better to roam than sit and shiver. I am alone in this crazy bravery, and I slip out of the car into the shockingly cold night air.

Teeth chattering, I make my way slowly along the slice of sidewalk illuminated by my little LED flashlight. Several yards out and up, fingers so cold I can no longer feel the flashlight, I stop, fumble to click the light off, and look upward toward the night sky.

A misting of stars, like breath released from unseen gods in awe of dizzying heights and freezing winds atop a land forged by molten fire. Sharp, startled awakening within me as I stare upward, struggling to understand, greedily consuming every parsec that I can.

I have never seen stars before this moment.

I stand with head thrown back, no longer certain whether my shivering is from the cold or from the sheer delight of a night sky as I have never seen it…unsure whether my eyes water from the steady, sharp winds or from emotion awakened by this sight so inconceivable. Yes, Inigo, I finally understand what this word means, and my heart feels as though it will burst with the beating of jubilation at the beauty before…above…surrounding me.

Only at the realization that I have nearly lost feeling in all my extremities do I finally look away from the dazzling, dizzying night sky. I make my way back to the car. This beauty must be shared. I lead her back to the same spot, click off my light, and we synchronously stare upward. We came here for one light show and discovered that this morning was going to be a double feature.

Finally, we notice the faintest sliver of color along the eastern horizon, beginning to split the two sides of night right along the seams. We make our way along a lava-formed precipice, taking our place on a rock outcropping, snuggling together against the unrelenting winds, and wait. Let the main event begin…

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