Adventure

A Nice Wine Country Run in Sonoma

So, my lovely lady, Kim, ran a half marathon in Healdsburg, CA. Some of you know that that is what we call Wine Country! Or as the I, the Maverick Adventurer call it, “My Playground!” I love this part of the world. I have been to wine areas all over the world – Australia, New Zealand, Paris, Canada, etc, but I have always enjoyed the Napa/Sonoma area the best. It’s just my taste. So when my gal runs a marathon there, what on Earth is a growing boy to do, but go and support his sweetie. Oh, and taste some wine……

kimberly-spencer-spike-spencer-healdsburg-sonoma

So a little about Healdsburg. Walking around the tiny town is a joy. Just like so many of the little towns in this region, there is a warm feeling of a common love of all things wine, food, and quality. Everything is clean and well kept, the people are friendly, and the vibe is laid back. Though there is a bit of a rivalry between Sonoma and Napa, I believe the overall sense of the region to be open and inviting. Even though Napa’s wineries charge a lot more than Somoma. Just sayin.

While in Healdsburg we dined at Willies, an unassuming local place that simply blew me away with dishes like the Caramelized Butterfish w/ Miso Vinaigrette & Exotic Mushrooms (below) and the Hamachi Ceviche with Rocoto Chili, lime juice, and Pepitas. Both dishes were exquisitely prepared and perfectly presented. The service was excellent and our server, Gabriell, was knowledgeable and friendly with great hints about other wineries to visit later in the day. I highly recommend Willie’s!

willies-sonoma-restaurant

Then we popped next door to the Toad Hollow Vineyards tasting room. Another unassuming storefront that did not belie a truly great wine tasting experience. Fun, inviting, whimsical, and friendly yet again. And, did I mention, free? Our host, Travis, was not just a tasting helper, but also a marathoner, swimmer, and fitness coach. Kim and he got along swimmingly. Nyuck nyuck nyuck. The wines were lovely. Though nothing jumped out at us, I will most definitely go back for the fun vibe. And, of course, the tasty wines!

toad-hollow-tasting-room

Then there was Santa Rosa. Nice place, but definitely a bit of a different vibe. As far as “Adventuring” goes, there definitely was some of that. One of the things I do when I travel is I tend to stay at budget motels and such. Big fan of Motel 6, and I will have a great one to tell you about later. I figure, you are not there for the sleep, you are there for the ADVENTURE! But the Santa Rosa stay was at a bunghole of a rat trap called the Vagabond Inn. Wheeere to start?!? Crappy bed, crappy pillows, crappy water, crappy coffee, crappy area, crappy vibe, crappy lady running the place, crappy guy passed out at the bottom of the stairs, crappy crappy crappy! Let’s just say, I won’t be staying there again. Run from this place!

But there were a couple of nice eateries that I discovered in Santa Rosa. One was called Piner Cafe where I had a really great blue cheese burger (pictured below). Nice family friendly feel here. Don’t let my sad alliteration or the tatted up waitresses scare you; they were really very sweet and attentive. There was plenty of food at a good price. And that burger was damn good!

Piner-Cafe-burger.jpg

And there was another tasty burger to be had the same day at Brody’s. (Yeah, I know, I need a frickin salad or two.) The burgers here were varied and happily grass fed, hormone free and such. And they were executed well. Another draw are $1.50 pint brews on tap. Good on ya! Oh, and quite tasty onion rings, crunchy and substantially thick cut. If ya know me, ya know I’m always looking for the best onion rings. The building used to be a fast food joint or something similar and still has that feel, but they have made it a little more interesting with a TV and some local “color” aka drunken, sport junky, revelers. But not completely trailer park, ya’ll.

The wine find in Santa Rosa was the Siduri and Novy. This is a winery located in a business block warehouse area, not what I expected. And, again, the tastings here are complimentary. The wines were very nice with grapes sourced from all over. Pinot Noir and Syrahs were the predominant varietals here. On both of which I have mixed feelings, but I find Sonoma and Napa to have the best in the world. The discovery for me here was a Blanc Pinot Noir from the Novy side. Yep, I said Blanc. I was unaware there was such a thing! I’m a red wine guy almost exclusively, but this smoky, slightly fruity toned and refreshing wine was a nice surprise and now holds a place on my shelf.

The final stop in Sonoma for us was at the Paradise Ridge Winery (prwinery.com). This place has a really interesting art sculpture garden that greets you on the drive up. This place has a $10 tasting fee  that is waived upon purchase. We received a 2 for 1 complimentary tasting, and I’m quite sure that was due to my sparkly lady. They have a gourmet chef on site and they provide food pairing suggestions with each wine that made the Foodie in me quiver and really want to cook! The wines were robust and the scenery was lovely as well. The art was modern and interesting to downright weird and macabre. But overall, an enjoyable experience that I can recommend.

sonoma-wine-country

So that was the Sonoma quickie trip! I am sure I will be back to explore the area even more. So go visit the area, taste some wine, take a lovely stroll in downtown Healdsburg, and whatever you do, steer clear of the Vagabond Inn in Santa Rosa!

Pick Pocket Adventures Make Great Date-Tales

In this video I tell you about how to be a Maverick Adventurer in your own life. Get out in the world and do awesome things! Like the story of when I was in Barcelona and got my pocket picked. And then I picked it right back. True story.

I also reference “Becoming a Maverick Adventurer!” – one of the articles that I wrote for Neil Strauss’ blog. Definitely head over to Neil’s site and check it out for some great tips on upping your game close to home and on a budget!

So Ya Goin' to Sydney? Good on Ya, Mate?

Sydney is one of my favorite cities on the planet! There is so much to do and see that you will never do it in one trip. And enjoying it with someone you love, only makes it that much better. But whether you are there on a “Dateventure” or solo, it is a great adventure that awaits you. I may not get big on specifics here, but I can give you a smattering of the best places I have uncovered in Sydney and the surrounds.

sydney-australia

First stop- get thee to Bondi! Bondi Beach is an absolute must see. Not only is it one of the most famous beaches in the world (it was the beach volleyball location for the Summer Olympics) but it’s also one of the prettiest. Every time I hit Sydney, I make a sojourn over to Bondi to walk along the shore, ramble through the local shops, and take a short hike north to seek my little secret perch overlooking the beautifully ragged coast unimpeded. To get there, look north while on the beach and you will see a golf course up on the hill. Follow the beach road heading that way til you pass the main bus terminal. Not too much further, you will see a bus stop to your left. To your right, there will be a staircase seemingly to nowhere. Take it. It leads you to a green belt area where some locals walk their dogs and such. From here head straight over toward the sea. You will have to hoof it quickly across the golf course. Not too fast though, you may just fall right off into the ocean. Not good. But once there, you will be treated to this:

bondi-beach-sydney

The last time I was there, I sat and watched as a pod of whales slowly made their way out to sea. It was simply magical. Oh, but before you head up on such a hike, you should fuel up on a good old fashioned Australian breakfast, or “brekky,” as they call it. You can find many great places to enjoy one, and Bondi does it right:

aussie-brekky

Ever since my first foray into an Aussie brekky, I have been fond of beans on toast! So now that you are full and have had a nice eye full of Bondi beauty, let’s get back to town!

Sydney is most definitely a great walking city. So much to see. I recommend a few choice attractions. First, you MUST take a walk across the Sydney Harbor Bridge! Don’t argue with me. GO! One of my most cherished memories is taking a morning jog across the bridge on a foggy morning. As the sun rises higher, it burns away the mist, slowly revealing the peaks of the Opera House rising like talons out of the bay. Breathtaking. Imagine seeing it from this perch:

sydney-opera-house

Now get back over the bridge and prepare yourself for some serious shopping at Paddy’s Markets. You will find hundreds of bargain stalls selling everything you can think of. This is where you will find lots of goodies for the friends back home. Paddy’s is smack dab in the heart of Chinatown as well, so be sure and grab some dim sum or yum cha while you are there.

You will need to spend a day walking all around the Royal Botanical Gardens. Here you will enjoy great views of downtown as well as the view of the bridge and the opera house seen at the beginning of this blog. Be sure to hang out around sunset to see the flying foxes zipping through the air and a cockatoo or two shouting at them. Kinda freaky, but cool.

You will undoubtedly spend plenty of time wandering all around Circular Quay and the Opera House. Dining around there is a nice idea, but I recommend getting out of the touristy area for that. You will find plenty of great places nearby over at one of my favorite areas, The Rocks; not a long walk at all. 2 of my faves over that way fight for the title of the oldest pub in Sydney. I like them both! So check out the Lord Nelson Brewery Hotel and the Hero Of Waterloo. You will not be disappointed at either. Although, you can get a Cellar Ghost Tour over at the Waterloo. Just sayin…

If you are able, I highly recommend taking a sailboat out on the harbor, like the Maverick Adventurer does…

spike-spencer-sydney

Or take a nice little ferry trip to explore the surrounding little cities like Manly. Or just take tons of pictures along the coast, the choice is all yours! You will want to check out all around the Darling Harbour area too, which is full of shopping, museums, restaurants, clubs, and attractions of all kinds. Like I said, just waaaaander all over and enjoy!

No matter where you go, you simply must dig into my favorite Aussie food, a tasty meat pie! One filled with Kangaroo is my favorite… Seriously. I always eat some Kangaroo when I’m down undah. I’ve even had kangaroo pizza! One of the classic places to enjoy a meat pie culinary wonder is a famous little place in Woolloomooloo called Harry’s Cafe De Wheels. It’s been around continuously (more or less) since the Great Depression and serves up a great “Pie and Peas” or, my favorite, “The Tiger”- named after the owner, Harry “Tiger” Edwards- a chunky beef treat that is topped with mashed potatoes and peas and covered with gravy. Harry’s doesn’t have a kangaroo pie, but trust me, you will find one somewhere for sure and you will thank me.

If you have the time to get out of town a ways, head out to the Blue Mountains, where you can see the Three Sisters- a natural formation of rocks that the Aboriginal stories say were 3 sisters turned to stone, take a bushwalk, or enjoy the sights from the back of a Harley as I did with a Blue Thunder Motorcycle Tour. Be sure and take a fly swatter with you, as the flies are absolutely unstoppable and will be all over you all the time. You will suddenly understand the need for a hat with corks dangling off of it.

And/or check out the Hunter Valley wine region. Only 2 hours away from Sydney lies the oldest commercial wine-producing area in Australia. A beautiful landscape where you can sip away at some fine wine at dozens and dozens of wineries.

hunter-valley-wine-region

So there you have it. Lots to see, lots to do! Take it all in, enjoy every moment, and know that once you go there, you will most definitely return. One final thing, while in Australia, I just recommend swinging in to a McDonald’s and check out the little differences. I always find it fun to see what the locals do to the most famous of American institutions. Then have a burger somewhere else around town where you will have the options to put all kinds of unfamiliar burger toppings on your creation, such as beetroot, mango, fried eggs, cole slaw, pineapple, etc. Whichever way you go, you can’t lose. But beware, they are super stingy on ketchup. They will charge you per packet. Crazy. Other than that…

Get to Sydney, and good on ya!

Spring into Adventure and Make Yourself Far More Interesting

It's almost that time of the year! SPRING!

The time when the sun starts to warm the land, the bees are humming, the birds are singing, and a young man's fancy turns toward the fairer sex.

Okay, well, a young man's fancy is ALWAYS focused on the fairer sex.

But now that the weather is starting to change, you are going to want to get out and about and start having fun dates with sexy ladies.

And I am going to share a few of my articles that can help you get going.

Let's start with one I wrote for the awesome Neil Strauss's website. This article gives you a little insight on all the ways you can wow a lovely lady with limited funds.

How To Unlock the Adventurer in You.

 You don't have to be rich to be amazing! So check it out and get some ideas.

If you are working in an online dating forum of some kind, you should check out one of my SinglesWarehouse bits on spicing up your profile and setting the adventure vibe from the very beginning. Check out:

How To Dateventure

And if you want to get a headstart on how to really maximize your travel adventure awesomeness, let me show you how to get free flights, hotel stays, and all kinds of other awesome goodies with:

5 Ways to Start Jetsettin Like A Mofo Fo Free!

These articles will get you primed and ready for your springtime lovin adventures. So get ready to have some serious fun, sun, and, uh, something else that rhymes with "un."