Breakfast was scrumptious this morning…fresh poached farm eggs with spinach on toasted bread, smothered with smoked salmon and a dollop of dill creme fraiche. As we checked out, the B&B gave us a small complimentary jar of homemade jam and sent us on our way.
We had a wine map of the area…there were more vineyards than we could get to in one day, so we had the B&B give us some “must taste” places and set out to our first one, Helm Winery (www.helmwines.com.au) .
We drove down a long dirt road amongst many vines on all sides of us. We arrived at a small old school-house which was established in 1888. It had hard wood floors, a green tin roof and old iron fire-place. We saw a truck driving through the vines towards us…it was the wine maker himself who had been tending to the vines and saw us arrive. He welcomed us inside and we saw his wine list had a focus on Riesling. We have always thought of Riesling as a sweet white wine which is usually not our favorite. We started chatting with the wine maker about his varietal and thoughts on winemaking. He explained to us there is both dry and sweet Riesling…it just depends on how long it ages. He was from Germany where their expertise is Riesling so had a lot of experience. He also had spent time in France learning the traditional methods of wine making in order to make his own wine better. We shared stories on wineries we had been to and styles we have grown to prefer. We felt very lucky to be talking to him…he had shared wine with some famous wine makers and is invited to very special tastings around the world. We bought a couple of bottles, thanked him for his time and were on our way.
The next stop was, Clonakilla Vineyards (www.clonakilla.com.au) which was well-known for its famous winemaker. Unfortunately we didn’t get to meet him but did get to taste his wine. A few of them were young and needed some time to develop so it’s hard to judge them, but we did really like his Shiraz Viognier…which was out of our budget…$60. We decided not to buy anything and drove to our next stop.
Although the women serving wine at Jeir Creek Wines (www.jeircreekwines.com.au) wasn’t exactly the most friendly women we’ve come across, we still got to taste some of their wines. They were known for their sparkling Shiraz which we purchased…it had nice body and we hadn’t purchased any sparklings in the area. It was interesting though to see the lid of the champagne bottle…Instead of a mushroom-shaped cork which we are accustomed to, it was a beer bottle lid. We have never needed a beer bottle opener for a bottle of champagne, but they said they moved to it so they didn’t have to worry about the corks going bad.
Knowing we had to get to Sydney by a certain time tonight we decided to leave wine country, although there were many more vineyards waiting to be tasted.
We drove a short distance to the city of Canberra, the capital of Australia. We stopped at an old pancake parlor restaurant for lunch and walked around the city for a bit. The city seemed like a working city with many business buildings and people working. There was also a shopping area with stores and restaurants to browse through. We stayed for only a short time knowing we were scheduled to see our friends Veronica and Pat in Sydney by about 6PM.
We drove the 3-4 more hours until we finally reached Sydney. We didn’t get to see the actual city…we went straight to a suburb called Denistone. Veronica, Pat and their kids were waiting for us with big smiles and welcome flowers when we arrived. We hadn’t seen them for about 7 years! They helped get our things in the house and we all sat down for a yummy seafood dinner and lots of catch up conversation. We had so much fun drinking plenty of wine and sharing stories before bed.
Published by Giff Kabat
I grew up in Ohio as a kid, so of course I went to college at “THE” Ohio State University. I graduated in 2001 with a major in business finance. A month after graduation, I moved out to California with my college girlfriend (whom I married in 2005)…and started my career in sales (industrial sales for 5 years…then moved into medical laser sales for 4 years).
In 2009 I was 31 years old. I had a great job, a new house, and a beautiful wife. Just when I thought things couldn’t get any better…my wife and I found out we were going to have a baby. Everything was going according to plan…and I couldn’t have scripted a better life for myself.
Then in the same year…everything changed. My wife, Brandey, called me when I was on my way to work and told me over the phone, something I never thought could be possible in a million years. My beautiful 30-year old pregnant wife was just told that she had breast cancer. At that moment, everything stopped all at once. I immediately went to her…and learned of our new plan…which began with her needing surgery immediately…and the rest we would find out later.
The day we returned from the hospital after Brandey’s surgery…my father died. He had been battling an aggressive cancer of his own…and although he was the one person I wanted to speak with about Brandey having cancer…I never told him. My sister, Brooke, had just gotten married a few months ago, and although he was weak, he was able to walk his little girl down the aisle of her wedding. On the night before my sister’s wedding, Brandey and I told him that we were pregnant and about to make him a grandfather. It made no sense to tell him that everything had changed for us…so he died in peace knowing everything was “the way it should be” for his only 2 children.
2010 was the worst year of my life. We had lost our baby…and for 12 months I watched my wife fight cancer with multiple surgeries, chemotherapy, radiation treatments, and drug therapy. It was a difficult year for us…but we made it. When you go through something like this in life, you learn a lot about yourself and the people around you. I was amazed at the strength and courage of my wife…and how many good people there are in this world. I will be forever grateful for the ones who never ceased to amaze me with their kindness during this hard time. Family, friends, and sometimes complete strangers…helped us make it through this. I am, and will always be especially grateful to my mother, who was with my dad at the very end, when I couldn’t be there, and when things were at their worst. She has been so supportive throughout all of this, and without her everything would have been so much harder for me.
It’s 2011 now…and the plan we have for our life this year…is to make it the best year of our lives. Brandey is officially in remission from breast cancer and she has a 95% chance the cancer will never come back. Besides the love that I have for my wife and family, the loves of my life are food, wine, and adventure travel. My wife and I love traveling to new places, seeing natural wonders, and meeting new people from different parts of the world. So for the next 400 days…we’ve decided to travel the world…and celebrate our lives. There are so many things I took for granted in life that I will never take for granted again. My father worked for over 30 years at the same job with the same company…rarely took time off…and died at 64 years old right after his retirement. For me, this trip is a combination of a tribute to him, along with wanting to spend the time of my life with the “love of my life.”
* The only thing I will miss while we are gone is our family and friends (who we hope will meet us somewhere throughout our trip) and especially our 3 little kitties we left with my mom in Ohio to catsit for the next 400 days. I will also miss watching “American Football” over the weekend…but I’ll do my best to check the scores in the middle of the night.
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