The GrovesLine

just a place where i hang my thoughts out to dry

I need a Napa

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Scott next to a giant Redwood tree in Muir Woods, north of San Francisco

Usually when the racing season ends things come to a screeching halt.  I stop training and racing and find myself with endless free time to do whatever I want.  I sit around, rest, paint the bathroom or go on a relaxing vacation.  I end up doing things that I’ve put off throughout the season like finishing up house projects, spring cleaning, and re-connecting with friends I haven’t seen often enough.  I get out to visit schools and share my sport experiences.  I also sleep, a lot.  It’s a fun time, free and unstructured, restful and relaxing…

But this year when the season ended, instead of life slowing down, it picked up considerable speed and I flung myself into a deep vortex of travel, school visits, sponsor engagements and receptions.  I spent a few busy days in Vancouver packing up my apartment as well as visiting schools and all the other good stuff,  as well as a whirlwind ten days in Ottawa and Toronto doing much of the same.  Like I mentioned in my last post, I enjoyed so much visiting the schools and sharing my Olympic experiences with kids of all ages, from kindergarten to high school.  I slept little, ate when I could and basically fit in as much as possible.  It was a brisk change of pace from the simplicity of training and racing and taking care of myself.  Of course I loved every minute of it – how many times do we get to experience not only a home Olympics,  but also a home Olympics homecoming?  Probably only once!  I knew however, that I was only delaying the inevitable crash that occurs every year, and after an Olympic year in particular, but it was totally worth it.

The stunning garden at the Robert Hunter Winery. The oak tree is 300 years old!

After my trip to Ottawa I had a bit of ‘home time’ but not really ‘down time’ in Calgary.  The necessity of catching up on important things like taxes, doctors appointments and finally dealing with the replacement of a damaged floor due to a flooded dishwasher kept me busy.  The current state of affairs in our kitchen and living room is chaotic to say the least.  The kitchen table is covered in receipts, file folders and empty glasses of milk and surrounded by piles of furniture and a half-removed floor.  The looming income tax deadline of April 30 as well as the installation of the new floor this weekend had Scott and I scurrying to finish everything.  It was not an attractive task to complete so, in the interest of severe procrastination, we went to Napa to drink wine instead.

Barrel tasting at Del Dotto winery

This past weekend I had the great pleasure of being an Olympian host for a four-day Gold Medal Plates trip to the Napa Valley. Scott and me, along with Catriona Lemay Doan and her husband Bart, hosted the just over 20 couples who purchased this trip at a Gold Medal Plates fund-raising dinner.  Our jobs were to participate in the planned activities and share our Olympic experiences with the guests.  Meaning we were basically along for the ride!  We spent our days bike riding, visiting wineries, eating incredible food, meeting wonderful people and enjoying the California sunshine.  We experienced an incredibly intimate, acoustic and unplugged Colin James concert that gave me goosebumps.

The incredibly talented and entertaining Colin James

We went kayaking on the Russian River and took a cooking class at the Culinary Institute of America.  Oh, and there was wine, did I mention the wine?  For someone not accustomed to drinking from 10:30am through to around midnight on a daily basis this trip seriously kicked me in the butt – in the best possible way.  But after a few more days of burning the candle at both ends I could sense that the crash was about to happen.  Beginning with a sore throat and filling sinuses, leading to a cough and a headache, I was going down, hard.

Today there is a turbulent spring (read: winter) storm blowing through town; snow, sleet, rain and incessant, gusty wind.  I am cozily holed up in bed with this nasty cold.  A mood to match the weather.  After the trip to Napa my body has finally said ‘enough’!  It is time to rest and I have no choice in the matter.  With a pot of tea beside me and sinuses that are on the verge of exploding I am finally giving in and letting my body and brain get what they need:  just rest.

I have a few days of respite from the post-Olympic hoopla, hopefully enough to recover and get healthy, but a quick glance at my calendar reveals that I will be travelling across the country no less than 6 times in the next 6 weeks for various events.  While I very much look forward to the continued Olympic celebrations, I must say that I’ve never quite enjoyed being sick as much as I do right now.

Cooking class at the Culinary Institute of America. I made chopped liver - literally! Well, Crostini Neri (Chicken Liver on Little Toast) to be exact. Clearly I showed up unprepared: tank top and open-toed shoes. Fun times! My new pals Gillian and Frances made Pork Scaloppine with Vinsanto.

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