Beer Valley?

        We were definitely ignorant to think that we'd roll into wineries and get drunk in style, the workers happy to see us and a few other guests, bringing around cheeses with fancy French names as snacks. Instead, we make it through only one winery, given a few small sips worth of alcoholic grape juice when we can pull the bartender's attention from the many older (and more likely to buy) other tourists. Seeing people close their eyes, pretending to have some sort of transcendental experience from an ounce of liquid, is not a very nice way to spend the day. We don't even bother walking around on the self-guided tour.
        Instead, as Brian tells a buddy on the phone, "I think we're going to Beer Valley or something." One of my large bottles of beer last night was made by Bear Republic Brewing Co. and bore a map on the side indicating its location in Healdsburg, CA inviting readers on a tour of its brewery. We're in the same county as this place, so we decide to try and find it. A stop in a grocery store to find a bottle of the brew yields the phone number; a call gets us directions and a promise of at least a brief tour: "we're busy brewing today." We get there to find a place much smaller than what I expected: definitely a bad call on my part. The bartender laughs when I ask about a tour, pointing to some of the brewing tanks behind the bar and basically saying "well, you add yeast, you ferment it, and then you drink it. What can I get for you all?" We all proceed to drink heavily. I personally continue my long-lived practice of drinking too quickly, going through 2 gargantuan-sized glasses of beer (had to be at least a liter each) before Riad finishes his first. Helping Erik finish his 2nd beer, I promptly head to the minivan for a nap while everybody finishes up. My dumb ass has a pounding headache for the rest of the day, and dinner's curry chicken Indian burrito (yes, California is a weird place) barely stays down.
        And what trip would be complete without some conflict? Short version: Erik and I narrowly avoid a fist fight. Longer story, obviously from my biased perspective: Erik's not used to people arguing with him, and I would rather debate things than not. This comes to a head as we dispute where to stay tonight. I'm for crashing on the beach, but Erik wants something more organized. Half awake with my head pounding, I'm not even sitting up when we begin discussing this. Erik says something like "why don't you at least sit up and help us figure this out?" I make some smartass comment, probably about him not reading the "Let's Go" enough to have a real role in planning, in response. As Riad pilots a cranky minivan through the hills of the Coastal Highway, we're increasingly dicks to each other, Erik ridiculing the idea that we'll find a beach when all we seem to be near are seaside cliffs and me calling him an idiot after I read that the organized campground he prefers is in fact on a beach among these cliffs. Eventually, he tells me "I have never wanted to punch a friend in the face as much as I want to hit you right now." Of course, I egg him on instead of just trying to defuse the situation. We continue to trade insults, and things come to a head in a parking lot in the Marin headlands. I'm not sure who brought up physical violence 1st, but I think he again mentioned wanting to punch me and I responded that I'd love to knock him out right now. Brian and Riad are actually between us, holding him back. I'm very tempted to hit him, but I restrain myself: I'd probably hurt him and definitely lose at least one friend. I'm restrained, but I certainly wasn't a peacemaker: I sit in the car and laugh at him. If you described Erik's personality in 5 words, mellow would probably be one of them. It's pretty good testimony to what an asshole I can be that I've made this kid mad enough that he's actually struggling to get at me. Definitely gonna have to make peace, but I think it can wait until tomorrow when we've both calmed down and my stomach has decided to accept or reject the volatile beer-curry stew it's presently wrestling with.
        We end up stuffed into a double at UC Berkeley summer visitor housing. It's basically a dorm room in a dorm, making me nostalgic for college. The campus is big, beautiful, and very relaxed: definitely somewhere to consider if I ever feel grad school in my future. Now, to bed. But first, my first shower in a long time, I think since the San Diego Motel 6. And I'm even going to use soap!

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