We took our time getting up the next morning, having a great time in the luxurious separate bedroom. Churches and I had slept fantastically; German K and Hong Kong P on the fold out bed did not. So we got moving pretty quickly and started driving to Paso Robles, our wine country destination.
Eventually we got really hungry so we stopped at a roadside Denny's (America's most well-known diner, I would say) and I got to tell my friends all about the tradition of coming to Denny's after school dances. Oh yes, many a homecoming dance, mixer, and Sadie Hawkins night were concluded in Denny's, one of the few places open 24/7 in my hometown. My sister went to the much-cooler Cardinal Lounge (now extinct, unfortunately) to end her nights out.
The food was mediocre, as it always is, but it was fun showing my friends this side of America. We would otherwise never have stepped in so it was a good opportunity.
We also later down the line stepped into a ridiculously awesome roadside restaurant/shack to use their bathrooms after one of us couldn't hold it any longer. Purchases were required to use the bathroom so a soda, Gatorade, and coffee to go were purchased just in case, not wanting to anger the natives.
And then we reached Paso...on the later end of 2:30pm. All wineries, including my friend Paul's, Sculpterra, closed at 5pm on Fridays, so we quickly sussed out the situation and made our way to his side of town. German K very awesomely volunteered to drive us from the winery to dinner and then back to the hotel again, allowing me to drink with the rest of them at the winery (German K doesn't particularly like wine as it is). So I agreed and we set off.
The experience with Paul was awesome, as it always is. He gave us the full VIP experience by giving us the tastings for free (usually you have to pay for tasting flights), having us taste an additional one that wasn't on the tasting menu (a cabernet sauvignon that is a limited edition), and even showing us the barrel room and thiefing us some of this year's port that is being saved for aging (the bottling is already done, these barrels are being specially kept). Fantastic.
In case you can't tell, Sculpterra is a gorgeous winery with tons of beautiful statues (hence its name). The wine is also superb, especially under the winemaker talents of my friend Paul, and I enjoy coming here every time. It seems I've made it out a solid three times in my life (pretty good if you consider how far it is from any of my places of living and where I could have frequented more).
We ended the night tipsy and happy (minus German K, who remained our faithful designated driver). We scooted downtown for a lovely meal to end our last night together.
What did we have? We couldn't really remember the restaurants that were recommended by Paul and his father by the time we left, so we parked downtown and walked around until we found a place that had an acceptable menu. Didn't take long.
We chose a casual place with a cute warm atmosphere. The food was fabulous. I ordered salmon and it was wonderful. I also had another glass of wine with dinner to celebrate my not being the driver for once, and we had a good, relaxing, laugh-filled meal.
We then went back to the hotel to watch a horrible movie on Lifetime television called "The Husband I Met Online." It was your typical Lifetime movie - beautiful girl who is just trying to find the right man, being aggressively pursued by an insane guy who appears good on paper but who you soon discover murdered his ex-girlfriend and paid off the last girlfriend he savagely beat. Sounds about right, Lifetime television. It was hilarious. I'm almost glad I could show my European girlfriends a slice of bad American tv that wasn't a reality series.