After polishing off a respectable number of the best damned tacos in Mexico, Cumper, Getz, and I grab the supplies, jump in the Pilot, and ball the jack back to camp. We find our secret entrance to Vinos Bibayoff, roll the rock back into place, and bust it over to the pine grove to find K-ButtS up playing guitar by the campfire with Wonder Dog resting in the dust at his feet. K-ButtS was more than a little disappointed to find out he’d missed the culinary experience of the millennia. Especially since we spent the next hour or so raving about Marco’s Tacos.
And as it turns out hibiscus flavored tequila may not be the greatest of tequila varietals. It took repeated testing to see if we even liked the stuff. However, it did jump start the idea engine and soon we were all sporting headlamps and starting a late night bocce ball tournament in the dark.
Now, there are some obvious difficulties with the game of Night Bocce:
– You can’t see the terrain
– You can’t even see the pallino
– You’re drunk off hibiscus tequila
However, these all add up to a great time and some creative use of whatever lighting you have available. Agent Getz decides to be on my team (probably still reeling from the crushing crazy eight countdown rally tally), and Cumper and K-ButtS join up. We were laughing our asses off. Impossible game. Rolling into invisible rocks, trees, and debris. Unexpected rebounds launching your ball off into the night somewhere. Trying to keep the headlamp on the pallino while taking a drink. Sometimes Wonder Dog will just grab a ball and run away in the dark. Adding to all of this, K-ButtS decides to try a different shot technique every single turn, ranging from the classic bucket shot to some Magic Johnson style hook shots, shot put, over hand, lob balls, and worm burners. As a result we completely destroyed them 2 games in a row.
“Alright let’s go get some of these fucking tacos you guys won’t shut up about. I’ll drive”.
Ohhhhhh yeaaaaaaaah!!! “This guy even gonna be open?”, “Dude, it’s not even ten o’clock”. Camping has a weird way of time warping your perception as soon as the sun goes down. Feels like 4 in the morning. Or maybe it’s hibiscus warp that’s happening.
K-ButtS drives some early 90s era Ford Ranger with a dog bed in the covered trunk space. Getz goes passenger, Cumper and I nab some road rockets and pile in the back with WD on his bed. Surprisingly comfortable. Bust dust out of the pine grove, roll the rock away, bump down the road into ‘town’, and we’re back at the Taco Master.
K-ButtS takes our suggestions and loads up on mole, cochinitas pibil, and the pinnacle taco. Everyone else gets a few more in even though it’s completely unnecessary (other than to crank up the taco count). Damn, those are good. Back to camp, a little more Night Bocce, and then it’s bedtime for bonzo.
I wake up not so worse for wares. Grab a sunrise tecate and survey the campsite. The usual: Beer cans, assorted bocce balls, star chart, guitar leaning against a tree, and Wonder Dog… with a bucket on his head? Apparently WD has a bad habit of scratching his face raw on one side. K-ButtS has fashioned one of those dog cone things out of a Lowes bucket to keep him from making face jerky in the night.
The gang comes together around the camping chairs with some morning beers. Today’s agenda quickly forms: Find breakfast, Hit wineries, More bocce. After a couple primers we wander over to the Bibayoff tasting room to inquire about breakfast joints. “Tasting?”. Yeah fuck it, why not.
While we’re re-sampling Bibayoff’s wares an older gentleman strolls in with suspenders and a cowboy hat on. He’s got a strange jar of clear liquid. He looks oddly familiar.
This man is David Bibayoff, co-owner of the winery. He tells us about how his family settled here in 1905 and started this place. They are the oldest of wineries in the area and the only Russian winery in Mexico. Go figure.
I ask David what’s in the jar. “This is homemade mezcal a friend of mine made.”, “Haha, sounds dangerous”, “It is, here”. He hands me the jar but as hard as I try I can’t get the top off. We pass it around and no one can do it. Finally David takes a small tool out of his pocket and is able to pry the lid off. A plume of knock-out gas bursts into the room, stinging our eyes. “Whoa, that stuff is potent!”, “Yes, be careful. Don’t take too much.” We pass the jar around.
Usually when you watch someone take a shot there’s this face they make. This face like it kind of sucks, but there’s a respect and quiet enjoyment of the spirit. Take that last part out. That’s what this was. Double up on the ‘kind of sucks’ face. This homemade mescal was like pouring burning gasoline into your throat. You could feel it slide down your throat and leave a fiery trail all the way down until it came to sit in the middle of your chest, behind your sternum, melting away your soul and your ability to talk. It was horrendous. So we all had to try it. Afterwards, David thanked us for coming, shook our hands, and made an exit.
While finishing up our tastings and trying to wash away the mezcal burning, the man who we talked to about camping from yesterday came in. He is David’s brother, Abel. The other co-owner of Bibayoff. Realizing we hadn’t even eaten yet and are already a few tecates, a wine tasting, and a hellacious shot into our day, we refocus on the real reason we walked over here: Breakfast spot. “Oh yeah, the best place is walking distance from here. It’s called Sa Lu. You can just walk through the vineyards. It’s not even a mile.” Perfect.
We nab some rockets from camp and walk through the vineyard. Gorgeous day. We pass by some curious goats and in no time are at Sa Lu. We leave the tecates outside with WD and sit down to a killer breakfast. Abel was right. Just a small, one room spot. Good suggestion.
Fueled up on grub and having finally rinsed away the burning we were ready to hit some wineries (after another game of bocce). We tossed the tecate case in the back of K-ButtS Ranger (I’m trying so hard not to call it The Butt Ranger), took our assigned seats, and set course for some Mexican wineries.
<Queue the wine tasting montage>
Our first stop is Baron Balch’e. Up another dusty road to this hacienda style building with a series of archways facing out into the valley. The view from the front patio is fantastic. The establishment is nice, the food looked/smelled amazing, but we’d just been to Sa Lu so we didn’t partake. There was this cool twisting tree root thing in the gift shop. We got a round of tastings and settled out on the patio. They brought some bread and cheese to compliment it. None of the wines were outstanding really, but they weren’t bad wines either.
While we sat there a cougar came up in a blue dress to talk to Wonder Dog. She had a thick accent. Turns out she’s from Argentina. We chatted about being in wine country there outside Mendoza just recently. She was more interested in talking about dogs and there may have been some sort of flirting going on with her and K-ButtS. He had a wry smile with that expression like “You’ve got no hope in hell, lady, but I’ll entertain this because I find it amusing”. It was amusing. She sat with us for a bit. It kind of reminded me of the Czech girl from La Paz, post-Odile. Wine and patience done, we bid farewell to the blue cougar and continued down the road.
Next up was Adobe Guadalupe. The grounds were also very nice with a serene outdoor area that had several wire Pegasus statues and a good looking food truck. The interior was quite classy hardwood floors and dark trimming. We were treated to a tasting and some very good bread and olive oil by a nice, heavy handed older lady. She was quick to tell us that the founder, Mr. Miller, had passed away recently, and then chatted us up with info about his character and wine making ideals. She was awesome to talk to, and obviously cared and respected the winery’s founder a great deal.
All of the wines at AG are named after Angels and we got a healthy sampling of most of them. Aaaaand for better or worse, afterwards we also got some large pours of their Mezcal offering, named Lucifer of course. This was much, much nicer on the palate and throat than the rubbing alcohol David had given us earlier. But as soon as it hit I could feel the earlier flame rekindle and the two shots started a little dance party in my sternum.
By the time our tasting was done at AG we were all getting fairly giddy. The sun was also getting low and we decided it was time to re-up on camp supplies. Back to the Tecate store. This being our third time back, the owner was all smiles. More tequila? Sure, why not. We were becoming regulars. Taco Master Marco was there again too, so we took full advantage and cranked the taco count up even further. Amazing.
Back at camp Bibayoff we launched full swing into another round of pine grove night bocce. Getz and I were going undefeated. K-ButtS invented a new drink by mixing wine and tequila. Surprisingly good. Campfire guitar around burning tumble weeds. Keeping WD off the jerky. Wait.. that wine/tequila drink is terrible! We started to get excited about the Celestial Party the next day. Were there really going to be thousands of people here? Astronomers? Mexinauts? What a great weekend!
We lassoed a neon ostrich in the vineyard and rode it out past Andromeda. Got back just in time for bed.