I would rather live my life as if there is a God, and die to find out there isn’t, than live my life as if there isn’t, and die to find out there is!

Sunday, February 22, 2009



As an amateur winemaker and one who enjoys wine, my wife and I planned a trip to the Mexican wine country in upper Baja. Located in the north part of the state of Baja California Norte, the route of wine (Ruta del vino) enjoys Mediterranean weather perfect for growing grapevines. There are just a few places in Mexico that combine these unique features: the altitude, seasons, temperature and summer evening marine breezes - in addition to being home to folks with a love of the art of making wine.

My wife, Susan and I took an early Wednesday morning flight from Sacramento to San Diego, rented a car with Mexican insurance and headed south. It took about 15 minutes to get to the border and 70 minutes after that we were in Ensenada via the toll road (which cost a total of $6.00 from the border to Ensenada – worth every penny).

We checked into the hotel where we had reservations, Hotel Cortez, in the central and tourist section of town. The hotel is about 50 years old but well maintained. We ended up staying there three nights. Since it was about lunchtime, we walked a couple of blocks to a restaurant named “Mariscos de Bahia de Ensenada” that had been recommended to us by the desk clerk at the hotel as a good place to have seafood. It was good recommendation as the food was very good. After lunch it was back to the hotel for a quick nap.

Next was a drive out to Valle de Guadalupe (Guadalupe Valley) which is Mexico’s premier wine region in Baja. It only took about 30 minutes to reach the valley. We poked around there a couple of hours taking in the sites of the valley and the towns of San Antonio de las Minas, El Porvenir and Francisco Zarco. The road between Ensenada and Guadalupe Valley is currently being upgraded from 1 lane each direction to 2 lanes each direction for about 15 miles and was it rough traveling. What made Susan the most nervous is the 2 to 4 foot drop-off on the right side of the lane. Not wanting to be on this road after dark, we were careful to be back in Ensenada before nightfall.

After dark we walked around town a bit and came upon a restaurant and wine bar called Capricho’s and settled in at the bar to try some local wines. We tried 2 glasses each of local reds and found them to be of excellent quality. We were pleasantly surprised to exit after paying only $14.00 before tip. To add to the pleasure of the experience we spent some time talking with the proprietor, Carlos. He is a wealth of information relating to the wines of the area and many other interesting facts, and quite a charming host. If you want to find Capricho’s just ask anyone where Hussongs is. Hussongs Cantina is the Baja's oldest bar and is the verified originator of the margarita - everyone knows where it is. Capricho’s is directly across the street.

Thursday morning we enjoyed a leisurely coffee at a little coffee & tea shop just a door or two down from the hotel. This was one of Ensenada’s several establishments on the main street with charming European style enclosed outdoor seating. Great for people watching! Next we drove to the downtown section of Ensenada, away from the tourist area, where many businesses are located. Our purpose was to visit a dentist Susan had found on the internet, as I needed a small piece of bonding replaced. We visited Dr. Anda and set an appointment for 9:30 Saturday morning. We then visited several pharmacies to obtain a couple of prescription drugs for our dogs. We usually get them on line but thought they’d be a better price in Mexico and indeed they were. We then headed south of Ensenada a few miles to the Baja Country Club. On the way we passed the area where the “big box” American stores are located. There is a Home Depot, Costco, Wal-Mart, Smart & Final to name a few, and an Applebee’s restaurant. We actually stopped in the Wal-Mart for a few minutes. All the aisle signs were in both Spanish and English. Some of the locals call the area “San Dieguito.” That would be “Little San Diego”.

Baja Country Club has an 18-year-old golf course, but residential development surrounding the course has just recently begun. Fairly high quality homes are being built and sold, a few of the homes were occupied, some completed and ready to sell and still others being built. The homes range from 1600 to 1900 square feet, and are situated pretty close together. The construction quality is, I would say, a step or two above the typical quality of housing development homes in the United States. Prices ranged from $170,000 to $250,000. A real good value if one wants that style of living. It doesn’t appeal to either Susan or I as we are not golfers but it was interesting to see.

After a bit more sight seeing, and a nap, it was off to find a place to eat. It was already after 3:00 and we were getting hungry. Susan had heard about Santo Tomas Winery’s restaurant called La Esquina de Bodegas. So we decided that was our late lunch-early dinner target. The restaurant is set in part of the old winery production center, with an adjoining art gallery of local work. Our meal at the Esquina turned out to be a real delight. First we selected a bottle of one of the Santo Tomas red varietals; I don’t remember what it was, but it was quite good. To go with the red we ordered a cheese board to start . Then we both chose one of the 4 course daily specials, Susan had the fish and I ordered the steak. It was a quaint and elegant, yet a cozy place to enjoy a leisurely meal. We each had one additional glass of wine and the total tab came to $46.00 before tip. Talk about real value!

Friday. Breakfast was at Tacos Del Sol about a block from the hotel. We both had the traditional Mexican breakfast of Chilaquiles (con Huevos). Very nice. We enjoyed talking with Jamie Espinoza who waited on us; perhaps he is the proprietor. In any event he is very friendly and interesting.

After breakfast we headed off to Valle de Guadalupe to meet up with Steve Dryden, our guide through the wine country for the day. Steve Dryden is a wine, food and travel writer who lives in the Guadalupe Valley, where he guides individual and small group wine tours. He is an extremely well versed authority on the Valley wines. In addition to his freelance writing, he is also on staff at an English language newspaper, the Baja Times. With Steve we visited 3 local wineries with our first visit to Tres Mujeres (Three Women) artisan winery. Steve had made an appointment for us to have a private tasting. They have a charming rustic wine cave for their tasting room and Ivette, one of winemakers was our lovely hostess. The wines we sampled were delicious. It is sort of a co-op winery started by three women, but now has 6-7 women and a couple of men involved. In Mexico the artisan wineries fall under a different law than the large commercial wineries. It all has to do with taxation, and the number of cases an artisan winery can produce each year is restricted. It seems like a pretty good system to me as it allows someone to get started making and selling their boutique wine and then move up as economics dictate.

The second winery we visited was Rancho Malagon (ViƱedos Malagon). Our host there was the very hospitable Nathan Malagon, young winemaker and ranch manager. Nathan shared the history of his family with us and his passion for creating high quality wine was evident. The wines we sampled were excellent. This winery is actually a small commercial winery, not an artisan winery, and they are beginning to export their award winning wine to the U.S.

Our third and final winery visit was to the L.A. Cetto Winery.
L. A. Cetto is one of the most renowned and oldest wineries in Mexico. In addition to the vineyards, L. A. Cetto offers gardens, a picnic area, wine tasting room, and facility tours. Founded by an Italian, Angelo Cetto, history says that Cetto started the wine business in 1930, bought a number of small local wineries in the 1980’s, and now he is responsible for producing more than half of Mexico’s wine. Cetto cultivates 2,500 acres of vineyards in Baja California; also produces tequila and olive oil. This was an interesting visit and the wines were pretty good, but not quite the quality experienced at the two prior wineries.

Now it is early afternoon, about 2:00 PM, and time for a bit of lunch. Steve took us to Los Naranjos Restaurant in Valle de Guadalupe. The good food, verdant gardens and attentive service made for a perfect lunch. Steve shared many insights of life in the Guadalupe Valley and overall it was a memorable experience.

After lunch we parted company with Steve and drove back to Ensenada. Later that evening, we poked around town a bit and decided on going back to Capricho’s for a light supper. We ended up ordering a bottle of wine and a scrumptious cheese plate of local artisan cheeses that went well with the local wine. Once again we chatted with Carlos, the gracious host and owner.

Saturday morning we again had Chilaquiles at our now favorite Tacos Del Sol. Then off to the dentist for my little repair job. The re-bonding of one tooth had been quoted at $450 in the States and my dentist took pity on me when I told him I had no dental insurance and said he could do it for $250. I am glad I decided to put him off. I am very pleased with the work Dr. Anda did in Ensenada, and his charge was $65.00. I love Mexico!

Off to the Guadalupe Valley again. We arrived early afternoon and checked into the B&B where we were to spend the night. Adobe Guadalupe is a working winery, plus a bed and breakfast with six guestrooms. Adobe Guadalupe produces 5000 cases of wine per year. There is a large wine cave where tastings are held in addition to a pool, meditation garden, and of course a wine processing facility. The Moroccan garden is a quiet garden with olive trees from where you can enjoy the view of the vineyards and the mountains. On the grounds are also stables where they currently breed Aztec horses. Aztec horses are the result of a selective mix between pure blood Andalusian and Quarter horses. Everything is very well cared for and attractive.

Sunday morning was breakfast with hour host Don Miller and other guests. Afterwards we all walked out to the stables. Some went horseback riding and Susan and I headed north en route to Tecate.

The terrain in and around Tecate is very different than that of the Guadalupe Valley. It is hilly and very rocky; lots of large boulders. We located the hotel we had been referred to, the Estancia Inn and checked in. We killed a little time then walked about a block to a restaurant named La Mision. The food was quite good. Early to bed Sunday night. Monday morning after breakfast at the hotel restaurant, La Mesquita, we started the trip back to San Diego Airport to catch our flight to Sacramento. It was raining in San Diego. Our trip home was uneventful, and that’s just how I like them.

Overall I am really pleased with this trip and would recommend it to anyone who has an interest in grape growing, wine or just an interest in Mexico. It was time well spent.

Tacos Del Sol – 1001 Lopez Mateos at Blancarte, Ensenada
Capricho’s Restaurant – 138 Ave. Ruiz, Ensenada
Rincon de Bodegas de Santo Tomas - Avda Miramar 666, Ensenada
Adobe Guadalupe - Col. Rusa de Guadalupe, Valle de Guadalupe
Steve Dryden - Valle de Guadalupe - sbdryden@hotmail.com



Love all – Trust some – Harm none

Capstone Christian Ministries

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Tuesday, February 10, 2009



There are times when I see what is happening around me and I am just amazed. That is happening to me right now, as I watch our leaders lead us the wrong direction. The decisions they are making regarding this “Economic Stimulus” stuff are just wrong.

When you try to take in the full program it becomes overwhelming. Numbers in the billions and trillions will cause your head to spin. However, the numbers simply confuse, and the size of the problem does the same thing. So let’s reduce it and take a look.

Let’s reduce the problem down to one family. Let’s assume the family is heavily in debt and their income has been greatly reduced or eliminated. Perhaps they have lost their job. This family knows that they must take some action or they will end up bankrupt. What are the options?

Option 1 - They can spend more money and maybe the people they spend it with will feel so enriched that they will hire them. People, you cannot spend you way out of this kind of problem.

Option 2 – They can borrow more money to live on and wait out the problem. People you cannot borrow your way out of this kind of problem.

OK… Let’s go back to the government. The government gets all of its money from us. That is worth repeating: The government gets all of its money from us. They seem to think if they spend more money, our economic problems will go away. Let’s assume I am a contractor and the government grants me a contract to upgrade government buildings. Where do they get the money to pay me? From you, that’s where! So, they are simply redistributing the money. They are NOT adding anything. They have nothing to add. All they have comes from us. It comes from you, and it come from me.

Now, we the people, via the federal government, own the largest insurance company, many banks and automobile manufacturers. Who knows how many other business we will end up with as we try to stimulate the economy. Can you say SOCIALISM?

Webster: Socialism - Any of various theories or systems of social organization in which the means of producing and distributing goods is owned collectively or by a centralized government that often plans and controls the economy.


A Page From History

Norman Mattoon Thomas (November 20, 1884 to December 19, 1968) was a leading American socialist, pacifist, and six-time presidential candidate for the Socialist Party of America.

The Socialist Party candidate for President of the U.S., Norman Thomas, said this in a 1944 speech:

"The American people will never knowingly adopt socialism. But, under the name of "liberalism," they will adopt every fragment of the
socialist program, until one day America will be a socialist nation,
without knowing how it happened."

He went on to say: "I no longer need to run as a Presidential Candidate for the Socialist Party. The Democratic Party has adopted our platform."


So What is the Answer?

The fix for our economic mess is so simple I cannot believe I have not heard anyone mention it.

Temporally suspend corporate income tax for a period of say three years. It is private enterprise, not the government, who create our economy. Currently, the average combined federal and state corporate tax rate in the U.S. is 39.3 percent, second only to Japan's combined rate of 39.5 percent.

This action would create a temporary windfall for corporations. What would they do with this windfall? They would expand, they would increase production, they would build new plants, they would hire more workers. In short, they would do all of the things necessary to really correct our economic woes.

And guess what? The loss of tax revenue would be less than $500 billion per year. Way less than what will be spent trying to fix the problem. And it would not be socialism.

There is you answer Mr. Obama. Wake up and do what will work.

Be blessed,


Love all – Trust some – Harm none

Capstone Christian Ministries


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Friday, February 6, 2009

A Modest Sensible Proposal...

I did not write this, and I don't know who did, but I like it. Enjoy, Wayne
A Modest Sensible Proposal...

Dear American liberals, leftists, social progressives, socialists, Marxists, Obama supporters, et al:
We have stuck together since the late 1950's, but the whole of this latest election process has made me realize that I want a divorce. I know we tolerated each other for many years for the sake of future generations, but sadly, this relationship has run its course.

Our two ideological sides of America cannot, and will not ever agree on what is right, so let's just end it on friendly terms. We can smile, chalk it up to irreconcilable differences, and go our own way.

Here is a model dissolution agreement:

Our two groups can equitably divide up the country by landmass each taking a portion. That will be the difficult part, but I am sure our two sides can come to a friendly agreement. After that it should be relatively easy!

Our respective representatives can effortlessly divide other assets since both sides have such distinct and disparate tastes.

We don't like redistributive taxes so you can keep them.
You are welcome to the liberal judges and the ACLU.

Since you hate guns and war, we'll take our firearms, the cops, the NRA, and the military.

You can keep Oprah, Michael Moore, and Rosie O'Donnell (You are, however, responsible for finding a bio-diesel vehicle big enough to move them).

We'll keep the capitalism, greedy corporations, pharmaceutical companies, Wal-Mart, and Wall Street.
You can have your beloved homeless, homeboys, hippies, and illegal aliens. We'll keep the hot Alaskan hockey moms, greedy CEO's, and rednecks.

We'll keep the Bibles and give you NBC and Hollywood.

You can make nice with Iran and Palestine and we'll retain the right to invade and hammer places that threaten us.

You can have the peaceniks and war protestors.

When our allies or way of life are under assault, we'll provide them job security.

We'll keep our Judeo-Christian values..
You are welcome to Islam, Scientology, Humanism, and Shirley McClain.

You can also have the U.N. But we will no longer be paying the bill.

We'll keep the SUVs, pickup trucks, and oversized luxury cars.
You can take every Subaru station wagon you can find.

You can give everyone healthcare, if you can find any practicing doctors.
We'll continue to believe healthcare is a luxury and not a right.

We'll keep The Battle Hymn of the Republic and the National Anthem.
I'm sure you'll be happy to substitute Imagine, I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing, Kum Ba Ya, or We Are the World.

We'll practice trickle down economics, and you can give trickle up poverty its best shot.

Since it often so offends you we'll keep our history, our name, and our flag.

In the spirit of friendly parting, I'll bet you whatever you want on who will need whose help in 15 years.

P.S. Also, we'll throw in Barbra Streisand and Jane Fonda.

Be blessed,

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