Actors, Wine & Real Cowboys - One Tank Getaway Temecula
Cowboy One Tank Getaway to Temecula - by Paul and Teresa Lowe - www.chronicletravelers.com
Mount Up! A fiery horse with the speed of light, a cloud of dust and a hearty let 'em ride... No, it's not the Lone Ranger but rather its TV, film, stage entertainers, and real-life cowboys Glynn Turman, Reginald T. Dorsey, Obba Babatunde, Mykelti Williamson and Keith Washington running their horses along back trails on a cowboy one tank getaway in Temecula wine country. No production crews, no phone calls and no director's calls for action. It's just the fellas being themselves and free from their busy careers.
Glynn shares; “Riding is a special kind of freedom for me...nothing like it. And, these guys, (laughing) I can't seem to shake 'em! Yeah, these are my guys who are ALWAYS there through the good times and not so good times. These are the guys who are always checking in. We look out for each other.” 'Ya know, I've traveled down the road for a long time both as an actor and a rodeo cowboy. And, Jo-An, my wife she allows me this freedom to keep dreaming—riding, even though this cowboy road don't pay the bills (laughing), Jo-An, wow, I can't be me without her.”
A Mild Weather Weekend in So Cal Wine Country Earlier at the hotel.
Teresa waits outside the lobby on a delightful Friday morning. Glynn Turman steps out of his heavy duty pick up truck wearing a light weight jacket over a white polo style shirt, jeans with a rodeo competition buckle. Atop his head is a well-worn ball cap. We see Glynn looking around- seeming to admire the newly designed and expanded Pechanga Resort and Casino entrance. On his ruggedly handsome face is a dazzling smile that outshines the brightest day. (Among, Emmy Award Winner & NAACP Image Award Winner Turman's numerous credits; ABC's How to Get Away with Murder, OWN's Queen Sugar, The Legal Drama Suits, Showtime's House of Lies, HBO's The Wire, NBC's A Different World, Murder, She Wrote, Matlock and Cooley High.) - (https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0877270/?ref_=nv_sr_2)
Glynn and Jo-An arrive early after a long drive along Interstate 15. “Hey, guys...what are we doing...where is everybody. Are we riding today or do we go tomorrow?” Joining the Turman's in Temecula, (located an hour and half east of Los Angeles & celebrating its 50th anniversary), are their longtime friends Obba Babatunde and his partner Kiki Shepard, Reginald T. Dorsey, Mykelti Williamson and his wife Sondra, along with crooner Keith Washington and his partner Dr. Linda Woodson.
(Picture courtesy of Ms. Kiki Shepard) - (L to R - Reginald T. Dorsey, Glynn Turman, Jo-An Turman, Dr. Linda Woodson, Kiki Shepard, Obba Babatunde, Keith Washington)
Initially, there is, a look of caution in some of their eyes as we meet in the resort lobby area. This group of regularly working actors, writers, producers, and directors, sometimes feel a bit of pressure of having to “always be on” in public. Rarely is there down time for them. The resort staffers and some of the guests graciously say hello and quickly moving on - giving the celebrities their 'space.'
Right away, the inspirational, and by the way, hilarious Obba sets a light-hearted tone for the group as he begins telling some of his many colorful jokes and funny personal stories as everyone files into the travel van. (Among Obba Babatunde's credits; The film, City of Lies, CBS TV's S.W.A.T., The Bold and the Beautiful. Earning an Emmy Award for his work on that TV daytime series. He's also appeared in the TV series Madame Secretary, NCIS, Dear White People, The Manchurian Candidate, John Q, and That Thing You Do. A Tony nomination for his work in the original stage production of Dream Girls. Also an NAACP Trailblazer Award for work in A Soldier's Story). (https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0044762/?ref_=nv_sr_1).
Get ready to laugh whenever Obba begins a sentence with; “Did I ever tell you about...” Also, know that whenever you're in Obba's company, you will learn something unique about yourself that he sees and graciously embraces.
The atmosphere within the group shifts to unguarded relaxation. For some members, this is the very first visit to the wine country of Temecula. The 'must do' excursions while visiting this quaint community is, of course, wine tasting tours and eating delectably beautiful foods and enjoy live music. Kiki Shepard shares; “This is so nice here. Wow, Teresa! I had no idea all of this was here...this close to L-A!”
Wine Tasting, Lunch and Laughter Arriving at the Wiens Family Cellars Winery, our host Tim and the warm staff, share the beautiful interior settings - intimate private cellars and award-winning vintages. Wiens is known for its extraordinary reds, but its whites are also truly excellent. This tasting is a big hit with the group. Sip a little and ask questions. Owner Jeff Wiens and his team are happy to teach you how best to enjoy their varieties of wine.
Driving through the vineyard-lined country roads a building on a hillside with massive doors and double-sided stairwells catch everyone's eyes. We stop for lunch and a tour of Fazeli Cellars. Property Host Jerry offers the winery's very own Baba Joon's Kitchen unique creations of Mediterranean Persian dishes for perfect pairings with its more than 20 varietals of award-winning boutique wines. Lots of smiles and more laughter as everyone dines on sushi grade ahi tuna, diced avocado tossed with sesame ginger dressing, cilantro and served with cucumber. Super bright eyes as everyone dines on the divine tasting lamb flatbread and also the flatbread with poached saffron shrimp, bacon bechamel, peppers, onions and white cheddar cheese.
As everyone sips on delicious wine and take in the most panoramic views from the upper-level patio, an at ease Mykelti shares; “Man, I'm great. I'm so glad to be away from the 'noise and the phones.' Great to be with you all.
The fellas soon start light-heartedly teasing Mykelti a little bit for always working so much. Mykelti works on multiple productions 10 months out of the year all over the country. (Among his credits; Chicago P.D., Forrest Gump, Fences, Heat, Con Air, Ali, Miami Vice (TV Pilot), The Final Destination, The Purge Election Year, Designated Survivor, Waiting to Exhale). (https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0932112/?ref_=nv_sr_1) With a look of respect in his eyes and while holding wife Sondra's hand, Mykelti says; “Ya know, everything good about what we do, I've learned from this man right here – Glynn Turman.”
With a look of a proud papa, Glynn smiles at Mykelti and Reginald saying “I love watching you guys work. “I admire your real dedication to the art and the craft of acting. And, to you Reggie - the best riding actor horseman and producer working these days.” (Among Dorsey's credits; Executive Producer of Craig Ross's Monogamy-Urban Movie Channel, Kings of the Evening, 21 Jump Street, Return To Lonesome Dove, South Central, and Rodeo Champ—The Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo). (https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0234177/?ref_=nv_sr_1) Reginald laughs saying; “I'm cool. I appreciate you. We don't often get to hang, all together, like this. I'm so glad this is happening! Thank You All.
After more laughter, food, and wine, while taking in picturesque panoramic views of vineyards, time quickly passes, and it's the time for even more wine tasting. More Wine Tasting Learning the how and why certain varieties of wine grapes thrive in Temecula soil for bold premium wine from a master vintner is wildly fascinating to many of the group. Don Lorenzi, owner, and vintner of Lorenzi Estate Vineyards, shares some of his most prized artisan wines and graciously explains the delicate taste differences. Lots of warm smiles when the bar hosts say, “have you ever enjoyed this variety?” Wine tasting with friends is fun!
Teresa shares; “Being around you guys, we now understand how much fun it is to laugh until your side hurts, and why you cherish each other so dearly!” The ladies later spend time at the Pechanga super relaxing day spa and cap the late afternoon with salon messages. Even more later there is casino time and Eagle's Nest nightclub time. Restaurants now at the resort are world class incredible- eat heartedly!
Riding The Trails Diana Ledford owner of Wine Country Trails by Horseback takes pride in caring for her more than 50 healthy horses. She is delighted as Glynn, Obba, Reginald, Mykelti, and Keith walk into her office saying, “we'd like to ride please.”
Diana's staff and her daughters routinely prepare horse mounts – going over their well-rehearsed safety procedures. Suddenly they recognize the fellas. Glynn and Obba cast on their personalized specialty saddles, pads, bits and even their boots-all intended to keep a horse at ease. They display how best to approach an apprehensive horse for the first time gaining its trust.
Obba, who is also a horse whisperer for more than 20 years, displays his unique knowledge of voice commands, hand gestures, and specialty skills to get a horse to a comfort zone.
Other guests rider look on in amazement as Obba, Reginald and Glynn gracefully charm the horses before they ride. Mykelti, Keith, and yours indeed, mount up as well. (I ride ahead with my cameras - photos taken while on horseback).
Our guide hosts ask the gentlemen what would they like to do first. Reginald asks, “Is it ok to let 'em lope?” After a few minutes, Glynn asks, “ Is it ok to let 'em loose?” Assured that these guys know what their doing, our hosts give the thumbs up and off we run. Ride 'em cowboys for real! What a rush! As Glynn, Obba, Reginald, Keith and Mykelti slow down the ride they share conversations about their work and personal relationships.
Mykelti is an extraordinarily humble and religious man-putting his wife and daughters and God foremost in his life. Before a production work check is cashed, Mykelti speaks his words of faith -believing needs and wants of his family shall always be met. His belief is undoubtedly worthy of admiration!
Reginald finds solace and a dynamic peace within himself while riding horses and making movies. As he rides you see that he's a master of his universe-extremely confident.
Keith is an easy going and humble man. As he re-acquaints himself with galloping on a horse, we share a talk about stages of
his life and his long-running career. He's a delightful forward thinking guy and fun to be around.
Obba shares so many bites of wisdom about living life well. There are at least a half dozen inspirational books in his soul.
Why do these men hang together so tightly in friendship? Obba shares; “We accept one another as we have met one another. We share a common bond - the lifestyle of horses and as entertainers. With these fellas, it's not how long you've been living but how you've been paying attention. These gentlemen have been paying attention for a long time. This weekend has been exceptionally wonderful. This cowboy one tank getaway to the community Temecula, so close to L-A. This for us a time to be thankful. We afford one another respect to be ourselves- no egos.” As we ride, I learn there is a remarkable code of conduct and honor among this group of friends. They take nothing for granted about their lives - true gentlemen!
Evening Dinner/Speakeasy Cocktails
Dinner and the atmosphere at 'Devilicious Eatery,' in Old Town, is super cool. The delicious food and drinks are prepared daily- very fresh! On the menu such items as - a duck confit grilled cheese sandwich, short ribs tacos, a butter poached lobster sandwich, a buffalo burger and lots and lots of beer on tap. Ask politely, and the owners share the location of their secret speakeasy hangout serving specialty cocktails and very private conversations.
As the group embraces the evening, the charming Keith Washington cheers on the good fortune of his pals at the table. This decidedly masculine singer possesses a special charm allowing folks around him to feel great about themselves. At the dinner table he shares; “Hey guys, I gotta stay up tonight to watch the royal wedding... I support the princess (Meghan Markle marries the UK's, Prince Harry).
Keith, most notably known as a '90's and early 2000's smooth soul crooner, tours regularly (most recently with R&B legend Keith Sweat). Washington's latest recording project will be released later this year. His singing voice is fantastic! (Among Keith Washington's hits; Kissing You, If You Were With Me Now, You Make It Easy, Make Time For Love.) (https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004206585748&lst=1090801158%3A100004206585748%3A1528065775&sk=about).
Bailey's Old Town Temecula Restaurant and popular night spot with live music offers up even more incredible hospitality and scrumptious dishes. Everyone enjoys the dining offerings such as baked fresh Atlantic Salmon prepared with citrus infused butter and vegetables, blackened tiger shrimp, artichokes, pasta, bone in rib-eye steak with tomato basil soup, salad and dessert. This meal is highlighted by more funny stories and laughter from Obba and Kiki. Big smiles and thank you to our host.
A walk through Old Town after the delicious meal is just what everyone needs. The group makes their way to the Merc Community Theater around the corner for some live country music. The local talent of young performers is genuinely remarkable. You'll likely see some of the performers gracing world stages very soon. An enjoyable evening at the theater!
Looking Ahead to More Riding in Temecula. For many horsemen and women, there's nothing quite like touring the massive 240 acres of Galway Downs property where horses are trained, including some past Kentucky Derby entries. Denis G. Ferguson, property president, show the fellas how many millions of dollars go into keeping the grounds competitive and safe for both the riders and the animals. Keith, Obba and Mykelti's eyes sparkle at seeing cozy guest travel trailers next to horse stables. Reginald is in awe of seeing a training arena that uses a blend of cotton shreds, silicon and other fabrics as turf to protect the limbs of horses and guard against injury should a rider fall. Glynn breaks out with a broad smile at seeing plans for covered rodeo arenas. There's even a mile long racing track, and the discipline course runs include Jumping and Dressage and even a Polo field within the property. Can't wait for a return invitation.
A visit to Temecula is not quite complete without a meal and cocktails at the 1909 Restaurant in Old Town. The food menu is pure comfort food and is entirely off the scale mouth-watering, palate-pleasing fantastic.
Before heading back home Glynn and few of the fellas play a round of golf Sunday morning. The first few holes are relatively routine, but then you get to test your skills! After the 5-hour course - spend some time at the super beautiful pool. JoAn Turman; VP of Marketing for Habitat for Humanity Greater Los Angeles
http://www.habitatla.org/jo-an-turman-is-the-new-vp-of-marketing-at-hfhgla/ Kiki Shepard; Television Host “Motown at the Apollo”, Founder “K.I.S Foundation”, raising awareness to Sickle Cell Disease - https://thekisfoundation.org/ Dr. Linda Woodson; “Linda Woodson Dermatology” http://lindawoodsondermatology.com/
*(Special thanks to Ms. Annette Brown, Marketing Director of Visit Temecula Valley, Ms. Jessica Newton, Media & PR Specialist for Pechanga Resort & Casino, along with all the sites listed below for making this Cowboy One Tank Getaway to Temecula an AMAZING Success!)*