Day trip to Outer Banks, NC

SMS and I decided to take a day trip to the Outer Banks earlier this month.  It was the Saturday after Labor Day so even though we were charged peak tolls, it seemed that we were into the “shoulder season” with far fewer tourists.  We had an amazing time!

We drove along the 158E and once we crossed the bridge to the Outer Banks, we took a right to head down towards Kill Devil Hill and Kitty Hawk.  Our first stop was for lunch at Pigman’s BBQ for some East Carolina-style pulled pork and ribs.  I really like the tangy, vinegar-based sauce.  We were pretty hungry and the food hit the spot!  We ate outside in the shade.  The restaurant also does picnics-to-go, which would be a nice way to have a gourmet beach feast.

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SMS as a plane. Next to him is the launch rail. In the background are the flight distance markers.

After Pigman, we headed to the Wright Brothers National Memorial at Kill Devil Hill.  Kill Devil Hill was the dune (now grass-covered hill) that they used to launch their gliders.  Slightly north of the hill is the site of the first four flights.  There is a launch rail that was used to help guide the plane to take-off that is still present.  Four boulders are placed marking the landing site of each of the first flights, which got progressively longer.  I didn’t realize how short the first flight was!  We walked along the path to the 4th flight boulder, which was the longest distance by far.  It was really neat.  In addition, there’s a cool juxtaposition of a modern airstrip right next to the monument so right next to the historic field is a modern airport with Cesnas flying in.

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We decided to head South and try to find a beach.  I saw a marker for Coquina Beach at the Wright Memorial so we headed there.  What a find!  It’s down Highway 12 about 20 minutes from Kitty Hawk.  It’s part of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore so it’s completely undeveloped.  But at Coquina Beach, there is a large parking lot with plenty of spots when we were there.  Best of all, there’s a spotlessly clean bathroom, changing room and outdoor shower area which makes it SO much nicer when it comes time to leave.  Rather than sitting in damp suits with sticky sand, we were able to wash off and change.  I really liked it and can definitely see myself going back.

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After a few hours at the beach, we got back in the car and headed home.  We stopped at the Weeping Radish, a microbrewery in Grandy opened by an immigrant from Bavaria in the 1980s.  They follow the Bavarian Reinheitsgebot Purity Law of 1516 and both the beer and food are German-inspired.  The beer, all from the microbrewery, was really good.  I was surprised because sometimes super-small places can be uneven in quality but every beer was pretty great, although there were some I favored over others just based on personal taste.   Unfortunately, we weren’t hungry due to the size of our lunch but I bet the food there is pretty awesome. We watch the last set of the Serena-Naomi US Open, which was pretty intense.

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Feeding a goat!

Also, I got to feed a goat!  There were two goats outside and I went over to admire their cuteness.  A woman leaving the brewery told us that they liked branches from the tree and that I should feed them one.  So, I took a little twig and fed one of the goats.  Super cute!

Then it was time to head back.  It was a great day with lots of cool stops- a perfect day trip!  For future Outer Banks trips, I would like to go back to Coquina Beach, check out Duck, and travel to Ocracoke for an overnight (or several) based on my cousins’ recommendations.

Bird Update!

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The birds are doing well in their foster home.  They have a fairly standard routine which, pathetically, I know.  In the mornings, they eat their food then spend the rest of the time hopping back and forth between the cages and often hanging out on the top.  They will sometimes all fly at once and buzz the observer’s head.  This is rude but they are poorly trained.

In the afternoon, they tend to hang in the cage.  They will sometimes take naps.  They seem to be pretty happy because there are a lot of head bobbles.  As I read what I’m typing, I feel that this text would be better suited in a format resembling crayon-writing on a paper by a young child since this is all dreadfully boring.  But if you were here, you would love the birds because they are so cute.

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So, I admit.  I have a favorite.  Yes, I love the one named after me best but she is so cute!  And noble!  As mentioned earlier, she is not very smart since all the birds are pretty dumb but that is ok.  I do not want any real competition.

 

Also, earlier in the month, I binged read the Harry Potter series because it had been awhile and I have a few friends who are into Harry Potter trivia parties and bar crawls (at last, bigger losers than me!).  The books are really fun and I enjoyed the re-read.  J.K. Rawlings is brilliant- to be that imaginative and create a fictional world that is highly readable and enjoyable is a definite gift!

Inspired by the books, I gave the birds Potter names.  Without further ado…

Harry Potter Birds

Birthday Tesla Factory Tour

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The only picture I could take!

So, I had been planning a surprise for SMS’ birthday for months!  Now that I own a Model 3, I am eligible for a factory tour every year with 3 of my closest friends.  SMS kept saying how it would have been so cool to have a factory tour with the Tesla pick-up so I decided that it was better late than never!

I made the reservation about seven weeks ago.  The site advises about a month’s advance notice but I really wanted the birthday date!  I also invited our friend from Park Place and Mark’s second cousin.  It was a nice group and we were all very excited!

It starts in the customer service center where each of us was given a badge and a NDA to sign via iPad.  I didn’t really read it so I don’t know what I can say on my blog with five readers (+1 now that’s shown up on Elon Musk’s Google news alert?!?!?!?!).  After an introduction, all tour group members pile into a red mobile of golf-cart like seats linked together.

What was most interesting to me was how “vertically oriented” the Tesla production process is.  Rather than have low inventory with a constant inflow of parts from other sites, almost all the car parts are made on site.  This is amazing since storage is expensive and the plant is located in a very expensive area.  It makes more sense though, when the backstory of NUMMI is known and that Elon Musk bought the place at a firesale price.  It’s a huge complex and a lot of production equipment was included in the sale, including the biggest metal stamper in North America, which sets of the seismic detectors in Berkeley when it’s in use!

So, yes, there is plenty of room for storage and many parts are made on site.  Then we went past the S and X production lines.  It was very interesting and I’m glad we went.  There are definitely some differences compared to our Porsche factory tour in how the line is structured and timed.  It was cool to have a basis for comparison.

Afterwards, we had a birthday dinner at the house with Barnaby and Mark’s rock climbing friends and their partners.  I ordered food from Oren’s hummus and then we had a Japanese-style cake from Satura cakes in Los Altos.  It was awesome.  Great food, easy set-up, and great company!

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The next day, we went to Chromatic coffee.  We also walked around the Stanford mall later in the day which has the most beautiful flowers outside of Neiman Marcus (this makes sense to me).

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Lots of birds at Shoreline

On Friday, I went on a 20 mile run to try and build up for my upcoming marathon.  It was a beautiful day on Shoreline and I got sunburned since my sunscreen couldn’t hang for 3 hours.  Plus, I did skip my arms thinking it was still early but that was an unwise decision!  That evening, we went to Los Altos for a drink and then we saw a community orchestra that labeled itself “Terrible” and they’re not too far from the truth.  I think the main problem was that they picked very popular classical pieces so the difference between them and the radio versions from some of the best orchestras in the world was rather stark.  Afterwards, we met up with friends for dinner at a Thai restaurant.

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The Terrible (that’s the “T” in TACO!) Orchestra

Saturday was a mellow day.  We went climbing, which was so much fun.  It had been a little while for me and I really enjoyed myself.  For dinner, we went to Sushi Tomi.  It was so delicious.

So yes, that’s SMS’ birthday weekend in a nutshell.  It was great and so much fun!

Things I am (un)seriously worried about…

I recently read a quote- and I don’t remember where, blog/insta/photo caption…who knows!  But what the quote disparaged was people who use two spaces after a period instead of one.  Wait, what?!  That’s a thing to make fun of?  I didn’t even know one space was a thing.  Ever since learning to type, commas have had one space, periods two.  The Atlantic even has an article covering the controversy.  Ok, wait, let me read it…hmmm, it seems to imply that everyone is a winner but by the end, the reader can clearly tell the one-spacers are the 1% of intellectual superiority.  The author likens people who use two spaces to people who still have their smartphone keyboard sound effects turned on.  Rude!  Everyone knows that people who have their keyboard sound effects are people who can barely handle the technology of zipping up their pants in the morning, let alone modifications to their smartphone.  I am not one of those people (checks pants zipper…ha, ha, I kid.  I’m wearing scrub pants).

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I am also worried about becoming a bird lady weirdo.  Let it be known, my parents did NOT set me up for success on this one.  As the birds’ baby-sitter, I have to deal with the fact that there are four birds (which seems excessive to some) AND that they are named after me and my siblings.  Fortunately, there’s not much of a competition in the smarts category since these birds are pret-ty dumb.  They are, however, very cute.  The cutest one is (naturally?) the one named after me.  She is also, however, the biggest pig and first to the food.  Let’s not talk too much about that factoid.

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All four in my hand!  At once!

But I am showing off smartphone pictures of the birds.  I know!  How can I not, though, when I successfully get all four of them to eat out of my hand at once?  It is amazing.  Forget my jerk of a co-worker who, upon seeing this marvel said, “What?!  Who cares.  It’s the trick birds are supposed to do.  My dog can do lots of tricks but birds?  This is it.  This is what you do with birds.  Buy birds.  Day 1, feed them out of your hand.  Day 2, give them away.”

I also put together their wooden playground, which I found very difficult.  Although my Mom (my real Mom, I don’t have a bird Mom) said that it was easy and that I should pour myself a glass of wine and do it.  Well, I drank a cup of coffee and watched a YouTube video.  Some of the supports are a little tilted but the birds like it. How do I know?  Because it’s their new favorite pooping spot.

Central Coast California- Party and Wine Tasting

The weekend after an East Coast family trip, SMS and I made our way from Silicon Valley to the Central Coast.  First stop?  Great-Uncle Al’s 90th birthday party in Arroyo Grande!

Before we went to the party, we stopped at our favorite taco place in nearby Pismo Beach, Papi’s Grill.  We ordered a few tacos and they were delicious.  The potato taco is always a hit and a few of the meat ones were also very tasty.  Then we checked into the SeaCrest OceanFront Hotel and went to the beach for a bit.

Uncle Al is SMS’ grandfather’s younger brother.  The brothers are both very active and live life to the fullest.  Although there was no formal toast, Uncle Al got up at one point to tell us “terrible news:” “I just went to DMV and they renewed my license…for five more years!”  It was very funny.  Although as I type it, it sounds worrisome- I promise, it was light-hearted!

It was fun to see family members, including SMS’ aunt and uncle whom we don’t see as often.  We had tri-tip for dinner, which was pretty delicious.  Afterwards, we went back to the hotel and watched the sunset.  It was a pretty great day.

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World Cup viewing

The next day, SMS and I went to a local bar to watch the World Cup final.  I am an unabashed follower of sports when it comes to championship games.  The road to the championship?  Not so much but when it’s time for the finals, I’m usually there.  It was a good game and both teams played with gusto. I was rooting for Croatia as the underdog but France winning was also ok.

After the game, we checked out of the hotel and headed for Paso Robles.  We had decided to take a couple days off and go wine-tasting with SMS’ parents.  Since we were early for check-in, we headed out to do what we do best- drink wine!  Our first stop was at Eos winery, where Rip had a complimentary tasting due to reciprocity from another wine club he belongs to.  Our pourer was really nice but the wines were…ok.  We enjoyed talking to her and she gave us a tip that was AWESOME (more later) so it wasn’t a bust but we definitely didn’t buy any of the wines.

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Heart Hill, Niner Winery

Rip wanted to try Niner winery so off we went for a tasting and possibly lunch.  There, by total chance, we ran into his sister and brother-in-law.  We enjoyed a tasting and decided to eat lunch at the on-site restaurant.  It was really good and the outdoor seating even better.  It was a really nice lunch setting and it was very enjoyable.

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Lunch table at Niner

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Although we had gotten the message that our hotel rooms were ready, we decided to keep going with wine tastings (yay!).  Since Justin is an old favorite and a little out of the way from the places we were planning on for the next day, we headed there.  We split wine tastings there and I bought a few bottles.  We ambitiously thought we’d drink them while we ate S’mores later at the Hotel Cheval but that ended up not happening.  So SMS and I still have them.  Darn.

We headed back to town to check in and then go to dinner.  We went to Thomas Hill Organics, which has excellent food and a beautiful indoor/outdoor covered patio.  Afterwards, we went to Hotel Cheval’s famed evening S’mores which ended up driving me crazy.  Let me say, SMS thinks I shouldn’t write about this because it does make me look slightly insane.  He is probably right but I press on, regardless.

So, first, you cannot make your own S’more.  There is a s’more concierge/waiter who takes your S’more order and then makes them for you.   He is taking orders from many people who would like s’mores and yet, he can only make two at a time.  Not the best system in the world but this is not the part where I lost my mind.  What was driving me crazy was his insane level of inefficiency and resulting level of stress.  It’s like the scene in August: Osage County when Abigail Breslin’s character states she doesn’t eat meat because she’s ingesting an animal’s fear.  Well, I was eating a person’s stress while eating a s’more, which is antithetical to the s’more experience.  Also, why could he not move his s’more ingredient wagon next to the fireplace where he was actually making the s’mores rather than running back and forth.  Wwhhhhhhyyyy?!?!? Argh, just let me make my own s’more!  Except I couldn’t.  And the whole experience made me weirdly grouchy because I am crazy.  The end.

So, if you’re still with me rather than reporting my fragile mental status to concerned authorities, we had another day of wine tasting the next day!  After a delicious breakfast, which featured a buffet and, thankfully, not a breakfast s’more waiter, we headed out to Villa San Juliette, which had been recommended the previous day at Eos.

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Villa San Juliette
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Happy couple at Villa San Juliette

It was amazing!  The wines were really good- I ended up becoming a member!  Also, the tasting was $10 and a lot of wines were served.  SMS ordered a pizza because his hunger levels were reaching imminent crisis levels and it looked delicious.  We spoke to the chef for a bit and he really knew his stuff.  I sort of wanted to eat there because everything he described sounded amazing, but we had already made plans for Daou which is another great experience.  But before I move on to Daou, if you are in Paso Robles, I give Villa San Juliette my highest recommendation!

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Daou lunch crowd!
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Daou vineyards

Rip has been a member of Daou for a long time and loves their wines.  It also sits on top of the largest hill around for miles so the view is spectacular.  There is an outside sitting area that is covered so, although it is quite hot, it’s comfortable in the shade as there’s often a gentle breeze as well.  We had a great tasting there and lunch.

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Our lunch was rather late so we decided to head back into town for happy hour rather than try and squeeze in another winery.  We got some so-so ice cream but later, went out for a really nice dinner at La Cosecha.  I ordered the seafood stew that was delicious but I wasn’t quite hungry enough for.  Still, I ate all the good stuff and tried not to waste any food!  Afterwards, SMS and I headed to an outdoor spa at River Oaks Hot Spring & Spa.  He made the reservation and it was really a good idea!  Afterwards, we still had room for a s’more so we hung out by the fire again.  This time, I was more chill.  Not uncoincidentally, there was a different s’more guy.

The next day, it was time to go.  We ate breakfast and then packed up the car.  It was a great mini-vacation and a fun way to celebrate family.