Birthday Weekend!

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Happy birthday to me!  I ended up taking two days off and spending a long weekend in California.  It was fantastic.  SMS had planned fun things to do and the weather was absolutely beautiful.

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The only (out)house we can afford in Silicon Valley. Great views though!

I arrived late Friday night and on Saturday, I woke up for wine time!  Does that sound either way too early and/or that I slept until late afternoon?  Yes.  Though what actually happened is that SMS planned a lunchtime picnic at Ridge Winery, located in the Santa Cruz Mountains.  We drove up the winding mountain road, filled with expensive sports cars and seemingly suicidal bikers.  The Ridge Estate is near the top of Monte Bello, with an incredible view over the Valley.

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But first, wine.  We went into the tasting room where SMS asked to sample the chardonnay.  He had been to Ridge the weekend prior with some French colleagues and thought the wine was delicious.  It was.  We ordered a bottle and took it up to the knoll, where there were several tables.

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We had a feast!  SMS had bought Mt. Tam cheese, olive tamponade, coppa, and crackers.  It was an awesome spread and we had such a fun, mellow time.  We also witnessed an engagement!  There was a couple with a blanket on the hill but what made us notice them were the two photographers he had hired to photo document the event.  It’s crazy to me that someone (the woman) can be in situation where surveillance-like photos are being taken and have no idea but it’s hard to know everything that’s going on in background surroundings.

Sidenote: In looking up what meat SMS had bought, I found this list of “30 Essential Cured Meats.”  For me, big nopes include headcheese and zungenwurst.

After the winery, we headed back to the house.  Later that afternoon, we had a reservation for hot tubbing at Watercourse Way, followed by dinner with our friends Akshay and Jyotsna.  They were running late so Mark took me by his work and showed off the prototype car.  It’s pretty spectacular!  The building itself was very impressive- commercial/industrial real estate is fascinating to me.  It’s amazing how much planning and coordination of multiple systems have to be considered within the overall building design.

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Environmentally painted tree in Palo Alto. Sure, whatever!

We went to Lazy Dog for dinner, which had really good food.  I ordered the spaghetti squash with “beetballs,” since I was craving veggies.  It was delicious.  Jyotsna, who placed her order later, was unlucky because I had ordered the last plate.  Maybe I will invite her over and recreate the dish as a makeup!

At the end of the meal, Akshay had requested a scoop of ice cream be brought out with a candle in honor of my birthday.  It was definitely embarrassing to be sung to in the restaurant but also very sweet of him to think of the mini-celebration.

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The next day, I slept in which was delightful.  SMS and I decided to do something active so we headed over to Windy Hill for a hike.  It was gorgeous.  This time, we parked at the top, walked down Spring Ridge Trail and up Hamm’s Gulch Trail.  I definitely think this is the way to do it!  Walking down SRT allows for beautiful views of the valley while walking up HGT provides shade during the higher exertion part of the hike.

For dinner, we went out for Korean grill with two of our friends.  The food was delicious and the conversation quite interesting, since part of it involved Brexit from a British perspective.  Of course, they don’t represent all of the UK, but hearing about living through the referendum campaign was quite interesting.

Monday, I was on my own because SMS had to work.  #startuplife.  No matter!  I had a great day planned!  First, I went to Blue Bottle coffee and got an Americano.  I had been quite grumpy at them the day before because they totally ripped me off with a half-full espresso the day prior.  Picture a tiny espresso.  Now picture it even tinier.  Boo!  But clearly, I got over it quickly enough to go back, albeit still a little grumpy.

Get over it!  Ok, so anyway, then I went for a 10 mile run to the Stanford Dish, around, and back.  It’s actually only 9 miles total from the apartment and back so I had to add a mile at the end, which is always a little hard to motivate for but I did it!  Then, I went to Rangoon Ruby for lunch where I had the Tea Leaf salad (5 stars) and Nan Gyi Dok (noodle dish- would not recommend).

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After lunch, I walked over to the Cantor Arts Center and walked through a couple of exhibits there.  Upon entering, there is the most incredible horse sculpture that looks like it is made of driftwood but is actually cast bronze.  The artist made ceramic casts of driftwood, filled them with bronze, and then shattered the ceramic casts once the bronze had cooled.  It was a stunning piece called Viktoria by Deborah Butterfield.

I also took in the 3 works that comprise Do Ho Suh’s The Spaces in Between exhibit.  They were interesting works using repetitive visual objects to create a larger piece/sculpture.

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I also walked through Josiah McElheny’s Island Universe, where I inadvertently broke several rules.  First, I missed the strict designation for photo taking spots since, apparently, people had actually walked into the sculptures while taking pictures.  Poor form, ruining it (and the sculptures) for everyone.  To be clear, I did not do this.  The second thing I did was walk under a sculpture (that was suspended about 9 feet off the ground) because earlier in the exhibit, a piece had randomly fallen off of it.  So, basically, I walked through an exhibit full of reactive rules, ha ha.

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I also saw the Betelgeuse by Spencer Finch, suspended over Rodin’s The Thinker.  Overall, it was a very cool museum outing that took a little over an hour.  On the way back home, I walked through Stanford Mall with beautiful flowers throughout the mall.

I could have stayed longer but I had to walk back to the apartment to get ready for my Korean spa appointment, which was an experience that was so amazing/crazy that it will have it’s own post.  I’m envisioning David Sedaris levels of hilarity although the reality will likely be just an extremely awkward post with bad and unwanted mental images.

That night, SMS and I went out to Camper, a restaurant that had caught his eye.  It was a really nice birthday dinner.  We ordered several dishes with an even split between the amazing and the ok.  The drinks were quite good.  The restaurant acoustics were pretty terrible and are making me contemplate a second career in acoustic design (I have ideas!).  Overall, I would recommend the place but there are still so many places we want to try that I don’t think SMS and I will be back anytime soon.  Does that make sense?  It was definitely a good experience but it didn’t vault itself into the “most become a regular spot” category.  I do think it is a regular spot for many because it was very crowded for a Monday night!

The next day, SMS and I went out for breakfast at Blue Bottle where we split an avocado toast and had our own hot drink.  After packing and picking up the apartment, I headed to the airport where I had a delightful lunch in the American Express Centurion Lounge (love that place!).  On the flight, I got a free drink since the United computer told the flight attendant it was my birthday!  I continued the corporate flare to my birthday by getting upgraded on the second leg AND getting a free Starbucks drink during the layover.  Happy birthday to me!  Why so much travel on my actual birthday day?  Well, I don’t have a lot of vacation time due to a big trip the second half of this month plus SMS would have had to work during the day so I decided to head back.  The weekend was celebration enough!

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