I woke up and it was my birthday! Yay, the capstone day of our long weekend! We were still in the dreamy Singlethread hotel and looking forward to our Japanese breakfast. Part of what drew me to Singlethread was the incredible amenities and special touches throughout the stay. Breakfast had been highly praised. SMS and I wanted a throwback to our ryokan days in Japan so we ordered the Japanese set.
There was so much food! Little dishes abounded, including rolled up egg (tomago), several sashimi, rice, fruit, pickled veggies, and yuba. Yuba is Japanese for “tofu skin,” which sounds way worse I think!
After breakfast, we hung out on the rooftop and sealed our Northern California-ness by splitting a bottle of Pliny the Elder. It’s a double/imperial IPA beer made in limited batches with stern admonitions to drink it fresh! We had heard of people lining up for it so we decided to sample it since it was so easily available to us. It was quite hoppy with a slight juniper taste. I would drink it again if I ever saw it again on a beer menu, but I wouldn’t stand in line for hours for it.
After checkout at 11 a.m. (we stayed as long as we could!), we drove to Calistoga to pass some time before our appointment at Medlock-Ames. Spoiler alert: Medlock-Ames is my new favorite winery!
It was a gorgeous day and a fun day for a drive. We passed the largest fire damage that we saw on our trip just North of Calistoga. The fire had burned both sides of the roads, although it looked like the vineyard on one side had been spared. We grabbed a panini in Calistoga before heading over to the vineyard.
Audra gave us a fantastic tour and I can’t wait to go back. While the wines are delicious and the tasting pours quite generous, I mainly want to go back so I can pick some vegetables in their organic garden later this Summer!
After wine tasting, we drove to Napa and had dinner in Oxbow Market. We wanted to stop by the CIA but it was closed. We headed home, where I had a near panic-moment when I thought I had left my purse at the restaurant. Fortunately, it was hidden in the car. Phew!
And that was my birthday weekend! It was an incredible trip and very special. No particular reason why this birthday was such a blow-out, but it was so much fun!
Sunday was my birthday…April Fool’s! Ok, ok it wasn’t but the whole weekend felt like such a treat! On Sunday, we woke up and went to Shed for Americano and pastries. We shared two of the breakfast toasts. The more impressive one, to me, was the ricotta, marmalade and pistachio duqqa. It was on a crusty piece of toast- quite delicious. The other toast was a very grainy, thinner piece of bread with egg salad.
So, our lodging and dinner for Sunday night was a super-extravagant splurge at Singlethread. As a result, we wanted to check-in exactly at 3 so that we could maximize our time there. So, we decided to stay local and skip any wine tasting that day. Instead, we headed to Foothill Regional Park for a hike. There was a small day-fee parking lot but there is a ton of free street parking.
We did an approximately 3 mile loop consisting of the Westside, Oakwood, Alta Vista and Three Lakes Trail. The views were really pretty and it was another gorgeous day. One of the pourers at Preston said he wasn’t impressed with the views since it essentially just overlooks the town of Windor but I thought it was really pretty!
On the way down from Alta Vista, I took my third slip of the day. Despite the fact that we usually like to hike, I had only packed flat-bottom, no-traction sneakers. Unfortunately, my iPhone was in my hand and I ever-so-gently smashed the face of it into a rock. Le boo. It still works but it there are several impressive stellate cracks on the face.
After our hike, we stopped for lunch at Estrella’s market/taqueria because I saw an outside grilling station. We both ordered the pollo asada and it was an excellent choice!
SMS and I went back into town and tasted wine at the Meuller tasting room to pass some time before check-in. The owner’s name is actually Robert Mueller but woman working there did not pick up my lame political reference jokes or maybe she’s bored of hearing it.
I’m putting my Singlethread thoughts in another post because the place deserves it! We checked in as early as we could (3!). Our dinner reservations were at 6. The dinner was about 2 and 1/2 hours. It was completely fantastic. I wish I could go back every week!
After dinner, we headed straight to bed. I probably could have used a little walk to help digest after such a meal but sleeping in the comfy bed was the second-best idea!
Alright, whoever guessed that I wouldn’t keep up with the European vacation posts gets their money back and more. Forward this post to seven friends and in 30 days, a check from a very legitimate source will appear.
I kid, I kid. Although I will finish the posts, I’m afraid I’m going to have to do a linkback similar to the Switzerland trip from last year. A lot has gone on this Fall and I’ve done myself a disservice in not keeping up with my blog in real time since the main purpose of this thing is to serve as an e-diary for the places I go.
So. After an amazing September vacation, it was a bit of an adjustment to realize that the vacation we had been planning for almost a year had come and gone. It was so awesome and we had the best time. SMS and I had a wonderful time with his family in Italy, which was sandwiched between a road trip encompassing Germany, Lichtenstein and Switzerland before and Slovenia & Germany after. Things that happened in October and November include…
After the marathon, I hopped in the car to head back North to Mountain View. Did I stretch? No. Possibly a mistake but I don’t think anything was really going to help with the soreness I’d feel over the next few days.
I hurried back to the hotel and took a quick shower. SMS and I headed to Santa Barbara where we went to Handlebar Coffee Roasters, where they had great espresso! Although there are many lovely places to eat lunch in Santa Barbara, we headed to Isla Vista (home of UCSB). There we went to Woodstock’s Pizza and had wings and Wildebread with cheese. It was delicious!
After a quick walk, we headed back to the car and drove to Firestone Walker Brewery. The beers were very…creative. We had a few we liked (DBA, Parabola) and a few we didn’t. After a few samples, we drove past Paso Robles to visit his Grand-uncle, cousin and his wife. We had a delicious dinner and it was really interesting listening to Al’s stories about his time in the military and LAPD. We hung out for awhile but left reluctantly in order to make it back home that night. SMS felt great but I hit a wall (second time in a day) and kept drifting off on the way back. I wanted to keep SMS company while he drove but it was hard!
The next day, we had a low-key day. We went to Chromatic for coffee, hung out around the house and at 5:30, had an appointment at Watercourse Way! Hooray! The hot tub and cold water plunge felt great! Afterwards, we went out to dinner with our close friends. It was a really great weekend and we did so!much! Hooray for three-day weekends and although the holiday is solemn, it is nice to celebrate and appreciate what we have while remembering the context of others’ incredible sacrifice.
SMS and I drove down the Central Coast on Saturday. Why?!? I had signed up for the Mountains 2 Beaches marathon to try and qualify for the 2018 Boston Marathon. My time at Boston (4:01) was not great but I knew it was mainly due to the heat. I had so much fun in Boston that I wanted to run it again so…Mountains 2 Beach it was. I wanted a marathon that was known for providing BQs (Boston Qualifiers…ack, I’m using the lingo and drinking the Koolaid!) and with a 700 feet net downhill, M2B was it! Also, I didn’t want to do an extended marathon training plan again so I tried to keep my fitness up for a few more weeks. M2B had been sold out but right after Boston, they opened up 200 slots. I signed up for one and kept up my training after the marathon, mostly in the form of long runs and a few interval workouts.
So! On Saturday, we stopped at Papi’s Grill in Pismo Beach and had excellent Mexican food. We had several awesome tacos- butter beef, chorizo, potato, chorizo and veggies, shrimp- and chipotle chorizo french fries. Although the fries were written about in a lot of reviews, the tacos were the winners in my book. SMS thought that I had ordered too much food (truth!) and that chorizo was a bad choice before a marathon (false!) but he went along with it!
We went to the expo which was small and efficient. Parking cost $5, which I was a little annoyed at but hey, parking by the beach is not usually free, I guess. (Tip: Park near the Patagonia store and walk over). I picked up my bib, shuttle ticket and shirt in about 7 minutes. We looked at the vendors but left fairly quickly. We walked over to the original Patagonia store. We poked around for a bit and I got ideas for things I wanted to look for on sale. SMS found a nice pair of board shorts but they didn’t have his size. They directed us Surfboards by Fletcher Chouinard Designs where several Patagonia suits are carried. We found the right size and got a 30% military discount! Yay! [Re-reading this paragraph, I realize like I sound like such a cheap bastard- 3 money-saving tips in one paragraph? I can’t believe I stopped clipping coupons long enough to even type these words!]
We drove South about 25 more minutes to Pt Magu Naval Base where we stayed at the Navy Gateway Inn. It was near the beach and the room was really nice. I would highly recommend the place. I would like to go back later in the Summer to enjoy the beach (and maybe beach camping!?).
For dinner, SMS and I decided to drive a little further South to Malibu. The drive along Rte 1 is really beautiful and there’s a spot where the highway runs between two large rocks that were blasted apart for the road. We decided that it was the gateway between Central Coast and Southern California.
Malibu didn’t seem to be the most walkable place. Most of the restaurants and shops were in scattered small shopping centers rather than one central “Malibu” town. We ate at Ollo, which was really delicious. We shared several dishes- beef shortribs risotto, grilled artichoke, burrata & peach salad and curried lentils. The shortribs were amazing and the grilled artichoke was beautifully charred. The burrata was a bit of a miss- I thought it was going to be more of a baguette & spread rather than salad. The curried lentils were tasty. Afterwards, we drove back to Pt Magu and went to bed. I was pretty tired since I was on East Coast time.
The next morning, I woke up, quickly got dressed and drove to Ventura to catch the shuttle. Parking was pretty easy and fortunately, I parked on the correct side to get to the 101 without having to cross the course later in the morning. There seemed to be a few more people than there were buses but fortunately, I made it on the last bus. We arrived in Ojai about 25 minutes later. I headed straight for the Porta-Potties which, as reported in other write-ups, have fairly long lines. I would think a few more are needed but Ojai doesn’t seem like much of a Porta-potty town so maybe the number is limited.
The start was well-organized and I started about 4 minutes after the official start. I set out with the 3:37 pace group but I realized that I felt really, really good that morning. So after the first mile, I had caught up to the 3:32 group and ran with them for awhile. I didn’t necessarily think that I would finish in 3:32 but I thought that building a time buffer would be a good idea and make the end of the race less stressful.
I felt great for the first 16 miles. I had my headphones in and really got a lot of energy from my music. Nothing great, just pop music with a good beat. At mile 16, I stopped for a quick bathroom break. This is where I lost the 3:32 group because there was no way I was going to sprint after them. I slowed down a fair bit after that but it also corresponded to where the course flattened out and a headwind started to pick up. It wasn’t a terrible headwind (in fact, it was slightly cooling) but it was definitely noticeable.
Around mile 21, my legs really started to hurt. My quads felt so tight and my calves were almost as bad. It progressively got worse through the last 5 miles but I just gutted through. The last mile, I had a pretty hitch-y gait but I knew that as long as I kept running, albeit slowly, I would very likely make my time goal. I thought of SMS and his hard climbs, telling myself that this race was like a 12A climb and “the crux is at the finish,” which means the known hardest move is at the end. I also thought about my friend Jyotsna and how I really did not want to text her bad news about missing my time goal. I tried to find internal motivation thinking that it was important to do it for myself, not just others, but my internal motivation was telling me to walk so I didn’t listen.
The 3:37 pacer passed me shortly after the 25 mile marker. His group numbers had significantly dwindled compared to the start. I kept him in my sights as best I could through the last mile. I had a suspicion that he was running slightly faster than a 3:37 finish since my TomTom sportwatch was pretty spot on with mile markers and pace. I crossed the finish line, fairly confident that I had BQ’d but I didn’t know by how much. I went through the finishers corral where I was given a medal and a delicious snack plate with watermelon, orange slices, peanut M&Ms in addition to a few other things I didn’t eat.
I went to the gong line, which BQ-er’s can hit after the race. In line, a very nice couple from LA was behind me and he looked up my time. 3:37:19. Yay! Not only had I BQ’d but I likely have enough of a time cushion to make the cut-off time as well! A woman joined me in line- I think she was a little out of it since she was completely cutting the line but she was so happy to have BQ’d. She said she had been trying for over 30 years! She was crying and a little snotty (like from the nose, not attitude) so how could I tell her the line started back there (even though I am usually a mega-line enforcer!).
So, yes! It was a great course and I met my goal. My legs have never hurt so much in a marathon but I think it’s a result of low-mileage training. I would not recommend that type of training, but it’s just what happened after recovering from Boston and not running enough. I don’t think the leg soreness was from going out too fast, but I don’t know. Would I have been able to keep up with a steady 3:37 pacer? I don’t think so since I usually slow down a bit at the end of every marathon. I was glad that I built the time cushion up early and I think that a positive split marathon is what works for me. Next up, Boston 2018 (cut-off time allowing)!
On Sunday, SMS and I headed up to San Francisco after sleeping in. Our main event was going to Beowulf, an immersive theater performance by the We Players, who strive to connect “people with place through site-integrated theatre.” I was so impressed and excited that SMS had bought tickets to the show. I had only just heard about immersive theater experiences the weekend before in Charleston when we talked about the NYC show Sleep No More. So I was really excited to see a new-to-me type of performance that night.
We decided to make a day of it and headed up a little after lunch and headed to Andytown Coffee, home of my favorite coffee drink, the Snowy Plover! It is an amazing concoction of espresso, bubble water and decadent whipped cream. I think it’s delicious, SMS thinks it’s a little less so but we went and I was very happy!
Then we headed over to the Presidio for a Picnic at the Presidio food truck event. We weren’t super hungry, but it was fun to walk around. Then we walked to the waterfront where the show would start. We went to Buena Vista where I got an Irish Coffee, then we went to In & Out to get a burger for an early dinner before the show. It wasn’t the most glamorous choice but hey, people are always craving In & Out when they go to California. Plus, the wharf area is so touristy that we would have otherwise paid a fair bit of money for so-so food so fast food it was! Continue reading “San Francisco Sunday”
In early December, I traveled to Newport Beach for a SMS’ side of the family Christmas party. We had a really nice time hanging out the weekend and it was pretty low-key. No new Newport Beach recs, other than SMS’ cousin has a pretty cool leggings line called Goldsheep. I have a pair and I recommend the line although to be completely honest, it’s better for fashion than for fitness. Or maybe I should say, they’re not the best for running- yoga and Pilates are fine. The prints are amazing and cutting-edge.
The end of December, SMS and I traveled to San Diego for Christmas weekend. We stayed at the La Pensione, a cute and affordable boutique hotel in Little Italy. I love that neighborhood! SMS and I met up with his friend for drinks at Craft & Commerce, a very cool bar in Little Italy. Then we went to SMS’ parents’ house for Christmas dinner. It was delicious! We had fillet mignon, salad and mashed potatoes. It was really delicious and so nice to celebrate with family. We exchanged gifts and SMS’ parents gave me a gorgeous print of SMS’ Thailand sunset photo and a gift card to Lululemon which I cannot wait to use. SMS got an Open Table gift card which I hope we can put to good use 🙂
The next day, I went for a run from Little Italy up to Cabrillo National Monument for a total of 14 miles. It was a gorgeous day and man, do I miss San Diego! We went to his parents for brunch. Later in the afternoon, we went to his sister’s for a Christmas dinner. It was amazing! Perfectly roasted turkey, mashed potatoes, incredible dressing with bread from Bread and Cie (I think), cranberry, green vegetables…I was in heaven. Don’t get me wrong- I loved our Thanksgiving meal but to have all the sides be homemade? I was in Heaven. A Heaven where I ate too much 🙂
San Diego find- Coffee + Flower, an incredible coffee and…um, flower shop!
The next day, SMS and I headed home. It was a great Christmas weekend and hopefully, we’ll stay in SoCal longer next time!