Catch-up: Fall 2017

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…

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Book of Mormon Set
  • I saw the Book of Mormon.  The score was quite good and the musical overall was very funny.  It crossed the line a few times for me but it never approached “must walk out” levels.

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    Ceramics in the Peacock Room
  • I went to the Freer Gallery re-opening with my parents.  The new exhibits are well-organized by theme with thoughtful design by the exhibit curators.  I was happy to see The Peacock Room again.  It was also interesting to realize what an amazing American art collection that Freer had collected, presented in a small-ish gallery adjacent to the Peacock Room.  I loved the Whistler nocturnes on display.  They were very moving.
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    Sbragia vineyards, seen from the deck.

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    Lake Sonoma, the dam and the Dry Creek appellation
  • SMS and I had a day trip out to Sonoma, which was a little ambitious but a lot of fun.  We went to two wineries.  Sbragia had a beautiful view and we really liked the wines at Acorn.  We arrived early to Acorn so we were allowed to wander the vineyards, wine glasses in hand.  I may have pretended we owned the place.  In between the two wineries, we went to the Lake Sonoma dam and walked through Healdsburg.  Next time we go, we would love to stay in Healdsburg.  It is so cute.  There were several great looking restaurants, including the more market/food hall-feel Shed.
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    Acorn winery from the top of the hill.
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    Hanging in the vineyard
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    Near Swan’s Market

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    Rodin sculpture, Klimt images
  • The Friday of that same weekend, I went to Oakland & San Francisco on my own.  In Oakland, I went to the farmer’s market outside Swan’s Market, which was awesome.  I was there on the early side, which was good for my wallet since there are several cute stores that all opened at noon.   Another time… In San Francisco, I went to the Legion of Honor Museum and saw the Rodin/Klimt exhibit which was excellent.  I also purchased a pass to an exhibit demonstrating that the white statues and terra cottas of antiquity were often painted and more opulent than we currently see due to deterioration over time.  It was an interesting new perspective.  IMG_2944
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    Overlay caption added, if you can imagine

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    A favorite painting of Dad’s and mine
  • Dad and I went to the Vermeer and the Masters of Genre Painting exhibit, on display at the National Gallery through 21 Jan 2018.   My sister had told me about it and remarked how the ladies of Vermeer always looked a little peeved and slightly disturbed by their sudden exposure to the light.  So, I was mature and took pictures that I annotated later and sent to her.

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    This spot deserves photodocumentation. Notice the no parking arrow only extending away from Dad!
  • I also found the most amazing parking spot ever.  There was room for one car between two separate government parking areas with significant no parking signage.  But this one spot was ok for a commoner.  So I took it!

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    Fiona the Hippo!
  • I learned about Fiona the Hippo!IMG_2964
  • Finally, Happy Thanksgiving from SMS and I!

Memorial Day Weekend

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!

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A present from SMS!

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.

2017 Mountains 2 Beach Marathon Recap

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.

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Papi’s Grill- so good!

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!

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Outside the Expo.  I feel that if the driver got pulled over, s/he would not have an easy time getting out of a ticket!

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!]

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Missile Park outside Pt Magu

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!?).

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Pt Magu beach- the rock Central/South CA divider is on the right.

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.

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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!).

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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)!

 

San Francisco Sunday

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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.

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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!

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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”

December Travels

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!

Tahoe Thanksgiving!

Balcony view

Happy Thanksgiving!  SMS and I took a weekend trip to Lake Tahoe!  It’s 4 hours away and it’s hard to muster up the motivation to drive out there on an ordinary weekend.  I booked an AirBnb cabin and we headed up on Thursday morning.

 
The Lake- approximately 3 blocks from our cabin.
The cabin was in Carnelian Bay, North Lake Tahoe.  It was a residential neighborhood but there was a lot of space between cabins and the trees made it feel more secluded.  Inside the house, it was super cozy and cute.  I told SMS, “I want to buy a cabin in the woods!”   He pointed out we could just keep booking AirBnBs.   Touché.
Thanksgiving Feast, semi-home cooked style- roasted turkey breast, box stuffing, rolls
from a can, cranberry sauce from a can, roasted brussel sprouts and sweet potato
casserole.  The heavenly light seems to be favoring the rolls.
Thanksgiving was pretty mellow.   We relaxed after our drive and started cooking.  We had a delicious feast with a ton of leftovers so it was definitely a successful Thanksgiving!

 

Inspiration Point with Emerald Bay below
Emerald Bay

The next day, we took a field trip to South Lake Tahoe to check out Emerald Bay and Inspiration Point.  It was fairly crowded but we found a parking spot without too much trouble by utilizing one of the road pullouts.  It’s legal as long as the car is inside the line, aka completely off the main road.  If we had waited for one of the lots, it would have been awhile!

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Tree along the trail
We hiked down a gravel road to Vikingsholm, a former Summer residence of several rich Californians as it changed hands over the years.  Now it’s owned by the State and open for tours in the Summer.  Ever since visiting Denmark twice, I’ve enjoy checking out Scandinavian design so it was cool to see here in Tahoe.  I recommend checking it out!

 

Our brief foray outside

On Saturday, we had a leisurely drive back to Mountain View.  Our first stop was in Truckee at the very cool Coffeebar.  Our drinks were delicious and SMS had an awesome sausage breakfast burrito.  We tried to brave the outside in the full sun but we wimped out and headed inside.  Our drinks would have been cold in an instant!

The coveted Gose, second from the right!

In Sacramento, we stopped for lunch at our favorite spot, Nido.  I had the vegan nut burger, SMS had the vegan steam buns and we split a beer sampler.  According to SMS, I drank more than my fair share of the Gose so I went back up to get another sampler.  Peace restored! 

Then we drove home and traded cars with our friend.  We had borrowed his front-wheel car with chains since snow was (remotely) in the forecast.  Better safe than sorry!  We actually just missed the snow- there was snow on the ground while we were there and on Saturday overnight, 8 inches fell!

Holiday Weekend!

The past weekend was a federal holiday weekend (yay!) and a nice mixture of being mellow and hanging out with family and friends.  This post will be scant on pictures.  It was a “live the moment” weekend instead of picture-taking, which I know, I know, does not make for very good blogging.

Gorgeous flowers outside of Neiman Marcus.

Anyway!  I took Friday off and was pretty mellow while SMS was at work.  I ran to his work and we met up for lunch.  I spent the rest of the afternoon at the shopping mall trying to find a specific lipstick but had no luck.  That night, we went to Tomi for dinner, which was pretty delicious.

ZZZZzzzzz….wake up!  The weekend gets more interesting!  On Saturday, SMS and I went to run club.  Neither one of us had been for awhile so it was nice to see our running friends.  Then, we went into the city to hang out with SMS’s sister and brother-in-law.  We headed up to Tomales Bay, picked up oysters and had an amazing picnic in Pt. Reyes Station.  Afterwards, we drove out to Pt. Reyes lighthouse, admiring the happy cows along the way.  Does this sound familiar?   It’s because we did the same trip with SMS’ parents and his sister wanted to recreate it.

Smokestack!

After we dropped them off, SMS and I went out to dinner in the city.  I hadn’t really thought of a place, so we ended up going to the Dogpatch and eating at Smokestack.  I loved the interior and the BBQ and drinks were delicious.  Another huge bonus is they had free water on tap- still and sparkling!  I love bubbles!  I ordered a salad b/c I wasn’t very hungry.  SMS ordered some delicious BBQ, sustainably sourced and cooked over a woodchip grill only, of course.  I mean, really, we are in San Francisco (ha ha).

The next day, we met up with a friend of ours for brunch.  I really wanted the chicken and waffle, but went with a big salad instead.  Aiming for healthier eating is not always the most fun, but choices, choices.   Afterwards, we went to the American Heritage Museum in Palo Alto, which was pretty cute.  It was staffed by a lot of older volunteers, who gave us a tour.  We saw several old printing presses, staffed by a guy who had been a typesetter for 30+ years.  I really liked the interior of the house, since a doctor owned it and one room was an OR theatre.  You can’t tell now, but the skylights were perfectly positioned for illuminating the operative field.  I loved it!

Since we had been eating out like kings and queens, we decided to eat at home.  I made a version of tacorisu, a Japanese dish that translates into….wait for it…taco rice!  It was pretty good so I’ll be making it again.