Entrepreneurial Thought Leadership Series

Purple Cotton Candy and Sunglasses!

 SMS and I went to the second Entrepreneurial Thought Leadership Series talk at Stanford on Wednesday afternoon.  We managed to get out of work a little on the early side and head over to the Huang Engineering Center on the Stanford Campus.  It was an amazing event and the turnout was spectacular.  We couldn’t even get into the auditorium although there was an AV set-up in the lobby that allowed us to hear the panel discussion.

There were three panelists- Christina Smolke, a bioengineering professor; Steve Jurvetson, a partner-level venture capitalist and Astro Teller, the head of Google X.  I suspect Mr. Teller was the reason for the huge turnout but who knows.  The panel looked backwards and forwards along the timeline of tech development and was fairly interesting.  I wasn’t the biggest fan of the moderator.  She was a little too in love with her own cleverness and her questions were convoluted.  I think she was trying to channel a NPR Terry Gross-like style and wasn’t completely successful.

Foreground, Marty McFly’s car Background, Newest Tesla!

Afterwards, there were several companies displaying their products and free food!  I got to try on the Oculus VR goggles which were amazing.  It is still sort of a novelty type of entertainment- I could sculpt a “clay” structure and manipulate it in various ways- size, orientation, decoration, color.  It was really, really cool.  We also saw the Back to the Future car and got free cotton candy.  It was a really fun event and I think we’ll go again if we can swing the somewhat early start time (4:30).

2 Days, 1 Night in Napa

Last weekend, SMS and I went to Napa.  I was off-call and was able to venture a little farther away than normal.  We are going next month as well with SMS’ parents but even though the two trips are close together, I kind of wanted to get my “Napa Newbie” trip done.  It was nice to get the lay of the land and see a few places that I had heard about to weed out the “Repeat.  Must do again” from the “Ehh…it’s to somebody’s taste, but not mine.”

Coffee Scales for Pour-over at Ritual

On Saturday, I got up for a run and then we were off a little after 9.  We arrived in Napa by 11 and headed to the Farmer’s Market.  It skewed towards ready-made goods more than produce but it was a a lot of fun.  We bought figs, which I hadn’t seen in Mountain View for a few weeks.  We also had sandwiches for an earlier breakfast from “A Proper Sandwich.”  We split the sandwiches- I favored the roasted delicata squash with caramelized onions, fig spread, greens and pepitas on a hearty bread. SMS ordered the pimento cheese sandwich which was tasty but basically, a holiday cheese ball smashed into a sandwich.  I wasn’t quite expecting that but still, it’s nice to try something different.

Oxbow Market- crowded but awesome

Although we were full, we wandered through Oxbow Market.  It is super cute and airy with lots of great stand-alone shops, mostly food service.  It is similar to the Ferry Building in San Francisco and the San Pedro Market in San Jose.  There’s a Hog’s Head Oyster bar, a restaurant called The Kitchen Door, Ritual Coffee, and C Casa, a great Mexican food place that is pricy for Mexican food but relatively inexpensive for Napa :/

How to strap that to a car…

After looking at Oxbow, we decided to make a big driving loop up the Silverado Trail and back on the 29 to Napa, where I had booked our last-minute hotel.  The whole area was very crowded- it’s harvest time!  We stopped in St. Helena and window-shopped.  We found a motorcycle rental shop with some jet-engines out front.

I think this looks very Wild West…with gourmet tastes!

We also went to Oakville Grocery, which was smaller than I thought and although the building was historically interesting, I was a bigger fan of Oxbow.  I was definitely glad that we stopped though because I had heard so much about it.

Even the cheese at V. Sattui are crowded, ha ha.  But delicious!

Then we went to V. Sattui for a late lunch and glass of wine.  There are large picnic grounds there and  although the layout was nice, neither one of us really liked it.  And to be honest, most people’s rave reviews are usually in context of when they had already had a few tastings and then went to V. Sattui and really, that’s how it struck me- a place that would be more fun if you were drunk.  You know, get a little food, drink a little more, relax under a tree or on a picnic bench.  Definitely fun in the right mindframe but as a stand-alone stopping point in Napa?  I recommend a pass.

The French Laundry


We stopped in Yountville to take ultimate tourist photos at The French Laundry.  We also walked around the gardens which were very impressive.  So well-laid out and perfectly ordered with excellent irrigation set-ups.  There was also a chicken coup/playground for chickens and a greenhouse.  It was really cool to wander in there.

Then we went to Napa, checked into our hotel, had a cookie and milk break at 6 and headed out to dinner.  We walked towards the downtown where we had dinner at Carpe Diem, which was really fun.  We each had a shot of yellow lentil soup and then we shared a salad and a flatbread.  I had a flight of the “interesting reds,” which included a pinot noir I really liked (usually I find them a little too light and fruity).

Tasting Time!

Hess Courtyard and small pond with little goldfish

The next day, we had breakfast at the hotel which was carb-tastic!  We each had a waffle and then we split a homemade blueberry-banana mini-loaf.  Yum!  Then we headed out to Hess Winery, which was fantastic.  We went to the tasting room first where we tried a flight of three cabs (we liked 2010 the best) and a flight of four varied wine (I liked the Syrah).  Our pourer was really nice and the room was very cool.  We wandered around the gift shop and then went to view the attached museum/private collection of Mr. Hess, which is an incredible modern art collection.  After 40 minutes, we went on a tour of the vineyards and buildings which was about 30 minutes, but got the main points across.  It was a really pleasant, fun place and we were big fans!

Very cool collection and layout
Working winery next to the art!

After that, we decided to head home after a lunch at C Casa in Oxbow Market.  We stopped at UC-Berkeley and walked around for a bit. We also went to the top of the campus tower and had a great view on a pretty clear day.  Then we went to Stout Poutine so that SMS could get his poutine fix that he had had since reading about poutine in Berkeley.  They are really good but maybe a little much after a food-centric weekend!

Westward view from the tower

Then, we headed home and prepared for the week.  It was a fun weekend get-away and makes me really excited for our trip in a few weeks!  I’ve made some reservations and hired a driver so it will be a little more wine-centric.  Hey, maybe we should stop at V. Sattui!

Quality Time Weekend!

The past weekend was awesome!  On Saturday, SMS and I headed to San Jose after a delicious ramen lunch at Orenchi ramen.  SMS had gotten recommendations from two separate people so Saturday was the day to check it out.  It was delicious!  We both got the house special, which is a tonkotsu-broth ramen with slightly thicker, curly noodles.  My favorite part was the depth of flavor in the broth and the perfectly soft-boiled egg.  I’ve had a few better bowls in Japan but this place really held up against our previous ramen experiences.  SMS was also a fan.

Robot-san, v. 2

 After feeling slightly swollen after so much salty broth goodness, we hopped into the car for downtown San Jose.  We went to The Tech Museum of Innovation in San Diego where our admission + IMAX movie was free with active duty id.  Yeah!  The museum was cute but definitely geared towards kids and exposing them to mini-projects and experiments in the STEM fields.  That didn’t stop us from trying out the robot station though!  After SMS’ adventures in robot building at home, we wanted to check out how the museum curated the experience.

Going to the museum was also nice because SMS thought we were going to the art museum, which is usually more my speed.  So I got to accumulate awesome wife karma for thinking of a fun destination.  After the museum, we went to the San Pedro Market Square.  We decided to walk since the day was gorgeous and I decided to get lost and over-extend our walk by quite a bit.  Oops.

Part of San Pedro Market Square

Once we finally arrived, I loved the place! It’s two large buildings with multiple sections with many different restaurant/stationary food trucks/food court-type options.  We got coffees and dessert and it was really a treat.  There’s a huge picnic table area between the two buildings and the whole place and vibe were just delightful.

We love brunch!
Beautiful friends!

On Sunday, SMS had a conference to go to while I went into the city to have brunch with Brady and Rosa.  We went to the Mission Beach Cafe at Rosa’s friend’s suggestion and it was wonderful.  Brady got the French Toast for us all to share, I got the egg sandwich and Rosa got the winner dish of classic Egg Benedict.  There are several Bennies on the menu and I will definitely go with one next time I go.  The egg sandwich was good but messy, plus it was on a biscuit which made it slightly too heavy for my tastes.  I still ate it though!  The French Toast was also good, but it’s hard to beat my Mom’s so that’s that.

“A Sunday Afternoon in Dolores Park” by Daniel Doherty ’09

The Women’s Center

 Afterwards, we walked around the Mission District.  We went to Delores Mission Park and then went to look at a few murals.  First, we walked to the Women’s Center on 18th St and then we walked through Clarion Alley.  The last time I had been was in 2010-ish and it’s amazing how the murals have changed to reflect activism against rent increase and the “Evils of Tech.”  It’s awesome to see how dynamic art can be and reflect current issues and controversies.

Clarion Alley

Then we dropped Rosa off and went to the de Young Museum.  We really wanted to see the Turner exhibit and it was really awesome.  I was worried it would be crowded and while it was, I was still able to feel like I saw the paintings in an intentional, measured way rather than feel jostled and rushed.

Brady in front of one of my faves

My favorites were the two Roman paintings of ancient Rome and modern Rome that are paired paintings but currently held by two different institutions so often not displayed together; the “Blue Rigi, Sunrise” which is a watercolor with razor-sharp lines, an amazing technical feat; the “Snow Storm- Steam-Boat Off a Harbor’s Mouth” a action-filled swirl of stormy sea; and “Peace- Burial at Sea” which has amazing reflections off the water’s surface.

After the museum, we headed home where Brady packed up and the three of us went out to dinner. We went back to San Pedro Market Square (yeah!) where we had Mexican food to mark Brady’s last dinner in California, at least for a little while.  We dropped her off at the airport and while it was sad, it was such an awesome visit and she’s off to do such great things that I felt really lucky to have had this time with my favorite sister!

[Edited to add: The weekend was a three day fest thanks to Labor Day!  SMS and I headed out to Castle Rock Park and did a lot of climbing.  Well, SMS climbed a lot and I belayed quite a bit- the routes were hard!  Afterwards, we went for a hike which was really beautiful.  Then we went to a local deli for lunch.  It was a great day!]

Open up that Golden Gate!

Our approximate biking route

I have a list of things I want to do/see while in the Bay Area and this weekend, I was determined to have a really fun day trip.  The original plan was to hike on Angel Island, a destination highly recommended by a woman at work who has lived here for years.  The plan changed, though, when it turned out we were getting too late a start to make Angel Island worth it.  We slept in until 9:30 (!) and then had a nice breakfast at PantoniQ.  It felt awesome and leisurely- the perfect start to a Saturday.  But things would change…

SMS and I drove to Milbrae and parked the car- free on weekends!  Then we took the BART into San Francisco.  On the way, I looked up ferry times to Angel Island and realized that if we wanted to have a nice day of hiking and exploring the “Ellis Island of the West” museum, we would have to go another day.  It’s a State Park and closes on the early side.  No matter.  I asked SMS if he would mind a change of plans and he didn’t.

Ferry Building from the dock

First, we got off at the Embarcadero and went to the Ferry Building.  It was bustling as the Farmer’s Market was in full swing.  What awesome timing!  We walked past the produce vendors fairly quickly since we didn’t want to carry groceries all day.  We went inside and wandered the main hall where the permanent storefronts are.  I am a sucker for the Ferry Building.  A lot of popular, local businesses have shop branches here and it is just food heaven central!  Shops include Humphrey Slocombe, Hog Bay Oyster, Dandelion Chocolate and Cowgirl Creamery.

We were pretty hungry and needed a food solution quickly.  We decided to have almost a tapas hopping experience, getting small plates from a few different vendors.  The first thing to catch our eye was a woman selling Cambodian spiced peanuts.  We really enjoyed these as a snack when we were on our Thailand and Cambodia trip so we bought a small bag to share.  There was a really nice heat to the peanuts- slightly more mild than in Cambodia but that’s ok!  SMS commented that he thinks the best mix would be the heat level from here mixed with some of the dried lemongrass spice more typical of the Thai peanut mix.  That sounds awesome to me!

Delicious Cheese!

Next, we passed Cowgirl Creamery and saw their weekend raclette station.  Yum!  SMS went over and, just to make sure, asked if it was raclette.  The vivacious woman manning the station said, “Honey, you know it’s Raclette!”  While we were waiting, our no-verbal-filter cheeselady talked to her co-worker about a variety of topics to include the various men who hit on her.  To her customers trying to pay her, she stopped them quickly with the fact that she doesn’t handle money because she’s serving food and “money’s filthy, I think we can all agree on that!”  This doesn’t translate well but seriously, it was breathtaking how much she talked and really didn’t care who heard her.  But, this is not a criticism of her awesome raclette skills since she was great at getting the perfect amount of boiling cheese without burning.  We thoroughly enjoyed our plate of raclette cheese, fresh bread from Acme, pickles and pickled onions.

After the raclette plate, we each had a steamed bun.  I had the vegetarian greens one while SMS had the savory pork.  Finally, we finished up lunch with an Italian sugar donut with nutella.  It was a delicious meal and we were pretty happy and sated.  We walked to the end of the ferry building pier where we saw a fisherman reel in a small shark, which he released back into the Bay.

Full House- where’s DJ Tanner?

Our next stop was the bike rental place because our change in plans involved biking across the Golden Gate Bridge.  I have always wanted to do this!  I think we could have figured it out on our own but it was nice to rent through a company and watch their guide video and follow their map.  If I do it again with visitors, though, I think I would rent bikes in better condition from a bike shop and use Google maps/online resources to navigate.

SMS looks like he feels he may have been tricked…”This is not the Golden Gate…”

Anyway, we got our bikes, signed our lives and credit card information away and pedalled off.  As SMS was to discover, this was not merely a bike across the bridge day- we were going to see San Francisco!

Conservatory of Flowers

We rode down Market St, took a right and cycled up to Alamo Park.  There we saw the “Painted Ladies” houses although as SMS said, “Just call them the Full House houses and everyone will know.”  There were tons of people relaxing and picnicking but not for us, we were off!  We rode through Panhandle Park and into Golden Gate Park.  Bikes were the perfect way to see it!  We rode past the Conservatory of Flowers.  Then we saw roller skating flat track where a guy was skating wearing a “Circumcision is Genital Mutilation” shirt.  We saw a flyer calling out for other “Intactivists” which became my word of the day because it’s a portmanteau of course!


Spreckels’ Lake

Dutch Windmill

We moved on and biked past the de Young Museum and the California Museum of Science.  The Japanese Tea Garden had a long line to get in and we only saw the entrance gate.  We cycled through the park, passing the bison paddock and Spreckels Lake.  Near the coast, we saw the Dutch windmill and then it was on to the Great Highway, pedalling along the coast of Ocean Beach.

View from the Cliff House

Looking North from the Cliff House

Grafitti that says “SMORES NASTY”  I am offended.

When I have millions of dollars, maybe I’ll buy a house here.
We climbed the tough hill to the Cliff House and kept going.  By the way, did I mention our map said our chosen route was the most beautiful AND most hilly?  We cycled along Seal Rock Dr, Legion of Honor and Land’s End.  We entered into the Sea Cliff neighborhood which was incredibly ritzy- mansions within San Francisco proper!  Then it was on to more hills and finally, the Golden Gate Bridge!
Ta da!

Ready to Ride

This will protect you from earthquakes

It was AWESOME!  It was crowded but not miserably so.  We took a lot of pictures and admired the structure.  In fact, before we even got on, we stopped at an informational sign about the dampeners used to protect the bridge from earthquakes (SMS’ call!).  On the other side, we descended (yes!) a blissfully long hill and cycled through Ft. Baker.  Then we went into Sausilito.  We locked up our bikes and had dinner at Copita, a pretty tasty Mexican food restaurant.  It was definitely time for food!

View from Lower Vista Point

Long line back

We made it!  View from the fantail

Alcatraz.  Looks swimmable

Then we got into line at 730 for the 8 pm ferry.   There were a lot of people and we were slightly sweating it as to whether we would get on or not.  We definitely didn’t want to bike all the way back! We made it and spent most of the trip on the fantail, which had great sunset views.  We landed in Fisherman’s Wharf and cycled back to the shop via Embarcadero and Market St.  It was a little longer distance-wise but pretty much flat which was the most important.  I was a little done with hills!

Overall, we had a great day!  At the very end of the day, I wasn’t super-impressed with the bike shop since they were trying to charge a couple for a broken derailer.  It doesn’t seem fair to charge the customer since the bikes are clearly high-mileage and in very used condition.  Our bikes were fine for what we wanted to do (kill ourselves cycling hills), but even ours had gear shifting issues and made ominous sounds.  So, word of warning, if you want a nice bike and avoid shady business practices, the tourist trap places are not the best even if their maps are nice!

Loving Mountain View!


SMS and I continue to have an awesome time in Mountain View. Work is going well and I was glad to get the first week under my belt.  Also, we found Moffett Field and its still functioning commissary last weekend.  Yeah!  How lucky is it to find a tax-free place for grocery shopping in NorCal?!

Hanger 1 with its outer covering removed, a former Naval Airship hanger
Friday night, I worked out at a nearby Pilates studio. I’m so happy to be doing Pilates again! Afterwards, we went to the Computer Science History Museum for a Friday night food truck and music event. We were there for the last hour so the music was done, but the food trucks were in full-force. There weren’t a ton of healthy options (excuses!) and I picked the simultaneously amazing/terrible waffle chicken sandwich with a fried egg and bacon, accented by maple syrup. It was SO DELICIOUS!!!  

Shoreline Park

 Saturday morning, SMS and I headed to Shoreline Park where we walked along the trails circling the lake and bay.  We want to rent a tandem bike some weekend and picnic, but it requires slightly more planning than we had done that weekend.  It was really beautiful and I can’t wait to go back.  We also walked along the outside of the historic Rengstorff home.  It’s a house formerly owned by a big shipping magnate in the region, although it was moved to its current location several decades ago and fell into disrepair before being restored.  Now, it’s a popular wedding site.

A study for the Burghers of Calais, a group of six leaders of Calais who volunteered to surrender
to King Edward III after a long siege.  Although they were to be executed, the were saved by
the intervention of Queen Phillipa.


After Shoreline, we went over to Stanford. We headed to the Cantor Arts Center and wandered in the Rodin Sculpture garden. It was really awesome.  My favorite Rodin museum is the one in Philadelphia but this one was also impressive.  It has one of the five casts of the Gates of Hell in existence, which is a masterpiece which recapitulates a lot of Rodin’s themes and earlier sculptures within it.

We also went up the Stanford clock tower for the view. There was a moderate wait and a nominal $3 charge.  It was a great day- very clear and we could see all  the way to San Francisco.  Although we felt a bit rushed, it was a great sight and maybe we’ll go back on a weekday.

Finally, we went to Philz Coffee where we tried a delicious iced coffee mojito.  I know, it sounds so weird but picture a mint mocha (delicious, right?), minus the mocha.  Despite taking away the chocolate, it somehow works and is so tasty and refreshing.  We walked to Trader Joe’s and along the way, found a road sign to Opportunity Center.  Here’s to that search!

That night, we had a nice BBQ with several friends from our apartment complex.  There was a great assortment of food and I got compliments on my cooking, which I’m always a sucker for!  I also ended up grilling the fish since the guy who brought it was not sure how to grill it and had put it on the grill as a whole fish but not wrapped in foil. I quickly filleted it while it was on the grill and it turned out beautifully and was so tasty. I hope Summer BBQs become a thing because there are really a great group of people here and so different from the medical types I’m so often (happily) surrounded by!

Back in the USA!

After a long flight in which my greatest accomplishment was watching the entire Season 1 of HBO’s “Silicon Valley,” I arrived at the John Wayne/Orange County Airport for a fun Father’s Day weekend in Newport Beach.  SMS picked me up and we headed to the beach house.  It was a family celebration!  We stayed with Rip and Linda and Stacy and Micheal were in town with Michael’s son and their new dog.  Marty was in town as well and we had great family dinners, time on the beach and general relaxation.  It was absolutely wonderful.  The weather was perfect and I didn’t really want to leave!

SMS, buried in the Santa Barbara sand

But, come Monday, leave we did.  SMS planned a great road trip for our travel up to Silicon Valley. First, we stopped in Santa Barbara.  We went on epic walks, tasted wine, ate at The Lark and went shopping.  We also had a Mexican food feast at La Super-Rica taqueria, the restaurant made famous by Julia Child’s recommendation.  The great weather continued and we had an awesome time in Santa Barbara.  The beautiful, balmy sunny weather is a big change from Japan’s rainy season!


After Santa Barbara, we stopped in Pismo Beach for some awesome Mexican food at Papi’s Grill.  Whoa, it was amazing!  I was a little less crazy in the amount of cheesy goodness order and instead, went crazy by ordering a horchata milkshake.  It was divine.  It kind of ruined my next few horchatas at different meals because the creaminess was understandably less in the more healthy, non-milkshakes.

Justin Winery tasting room

After lunch, we drove to Paso Robles wine country.  We stopped at Justin winery and Daou winery.  I liked the Justin wines a little bit better and the setting was quite nice among the vineyards, right next to the original cabernet sauvignon grapes.  But the location couldn’t compare to Daou, which was at the top of a hill with a gorgeous panorama view.  The greens of the vineyards, golden grass of the hills and undulating landscape was spectacular.

At Daou, we split a huge beet salad and cheese plate.  I wrote to a friend and described our mild culture shock upon returning to the US.  One of the things I mentioned was “rapidly fading dismay at portion sizes.”  But seriously, servings are huge here!

Taken with an iPhone6, ha ha

After a night in Paso Robles, we headed off to Mountain View.  Our apartment and the location is perfect.  SMS did an amazing job with all the planning the last month or so- he found both the apartment and planned our trip.  It was a really great experience and a nice transition home.


For the First Time in Forever…

Ha, ha.  I am now on the unfortunate bandwagon of having Frozen songs stuck in my head.  But do you know what this means?  1. The 6-year old cool girl clique might accept me (wrong!  They’ve moved on to Sherman and Mr. Peabody!) and 2. I have time to watch movies again!  Hooray!  Boards are over!

So, yes, I watched Frozen on the way back to Japan.  I also saw Philomena and started Silver Linings Playbook but since I didn’t like the book all that much, I didn’t want to spend another two hours of my life on the same story.  Philomena was excellent, though.  I’m also halfway through The Secret History by Donna Tartt.  It’s good, but I feel that I’m not the biggest Donna Tartt fan in the world.  Since I read in reviews that some people felt “meh” about The Goldfinch but loved her first book, I wanted to give it a try.  I’m definitely going to finish it but I’m not the biggest fan of novels that focus on the intellectual and emotional angst of New England liberal arts college students.  I already lived it, ha ha.  Another novel that falls into this category is The Marriage Plot by Jeffery Eugenides.  That, too, is a good book but not one I’d tell you to run out and get.  Actually, I’d recommend The Secret History more.

But backing up, I left on Saturday, 29 April.  I am fairly certain I missed the Sakura peak so on my way out, I took a little lame photo of a tree that was already in full-bloom.  This will not win any awards, but I didn’t want to get closer and miss my bus to Narita!

A picture doesn’t do it justice, ha ha.

I studied a lot on my flight and barely slept, like maybe 45 minutes.  This was a mistake.  I had the worst jet lag on this trip.  I haven’t had jet lag this badly since I was a kid when we moved to Spain.  Now, I think stress insomnia had a role but it was pretty horrific.  Even the night before the test, I went to bed around 10, woke up at 3, went back to bed at 5 and slept until 10.  So, fortunately, I got enough sleep quantity-wise the night before (and the night before that) my test, but until that point, I was running on 3-5 hours of sleep a night.  My brain did not function very well.

Or…maybe I was excited because I got to see SMS for 3 days in LA! Yes!  On a government ticket, a person can take up to 7 days of “extended layover!”  It’s charged as leave but I was so happy I got to see my husband!  We hung out in Newport Beach and had a great time.  He was super awesome in letting me sleep and study, although a lot of my studying was b/t midnight – 5 a.m. and sleeping was from 5-11 a.m.  (See above paragraph).

We also celebrated…my birthday!!!  I love my birthday!  I thought it was going to be a little bit of a wash this year, but SMS and I celebrated with a great dinner out at Fig & Olive in Newport Beach.  The dinner was amazingly delicious- we had oysters, steak tartare, branzino fish (“Glazed with fig & 18 year old balsamic vinegar, snow pea, fig, olive oil mashed potato-”  YUM!!!) and the Fig & Olive salad.  I swear this wasn’t as much food as it sounded but it was all so delicious and wonderful.  The restaurant felt very O.C. (lots of plastic surgery) and the people watching was pretty awesome.  After dinner, we headed to Marty and Pamela’s where they had bought me a birthday cake and we had a little party.  Yes!  I even had a cake with candles to blow out this year- awesome!

Also, for the record, I really do like celebrating my birthday on my birthday but this year, 31 March was an acceptable stand-in! 😉  Oooo, and you know what I just realized during this little recap?  I’ve been wanting to go to Fig & Olive for years!  But I only knew of the Melrose Place location.  Yay for accidental fulfillment of life (mini-)goals!

On 1 April, we had a nice morning and early afternoon together before heading out to LAX.  Then it was off to the lovely greater O’Hare airport area for my Osler Review Course and my *dun, dun, dun* BOARDS!

San Diego Visit Recap- Newport Beach Weekend 2!

The weather wasn’t as nice, but we still had a great time.  We hung out with SMS’ grandfather Marty.  We went to the Elk’s Club, which is a long-standing favorite of Marty’s.  Now I just need to go to the Chicken Coop and I’ll really be family!

On Sunday, we watched the Oscars with Marty and Pam before heading out to Gulfstream.  They were out of oysters!!!  I almost wanted to leave but we stayed and had a great meal.  
Monday, we drove to San Diego.  The flight was delayed and I called during our drive.  The lady said I would still make the plane and should stick with the itineray.  I had a gut feeling that this was NOT a good idea but hey, the United lady said to do it.  We got to San Diego and the woman at the counter was like, “Um, highly unlikely” that I would make the flight.   &%*$&$*!!!  After looking at multiple options, I got a flight out of LAX on Singapore Airlines.  Bad news: I had to get myself there.  So my awesome husband and I got more QT time although unfortunately in the form of a deja vu roadtrip north.  
Now I’m on Singapore Airlines which is the height of luxury, even in coach!  I have an aisle seat and they are feeding us like crazy.  I declined the Hagen-Daz and copious booze (free cocktails and after-meal apertifs).   Why?  Because I’m crazy!  Who wants free booze, not me!   Seriously though, I wanted to study on the flight so no drinking and as for the ice cream,  I’ve already eaten enough rich food that Hagen-Daz and I don’t need to be besties right now!
Also, although I have studied, I did sample the inflight entertainment.  It is AWESOME!  So many movies and TV shows.  I’ve already watched Dallas Buyer’s Club (sorry SMS) and August: Osage County.  I recommend both!

San Diego Visit Recap- Newport Beach Weekend #1

Sorry in advance!  The next few posts are going to be a little list-y since I wrote them after the fact and my poor food coma mind had trouble remembering the sequence of all the amazing restaurants we ate at.  
We headed up to Newport for the weekend, which was gorgeous, sunny, Orange County beauty.  Before heading to the house, we stopped at Samy’s Camera to finalize the details of the Toyo camera rental for SMS’ big project.  Then, we went to Gulfstream for an expensive but tasty seafood lunch.  Next, I got my haircut- it had been 7 months!  I didn’t love my haircut the first few days but then I realized that I was using gunky shampoo so I switched that up and then I was very happy with my hair #OCproblems.
On Saturday, we went to Gulfstream with SMS’ Grandpa Dick.  We split smoked salmon and grilled artichoke. Amazing.  I had forgotten how much I love grilled artichokes.  Also, the smoked salmon is so flavorful and moist, which is surprising for smoked fish.  It’s fun to rediscover favorites.  
For dinner, we at EATChow one night and Cucina Alessa in Huntington Beach the other night.  At EATChow, I had an awesome salad and at Cucina Alessa, I had my favorite pasta (papperdelle) with a delicious lamb ragu.

SMS and I also went for walks at Huntington Beach and to Newport pier.  On the Newport walk, we stopped at Dory Fishing Fleet Market and picked up a black cod big enough for two.  They gutted and filleted the fish and we made an awesome dish that night.  I tried to use potato chip crust.  It wasn’t very good but didn’t ruin anything.  I just scraped it off and ate the fish with capers, butter and lemon.  Delicious.

Before going back to San Diego, we went to Samy’s Camera shop to pick up the Toyo IIA camera, a slide-film camera that was the star of SMS’ planned photo project.  We were going to take a few landmark pictures in San Diego over the course of the week on film SMS had bought over three years ago!

Epic Road Trip, Part 2!

CW from left: 1. Cute SMS 2. I am not sure if he is even paddling in this picture 3. Bridge over Stow Lake

After our Redwood stroll, we headed off to San Francisco!  First stop- lunch for the best meatball sandwich ever.  To be totally honest, the first one I ever had was the best (in 2009 with my co-worker Chris), but this one was also pretty delicious!  After lunch, we checked into the hotel and then drove through the Presidio to the Golden Gate Park.  We walked around and came upon Stow Lake.  There were people paddle boating and it looked like so much fun and quintessential tourist that we had to do it!  We rented a paddle boat and had so much fun going around the lake.  It was beautiful and wonderful.

SF Eats!  Italian sodas at Mario’s and Oysters at “Rocks”

Next, we headed to Hog & Rocks for dinner.  We feasted on chef’s choice $1 oysters (all day Sunday!),  Trotter Tots, ham sampler (Iowa, Spain, Italy) and heirloom tomato salad.  We walked around the Mission district for a little bit after dinner and tasted chocolate at Dandelion Chocolate.  We picked up a handout on how chocolate is made (magic) and bought a chocolate sampler to do more tastings at home!

The next day, it was on the the outdoors-y phase of our vacation.  We left San Francisco and headed out to South Lake Tahoe.  We stopped for lunch at Magpie Cafe in Sacramento.  So delicious!  We split a Banh Mi sandwich and a Smoked Trout and Del Rio Tomato sandwich.  They were both so, so good.  Sacramento (at least the part we were in) seems like such a cute town.  But, no time to dally, we were off on our next adventure!

South Lake Tahoe panorama

I called ahead and booked a room at the Strawberry Lodge.  It was the perfect place to stay because it was right next to Lover’s Leap, our rock climbing destination!  We were there early enough in the afternoon that we were able to climb a two-pitch route that afternoon called The Farce.  It was fun but I was rusty on my outdoor skills.  I’m glad we did it because I was more prepared for the next day’s climb.  After The Farce, we headed into Tahoe.  We took some sunset pictures, then headed to MacDuff’s for some dinner.  I had a delicious chicken pot pie with puffed pastry crust and SMS had a stew.
CW from top left: Lover’s Leap, Phantom Spires, far away shot of Lover’s Leap, me with rope, me in parking lot where we cooked our breakfast outside the hotel b/c no one was working the “restaurant,” SMS and I at Lover’s Leap

The next day, we headed back over to the rock and climbed the three pitch Bear’s Reach.  It was a great climb and the view was incredible.  I loved the Tahoe area and want to live there!   Maybe I’ll buy the Strawberry Lodge although if I do, I may have to fight the deranged Billy Treat.  He’s a young guy who I’m fairly certain is legitimately crazy and goes around telling people about his big plans for taking over the place.  He is a “pro snowmobiler” who knows everyone and wears a medal to prove it.  The medal, however, is for 10th place in the 1997 West Division Sectional.

Billy Treat’s Business Card

After the Bear’s Reach, we hiked into the Phantom Spires and climbed the two-pitch Gingerbread route.  It was a pretty quick climb.  After a great day of climbing, we went back to MacDuff’s and had another tasty meal.

The next day, we headed out to Tuolumne Meadows.  We stopped at the Tioga Pass Mobil station and ate lunch at the famous rest stop restaurant.  We headed into Yosemite, where admission was free for active duty!  Our campsite was pretty sweet and we were by a beautiful river where SMS took some more amazing photos.
1. Waiting underneath the chimney- 3 pitches down! 2. Eichorn’s Pinnacle with climbers on top 3. View from the Cathedral Peak Summit- it was VERY windy

The next day, we hiked to Cathedral Peak and had an amazing 6 pitch day.  The views were unbelievable and I felt so amazing and accomplished.  As SMS said, I never would have imagined myself on the top of a huge peak 9 months ago and here we are!  It’s an amazing adventure!
L-R: 1. View of Half Dome from Olmsted Pass 2. Rim Fire smoke cloud from the summit 3. Lightening struck tree on the way out from Cathedral

We headed out that afternoon and spent the night in Bishop at a lovely bed and breakfast named Joseph House Inn.  The innkeeper was very sweet.  Breakfast was delicious and tranquil since we ate outside on the patio.  The yard/gardens were beautiful and it was such a nice find for our last night!  
Manzanar Pillar of Solace pictures flanking picture of the guard tower

We headed home with two more stops.  We went to Manzanar, one of 10 Japanese interment camps from WWII.  We toured the site and visitor center, where we watched a documentary with several former detainees.  It was really sad and almost incomprehensible that rights and freedoms were so quickly and easily taken away from an entire group of people based only on their ethnic background.  It really highlighted the importance of preserving and protecting individual rights of citizens in order to prevent mistakes that go against the ideals of freedom and democracy.  
We also stopped at the Mt. Whitney visitor center.  I hope to hike that mountain someday!  After that, we made the long push home apart from a quick picnic stop to eat our “Mule kicker” sandwich that we had bought at the Erick Schat bakery in Bishop on our innkeeper’s recommendation.  It was pretty delicious!  
Our hard copy itinerary