Extra Day in NYC: Solo Travel

After an unexpected flight cancellation, I had an extra day in NYC before leaving that evening for SFO. I wanted to make the most of it, despite the pretty gloomy weather. I woke up to rain, left during a lull, and quickly realized that the best $10 I was going to spend the entire weekend was on a basic black umbrella. It was pretty flimsy but since there was only rain without wind, it held up fine.

First, I wanted a NYC bagel so I found Liberty Cafe via Google Maps. There was a line, so that’s a good sign. I ordered the #5 on advice from the guy at the door who was serving as crowd control. The customer in front of me had asked him what his favorite bagel was. The guy responded, “Why do you ask?” and then laughed uproariously. Man’s got jokes.

Mom had suggested I go to The Cloisters, but first I decided to go to the Met for another chance at going to the Van Gogh’s Cypruses exhibit. I’m so glad I did because it was so good! The virtual queue was only 15 minutes. It was in a three room exhibition gallery that was definitely congested, but not terrible. Gaps would open up here and there that allowed me to get close to the paintings and even stay for a little bit. Except for Starry Night. That painting required it’s own crowd control man. He was pretty chill, moving people along “only after their 17th selfie.” I asked him if he photo-bombed any pictures and he said, “Sometimes. But only if they’ve taken a lot.”

I really liked the exhibit. There were sketches, drawings, and paintings. There were two paintings hung Wheat Field With Cypruses and A Wheatfield, With Cypruses (keep them straight!) that hadn’t been hung together since 1901. The left painting was more edgy while the right more stylized. I preferred the left, but it was interesting to see what changes led to a more refined painting, per art critics.

The apogee of the Cyprus theme was Country Road in Provence by Night. In his own writings, Van Gogh stated that he felt he had really captured the night stars, the cyprus, and the surrounding landscape. I agree. And I spotted a selfie stick!

Before leaving, I wandered through the Dutch Masterpieces at The Met Exhibit. There were a lot of 17th century Dutch businessmen in excellent lighting, but I was most impressed that The Met had three Vermeers just casually hung as part of a larger exhibit. Oh, don’t mind me. I’m just super famous and rare! There are only 36 known Vermeers in the world!

As I walked through the museum, I accidentally came across a Fabergé exhibit with three eggs just casually on display. Amazing! There are only 57 known surviving eggs today.

I also hung out with George.

And I spent some time in a gallery full of Winslow Homer, including his last, unfinished painting.

And finally, I found Leda, the anti-bird lady. Although really, who could blame her? That myth seems particularly terrible.

On my way to the subway, I got caught in some rain. My shoes were soaked.

Then, it was up the island to The Cloisters which, once I got to them, were amazing. The train ride wasn’t bad, I just took the longest walking route possible and nothing makes an imported stone-by-stone castle seem enormous as when I’m forced to walk around the whole thing trying to find the entrance.

So, as far as I could tell, John D. Rockefeller imported a castle which was reconstructed brick-by-brick and then put in a bunch of chapels and alters from other provenance inside. This is probably not the tour guide version, but this is what I think was going on. [Ok, ok, I had to look it up. It seems its a compilation of five separate cloisters.]

And looked what I found! Only the most famous unicorn tapestry in the world! Somewhat gruesomely, it is part of a tapestry commemorating a unicorn hunt. Even this tapestry called The Unicorn Rests in the Garden is clearly an injured unicorn penned into too small an enclosure.

The central courtyard was really pretty.

It was a really great museum and I was so glad my Mom had told me about it. I had never heard of it before and it was a great place to see.

King Arthur!!

After seeing The Cloisters, I headed back downtown to see a show. Although I considered seeing something different, I decided I had to stick with the theme of the weekend and see Camelot!

Even though it was no where near as magical as seeing it with my parents and my seat was no where near as good, it was awesome to see again. The score and lyrics are so good! Also, based on the shortened run, I don’t think this is a musical that’s going to have a revival anytime soon. So, totally worth seeing twice!

Then I went to the West Village for dinner at L’Artusi, which came highly recommended by members of a particularly discerning Facebook group. Yes, I know. That doesn’t sound like a ringing endorsement but apart from the blackberry focaccia, which was only ok, the rest of the food was so good! I had a salad, scallops, and a delicious red. I sat next to a nice-enough guy. We spoke a bit, but he also ordered three different mains. Maybe he’s a once-a-day eater cramming it all in, but he certainly didn’t look like a person who would pack that much away!

And then, that was it! It was time to head home via JFK to SFO. The flight was again delayed so I got home really, really late. Like, 2 hours before I had to go to work late. Yuck. So, not the best travel experience, but the weekend overall was amazing. And I definitely feel lucky the bad travel was on at the end so I didn’t miss the show and our awesome Friday together!

Tourists in NYC: The River Cruise Edition (aka, we took the Ferry!)

After an amazing Friday featuring an excellent Camelot performance, my parents and I had the morning to spend together before we parted ways. After the complimentary breakfast, we decided to head to the Tenement museum.

The museum is in a beautiful neighborhood but at the time we went, the actual preserved building is undergoing renovation. They only had guided tours through their museum and reconstructed models. In addition, we hadn’t booked in advance so the earlier tour we could get would require a two hour wait.

Instead, we decided to make our own historic NYC tour! Our goal was E 87th St, where my Dad’s grandparents used to live. Dad had memories of visiting as a young child and he was interested in seeing the neighborhood. We walked a mile to the Corlears Hook ferry stop. It was starting to get a little warm, but it was manageable. We took the ferry south one stop to Pier 11/Wall St. There, we disembarked and bought another set of tickets for the Soundview (SV) line that we took to East 90th St. The Wall St ferry dock was a bit of a scene due to huge lines for the Rockaway Beach line, which made sense since it was a gorgeous beach day. Our route was nowhere near as popular, but it made for a great boat ride up the East River.

Yes, I strongly recommend the NYC ferry as part of a tourist’s plan to see the city. SMS and I had done it on a Brooklyn trip (whoa, right before COVID) and we loved it. On this trip, it was a beautiful day and the architecture was beautiful. Dad is also a good tour guide. He gave the back story to the UN building and location site. We also passed the Rockefeller University where my sister used to work. It was really a pleasant way to see the city- the breeze also helped on a warm day! Oh, yeah, so did our cold Pilsner from the ferry bar!

We landed at the E 90th St stop. We walked by Gracie Mansion and through Carl Schurz park. Then we crossed to E 87 St and walked past the old house’s stoop and St Joseph’s Church where my Dad’s older brother and sister were baptized. His parents got married in the rectory. We took several pictures and went inside the Church. Dad spoke to a few neighbors. It was really a special time where multiple time points in a person’s individual NYC history converged in one spot.

After that, it was time to part ways. Mom and Dad went to Amtrak and I went to EWR. The rest of my afternoon/evening featured flight delays, boarding, ground stop for lightning, crew reaching their time limit, flight cancellation, and sadness. Hahaha, yes, it was a bit of a mess but that’s Summertime travel + East Coast afternoon thunderstorms. I rebooked onto Alaska out of JFK the next day.

I went into the city and stayed at a Courtyard Marriott near Times Square for the night. I had big plans for the next day to take advantage of my extended weekend!

NYC mini-trip with my parents!

There are a few categories of formative music albums in my life. While I think I was fairly knowledgable about 90s alt rock, my high school listening memories are dominated by the Frank Sinatra/Tony Bennett Duets album and the 1960 Lerner & Lowe’s Camelot cast recording that features Julie Andrews, Richard Burton, and Robert Goulet. Dad would drive me into school and he picked the music, saying that he could only handle so much (aka, not 90s alt rock) in the morning. Another strong sensory experience that went along with the music was how cold it was in the grey Oldsmobile where the heat would finally kick in just as we got to school!

So, when I heard that there was a Broadway revival of Camelot this Summer, I had to go! I bought tickets for my Dad’s birthday weekend and we were set! Until it I got an email saying I needed to rebook or get a refund since the show was ending its run early. Oh no! After a few texts with my Mom, we figured that we could make it work in July. Hooray!

So, I took a red eye flight into NYC arriving Friday morning. Red eyes are not as easy as they used to be, but they are very convenient! Mom and Dad arrived via Amtrak. We met in the Moynihan Train Hall, which is beautiful. It is full of light, clean, and with an awesome food hall. While I was waiting, I got a H&H bagel (good) and a Blue Bottle Americano (ridiculous $$$).

We went to the Iroquois hotel, where we were able to check in. Score! Then we decided to take a walk towards the Met. First, we passed St. Patrick’s cathedral and Rockefeller Square. We stopped for lunch at Fleming by Le Bilboquet, which was delicious. As a bonus, they served on of my Mom’s favorite sauvignon blanc by the glass, Cloudy Bay!

Then we went to the Met for a bit, but it was crowded. In addition, I was pretty tired so we went back and I took a power nap before the evening. I’m very glad I was able to do that!

We went for a pre-theater dinner at Le Rivage. My parents enjoy French food and, when we walked in, we realized it was an extra good choice since it was Bastille Day! The dinner was enjoyable. Then we were off to the theater! We took a ride share, which gave Mom time to order intermission drinks (pro move!).

Then, we took our seats which were first row! It was awesome! We loved seeing the actors expressions and it felt so immersive. It was also fun to see the musicians although they sort of faded into the background during the show. The sound was the tiniest bit imbalanced with the orchestra dominating based on the actors’ location on the stage but since we knew all the words, it totally worked.

I thought the show was amazing. The actors playing Guinevere and Lancelot were the star principals and they had such amazing voices. Arthur was played by his understudy who definitely held his own. It was really magical seeing music I knew so well be brought to life in a full show. So, I strongly recommend seeing it.

After the show, it was pouring! The heavens were crying for the loss of Camelot! We eventually made our way to the subway and grabbed a nightcap in the Algonquin. It’s a really beautiful bar, but different than my Dad remembered. The bartender was very personable and created a great vibe. Then, it was back to the hotel and off to bed!

Wrap-Up: April

April Wrap-Up time! Above is a picture of me reading in the Bougieville pool. SMS and I decided to have a lazy Sunday afternoon by the pool on a relatively warm day and it was delightful. I’m still a little leery of the hot tub as more and more kids use it as a restroom swim in it, but the pool is a real delight. Maybe I will even start lap swimming, but I don’t want to dry out my hair. Decisions!

Early in the month, SMS and I went out to dinner at Saltbox in San Carlos. I really like that restaurant. The menu always has a tempting healthy option, as well as a few comfort food items so there’s something to fit every mood. I ordered a glass of wine from Jax vineyards and it was amazing! I took a picture of the bottle. Jax will play a role later in the month when…

Rip and Linda came to town! On Friday, I met them at Jax for a glass of wine. There is a tasting room near the ballpark and it’s really a beautiful oasis. The patio is shaded and the small garden is beautiful. And, the wine is delicious! For dinner, we went to Altovino, which was excellent. I had incredible parking luck- the waiter even commented on it because he saw us parking when he was looking through the window! The food was good and while the restaurant was full, it was fairly low-volume so conversation was pretty easy.

Rip and SMS cooked dinner on Saturday, which was awesome. SMS cooked the salmon in the pizza oven using a cast iron skillet. It turned out really well. The trip overall was more mellow than others (no ragers in Napa) and we had the best time!

The last weekend of the month, I decided to take a trip to Washington, DC for my 25th (!) high school reunion. It was a lot of fun. I have not kept in touch with anyone (FB doesn’t count!) for over 20 years. This isn’t necessarily something I’m bragging about, it’s just what it is. I had a really nice time catching up with people who, honestly, looked almost the same to me. The fountain of youth has been found! The above pictures were taken near the end of the night, in case you can’t tell. Overall, it was a really nice event and I had forgotten how beautiful Georgetown is. It makes me want to go back for a slightly longer DC visit. Mom and Dad, answer your door! I’m here!

Even better, I had some sister time! Yay! Brady and I hung out twice. It was such a treat. My niece wasn’t feeling well, so we couldn’t hang out as a full family, but Brady and her son came out while her husband and niecie stayed home :(. On Saturday, we took a walk in Alexandria while on Sunday, Brady and I were ladies who brunched going to Zaytinya (love!), the Portrait Gallery, and a quick drink at a hotel bar. Then, I headed off to DCA to head back to CA.

So, that was April, a definite win!

Merry Christmas!

Christmas Eve, Golden Hour which messed with the camera sensors

We’ve had a really nice extended weekend in San Diego. Our arrival was eventful since between take-off and anticipated landing, fog rolled in and prevented us from landing. Apparently, the FAA thinks that pilots should have a certain visibility to land the plane. So, it’s not just a wing and a prayer! We were very lucky in that we were diverted to LAX rather than Ontario. I was diverted to Ontario earlier this year and it was pretty horrendous logistically. You’re stuck 100 miles from San Diego with few public transport options and local hotels. The airport closes so you can’t stay behind the TSA line and, of course, these type of things seem to happen at night when staffing is low.

We were very lucky that SMS’ sister and brother-in-law had been in LA the day before to see the Petersen auto museum. They had stayed overnight and picked us up on their way home! Hooray! It was an excellent Christmas present 🙂

On Saturday, SMS and I headed out for lunch at The Taco Stand, where we got burritos. As one does. Then we headed over to the Point Loma Native Garden, where the plants were fairly green but there were few flowers. It will probably be really nice this Spring since the plants look so healthy! We came across a seed library for native plants, which is super cool. I love the little free (book) libraries and this is such a clever variation of it.

Someone carved their distaste of nature (or the viewer?) in a tree :[ Yeah? Tuck you, too!

Later that afternoon, we went over to his sister’s house for a Christmas Eve dinner of tamales. They were delicious! We also had a side of Spanish rice and margaritas. Dee-licious! SMS also took the chance to monitor the growth of his Englewood Oak, since he lived out his native plant gardener fantasies at their house since we are apparently never going to have a yard.

On our way home, we went to Belardo Lights, which is pretty close to Mark’s childhood home. It was pretty impressive.

The tamales were delicious but we were gearing up for a special Christmas feast. My father-in-law is a fantastic chef. For Christmas, we had a Turducken. Since the French-American family across the street came over, I asked them what Turducken would be in French: dincalet (DINde+CAnard+pouLET). We had such a nice time and even though the Turducken might not become a tradition (it was very intense!), it was very cool to try.

Also, please note in these pictures that I have two Christmas sweaters. One is supposed to be for SMS but since he’s a real-life Grinch, only I could be a lit-up Christmas tree Fa-la-llama’g my way to Christmas joy!

2021 Wrap-Up: December

December started with a trip to Menlo Park. SMS and I went for a walk and there were so many pretty trees. A mini-Fall foliage spectacular!

The next week, I had a very social time. I met up with three friends for dinner, three nights in a row. The first night, Rose and I met up in Little Italy. We had a great time. We were feeling bar-hoppy so we went to Herb & Wood and Juniper & Ivy. An evening of ampersands! I really liked my persimmon cocktail at Juniper & Ivy, which was delicious and crazy expensive. I am a sucker for persimmons though. The next two nights, I went out with new friends: Meredith on Wednesday (Stanford connection) and Sarah on Thursday (work friend). Meredith and I went to Saiko Sushi on Coronado, while Sarah and I went to Muzita Abyssinian (Ethiopian) in University Heights. Delicious dinners and great company!

That weekend, SMS was in town and we went to his sister and her husband’s Christmas party. I ate way too much from the taco caterer but it was difficult not to! It was a fun crowd and I mingled with a lot of interesting people.

Buckeyes/No-bake peanut butter balls. I got the recipe from someone at the party!

The next weekend, SMS came back into town for the rest of December. He only had to take four days off in order to be free for two weeks, thanks to already scheduled holidays. We went to a work party that Saturday, which was so much fun. Michelle hosted it and, while slightly smaller than other years, had a really great group of people. I really had a good time!

SMS drives a Lucid Air!

Later that week, SMS and I went out to Poway where a Lucid Air owner showed off his car, complained about a lot of really small details, and took us for a drive. The acceleration is amazing! It was a lot of fun to be a passenger but SMS got to drive the car! Sagoy!

Christmas gift from Brady!

Christmas Eve, we had a nice dinner that I picked up from the Wine Vault with matching pairings. Bouillabaisse, lamb chops, and potato gratin- yum! For Christmas, we had a nice celebration with SMS’ family at his sister’s house. It was great food and great company!

Coronado sunken ship!?!

Over the holiday period, SMS and I took a lot of walks around Coronado. We walked down to where there’s a sunken ship that can be seen at extremely low tide. I don’t think we saw it, but maybe I took a picture of part of it. Or a rock. Hard to tell.

Thanksgiving 2021

Family!

After a few days in Silicon Valley (which included a job interview!), SMS and I flew to DC for Thanksgiving with my side of the family. We arrived in the late afternoon after a pleasant flight that ended with a high degree of nervousness on my part. On the approach, the pilot aborted for some reason and circled around. The reason I was nervous is that there was no overhead announcement and we were at a really low altitude near DC, which I think is unusual given all the restricted airspace. Anyway, we’re here and there were no hijacking baddies on the plane so…another thing to be thankful for!

We showed up about half an hour before dinner, which was perfect timing because we weren’t tortured by delicious smells for hours. We also didn’t ruin our appetite with appetizers since no one saved any shrimp cocktail for us (this is how you know you’re definitely back with family). Dinner was amazing and, even better, it was so nice to be with my entire family again! It was really a special and treasured occasion.

Winning Team!

Lodging-wise, we stayed at The Alexandrian which is a nice hotel right in Old Town. Saturday morning, we walked around Old Town on a beautiful, sunny, and cold day! We went to the Farmer’s Market and bought lunch. We went over to Brady’s in the mid-afternoon and hung out until it was time to go The Escape Room! Joe and Nicole have really enjoyed several in the past and since we were all around on Friday night, we went escaping! And we did with just a few minutes to spare! It was really a lot of fun. We all went out for drinks afterward. It was so nice for the eight of us to hang out for an extended amount of time.

Ed and Meg headed out on Saturday. SMS and I moved from our Old Town hotel to my parents’ apartment for the last two nights of our stay. That evening, we hung out at Brady’s and ate Faccia Luna pizza. Yum.

The next day, we hung out at the apartment until we went to Tyson’s Corner to check out the Lucid Studio. Excitingly, we got to sit in the car and go through the features with a sales agent. We were all very impressed! That night, Mom made her foil salmon for dinner, which was absolutely delicious.

We stopped by Brady’s house for a quick glass of glühwein outside before heading back into the city. We didn’t stay for long since they had to get ready for the week, but it was nice to have one last quick-ish visit.

The next day, we met up with an Ignite classmate of mine for a quick coffee. SMS and his space background were the main draw, but it was also nice to meet a classmate in person!

Futures with its amazing Green sculpture Expanded Present by Soo Sunny Park

Then we went to the Smithsonian for a visit before the airport. First, we went to the Futures exhibit at the recently re-opened Arts and Industry building. It was an interesting exhibit, but second-tier compared to other Smithsonian offerings. Next, we went to the Freer and Sackler (I think now renamed) where we saw Buddha statues and Whistler’s Peacock Room.

Then it was time to go 🙁 Mom and Dad dropped us off at the airport, where SMS grabbed a snack/meal at Ben’s Chili Bowl. My flight left about 25 minutes before his and we parted ways to go to our respective places in CA. It was an amazing holiday with family. I feel very lucky!

California North Coast Road Trip

For the second half of the trip (2 days/2 nights), we headed out to the North Coast via the Russian River Valley. We wanted a little nature to go with our wine, so I planned the trip as a split between Sonoma County and the North Coast, centered on Point Arena.

I hope you make it out!

But first we drink! We started the day at one last winery. We went to Williams Selym, one of the OG Pinot Noir makes in Sonoma. At least this is what two of my friends say and I am too lazy to fact check this. We had a really nice tasting, but it felt a little Ex Machina with Alicia Vanderker. As in, there was a distinct possibility there were malevolent robots who were waiting to do us harm behind the sleek gleaming interior decor.

Getaway cars at Williams Selym

Fortunately, we made it out and even left with wine, which should increase our quality of life. Phew. We drove along the 101 to the 128, stopping for lunch at Disco Ranch in Boonville. It was a super cool wine and snack-y/tapas cafe. Between the food we bought off-the-shelves and a few tapas made in-house, we had an awesome picnic. We ate on their little patio. It was really a neat place and if you wanted to have the perfect Spanish or Italian snacks to go along with your wine, this is the place to shop!

We went for a short-ish hike through the redwoods at Hendy Woods State Park, where we were able to charge our car for a little bit. Then we headed to the coast. Our hotel was in Point Arena. The Wildflower Boutique hotel is a renovated inn that is absolutely delightful. I highly recommend it. The rooms were stylish, affordable, and clean. Each morning, there was a delivered breakfast from four options that we would choose from the night before. The people who worked there were really nice. Overall, it was a really positive experience.

That evening, we went to The Bird Cafe. It is a cash-only restaurant that at the time, was only open Friday-Saturday. Now, it’s closed while they think about future projects but I highly recommend checking it out on a visit. The food was delicious. The walls are covered in bird art (swoon) by Nicole Ponsler. They serve Pelican Bread, which is made locally by a baker who is very into the process (grinds his own grains). The wines were from Penny Royal Farms Winery. Apparently, it’s hard to get suppliers to deliver out to Point Arena so they’re pretty happy to have their arrangement with a winery they think is delicious. We ended up eating pretty much everything on the menu- to be fair, there’s two choices for apps, entrees, and desserts. I really liked it and would love to go back some day!

The next day, it was up to coast to Mendocino and Ft. Bragg. First, we went to the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens. It was beautiful! There were gorgeous well-maintained gardens along the entrance lawn/meadow that transitioned to longer trails along the bluffs. I loved it! The dahlias were particularly gorgeous at the time we went.

For lunch, we went to the Lost Coast Brewing Company, which had good food and beer. Then we were off on the Skunk Train for a ride through the redwoods. It is an old logging railroad that is now perfect for tourists who want to see redwoods without hiking! After the train ride, we headed back to Pt Arena. We had dinner reservations for about halfway down the ride, but when we passed the restaurant it was still too early for dinner. Plus, we were all tired from the driving and thought it would be a lot less fun to drive on the foggy, winding roads through the dark. So, we bought picnic provisions from the little store in Pt Arena and at at the large table in the lobby of the hotel. It worked out perfectly.

But yes, one thought for a North Coast trip. The driving distance is a little deceptive relative to how long it will take due to the single lane, many curves, and slightly decreased visibility depending on the fog. While it’s nice to stay in a hotel for multiple nights to avoid packing/repacking, another option would be to drive up the coast and hotel hop more frequently in order to prevent backtracking along the driving routes. Anyway, things to consider in case anyone is reading this blog for travel tips!

Street band in Pt Reyes Station

The next day, we headed back to Menlo Park. Our first stop was an early lunch at Spud Point Crab Co in Bodega Bay. It had been recommended by Mom’s cousin and it was incredible! We ate clam chowder and crab sandwiches, which were epic. Although I had planned for a picnic in Pt Reyes Station, we had spoiled our appetites but we still went for a walk around town.

We drove to Menlo Park and had dinner at The Little Store in Atherton. SMS and I had an awesome lunch there a few weeks prior and we had high hopes for dinner. But it was kind of a bizarre experience. The owner was pretty weird with strange suggestions and strong wine upsell attempts. Fortunately, we all thought it was kind of funny rather than too off-putting, but I’m not as eager to go back as I once was. The food was still excellent and if I’m in the area and have a craving for French Onion Soup, that’s where I’m going!

Mom, Dad, and I left from SFO the next day. We grabbed breakfast in the Centurian Lounge (yay!) before heading off to our respective destinations. It was an awesome trip! Next up, trip recap with SMS’ parents!

Sonoma Road Trip with My Parents!

When SMS and I got married, we had pretty basic vows. I mean, don’t get me wrong, the basic vows are pret-ty serious. Love for a lifetime? Sign me up! But if we had been the type to write our own custom vows, would we have included the vow to take epic road trips with our parents? Hell yeah!

So, the epic road trip with my parents is first up! For those of you wanting SMS’ parents, wait a few weeks. It’s coming!

My parents were in Wyoming for a mini-siblings reunion (Dad’s side). Back in June, I said that since they were 2/3 of the way across the country, why not complete the journey and come to Northern California for a vacation continuation? Who can argue with that logic? No one. So, my parents arrived on Monday for a six day NorCal adventure.

For the first two nights, my parents stayed at the Hotel Lucent in Menlo Park. SMS has a 1B1B apartment and we’re just not air mattress people. Haha, we totally could be but we don’t even own one now. So, my parents stayed at HL, which they recommend for nice rooms at a reasonable (for SV) price.

On Tuesday, we had breakfast at our place. Canned hash and poached eggs for the win! Then we headed out to Filoli, which is really beautiful. Gorgeous gardens that have a timeless feel. The original owner planted them knowing full well the peak would be in 100 years, well beyond his time here on Earth. The combination of impermanence and legacy is a dialectic beyond the scope of this blog but still interesting to reflect on.

That night, we had dinner at our place since the next few days would be pretty restaurant heavy. Wednesday morning, we headed up to Sonoma for our first day of wine-tasting and culinary delights! BTW, planning tip. While I have turned into much more of a planner over the years, it is crucial to pre-plan at the current time. Most places have limited seating and time-slots and you have to plan your trip as soon as you think of it. The further out the better. It’s a little much but since Hot Vax Summer was thwarted by the Delta variant, I think this is going to be the reality at least through 2021.

Our first stop was Medlock Ames. This is the only wine club SMS and I currently belong too. I think the wines are delicious, and I really like their thoughtful approach to farming and wine-making. I am a little less thrilled that they’re turning more to single-varietal ($$$$) and abandoning their blends. Mostly because I really love their estate blends they make each year. Alas, RIP. 2018 is the last year they’re making an estate red. I would say I should stock up but I seem to drink the wine more than collect it so I guess I should embrace the change.

ANY-way, we had a reservation for the “Olive Grove Experience.” This included a white/rose bottle per 2 people and a picnic basic full of delicious provisions such as Mt. Tam cheese, Bouchon bread, olives, MA jam, MA olive oil, and salami. We had a rosé and chardonnay, both of which were delicious. It was a gorgeous day and a beautiful space. It was the perfect start to our vacation and no matter what the occasion, I alway recommend Medlock Ames.

Then we went into town and had a Northern Italian varietal tasting at Idlewild. I love those Northern Italian wines. Strong reds with a hint of dirt. Yum!

Afterwards, we headed to Chalkboard. SMS and I had been several years ago, but I had forgotten. It’s pretty good but the portions are on the small side. Especially when the waitress claimed that they encouraged “family-style” eating. I guess by family-style, they mean that everyone can stick their fork into everyone’s decidedly individually-sized portion. The food is delicious, but the comic relief was when we all ordered the soup and instead of a cup of soup, received teeny-tiny shots of soup. Several pictures were taken to document the size relative to common objects. I realize this paragraph sort of makes me sound like a pig, but this restaurant was a little on the ridiculous side. But still, delicious food!

We headed back to our hotel which, by the way, was a complete delight! The Camellia Inn was reasonably priced and in the heart of downtown Healdsburg. The rooms were great and the breakfasts were quite nice. We also went swimming both afternoons, which was refreshing after some pretty warm temperatures!

Only two of us got the memo that on Thursdays, we wear pink!

The next day, we drove to Sonoma proper to have lunch with my Mom’s cousins at The Girl and the Fig. It was such a lovely afternoon. The cousins are younger than my parents, but older than SMS and I. We had such a nice lunch and it was fun to catch up. We all had to head out after a couple of hours. The cousins went back to work and we went to Silver Oak.

SMS prefers the Sonoma Silver Oak vs Napa. The tasting room was beautiful. We were outside, which was warm but tolerable since we were in the shade. The view was beautiful, the building gorgeous, and the wines delicious. We all really liked the experience.

After heading back into town, we went for a quick swim and then got ready for dinner. Dinner was at Bravas restaurant, where we had Spanish tapas and split a paella that was phenomenal. We sat in the back courtyard and it was such a beautiful, bug-free space.

The Sonoma part of our trip was awesome. A fair bit of pre-planning and reservation-making, but it made for a smooth trip with delicious wine experiences. Next up, our Northern coastal adventures.

2021 Round-Up: August

August brought tragedy to the little bird kingdom of Coronado. I think Janis Joplin was wrong when she said, “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose” since the cage-free flying of Brady-bird and Joe-bird led to a big loss…of their lives!

Don’t Catholic guilt trip me about this one, Mom-bird-human!

Yes, so both birds died and I’m pretty sure it was from nibbling the wood print seen below. B&J were the explorers & nibblers of the group, while C-bird sticks strictly to the seeds. I saw a lot of shavings on the ground right before the birds died. They didn’t seem like they were in pain. They were puffy, breathing heavily, and then, on the bottom of the cage. Now, they are in little bird graves underneath the California native sunflowers, living their best afterlives.

We met up with our friends at Hog Island Oyster Co, where we had the most perfect bowl of clam chowder. The company was also great!

Towards the end of the month we went to Newport Beach with SMS’ family for a private service. Afterward, we walked around Roger’s Garden, which is such a beautiful and inspiring (to the home gardener) place!

Fun at work…it doesn’t even require quarters!
The end of the tomato war. OMG, this thing gives me the heebie-jeebies. It’s a hornworm that turns into a hideous moth.
Pretty mosaic