Although Napa is fairly close by, J and I decided to make a short getaway out of our trip. On Saturday, we met up at the Runner’s Expo in the Napa Marriott. There we picked up our bibs, our duffel bags and tech shirts. The lines weren’t too long and things were well organized. I also tried several Nuun flavors at their booth. They weren’t terrible (great recommendation) and if I ever needed to get into hydration supplements, I’d probably pick the watermelon flavor.
|Tartine, a great start to our day!|
|A safe in Room and Board. Not for sale.|
|Does it look like someone in Heaven has an upset stomach?|
|I imagine there are several expressions one could have while holding a severed head, but
I feel like this expression of bored detachment would not be one of them.
|Pierre Bonnard- I really liked this sequence of four.|
|Saturday was light on pictures, so have some cats
from Neko Atsume!
This past weekend was absolutely beautiful weather-wise. SMS and I decided to spend most of it in San Francisco. The main reason was for a Williams alumni event emphasizing the continuing relevance of a liberal arts education in various disciplines. The San Francisco event focused on Science and Technology but there are other events in different cities focusing on health, finance, etc.
ay morning after I went for a run with the local running club. It was the weekly Saturday run, a 3.5 mile loop that ends at Starbucks. I ran with 3 guys and we ran two of the miles at a 7:30 pace! I felt pretty awesome! I’m looking forward to the marathon. I feel really ready training-wise so as long as I feel good on race day, it should be a pretty good day. J and I want to qualify for the Boston marathon. Unfortunately, we’re right on the border pace-wise so there’s no time to spare which is a little nerve-wracking since there are things like water stations, bathroom breaks and the fact that runners often run a little more than 26.2 miles due to not being able to “follow the line” exactly due to banking of the road. But we will
Anyway, enough running talk. We went to Japantown and ate at Kushitsuru. It was fine. On the menu it said it was the best restaurant in Japantown. SMS pointed that out. Later in the meal, I said that I was so happy we were eating at the best restaurant in Japantown. SMS was drinking tea at the time and laughed, which almost caused it to come out his nose. I didn’t even mean to be funny!
After lunch, SMS headed to the Kabuki spa. They have a traditional Japanese onsen, but it’s single sex on alternating days so only he would be able to enjoy the baths. I went to the Korean make-up shops, where I looked at all the character masks and marveled at the incredible mark-ups on the snail goo products compared to the prices in Seoul.
SMS was done more quickly than I expected. A person can only hang out in hot baths for so long! We headed to the Financial District and checked into our hotel. We stayed at Club Quarters, which was very nice. It was clean, functional and fairly inexpensive. I booked the trip through Priceline as a hidden 4-star hotel. Although the hotel is nice, I wouldn’t quite call it 4-star. When I was looking on their FAQ checking regarding parking, there was also a question about the 4-star rating and where it came from. It was hilarious because the answer was basically, “Not from any outside agency but we think our amenities compare favorably to four star hotels.” Self-rating doesn’t seem like the most objective way, but it does show a high level of confidence, I suppose!
We headed over to the Williams event and had a really nice time. The event was really well-done. The lectures were excellent and we spoke to some interesting people. I saw some people from my class and overall, it was a really good afternoon. There was a cocktail reception afterwards that seemed to go on for awhile so SMS and I left, thinking that I had misread that there would be dinner. Oops, there was dinner. I feel a little badly leaving when I had been in the head count but really, I thought it was winding down.
One positive for not believing what I read (hey, the critical liberal arts mind strikes again!) is that we had an awesome dinner at Leo’s Oyster Bar. Oh my goodness, it was delicious. We had two California oysters each and then were treated to a pair of St Simone by a really eager maitre d’. He was very enthusiastic about oysters and the restaurant. We had a really nice time talking to him. He also delivered the wrong order to our table which we didn’t realize until we had a bite. We had been waiting on uni toasts and when we were delivered a lump of something surrounded by toast, we thought it was our order. It was actually the salmon tartare. The waitress said not to worry about it and to enjoy it so really, even though we went out to eat, we continued our evening’s trend of getting free food!
We also enjoyed (and paid for) the lobster roll. It was really delicious and the bun was absolute perfection- toasted, golden and with a near-perfect ratio of bread to lobster. I think the perfect ratio would be hard because can there ever be too much lobster?
We also really liked where we sat. We were on the side of the bar, in the atrium. The atrium has a very vintage decor feel with high ceilings. It was nice to sit in an area with the best of both worlds- the energy of the bar and the uniqueness of a creatively decorated space. Our area was called the “Low Bar,” which felt slightly like a kid’s table since the seats were smaller and lower than normal bar seating. It was lovely and unique. If you want a table, reservations appear to be a must but we were very happy to get in and our seating was perfect.
|How do you back-in a dragon? Very carefully!|
Afterwards, we headed out and saw the tail-end of the Chinese New Year’s parade. The highlight was seeing a human-carried dragon puppet get backed into the lobby of a building. The dragon was super long and navigating the head with the tall horns was a bit challenging. But they did it! Then they set off the remainder of their noisemaker fireworks which was really loud. I feel very grateful to live in a country that is safe enough that when people hear explosions and loud sounds, they look for the fireworks instead of worrying about bombs.
Then we headed back to our four-star abode. It was a really nice day and we were excited to see a little more of San Francisco the next day.
|Sunset at the tide pools in front of the Inn|
Take two non-golfers and a world-famous golf resort and what do you get? A great weekend! SMS and I headed to the Inn at Spanish Bay this weekend after my boss gave us the stay as a gift. Apparently, he and his golf partner each had a room through an event they were playing but his friend wanted to stay in the house he owned in the area. Based on the houses around Pebble Beach, I’m sure it was a real dump.
Well, we were very happy and appreciative and off we went, battling rain and end-of-rush-hour traffic to get to the hotel. The room was really nice. The main room had a gas fireplace with two armchairs across from the two double beds that had really luxurious bed linens. The bathroom had a separate vanity/sink area and an inner toilet/sink/shower and bath. The bathtub looked like an amazing soaking tub but I didn’t check it out because, despite all the recent rain, CA is still in drought status.
|We saw a Chinese woman feeding the seagulls. It looked dangerous.|
We woke up in the morning and noticed that are room was a partial ocean view room- beautiful! We lazed around until the siren call of pancakes became too great for SMS’ stomach. We headed over towards Sticks, the small restaurant by the first tee. We shared blueberry pancakes and poached eggs and hash. Fortified, we headed off to the Coast trail, where we walked 2 miles each way between the Inn and Bird Rock. It was high tide and the ocean waves were pretty turbulent. It was so beautiful. It was nice to walk because I’ve driven on 17 Mile Rd before and it’s hard to sightsee to my heart’s content while driving.
After our walk, we split a club sandwich by the outside fire pit. It was so delicious- lots of turkey on sourdough toast (yeah!) along with perfectly ripe avocado and cooked bacon. So delicious, in fact, that seagulls tried to join our lunch (boo!), so we moved inside. One gull was tolerable but then it opened its big mouth and called all its friends. I know a flock of circling seagulls may not sound as scary as, say, hawks or vultures, but it was still disconcerting. I was not about to share my sandwich!
Then we went upstairs and I laid down on the bed for 5 minutes. It ended up being a two hour nap that even SMS participated in, which has never happened before! It was awesome! Unfortunately, the one experience does not seemed to have converted SMS to the love of naps but hey, maybe I can work on him.
I went for a quick run and cut it slightly short when I saw how beautiful the sunset and the light was on the nearby dunes. I ran and got SMS and we walked along the shoreline, exploring the tide pools and walking on the boardwalks among the dunes. It was fantastically beautiful.
After our sunset walk, we headed back to the room to get ready for dinner. I thought it would be nice to eat in one of the Inn’s restaurants so I had made reservations at Peppoli. We had a great Italian dinner. The highlight was how amazing the pasta was. It was super fresh and homemade. It was the best pasta I’ve ever had. The sauces didn’t quite hold their own against the pasta, but they were still pretty good. We ended with a shared almond cake for dessert and it was really a great meal.
On Sunday, I slept in. I woke up at 7 but then started dozing until after 9! Usually when I’m up, I’m up but I guess I was getting into the resort lifestyle. We ordered room service because I’ve loved room service ever since ordering it with Jenny and Theresa one New Year’s. It felt very luxurious and I’m glad we did it! SMS had the waffle and I had scrambled eggs. After breakfast, we headed over to the tennis courts where we played for about an hour. SMS was a total ringer since I didn’t find out until we were there that he had been on a tennis team for two years. Unfair advantage!
|The Lone Cyprus|
At the Pebble Beach Lodge, SMS wanted to see the clay tennis courts, which were waterlogged and closed but still interesting to see. We ate lunch on the terrace even though I was completely underdressed. Whah. I like meeting attire requirements but apparently, they’re loosened during the day and lunch was delicious so it was worth looking like a slob, I guess. We went all out and started with a dozen oysters (yay!) followed by an artichoke and a hamburger, which we shared. It was really awesome and the view was spectacular. We were overlooking the bay with Carmel across from us. Even though they were setting up tents for the AT&T Pro-Am in mid-Feb, there was still plenty of beautiful scenery to take in and enjoy.
|The Lone Cyprus’ not-famous cousin, Pt Lobos|
After lunch, we headed out to Point Lobos State Park, which was stunning. We hiked in the Cyprus Grove, where the Monterey cyprus and other local trees are in their natural element. We talked to a nice older couple manning the Park Service Info Booth and after turning over our car keys (yikes!), we got a pair of loaner binoculars. I’m glad we had them because we got to see whale spouts and the backs of gray whales! I was really hoping to see a tail or a whale flipping through the water like the old Echo the Dolphin Sega game, but I wasn’t that lucky!
|Near China Cove, Pt Lobos Park|
After the park, we headed back to the Inn. We decided to head back and be responsible adults. No snow days for us unlike so many people on the East Coast! It was a great weekend and a beautiful setting to stay and explore.
Afterward, we tried six of the beers including Anchor Steam, California Ale, Liberty Ale, a double IPA from the Argonaut collection, a dark Winter Wheat and the Christmas Ale (41st year). There’s one I’m leaving off but I misplaced my tasting list.
Afterwards, we walked up Potrero Hill, which led to pretty views of the city. We tried walking to the Dogpatch area but I got a little turned around so that was a fail.
|A secret path!|
We went to Japantown where I had planned to try Yamada ramen but the line was long and we started talking about Chinese pulled noodles. So, off we went to Inner Richmond to San Dong Best. We ordered the same beef stew with pulled noodles and it was really good and really filling. I also placed an order of dumplings that were also pretty standout.
|I love noodles! Also, they make dumplings in the window (see background).|
Sunday was pretty mellow. I read some chapters from the textbook I had just ordered. I also made some cookies for a blog bake-off and a work cookie Exchange. I also took a long nap. It was a perfect lazy Sunday on a cool, gray, rainy day.
|Delicious Christmas Cookies!|
This weekend was pretty nice. SMS and I did a lot, but at the same time, it was all local and didn’t feel particularly rushed. It was just a really pleasant, overall relaxing weekend.
|R&W Estate Vineyard|
On Friday, I went to my book club meeting. We had read Pretty Girls, which I do not recommend at all. The only reason why I even read it at all is this is the first book club I’ve belonged to where people actually read the book. Pretty Girls is in the genre of sex crimes mystery/thriller and I just think it’s kind of a gross genre. I don’t watch those types of TV shows either. I know there are horrible things in the world, but I don’t find them as a source of fictional entertainment. I’m not trying to sound holier-than-thou (and I did read The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo series, that was a huge trend a few years back), but it’s just a genre I don’t like.
|UC Berkeley’s Sather Tower, too early on a Saturday morning|
|Mile 11 was our last RP mile, which was 7:57.|
|I like to pretend this is my home 😉|
|Merry Christmas! Maybe not Christmas Card worthy with the lighting, but still festive!|
|Even dogs in Silicon Valley are smarter than you|
SMS and I had an awesome Saturday together! After I came back from my weekly running group, I was feeling a little uninspired in the planning department. I’m usually the one who plans our adventures but yesterday, SMS took the lead and we ended up having the best time.
We got ready to go and were dressed in our sporty gear because our first stop was Glen Canyon, a preserve and excellent bouldering site. We parked on Crags Ct (auspicious name!) and hiked into the canyon. It was awesome. There were a lot of hikers and it had a nice neighborly feel. We went over to the boulders where SMS found a lot of awesome routes, most of which had not been written about online.
The rock was very feature-y and a lot of fun to climb. The rocks were on the large side and I was leary of bouldering that high (aka, no rope since that’s what bouldering is) so I mostly lain out in the sun, which felt amazing. There were a few other climbers there and it was really a fantastic spot.
After we hiked out of the canyon, we headed back to the car and drove over to the Golden Gate Heights neighborhood. Our destination was the 16th Ave Tiled Steps, a community art project spanning 163 steps. It was absolutely beautiful and a stunning example of how much San Francisco has to offer, most of which I’m not even aware of! The steps are quite popular and attracted local and foreign tourists. What’s even better about the steps is that they lead to Grand View Park, a tiny clearing on the top of a hill next to Twin Peaks that has an absolutely phenomenal view of the city. We also had the best weather yesterday so it was really fantastic.
|Grand View Park’s Grand View|
We walked towards Inner Sunset to see another set of 148 tiled steps, The Hidden Garden Steps. They were also beautiful and no one else was there. Not that I expect a tourist destination to be completely devoid of people, but it is fun when I get to experience something as if it’s a hidden treasure! We actually looked at the steps more on the way back up but first, we stopped at a completely delightful coffee shop Hollow.
Hollow brews Ritual Coffee and has a spare, beach-y feeling aesthetic inside. There are old-fashioned light bulbs, a beautiful bar and a backroom with a small collection of beautiful things for sale, mainly toiletries, perfumes and expensive chocolates. I loved it and wished it was closer to Mountain View. It would be my go-to spot!
On the way back to the car, we walked up the Hidden Garden Steps and thought the tilework was really beautiful- maybe slightly prettier than the 16th St Steps but it’s hard to decide!
At this point, it was about 45 minutes to sunset. I suggested watching from Grand View Park but SMS downvoted that idea because he was “done climbing steps.” This seemed pretty wise and we decided to head to Outer Sunset and watch the sunset from there.
We walked along the dunes because there were paths through them that SMS, earth and dunes protector deemed dune-friendly. I was very happy because last time, we didn’t see any and SMS thwarted my sand dune sledding/running plans. I didn’t want to be known as the destroyer of dunes and I realized he was right but this time, through the dune paths we went!
The sunset was really pretty and again, the visibility was fantastic. We saw all the way out to Farallon Islands, which we later researched and found hilarious Google+ reviews about it. For the record, it’s closed to public access and is a wildlife preserve, mostly used by migrating birds.
|Clearly, no one likes William|
We drove back towards home and stopped in Los Altos for dinner. We went to a Greek restaurant that was pretty good, but the feel of the town is sort of old-people touristy in the manner of La Jolla cove or Orange St in Coronado. Wherever there’s a Chico’s…
After dinner, we watched an episode of Archer, a not new cartoon spoof of a retro-modern spy agency. It’s ridiculously not-PC but it’s also pretty funny and one of the few shows that we can watch together and both be entertained. Now I need to carve out some time to watch Season 3 of House of Cards since that’s not interesting to SMS at all.
|I love the scale in this photo!|
This past weekend was split between being mellow and venturing out. On Saturday, I went for a run with my running club which was a lot of fun. I ran the 5K distance at a pretty good clip and then enjoyed some fun conversation at Starbucks afterwards.
|SMS and I got to pika pura and made cool photo stickers, complete with anime eyes!|
After brunch (and a pre-brunch stop at Trouble coffee to restock on beans), we went to Japantown to check it out. There was an art walk that day where we bought a “passport” and went to 16 different stops throughout the 6 block area and got the book stamped with original designs by different artists. It was a fun way to explore the area!
|As the girl shouted into her cell phone, “I’M IN MARINA!”|
After Japantown, SMS wanted to check out another part of San Francisco so we decided to head over to Cow Hollow and the Marina area. It was a really pretty area with a lot of fancy shops. We stopped in for a drink at one of the restaurants and watched the end of a football game. Afterwards, we walked to the water where they were breaking down the setup for the Nike half-marathon.
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).
|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!