San Diego mini-trip

Mid-September, SMS and I decided we didn’t want to wait until the end of October to see each other. So…I saw clinic Monday and Tuesday so I could head home to San Diego for the rest of the week!  It is SO nice to see SMS- he is very missable and although Skype is wonderful, it’s great to be home!

We’ve also seen a few other people since being here. I think the highlight was going out to dinner last night (Thursday) with Linda and Rip. We arrived at the restaurant first and they were shocked when they saw me.  We wanted to surprise them and we definitely did!  It was pretty awesome and we had a great yakitori meal together. 
On Wednesday, I went out to dinner at Stone with several of my friends. No pictures, unfortunately, but I have lots of mental snapshots and memories from dinner. I feel very lucky that 7 of us could get together. There was the added bonus that SMS actually got out of class early and hung out with us. It sounds silly, but I love when our lives become more intertwined and when we hang out with great people together. 
Wednesday was actually the longest Wednesday ever since I left at 4 pm Wednesday and arrived in San Diego at noon on the same date. Since I left later in the afternoon, I actually got a fair bit done in Japan.  I finalized my car purchase and obtained base stickers. I also turned in my paperwork to arrange my “signing paperwork appointment” at the housing office. In the spirit of “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all,” I have nothing to say about the Yokosuka housing office. 
It ends up that I/we will live off-base. I found a great apartment in Miharucho. It’s a 2 bedroom apartment on the second story of a five story apartment building right on Tokyo Bay. We have a full ocean view!  We also have covered parking and are only 1.7 miles from base. It’s an incredible find and I’m really happy!  Pictures will definitely follow!  I am signing the contract on Wednesday, getting gas turned on Thursday and I’m going to have appliances and my express shipment delivered on Friday. I’ll have a home by the end of next week!
As for the rest of my San Diego trip, SMS and I are going climbing at Tahquitz today and going to Starlite for dinner tomorrow before I go. We’re going to use the birthday gift card I got from Brady.  I can’t wait!

San Diego mini-trip!

Mid-September, SMS and I decided we didn’t want to wait until the end of October to see each other. So…I saw clinic Monday and Tuesday so I could head home to San Diego for the rest of the week!  It is SO nice to see SMS- he is very missable and although Skype is wonderful, it’s great to be home!

We’ve also seen a few other people since being here. I think the highlight was going out to dinner last night (Thursday) with Linda and Rip. We arrived at the restaurant first and they were shocked when they saw me.  We wanted to surprise them and we definitely did!  It was pretty awesome and we had a great yakitori meal together. 
On Wednesday, I went out to dinner at Stone with several of my friends. No pictures, unfortunately, but I have lots of mental snapshots and memories from dinner. I feel very lucky that 7 of us could get together. There was the added bonus that SMS actually got out of class early and hung out with us. It sounds silly, but I love when our lives become more intertwined and when we hang out with great people together. 
Wednesday was actually the longest Wednesday ever since I left at 4 pm Wednesday and arrived in San Diego at noon on the same date. Since I left later in the afternoon, I actually got a fair bit done in Japan.  I finalized my car purchase and obtained base stickers. I also turned in my paperwork to arrange my “signing paperwork appointment” at the housing office. In the spirit of “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all,” I have nothing to say about the Yokosuka housing office. 
It ends up that I will live off-base. I found a great apartment in Miharucho. It’s a 2 bedroom apartment on the second story of a five story apartment building right on Tokyo Bay. We have a full ocean view!  We also have covered parking and are only 1.7 miles from base. It’s an incredible find and I’m really happy!  Pictures will definitely follow!  I am signing the contract on Wednesday, getting gas turned on Thursday and I’m going to have appliances and my express shipment delivered on Friday. I’ll have a home by the end of next week!

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

Epic Road Trip, Part I

SMS and I have done a lot of traveling this Summer.  It’s been awesome!  We’ve seen so many cool, beautiful places and we travel so well together.  It’s been an amazing newlywed Summer and I definitely feel very bittersweet about leaving San Diego.  But as I told SMS last night on the old Banker Hill apartment rooftop (my front door code still works!), I’m definitely going to be sad and miss him but I’m so glad I have him to miss!

So, yesterday marked our return to San Diego after an epic California road trip.  SMS had two weeks off from school after a crazy busy, successful Summer term and I was done with my job ages ago (ha, ha).  I checked out from the command on the 14th and on the 16th, we were off.

We got a slightly late start due to an id card appointment and last-minute errands at work.  By 1 o’clock, we were on the road to Morro Bay.  We hit some LA traffic but missed the worst of rush hour (I think).  We stopped in beautiful Santa Barbara for dinner at La Super-Rica Taqueria, which was delicious although the portions were smaller than I thought.  Never fear, the delicious cheesiness of our dishes were very sating.  I also loved stopping in Santa Barbara since I have a soft spot for the town.

From CW starting left: 1. SMS sets up his tripod 2. Underwater exploration vehicle dry-docked in MB 3. The Rock!

That night, we spent the night with 30 of our new closest friends at the Morro Bay State Beach.  SMS noted that, “I’ve been to many campsites and this is certainly the friendliest one I’ve ever been to.”  He was referring not to the people themselves, but the fact that the campground was essentially a parking lot with tents pitched behind the car.  Our next-door neighbors were only six feet away.  Awkward when peeing at night, that’s for sure!  (Kidding.  There were bathroom facilities that were actually quite clean and nice.  Although, when camping, clean = nice).

The next morning, we woke up and headed to Frankie & Lola’s Front St Cafe for a little breakfast.  It was a cute place with delicious food!  We got the French Toast Brûlée, soufflé, flambé and the corned beef hash with poached eggs.  So good!  Before breakfast, we got a few pictures of the Rock, which was good since the fog rolled in during breakfast and completely obscured it.  Gooooooo, good timing!

Random spots in Big Sur.  Bottom left is Julia Pfieffer Burns SP with the waterfall on the beach

We hit the road and drove up the Coast through Big Sur.  We stopped at several beautiful places including Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park.  SMS took some beautiful pictures and we stopped at the Big Sur Bakery for lunch after trying Nepenthe, which had a CRAZY line.  I turned it into a brunch and got the breakfast pizza (delicious!) and SMS got a fish special that was pretty good.

CW from top left: Cannery building, kelp forest, jellyfish lab, jellyfish!!!

Speaking of fish, we then headed up to Monterey to see the aquarium.  A childhood friend of mine from Rota, Spain lives there now and works at the aquarium.  Our tickets were comped and we toured the place.  The highlights for me were the jellyfish, sea horses and the kelp forest.  I could probably think of even more but I’ll try and keep my favorites manageable!  Cat and Joe met us at 5 and we got a brief behind the scenes tour of the rooftop area where the kelp forest receives its sun and wave motion.  The rescue seal tanks are also on the roof.  We also went behind the scenes of the jellyfish exhibit and saw tanks and tanks of jellyfish.  Some were destined for display while others were destined to be the dinner of the other jellyfish.  Creepy!

We went to Lopez Restaurante Y Cantina, which was pretty delicious.  I had a molé dish that was awesome.   It was so much fun to catch up with Cat and meet Joe.  I feel very lucky to have rekindled a friendship from so long ago!

SMS and I left Monterey and headed to Big Basin Redwood SP for another night of camping.  The stars were amazing and this was real camping in real woods!  The next morning, we woke up and walked the .6 mile Redwood trail that hit a lot of the park’s Redwood highlights, including the oldest and largest trees.  How courteous that all the highlights are in such close proximity!  We stopped by the gift shop where Mark advised me not to actually buy the coonskin hat I modeled.  Sad, but definitely the wise fashion choice.

Not a good look

To be continued!

East Coast Weekend!

This past weekend, SMS and I headed to the East Coast for Marissa and Blake’s wedding!  
First, we arrived on Friday at LGA and picked up our rental car.  We headed to my uncle’s house, about 25 minutes from West Point.  We spent the night with Rick, Jen, Tahoe and Vegas (the dogs).  It was really nice to see them and hang out a little longer than we were able to at the wedding.  
The next day, I was stressed because I had forgotten my uniform shirt.  Dumb, dumb, dumb!  When will I learn to double check that EVERYTHING is there?  Since my other shirt was on its merry way to Japan, we left Rick’s, picked up Karen in Garrison and went to the PX.  Fortunately, we got there with plenty of time.  We dropped our stuff off at my med school friends’ house then headed out to the wedding.  
The West Point chapel is BEAUTIFUL!  It was a really nice ceremony and the first kiss was awesome!  Then, I was in the sword arch, which was my first one ever.  I was really honored and excited to be a part of it!  
That afternoon, we went out to lunch and then I took a nap.  We got ready for the reception and the three of us headed out to the West Point club.  We had a great time and it was a beautiful setting.  All my college friends except Laddie were there.  I was really grateful to have the chance to see everyone before leaving for Japan.
The three house guests!  Thanks Brian and Deb!
Toast by the Best Man!
Photobooth fun!

The next day, we went to a brunch at the Thayer Hotel and said our goodbyes.  Then we went out to lunch with Brian and Deb to a cute French place in Cold Spring, Brasserie Le Bouchon.  SMS and I had delicious salads and French onion soup.  Brian had yummy mussels and Deb had half a chicken.  All of the food was awesome and we finished off with popsicles from next-door.

SMS and I left and headed off to Little Silver.  We went out to Navesink CC for dinner and everyone had delicious fish dishes.  Maria and Brady were there too which was totally awesome!  I was so happy to see both of them.  After dinner SMS and I dropped Brady off in the city so she could catch the bus to Boston.  We went to the High Line Park, which was super-cool.  We also went to Serendipity for dessert.  I’m so glad we had a mini-outing in the city rather than just go to the hotel.  
Building on the High Line
Tower along the High Line
Who is this gorgeous man!?!?

The next morning, we were off to LaGuardia.  We had to switch our flights around due to a delayed first flight but we got back in time for SMS’ class, preceded by a Chick-fil-a stop, since I had said there was one at every airport we were at and I kept dashing the hopes of SMS since I was always wrong!