Männlichen, Kleine Scheidegg, and Wengen Hike

View from Männlichen

Good morning! I faced a dilemma- what to do? This was the only day I’d have to spend in Bern, but I really wanted to hike. Since all I wanted to do in Bern was hop in the river, I decided to hike and forsake the other nice things Bern had to offer (the old town is amazing- UNESCO says so!).

I lazed in bed until the sun peeked over the ridge line. I went to the breakfast room and even though Mr. B.O. was not there, I took my plate out to the terrace. I saw two helicopter pallet deliveries, which was pretty cool. No wonder everything is so expensive up in the mountains! I decided to hike to Kleine Scheidegg, which was a much more mellow plan (elevation-wise) than my hike the day before.

Männlichen Cableway Station

I took the Männlichen Aerial Cableway from Wengen. My Swiss Pass covered it, but there was a small supplement for “The Royal View.” This allows the rider to take a small staircase to an open-air balcony on top of the car. Although the views from the inside were awesome, I think riding without any windows would have been amazing. Terrifying, but amazing. Unfortunately, I didn’t figure it out before boarding and it wasn’t worth it (to me) to wait for the next cable car.

The ride was ~5 min and the view from the platform was spectacular. Rather than head straight to Kleine Scheidegg, I headed up the hill on the Royal Walk to the crown-shaped viewing platform. Along the way, there are some excellent informational signs about the geology, alpine climbing history, and knot-tying. At the top, there are incredible 360 views of the Eiger/Monch/Jungfrau (EMJ) mountains, Lauterbrunnen Valley, and Grindelwald. I even saw Schynige Platte. Although it is beautiful, I felt better about skipping it since the hike to Kleine Scheidegg would have similar features along the trail. I would be trading a view of the lakes for a view of the EMJ complex but that was worth it to me!

From the Royal Walk viewing platform, I also saw Bluemlisalp, where SMS and I had hiked on our prior visit. After taking in the scenery for a bit, it was time to hike towards Kleine Schiedegg. It was a very mellow walk with the path cutting through flower-filled alpine fields. I’m pretty sure it’s the traversing trails during ski season but in the Summer, it makes for great walking. There were a lot more people on this trail than my previous day’s hike, but there was definitely plenty of room for us all.

I arrived in Kleine Schiedegg in ~90 minutes. I definitely stopped along the way for pictures, but was otherwise walking at a pretty reasonable clip. I had a mountain-side table for lunch, with great views, good food, and deliciously fresh, clean air (does this make sense?).

After lunch, I decided to walk back to Wengen, rather than take the train down the mountain. It was a great decision because it got me really close to the EMJ. This helped me see the many glacier-fed waterfalls streaming down the side. I also saw Swiss cows, which was nice.

Swiss hiking tip: if there is a destination sign with two routes (bike and ped), take the walking path. The bike routes tend to be wide and are fine to walk on, but the ped trails are narrower and meander a tiny bit more. The payoff is that it is much more of a nature trail than a semi-paved road. Part of the trail was bike/ped, which was great too! Overall, my route was pedestrian trail out of KS, bike/ped road after the cow fields, and then a ped route through the forest to Wegen (prettier and needed shade).

The forest trail paralleled the edge of Lauterbrunnen Valley, although the edge was only accessible at viewpoints/BASE jump sights. The sign above was warning BASE jumpers to call the helicopter launch site below before jumping. Never fear, SBA, I will never be making that phone call.

Getting to Wengen took a little longer than I thought, but no worries. The days are long in a Swiss Summer! I took the train from Wengen to Lauterbrunnen, followed by a transfer to Interlaken and then onto Bern. I made it to Bern for a few floats down the river, but that’s for the next blog post!

The train was packed, so I got a great seat by having a glass of wine in the dining car. Tough life.

Rec’ing Ball

I want to start posting more regularly and one way is to have repeating topic-based posts. Now, I have tried this before with no follow-through so no promises that this is going to stick. But I think I have a good idea! This recommendations based post will be for recommendations that I have and recommendations I gather up from other sources (mostly Instagram). Hopefully, it’ll be a good way for me to look back on things that caught my eye for future ideas, mostly related to travel.

Menlo Park Area Eats: SMS and I went to Ben Franks, a drive-thru and walk-up window hot dog shack in Redwood City. The hot dogs and cross-cut fries are delicious! I got a chili dog and SMS went with the classic (classic). Yum!

I also had a Philz iced mint mojito, which was so tasty. I order it “house-style” with cream and milk. The only disappointing thing is that it is very heavy on the ice.

Love a good meme!

Funny memes: Maybe I will look for a weekly meme so I remember when I read them. A little meme timeline? Anyway, here’s last week’s!

Not digging it!

Buying the right thing the first time: I think Caroline-bird has been missing her playground and her friend, Mr. Pinks. I bought a lampshade from Ikea, since the birds really liked to chew on other shades I’ve owned. Nope! Doesn’t like. Don’t worry, a bird playground is on the way!

France Trip Recommendations: SMS had a picture of Gordes, France pop up on his work computer lock screen. It looks very beautiful. Also, a friend of mine recently went to Calanques National Park. A pretty town with oysters: Île de Ré. La Table du Maroc, a restaurant by the river in Saintes, France.

Spain Trips Recommendations: A woman whose IG account that I follow is in Barcelona. I’m not sure when I’ll get an itch to go there but a few cool places include the El Born neighborhood, the Moco Museum, the Aire Ancient Baths (I have either heard of this or there are Aire baths in other European cities?), and the Moirai Market (clothes).

It’s Been a Minute…

Unique porthole view of San Diego

Hello! It is exciting to be back! This Spring featured a lot of same old-same old travel in San Diego and the Bay Area (omg, I am so spoiled) as well as some stressful job-hunting that I didn’t feel like live-blogging. The last entry was about a meeting where among other people that I met…I met my future employers! Yes, I now have a job! I am also Coronado apartment-less. I have two more days of work after a week of leave where I was supposed to go to my college reunion and see my family and instead…COVID. Bleh, yes, after more than two years, I came down with the ‘Vid.

I’ve had super mild symptoms. The day that I did a home test, I only did it b/c I felt slightly off and I was about to travel. Well…shit, as my MIL said (which was the first time I think I’ve heard her say that, hahahaha). So, I called off my travel plans and holed up in the Point Loma NGIS. An oceanfront room where my Navy career can come full circle since this is where I stayed during my SWMDOIC class before the Kitty Hawk? How nostalgic!

At least I wasn’t on a cruise ship…

The day after I tested I was a liiitttlleee more symptomatic with an occasional cough and sore throat. But the past few days, I’ve felt fine and tomorrow, I can come off isolation per CDC calculator. So what am I going to do? Take a road trip to the Great Outdoors so that I can still be by myself during the time that I’m still supposed to mask up.

So, yes! New travel! Time to blog! I am going on a road trip to the Grand Canyon, Bryce, and Zion. I have big plans and I think it’s going to be a pretty epic trip.

Then I head into work on Thursday and Friday. Friday evening is the Hail and Farewell and then I am d-u-n, DONE! Thursday and Friday are going to be pretty crazy, but I’m in a good position since a lot of my admin work is totally done. That checkout list is pretty long though…

Domestic Travels

S’mores and more at the Hotel Del. Who knew “and more” would be Norovirus?

I’ve been traveling a lot the last few weeks. Even when I’ve been in town, it’s for events that are out of the ordinary. First, I went to the Triological Society (Trio) meeting at the Hotel Del. It was a nice opportunity to attend interesting talks and to participate as a panelist. Unfortunately, it was also an opportunity to get norovirus/norovirus-like illness as so many people were sick the last two days of the conference. I thought I was safe since I felt fine on Saturday but oh my gosh, Sunday was a much different story. I will spare you the details, but it’s funny that we were worried about Coronavirus and it was Norovirus that took us out.

New friends from the conference- I took them up to Cabrillo to see the city in a different way!

The next weekend, I took an extra two days off and made a casual loop of the United States. First, I saw SMS in Palo Alto. We went to Watercourse Way, an onsen-style place in Palo Alto. The hot water felt great! On Sunday, I headed to Boston immediately after their huge blizzard! I landed without a problem but my parents were still in DC (we were supposed to meet). So, I hopped on the United app and booked myself a flight to see them- last one of the night!

I see a bird? Frantiśek Kupka’s Localization of Graphic Motifs II

I spent a day and a half in DC. We went to the National Gallery of Art since the East Building is closing soon for renovations. There is a nicely laid-out exhibit of contemporary art (~1900-on) in four vertically stacked galleries. Mom cooked a great dinner and overall, it was great to have some time with my parents. Plus, I got bonus sister time when Brady came over for about an hour on her way home. That’s always very special! I was so happy it worked out since she is super-busy with work and family.

This is not Coronado

The next day, I went up to Walter Reed and got a few errands done in a mostly efficient manner. Mom and Dad were worried whether I would make my flight but I had faith! On the way back, I was upgraded to Business class to IAH, where I had dinner in the Centurian Lounge. It was a luxurious experience!

2021 Wrap-Up : November

Treasure Island Sunset. We didn’t turn into donkeys!

November started with another weekend on call, so nothing too exciting to there. SMS and I had a lot more fun over Veteran’s Day Weekend. I had bought tickets to a Friday night show, so we make an East Bay date night out of it!

First, we went to Treasure Island (not the one of Pinocchio fame!). Instead, it is the location of the Pan Am terminal once used for the Clipper Sea Planes. For some reason, I thought the terminal was used for blimps and I didn’t know what a Clipper was. Inside, there were some informative posters and it was really a cool chapter in aviation history.

Large mural inside the terminal. The mural is on a concave wall, but panoramic mode distorts

Although the exterior was beautiful, it didn’t look the most inviting. I had heard there was a cool mural inside so I decided to try a door, which pulled open easily. We walked inside and there was a security guard right there who paid no attention to us so we guessed that we were okay! The mural is pretty amazing and documents key Navy and Marine historical events. It starts with the Battle of Lake Erie in 1813 and ends with a futuristic space colony. I guess the last bit technically isn’t history but it seemed to fit with a grandiose timeline and attitude of future success!

After Treasure Island, we went to Trader Vic’s. According to the restaurant, Trader Vic himself is the inventor of the Mai Tai. It had been on our list to try and since we were in the area, off we went! It was pretty tasty. I usually avoid Mai Tais and have even been the designated driver at luaus because I don’t like them. But I admit, this one was pretty good.

After dinner, we went to the Paramount Theater for Pop-Up magazine, a live performance from several artists that bring a magazine to life. After having unbelievable luck with a parking spot despite the presence of a serious doubter (SMS!), we walked to the theater where there was a medium line to get in/through the COVID screeners. Entering the lobby was amazing- I hadn’t realized what a beautiful Art Deco building it was. The middle picture above is near the entrance and the picture to the right is from the circle that you see near the top of the middle picture. It is an incredible interior.

Seat view

The show was pretty good. Several writers read pieces that were accompanied by a small band and graphics/slideshow/video support. There was also a Native American spirit dance by two guys profiled in the piece immediately preceding the dance. Overall, the show concept was really cool and I learned a few things during different segments. I don’t know if I’d go to every Pop-Up Magazine event that comes to town, but it was definitely a unique show format. For our first night out in a long time, it was definitely a lot of fun!

Stanford vs Cal. Stanford didn’t do well. At least Stanford can console themselves with their big brains.

The next weekend marked the start of my extended Thanksgiving vacation. We went to the Stanford-Cal game to tailgate with new friends I had made through my Stanford Ignite experience. There were extra tickets, so we were invited to the game itself. It was a lot of fun.

View from the top

We also went for a hike the day before leaving for DC, where we spent the Thanksgiving holiday (separate blog post!). The hike started from Deer Hollow farm. Afterward, we came upon the most Zen goat. A state of mind to aspire towards!

Zen goat

April 2021: Best of the Rest

We are the stars!

Here’s the rest of my photo dump/highlights from April. Still a little slow due to COVID restrictions (lifting, though!) so it’s not that great of a monthly post. Also, I’m writing this a few months late so, you know, details get lost.

Very displeased with horrible spray treatment. 0 stars!
Wisteria season. I love these flowers although apparently, there are some pros/cons to growing them.
Looking good after a San Diego sprinkle!
At the Boswell birthday party with the frunk of the eMustang used as a tailgate cooler. Very clever!
A cat with amazing fur pattern that my friend Rose was pet-sitting.
Whoa, native plants CAN look alive!
Dumpster on my way to the work parking lot. I wasn’t paying attention so when I looked up and saw this, I laughed out loud. Those faces!

April 2021: Birthday!

Hooray, another year! I had a very nice birthday, especially since I got to spend it with SMS rather than a hospital ship targeted by runaway train locomotives! I took Thursday and Friday off, which made for a long weekend gift to myself.

My favorite hiking partner!

To celebrate, I hiked the Dear Springs trail to Suicide Rock…twice! On Thursday, I hiked with my friend Carrie and on Friday, SMS and I went. It was beautiful and worth doing, even though I was a little sore the third day. Idylwild is absolutely beautiful and it made for a great weekend getaway.

On the trail. The yellow arrow is pointing to Carrie. She’s otherwise quite hard to see.

On Thursday, Carrie and I took a day trip out to Idylwild. We did the hike and grabbed lunch and a post-hike beer at the Idylwild Brewpub. The setting was awesome, but we didn’t linger too long because I had a small get-together to go to in San Diego. My friend/colleague Colleen was leaving for a new duty station, so the four lady ENTs got together to hang out and get some quality time in before she left.

On Friday, I celebrated by eating cake for breakfast. Mom and Dad had sent a cake from MilkBar, which is delicious. Nutritionally, I’m sure it’s so bad that it’s good but hey, birthday rules! I also was super hungry because of the tasty treat of a man who was on my birthday card from them. I say “them” but I’m pretty sure it was all Mom.

But before we left town, SMS and I stopped at Camp Pendleton where he got his first Pfizer vaccine! It was the best birthday present! I had been pretty nervous for him, especially in the interval between my vaccination and his. I wanted him to be equally protected but because of the difference in our jobs, we qualified for vaccinations at different time. It turns out he wasn’t quite as excited to get it since he was worried about mild side effects impacting our trip but everything worked out! He felt totally fine.

Snow in April!

We had a great time on the hike. We had decided to stay overnight. SMS booked a room at The Grand Idylwild Lodge, which lived up to its name. There were beautiful outside eating areas, so we decided to order takeaway from town and eat at the hotel. We ordered Italian from FERRO and bought a bottle of wine from Middle Ridge Winery. We bought the Cinsaut, which is usually found in blends. It smelled so good and we really enjoyed it.

We at outside and enjoyed the sunset views of Suicide Rock, which we had hiked to the top of earlier in the day.

The next morning, we hung around for a bit before heading home. We stopped at the famous Dudley’s bakery. Then, we went to Grant James for a wine tasting, which was delightful! The patio is shaded, there was a slight breeze, the wine was delicious, and there was a pizza oven in the back with great pizza options.

And that was my birthday weekend! I had the best time on our mini-trip planned by SMS. Happy birthday to meeeeeeeee!

March 2021- Family Trip in San Diego

In March, Mom and Dad visited us in San Diego. As a total bonus, Ed and Meg came out for part of the time. It was an awesome trip. And, I get to start writing something in my blog other than “We sat around our house” or “We went to gardens full of native sticks plants.” This is very exciting news! But as they say in writing classes, “show don’t tell” so here are some details!

We went to the San Diego Botanic Garden in Encinitas. Just inside the entrance is a high-tech greenhouse that contains tropical plants and gorgeous wood installations that contain epiphytes. These wooden structures have cables attached and can either be on the ground or lifted to form plant chandeliers. There are also a lot of orchids, which warmed the heart of my crazy plant lady sister-in-law.

Second on Meg’s list of lovable plants are succulents. So, we turned to a life of crime and took teeny-tiny pieces (some were already detached!) so she could create a succulent garden in Chicago. It was about as successful as it sounds. The plants traveled well but didn’t take to their new home so well. Probably because plants, like people, become really weather weenies when they live in San Diego too long.

After the garden, we went to Viewpoint Brewery in Del Mar. It’s right by the race track and has a huge outdoor patio alongside the San Dieguito Lagoon. The beer and food are both delicious. The weather was perfect. We took the 101 between Encinitas and Del Mar, which was scenic but also showed how developed Encinitas has become even over the last 10 years. It’s pretty amazing.

Finally, we went to Cabrillo National Monument to look at the Pacific and Bay views. It is a really gorgeous place and it was fun to take Ed and Meg to a place they hadn’t been in San Diego.

The next day, we met up in Little Italy and went to the Saturday Farmer’s Market. The fruits and vegetables looked so good, the flowers were beautiful, and I found a little plant stand where I bought the plant that has leaves that appear to be bug-eaten (Monstera). We met up with our cousin at Ballast Point, where we had lunch and beer.

For dessert, we stopped at Holy Paleta, which is my new favorite place. I’m glad it’s located in a place that is hard to park- otherwise, I might go every day.

Then we sped-walked to the USS Midway since we had timed-tickets. We had a lot of fun visiting, mostly on the flight deck. Dad talked to just about every docent. We looked at the A-3 Skywarrior. We looked off the bow. And someone pretended to be a shooter (carrier-style, not weapon-style!).

After the Midway, we were thirsty (again) so we went to Vistal to grab a drink with Bay/sunset views. We randomly ran into our cousin and his wife again, so they joined us. We sat outside. It was delightful- really scenic and with fun company.

And that was the end of the weekend! Ed and Meg left while Mom & Dad had another day. We took an Amtrak up to San Juan Capistrano, which was such an amazing adventure that it deserves its own post.

February 2021

Mark burning valves in our driveway. Shockingly, our nosy neighbor’s garage door is shut. She’s probably peering from her bedroom window.

February was a little bit more of same old, same old. I was fully vaccinated, but our knowledge of what that meant was still incomplete. Could I still be a carrier monkey? Who knew? So, SMS and I stayed home, did our work, and had another quarentine-y month together.

Gorgeous sunsets in the city parking lot, where I park for work

We continued our native plant watch, visiting the Point Loma Native Plant garden. It’s looking a little more beautiful. More (little) flowers, somewhat fewer dead sticks. Progress!

Meanwhile, at the base of our apartment stairs, a gorgeous jasmine plant had a huge bloom. It smelled heavenly for a few weeks. We loved it. Photo of SMS totally not staged (it is).

February meme alert! I am not a cat! The panicky cat sideways glance is hilarious. I highly recommend checking out this video if you somehow missed the highlight of my February internet browsing.

Overlook Park north of One Paseo/Del Mar and just South of the Del Mar Fairgrounds

SMS and I went to North County to check out some neighborhoods, since we were still deciding between San Diego and Bay Area living arrangements jobs. We like beautiful places but a lot of them have really big houses- way more than we’d like to take care of.

So, to balance our thoughts, we went up to the Bay Area for the weekend. SMS had been there for the week for work. I joined him Friday and we had a great time. We treated ourselves to two nights at the Stanford Park Hotel, which is beautiful. We had delicious pinot noir with our friends in Lafayette and overall, had an amazing weekend. A great way to end the month!

January 2021

My second jab! I was too self-conscious to get a picture the first time but the second time, I wanted a picture.

Well, January was pretty eventful for the US and I definitely followed current events in a much more timely way than my blog posting schedule suggests. I really like Heather Cox Richardson‘s near-daily posts from a historian’s perspective. She’s still writing about current events and I really appreciate her ability to inform the present from events in the past.

The birds continue to do well. Mom continues to send them seeds and treat sticks, so they’re well-fed. Their daily routine is about the same: sleep, eat, drink, chirp, fly. They are especially vocal during Mark’s conference calls. They don’t understand why he isn’t thrilled about this. So they chirp louder.

In other bird-related topics, I used my parakeet ornaments on the tree. They were from the RN I worked with in Portsmouth and I love them. But they were put away by early January so I was on top of the tree takedown for 2021. Speaking of takedowns (or downfalls?)…

Then, on inauguration day came my favorite meme of 2021: the Bernie meme! I know, it was old within a week but there were some pretty clever riffs. My favorite?

Finally, we had some spectacular sunsets. The picture below on the left is from our balcony while the picture on the right is from the City Lot just east of Balboa Park.

Finally, SMS looked pretty good in his Christmas sneakers. I don’t manage to surprise him very often but this gift was a good one!