Friday, November 25, 2011

San Francisco - Day 2

Friday, October 21, 2011
(For day 1, click here)

Friday began with breakfast at our hotel and a few more pictures of Healdsburg, which is currently our #1 retirement destination (sorry Greenville, you’ve been bumped to number 2). We picked up some drinks at Safeway and were ready to explore wine country.

I really didn’t expect anything fun to happen until we reached our first destination but the drive was just stunning. We were surrounded by vineyards, which were the most gorgeous fall colors. At one point we’d been driving under an umbrella of trees when we saw a rustic bridge. Once we made it to the bridge the trees disappeared and we could see for miles in all directions. We took CA-128/29 south from Healdsburg all the way to Napa and it was incredible.
The first place we stopped was Castell di Amorosa. It was a giant castle and the landscaping was so pretty. We didn’t have a driver for the day so we’d limited ourselves to three tastings. Regardless, we’d heard this place was gorgeous so we stopped for pictures.

Back in the car! We stopped at St. Helena to have a quick lunch at The Model Bakery and I also purchased a cute wool headband to protect my ears from the wind/cold when we went to Alcatraz. There is a reason I’m telling you this tiny detail—more on that later. Wish we would've had more time here, it was a neat town.
Our first stop to actually taste wine was Saddleback Cellars. It was as relaxed and laid-back as they come. We sat at a picnic table and they left us alone until our glasses were empty and then they magically appeared—it was glorious! They also had country (and I mean COUNTRY) music playing. Most of you know I am NOT a country music fan but it just fit here. If we didn’t like the wine we were told to “dump it on the ground—it’s great for the grass.” I don’t think either of us dumped anything, the wine was amazing. I believe it was my favorite time of the entire trip. Since I’ve been back at work I’ve had a few stressful moments and I just picture us back at Saddleback, sitting at a picnic table listening to "Luckenbach, Texas." Everything around us seemed to slow down a bit and in turn, so did we.

After tasting the-best-wine-we’ve-ever-consumed-and-had-to-turn-down-because-it-was-$60-a-bottle, we drove to Cakebread Cellars, which was just a mile away and recommended by my bff Summer. We were greeted with a glass of sauvignon blanc and given a really nice tour of the grounds. The wine was amazing here as well! One person in our group walked off to take a phone call almost immediately after the tour began. Of course he came back 30 minutes later and asked all sorts of questions that had already been answered. I believe they should ban phone calls in wine country. Or maybe just that guy.

After this wine tasting I was once again feeling a bit loopy. I was our navigator and got us lost approx 14 times. I’ve never been a good driver but I usually rule with a map in front of me. But no. Not so much. As I'm staring out the window Michael would nicely say, “Hey, shouldn’t we turn pretty soon? Merd? MERD!” Yeah, we were supposed to turn a mile ago.
We quickly stopped at Artesa Vineyards & Winery for pictures, which had a beautiful view....

...and then ended our tasting at Domaine Carneros. We sat outside on an enormous wrap-around patio, ordered a cheese and fruit platter and sipped champagne. I took a video and in the course of 30 seconds I tell you where we are twice. After the video I took several pictures of a bird. (Shaking head.) I am not posting either.

It was time to head back to San Francisco to check into our hotel and get ready for dinner. We crossed the Golden Gate Bridge as the sun was setting, dropped the car off at the rental place and checked into our hotel. We’d wanted to stay in Union Square but not be forced to sell a kidney to pay for it so we chose The Crescent. It was a fine hotel but absolutely nothing special. The room was big enough to hold our bed and one suitcase. Location couldn’t be beat, but if we went back we’d probably stay elsewhere.
We walked to Epic Roasthouse and something magical happened that has never, ever happened to us before. We got the best seat in the restaurant (window seat with a perfect view of the Bay Bridge). Ok, I got the best seat in the restaurant. Michael was still screwed a bit due to the wall placement. For one reason or another, we are always given the worst table in a restaurant—it’s become a bit of a joke and I was positively giddy to not sit next to the bathroom, kitchen, or back corner. Our meal was as good as the view (I’m still dreaming about the halibut and risotto) and a perfect way to end the day.
(View from Epic--picture taken from their website...)

Friday, November 18, 2011

In Her Own Words

Melissa, one of my best friends from high school, sent me an email last week that had me crying at my desk. She and I wrote back and forth several times and I encouraged her to post these thoughts on her blog because I knew it would benefit others. Several of you have opened up to me about your own miscarriages so I wanted to include the link to her blog post, which covers what she put in her email.

On a similar note, I'd like to encourage each of you to tell people when and how you pray for them. I'm not saying you need to send out daily emails, but Melissa will never know how much her email meant to me.

Click HERE to read her post.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

San Francisco - Day 1

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Our flight took off at 6:30 am so we’d set our alarms for 4:00 to make sure we’d get to the airport in plenty of time. Due to our excitement, we both woke up with no problem and had quite cheery dispositions. The flight was uneventful except for the strangest flight attendant we’ve ever encountered. She was totally passive aggressive. I’m not sure if she’d had a fight with her husband, boyfriend, or dog that morning but everything that came out of her mouth had us tilting our heads in amused confusion. We were both expecting her final words to be, “Thank you for flying United. You can all go to hell.”

Once we arrived in San Francisco we took a taxi to the rental car agency and picked up a brand new Impala (holla). We were on our way north! We drove over the Golden Gate Bridge and straight to Muir Woods National Monument. What I thought would be a quick side excursion turned into one of the highlights of our trip. Muir Woods was absolutely breathtaking. We were there early enough that we didn’t have to share the path with many others, which meant a nice relaxing stroll in the middle of a redwood forest (“to the gulf stream waters”). As I mentioned in an earlier post, this was where we celebrated our 4th anniversary. Not bad!

Do you see me?

And a short video if you're interested... (Michael was making a funny noise in the background. You might not be able to hear it but that is why I say, "That's Michael." I did not name the tree Michael. Thank you.)

We stopped by the gift shop and picked up a ceramic mug commemorating our time at Muir Woods. By this point we’d worked up an appetite so we drove south to Sausalito and had lunch at Le Garage. This place was terrific! While it was actually in a garage (French garage?), the place was pretty upscale and the food was delicious. Michael had a Kobe beef burger and I had lobster salad, all the while enjoying the boats docked right outside.

We did a “driving tour” (navigated by yours truly) of Sausalito and then continued north to Healdsburg (wine country). Healdsburg was one of the coolest towns we’ve ever visited and I highly recommend it if you are visiting the area. It was quaint without being cute, busy without being touristy. If that makes sense. We checked into the H2Hotel (another highlight of the trip) and then walked around the Town Square. La Crema was one of my favorite wines from my waitressing days so we made sure to stop at their tasting room. The sommelier was new and decent at best but we had a great time and the wine was delicious. Afterward we walked to Williamson Wines, which is a tiny vineyard in Healdsburg. It was there we met Reese, the sweetest guy ever. He knew so much about their wines and paired each tasting with a bite o' food. In case you are curious, there are two very large differences between wine tasting in wine country vs. everywhere else: The pours are very generous and oftentimes there is no bucket. You don’t love it? You still drink it. That being the case, I was feeling FANTASTIC by the end of our second tasting. At one point I told Reese I couldn’t feel my face, which was immediately followed by an “Oooook, Reese could you give us a moment?” from Michael. I got a “lock it up” lecture (haha) and then we proceeded to join their wine club for a year. (Sidenote: we received our first shipment last week and I was so scared the wine would taste terrible sober. Wrong! It was still delicious!)

After walking around a bit more, we went back to our hotel and got ready for dinner at the Spoon Bar. It was the restaurant inside our hotel and they’d opened the walls (windows) since it was such a pretty evening. We had a lovely view of the Town Square as well as the Rangers game. We were both tired by this point so we asked that dessert be delivered to our room. I had two bites before falling asleep. It was the perfect first day.

H2Hotel (Highly recommend--amazing and environmentally friendly!)

Bamboo floors


The Spoon Bar (Hotel Restaurant and where we had dinner)

10,000 spoons (when all ya need is a knife)

Up close

View of the balconies

The bottom of this picture is the "green living roof" of our hotel (filters rainwater and reduces the amount of heat the hotel gives off. Learn more here!)

Park in Healdsburg

This is probably 5 minutes before I couldn't feel my face. Lovely.

Stay tuned for Day 2, the day we traveled through wine country!


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