we just got back from our first trip sans kids! aka… its been 3 years since cal and i got a trip away together. its been 10 years since i've taken a trip with my dad and stepmom…making it cal's first trip with them! AND our first time since nathan's diagnosis to spend some good quality time with them without kids! needless to say, this trip was MUCH needed. i felt like i was on the amazing race though. i definitely get more sleep at home, but i wouldn't trade sleep for anything. like nate and i said on the trip, i'll sleep when i'm dead.
i'm not even going to attempt to give you a city guide or trip plan. i wasn't anywhere long enough to give any advice. ha! but i will tell you what i did, because i'd love a journal to look back on one day…….
we left friday morning at the crack of dawn, flew to chicago and then to san francisco. we were delayed by so many hours in chicago that when we arrived in san francisco we weren't able to do anything we had planned that day. we grabbed our rental car and headed downtown (after i cried because i was finally standing on california soil, something i had dreamt of for half of my life.) our sweet friends karl and laura let us grab a quick shower at their amazing place in russian hill and then we grabbed some food and drinks with them at union larder (which i highly recommend!) and then we headed to oakland to see our favorite band (widespread panic) play at the fox theatre! of course taking lombard street on the way out….
i talked cal into leaving around set break to head to meet up with our family in kenwood.. thank goodness because a guy behind us was smoking something i had never smelled before. i'm thinking crack. it was the rowdiest crowd i've ever seen at a show and i was thrilled to make it out in one piece. i considered it a win.
we got to the house around 11pm (2 am our time... i had been up 23 hours) we got up around 7am to get the day going early since nathan feels the best in the morning. we drove to napa and grabbed their race packets then headed to Chandon!
let me stop real quick and explain something. i don't like wine. like at all. i love champagne and sparkling rose…but the rest is for the birds. i appreciate EVERY aspect of the work that goes into it and was totally fascinated by it… but i just don't like the way it tastes. sooooo all that to say, i didn't think i would LOVE wine country...
back to Chandon. y'all…. ok. if you're from knoxville, picture our most perfect fall day. the kind where you can wear jeans and short sleeve shirt. or long sleeve. the weather that you can actually wear anything in and not be cold or hot. FOOTBALL SEASON weather. THATS napa weather. then picture sitting outside on the porch of a nice house and having food served to you in that weather. THATS wine country. then if you like wine, thats the icing on the cake. we had a blast tasting and eating at chandon!
after chandon, dad had made an appointment (mostly for cal) at a local brewery called mad fritz in st. helena. when we pulled into what looked like a strip mall, we were sure my dad had taken a wrong turn. we were deducting stars off his driving... haha. but he was right! a little humble building and we sat with one other couple. the owner, niles, literally went to college for fermentation sciences. he knows his shit y'all. he makes wine for david arthur vineyards and his wife's family owns fisher vineyards and she went to school for molecular biology at princeton. this is their side project, named after their kids. many of their beers they actually make in old wine barrels. this whole place and process is BEYOND cool. i'm not smart enough to give you all the info but GO to this place. you won't regret it. cal claims it was the best beer he's ever had in his entire life. i've never seen my husband happier and we all loved watching cal be "the human dump bucket"
we left mad fritz and headed to duckhorn, apparently a presidential favorite. the grounds here were to die for and everyone loved the wine. another recommendation from this non-wine drinker.
after duckhorn we headed back home to cook and let my brother and dad go to bed early so they'd be well rested for the napa to sonoma half marathon in the morning. we LOVED the house we stayed in and the kitty that came with it. the home sat right beside a stream and i WELCOMED the peace and quiet. so we cooked, sat by the pool, and celebrated debbie's birthday!
sunday was race day, which was the whole reason we took this trip! we got up early and headed to sonoma to see my brother and dad finish their half marathon. they CRUSHED IT. nathan finished 50th overall (3500 people racing) and ran 6:58 mile pace. the times free press did an awesome article and used some of my photos here! we completely missed my dad crossing the finish line, because he totally overshot his time! he crushed it too at under 11 minute miles!
after the race, we packed up and drove to the muir woods. this was at the top of my list of places i wanted to see on our trip. the main draw here is the height of these redwoods, around 250 feet tall. they're about 600-1000 years old! the crowd was not fun, but the woods were beautiful! we didn't have time to catch muir beach, so i would love to get to go back to check it out.
then we went to grab a golden gate bridge picture… which was the coldest experience of my life. i guess its what edmund hillary felt as he summited everest. i truly could barely stand outside long enough to get a photo. all i could think about was how cold the water must be. i can't imagine all the great whites that come under the bridge daily. pretty neat.
we got checked into the hotel and grabbed a quick bite down the road at a fabulous place called scoma's. it was exactly what we wanted: quiet, great food, ocean view, fresh seafood, and amazing service. i would 100% go back here. after dinner nathan and dad went back to get some sleep and cal went out to see fisherman's wharf with us girls! i would've given anything for my down coat. elizabeth was so cold that she bought an alcatraz sweatshirt that we laughed at all night.
monday was our last day and only full day in san francisco. we got up early and caught a trolley ride. grabbed lunch at mexican place that was to die for….the first place nathan laid eyes on when we got off (he likes to eat often and early) and then headed on a "quick walk" as nathan called it to the painted ladies. hahahah! NEVER trust a marathoner when they say a "quick walk." the painted ladies were a huge letdown and the park across the street was a dirt hill. so true of life i guess. i pictured full house like the perfect family and then you show up at the park they picnic in and its just a mess. great analogy…not sure if i needed the walk for it though. haha! i did need to burn off that scoma's pasta though. after the painted ladies we shopped around, hit the marina shops, saw haight ashbury and of course, went to the grateful dead's house on 710 ashbury. i soaked that in and pictured the jam sessions that went on and the drug bust. if only those walls could talk. we ended our afternoon in the city with some in and out burger. i have to say, i felt like it was totally overrated, but this is coming from someone who hates red meat. so, i'm sure I'm not the best judge. in and out aint got nothing on some whatabuger. i do love how fresh it was though. we loaded up and went to our 3rd and last sleeping destination on our trip. we stayed at a hotel close to the airport so we could catch our 6am flight. the san francisco traffic is NO JOKE.
it was such a perfect trip. i cannot type this blog without thanking everyone that helped make it happen: mom, gail, becky, angie, mary, nana, kathryn, karl, laura, dad, and debbie. i love all of you dearly and thank you for the sacrifices you guys made so that we could enjoy our time away. to call it a gift doesn't do it justice. THANK YOU.