A BLOG ABOUT A LITTLE BIT OF EVERYTHING

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Spring Break: San Francisco, Napa, and Sonoma

Greetings faithful blog readers,

We are home from a whirlwind week in California! I can't believe what a wonderful trip it was. The trip to San Francisco came about in January when I found out I was going to attend the League of Innovations at the Community College conference. We flew in on Saturday, so we could be there for the start of the conference on Sunday. In addition to attending receptions and an awards ceremony, I was able to go to several panels focused on teaching and learning and student success. To fit everything in, I would leave Brendan asleep in the mornings and hit up early sessions and then come back for an afternoon session. I made some great connections with community college teachers from around the nation, and I picked up some exciting ideas that I am eager to test out.

Day one, Brendan and I started the day with brunch at The Grove (highly recommended) and checking out the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts between morning/afternoon sessions. It's funny because I was seeing art that related to my Comp II's students' papers and taking notes for them.

After the first day at the conference, our friends the Shewmakers drove in from Stanford, and we got drinks at the Press Room before heading to dinner at Kin Khao, a delicious Thai food restaurant, where Graham met up with us. Graham flew here from LA to see us and have a last adventure in San Francisco (he and Erynn recently relocated to Los Angeles).




The next day, Graham took us on a tour of the mission area. We ate at a cute diner, picked up goodies at lots of cute little shops, found a used bookstore, and spent time reading outside. One thing we lucked out on the entire trip was beautiful warm spring weather. There wasn't a bad day while we were there! 



That day, Brendan and I found out about a professional success (more on that later), so the three of us went to celebrate with sushi (obviously). 


Thankfully, Graham was there to help us navigate public transportation. We also used Uber and Lyft quite a bit. 


The next evening was one of my favorites. After morning/afternoon sessions, Brendan and I went to the San Francisco Modern Museum of Art for a few hours. It was really a nice museum (but expensive!) Graham met up with us and took us to Pier 31 for Hog Island Oysters. They were soooooo delicious, and with a view of the water, it was one of my favorite meals of the entire trip (which is saying a lot). 


We ended the evening with drinks back at our hotel (this spot is called The View), and we took in the sunset over the gorgeous city. 



The next day, Graham came to the hotel for the closing awards ceremony. Look who took out a full page ad in the program: 


Michael and I were both honored to be awards recipients. We felt the love! After the ceremony, Graham drove Brendan and I to the airport, so we could pick up our rent car, and Graham headed back to LA in his car. 

Brendan and I headed to the Stanford campus. While we waited for friends to finish with work and workshops, we checked out the free and amazing Cantor Museum of Art. Here's Brendan in front of the "gates of hell." We have this same photo of me in Paris. 


After touring the beautiful Stanford campus, we got dinner with The Shewmakers, J, and Lauren. The choice was clear because Brendan has been wanting ramen forever, and Em promised this place, Dohatsuten, would not disappoint. 

She was right!

After spending a lovely evening at the Shewmaker's, Brendan and I returned to our hotel in the city. We found a parking garage on Mission and 5th (about a block from the Marriott Marquis) that does parking for $3.50 an hour (this was a deal compared to the $74 a night valet parking at the hotel!)

The next morning, we checked out of the hotel and headed to Napa. We were armed with a list of recommendations from my co-worker who grew up in California. However, we quickly discovered that, due to generous pours, there is a limit to how many wineries one can visit in a day! 


We started with Silverado Vineyards, which was super romantic and lovely. Here was the view from the patio. We had the place almost to ourselves.  


Next, we ate a delicious lunch at the Rutherford Grill and went to Rutherford Ranch Winery; they had delicious wines and gave plenty of complimentary extra pours! We finished up our tasting day with champagne at Mumms (pretty patio and interesting Ansel Adams gallery) before checking into our adorable AirBnB. 



I had made dinner reservations at Glen Ellen Star around the corner, which worked out perfectly since we were quite tired. We shared beets and brussels sprouts and a delicious pasta before ordering the house made ice cream for dessert. We were watching Planet Earth II and falling asleep by 10PM. The wine really takes it out of you! 

The next morning, we were up early for a gorgeous 5 mile hike at Jack London State Park. It was so interesting to read about the author and see his property, and boy was it gorgeous. 



We hiked to the ancient redwood. This had to be our redwood experience because there was a mudslide in Big Sur, but it worked out nicely. In hindsight, I wouldn't want to do more driving than we did. The Napa and Sonoma areas are such a good choice for a couple's weekend type of trip. We brought sandwiches from Village Market and had ourselves a picnic.



After the hike it was time for, you guessed it, more wine! We went to the Bezinger Family winery simply because it was so close. The tram and caves tour was interesting, and we enjoyed the wine tasting as well. However, I think we both agree that the best part was a complimentary tasting that we were given to nearby Imagery (owned by the middle brother of the Bezinger family), which turned out to have FANTASTIC wine. I was just so excited by Imagery and highly recommend a visit. 

Vineyard tour

Brendan tasting port
A funny story: before leaving on our trip, I put us on the waitlist at The French Laundry (people talk about the nightmare phone system, but I got through on the second try). Since reservations didn't pan out, I made dinner reservations at Bouchon (another Thomas Keller restaurant). As I was getting dressed for dinner, The French Laundry called and offered us a reservation. However, we opted to stick to our original plans. The food at Bouchon was delicious, and the atmosphere didn't disappoint. I had truffles for the first time, and I think I understand what all the fuss is about. It was a spectacular meal, and we were spectacularly satisfied. 


The next day, we enjoyed Breakfast at the Sunflower Cafe in Sonoma before heading out of town. The entire drive was beautiful. I kept trying to take photos, but it was hard to get any that did it justice. 


We went over the Golden Gate Bridge.


We were surprised that our entire trip only used 3/4 tank of gas. We returned our rent car to the airport, checked in at our airport hotel, and took an Uber to meet Corley and David at the Botanical Gardens. 

This was Corley's pick, and I'm so so so glad that we didn't miss these beautiful botanical gardens. If you are heading to San Francisco, I would put this on your must do list. 


After drinks at Fireside Bar, the four of us parted ways, but it was so good to see my best friend and have even just a few hours to catch up. She even brought us these amazing chocolates from Ginger Elizabeth in Sacramento (where she lives now). Brendan and I shared an amazing dinner at Marnee Thai and the best ice cream of the trip (and that's saying something) at Hometown Creamery before catching an Uber back to the hotel. It was one of those amazing trips where you never want it to end. 

This morning, we caught a 6AM flight home, and I collapsed on the couch at 5PM. Brendan woke me up around 7PM. I hope that I can get to sleep for good very soon. Tomorrow is Monday morning, and I am not ready (yikes!) The cats are very happy to have us home. Lola is sleeping at my feet as I type. 

Thanks for a gorgeous week, California! We feel so lucky to have experienced it :) 
<3 

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