Feathered Aspen


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Big Ocean

 

Some photos from our trip in reverse order…
a

b

c

Good looking family 🙂

d

e

f

g

h

i

On the beach in Sonoma.

j

Love her face in this photo!

k

Bratwurst.  Mmmm… Mommy kisses Lily.

l

Big blue chair.

m

n

o

p

q

Pretty Cornerstone gardens.  Loved ’em.

r

The sparkly wishes 🙂

s

Adorable, right?!

t

Kills me.

u

v

Love this one.

w

x

Mesh clouds with sparkling crystal “rain drops.”

y

z

Tram ride in Benziger vineyard.

z1

Sauvignon Blanc

z2

Sleepy girl 🙂

z3

To the lighthouse 😉

z4

z5

z6

Walk along Bean Hollow.

z7

Tide pools.

z8

z10

z11

The experiences!

z12

Dude.  What is Dada doing?

z13

z14

z15

Got hit.

z16

Anniversary picnic.  Oh. My. God.

z17

z18

I always collect the white ones.

z19

Heirloom beans from Phipps Country Store, Goat Cheese from Local Artisan, Pescadero, CA

z20

Phipps

z21

Our favorite foodie village.

z22

Marsh walk with the big ole snake.

z23

z24

z25

Walking out to coast in Sonoma.  Gorgeous family 🙂


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The long road home…

If you read the last post, I left off anticipating a nice long run with the husband, baby, and dog.

That did not happen.

Before I tell you what we spent the next four hours doing, I need to tell you something else:  while I can ace Art History and Anatomy exams with my excellent memory recall, I am absolutely hopeless when it comes to remembering small, salient details such as where I put my pen, my earrings, my phone, and of course, my keys.

Yes.  I lost the truck key.

No biggie, right?  Wrong.  Very, very wrong.

Because we have exactly one copy of the truck key.  The one I lost.

Why would someone not make a copy of a truck key, you ask?  ‘Cuz it costs $75 from the Isuzu dealership, and I’m a cheapskate.  That’s why.  Any other questions?

So we spent the next four hours looking for the key.  We combed every inch of the popup, truck, and campsite.  Twice.  We spoke tensely about every minute detail of the morning.  On the third combing, Joshua struck gold sifting through the dirt next to the picnic table.  Hallelujah.

And then we went for a run.

Later, we went down to the beach and walked along the water for miles.  We stopped to play in the sand with Lily, and we chased each other around the drift wood.

***

The next morning, we bundled into the car and drove down Highway 1 to Point Reyes National Seashore.  This was my favorite part of California.  I loved the windy road down to Point Reyes National Station, lined with eucalyptus trees, picturesque farms, vineyards, and cycling tourists.  In Point Reyes, we stopped at the Bovine Bakery for fruit cobbler, a muffin, and chai, and we sat outside enjoying a rare bit of sunshine with the cyclists.

Point Reyes Station is adorable.  It also has some fatally gorgeous artisan food, including Cowgirl Creamery, a veritable cathedral of cheese.  Mmmm.   So we bought a sampler bag, and then we walked down to the grocier for some Sonoma County wine and crackers for our picnic lunch.

We drove through the park, enjoying the lovely seaside landscape.  On the point, we walked out to the lighthouse and watched the sun sparkle over the water.  Back in the car, we drove down to Pierce Point Ranch, and from there, we walked out to the very tip of the peninsula.  Elk with full racks ran past us, and the waves crashed against the rocky shoreline.  It was gorgeous.  Hands down best picnic ever.

Also, we were a little drunk for our five mile hike back to the car 🙂

***

The next day, I felt a bit ill.  I went without nursing for the longest period yet the day before, and I was afraid that I might be coming down with yet another case of mastitis.  Ahh…  The gifts that keep on giving…

Anywho, we went for a run and then we spent some time on the beach, playing in the sand and taking in the wind.  We took much needed showers, and afterwards, we had fish and chips for dinner.  GLORIOUS.

***

On Friday, we drove down to Berkley to explore the campus and the surrounding area.  Lily had a blast walking Oscar, and Joshua and I talked about being graduate students.  That’s right.  We want to go to school again 🙂

For lunch, we had an Indian buffet (nom nom), and afterwards, we walked to the University Press Bookstore, and Joshua picked up some texts for his class that he will be teaching this year on Latin American History.

At 5 PM, we began our long haul back to Colorado.

We drove through the night, and after a couple fitful hours of sleep, I took over the wheel at 4 AM somewhere in Nevada.  I was really drowsy, so I did something terrible.  I bought a Rockstar.

Now, it had occurred to me to keep this a secret.  I made Joshua swear an oath that he would take this information to the grave.  But I’m telling you because I discovered something surprising:  there are less than 10 ingredients on the back of the can, and I recognize all of them.  None of them are that bad.  With 250 mg of caffeine, it’s comparable to a cup of coffee, and taurine, an amino acid sometimes used in supplements.

Anyway.  I drank it.  Usually, I can feel the effects of foods or drinks that are not great for me right away, but I was not jittery and I never did crash.  I was happily awake, driving and listening to This American Life until we hit Salt Lake, where we stopped for breakfast and I went for a run.

In fact, I kept driving, and it wasn’t until 2 PM that I started to feel tired again and asked Joshua to take over.  So, Rockstar it is for long drives 🙂

Lily was a champ in the car, and it wasn’t until 4 or 5 PM that she really started to loose it.  I climbed in the back with her and we took funny videos with the iPhone, singing and squeeling, and then laughing at ourselves when we watched it back.  Hours of entertainment, I tell you.

Finally, at about 10 PM we pulled up in front of our home.  We bathed and then collapsed into bed.  Lily even let us sleep for eight hours 🙂

***

Two Questions:

1) Why did you come back early?

We decided to come back on Friday night because we could NOT find a single available campground 😦  Also, Joshua needs to put in a bit of work on his curriculum, and I need to rent out the basement.

2) Did you eat meat?

Yup.  You bet.  It was local and delicious, and I’d do it again.

***

Finally, I wanted to tell you a little bit about the three videos we posted.  I really hope you watch them, even though I know its about a 12 minute commitment.  They were so much fun to make, and Lily is her adorable self through them all.  I was inspired by the much more professional/lovely videos over on Documenting Delight of their trip to the Philippines.  You should go over and check those out, too 🙂


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California Coast

We’ve been in California for a week, and while a week on the beach does not an expert make, I’ve stumbled across a few truisms about California and the coast thus far:

1)      There is a thick blanket of clouds that cover the shore.  As you drive inland, the clouds abruptly part into blue sky.

2)      I did not bring enough warm clothing.  No matter.  You know how adverse I am to making a trip to the Thrift Shop 😉

3)      This place is an agricultural paradise.  Even prime real estate along the coastline is taken up by fields of artichokes, strawberries, and squash, and the interior hills are lined with grape vines and fruit trees.  Every grocery stop is packed with local produce, and there are farmers markets and roadside fruit stands everywhere.  Artisan cheese, fresh baked breads, oak-aged wines, and sweet, sweet strawberries every day my friends.

4)      People must love camping here, because there is nary a campsite available on the weekend.  Sure, we left looking for reservations a week to two weeks out, but still.  There’s NOTHING.

5)      California could break the bank.

Campsite = $35/night

(Oh and baby, if you’d like a shower, that’ll be quarters, please.)

Cheap Motel = $120/night

Gallon of Gas = $4+

Gruyere and Pancetta Sammie from the Farmer’s Market = $10

All Day Parking in San Francisco = $20

Herb Encrusted Artichoke Bread = $6

A Trip to the Thrift Shop to Stock Up on Long Sleeves, Sweaters, and Hats for the Family = $40

Two Loads of Laundry + Dryer = $12

Bottle of Benziger Syrah = $37

Not to mention the Exploratorium, a tour and tasting at the Benziger vineyard, and Fish and Chips.  I mean.  It’s fun, but it’s giving my pocket book a mini heart-attack.  Perhaps this is why I prefer travelling in developing countries?

When I last wrote, I left off with our industrious first morning in Half Moon Bay.  Armed with freshly laundered outfits, we struck out for Bean Hollow Beach, about 10 miles south of our Motel.  I forgot to mention truism number six:  California is not dog-friendly.  Most parks and beaches do not allow dogs, so we had to pick and choose our outings with Oscar very much in mind.  Luckily, we haven’t had to forgo many experiences thus far, and it’s been very cool, so when we do have to leave him in the car or pop up, we’re not concerned about him overheating.

Anyway, Bean Hollow happened to be one of those rare beaches that allow dogs, and so to Bean Hollow we went.  From the parking lot, we walked through tide pools and headland down to a wide, sandy beach.  There was really no question of venturing even foot-deep into the water, given the overcast sky, stiff winds, and our many layers, but we very much enjoyed playing in the sand with Lily, striking a few yoga poses, and laying on our backs, listening to the surf.

After a bit, our tummies began to rumble, so we packed back into the car and drove into Pescadero, our new favorite foodie village.  Since we had already splurged on a sit-down dinner the night before, we decided to grab a picnic to eat on the beach for our actual anniversary.  From the Farmer’s Market, we grabbed sun sweet strawberries, eggs, and salad greens, and from the Archangeli Bakery, we bought the aforementioned Herb Encrusted Artichoke Bread, Local Salami, and a Peach Pie.  That’s right.  We do picnics with style.

Back on the beach, we buried our faces in warm bread, wine, salami, and pie.  Lily was in heaven.  Herb Encrusted Artichoke Bread is her FAVORITE.  Joshua was in heaven.  Peach Pie is his FAVORITE.  I was in heaven.  Picnics on the beach are my FAVORITE.

Four Years.

Actually, I’m always a bit dismissive of our anniversary count.  When people ask us how long we’ve been married, I feel like that number is only half the story.  Really, it’s less than half the story.  This February, we’ll have been together for ten years.  That’s more than a third of our lives.

And how lucky am I?  I have this wonderful man who can stay up and drive all night, build basement apartments from scratch, manage a budget, and look good while doing it.  I mean seriously.  Have you seen this man in a fedora?

  1. He has skills.  This fabulous life of ours would not be possible without them.  But did you know that of the 30 hours that we spent driving in the car on the way out here, we probably talked for 25 of them (and I probably slept the other five)?  He’s that person I can talk to forever and ages and on and on.  My best friend.  The person I would pick out of a line up to spend the next day and the rest of my days with.

So yes.  I’m quite thankful for those four years and those ten years, and I’m looking forward to 410 more.  I just need to find that long-life serum J

Oh gosh.  I’ve been writing for ages and I’m still on that first day.  Hurry up!

Next day.  Another run.  6 miles is our length d’jour.  Along the coast past pianos and cliffs, surf and sand.  (I kid you not; one man has made it his life’s work to maintain outdoor pianos along the coast.  Something about serenading the whales…)

Drive down to the beach.  Lay in the sand.  Count pebbles.  Sort rocks by color.

Artisan Cheese Shop.  Sundried Tomato Goat’s Cheese.  Surrounded by foreigners, slow food, goats, and cheese decorated in pansies.  SAMPLES.

On to the Phipps Country Store where there are a hundred different heirloom varieties of beans.  Scarlet Ladies, French Horticulture, Fava…  Out back, the place is a garden paradise, complete with parakeets and kittens.

We drive out to the Marsh Reserve and go for a walk.  That is, until I see an enormous snake.  What did I say about predators?  Right-O.  We make a hasty retreat.

That night, we walk down to the beach from the motel with our dinner.  We listen to a man play the piano out in the open, and then we walk back and fall asleep.

On Saturday Morning, we wake up, shower, and head for San Francisco.  First, we head down to the Farmer’s Market on the Pier, where we buy overpriced sandwiches and salivate over all of the local fare.

After the market, we walk down to the Exploratorium and take Lily through the exhibits.  We have a blast playing with all of the sensory toys and tools and mirrors, and when we’re done, we feel exhausted and just a bit overstimulated.

From there, we take the Lonely Planet walking tour of the city.  Up through Chinatown, over to City Lights Bookstore, up and up to Cott Tower, down and over to Lombardi Street.  We walk and walk.  We stop at an old, classic, Italian deli for a sandwich, and then we keep walking.

By the time we make it back to the parking garage, Oscar’s tail is dragging, my shoulders are screaming from carrying Lily, and we’re silent.  Zero energy to even talk.

I ask Joshua how far he thinks we’ve walked today, and he says, “maybe four?”

He’s a lunatic.  We walked no less than ten, if we walked a mile.

We drive back to Half Moon Bay for our last night in the motel.  We pick up some olives and crackers along the way to accompany our dinner of goats’ cheese and wine.  That night, we watch some TV, while Lily sleeps between us.

On Sunday morning, we go for a run along the coast, pack up, and hitch the camper to the car.  We stop for some groceries, and then we drive.

It’s 45 minutes to San Francisco, and then over the Golden Gate Bridge.  From there, it’s another hour and a half to the Sonoma Coast.  Lily and I take a nap while Joshua drives through the hills.

On the coast, it’s cold.  We set up camp and then we take a walk over the dunes to the beach.  We’re bundled in every last layer we have, but it’s still cold, so we walk back.

Earlier in the day, Joshua had bought Lily a beach ball, and back at the campsite, she stumbles about the place, chasing after the ball and shouting, “bah! Bah! Bah!”

Joshua makes a fire and we have dinner.  Lily sits in my lap and watches the flames, growing sleepy and relaxing into me.

That night, I’m worried that we won’t be warm enough, but bundled into full bed with all of the layers, we’re toasty warm.  In the distance, I can hear the fog horn blowing.

The next morning, we sleep in until 9:30, and then Joshua jostles us out of bed and on the road.  We head in past Petaluma into Sonoma.  First, we stop at Cornerstone, a collection of gardens by avant garde landscapers and gardeners.  It’s gorgeous.  There are manicured lawns and pools with lily pads and leaping frogs.  One installation is interactive, asking garden-goers to write wishes on sparkling tinsel and tie it up with others.  Together, they glitter in the breeze.

I wish for a baby.

A magic hat.

A new pokemon card every morning.

To run again. 

I wish for peace.

Happiness.

Another installation boasts ephemeral clusters of mesh, sitting atop thin, stainless steel pillars.  The bottoms of the clusters are strung with crystals, casting colored light over cacti and gravel.

From Cornerstone, we drive to Benziger Vineyard, a Biodynamic farm with gorgeous vines, insectaries, and barrels upon barrels of biodynamic, organic, and sustainable wine.  We take a tram tour of the vineyard, learning about the grapes and biodynamic growing along the way.  In the caves, we walk through barrels of oak-aged wine, and we finish in the bar, tasting five different wines, a Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Syrah, and Bordeaux.

It was SO much FUN J  Joshua and I actually do know a bit about wine thanks to my dad’s prompting and our own experimenting, and it was so fun to connect the dots between vine, grape, barrel, and bottle.  And for those of you who aren’t sure (I certainly had no idea), Biodynamic is a classification beyond Organic.  It’s a holistic approach to agriculture, and it caters to a pretty elite subset of consumers.

After the wine tasting, we drove down to the Sonoma Square, parked, and went for a run through the vineyards.  We even stumbled upon the Ravenswood Winery, one of our favorites J  It’s really crazy how many labels we recognized and how close they are to one another.

After our run, we walked around the Square and then got a snack from Whole Foods.  On our way back to the coast, we stopped at Goodwill and bought up as many long-sleeved and layering items as we could find.

Finally, we arrived back at the campsite just as the light began to fall.  We ate a dinner of fresh bread and soup, and then we fell asleep.

This morning, we’re off to a lazy start.  Lily has been spoiling herself with a good 30 minute long nurse in the mornings, stopping to give me kisses and toothy grins when time allows.  Joshua cooked up an egg and bacon breakfast, and Lily chased after her ball.

I nabbed an hour to write, and now I think we’ll go for a run.

Love, E


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Road Trip

Just one of our very intelligent conversations from our vacation thus far:

“Let’s go to the same place that we went yesterday tomorrow.”

“Yesterday?”

“Today.”

“You want to go to the same place that we went yesterday tomorrow today?”

“No.  I meant I want to go to the same place we went today tomorrow.”

“Sure.  We can do yesterday tomorrow.”

And later:

“When are we leaving again?  Tomorrow or the day after tomorrow?”

“Tomorrow.”

“Is tomorrow Saturday, Sunday, or Monday?”

These conversations illustrate two important points:

1)      We are on vacation.

2)      So are our brains.

It’s hard to believe that we left Edgewater just three days ago, but in just that short amount of time, things have begun to slow down and bleed together.  For the first time in ages, Joshua has sat down to read or nap or just play with Lily, and our most important decisions revolve around whether we should keep sleeping, go for a run, or go down to the water.

Mmhmm.  Life is good.

Now, it wouldn’t be a true A vacation if there weren’t a little adversity to whether, so have no fear:  we’re far from breaking the norm.  On Thursday morning, bright and early, we piled in our already loaded Isuzu and hit the road.  The drive to Moab, Utah is roughly six hours, and since it was the 4th of July, we wanted to get to the first-come-first-serve campsites early.

So we left at 4:30 AM.  Which is laughable really, because when we got here, the gorgeous campsites lining the Colorado River and rimmed with breath-taking, precipitous red canyons were empty.

Rather than question our good luck, we nabbed the best campsite we could find, a scant five miles outside of Moab.  Big Bend campground is, as the name would suggest, located at a large bend in the river.  The canyon walls curve pleasingly, and the shadows are artful.

We set up camp and immediately went swimming.  Lily swam butt naked in the old Colorado, and we had a fabulous time.  At around noon, we piled into the car to check out Moab.

And here’s where the adversity comes in.  Up until noon or even 1 PM, canyon land feels much the same as a warm day in Denver.  But after 1 PM, the temperature keeps climbing until your left with a debilitating heat.  Like a hair dryer blowing in your face.

Actually, a hair dryer might be preferable, given the momentum of the air.  As far as I can tell, this place is unfamiliar with the phenomenon known as breeze.

Meh.  It’s not so bad.  Sure, I have several layers of sweat, sunscreen, red dirt, and Colorado river caking my unshowered body, but I consider it a reasonable price to pay for the relative seclusion and stunning beauty of our surroundings.  And, you’ll never hear me complain about frequent dips in the Colorado River.  I love it.  I feel chilly within two minutes, and our spot is sandy and perfect.  Mmm… Maybe I’ll stop writing with the hot laptop in my lap right now and take a little dip…

Where was I?  That’s right.  Moab the beautiful, moab the blistering oven of heat.  There’s not too terribly much to tell, really.  We came, we camped, we ate, we swam, we siesta’d, and when was cool enough in the morning hours, we ran.  On the first day, we ran six miles up on Slickrock, and on the second, ran another six up near Kane Springs.  Both runs were gorgeous, and we were afforded panoramic vistas of red rock, canyon, and sky each time.

On Sunday morning, we hitched Darjeeling Hill Station (fondly known as DHS, our camper trailer) to the Isuzu and hit the road.  Driving north, we were treated to more stunning views of canyons and red rock.  In fact, we were so distracted by our surroundings that we missed the last turn off for gas and found ourselves on a 24 mile detour to Nowhere Emery, Utah for some much needed fuel.  If ever there were a site for the next zombie apocalypse TV series, this is it folks.  The place was deserted, save one elderly man dressed in his Sunday best, carrying a Book of Mormon and dragging is left heel as he made steady progress to the Church of the Latter Day Saints of Jesus Christ.

Anyway, we filled up, thanked the Mormons, and went on our merry way, newly attuned to those blue and white signs that say, ”Next Gas Station 133 miles.”

At the Utah border, we said adieu to canyons and greeted Highway 50, aka “The Lonliest Highway in America.”  I cannot tell you how many hours it took to drive through Nevada, but I can tell you that the state is filled with mountains.  We passed through maybe four small towns, and in between, there was wilderness.  A lot of it looked like the Arkansas River Valley, minus the people and buildings.  It was beautiful but endless, and so we were happy to see Lake Tahoe on the other side of Carson City.

We finally crossed the border into California at about 10 PM, after nearly 17 hours on the road.  Lily was a champ.  Let’s just say there was some very entertaining theater coming from the passenger seat, and that we crawled over said seat many a time for dramatic effect.  Also, Lily probably ate two whole bags of green grapes, which are her new favorite food.  And the next day, she pooped explosively five times.

Ahhh. Lake Tahoe.  A 36 hour reprieve from driving, a long hike along the water, and dramatic views of blue-green water.  At first, you think:  why are so many people obsessed with Lake Tahoe?  What’s so special?  Then you walk the Rubicon Trail, and you think:  aha.  It’s like a sapphire glittering through the trees.  It’s gorgeous.

Also, we saw a bear.

This is my first bear sighting, and I’ll tell you, it wasn’t nearly as traumatic as I always envisioned.  I am not one of those outdoorsy gals who salivate over wildlife.  I’m one of those outdoorsy gals who would prefer to never, ever see a predator in the wild.  Ever.  That’s right; I’m perfectly happy to forgo some experiences, and being eaten alive is one of them.

So when I saw a baby black bear about fifteen feet ahead of me on the trail, I said, “uhh.  Bear,” and did an about face.  The couple behind us lit up and kept walking, practically calling out, “here Mama mama.  Where arrre you Mama mama?  Come here Mama bear!”

Well, I have to admit that watching this elderly couple try and pet the baby black bear restored my heart rate.  I figured that if anyone was going down, it would surely be them.  So we stood still and watched the baby black bear trundle off into the trees, and then we belatedly took out the camera and took some photos of trees and shadows where the baby black bear had been.

Other than that, the trail was relatively uneventful and very pretty.  For lunch, we found a little spot near the water, and after we had eaten our sandwiches, we went wading.  Lily wanted to wade too, but when she discovered how cold it was, she was quite irritated.  She kept making motions to go into the water and then she would twist and writhe away from it.

On Tuesday morning, we packed up once more and head for Big Basin Redwoods State Park, south of San Francisco.  Unfortunately, due to a detour into the depths of the redwoods (one lane, 15 mph, 25 miles, switchbacks, and six sexy convertibles stuck behind our camper), what was supposed to be a four hour drive turned into an eight hour drive.  In the last two hours, Lily exorcist vomited four times, and my knuckles felt like they were fused to the steering wheel.  By the time we arrived at our campsite, I was feeling slightly homicidal and terribly guilty over bringing a 15 month old on a 30 hour road trip to the seaside.  I’m nuts.  What was I thinking?!  Plus, the car reeked of vomit.

And oh.  It was just about to get worse.  Joshua leaves Lily and I at the campsite and drives up to the Ranger Station to check in, and uh oh, we have a problem.  We accidentally signed up for a handicapped site, and now we’ve lost our reservation AND all of our money.  Also.  We’re both so pissed we don’t speak for nearly an hour.

Anyway, we’re forced to move to a little, buggy site that’s smaller than a parking spot and even less attractive.  We quickly set up and then we go for a run.  We talk it out like calm, responsible, and loving adults, and we come to a conclusion:  we’re gonna go to a motel on the beach.

That’s right.  Like adults.

And then we took showers.  Sure, Lily screamed like it was Armageddon, but it was the first time I had bathed in a week, so I was pretty happy about it, nonetheless.

The next morning, we ran through the tall, tall redwoods (and I looked nervously in the shadows for massive she-bears), and then we packed up and drove to the coast.

The moment that I saw the coast, I felt a wave of relief.  It really is as beautiful as I had imagined, and the fact that it’s approximately 65 degrees and foggy is almost even better.  Give me 65 and foggy next to 110 and dry as a bone any day J

For our first day on the coast, we hiked into Ano Nuevo Reserve and saw the Elephant seals molting on the beach, enjoying the sea-salt breeze and the cacophony of California Sea Lions all the while.

Lily loves the beach.  After all, it’s like one big sand box, and Lily loves sand boxes.

Afterwards, we drove to Pescadero and stopped at Duarte’s Tavern for Cream of Artichoke Soup, Calamari Steak Sandwich, and Grilled Halibut.  It was a bit of a splurge, but that’s ok.  Today is our anniversary, and we were happy to gorge on seafood the day before in celebration.

Finally, we arrived at out motel in Half Moon Bay, and we enjoyed our first night with climate control, personal showers, and a King-sized bed for the three of us.  This morning, we went for a run and did our laundry, and this afternoon we’re planning to do some beach combing.  Hurrah for the California coast!!