Feathered Aspen


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.


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