Memory Lane

This weekend was wonderful and I still feel so happy from it. On Saturday, I got to meet up with first best friend, Joby, and her new husband in Napa Valley. Joby and I met in preschool, and were inseparable (along with Stevi) through high school graduation.

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And, like many friendships after high school, we drifted apart for reasons that were dumb and that we can’t fully remember. She lives in Colorado now, and for the past few years we have been trying to reconnect and rebuild our friendship. Her husband travels to the Bay Area for work frequently, but since it’s mostly during weekdays, I have not been able to take off to visit. Thankfully, this past week they decided they would extend their stay and visit wine country on the weekend, so I got to hang out with them at long last!

We started the day with lunch at Bouchon Bistro in Yountville. I ate there on our first trip to Napa in 2015, and it was just as wonderful the second time around. I forgot I ordered mussels on our first trip, and I ordered them again (they were still FANTASTIC), so at least I’m consistent. I wouldn’t want to branch out or anything. They’re steamed in a saffron, mustard, and white wine broth that I just want to be embalmed with. It was so wonderful. It was all I could do to not pick up the dish and just drink it.

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Our first wine tasting was at Silver Oak Cellars. We  tasted three different Cabernet varietals (I am not sure that is the right word, but I am going with it), and my favorite was the Napa Valley Cabernet.

It was pouring down rain, so we weren’t able to walk around and check out the winery grounds, but the inside was very pretty.

Our next stop was V. Sattui where we tried a few wines, then bought some cheese and bread to snack on. They really have the BEST cheese selections, so I highly recommend popping by if you’re in the area. I picked a truffled brie that was MAGICAL. I don’t always enjoy the flavor of truffles (I’m low classy, I know), but they tasted great with brie. Joby also got a brie selection which is a perfect tribute to our history. We used to walk to HEB from her house (she lived in town which made walking anywhere seem very cool) and buy brie to eat while laying around watching Daria (my inspiration for life) and My So-Called Life on VHS. Brie was a fun trip down memory lane for us. We were  very much wannabe emo teens (turns out I’m just pissy, not actually culturally emo).

Her husband picked a really tasty jalapeno muenster which was an unexpected delight. Joby’s husband has been to wine country a lot, and he took us to one of his favorite places, Vincent Arroyo Winery.  It is now one of my favorite places, too.

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We didn’t have a reservation (which are required), but they still squeezed us in which was kind. It was a rustic building and super low-key which was lovely. I often feel like a potato peasant in wine country because many people are so well0dressed and the wineries are so pretty, but Vincent Arroyo reminded me a lot of the relaxed wineries around Fredericksburg. They also had two gorgeous labs running around and a “wine cat” who was available for petting.

Related imageWe took a short tour and tried five different wines. I bought a bottle of their Chardonnay, but also enjoyed their Tempranillo and the Port a lot. I’ve had some bad experiences with port, but this one was delicious without being overly sweet. I hope that we have a chance to visit again when I am back in November with Laura and Scott. After tasting, we sat outside during a brief reprieve from the rain to enjoy our cheeses and visit.

I had such a fantastic day with them and I still feel so happy from getting to spend time with her. I hope we don’t let years pass without seeing each other again.


Since we moved here, Sari and I have wanted to go to Squaw Valley which hosted the 1960 Olympic games. We didn’t make it the last two winter seasons when the snow was insane (bad planning), so we set it as a goal for this year. Unfortunately, snow has been largely absent this winter around Lake Tahoe. I didn’t want to spend over $100 on a single day lift ticket if there wasn’t going to be snow, so we kept waiting and hoping. Finally, last week, it looked like most of the terrain was open and we decided to go. We went up Friday night and ate at Burger Me in Truckee.

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It has great reviews, but we weren’t thrilled by their burgers. The sweet potato fries were excellent, though. I would be willing to go again, but the bun just wasn’t my preference.

We stayed the night in Carnelian Bay at a tiny little lodge that was old, but clean and quiet. Sari was not particularly thrilled that her bed was in front of a door because we were sure it was the gateway to motel murder, but we survived.

Last year we went skiing near Squaw, and it was so crowded that Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows closed their parking lots. Fearing that level of humanity again, we woke up early to pick up our skis at 8 am, then be ready to get on the mountain when the lifts started running at 9 am. Several people from work warned me that Squaw is “insanely crowded,” so we were filled with worry over it. The crowd anxiety is overwhelming in my family.

We got our lift tickets just in time to look around a bit before taking the gondola up the mountain. There was no line, so we felt good about being responsible and waking up early. I was also glad that we were there early because the weather was unseasonably warm. I was in a short sleeve shirt and a fleece, and I was already cooking at 9 am.

There was practically no one there for HOURS. We never waited in line for a lift and we tired out even more quickly because we never got the break that waiting in a lift line gives you. Skiing on Super Bowl weekend is a GREAT IDEA. We couldn’t believe our luck.

We stopped for burgers on the mountain and were basically alone. So strange. When we went back out after lunch, there were a few more people, but it was still pretty sparse. Considering that there were over 500 inches of snow in Tahoe last year (and a ton of snow the year before), it was also strange to see the bare mountains. We have been super lucky that we had such wet winters for our first two ski seasons here. The snow was fine, but there were dirt patches and rocks poking through. I have a hard enough time staying upright without the additional worry of skiing across gravel. This isn’t New Mexico for crying out loud.

We had a lot of fun and were completely wiped out by 2 pm. We returned our skis and headed back to Sacramento just in time for a good nap.

On Sunday, I went to Orange Theory, cleaned the house, then went to see Phantom Thread during the Super Bowl. I did not really understand what it was about, but I am trying to see all of the Oscar-nominated “Best Film” selections, so I went to see it.

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What an unexpected surprise! I have mixed results with Paul Thomas Anderson films because they can be too slow burning for my attention span. I am glad that I watched Phantom Thread in the theater because I was forced to pay complete attention to it. I know that I’ve not liked some of his movies in the past because I’ve watched them at home where my attention is easily diverted. This movie was gorgeous, and was unexpectedly tense and sly. I really enjoyed it and it totally surprised me.

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I am also now thinking that I am an asshole like Woodcock because I also can’t stand people who make noise while eating or preparing their food for consumption. WHY MUST YOU SCRAPE YOUR PLATE WITH YOUR FORK. I just lack the talent and genius to get away with it.Image result for phantom thread gif

Big Trees

I’ve been wanting to go to Calaveras Big Trees State Park since I moved here. It is about two hours southeast of Sacramento on the edge of the Sierra Nevada mountains. My boss had the flu last week, so I knew we wouldn’t be working on Saturday, and I decided to take advantage of a guaranteed day off. I got there around 10 am Saturday morning and I was delighted by how much snow there still was. Big Trees is home to several sequoia groves, and the red of their bark is straight up gorgeous against the snow. I had hoped to do the five mile loop in the South Grove and the two mile loop in the North Grove. When I was reading about the park, I missed that the road to the South Grove is closed in winter, so I could only explore the shorter North Loop. I only saw two other people the entire time I was walking, so that was pretty fantastic.

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The trail was easy to follow, but after an hour of slogging through the snow in my hiking boots, I was glad that the five mile trail was not an option. I had expected a little snow, but not that much since it had been in the 50s for most of the week. I still have so much to learn about winter.

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Since the loop was only a couple of miles and the rest of the park was closed, I was done before noon. I decided to get some lunch in Arnold, then explore a trail that is in the area. I stopped at Giant Burger for a “Baby Burger” and sweet potato fries. It tasted almost exactly like the burgers at the drive-in in my hometown, so that was a super pleasant surprise. A+ for that burger and the fries.

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I had been looking at the Arnold Rim Trail for a few weeks and I wanted to hike to the “Top of the World” viewpoint. Unfortunately, I had bad service and conflicting information, so I never made it. I spent an hour trying to find a trailhead and eventually got started in the Meadowmont neighborhood which was nowhere near the beginning of the trail system. I started my climb up what looked like a fire road. I was quite worried I was on private property and on my way to getting shot for trespassing.

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There weren’t really any signs for about a mile and since my phone wasn’t working well, I just kept walking and hoping for the best. I eventually found a sign which didn’t do much to help my state of uncertainty.

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Horses not allowed WHERE?? I was looking for “Top of the World” or “Manuel Peak.” Since neither was listed, I headed to the San Antonio falls overlook. It was pretty, but I couldn’t see any falls.

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I got a little bit of service at the overlook, so I tried to figure out where I was in comparison to where I wanted to be. Google Maps and AllTrails had conflicting information.

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The spot for the “Top of the World” point was in opposite directions between the two maps. I was getting pretty grumpy after spending so long looking for a way to get on the trail, then feeling lost, that I just hiked back to my car and went home. I’ll try again another time. It was a nice trail through the forest and I didn’t see another person the whole time I was there. I made it a total of six miles for the day which is better than nothing.

On Sunday, I ran errands and finally got to see Call Me By Your Name. I feel like I’ve been waiting a year to see this dang movie! It met all of my expectations and was just as beautiful as I had hoped. I have to say, when Armie Hammer wears short shorts there is an obscene amount of thigh on display. He is a bug ol’ hulk of a man.

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Monterey Bay and Monterey Beer

We packed up early on Sunday morning and enjoyed the last view from our campsite. I still can’t get over how close it was to the water.

IMG 7650We started our drive north and I stopped again at almost all of the pull outs. It was just too pretty to pass.
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We also passed this suspicious looking thing:DSC 0485

We learned that it is actually the Point Sur State Historic Park. You can schedule a three-hour audio tour of the facilities, so we will have to do that one day.

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We next stopped at Bixby Creek Bridge. I really appreciate that the people who built the bridges on this road went for fancy instead of basic. There were so many pretty bridges and tunnels!DSC 0491DSC 0494DSC 0495DSC 0497

We then got back on the road headed north toward Monterey.
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Sari suggested we take 17-Mile Drive that follows the coastline of the Monterey Bay. You have to pay $10.25 to access the road, but it was gorgeous! If you’re a golf person, then it also takes you through Pebble Beach. We skipped that part.DSC 0501DSC 0512DSC 0513

Our final stop of our journey was at Alvarado Street Brewery downtown. I sampled six beers and ended up buying four-packs of three of them. I liked it juuuuuuust a bit.IMG 7680

I also had duck confit poutine which was outstanding. Definitely one of the best meals I’ve had.IMG 7686

And then we drove the few hours back to Sacramento since we both had stuff we needed to do on Monday. My dream is to go back and stay at the Lucia Lodge. The cabins are on the edge of a cliff overlooking the ocean and it is just gorgeous. It’s expensive (to me), but one day I will stay there!

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Big Sur

After our hike, we loaded up in the car to cruise up Highway 1. I decided to make this trip in January because it’s the tourist low season since it’s typically raining. We got extremely lucky and had gorgeous weather both days. It really could not have been more beautiful, and there were very few people on the road or at view points. What luck! We drove north toward a spot where we wanted to have lunch, and I stopped at every single pull out to take pictures and enjoy the view. It was truly spectacular.

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We stopped at McWay Falls and walked around for a bit.

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And then we kept driving and stopping until Sari declared I couldn’t stop the car again until it was at a place with food. At the recommendation of a co-worker, we had lunch at Nepenthe which offered an unbelievable view from our seats.

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I had their famous “Ambrosiaburger” (delicious) and Sari enjoyed a veggie sandwich. We were both completely pleased with the experience. After lunch, we started working our way south. I would like this house please:

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Our friend Heather recommended we stop at Partington Cove (which is also her last name), so walked down to the cove on the trail.

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It was beautiful and offered a surprise inlet that was through a tunnel in the mountain. It was all very piratey.

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More scenery:

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We stopped at McWay Falls again.

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Then kept driving south toward Gorda where the road is closed due to the landslide last summer.

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We parked along the road and waited for sunset while eating some chips with Dr. Peppers. It was pretty darn perfect.

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We decided to head back to the campground to finish watching the sunset on the beach.
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We had sandwiches for dinner, then built a fire and roasted marshmallows. We didn’t bring graham crackers, but Sari had some chocolate chips, so we made “mouth s’mores” by pouring the chocolate chips in followed by the roasted marshmallow. We are very refined ladies.

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I felt particularly proud because we made a fire and the obnoxious guy next to us couldn’t get his going. We let him use our fire to help light his several times and even gave him a log that was already on fire. His lady companion recommended that they find something to use as tinder, but he persisted in trying to make a fire using only the large logs. Naturally, that shit doesn’t work. We quietly giggled while we played Scrabble next to our roaring fire. Unfortunately, Sari started getting a migraine and had to go hide in her tent at 7:30. Thankfully, she was able to get a lot of sleep and felt better by the morning.

I stayed by the fire and read for a few hours and tried to ignore Mr. No Fire telling his lady friend about his high school swimming career for HOURS. He told her about every race and the guy was at least in his mid-20s. He once almost beat a guy that made it to the Olympic trials (but not to the Olympic team). WHAT A STORY. What is about men and their desperate clinging to their high school athletic glory days?

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