11 October 2009

Ambitious Vacation (v)

Saturday, 29 August 2009

This was the first day of Angie's visit where both Jesse and I were off. It was to be a grand day. We were to run across the Golden Gate Bridge, then drive across it later. We were going to see Redwoods and cap our adventurous day with wine tasting. The day was designed to be full of accomplishments.

So imagine how I felt when I woke up before my alarm unable to walk.

I had a pain in my inner thigh. It was a sharp, persistent pain that would not be stretched out, rubbed away, or stared down. It was pain and it was punishment. And it was a giant roadblock to a 9 mile run.

Angie was not disappointed about my injury. It just brought her that much closer to the bridge.

We rescheduled the run and got an earlier start to the rest of our day, which began over the Golden Gate. Here Angie was in photography heaven. It's fun to watch her work. She climbs things. She waits for people to walk out of her shots. She reviews and retakes. We just watched. Jesse is the head of our household fun committee. He knows the things people will want to see and the things they will enjoy doing. He likes to keep going and to keep things moving. I don't think he was prepared for Angie, who really wants to capture the moment. I found it to be a very interesting dynamic.  And I assure you the time was not wasted. Angie takes really great pictures.

Obviously she can't take all the credit for this one. If it's blurry, then I probably took it. Otherwise it was Jesse.

And then we were on the road again. We were off to Muir Woods. It's a short drive from San Francisco and almost seems like a hidden forest off to the side of a winding road. But it's a national park. Basically that means its well maintained and gets really crowded. Fortunately, without our run, we were earlier than planned and got there before the crowds. Still, there were people we saw at the bridge who I was less than pleased to see in the woods. First of all, they were loud. The last thing I wanted to hear whilst in the presence of majestic tree types was cackling.

We tried to stay ahead of them, then behind them. But our pacing was too similar. Upon regrouping we decided the best way to avoid them would be to take a path they likely could not take. We looked at the provided map and decided on a moderate / strenuous hike  along the Ben Johnson Trail to the Dipsea Trail. We figured it would get us the best views and least traffic. We also figured we'd work up a good thirst for the vineyards later.

But there were a lot of things we did not figure. We did not figure (ahead of time) that we'd be doing any hiking at all. As a result, Jesse and Angie were wearing flip flops. Angie and I were wearing skirts. We left the water and snacks in the car and even though I wad carrying my backpack, I don't think there was anything useful inside. It was the least prepared I've ever been for an excursion. And still, we went.


 Angie in a tree. 

Angie & I demonstrating how she was able to get into the aforementioned tree. 

We did work up good sweats, and good appetites. We did the two trails in two hours. Admittedly, we weren't as cute when we got back to the car as we were when we left, but we certainly felt accomplished. We were mostly alone for our hike, which was awesome. And we realized we would not have done it had we run 9 miles before getting there.

And then we were ready for wine.

Two people told Angie to go to Jacuzzi Vineyards. Not only is there (plenty of) wine to sample, there is also olive oil to test. It was awesome and highly educational. We got to look through a little gadget that shows the sugar levels in grapes. We also got to taste a pinot noir wine and eat a pinot noir grape. You'd never know they were related. Don was our bartender and he was fantastic. He started us on a nice white and took us through to the strongest red. We tasted wines infused with pepper, mushrooms, strawberries, and tobacco. Not only could I taste the added ingredients, I felt like I was making informed wine choices. Of course that could have been the wine talking. We had a fantastic time both tasting the wine and looking at the grounds. I highly recommend Jacuzzi Vineyards. My only regret is that I only bought two bottles of wine. I scoffed at a woman who bought six. And now that I'm out of them, I wish I had her foresight.

Wine connoisseurs.

From there, we (Jesse) drove. He went through Sonoma and over to Napa. We passed lots of grapes and several vineyards until we found what we needed: a place to stop and take pictures. We happened upon a castle. Clearly built by someone with two much money, it was a perfect spot for Angie & her camera to run wild. It was also the first I got to touch wine grapes. I promise we didn't eat any. Although they were tempting.

Castle Vineyards.

Proof we were really there.

We spent the rest of the day driving. We took the long way home, and stopped to have dinner at Tony's. It's a place we've passed before and I'm sure it's a goldmine. It's in the middle of nowhere. It sells seafood harvested right from the water behind the restaurant. There are very few other food options. Non seafood people like Angie can only have grilled cheese or burgers. I had fresh halibut - caught, cleaned, cooked, and eaten in less than an hour. Jesse had oysters and cioppino. Even though Angie's meal was just a cheese-less burger, we all had a good time. It was a fulfilling day - capped with a scenic drive home and a good movie on the couch. Success.

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