Friday, May 30, 2014

Cutest sound ever and what I'm reading this week

The weekend is upon us!  Woot!

I'm ready to get out there and well, I don't know what yet, I'll formulate a plan of attack but while I'm doing that, you can take a peep at...

Six 'Bad' Carbs that Are Actually Good for You  (Good because I'm not cutting any of 'em out)

10 Real-Life Locations of Fictional Television Hangouts  (I don't watch most of these but in case anyone else is interested)

13 Hairstyles to Tame Your Mane in Humidity  (Long haired girls, this is for you!)

Best Workout for Men Over 40  (Video with annoying intro music starts on landing but good info for the dudes)

Bill Murray Crashes Bachelor Party, Gives Awesome Speech  (He didn't "crash" it but it is a good speech!)

How to Plan the Perfect Road Trip  (I'm ready!)

The 16 Best Healthy, Edible Plants to Grow Indoors  (Is there an article showing how to not bring those nasty bugs inside?)

Meet the Man Who Had His Heart Ripped Out in 'Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom'  (For the Mr)

This Dachshund Is Extremely Jealous Of An Adorable Toddler  (SOOO funny!  Pay attention to MEEEE!)

The 15 Most Ridiculous Things People Say on a Plane  (We've heard some doozies in our day as well)

Where Do Burpees Come From? (Spoiler Alert: Not Hell)

Why Do Students Get Summers Off?  (Summers off for everyone!)

Top 5 Fitness Myths - Best Tips for Losing Weight for Good - Staying Fit While Traveling  (Video) 

The Wonder Years Reunion in Pics  (Can't WAIT for the DVD to finally come out!)

So This is What Hedgehog Snoring Sounds Like  (Courtesy of the Mr.  I have watched this well over 10x...cutest. sound. ever.)

Okay, so I still haven't formulated that plan yet because I just watched the hedgehog again...three times.  I'll get to it though.  I'm sure the Mr is afraid anticipating awesomeness.

What's on your agenda for the weekend?  

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Thursday, May 29, 2014

Personal Goal...Achieved!

When I booked our trip to San Francisco, I had always dreamed of walking from our home in Pacific Heights down to the Ferry Building around the wharf to Ghirardelli Square and back to the home in Pac Heights.  Now if you've never been to the city, here is a map of the route I was thinking of...


That route, minus shopping, meals, wandering down piers I forgot to mark, more shopping, etc is 8 miles.  Now, I did not figure that out when I first came up with that plan.  I just knew that we could comfortably walk three miles at home and be good to go and the route from our home to the Ferry Building was almost three miles.  Thankfully, I didn't calculate the rest of it or I might've talked myself out of it but I set the goal and there was never a time I didn't think we'd reach it.  Well, except when I screwed myself over the holidays by ditching physical therapy for a month or so but I trained hard, I was diligent about my PT and knew I was as ready as I was going to be for the trip.  The only major difference was we're in relatively flatter terrain and San Francisco is nothing but steep streets up or down.  You're rarely level for long.

I think staying in Carmel the first week was good training for me to round out my readiness for this SF route because there is a considerable slope to the entire town and we walked everywhere there.  On day two, the front of my legs (my weakest area) were sore and then the day after that, we walked 8 miles in Santa Cruz and I had to raise the white flag because I was done.  That night I did heavy massage on the legs and I wasn't as sore as I thought I'd be the next day.  I felt as ready as I could be for this dream of mine to come true.    Unfortunately for the Mr, he had to be dragged along for the ride walk.

After carbing up for breakfast, we headed to Clay Street which would be our main route to the Ferry Building.  This picture doesn't convey the slope at all but trust me, it was steep and I was trying to not look like a noob at the end of each block when we'd reach riders waiting for their bus.

As steep as it was going up, it was equally steep going down and that REALLY screwed with my legs.  By the time we got to Chinatown, I was worried how much it was going to throw me for the rest of the day but in the meantime, we just enjoyed strolling the empty streets before the stores opened.

By the time we reached the Financial District, both of us were feeling the pain.  We'd walked 2 miles on extreme slopes (for us...hell, for anyone) and we needed to take a break to stretch.  Luckily, the Transamerica Pyramid was the perfect stopping point to stretch our legs with various moves that probably made us look like dorks.  I hope we gave the office peeps a good show!

You have no idea how happy we were to reach our first goal...The Ferry Building at the Embarcadero.  We instantly high fived when we saw this...

We probably added another mile on just wandering the inside of the Ferry Building into each little shop or restaurant as well as the back pier area and then trying a few places like Cowgirl Creamery and Miette.

We got to sit for about thirty minutes while we were eating in the building and that helped to be off of our feet after about four miles of walking.  Then it was time to walk the wharf area.  I had to walk down Pier 7 to the faux restaurant location at the end of The Sweetest Thing.  It had a nice view to take in, then we continued to walk toward the touristy Fisherman's Wharf area.

We did a bit of window shopping and needed sunscreen because while it was still somewhat cool, we could feel the sun beating down and needed to reapply.  We walked all over the area trying to find a place that didn't sell generic looking sunscreen and ended up at a drug store, applied and went on with our day.

One thing I wanted to check out that I knew the Mr would enjoy would be this spot, Musee' Mecanique, an antique museum where you could play old video games and see antique entertainment gaming.  We spent about an hour in there.

By this time, we'd walked more than half of our route for the day.  I spotted three of those awesome foot vibration machines you see at zoos or amusement parks and we popped in our $.50 (twice!) and got some much needed relief to our barking dogs.  The Mr said wasn't sure he would be able to make it the rest of the way without them.

We continued wandering around shops and the shore then started an upward trek toward our second to last goal for the day...Ghirardelli Square.

We bought a few things there and struck up a conversation with a guy in a boutique there who was writing down some suggestions for us.  He pulled out a map and as he was writing things down, I said I knew he would tell me the truth and told him the route we walked that day and asked if that was good or is that something locals just walk all the time.  He shook his head and said "wait, you walked from Pacific Heights to the Ferry Building????"  I said "yeah, then we walked the wharf area to here and are about to walk back up to Pac Heights.  Is that good?"  He said "honey, that's f*cking INSANE!  Most people would walk half the route to the Ferry Building and then take a cab where they needed to go from there!"  So, that made me feel like I wasn't thinking I was walking some awesome route when locals did it all the time.  It really was as insane as the Mr thought it was when I suggested it.  From there, we made our way to Gough Street where we would take that all the way back home.  The red arrow shows the hill we'd need to climb and then begin our downward descent about 6-7 blocks from there.

There were some SERIOUSLY steep hills, particularly those last three blocks before the sharp crest at the top but I just took it block by block and if we'd need to give it one traffic light cycle to stop in the shade before continuing on, we did.  When we approached the Clay Street area, I began to cry a little, knowing we were in the home stretch.

When we took the FitBit off, we checked our steps for the route

We walked a little more just lollygagging for a total of 12 miles for the day.  Needless to say, when we grabbed the leftover bag of ice for the cooler and slapped our aching feet onto it in the tub, it was welcome relief and I think it made a huge difference in how we felt the next day!

I cannot believe we did it.  Well, I can because not finishing just never entered my mind.  But I couldn't help but think back to what I was facing this time last year in just trying to finish the 3 mile charity walk on Kauai and the amount of horrible pain I was in.  The next day, I was sore but it was this weird bone in my inner ankles and my left quad and it was nothing ibuprofen didn't help ease and was leaps and bounds better than last year with walking 4x the distance.  It proves to me that keeping up with my physical therapy is something I need to continue to do and I will be able to reach almost any goal I set.

What goals have you reached that you thought the year before would've been impossible?

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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

How quickly it goes

Last week was what I call "assessment week."

While we got in some great walking on our vacation, our strength workouts were nil.  Oh don't get me wrong, we took our resistance bands and told ourselves we were going to do two strength workouts per week to maintain the muscle we worked so hard for, but they never saw the light of day.  When you're as sore as we would be at the end of the day from walking an average of seven miles per day, busting out a strength workout wasn't high on the priority list.  I knew we would pay for it when we came back and we did.

I will do a low weight free weight session for our first workout after every vacation to see where I am. Before we left, I was using 15's to warm up and using 20's and the occasional 25 lb dumbbell depending on the exercise.  For the assessment workout, I used 10's to warm up and 15's for the rest.  If I tried going right back into it using the weights pre-vacation, I would've seriously risked injury or being so sore I couldn't do much else.  The next day, I was sore.  Not so much that I couldn't move or anything but enough to know that I made the right decision in going slow.  We did a hike the following day, then did a Fitness Blender workout to see how we'd do with something a little more "formal" but I stuck to mostly 15's, one 20 and I think two exercises with 10's like reverse flies so I could still have good form.    We got through two rounds and when she said time to repeat for round three, we had to check out.  We instead took the same amount of time doing stretching and light yoga.  Then the next day came and I could barely walk.  We didn't stretch on vacation either so going back into a stretchy pigeon pose, while it felt good at the time, did not bode well for the next day.  We did Walk Away the Pounds for that day's workout and it felt like it was dragggggging. We both commented on how it felt like she slipped an extra segment in on us.

When the next day came, I was not in great shape.  I didn't want to take a rest day but the Mr said we should think about it.  I decided after his telework day was done, we could do some work on the patio to get it ready.  I think doing Turbo Fire would've been easier at that point!  Three hours of scrubbing, running around and such and I felt whooped.  Come the next day, I needed the Mr to give me a deep tissue massage on the back of my legs so I could function.

This week, we were doing a lot of busy work and yesterday was our first "okay, we're back at this full force" kind of workout.  We did Turbo Fire 45 that we did quite a bit beforehand and man, we were beat.  The Mr said it took a lot out of him and I agree, it was tiring.  Tonight will be a strength workout and I want to try to shed the 10 pounders if I feel comfortable with it but I'll let my body dictate that.

Maybe I'm a weirdo, but I always kind of look forward to this part after a vacation where you're rebuilding your strength and endurance.  It makes you not take that stuff for granted as much because you know how quickly it goes.

When you're out of your fitness routine for any period of time, have you ever tried to jump back in the routine you had or ease yourself back in?

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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Need a rest day from our rest days!

This weekend we were bound and determined to get our patio ready for prime time.  The last time I paid any attention to it, it looked like this...

Not that I mind snow but I think I could hear my cushions begging to be released from their canvas bag prison o' winter.  It was going to take a pretty fantastic breakfast to motivate us to do all of that...

We're going to pretend I didn't recreate and beat our favorite breakfast in San Francisco.  Croissant French toast with bananas and pecan sauce and millionaire's bacon.  Look away, you might gain a pound just looking at it.

We busted our butts and scrubbed the patio carpet, replaced an umbrella, bought a bluetooth speaker, spiffed up the grill and now it looks ready to party...

Matter of fact, I just HAD to show it off so we invited my mom over for an impromptu cookout and then realized we still had a lot to do and worked to the bone until the second she got here.  Don't worry, it included a little healthier fare...

Okay, maybe we had to put this stupid s'mores grill thingy that I got duped into buying to the test and it did not resemble the perfectly cooked s'more on the box.

I think we'll stick with a campfire or sterno can, thanks.

We are WHOOPED!!  The Mr keeps giving me a sideways looks of slight irritation...then he thinks of the food I made this weekend and forgives me.  :-)

What did you guys do this holiday weekend?

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Friday, May 23, 2014

Trip Likes and Dislikes

When you're planning a vacation, of course you assume things will be wonderful.  Sometimes they are, sometimes it's us.  It's not that bad but we seem to have a magnet for small screaming children, douchebags and apparently we drive Wonder Woman's car as we seem to be invisible on the road.  (Wasn't she the one with an invisible plane or something?)

Then you have things that far exceed your expectations and make you fall in love with where you've chosen to spend your precious vacation days.  So, below I will list the things that the Mr and I liked and disliked about both of our destinations this year.  We'll start in Carmel.

What we loved:

The charm of the architecture.  Many of the homes are done in a tudor or Cotswold style which are both our favorite home design.  The Comstock fairy tale cottages are my dream homes.  Click here to see more of them and fall in love yourself.

The weather.  I am NOT a warm weather person.  Summer is my least favorite season because it can never just be 83 degrees or less but in Carmel, it is.  It's a good 68-70 degrees according to some of the locals we talked to most of the year.  60 and below is considered parka weather and 75 and above is cause to complain of a heat wave.  I would love nothing more than to curl up with a blanket on the beach every night.

The hidden corridors.  Carmel has plenty of little hidden nooks and crannies to explore and unless you actually lived there, I don't know if you could ever really explore them all but it's fun to try!

The quiet.  There are no street lights, there is a curfew for kids and even though we were about 5 blocks from the beach, we could hear the ocean waves.  It made for some amazing sleep at night.

A few select people.  Valerie at Candlesticks, the server at Katy's (I hope you found your earring!), the server at Little Napoli, the lady at Yves Delorme, the chatty gal at Parts Unknown and the dude at the Cheese Shop.  It was nice to see amidst the snob parade there were some down to Earth people.

Let's move on to San Francisco:

Walking everywhere.  We stayed in Pacific Heights, a few blocks from Fillmore Street so there were good restaurant choices to walk to quite a few nights.  I probably wouldn't say that walking that last trudge up from Buchanan to Gough especially on the hot days but I never felt better than when I was walking in that city.

Green spaces.  I found I really needed those spaces to breathe and sitting in Lafayette Park, Crissy Field or the area in front of Ghirardelli Square was a great way to get that hint of nature in the city.  You could go across the GGB and really get that breathing room in the Marin Headlands, Point Bonita and other spots if you don't mind paying the bridge fee.

Melting pot.  I love seeing people of all kinds sharing the sidewalks and their cultures and lifestyles with each other.  There was nothing I loved more than seeing the little pockets of older men in the morning in Japantown at their favorite diner chatting away before starting their day or walking down Fillmore and seeing a small group of friends enjoying each others company.  We have that here of course but one thing I really wish we had here was a strong Asian community like Chinatown and Japantown.  They are so cute and there's nothing better than listening to a torqued off old Japanese lady screaming at the boys to do their jobs and they run because mama means business.  It's part of the reason we love Hawaii so much.   The culture is plentiful and that's something that a Caucasian mutt like myself longs for.

Here's where I would normally put the weather for them as well but lucky us, we got one of the "rare" 3 day hot snaps where we got up to 88 degrees and triple digits a little further out.  But the first time we went it was in the upper 60's, lower 70's just like I like it and neither trip did we ever see fog!  We saw it our last full day for 10 minutes and it went away.  I'm told this is super rare so thanks for clear skies both times!

91.1 Jazz station.  It became our nightly ritual to drown out the downstairs neighbors by flipping on the radio.  Quickly KCSM became our favorite station and if you're not local, no worries, you can go to their website and listen live!  Evening jazz is my favorite.  I'm listening as I type.

It's a pedestrian city.  There are not many places there you can't walk due to how compact the city is on itself.  There's also a lot of public transportation too so a car isn't necessary if you're going to stay in the city the whole time.  (You shouldn't though...some cool road trips out there)

Culinary inspiration.  I tend to get inspired when I go on vacation to recreate our favorite meals when we get back.  If you're looking to get inspired in the kitchen, San Francisco has some pretty awesome examples of how delicious food can be.  I always challenge myself to try to remake our favorites a little healthier.  Must remember to buy Bi-Rite Creamery's ice cream cookbook to make the Ricanelas (cinnamon with snickerdoodles) ice cream.

The few locals that were awesome like Armando at the shop at Ghirardelli Square, the hipster guy at Glaze who was genuinely interested in talking to people and would even go on the street to say hi to someone who passed by and the guy at that cafe where we had a less than successful breakfast but he was really nice and his pride in the restaurant showed.  Oh yeah, the hipster server at Brenda's who almost jumped out of his skin when we asked how he was doing and then proceeded to be super chipper after that and spread the cheer.  I promise, not everyone are jerks just waiting to make your day bad.  ;-)  Oh yeah and the awesome 911 operator.  Lady, thank you for being as cool and calm as Halle Berry in The Call and keeping me from becoming a quivering heap.  Seriously, I wouldn't do well with one of those operator's you hear on the news that is giving the caller attitude.  We'll get to that.

What we were less than enthused about:

Carmel wise, the amount of stuck up, money bags walking with their noses in the air was plentiful.  The first night or two, it was uncomfortably so but I remembered we wouldn't really be in town long with our side trips and got over it.

No addresses.  While some would call it cute or charming, try telling that to your GPS.  This also means, if you live there, no mail delivery.  You must go to the post office to get your mail and people actually get ticked off when people try to put an address on their homes.  To read more about Carmel's "cute" quirks including no street lights and needing a permit to wear high heels, click here.

The dog parade.  I'm a dog person.  I lurve me some furry four legged nuggets.  But my God man, on day five, the fluffy dogs wearing designer sweaters and the owners giving you the "don't even THINK of looking at my dog" looks, it got irritating.  Dog parades begin about 8:30am and continue into the evening when they put Precious in her blingy bed and rub olive oil on her pads so they don't callous up.  Beach dogs are cool though, there's a definite difference, they'll be the ones ignoring their owners tennis ball if you have something more interesting in your area.  So yay beach dogs for acting like real dogs!

The prices.  Carmel is expensive for the sake of being expensive.  When you make San Francisco look reasonable price wise, you do a bit of a double take.  They have no chain stores within the confines of Carmel by the Sea which means that quick loaf of bread you forgot will cost you double if you succumb to laziness.  Don't do that.  Drive a mile up the road to Safeway, get their club card if you don't have it already and shop at semi-normal prices.  Restaurants are pretty ridiculous as well.  While we don't mind dropping some green on an amazing dinner ($90 with tip at Mission Ranch for prime rib and filet mignon or $60 at Katy's Place for breakfast-watch those drinks and sides, they add up), we had less than stellar meals for $40 plus tip and felt like they should be giving us lube before the bill.  You can find some wallet friendly gems like Flanagan's Pub, The Cottage (sign up for their email club and get 15% off), Little Napoli and R G Burgers.  A little FourSquare research should work to your favor.

Things that were San Francisco specific on the 'no bueno' list:

Lane Splitting.  If you don't know what this is, be glad.  It's where motorcycles can ride the lines in between cars on any road.  It's supposed to be only where there is traffic but we've seen it at other times.  Is it legal?  From what I've read technically but as long as it's done responsibly, Ponch and Jon will look the other way.  The first time I saw this, I was 13 years old just after my dad moved to SoCal and some dude did that and my dad opened his SUV's door to cut him off from doing it.  An argument ensued, my dad won.  I can't help but get that same urge when it happened to us but I didn't.  If you tried that crap where I'm from, you would be lucky to come out with your cycle intact.  It's dangerous for everyone involved.  Yes, there are responsible cyclists but we saw plenty of irresponsible ones and given how completely distracted car and truck drivers are, I just can't get on board with that.  On our way to the San Jose airport this jerk came out of nowhere (the Mr looked 4X!) when another car was letting us over into his lane and almost hit us then had the nerve to beep at US.  I went OFF, screaming at Miss Starbucks on the back like a crazy person and she made sure her boyfriend wasn't next to us at the light.  That just sets us both off and we're not in good moods after dealing with being paranoid to change lanes anywhere we drive.  BIG TIME annoyance.

A pedestrian city.  I know I listed this under the likes but here's the problem with it being a pedestrian city, if you're in a car, you will get screwed by lollygagging crosswalkers every single time!  You wanted to turn?  Oh,'ll have to wait for the 50 snails crossing each way and the two jerks that wait until the countdown is at 2 on the signal to run across a four lane street.  Where I'm from, you cross the street in a moderate to hurried pace so as to give the turning cars a chance to let three or four go at a time.  If you don't, we have a name for those...hood ornaments.

This "every man for himself" mentality everyone seems to have.  Look, I get it, San Francisco has some grody people hanging out on your commute.  We've passed several lovely pimps and their ladies and junkies all asking for money depending on the neighborhood.  But we also passed a bus stop where there were 20 people all spaced almost 8" exactly from each other, none of them looking at each other, none of them speaking to each other and you got the feeling no one would piss on the other if they were on fire.  I understand not wanting to interact with people who are just going to ask you for money or be rude or throw feces or whatever but really, what does it hurt to look at a person you pass on the street and smile, nod or say hello.  That is in the Mr and I's blood and as much as we tried not to a few days in, I didn't care anymore, I looked at each person as they looked down, away or frowned at me and smiled.  I didn't care if I looked like a stupid tourist because if I could just make ONE person smile, I felt like I would've made a difference.  I got her.  A heavier, older lady trudging up Post St with a grimace on her face as we were walking down.  I smiled at her and slowly her smile turned upside down and she smiled back in this funny way like "oh my God, my smile muscles still work!  Thank you lady!"  The Mr looked at me weird and was like "what was that about?"  I said "I smiled at her and she finally recognized a smile and smiled back!"  He laughed and said that was so weird to see her looking so angry like "back off mother effer!" to a person discovering their ability to smile.  People of San Francisco, acknowledge one another!  You don't have to carry on a conversation or say more than hello but dang man, the world is a better place when you don't have such an isolating tone to your demeanor!

Dogs.  Locals love their dogs.  I want to love their dogs too with an "aww, how cute!" or "hi sweetie!" but unless you're at a dog park, they don't want you acknowledging their dogs if you pass them on the street.  We learned this very quickly in Carmel but didn't know if that would seep over into the city and it did.  You walk past someone with a dog where I'm from and it's an open invitation to say hello or ask to pet it.  You walk past someone with a dog there and they yank them closer to them, look down and the sad thing is, the dog's mimic that behavior!  That is SO un-doglike!  Most dogs love new people or making new friends but city dogs are like "screw you, I've got a date with a ball in Alamo Square and no, you can't play!"  I finally broke down at the UPS store when the guy had his Yorkie with him and I asked "may I pet your dog?"  "Yes, her name is Pearl" and I showered her with attention and squeaked her toys.  It was like a form of torture for me passing so many adorable dogs and to be given that vibe like "MY DOG, MY FRIEND, DO NOT APPROACH US!"  Lighten up people, you know your dog is cute, let some of us verbally admire your dog too.  I shant pet without asking or if you don't want me to.  Sheesh!

Claustrophobic.  Sometimes it can feel like the city is bearing down on you.  I swear the Transamerica Pyramid bent down and tried to swat at me.  Tall buildings are everywhere, not much breathing room which is why the green spaces are so important.  Heck even if you're close to the wharf area where there aren't tall buildings, there are so many tourists that you can barely move.  Get there at 7am and enjoy the seals before the throngs get there and get a clear pic of the Fisherman's Wharf sign with no people in front of it.

"Grime of the City."  Our home had a no shoes policy because she didn't want the "grime of the city" being brought into her light carpeted home.  I get that, we obeyed even though it was annoying.  Grime of the city is a polite way of saying the crap, urine, barf and other bodily fluids that intermingle when businesses hose off the sidewalks in the morning from the sins of the night.  Enjoy your walk!  :-)

I would normally put prices here but we came from Carmel so things were actually cheaper than they were the week before for us!  But if you're going only to San Francisco, the prices are probably higher than where you live.

California 'quirks' we encountered between Big Sur to Calistoga.  

When I spent my summers there, I didn't pay attention to this stuff but these things were pretty glaring as an adult.

Since California is a part of America, where we drive on the right, it is customary that sidewalk traffic should resemble that.  Oh. My. God.  STOP zig zagging in front of me as we approach each other.  If you want to dance, buy me dinner first otherwise stay on the right side of the sidewalk so we can all walk in peace!

Restaurants are blazing hot and all have heaters on the patio.  In Carmel, we went to Katy's Place and it was so hot in there, there was just no way we could stand even being inside so we said we'd eat on the patio.  When we got out there, they stuck us under a heater and the Mr's hair almost caught fire from the heat and we moved to the next table.  I understand having heaters on the patios if needed but good Lord, 90 degrees outside and 10 hotter in a restaurant is not comfortable.  I would've had to strip down if I ate inside a lot of these places and ain't nobody wanna see that!

Where we're from, when you have your turn signal on to get over in front of me and I'm giving you the room to do so and you're STILL not getting over as though waiting for an engraved invitation, I flash my lights to let you know, "hey, I'm letting you over."  This only seemed to confuse people which would then turn off their turn signal and try to get away from the crazy person flashing their lights.  Is this a regional thing because we've done it everywhere we've traveled and never had an issue except there.

California doesn't seem to know how to make proper cream filled donuts or hot chocolate.   Where we're from, you have a choice between bavarian cream/custard and cream like what is inside a Twinkie or a Krispy Kreme donut.  We have learned to ask when in a new area and not one place carried anything that wasn't that gross custard.  Knock that off!  ;-P   (But the Mr thanks you for your regional buttermilk bars.  He gives Donuts and Things on Polk his seal of approval)

Hot chocolate where we're from is more than watery milk and unsweetened baking cocoa.  I got three or four hot chocolates in 16 days and each of them sucked.  One time I put two sweeteners in it and that rectified it but I shouldn't have to do that.  I am spoiled because I make killer hot chocolate like Ghirardelli does but yeah, won't be ordering that there again.

This isn't a strike against SF but it needs to be mentioned that a 911 call was how we ushered in our Mother's Day Sunday.  At 1am, I thought I dreamt about someone knocking on the door.  I had that burst of adrenaline and tried to calm myself down so I could go back to sleep.  After a few breaths, I heard it again.  I shook the Mr and told him someone was knocking at the door.  At that point, we both thought it was a neighbor and figured they forgot their keys, their flat mates would let them in and we'd all get back to bed. I'll say the fact this woke me up at all on the second floor should say how loud these people were banging.  Then they started banging on our door.  Now we'd never met these people but we could certainly hear them laughing, hootin' and hollering and they spoke English.  When we went to the top of the stairs, there were two or three guys talking very aggressively in Spanish.  I took just enough Spanish in high school to know that was what I was hearing.  I told the Mr I wanted to call the cops, it had been 10 minutes and even if it was the neighbors, it needed to be dealt with.  Then they tried to break in.  They were trying to push all their weight against the door and even tried reaching through the mail slot.  The Mr gave me the green light to call. The 911 operator was amazing.  My mouth got dry and my voice was shaking like a puppy as she had the Mr and I hole up in the locked bedroom until the police came.  Well, of course, by the time the three cops got there, the men were no long banging on the door.  The neighbors came out about three minutes after they got there and they asked him if he heard anyone knocking.  He said no.  Um, dude, you must be on friggin' Ambien to not have heard that but yet you heard people talking on your porch?  They flat out LIED to the cops.  They said it was probably some drunks mistaking our house for theirs (not likely) and they would patrol for a few hours.  With the dick next door saying he heard nothing (again, imagine someone trying to break down your door for 10 minutes and pushing on the intercom with that loud, horrid screech), if they did come back the cops would just think it was the d-bag tourists.  Thankfully there were no other issues and again, I don't hold it against San Francisco or the rental and we still felt completely safe there, but I just had to tell the story!  LOL

It's not like the little things that irritated us made the trip bad or anything, just a few things that were annoying.  (And after someone attempting to enter your house in the middle of night, they seem small in comparison)  Even Hawaii isn't paradise and we have our irritations there like flying roaches, high prices, tourists stopping their cars in the middle of the road, etc.  So, we really loved this trip and felt like honorary locals by the end as usual when we throw ourselves into it.  We felt like a week at both places was just enough time to absorb it all and relax as well.

I will say, I'm surprised how much I miss walking those slanted streets.  It made us feel like we were earning our meals!  I miss both cities for the wonderful things they offered.  It was a true Jeckyl and Hyde vacation in a good way so we feel like we got a little bit of everything.

If you made it this far, you deserve a reward, take tomorrow and the next day off.  I insist.

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Thursday, May 22, 2014

Vacation recap: Week 2

Even though our time in Carmel had a lot of road trips, we did have a day or two to soak up strolling the streets and beautiful views.  It was very relaxing.  Looking back, if we ever did it again, we definitely would've flip flopped the weeks.  We went from being chilled out to the fast pace of the city.  There were two very different feels to each week and we'll be getting into that tomorrow when we go over the things we loved and loathed.  (Sorry, no real time to peruse the internet this week so no links tomorrow.  Wah waaaah)

We stayed in Pacific Heights.  We actually stayed at this place before but in the lower unit.  I'm going to refrain commenting freely on this place until I get my security deposit back.  LOL  The location is perfect because it's close to Japantown which we love for some reason.  Very close to Fillmore Street and has some great walkable food options and that was my goal to walk the city as much as possible.  The Mr gets very frustrated with their traffic and I get very panicky at him getting frustrated because there are some things they do out there that you would NEVER get away with here but again I'll address that tomorrow.  So I wanted to keep us both as relaxed as possible and hopefully help stave off the extreme weight gain we experienced last year.  This proved to be something that would become one of the favorite parts of our trip!

We did have a few road trips planned as well.  Our first one was to Pleasanton/Danville.

We were looking for something to do on Saturday where we didn't have to be stuck with locals and tourists all flocking to some of the same places (hiking, places with pretty views, etc) so I found the May Day Festival in Pleasanton.  If we weren't going to Hawaii this year, I was going to get my Hawaii fix if possible!  It was a nice drive over the bridge and some beautiful rolling hills.  The festival had lots of Hawaii vendors, crafts, a little food and lots of hula dancers.  It was a nice way to spend an hour or two.  I don't know if it was worth $30 by the time you paid for parking in addition to the admission but we still enjoyed ourselves and picked up a few things.  We went to Bridges Restaurant (yes, the one from Mrs Doubtfire) for lunch.  The last time we went, I was sick and couldn't taste but I knew from the wee bit I could smell, the Mr's burger was amazing and it was.  The server was nice and we got an anniversary cupcake just like last time.  We did a little browsing around town and had a nice time stopping in all the different shops.  People were so nice there too!  We rounded out the day at the East Bay SPCA where we visited with Cooper and he was adopted.  Such a cutie and they didn't have many dogs at all so that's a good thing!    Then we headed back to the city in hellish traffic.  That's the one thing, regardless of where you go, if you're leaving the city, be prepared for traffic anywhere even when there's nothing of note backing things up.

We did a road trip to Napa.

We went there in 2011 and were debating whether or not we needed to go back (we're not drinkers) but I found a few cute antique shops I wanted to hit up and some other places so we were good to go. The drive is a pretty one so we enjoyed that and went to Oxbow Public Market and grabbed breakfast at Model Bakery.  They're known for their English Muffins and they succeed.  The Mr said I should grab a bag of them to take back home but I couldn't bring myself to at $14 for six of them.  Of course later I wished I had.  So just do it if you go.  We did a little shopping in St. Helena and made a dessert stop at Cindy's Backstreet Cafe for some campfire pie.  Delish!  We stopped at a winery we liked before that is a big castle and man has it changed for the worse.  There's some lame petting zoo there now that totally takes away from the charm of the place and they planted a lot more vines in places that were nice green spaces so it just felt very cramped.  We didn't spend much time there and will choose to remember it the way it was in 2011.  We missed downtown Calistoga last time but made the turn this time and found some cute shops.  I got a few great little French tins from this one shop and the owner had some recommendations in the city.  We stopped by an estate sale store off the side of the road that had some cool things but I couldn't bring myself to pay the prices.  Oh to be independently wealthy.  We tried to see this old mill not too far from that place but when we drove back to the parking lot they wanted a fee to see it.  This became a recurring theme during this trip and I was done getting bent over on fees, so we skipped it.  It was another traffic ridden ride back to the city but we got take out from Z&Y in Chinatown and sought refuge in our temporary home.  It was good stuff, better fresh but you know, that's how take out is.

We went over the Golden Gate Bridge and that damn new Garmin with "real voice" had it's head up its real ass and sent us back over the bridge which is a $7 fee.  We plan to send Garmin the bill for that one when it comes.

So back over the bridge we went up in the Marin Headlands around the Point Bonita lighthouse area.  We explored the Battery's we missed the last time.  They are old abandoned lookouts from the war era and are super creepy with their graffiti.  But we love creeping around old buildings so it was fun for us.  The drive in that area is spectacular and one that should not be missed.  We made the mistake of going back to Sausalito and won't make that mistake again.  It's a tourist trap with mediocre food, overpriced shopping and yes a great view of the city but you can get the same view at Fort Baker for free and not have to pay for parking.

The one great thing we did see in Sausalito was The Plant Recording Studio.  It was sold and they're about to gut it or something but I was desperate for pics before they did.  Fleetwood Mac recorded Rumours there as well as Huey Lewis and the News Sports album.  Greats like Jimi Hendrix, the Grateful Dead, John Lennon and others stepped through those doors and I pray to God they save those doors or at least auction them off to people who will appreciate them.  I'd buy them in a heartbeat.  We did the drive to Stinson Beach which is winding, beautiful and can induce car sickness.  (Raising hand)  But some great stop offs and honestly the beach, while long and expansive from afar, felt kind of skeezy.  When a half dead old man crisping in the sun is the first thing that greets you, you're not exactly jazzed about hanging around.  So I closed my eyes for the ride back instead of white knuckling it and we made a stop for some supplies.  As we were waiting to turn, some jerk disobeyed the crossing guard completely screwing up traffic and smiling at her the whole time he did it.  As we turned, I rolled down the window and yelled "DOUCHE!" at the top of my lungs at him, quietly rolled it back up and sank back in my seat.  I had about 14 days of pent up frustration from people that came out in that one word.  So, you're welcome lady.  I said what you probably couldn't.

Some other places we hit of mention were the Sutro Bath ruins.

Such a great hike, best done early and the little cave at the bottom was a nice respite from the scorching heat.  (A rarity that we got treated to for 2-3 days of our a house with no air and rules about opening windows because they suck and refuse to provide windows with screens)  I can tell you this, do NOT get sucked into having lunch at the famous Cliff House.  Peruse the gift shop, enjoy the views, even go into the hokey old timey attraction on the back patio. We did not have a good experience there and there are far better ways to spend your time.

Obviously we hit places to see the Golden Gate Bridge like Crissy Field, Fort Baker, Battery Spencer and Baker Beach.  Any of those places will give you amazing views of the bridge if you're going anytime in the future.  Or you could be like the Mr and just go on the bridge either by walking or renting a bike.  (I wasn't up to it by the time we got to it and it wasn't on my bucket list.)

If you want great views of the city, a few places that are our favorites.

Twin Peaks, Crissy Field, Alamo Square, Coit Tower is supposed to have a great view but I haven't seen it, if you're going across the bridge and strolling Sausalito (don't) there's a decent but farther city view there.  Heck even the Bay Bridge if you're coming back from Napa is a pretty view.  If you want a peek a boo view of Alcatraz and the water when you're nowhere near it, Lafayette Park is a great place for a picnic and if you're traveling with kids, it's got an enviable playground.

We also did this walking route that had a local call us "effing insane" for just doing the first quarter of the journey much less any other part but I want to do a separate post on that so look for that probably Tuesday.

I am so glad that I wasn't sick this time and got to taste the pounds I put on!  HA!  I was glad to see old favorites and make new ones.  I don't know when we'll make it back that way but I'm glad we were able to experience such a great city again and live like a local in a Painted Lady and walk to our meals most of the time.

Stay tuned tomorrow when I sum up our loves and hates about both places for anyone who is looking for an honest opinion about them and what we consider our top picks.

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Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Vacay Recap week one

Welp, back to the grind!

Let me sum up this year's vacation choice, adventures and such.  When we were on Kauai for 16 days last year, we were doing good but then halfway through we started to get a little bored.  It was our 10th trip to Kauai and we pretty much saw everything especially with the addition of paddleboarding and kayaking and walking a charity 5K, we felt like maybe things were getting a little stale.  We went to San Francisco in 2011 and had a wonderful time except for one big thing...I was sick the entire trip and the Mr was only a day behind me in the cold department.  So I missed out on tasting most of what we ate.  We wanted a do over, so that's how this years trip came to be.

Now obviously about 6 months in, we started to panic.  Hawaii fever was setting in and when you realize you aren't going, you start to throw the words cancel and re-book around.  Even more so when a friend's daughter comes back from there and shows pics of their honeymoon.  We were at the point we would've forfeited $1250 for the Carmel house if we did that...we were THISCLOSE to doing it.  But we hung in and had a completely different kind of vacation than we're used to.  This vacation was going to consist of walking a LOT.  Around the holidays, I started slacking on physical therapy and really set myself back.  I rehabbed hard to get ready for this trip because the places I booked were close enough to the action that unless we had a road trip planned, I wanted to walk it as many places as possible.

Our first week was spent in Carmel.  Carmel would act as our home base for several road trips I planned.  The Mr was a wannabe skater dude when he was a teen so Santa Cruz had always been a dream for him and being a Lost Boys fan, he also wanted to see the Boardwalk.  I also planned a trip to Big Sur because that's where Jack Tripper always took his most special dates and I said one day I would go to Big Sur.  So many people said Cannery Row, the Monterey Aquarium and such were big draws so I planned a trip to Monterey which was just the next town over.

Our house in Carmel was beautiful.  I would recommend it to anyone as it's 2 1/2 blocks from the main drag, easy to walk to everything, 1/2 mile from the Pebble Beach golf course/17 mile drive gate and reasonably priced considering the area.  My only beef with it is there are no blinds/window coverings on any windows except the bedroom and bathroom.  The neighbors are right on top of you and they could literally see inside the kitchen straight into the living room.  Not cool with that.  I made a makeshift solution for privacy but other than that, all was good.  Here's our take on our first road trip to Monterey.

Monterey is a pretty water town but it's a lot like any other water town.  It smells of ocean, dead fish, you risk getting crapped on by gulls and it is the biggest tourist trap in the area.  Don't get me wrong, if you've never been, you should make it a stop if you have the time but it's the first place I would cut knowing what I know now.  I can't count how many people tout the Monterey Aquarium and people say it's a must do.  Well, we're going against popular opinion and saying, if you're comfortable paying $80 for two people to get in and aren't going to get pissed off that you can walk 1/2 mile up the street to the Naval Point Pier and see half the animals (including huge jelly fish) for free, then this place is for you.  Seriously, we weren't impressed and we were there for an hour and saw everything we needed to see.  Everything surrounding it is basically overpriced tourist shops where we literally saw the same pattern shirts with different location filled in that they sell at the ABC stores in Hawaii.  The food stops are all overpriced and from what I read, underwhelming.  We did make a stop at Ghirardelli Ice Cream shop for some sundaes in case the one at Ghirardelli Square was crowded and we could bypass it the following week.  They were good but so filling and just sat there so luckily I had a bit of a walk planned on the Monterey Coastal Trail which you should totally do.  It's a well marked urban trail and we walked from Monterey to Old Fisherman's Wharf.  I'd already done my research and decided on Old Fisherman's Grotto for lunch.  I tried sand dabs which is a mild, local fish much like flounder.  It was good but the Mr's really had my mouth watering, with this great halibut.  But the true star of the lunch was their clam chowder.  Holy hell man.  SOOO delicious!  I would go back for the chowder in a heartbeat.  It wasn't the lightest on the wallet but didn't care.  We went to a nice antique store or two in the area and just had a nice day taking in the ocean and getting some walking in.  Again, I'd say go there if you're a Steinbeck fan or a fan of little touristy beach towns, but if you have limited time within a 1 hour drive of Carmel, skip it.

Santa Cruz was not a big priority for me but I didn't mind coming up with a little road trip for the Mr to realize his Gleaming the Cube dreams.  We stopped at the Natural Bridges Park and drove along West Cliff Drive which is beautiful.  We stopped at the little surfing museum lighthouse and walked a good portion of area and saw the boardwalk in the distance.  We parked a little closer but nowhere near the boardwalk so we didn't get suckered into their ridiculous prices.  I'll walk if it means parking for free.  I also knew not much was going to be open and I was right.  We were greeted at the front of some hotel by a chick sobbing on the sidewalk and three uninterested cops gabbing.  No clue what happened there.  As we made it closer to the Wharf, there were the typical panhandlers but not out in full force yet since the tourists hadn't made their way down for the day.  We walked the wharf and heard the call of the seals which were said to be congregating at the end of the wharf.  We got there and yep, there they were!  LOTS of 'em!  They would sleep in a big pod and a few would swim around the perimeter like they were either wrangling them or searching for predators.  We spent about an hour there then headed to the boardwalk.  Oh man, you know when you get that skeezy feeling?  Like you have that instinct in you that says to be aware, walk a little taller, suck it in and puff it out in all the right places.  This was that time.  At one point a group of four late teens all looked up to no good and kept stopping a bit so we would catch up to them so I told the Mr to come over to the rail and I let them get a good distance ahead.  It just felt like a set up to something.  We went in the arcade and had fun playing the old school video games and skee ball.  We went out to where the opening of Lost Boys was filmed on the Boardwalk and it was neat to see but about half of it was closed.  It was really windy that day and people were on the beach but the only ones in the water were surfers in wetsuits.  We walked around for about 15 minutes and then noticed little pockets of 15-20 people all eyeing the other groups giving each other the kind of greetings you'd see on Beyond Scared Straight in the yard.  You could feel a change in the air and we saw everything we needed to see and that whole spidey sense thing started tingling again.  As we were on the way out with a bag in our hand and me on edge, an old smart ass panhandler comes up and asks for money since we obviously were able to buy a shirt and the Mr says we don't have any cash and he says "can I have your credit card and PIN number?" to which I replied a pissy "are you f**king kidding me with this sh*t!?!"  He shut up real quick.  I was about done with my time in Santa Cruz but we headed over to a nicer section nowhere near the water and wandered the outdoor mall and had lunch at Pono Hawaiian Grill on the patio.  That was as close to Hawaii as I was going to taste this trip.  I'm glad the Mr got to see it but he agreed he'd never have to go back.  LOL

Our final road trip was our best by far...Big Sur.  Driving south on Highway 1 is like heaven (it's also a quick way to get there if you're not paying attention.  Lots of blind curves and such)  We've driven the Hana Highway and over one lane lava roads, not much really stirs us emotionally on the road anymore.  It seems like it's not a vacation for us unless we're driving some road that makes others want to pass out or turn around.  We got some wonderful views of the Bixby Bridge, gorgeous coastline, the hippie town of Big Sur and the beautiful McWay Falls at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park.  We packed a picnic and let the road take us as far as we wanted...we both regret not just going down to Hearst Castle but we didn't have tickets and I don't think spur of the moment is recommended with them.  We are all about coastal views, hikes and little spots to just appreciate the beauty of God's country.  There's not many services or restaurants that aren't high priced but it's within 25 miles of Carmel so fuel up there, make a picnic and explore early.  On our way back there were tons more people and we were done by 1pm and still had a good portion of the day for tomfoolery!

That tomfoolery came in the form of Point Lobos State Park.  We were here in 2011 and it was so beautiful, we couldn't wait to go back.  We ran into one of the begging squirrels (I don't think he's a squirrel but maybe the closest they have there?  It didn't have a big ol' bushy tail), saw the beautiful coastline and hiked the haunting cypress trail.  If you're ever in the area, it's within 5 miles of Carmel and worth every second you have to spend there.  It's $10 but people park outside and walk in for free which irritates me.  I'll gladly pay for certain things that look like they're using the money properly.  Besides, you can't put a price on watching an otter bang clams and oysters against a rock on his belly for well over 45 minutes!

Carmel-by-the-Sea is the town we stayed in and it's a very high falootin' kind of town.  The people are very into themselves, showing off their dogs and generally disregarding anyone but their friends.  But if you can peek past the self centered pricks you pass, you'll see enchanting architecture in their storybook cottage design and that is why we fell in love with the place.  You can certainly pay the $10 to see the 17 Mile Drive like we did and with Spanish Bay and Pescadero Point, it's worth it but if you drive to just before the beach and turn left off of Ocean Ave onto Scenic Road, you will pass some of the most breathtaking coastline, adorable and massive homes in a culmination of beauty that is Carmel River State Park and the beginning of Mission Ranch, which Clint Eastwood saved when they wanted to turn that gorgeous land into condos back in the day.  Mission Ranch is where we had the best meal of our trip and a sheep threw us a bone and got up from his comfy grass patch to let us pet him.  There are so many wonderful shops.  Most are was far more expensive than San Francisco but you could find some great gems like Flanagan's Pub and RG Burgers if you didn't want to pay out the butt for a meal.  Carmel was a great home base for our adventures in the area.

Stay tuned tomorrow when we drive up to San Francisco!

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Tuesday, May 20, 2014

A peek in pics

Well, we had another successful vacation.  Technically we're still on vacation.  This is the Mr's last full day of vacay so I don't want to get too wordy so we can indulge in our new ritual of listening to jazz from San Francisco on 91.1.  We spent one week in Carmel and one week in San Francisco.  It was wonderful, frustrating, inspiring, irritating, awe-inspiring and a host of emotions in between.  Until I gather the words, feast your eyes...Instagram followers, this'll be a recap for you.  ;-)

Our first night, we enjoyed a sunset at Carmel Beach.  So did many doggies. 

The architecture in Carmel is so charming and fairy tale like...dreamy.

A beautiful stop on 17 mile drive on the morning of our anniversary.

We had dinner at Mission Ranch and this beautiful sheep pasture was saved thanks to Clint Eastwood.

McWay Falls at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park.  Truly breathtaking!

Something else that was breathtaking was my quest to walk  a specific route in San Francisco up and down their severely slanted streets.  There will be a whole post dedicated to this.

But here's a hint how it turned out.

The Plant Recording Studios in Sausalito.  Fleetwood Mac recorded Rumours here and Huey Lewis and the News recorded Sports.  Metallica, Bob Marley, Jimi Hendrix, etc.  

The Sutro Bath ruins.  A beautiful hike with some serious steep inclines.

The view from Crissy Field at the end of the pier.

A shot of the Bay Bridge.  I wish we saw this at night for that light show.  I knew I'd regret not seeing that.

Ever been to San Francisco?  Carmel?  Anywhere in California?

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