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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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  1. We saw some gorgeous sites all along the California coastline. It's a shame that it's so far away because if we lived in California I would want to do that road trip all the time. I also love the fact that we walked so much. It is a personal victory as much as a great memory. Anyone reading your posts should definitely check out some of these places as they are must-sees in my opinion. I can't wait to read your post on Tuesday because I know it will be awesome!

    1. Absolutely! Given how beat up I feel from a relatively light workout, I'd love to go back to "city workouts!"

  2. It sounds like this trip was a much better one than the last one - despite the sense that a few things went wrong. I remember your posts after your last trip out there and you sound much more upbeat this time.

    1. The only thing that wasn't so great last time was we both had REALLY bad colds and even though that sucked, we still had a wonderful time. (Hot air balloon! :-) ) But I was really looking forward to being able to taste the food there since it's such a major foodie city so that's a big plus for this trip! LOL

  3. My son and I had a great idea. If you could invent a pill that would take away your sense of smell temporarily, it would be a great way to lose weight. If broccoli tastes the same as a burger or cookies or cake, why not eat the broccoli instead? Like you say, it's good to be able to at least TASTE the pounds you are gaining, and if there is no taste, and just a little motivation....wouldn't this result in a great way to lose weight?

    1. I'm sorry but I think I'd rather be this weight forever than not taste food of any kind. Food is one of life's enjoyments and yes, I enjoy it a little too much, especially on vacation but it would be U-G-L-Y when I went off the pills. ;-) There's this ex-wrestler that got mule kicked to the base of his brain and it took away his ability to taste and he said it was one of the worst things about that injury. A filet mignon tasted like liver, nothing tasted right.


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