I visited my new bestie [and many other folks] in Chicago in October [and even got easily coerced into running the marathon]. The post-trip depression immediately inspired plans for the next adventure! So Janelle and I somewhat spontaneously booked a trip to San Fran! [After investigating and nearly booking a flights to Cuba, which would require an 18-hour layover in Mexico city both ways for a long weekend, figuring we could easily procure a visa within a couple weeks. Glad we postponed that trip for an opportunity with more lead time!]
I arrived to the airport early to people watch–and start the #wineweekend early. I ponied up at the bar for a beverage and dinner where Janelle joins me and the weekend of conversations with strangers commenced. Enthralled in our own chatter, we nearly missed our flight!
Naturally, we ordered another glass of wine on the plane, which was delivered with a safety lid to Susie-proof it on the journey. The second glass of many.
We landed and took a smelly uber ride straight to a bar next to our hotel, where we ate and drank again. That was really the only place where we didn’t engage in random lively conversations. We lobbed several soft balls to the bar tender, but he clearly didn’t find us amusing.
We spent that night in a hotel that was great, aside from the effervescent aroma of deodorizer.
We awoke and there was light!! We took an uber to yet a different hotel and had perhaps the most hilarious conversation I’ve ever had with an uber driver (or anyone) in my whole life. Words won’t do it justice, but the Bosnian guy made some amazingly sarcastically funny comments about a chick smoking in a parked car, his aspirations of climbing Mount Everest and San Fran folks.
He dropped us at the Holiday Inn at Fisherman’s Wharf where Janelle and my new bestie, Joy, greeted us behind the front desk where she works. A pleasant, Asian woman, she, too, had an excellent sense of humor and made us feel better about aging. Even agreed to be video taped saying, “ooohhh 70! That’s the new 50! No, the new 20!!”
We traversed the San Fran hills to brunch at Jane, our new fave cafe/eatery. We then walked around Fisherman’s Warf and made plans to ride bikes once Parker arrived that afternoon. We jokingly made bets as to how long he’d last among our symbiotic energy, jokes and escapades.
And he did! He immediately informed Janelle and I that he would have to leave on Saturday morning “because of the flight schedule.” We joked that he already regretted his decision to hang out with us and our shenanigans and teased him about it.
And we got bikes (of course, only after intruding him to our BFF, Joy). Janelle and I, naturally, selected a tandem, which made for hilarity negating through the crowded touristy area. We miraculously managed to skirt injuring ourselves and others as we navigated our way past the warf, through a couple parks and up and over the Golden Gate Bridge.
We re-hydrated at Bocci Bar and grabbed a bite while enjoying the beautiful afternoon. Dark came upon us, so we decided to venture back. Somehow we were misinformed of Ferry times and arrived too early to wait in the cold–a “first world problem” easily solved by a round of drinks at a different bar.
However, this mixup delayed our return to Fisherman’s Warf until after the bike place closed, so we kept the bikes in our hotel overnight, which wouldn’t have been an issue except for the cold rain we woke up to the following morning. Uf.
Before that, though, we dined at an Italian restaurant down the road recommended by a group of folks we passed on the street. Janelle convinced the waiter it was my birthday, and I managed to play along, although I’m such a terrible liar that I’m sure he saw through the facade. He gifted us dessert anyway because I think he liked our jokes. We went to a bar where I was convinced to sign up for Florida 70.3 in a competition to beat Parker (a tall task, indeed! I should stop talking smack…). I arranged bar stools and practiced my dry-land swimming turn techniques.
And then we went to sleep and woke up to the cold rain–and rented bikes surrounding us in the hotel that I momentarily contemplated keeping until the rain ended. We had a few hours to procrastinate before we’d be charged for them. Parker, being the disciplined triathlete that he is, needed to go on and run (well, Janelle and I, needed a quick jog, too). So we set out in the rain and up and down the hills of the streets of San Francisco, left abandoned on the sleepy, rainy Saturday morning.
After delaying the inevitable as long as possible, we had to return the bikes. The rain grew heavier and my reluctance grew greater. Alas, we hopped on and gutted it out for the mile or so to the rental place. It was even more terrible than I anticipated, but we managed to maintain a good sense of humor and laughed most of the way. We received several strange looks from passers by.
The bike shop dude recommended a local breakfast place, and we waited for a table in the tiny little diner. Over a giant spread of coffee and breakfast fare, we planned out our trip to wine country with the instrumental help of wine and wine country expert, Chrissy Blaisdell! Because what better way to pass a rainy day than to drink wine for hours?!
We rented a car from the Enterprise around the corner where we were informed that convertibles, unsurprisingly, weren’t moving off the lot that particular day, so we landed ourselves a Mustang to cruise around in! And I was behind the wheel 🙂 and it felt awesome.
Along the way, Janelle booked us a hotel, and we arrived to the smell of delicious food. Turns out the quaint establishment also serves as a culinary school. We didn’t check it out, though, because there was wine to be drank (drunk? Drinken?)
When I asked our uber driver how he ended up in Sonoma, he told us that after divorcing his wife about 30 years prior, he “lost everything” and moved in with his daughter in Sonoma, where his ex wife also ended up. The two of them (the driver and his wife, that is) rekindled their old flame and ended up re-marrying on the anniversary of their first wedding! He had great insight and perspective to share.
First stop was Ravenswood. The vineyard itself was the most unassuming of the ones we visited. I’ve had their wines, but typically associate it with the $7 house wine on the menu. I admittedly had low expectations for the wine, but was pleasantly surprised. Turns out they’re known for their zinfandels and have a couple tasty red blends that I very much enjoyed. Our sommelier, Ron, was a laid back dude from Virginia who had moved to San Fran to pursue film school. Quite the Chatty Cathy, that guy.
On to the next one! Buena Vista. The rain conveniently let up a bit as we exited the car because a long dirt path past beautiful trees leads you into the castle-like edifice of their tasting room. Where as the sommeliers at Ravenswood wore presumably whatever they scrounged up that day, those at this winery were decked out in paisley vests and black slacks with a flashy broach adorning their chests.
The guy taking care of us introduced us to the menu, clearly employing his “show voice”, mindlessly reciting the spiel he’s likely versed thousands of times. But don’t worry–we broke the ice. He made a comment about his wife, but I noticed he wasn’t wearing a wedding band. So, naturally, I asked him about that, and he explained that he doesn’t feel it necessary to wear a societally-driven, arbitrary symbol of love in order to express and enact commitment to his wife. He then proceeded–in a quiet voice–to bash his coworker for not wearing one in order to flirt with female customers and earn more tips. That conversation evolved into relationship story-telling and social commentary. A young, indie-looking couple nuzzled up to Janelle, who immediately included them in the conversation. Really awesome people! And definitely not the type I would have sought out naturally. Amazing how wine brings folks together…
They became our new ‘wine friends’ and graciously offered to drive us to the next vineyard. Albeit apprehensive about getting into a car with strangers who had unequivocally been drinking, my instincts felt ok about it, and–besides–they offered us “Have A Chip” chips, which were perhaps the best chips I’ve had in my whole life, which reaffirmed my decision.
The third and last vineyard for the day, Domaine Carneros, housed in a Chateau, was even more pretentious than the last one. Their tasting room is filled with tables beside a cozy fireplace. The setting seemed better suited for high tea than for wine tasting. No tables were available, so we tried to buy a bottle of champagne (for which they’re known) and share it while we wait. Apparently this is frowned upon, and suddenly a table opened up for us. Funny how that happens.
We learned all about our new wine friends, and I was happy to see that the guy who was driving, limited himself to only a couple sips. A sober driver, indeed!
Our appetites had built up, so our friends dropped us at a dinner spot in downtown Sonoma where an overweight, ill-kempt, straggly long hair and bearded dude sang the most beautiful acoustic music! You certainly cannot judge a book by its cover.
Seeking dessert, we ventured to a different restaurant, which had a disappointing selection, so we settled on one last round of drinks instead. Cause, ya know, wine country.
Our alarms sounded at 3am to lock and load and peel outta town to drive Parker back to the airport. Despite the chaos of Janelle and my company, I think he secretly wanted to stay…
She and I drove to Berkeley where we were to run a half marathon. Because, how can you go on vaca and not do a race, amIright?! Well, we arrived three hours early and sought refuge at a Starbucks where quite a few homeless people also found shelter. Great minds…
Unfortunately, Starbucks wouldn’t allow us to use the restroom despite being paying customers with our own shelter to retire to [fortunately I had moved on from my shoeless, jobless and kind of homeless period]–neither would two different drug stores on the block. Eventually we used the facilities at a McDonalds that I’d prefer to never return to if I can help it.
Having recently received a few HOTSHOT samples recently, I decided to try one prior to this race to see if perhaps it would compensate for lack of training. It burned my esophagus for a good five minutes, and I tasted it throughout the race, but I finished, so there’s that! Not a good testing environment, but ya know.
Read about the race here…
Drenched and hungry, we hopped back in the Black Beauty–our temporary chariot–struggled out of our sticky clothes and into dry ones and headed immediately back to our favorite spot, Jane.
We crossed off the Full House House from our tourist to do list, where an awesome bystander took a myriad of cheesy “jumping” photos and wouldn’t let us stop jumping until she captured a good one! My legs weren’t prepared for that.
We checked into a hotel that had a bottle opener fastened to the wall beside the toilet. I can’t think of a time when I’ve wanted a beer while popping a squat, but I suppose I would indulge if given the opportunity. We met up with Janelle’s friend who also had a friend in town, and the four of us feasted on mediocre sushi at a restaurant with red velour carpet that played terrible house music. We followed it up with margs and dessert at a nearby Mexican place, and Janelle and I said goodbye just before we would have likely passed out at the table.
Up the following morning at a totally reasonable 3:30 [sarcastic font], we made our way to the airport to catch our respective 6am flights! She home to Chicago and me to “home home” in Atlanta (as opposed to “home” in Boulder) for Thanksgiving!
As Aunt Moe would say, we’ve “kept in text” and “snapped along the day” ever since. ❤
Until the next adventure with my Seester!