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Year in Review – 2018’s Been Real… Something…

What can be said about 2018?  It was an unforgettable year.

I’m incredibly grateful for my friends and family who care about me, but I also had to do some letting go of people who weren’t the friends I thought they were.

I also had the amazing opportunity to go on a monumental several-month road trip of the United States.  Despite never having traveled alone for more than a week, I packed up my car and set out entirely alone.  I stayed with some friends and family along the way, but the majority of my nights were camping by myself.  Not only did I get to see some of the amazing scenery and history this country has to offer, but I also got to prove to myself that I can travel solo and have a great time in my own company.

And last, but certainly not least, I got over 15,000 annual views on this blog.  My current figure is 15,098, which is more than 1,000 more views than I received last year.  I must be doing something interesting!  Thank you to all of you who read.

Without further ado, here’s the recap:

  1. Paula and I went on a girls’ weekend at Mount Rainier on President’s Day weekend.  We went out on snowshoes, drank wine, did puzzles and had a fabulous weekend of girl bonding.  It was so much fun!

    I was so excited I could do a high ponytail!

     

  2. My 31 year old horse Biz has been good.  My vet decided to go a conservative route last winter and not pull one of his damaged canine teeth, but instead another one broke; it has since healed.  He is doing well with his remaining three incisor teeth and a daily painkiller.
  3. In March, I did my first 15k Hot Chocolate Run in Seattle with Katy and Katie.  The weather was cold, but the company was good!

    At the Expo

     

  4. At the end of March, I had the opportunity to join my friend Lelani, her daughter Laura and Laura’s friend Brenna, on a 6 day road trip down to San Francisco and back.  We camped, saw the San Francisco sights, and did some wine tasting in Santa Rosa.

    Me with the Golden Gate Bridge

     

  5. Paula, Brandon, and Joel and I spent Memorial Day weekend in Walla Walla wine country again.  We did some shopping, soaked up the sun at the pool, and relaxed for a few days.
  6. In June, Oliver went to be with the angels.  His cancer had progressed, and it just wasn’t fair for him anymore.  I still miss him terribly.

    Oliver and I on our last day

     

  7. Taryn, Brandon, Brent and I took a two week trip to London in late June and early July.  It was my first overseas trip since 2006, and we did and saw so much!

    Taryn and Me with the bow of the Cutty Sark

     

  8. I left my job in July to fulfill a dream of mine.  I converted my car with a bed and storage, and traveled the United States for four months seeing the sights.  Since I was on the road so long, this trip probably deserves slots 8-30 in this review.  I learned that I could do it, and had an amazing experience, and hope to be able to do it again at some point.  That is such an incredible understatement too.
  9. I spent a week in September visiting family and going to my cousin’s wedding.  It was great to see everybody and catch up on life with my aunts, uncles and cousins.
  10. My former boss, mentor and friend, Larry, died in mid-December.  He played an important role in my life and my career since I met him in 2001, and I will miss him terribly.

I am hopeful that 2019 will reveal itself to be a good year, with new beginnings and continued love from my friends and family.  May all your lives be blessed as well.

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4 Chicks and a Little Bitch: On to Portland

Day 6, Saturday, March 31, 2018

A good chunk of the day was spent driving… I drove, Lelani drove, Laura drove…  Bleh…

Mount Shasta from the viewpoint

We did stop in Roseburg for lunch at the McMenamin’s Station Pub and Brewery.  It is located in a 1912 Southern Pacific Railroad depot, which ironically, had a “no booze” policy.  The depot is quite pretty inside, but we sat outside so we could have our lunch without worrying about Shaka.  I had the Chipotle Salad that was delicious, although a little spicy (I knew that going in, given the name…).  I also had the Ruby Ale – this is one of my favorite beers ever!!!

We still had a bit of driving to go before arriving in Portland and dropping off Laura, Brenna and Shaka at a friend’s house where they were going to stay the night.  I noticed that we were right near the Kennedy School, which is another of McMenamin’s properties, so I suggested we go there and see if they had a room.

McMenamin’s is a local Oregon company that purchases historic properties and renovates them for use as breweries, restaurants, and hotels.  They maintain the historic character of the property while making a fun, lively atmosphere for guests.  They brew their own beer, make their own wine, and even distill their own spirits.  They have several properties in Oregon and a couple now in Washington, and their business model seems to be working really well.  If you have a chance to visit one, you won’t be disappointed!

The Kennedy School is a 1915 elementary school that operated until 1976.

We inquired about a room and were delighted when we were told they had one room left!  It was a queen room in what used to be a classroom in the room.  It was so incredibly cool!  Although I have visited several of the McMenamin’s properties, including the Kennedy School, this is the first time I have had the chance to stay at one!

Our room at the Kennedy School

 

The bed at the Kennedy School

Lelani and I spent our evening having dinner at the restaurant, which was fabulous, and wandering around the school with cocktails.  The Kennedy School has 3 bars, and you don’t have to stay in the bar with your drink; you can wander the school at your leisure.  It also has a soaking pool (we were sad that we didn’t bring our swimsuits!), and a movie theater too.

In the morning we had breakfast, and I had a delicious mimosa.  I loved our stay at the Kennedy School!  Then we picked up two very hungover young ladies, and a happy dog and drove home…

It was such an amazing ending to a fantastic road trip!  Well, at least for Lelani and me – Laura and Brenna probably had a different opinion…  😉

 

4 Chicks and a Little Bitch: Northward

Day 5, Friday, March 30, 2018

We had such a good time in San Francisco, but it was time to head northward towards home.  We got showered, packed up, tetrised the car, and got on our way…

Me with the Golden Gate Bridge

We stopped in Sausalito to poke around in some shops and walk along the water.  What a cute, peaceful little town!  Then we met up with Lelani’s friend Susi for lunch in Tiburon at Sam’s Café.  It is dog friendly and we sat outside on the patio to enjoy our meal.  I had fish and chips and a glass of Sauvignon Blanc, but I was so hungry I forgot to take a photo.  The weather was amazing once again, sunny and much warmer than a typical March day!

Me after lunch in Tiburon

Our next destination was Santa Rosa for some wine tasting.  We stopped at Matanzas Creek Winery.  I did a tasting while the rest of the girls bought a bottle and sat out on the patio to share; I joined them when I was finished with my tasting.  They had some really good wine, but it was pricey.  It was really nice hanging out on the patio soaking up the sunshine!

Sharing a bottle

 

Selfie at Matanzas Creek!

Next we headed over to Muscardini.  They had some really good wines but I felt like the service could have been better…  They were dog friendly both inside and out though so Shaka loved it; she found a bone that another dog had left behind and was in heaven.

Muscardini

Our last stop in Santa Rosa was at Palooza for dinner.  There was a bit of a wait, but they had a waiting area where you could play a giant game of Jenga, so we didn’t mind the wait!  The girls shared pizza, but I wasn’t in the mood for more pizza so I had a Mushroom Alfredo that was to die for!  Another of Lelani’s friends had dinner with us, and she enjoyed catching up with him!

Concentration…

My mushroom alfredo and calamari appetizer at Palooza

By the time we left Santa Rosa the sun was setting, and we weren’t sure how far north we were going to get.  We had originally planned on camping on the Oregon Coast again, but after the misjudged distance on the way down earlier in the week, we decided that it would be better to just head back up I-5.  Laura and Brenna drove, and they are able to stay up way later than Lelani and me, so we made it all the way to Redding before deciding to turn in for the night.

We stayed at the Super 8 there; it was supposed to be dog friendly but they didn’t have any dog friendly rooms available for the night.  We were bad; we snuck Shaka in instead of making her sleep in the car.  She let out one big woof and a few quiet ones when some guys walked past the room on the way to theirs, but after that she was quiet.  Whew!

What a long, fun day!

 

4 Chicks and a Little Bitch: de Young Museum

Day 4, Thursday, March 29, 2018

After our lunch at The Hook, we headed back over to Golden Gate Park to go to the de Young Museum and met up with Lelani’s nephew Niko, who had passes that we could use!

outside of the de Young Museum

The de Young had a special exhibit on the Precisionist Movement; I hadn’t heard of it but it had a lot of art with Industrial Revolution themes.  It was interesting, and not an art movement I had ever heard of before.  They also had some everyday items on display; a car, and household items that were designed in similar styling.  I don’t know if the term Precisionist is used to describe those items – mid-century modern is more the term I have used.

I also checked out the Maori portraits painted by Gottfried Lindhauer.  They were on loan from a private collection and are stunning, but no photos were allowed inside the exhibit.  He painted some from photographs and others sat for him.  His style captures the historic Maori traditions alongside Western culture in his paintings.  At the time many Maori wore Western style clothing along with the traditional tattoos and facial ornamentation…  The pics below were taken from Wikipedia.

We also did something I have never done – we went up to the top of the tower of the de Young Museum.  The view from there is fantastic!  It was so awesome to see the whole city!

the view from the de Young tower

 

Me in the de Young tower

After the museum, we were going to hit traffic at 5 pm so we decided to make a stop at the Biergarten to wait out the rush hour.  I am not a big fan of German style beers, so I had a glass of Gruner Veltliner and a pretzel snack.  The place was packed!

Our beers and wine at Biergarten

We headed back to the apartment for a little while to relax and get ready, then drove over the bridge to Sausalito to go to Bar Bocce.  The view was amazing; it was right on the water and you could sit out by the beach while they were getting your table ready.  We split everything, and had a fabulous meal of meatballs, calamari with quinoa, and two pizzas.  I had a couple glasses of Chenin Blanc.  It was already dark when we got there, but it would have been really awesome to see the sunset there!

Bar Bocce Pizza

What a great day!

 

 

4 Chicks and a Little Bitch: San Francisco Japanese Garden

Day 4, Thursday, March 29, 2018

On Thursday morning, we split up in the morning because Laura and Brenna wanted to try to get Alcatraz walkup tickets.  Lelani dropped them off at the Pier and came back to grab me; lucky for them they did manage to get walkup tickets and had a great time at Alcatraz!

Lelani and I went to Golden Gate Park, and while Lelani took Shaka on a walk, I went to the Japanese Garden.  I had been wanting to go to there for years, and I finally got the chance!  The San Francisco Japanese Garden is the oldest public Japanese Garden in the United States; it was originally created as a “Japanese Village” exhibit for the 1894 California Midwinter International Exposition.  The original garden was about an acre but has been expanded over time to about 5 acres.

It really is a beautiful garden.  I wandered around and looked at all the little ponds and water features, the pagodas, and the manicured shrubs.  They have a zen garden too.

There were cherry blossoms on the ornamental cherry trees that were beautiful, and the Koi in the ponds were relaxing to watch, as they swam over to see if you would feed them.  If you have a chance to go, it is absolutely worth the time.  It is a gorgeous garden!

After the Japanese Garden, we headed over to the waterfront to pick up Laura and Brenna, and then went to The Hook for fish and chips.  It was delicious – and the sun was getting hot!

Lelani wanted to try on some of the clothes we had seen the day before in Haight-Ashbury so we went back over there and found the shop again – Ambiance.  I ended up finding two cute cold-shouldered tops and was so happy with my purchases!

My new Ambiance top

What a fun day and it was only half over!

4 Chicks and a Little Bitch: The Presidio & Coit Tower

Day 3, Wednesday, March 28, 2018

After we went to the Sutro Baths, we still had plenty left on the agenda.  We saw the Legion of Honor Museum when we drove by it, and one day I want to visit – but that will have to be a different trip.

We were ready for lunch, so we went over to the Magnolia Gastropub in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood.  Oh wow, this place was good.  I had the Bombay Bubbles IPA (YUM!) and the Fried Chicken sandwich with a salad. It was soooo delicious!

My beer at Magnolia

 

My fried chicken sandwich

We did some window shopping and Lelani tried on some clothes at a cute little boutique.

I found a dinosaur!

After that we went to the Presidio at Fort Point. Fort Point was built between 1853 and 1861 to protect the San Francisco Bay at the height of the gold rush.  It was designed in the Army’s Third System style, a style adopted in the 1820s, and was the only Fort west of the Mississippi River to be built in this style.  It was in use as an active fort up through World War II, although it never fired a shot at an enemy.

When the Golden Gate Bridge was being constructed in the 1930s, there was discussion of tearing down the now obsolete fort, but fortunately the bridge’s Chief Engineer Joseph Strauss saw the historical significance of the fort and designed an arch that would allow the bridge to be built over the existing fort structure.  I am so glad it could be saved.  Unfortunately the fort is currently only open Fridays through Sundays, so we weren’t able to go inside.  The interior is certainly on my list of places to see!

We walked along the water and climbed the steps down and up from the parking area – that was quite a workout!  We considered walking across the bridge, and I definitely want to do it sometime, but we were worried that all the traffic and the people might be too much and too dangerous for a puppy.  Next time – another thing for my bucket list!

We headed to another area of the Presidio for a late afternoon glass of wine at Sessions restaurant.  I had their happy hour white (twice…); the Ressó 2017 Garnacha Blanc – it was delicious!  I also had two oysters on the half shell, because at happy hour prices of $1.50 each, who wouldn’t?!!  Well, someone who doesn’t like raw oysters, but…  They were amazing!

My wine at Sessions

We sat at their outdoor seating, and it was so nice to just sit outside on a glorious, sunny, hot, March San Francisco day.  Those adjectives don’t normally go with San Francisco, and certainly not in March, so we really soaked it in!  And the folks at Sessions allow dogs in their outdoor seating, you just have to take the dog in through the side door on the patio, so we could linger for a while.  Our server even brought Shaka dog biscuits and a bowl of water!

Our last sightseeing stop of the day was up at Coit Tower.  I had been twice before and loved it each time, and so had Lelani, but the girls had never been.  It was too late in the day to go up to the top (if you get the chance to you should), but we had enough time to do a circuit of the bottom part of the tower.  That’s where (most of) the murals are.

Coit Tower

The murals…  Coit Tower’s murals were painted in 1934 as a part of a Public Works of Art Project, the first of the New Deal employment projects for artists during the Great Depression.  They were painted in the Social Realism style, and depict commerce and industry subjects.  Interestingly, I learned while fact-checking for this blog post, that there are more murals on the second floor that are largely closed to the public.  However, you can see these murals, which depict recreation, if you take a tour (there are some free and some paid tours available).  How did I never know this?!  Yet another reason to visit Coit Tower!

A mural wine shop!

 

Coit Tower Industry

We headed back to our AirBnB for a bit of relaxing before we walked up the street to Zen Sushi for dinner.  This tiny, cramped restaurant had some excellent sushi!  It was a great end to a really good day.

 

4 Chicks and a Little Bitch: Sutro Baths

Day 3, Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Despite being up so late the night before, we got up at about 8 am the next day, and were all ready and out about 9 am.  I guess that’s the thing about getting old – there is no sleeping in!

We headed down to the Presidio, and although it took a bit of wandering, we found the Sutro Baths, within the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.  I got my passport stamps at the Visitor’s Center and we headed down to check out the site.

Sutro Baths below

The Sutro Baths were built in the late 1800s along the cliffs of the Land’s End area of San Francisco, intended to be a European style bath house for the residents of San Francisco.  They were huge, 500 by 255 feet, with 6 saltwater pools and one freshwater pool, 7 slides, 30 swinging rings and a spring diving board.

At high tide, water would flow directly into the pool from the ocean, and at low tide, pumps would fill the water into the baths.

The complex also had a 2700 seat amphitheater and 517 private dressing rooms.  Ultimately, the high cost of operation drove the baths out of business, and it was converted into an ice skating rink, which closed in 1964.  In 1966, as it was being demolished for make way for a high rise apartment complex, it was destroyed by an arson fire.  It is unclear why the apartments weren’t built after that, but it has been a ruin ever since.

Rocks at the Sutro Baths

The cave near the baths

The site also has a path that goes above the ruins, leading to an amazing view of the Golden Gate Bridge.  It was so sunny and warm for March – the view was spectacular!

The Sutro Baths are ruins are free and open to the public.  It was so pretty there, being right on the ocean wandering among the ruins!