Archives

Circus Trip 2018: Rain rain go away

I thought Utah was a desert??? But noooo… I got into Utah on Friday afternoon, with a late in the day visit to Hovenweep National Monument.

Hovenweep is remote. And incredible. The two and a half mile easy loop walk takes you past a dozen or so ancient Puebloan structures. You can stand right next to them!

I camped at the campground there and shortly after I arrived, Carol texted to say she was there too! We met at Mesa Verde that morning and she was planning to head to Monument Valley but decided to come to Hovenweep first!!

We shared a bottle of wine in the dark and sat at the picnic table staring at the most incredible dark starry sky I have ever seen. The Milky Way, Mars, dying stars – they were all close and bright in a way I have never experienced. There was no moon visible to mute the brightness of the stars. I was in awe of the beauty on this Earth – I wonder what those people 800 years ago thought when they looked at those same stars.

Today I headed north, stopping at Natural Bridges National Monument and doing some short hikes because the rain was threatening. Shortly after I got back in my car the thunderstorm struck, with a clap of lightning so close that it I could feel the electricity!

I continued my drive through Glen Canyon National Recreation Area in intermittent rain to Capitol Reef National Park. I am camped in my car listening to the rain on the roof. I am hoping it clears for my explorations tomorrow.

Please go away rain!!

 

Advertisements

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: 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.

 

Circus Roadtrip 2018: New Beginnings

I am sitting at Beal’s Lobster Pier in Southwest Harbor, Maine, looking out over the water and the lowering sun over the pier. I just devoured a 1.69 pound whole Maine lobster. It is the first whole lobster I have ever eaten and it was SOOO delicious. Market price is $13.99 a pound, less than half the price of market price for Maine lobster on the west coast. It pays to go to the source.

My dinner at Beal’s Lobster Pier

The restaurant is playing all the music I grew up to. Cat Stevens, Simon and Garfunkel, Alan Jackson, Harry Chapin, The Beatles, John Lennon…

I spent the day at Acadia National Park, wandering and hiking, sitting watching the waves of the Atlantic Ocean.

Relaxing with a Vinho Verde

Tomorrow is my birthday. I will spend another day at Acadia and who knows, maybe I will eat another lobster!!

My last two birthdays went unmentioned on this blog. I spent both by myself (by choice) because I really just wanted to forget them. Two years ago I sobbed into the carpeting of my stairs, mourning the loss of my marriage and my soon to be ex’s cruelty.  Last year I just wanted to forget.

It seems fitting that I will be on the Atlantic Ocean on my birthday. The eastern-most point of my trip. I can’t explain it but it feels like a milestone.

This morning I felt joyful. Giddy to be seeing a new national park in a new state and the ocean. I have been wanting to see Acadia for years and it did not disappoint.

The lowering sun

I feel hope about my future. I feel like I get the chance at a new life. Not that the old one didn’t have its good parts, and I have been truly blessed, but I have been needing something new. And I think I have found it.  I can feel it.

My last day of 42

Tomorrow is a brand new beginning.

 

4 Chicks and a Little Bitch: Oregon Coast

Day 1: Monday, March 26, 2018

The first day of our trip had arrived – pickup time was at 7:00.  I was ready to go with my bag packed, and camping gear in a pile.  Tent – check, sleeping bag – check, sleeping pad – check, flashlight – check, hot hands hand warmers – check!!!  So many warm clothes are necessary for a trip camping on the coast and San Francisco in March – or so we thought!!!

I got picked up shortly after 7, and a valiant effort was made to Tetris all of our stuff in the car and the rooftop box.  Believe you me, EVERY nook and cranny was filled, from the cracks alongside the puppy crate to the footwells of our seats.  We were smooshed in… 

Laura took the first driving shift and off we went, stopping for coffee to give us a boost, and then gas in Lakewood with a puppy stretch break, and then driving until we finally hit Vancouver.  We stopped at the park right near the bridge that takes I-5 into Oregon, and went for a short walk with Shaka to give her a break from the crate. 

We settled on the Feral Public House for lunch – because well, seriously, why wouldn’t you!!!?  They had a special with a personal pizza and a beer for cheap!  So that’s what we all ended up having.  We all selected our beers, and they were all different – this was pretty much a theme for the trip – which was cool because then we could all sample what the others got.  The beer was so good, and so was the pizza. 

After we left as Feral women, we went over to Loowit to sample some more beer.  I ended up getting one of their ciders – which was amazing.  I really liked that cider!  The atmosphere was cool too, and it was pretty quiet for midday on a Monday. 

Loowit Brewery

Even though we all could have been happy just drinking beer all afternoon, we did have places to be, and couldn’t spend too many hours hanging out without even getting to Oregon, so we got back on the road and headed out for the next stretch of driving. 

It was at this point that the first murder podcast started…  My Favorite Murder – two women who research and present fascinating murders from throughout history and around the globe.  They even have a feature where listeners can write in with their own murder stories.  By “their own,” I mean murders they have heard about – not murders they have committed – I just want to make that crystal clear.  I’m not really sure what these ladies would do if someone actually wrote in confessing to a murder!

My Favorite Murder did put everybody except Brenna (who was driving) off into snooze-land – what can I say, those ladies have very melodic voices, but eventually we woke up and all enjoyed the road over to the coast, with its giant, moss-covered conifers.  It is so pretty!

We camped that first night at Beachside State Recreation area, about midway down the Oregon Coast.  The campground was awesome – flush toilets and showers (even though we didn’t use the showers), and it was only steps away from the beach.  We got our tents set up, dug out a bottle of wine and made our way to the beach to roam and watch a gorgeous sunset.  We also had to try to keep Shaka from eating some pungent seafood (we kind of failed at that…). 

Mellow Yellow all set up.

 

After the sun went down, we had hot dogs roasted over the fire on sticks, and potato chips and chocolate for dinner.  Plus more wine and the girls had vodka cocktails.  It was a fantastic evening!  Once we went to bed, I was cold, but tucking one hand warmer into my glove and the other into my fleece pants heated me right up!  I was warm all night!  I hope whoever invented those never worked another day in his/her life – those things are genius!

It was a fabulous first day, and I drifted off to the sound of the waves on the beach. 

 

2018 Whidbey Island Weekend

March of this year was really busy!  I had my 15K the first weekend, a weekend trip to Whidbey Island with friends, and then at the end of the month a girl’s road trip coming up!  I had to turn down a girl’s trip to Boise since I had so much going on!

My friend Brandon was having a birthday, so we decided to celebrate by renting out another friend’s AirBnB house at the south end of Whidbey Island, in the town of Clinton.

We headed down Friday after work, and since March is still winter, it was long dark by the time we got to the house.  We chose bedrooms, and lit up the gas fireplace on the deck for some chat and relaxation.  I had a glass of wine and just chilled.  It was such a nice evening!

The next day, we were up for some exploration, so decided to choose a winery to try.  The first place we had planned to check out wasn’t open yet for the day, so we stumbled upon Comforts of Whidbey winery a little way down the road in Langley, WA.  What a gem of a place!

Brandon and I did a tasting (Brandon was a sport, even though he isn’t much into wine) and I was very pleased with the wines I tried.  They had some amazing sparkling wines!  I also loved their Madeline Angevine, Siegerrebe, and Syrah wines – delicious!

After Comforts of Whidbey, we went over to the Whidbey Island Distillery.  They gave us a little tour of the distillery – it is a very small batch operation, basically all being operated out of one small room, but the owner really gets into the science of distillation and created a complex, amazing still! I won’t even try to explain it, since I wouldn’t get it right; just suffice it to say that he has made some technological advances in the distillation process.

The distillery is best known for its Rye Whiskey, which contains 51% Rye and 49% Barley.  I am not a Whiskey drinker (I have tried and just continue to fail to like it), so I had a little sample and declared it, “not my thing.”  However, they also make liqueurs…  Blackberry, raspberry, loganberry and boysenberry.  These were absolutely my thing! They also had little recipe cards to make cocktails with their liqueurs – I got the raspberry to bring home.

Liqueurs at Whidbey Distillery

Along the way, a few other friends met us, so our little party was growing!  We headed into Langley and got lunch at SpyHop, a brewery just a few blocks of the main drag.  It was outside of normal lunch hours, so it was really quiet and the food was fantastic!  I had fish and chips – yummy!

Fish and Chips with Iced Tea – Spyhop

We poked around the shops for a bit, splitting off from others as we saw something we wanted to check out.  There was ice cream had by a few, and beer by a few.

The Olympic Mountains through the telescope

As the town was winding down after 5, we headed back to the house to relax and talk and enjoy some beverages.  We walked down to the beach to watch the sunset.  It was a nice day!

Sunday morning I made breakfast for the gang – eggs and bacon, and sliced avocado.  So yummy!  Then I headed down to the beach to wander – I found a huge, intact oyster shell and it posed for some photos for me.  I took it home with me to decorate the garden, but sadly, the racoons at my house found it as intriguing as I did and absconded with it a day or two later!

Before we headed home the next day we headed to Greenbank Farm for a late lunch and pie!  If you have a chance to have the pie at Greenbank Farm, do.  You won’t be disappointed!  We also poked around in the various artisan shops for a bit before saying our goodbyes and heading home.  It was a nice, relaxing weekend spent with friends.