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Category: San Francisco & California

Wine Country: Larson Family Winery

After our epic day in Yosemite, we drove to a town halfway between Yosemite and wine country to find a decent hotel to sleep in before our Sunday plans. I mistakenly took a bit of a detour out of Yosemite, so our 2 hour drive went a little longer than expected and ended with us eating dinner past midnight at a Buffalo Wild Wings. It was pretty funny to be eating chicken wings at almost 1 o’clock in the morning, but hey, road trips are supposed to be spontaneous, right? At almost 3am, we were all snuggled into beds in the Holiday Inn Express Stockton with no plans to wake up and leave before check-out.

Fast-forward 8 hours, a few alarms, and some heavy duty blackout curtains later, we were all up and getting ready for our last day on the road. Sonoma, here we come!

At the recommendation from some friends, and because Mirai loves dogs, we chose to go to Larson Family Winery in Sonoma for an afternoon wine tasting, some yard games, and to play with their famous Labs.

It’s a casual atmosphere at Larson with picnic tables in the back where you can bring a group to hang out for an afternoon. You can play horseshoes, cornhole, or football in the field. You can walk through the vineyard itself. You can even hang out with the Three Labs of the winery, immortalized on one of their wine labels, generally found laying around outside being lazy.

We sat around a table, did a wine tasting, petted the three dogs (Bubba, Pete, and Buster), and ate birthday cake! Loved it!

I do have to say, it’s not the same as going to Long Meadow Ranch, but a day in wine country is still a great day! By the time we got home that night, after a Marin Headlands detour of course, we were all exhausted but happy campers. Birthday success!

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Yosemite: The First Trip

We had big plans for my birthday weekend. The Saturday after my birthday, we woke up at the crack of dawn to get ready, grab our Zipcar minivan (holla!), and head downtown to grab Ammai, Ranjeet, Yakov and Mirai for a roadtrip! Hello, Yosemite!!!

I’d been dying to get out of the city and see Yosemite and since Anish’s family was visiting, it felt like the perfect time to do it. I do have to say, I don’t recommend doing one day in Yosemite to anyone. It was a taste of paradise and absolutely not enough. But we only had two weekend days to use, so we were going to do it! Their time in San Francisco was dwindling fast, so we needed to pack it in. Saturday for Yosemite, Sunday for Napa. We’re not crazy, right? (Yes we are.)

Anyway, we went barreling out of the city like a herd of turtles and made it just over the Berkeley Hills before it was mandatory to stop for a Chick-Fil-A chicken biscuit breakfast. Tasted just like I remembered and the first-timers loved it!

With that rock in our stomach (that’s what it feels like!), we headed east through the land of golden rolling hills (drought), windmills, and ranches. Feels like an alien land out there between Mount Diablo and the Sierra Nevadas. It’s HOT right now out there and it’s a dry, dry heat. I was loving it, but applying chapstick like a madwoman.

After a few hours, we found ourselves driving up winding roads into the hills, heading for forests. I wasn’t sure what it would look like out there at all, honestly. I was picturing that we’d drive in from the bottom of some valley entrance or something, and it would be all Jurassic Park-esque. It wasn’t quite that… It was better.

We wound our way through forests before finally coming to an entrance to Yosemite National Park. We passed through with our National Parks Pass ($80 for a whole year for you and your partner, plus entire vehicle with ppl – WORTH IT!), and drove by a sign that said 25 miles to Yosemite Valley. WHAT! We were in the park already and it was still so far. Sigh…

Winding roads followed for ages and then BAM.

All of the sudden we rounded a corner and there in the distance was Half Dome. My mouth dropped into my lap and I was yelling, “Look! OMG! There it is!” We quickly pulled into the overlook to get out and take photos.

Land Before Time – that’s Yosemite. Just like that, the valley was visible from the road and the peaks of all the impressive mountains and cliffs were staring down at us. Mere mortals in an immortal land. Half Dome, El Capitan, Sentinel, Three Brothers. All there in front of us. The Merced River winding its way in the valley beneath us. I was (still am) in awe.

In that moment, all the dry heat and driving and Chick-Fil-A rock-in-the-stomach breakfast was worth it. We scrambled back into the van and excitedly headed down into the valley.

We spent the day stopping wherever we felt we needed to along the way. We stopped at overlooks. We walked in meadows. We visited Yosemite Village for a sandwich, while gazing through the trees at Yosemite Falls. We walked out to Mirror Lake to sit beneath Half-Dome and wonder how all those crazy people scale the rocks. We saw some deer, freaked out about potential mountain lions, and wished for a bear sighting.

It was the best darn day.

On our way out that evening, on the Glacier Point side of the valley, we watched the sun set over wildfires in the distance. It was hauntingly beautiful, and we left Yosemite in reverence to the almighty power of nature.

I’m already planning my next trip back.

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Savannah in SF

Halfway through July, Savannah came to visit!

Savannah’s the daughter of one of my mama’s best friends, Ms. Lora. Mom has this amazing group of friends — most of whom I’ve known my whole life. They’ve been there through thick and thin, all of our happiest and saddest moments. So really, they’re family.

Savannah’s the youngest “kid” of the group (she’s not really a kid anymore, but all of us kids will always be kids to them), and this was her first big trip alone! Glad she chose us. 😉

We were thrilled to have her, so we packed her 3 days in San Francisco full with all the must-sees in such a short period of time!

  • A walk down to Ghirardelli Square and the waterfront
  • Dinner at our favorite sushi place, Elephant Sushi
  • Breakfast at the touristy but delicious Hollywood Cafe
  • A trip to Alcatraz on a blustery day
  • Dinner at Off the Grid (food truck paradise!)
  • A Giants Game at AT&T Park complete with garlic fries and a Coke!
  • A trip to the Ferry Building for Blue Bottle Coffee and Miette’s macarons
  • Shopping at Union Square
  • A Sunday trip to Tomales Bay and Muir Woods – our usual haunts! 😉

It was such a fun weekend, but over too quickly!

Thanks for visiting Savannah! Come back soon! 

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The Rest of June

Ah well, just as July has ended, I’m just finishing catching up on June!

We got back from Montreal and had a couple weeks to rest after the graduation madness. There wasn’t much time to waste, though, since my Aunt Kim, Uncle Brian, and cousin Matthew were coming into town for a whole week! And they brought Jesse with them! Hurray!

We did a million things while they were here and saw everything we could in 5 days. They make my heart smile, and I was so happy they got to visit this summer!

By the time they left, it was the beginning of July! Phew… time has flown by this summer.

Besides Montreal and my family’s visit to SF, here’s a few other things we did in June:

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On National Get Outdoors Day, we biked all the way from our apartment across the Golden Gate Bridge through Sausalito to Tiburon, and then took the ferry back! It was 20 miles, so we were exhausted, but it was one of my favorite days in SF thus far.
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I signed up for a writing symposium in Corte Madera at Book Passage to hear Anne Lamott talk about writing. She was fantastic, and it was quite the kick in the butt for me to start writing.
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Leave it to me to ask her to autograph a book that isn’t hers…. I already own her book, and I’d bought Stephen King’s On Writing that day, so I asked her to sign that instead. She graciously accepted!
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She’s just as cool as I imagine after reading her books.
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Can’t get enough of these two goobers!
Can't pass up an opportunity to make Jesse do a jumping photo. Love this one!
Can’t pass up an opportunity to make Jesse do a jumping photo. Love this one!
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I’ve enjoyed all the time I’ve spent with my handsome guy this summer.
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Anish’s cousins came to town! This isn’t the whole group, but we had all four of his cousins (Dad’s side) in San Francisco for the 4th of July. Fun-filled weekend of shenanigans and DOSAS!
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