Monday, January 04, 2010
A Real Vacation
It's 2010! We're only four days in and already I feel like I have to catch up. I've spent most of today doing just that, but without my scanner (it died last Tuesday and is still in the repair shop), I can't quite do everything I'd hoped, but such is life. My last post here was a quick post-and-run, and here I am finally to write all about the last month, how busy it was and how much fun it was, but first, I want it noted that it's January 4 and I am just now listening to one of my favorite Christmas albums, Sarah McLachlan's Wintersong. December was a blur, that's my only excuse.
I started December still posting NYC photos on Flickr, so I felt like it was still fall. I shot so much there that I still have about 40 photos to share on Flickr but have held off through the holidays. Our Christmas preparations were very rushed and in two parts: the two weekends before we went to San Francisco, and the hurried week between getting home and Christmas Eve. The weekends before we left, I holed up in the kitchen wielding a increasingly chocolate-covered fork, peanut butter balls, and bags of pretzels. We got the small fake tree pictured in the post below, and then packed our bags. On the 12th, we flew to Vegas to see Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds from the 6th row at Planet Hollywood. Three straight hours of mind-blowing music later, we crashed at the super ghetto Excalibur and headed back to the airport first thing in the morning. After a bit of a delay, we boarded the plane and flew to San Francisco. My husband had never been and I hadn't been since I was a kid, so we thought it sounded like a nice place for a vacation, and it was the only trip we got to take together all year where I wasn't working, so vacationed we did.
On the first day after checking into our awesome hotel, the Americania, we walked to Union Square to buy Muni passes and rode an orange streetcar to The Embarcadero to check out the beautiful Ferry Building. We walked up and down the aisles, outside to the ferry landing, decided we were hungry and had a fantastic lunch at Il Cane Rosso, then grabbed a couple of cupcakes from Miette, found a nice quiet spot outside and watched the world go by. After our food comas subsided, we walked down to the wharf - the tourist trap that it is - and wandered around for a few minutes before heading to Musee Mecanique. We played a lot of skeeball, had our fortunes told, and climbed into both of the vintage photo booths for really nerdy photos. What a fun place! We went back to the hotel for a little while, then caught a cab to the historic and very cool Fillmore to see Grace Potter & the Nocturnals, one of my very best bands, and we even snagged a front row spot right below Grace's Hammond B-3. If you've ever seen GPN, you know they rock. That's all I need to say. A cab ride back to the hotel and some Robot Chicken, and we were out.
Day two found us on one of the cool old streetcars again, back to the Ferry Building for a windy and ice cold ride to Sausalito. The weather was beautiful, lots of blue sky, but when that ferry zipped across the bay, it sure got chilly! We are the idiots that never ride inside on a ferry. We're the ones visibly freezing out on the bow of the boat, every time. But we love it! After our ferry ride, we took a streetcar to the California cable car line where we sat for about 15 minutes before the operator said that the line was down for a while. We hopped off and walked back to the plaza in front of the Ferry Building and got amazingly delicious "black and white" cupcakes from the Sprinkles cupcake truck, and as we were walking back toward the cable car, "clang, clang, clang went the trolley!" so we ran, cupcakes in hand and caught it at the last second. We rode the entire California line and then some, getting off in Chinatown for some exploring and lunch. We wandered Grant Ave. for about an hour, then I Googled "best Chinatown restaurant" on my phone and we ended up at Chef Jia's and although we only ate at one restaurant in Chinatown, it got our vote for best. We shared a bowl of egg drop soup - the best we'd ever had - and Travis had sweet and sour chicken, while I inhaled a plate of honey chile chicken. It was all exceptional, and so cheap! I'm craving it now. After lunch, we found ourselves in Peking Bazaar and bags of pineapple gummies in our hands. We walked back toward the cable car on Grant and Trav found himself a pair of $10 knockoff Ray-Bans that he's quite happy with. Thank you, Chinatown!
We rode the Powell line down to Union Square, stretched our legs a bit, then took the streetcar to Haight, and the Muni bus to Ashbury. Preface: It's going to seem like all we did on this trip was eat, but I swear that's not all we did. We walked around for a while, grabbed delicious slices of pizza from Escape from New York Pizza and wandered into the Wasteland and found another photo booth. I was thrilled, my husband just groaned and handed me $3. Oh, a side note to go along with all the eating. We justified the pizza because with Chinese food, you go from so-full-you-want-to-die to starving in an hour. Yeah. Anyway, back on the bus and the streetcar, back to the hotel for a nice lounge on the cozy bed. We watched a lot of bad tv and a couple hours later we walked down to the hotel restaurant, Custom Burger, and got yummy fries and sauces, a brownie sundae and a Ghirardelli chocolate shake and ate them on the bed in our room. It was the ultimate lounge.
Tuesday morning, the third day of our wonderful vacation, we walked up Jones (Ave? Street?) to Post and picked up a rental car and drove straight to Trader Joe's. We don't have one in Utah and had heard nothing but good about the store, so we stopped to pick up some snacks. I ended up bringing home pumpkin pancake mix, and triple berry bran and pumpkin muffin mixes, in my suitcase. I went through security at SFO with three boxes of mix in my suitcase! With yummy treats in hand, we drove up to Muir Woods for a late morning of fresh coastal air, mammoth trees, and peace and quiet. We loved it there. After that, we drove to Stinson Beach, recommended by a friend at work, and walked the shore for about an hour. It was beautiful. We kicked the sand off our shoes, got in the tiny rental and drove south to Monterey along the 1. It was dark by the time we got there, so we just hung out at our hotel on Cannery Row, a place nowhere near as cool as our hotel in SF.
The next morning, we drove through Pacific Grove to Asilomar State Beach for a walk. It was so pretty, and nice and warm compared to the 10°F we left in Salt Lake City. We walked along the beach for a couple hours, then went to the Monterey Aquarium for our fill of jellyfish, otters, bat rays, and other sea life. When we left the aquarium, we walked up Cannery Row to the marina and along the Coast Guard's jetty thing (sorry, I don't know proper sea terminology, I'm in land-locked Utah) and promptly saw a huge herd of harbor seals on the rocks, a few sea otters, and lots of jellyfish and starfish. It turns out we could have saved the $60 at the aquarium and just walked along the jetty. Oh well. Live and learn! We went back to the beach at Pacific Grove a little later to watch the sunset, then had dinner and walked Pacific Grove's main street afterward, then back to the hotel. The sun setting at 5pm sure limits vacation sightseeing activities!
Thursday morning, we woke up bright and early and drove to the airport in San Francisco where we were three hours early for our flight. We thought security would have longer lines, but we were through in less than 15 minutes. We people-watched the whole time because the airport is perfect for that, then found out our plane would be delayed leaving SFO because the wings were iced and San Francisco doesn't allow any use of deicing solution. Ugh. We had a connecting flight to catch at LAX that we were probably now going to miss, when suddenly we heard our names over the loudspeaker, and Southwest quickly booked us on another flight through Denver and then home to SLC. We ran to the next gate and were the last ones on the plane, and once we got to Denver, we got delayed on the way out. I have never left Denver on time and I'm convinced no plane ever has. Once it was all said and done, we got into Salt Lake only an hour and a half later than we would have if we'd flown through LAX. Not too shabby for flying 400 miles out of the way! All in all, what a wonderful trip we had. The concerts were deafening and awesome, the sights colorful and varied, the food delicious and crave-worthy... It was all so fun. I hope for another trip like this in 2010.