#67- On Top of the Bay

Growing up, I had a distaste for the Bay Area in general.  I thought it was polluted, ugly, crowded and intimidating. I still think it’s all those things, but since living it (as one does on the Peninsula tucked away from all things polluted, ugly, crowded, and intimidating) I feel that delusional sense of pride and comfort that comes with making a place your home. That’s MY polluted, ugly, crowded and intimidating home… hm.

I’ve hiked plenty of areas over the years, but more recently my hikes with little ones in tow often look more like strolls amongst a paved path shaped like a >1 mile loop.  Family friendly but by no means adventurous and that sense of pride and accomplishment is associated with making it the whole mile without a meltdown, an accident, or an incident. Also, when I think about MOUNTAIN tops I’ve stood on, it’s never been because I hiked to that look out point.

So, #67 (climb to the top of a mountain) seemed like a reasonable quest to satisfy the urge. In a far off dream, this Mountain would be called Everest or Kilimanjaro. But until then, I settled on the highest peak in the immediate Bay Area- Mt. Tamalpais.

My friend Gina had posted about wanting to get out of her comfort zone and hike more, so it was easy to find a friend to come along with me.  Not to mention in the past year or two, two women alone on their Mt. Tam hikes turned up dead (I failed to mention this to Gina) so the buddy system was in full effect!  So was my taser gun (I failed to mention this to Gina, too).

The hike itself? We started at Bootjack Trailhead, started off upwards, paused at the West Wind Inn for lunch- now that’s an interesting hike-in resort- and then continued on toward East Peak.  The most challenging part was the rock-climbing and stair-hopping Fern Creek trail but otherwise it was mostly scenic with a bit of shady and a bit of sunny. For those who want the false sense of accomplishment, I guess you can drive to the top, park your car and walk the extra 200 ft up to the Fire Watch Tower. But where’s the fun in that?? It took us 2.5 hours to climb up and then 1.5 hours to climb back down. The view from the top? Amazing of course. Everything from a far-enough-away distance looks beautiful. Sitting there for several minutes taking it in, I felt like the Bay Area was wonderfully peaceful and charming. Home, really.


91- #keeptahoeblue

Hello out there!

I’ve been on a bit of a hiatus. Excuses here, excuse there. Kids, life, baby, more excuses. Wine.

Last week commenced Summer break (read: Natalie’s done with school) and since we’ve never been good at sitting still, the first thought we had when we woke up was, where should we run off too?  

Lake Tahoe seemed to be as good a choice as any. And, #91- Cruise the lake in a boat has nagged at me since January 2014. Specifically because we spent our first weekend of the new year staying at a lodge and had a cruise booked, only to have it cancelled because of the one-and what seemed to be the ONLY- snow storm of the year. This isn’t the first time Mother Nature interfered with my Bucket List [insert mad face emoticon here].

Lake Tahoe is a bit of a conundrum for me. I’ve come to the conclusion that despite dozens of trips to this place growing up, I’ve never once really done it ‘right.’  Typically, I have been either too broke, too lost, too drunk, or with a group too big and as a result I’ve either never really skii’d, never swam, never been to the beach on a warm day, never gambled, never got a good night sleep in a nice bed. And at best, if any of these things did happened…. I never remembered. Tahoe must have realized this in my hiatus and has actually done some fabulous upgrades to the entire area.

This time we did it right. Including a boat cruise around the lake- it’s the bluest lake I’ve ever been on, and breathtaking.  We stayed 3 days at the Base Camp Hotel (ahhhmazing), got a private tour of Emerald Bay, cruised the Tahoe Queen around the lake,  tried some new restaurants and shopped all the little boutique shops that are popping up everywhere.  I’ve been told the same Corporation that redid Vail & Aspen are redoing Tahoe. Smart move for Tahoe commerce for sure. Job well done, “We will be back.”

#55- A Man Hunt!

Making my lists, I’ve mentioned before that I draw inspiration from things I did in the past that were so much fun, I’d want to do again.  A few of those things are drawn from childhood memories- building a fort, a snowman, Mac N Cheese, etc. And then I also remembered scavenger hunts. Bored summer days, my mom inventively made up silly lists and we’d run from house to house collecting stuff. It was also a popular youth group activity, and then my youth died away…. *sigh*

Until recently! Even though I put a Scavenger Hunt on my list in 2014 (#55), at the time I had no real plans with it or ideas other than I thought it’d be fun to do around Dixon with old friends.  And this is exactly what happened as it all came together flawlessly with Lisa’s Bachelorette Party.

I’m proud to say, I came up with this list entirely on my own, with only my brain and not Pinterest’s or Google’s input. I’m also thrilled to say I had a dozen enthusiastic friends very willing to take up the challenge 🙂

I’ve been told we checked off every item on the list. I do have a few pictures on my phone that don’t make sense but I think may be tied to the game. When I asked what was the “thing of value found on the floor”Cristy replied, “The Bride-to-Be” which I think is accurate.  All in all, a success!

#89- Portraits

My friend, Leslie, is a phenomenally talented Photographer and Artist, who I’ve documented before [ here ] and has on numerous occasions taken our family portraits.  I knew we were due for some family photos since adding one more to our traveling circus, but I wanted to wait until I was comfortable again in my own skin (read: lost all the baby weight) otherwise, knowing myself I wouldn’t be too thrilled with the final product despite how highly I thought of Leslie’s work.

Thank you, always, Leslie for doing such a great job. She makes my kids almost look like Angels… 😉 #89 is off my list, at least for another 3-5 years. I’m not one who needs them with every new outfit I purchase for the kids!

#85- The Russian River Valley

“I drink a lot of wine.”

After many years reading labels, and looking at wine menus and paying general attention to wine regions of the world, I noticed there are a few wines I like that are grown in the Russian River Valley.  Now, not really putting it all together and looking at a map I just had always thought to myself, “Well, I camped a lot along the Russian River and I spent many summers kayaking it, too. I should go back and wine taste there.”

And that was pretty much it. I put it in my list but still didn’t bother to look up the region until I made a day trip with the Russian River Valley as my destination, and looked at it that morning before leaving.  Turns out, I HAVE gone tasting there. Silly me,  I should know that rivers go for hundreds of miles.  With some of those miles flowing through parts of Napa/Sonoma and stops along the Wine Trail festival that I’ve taken part in a few times.


But, not all was lost. Jess & I stopped at wineries we hadn’t tried before and purchased a few that we liked. And I managed to take one picture only…. poop.

So, #85 is done and complete. Sonoma Coast might just be the most beautiful of all of California regions.



#9- State of Jefferson

California is really, really big. And it seems unlikely to me that someone living in the most Northern parts of the state would somehow feel they identify (and have the same needs as a citizen) to someone living the most Southern part of the state.  You clearly go from one extreme to the other, so the State of Jefferson doesn’t seem that far fetched of a concept to me.

But politics aside, I feel that seeing all of California is a traveling adventure in itself. One day I hope to say that I’ve seen every region of the state, just as I hope to one day see every part of the U.S. Which is why #9 (make a Northeast Cali road trip) made my list.

It’s a wasteland. Forgive me if you live there. I’m sure there are some creature comforts that you get used to if you stay awhile. But we drove straight through and up to Oregon. Honestly, it seems like there’s a lot of drugs being shared with all of the questionable trailers parked in the middle of nowhere (and going nowhere).

Here’s my picture documenting it:

Mt. Shasta

Mt. Shasta to the East

Our road trip took us in to Bend, Oregon (an oasis that seems to pop up in the middle of more wasteland) and then further up North to Portlandia. We then swung back down along the Coast to visit my grandparents in Coos Bay before cutting back over to Ashland. I pretty much loved everything from Portlandia to Ashland. Ashland, I will be back….

#11- Football!

I’ve been wanting to attend a Pro-Football game for the past forever it feels like.

I grew up in a relatively pro-49er home, but I think it was that way mostly because of proximity.  We hosted a few Super Bowl Sunday parties over my childhood, I played football with my Dad & brother for fun in our front living room, and in junior high my P.E. class held me in high regard for my ability to throw a football with great accuracy- despite being a girl. I was always the first chosen for a team when it came to flag football (first girl anyway). And in High School, we had a great football team that gave me better reasons to show up to the Friday night games and watch.

And that’s pretty much my Football history.

But, of course Social Media and moving to the Bay Area pushed my desire to actually attend a game (#11 on this year’s list, # 13 on 2012’s list) which is exactly how we closed out our 2014 this past Sunday.  We clearly were good luck charms for the 49er’s, who I guess were on a losing streak and just announced they were saying good bye to Coach Harbaugh. My computer just auto-corrected his last name for me.  It was also fitting to bring our newborn son, Levi, to check out the Stadium that was named in his honor 😉

I have mixed opinions of our overall experience. First, the traffic getting there and in to the game was non-exsistent for us. Literally. We pulled into a Target parking lot located about 2 miles away, opened up our Uber app and ordered a driver that took us to the entrance of the Stadium for a whopping total of $6.

Second, coming up on the lower stadium seating and looking out onto the field, it was as if I was watching it all take place on my yard. Everything was so close! I almost felt like my eyes were playing tricks on me. Amazing.

Unfortunately, our seats were on the next level up.  Which still had really great viewing, but after spending a few minutes walking around and taking everything in I started to feel really bitter because we passed a thousand or so people all with their special badges that got them onto the better elevators, to the better seats, into the better restaurants, using the better bathrooms.  It all felt very Caste-System like. Booooo. I don’t like feeling like I’m a lower class citizen.

We tried to visit the museum, but I guess that closes during the game. We tried to check out some restaurants, but we don’t know the right people. We tried going into the souvenir store, but there was a line.

The game was great to watch, however. Blake & I like to mock anybody and everybody in our line of viewing, so that was half the entertainment. And the fact that there was some great plays and an ultimate win for our home team, made it all worth it in the end. Levi slept through it all, however, so he’ll have to do a do-over one day…