28 posts tagged Travel
I spent three days and three nights in Las Vegas and came home with leftover cash and without a sunburn or a hangover. I did lose my voice, but overall, I think that’s pretty good. I didn’t gamble, and I didn’t do any shots. Surprisingly, I did have fun. I never would have selected Las Vegas as a destination if it were up to me, but it was Jess’s 30th birthday so I had to make the best of it.
We stayed at the Cosmopolitan, which feels more like a giant mall than those “Just the Right Amount of Wrong” commercials would lead you to believe. We danced and drank and some people gambled, but the main activity of the weekend was lots of intense conversations. Jess went to Harvard and all of her friends went to Harvard, and they are all impressive geniuses and very intense conversationalists, which I enjoy. They are also very intense dancers, which I also enjoy.
I had a great time, but I do not approve of the existence of Las Vegas. It is culturally repulsive, egregiously wasteful, and personally I found it strangely sterile and unsexy and bureaucratic, albeit anthropologically interesting.
I’d probably be more impressed by Colorado’s natural scenery (and cannabis) if I didn’t live in California. But Colorado is currently home to the cutest puppy in the world, and also Ed’s brother Brad and his wife Rebecca, so that makes it worth visiting.
We camped at Lake Granby and hiked past Monarch Lake to Cascade Falls. Nine miles was a little much for Yeti, who is barely four months old, so she needed a quick nap at the falls before we turned around.
Ed and I went backpacking with Jack in Point Reyes last weekend. It was our first time backpacking, but we only had to hike a mile and a half to Sky Camp, so it was fairly easy. (Before we attempt any more serious backpacking trips, though, I will definitely need to build up some muscle and also visit a chiropractor.)
On Sunday we drove and hiked all over and saw tule elk and lots of elephant seals. And then we went to Cafe Reyes for pizza, beer, and chocolate cake.
Ed and I found the Grove of Titans on New Year’s Eve. It was awesome.
Ed and I hiked the Ewoldsen Trail, but it was only half open so we had to turn around and double back instead of doing the full loop. Then we went to Pfeiffer Beach.
Ed and I went up through Humboldt, almost all the way to the Oregon border, with our friends Jack and Rocio, to look at some more big trees. We started by revisiting Montgomery Woods, then continued up to the Avenue of the Giants in Humboldt Redwoods State Park, where we camped for the night.
Next it was on to Gold Bluffs Beach in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. We arrived in the midst of a rainstorm but managed to rig up a somewhat ingenious and only slightly hazardous network of tarps without breaking the rule against tying things to trees or bushes, and when the downpour turned to drizzle we hiked through the redwoods and back out to Fern Canyon.
The next day we drove up to The Trees of Mystery, which is a tacky tourist trap that is whimsically kitschy at first and becomes enragingly offensive by the end, with a gondola ride through a redwood canopy in between. When we finally got out of there we drove back down the Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway, stopping to explore a random grove before making our way to Lady Bird Johnson Grove and then back to Gold Bluffs Beach, where we found two Roosevelt elk grazing near our campsite and spent another night camping in the rain.
After packing up our wet and sandy tents, we departed Gold Bluffs Beach and almost immediately encountered two large black bears in the middle of the road. We were so startled and then mesmerized, I didn’t think to reach for the camera until they were already loping up a hillside and into the forest. That day we went up to Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, had a picnic in Stout Grove, and then hiked the Boy Scout Trail. It was getting late and we knew we really had to speed hike in order to make it to the Boy Scout Tree and Fern Falls and back in time to get to the single seating communal dinner at the Requa Inn. The trail was pretty sloppy, having had a lot of traffic since the recent rain, and at one point I slipped and fell in the mud, and later on I sprained my ankle while sprinting across rocks and surface roots. But it was a phenomenal hike and absolutely worth it, and we made it to the Requa Inn — muddy, sweaty, smelly, exhausted, and limping — with just enough time for much-needed showers before enjoying one of the most delicious meals of my life. We sat with a charming couple from Manhattan who seemed surprised and delighted to be so seduced by the food and scenery and free-spirited hippie vibes on their California vacation, and we chatted with them until after we had finished dessert and everyone else had left the dining room. And then we repaired to the inn’s hot tub to drink more wine under the stars, which were making their first appearance after so many cloudy nights.
Jack and Rocio had to go back to the Bay Area the next morning, but Ed and I meandered down the coast, back through Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, where we saw a whole herd of Roosevelt elk posing for a crowd of paparazzi, and then we went to check out Ferndale, a village of elaborate, well-preserved Victorians built with dairy wealth in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Then we hiked the Children’s Forest Trail and camped in Humboldt Redwoods State Park.
The next day we drove to Shelter Cove, tried the “world famous” fish and chips at the Airport Deli, and explored a little, but mostly relaxed on our balcony at the Inn of the Lost Coast. And on the last day of our trip, we stopped in the town of Mendocino for lunch and a stroll before driving the rest of the way back to San Francisco.
Ed and I followed up my recent transformation into a person-who-camps with one night in Hendy Woods. We slept much more comfortably this time, thanks to our newly acquired double-wide self-inflating sleeping pad and double sleeping bag.
Big Hendy is a nice enough grove, but it doesn’t really compare to the transcendent ambiance of Montgomery Woods or the Humboldt redwoods. I would stop by for a short hike if we were visiting wineries in Anderson Valley, but the bugs to beauty ratio isn’t quite favorable enough for me to want to camp here in the future.
Ed and I went camping in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks with our friend Jack — the first time I have ever really camped, if you don’t count Middlebury Outdoor Orientation back in 2003. We saw the most massive trees in the world in the Giant Forest, looked out over the Great Western Divide and the San Joaquin Valley from the top of Moro Rock, hiked to Mist Falls, had an exciting but peaceful encounter with a mother bear and two cubs, and roasted quite a few marshmallows. Ed and Jack made a number of references to places they would like to explore “next time,” when we would be “backpacking” through more remote areas of the parks, so…I’m not sure about that, but I guess we’ll see…
Ed and I went up to Mendocino last weekend to look at trees and stars and breathe fresh air. We did the Fern Canyon trail in Van Damme State Park, which was pretty nice, and then the next day we went to Montgomery Woods, where we accidentally hiked up a long, extremely steep path that led to fenced-off private property rather than the old-growth virgin redwoods we had come to see. But once we found the actual park, which is very accessible if you do not veer up a hill in the exact opposite direction, it was absolutely stunning. These are the tallest trees you can see without going all the way to Humboldt, plus ferns that are taller than I am, so I think we will definitely be back to this park many times. Like, I really want to move to Ukiah just to be near these trees.
Ed and I spent New Year’s Eve in Jenner, on the Sonoma coast, where the Russian River meets the ocean. We drove up through Bodega Bay on the way, took a day trip to Mendocino, and then on New Year’s Eve we hiked the Pomo Canyon Trail.
I have done a fair amount of hiking in my life, now that I think about it, but always in Keds or Converse or even flip flops. Since I’ve never thought of myself as an outdoorsy person, it hadn’t occurred to me that I should own proper hiking shoes. But Ed bought me my first pair ever as a belated Christmas gift, and it turns out that hiking is much more enjoyable when your feet are dry and comfortable and you aren’t slipping all the time. Now all I need is a Freshette and then we can do lots more hiking in 2013.
Susan Miller said that November 8th and 9th would be Gemini’s best days for love this month, that the 9th might turn out to be “a four-star night to remember,” that Aquarius might want to take a short trip “with a sweetheart to a beautiful location,” and that November 8-11 would be a “divine weekend” bringing “all kinds of love and romance.”
So we took her advice and rented a cottage in Monte Rio, about two hours north of San Francisco, for Thursday and Friday night. On Friday we took a scenic drive to the Sonoma coast, hiked around the Armstrong Redwoods, drank wine in a hot tub under a redwood canopy, and had dinner at Bistro Des Copains. On Saturday we had brunch at Howard Station Cafe, then drove to Scribe for their wine club member pickup party, went to a friend’s birthday party at her parents’ house in Napa, and then drove home to watch SNL with Deco and Luna. It was divine and beautiful and romantic, so I guess astrology is real.
It’s funny how I got so much drunker on wine with my parents than on vodka cocktails with my best friend. Regardless of how sophisticated your palate may be, or how thoughtfully appreciative your approach, drinking wine all day fucks you up! Although I feel like I was actually fine until we got to the port.
We drove down through Big Sur in order to reinforce how beautiful and amazing California is and how my parents should seriously at least consider moving here, stopped for lunch at Nepenthe, and then kept going down the coast to Cayucos for dinner at Cass House Inn — a four-course prix fixe menu on par with any fine dining experience I’ve ever had.
Then, wine tasting in Paso Robles. First, a vineyard and winery tour followed by tasting at Tablas Creek, which was pretty good. Then tasting at Villa Creek, which was better. Then more tasting with lunch at Denner, where family friends introduced us to the winemaker, who poured us two additional wines that won’t be released until late September. Then more tasting at Epoch, which was good but expensive. Then wine and cheese at the family friends’ bed and breakfast. Then a “winemaker’s dinner” at Cass Winery (no relation to Cass House Inn, apparently) with good food and better wine and many glasses of port.
The next day we headed north, encountered a terrifying band of squirrels that surrounded and charged at us until we fearfully fled their scenic lookout, visited Hearst Castle, which…I don’t understand why, whenever you ask people if Hearst Castle is worth seeing, they always say, “Sure, it’s interesting, and it’s cool to wander around the grounds,” and nobody ever mentions that it is a hideous, hodge-podge monstrosity that represents everything wrong with America, but whatever…stared directly at the solar eclipse from outside a fruit market in Monterey, and made it back to San Francisco in time for burgers and pizza at Starbelly.