22 posts tagged Travel
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.
I am still recovering from an awesomely exhausting weekend with Jess in Los Angeles, where we wandered around downtown and eventually spent most of an afternoon camped out at Artisan House, drinking literary-named cocktails and talking to the bartender about bookstores, drank more cocktails while straining to see the Hollywood sign through the haze from the rooftop bar at the stylish but surprisingly underwhelming Hotel Wilshire, had dinner at Bar Marmont (my favorite place in LA) and drinks at the Sunset Marquis and went to a birthday party for someone we don’t know at El Charrito in Silver Lake, strolled along Melrose getting sunburned, and lounged on a picnic blanket at Hollywood Forever Cemetery watching Hitchcock’s Strangers on a Train, which I had never seen before and found creatively inspiring and exciting. Plus Mark Haskell Smith took me to Cornerstone Research Collective, where I picked up three of the best strains I have ever sampled, by far, and to a delicious lunch at CaCao Mexicatessen.
I had a great time visiting with Jess and LA friends and meeting cool, interesting new people with cool, interesting jobs. But, as an introvert who rarely drinks, I came home feeling extremely depleted, not to mention hoarse from so many intense conversations in noisy bars.
Ed’s parents recently took us to Capella Pedregal, an extraordinarily luxurious resort in Cabo San Lucas. I have been on a lot of undeservedly awesome vacations in my life, but this was a whole other level of decadent indulgence. It was a glorious, glamorous, meticulously orchestrated fantasy experience, and as someone who is obsessively detail-oriented, it’s rare and delightful for me to be so impressed by someone else’s attention to detail. But it turns out that there is a limit to how much pampering I can enjoy before I begin to feel uncomfortably 1%-ish, with a vaguely nervous sense that if I get one more spa treatment, a horde of angry peasants may drag me off to be guillotined.
Ed and I rented a 1974 Avion aluminum trailer in Big Sur this past weekend. I had never been to Big Sur before. It’s a little too touristy but so amazingly breathtaking. While having breakfast at Cafe Kevah yesterday morning, we saw a pod of seven or eight whales spraying offshore. And almost immediately after that, as we were about to get in the car to drive home, a swarm of at least a dozen monarch butterflies emerged from the trees directly in front of us and fluttered over our heads. It felt like an auspicious start to the new year.
My best friend was recently in Los Angeles for a commercial shoot, and since I only get to see her briefly a few times a year, I flew down for the weekend to hang out.
Our Friday night plans sort of fell apart, but oh well, it was nice to have plenty of time to catch up. Yesterday we spent a heavenly afternoon drinking pink champagne at a rooftop bar with a fabulous view, which I am not going to name because it’s kind of a hidden gem and I don’t want to detract from that. After that, while having a quick pre-dinner drink on Abbot Kinney in Venice, Reese Witherspoon sat next to Jess and me at the bar and teased us for looking underage and then suddenly left without having touched her beer. Then we had some excellent tapas, and after dinner finally met up with a few friends who live in LA.
I spent most of today sitting around by myself, staring at the rain and waiting exhaustedly and anxiously to be back home. But it was definitely worth it (as was the moderate depletion of my meager savings) for such a generous excess of (desperately needed) stimulating conversation.
We only spent one night in Collioure, but it was so dazzlingly idyllic, we realized immediately that we would have to go back. In a decade or so, my sister and I will rent a brightly painted villa with a terrace overlooking the sea, and we’ll spend a whole summer there with our hypothetical husbands and children, and our parents and in-laws and best friends will all be invited. We’ll drink cappuccinos and wine in the shade while our kids play on a pebble beach with French and British children, all wearing tiny Breton shirts. One day we’ll surprise them by adopting two puppies from the same litter, one for my sister’s family and one for mine, because French dogs are magically cuter than American dogs. And I’ll do a series of watercolor illustrations for a picture book, which will be called Holiday in Collioure.
Ed bought me this dress at United Colors of Benetton in April. It was on the clearance rack, marked down to just over $80, I think? It’s comfortable, flattering, and since it has wrinkles built into the design, it can’t really get any more wrinkled in a suitcase.
I wore it a lot this summer: to a wedding in DeBordieu, South Carolina, wine tasting in Anderson Valley, barbequing at my parents’ house in New Jersey, and wandering around Steamboat Springs, Barcelona, and Aix-en-Provence. (In Aix, an old man stopped in the middle of the road, pointed at me, and said, “Beautiful dress,” very slowly and deliberately and Frenchily.)