Thursday, September 7, 2017

California Days 3 and 4: San Francisco -- Muir Woods + Calistoga

So these two days have little in common other than they are each a short drive from San Francisco and neither took up a whole post on its own. But they are fabulous day trips!

We spent our first weekend day in San Fran daytripping out to Muir Woods, which is a National Park surrounded by larger state park Mt. Tamalpais. The kids had learned a lot about old growth Redwood and Sequoia trees and were pretty pumped to get to see some Redwoods at Muir Woods. It was also their first chance to get a new stamp in their National Park passports, so I made sure to have them this time!!

We were a little slow to get going in the a.m. and by the time we got out to Muir Woods it was almost lunch time. Parking was a bit of a challenge, but we found something roadside. We walked a short way to the entrance and picked up Junior Ranger packets for the kids. They were on top of things that day!

We intended to pick up a little snack before hiking, but once we popped into the Cafe, everyone declared ready for a full-on lunch. No problem, the food was deeeelish. And Cam spent a bit of time teaching her Uncle Steve the handgame Avocado (which was another annoying highlight of our trip—the game, not Uncle Steve).

Fully fueled, we set off on a walk through the looped Redwood Creek Trail. But it was super crowded and I wanted to get a little more actual hiking in, so when we hit the steps up to Canopy View Trail, we took them without a lot of thought or planning. It was a LONG hike up (well, at least before our Yosemite hikes which I'll get to next week), but totally gorgeous and much less crowded. The kids did great, but an hour or so in, we were thinking about how to get back.

And we started to run into others who had also poorly planned and were trying to do the same. We took a chance and turned off on to Lost Trail to catch up with Fern Creek Trail back to the looped Redwood Creek Trail. It was really a lot of steep steps down and I was so glad we hadn't gone up that way! It worked and we had a nice hike back to the visitor's center where the kids stamped their passports and were sworn in as Junior Rangers of Muir Woods.

Everyone was happy to head back to the city for Saturday night. Steve and Leslie graciously took the kids overnight so Joel and I could have a real date night. The kids ate ramen in Japantown and found liquid nitrogen-frozen cereal dessert Dragon's Breath at Chocolate Chair, which looked like so much fun! Joel and I headed out to State Bird Provisions for a totally unique and delicious take on dim sum.  And then we serendipitously ended up at Smitten Ice Cream where they churn-to-order your frozen treat with liquid nitrogen too! It's hard to pick a fave from our San Fran ice cream visits, but Smitten might be it for me.

If we were slow going Saturday a.m., we definitely were Sunday morning after date night. Plus, it took a little bit to get our coordinating stripe dress day together (there's one every vacay). But we had big plans to head out to wine country to see Steve and Leslie's wedding venue and wine taste along the way. We hired a driver for the day and headed out to Calistoga. I did more wine tasting than photography that day, so I only snapped a few.

We stopped first at super cute Casa Nuestra, which is only open to members and, fortunately, Steve and Leslie are. It was quaint and funky. The kids fed the animals farm-grown mint and the adults sampled yummy wines.

We hung for a long while just relaxing until the kids demanded to be fed too. A quick jump into downtown Calistoga and we stopped at the Palisades Deli for lunch (everyone loved). Recharged, we headed off to our second winery visit of the day at Tamber Bay Vineyards. Leslie had picked the wineries because they both had animals for the kids to check out and Tamber Bay had gorgeous horses. The kids were somehow still hungry and now bickering over iPhone usage, so we didn't hang as long there. But it was still lovely.

Not ones to dilly dally though, we headed out to the gorgeous ranch where Steve and Leslie will marry next spring! The kids are both in the wedding and are beyond excited. We poked around, had a faux ceremony, practiced creepy photos, and lazily checked out the accommodations. We can't wait for the wedding!

My good college friend Anne lives not to far away and she and her husband were driving to meet us at Solbar. We wanted to meet up at Sam's Social Club, which looks fantastic, but waited too long and couldn't make the times work. But I promised Kane we'd visit a Michelin-starred restaurant on our trip, obviously, and since Solbar has one, I figured it was the perfect spot. Solbar is in the Solage resort, which looks insanely beautiful with an amazing pool. We sat outside and had a wonderful dinner catching up with friends while the kids mostly wore down our iPhone batteries. But all in all a fantastic day!

The next morning we headed out to Yosemite, so stay tuned ....



fabulous trips!

Breaking Mad said...

The places I saw here are really wonderful, celebrating a special event like this with the beauty of nature is really cool. When you are in this place, there's nothing you can do than to be happy. I really liked venues in Los Angeles here.