Thursday, June 21, 2012

Bay Area Bucket List: Camping!

Camping was the first away together Ed and I took, a mere 3 weeks into our relationship, and ever since has been an activity we've really enjoyed together. Unfortunately, between chilly bay area weather for much of the year, and very busy schedules, our last camping trip was a few weeks before we got married (i.e. 2 years ago!).

So, back in February, Ed and I decided to squeeze in this trip right after the end of my school year and before his graduation. We thought there was a chance we'd be moving the weekend following graduation (so, so glad this isn't the case) so this seemed like the best time to go.

In reality? It was great to escape and have a strong divide between work and summer. It was a little stressful coming back into an incredibly swamped schedule, but it was still worth it.

Our campsite was lovely, in our very own redwood grove, with creek views. When we arrived at 11, our site was already open, which was excellent luck! We were able to munch on some sandwiches, chips and beer at our picnic table before we went on our adventure.

Adventure, you ask? Ed had planned a loop hike/run for us. When first asked, he said 9 miles. Asked again, it became 10. I finally looked at the description myself and saw that the loop was actually 10.6.

While I wasn't overtly confident about my ability to tackle this, since we're going 30ish miles of backpacking next week, I figured that I should give it a shot. It was a hot muggy start (at 12:30), but we were entertained by the trail, and the fun salmon crossing (though no salmon).

The hardest part by far was the almost 2 miles of relentless uphill. We had the directions with us and they stated that this uphill "feels like it will never end." The directions were pretty accurate, and I may have debated turning around at a few points. But, I (we) made it :).

The views of the Olema Valley certainly made me glad we'd continued. 

For miles, we ran through these open fields. It was so special to be someplace new, yet with that quintessential bay area feel.

On our way down, we ran into a new friend:

Funnily enough, given all my phobias, I was really quite excited to see this big guy, who was about 3 feet long. It wasn't coiled and the head shape made me fairly certain it wasn't a rattle snake. Nonetheless, we still gave it some space as we went around :)

Before we knew it, we were on the final push and finally arrived back to our campsite, where we enjoyed another beer, some chips, and relaxation.

Before we got too lazy, we headed out to Point Reyes Station, to pick up a birthday present for my dad - some Cowgirl Creamery cheeses.

We figured we might as well get something for ourselves while we were there.

Then, back to camp, where we sat by the creek, reading, and just enjoying being out in nature.

Starting our fire was surprisingly easy and, as it seemed to be getting cold quickly, it seemed like a good idea.

We stuck with our tradition of bringing some chili and cornbread for dinner, which we heated on the propane stove and which perfectly hit the spot.

After dinner? We of course had to have smores. Now, we didn't have graham crackers, so Ed thought it made the most sense to use the chocolate as the sandwich.

Verdict? A bit too chocolatey, if that's possible. I mostly stuck with straight marshmallows, which were amazing. 

Later that night, we sat in the dark around the fire, chatting and enjoying the warmth. At one moment, Ed noticed that someone seemed to be snacking on our chips. He was momentarily confused, since he could see I wasn't eating them, until I heard it too, looked to Ed, and saw the eyes illuminated by my headlamp. My scream scared that little raccoon away, though not far. It was a bold guy!

The rest of our evening was pretty low key. It was also low temperature! Suffice to say, I discovered that my sleeping bag was great for indoor adventures, but not nearly tough enough for cool evening camping. I will definitely be bringing a warmer one for our backpacking.

The next morning, Ed headed out early for a run while I stayed at camp, tried to get a good fire going, and enjoyed relaxing some more.

Before we knew it, it was time to go and jump back into real life craziness. We took one final detour down by the stream to soak in the peacefulness for a few more minutes.

With a much more relaxed frame of mind, we headed back home to face the stress and excitement of our final 2 weeks in the bay area.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Taking Breaks

The past few weeks, our life has looked something like this:

And, actually, the past few days has been much more discombobulated. At this point we have given away our  couch and entertainment center, as well as a mirror and a rug. In any event, it hasn't been the most calming place to live in, which is totally okay, since it's exciting to be preparing for the move, but definitely encourages us a good excuse to get out.

One place of escape? Our backyard. Granted, at this point in time, it looks a bit sad, since Ed's cleared out many of the plants. Still, it's a nice patio, and with the warm weather we've been having, it's been perfect for breakfast and dinner (provided we eat early enough and late enough respectively).

We also had the wonderful opportunity for a more formal meal escape with our good friends, Bill and Jenny (who have just celebrated 1 wonderful year of marriage! Yay!).

We went to the wine bar, "Cin-Cin" in Los Gatos, a lovely place we went to years ago for wine tasting and some light food. We'd always meant to return, and were thrilled for this opportunity.

We started with some amazing small plates:
mushroom empanadas,

encrusted goat cheese with yummy fixings,

and soba noodle lettuce wraps.

All were fabulous! We also had excellent Ahi Tuna and sliders. Apparently I was so excited by them, I forgot to photograph them :). We did stop to get a photograph of ourselves though!

For dessert, we headed back to our house (Ed did a great job hiding the boxes in our bedroom so we could respectively have people over), and were treated to Ed's "famous" mocha almond cake. Granted, he'd only made this once before, back in college, so this was my first chance to taste this "famous" cake. Ed was very excited about making it, and for good reason. It was wonderful!

So glad we're taking time to enjoy life amidst all the craziness :).

Berkeley Trip

Okay, this is really old (like over 2 months old), but I'd still love to share this wonderful day trip. We took this the day before we went on our (successful) home buying trip, as a farewell to east bay.

The main event was for this guy:

Ed had a 30k race that he'd signed up for with Coastal Trail Runs, which he was pretty excited about. It was super cold at the start, which is generally a good thing, since it means it won't get to hot. We didn't have that long to wait until the runners were off!

In just a few minutes, they were all gone, leaving us spectators to ourselves. I enjoyed walking down the race trail, taking in the morning sunlight, and glad to not be in a rush.

However, I'd be remiss if I neglected to go on my own run of one of my favorite haunts. So, up I headed to the lookout point in Tilden. Up here is a nice paved trail with excellent views and easy running, or so I'd remembered. 

Piece of advice: when going on a run you haven't done in 5 years, that you last did when you were in incredible shape, don't take your memory at face value.

Yes, the views were wonderful, but it was a bit more rolling than I'd remembered (the flat that my 2 weeks post marathon legs were counting on wasn't quite there), and my favorite chunk ended up closer to 4 miles out, much further than I'd wanted to go.

I also discounted my very real phobia of solo running. In fact, I turned around not once, not twice, but three times during this run out of fear, only to turn back around when another person went past. I have this slightly embarrassing, but incredibly helpful habit of "tagging" along with unsuspecting runners on trails. I give them a head start and then hang behind them as long as I can (pace permitting). One wonderful gentleman got me from 0.8 miles to 1.5 miles and another from 2ish miles to 3. 

An equally lovely (but unfortunately faster) runner (the figure in the picture above) got me from the turn around to about 4.5, at which point there were enough people out that I just dealt with it :).

At least I had the views to keep me company! And, even though I almost gave up so many times, I still got in my 6 miles :).

I got back just in time to catch Ed at the turn around, and again at the ending.

Ed had a great race, despite getting a little lost!

 Finally, we said goodbye to Lake Anza and headed out to Berkeley,

stopping for a few last looks at the wonderful view.

Pizza was Ed's request, so we headed to Jupiter's, a great Pizza/beer place that I went to a few times in college. 

The pizza (and beer) was excellent!

We enjoyed sitting on the patio outside, enjoying a beautiful bay area day.

Afterwards, we headed out on a walking tour of Berkeley. Believe it or not, Ed and I have never walked the campus together, and I was excited to show him my Alma Mater.

 We stopped by this beautiful oak tree, outside a building I had some of my English classes in, as well as a history of Broadway class.

We, of course, had to visit the Life Sciences building for Ed.

And say "hi" to the T-Rex.

And Lucy.

Then, onward to the Campanile.

From there, we moved onto Sather Gate, a place of many a cappella concerts.

And finally to my favorite building, Wheeler Hall. While I had a few different kinds of classes here, this is the official English building on campus. I have always loved the history of this building, imagining how many students have walked through its doors.

We really had a perfect day.

After that, I took Ed to the oldest building on campus, South Hall, and challenged him to find the sleeping grizzly bear hidden in the architecture. 

We took in one last view of the golden gate from the Campanile. This was one of my favorite spots on campus. Every time I walked past that view, I felt thankful to be a student here.

As we backtracked, we headed back towards the north side of campus, past a beautiful weeping willow,

And more gorgeous architecture.

In just a few days, we were on UC Santa Cruz's campus, UC Berkeley, and Arizona State.

While all are special in their own way, Berkeley will always be my favorite :).