Wednesday, March 29, 2023

San Francisco and A Bike Trip 2023 - Back in SF

Saturday March 4.

Last night we ordered Chinese carry out from a place Dan and Kelsey hadn’t tried before Z & Y Restaurant. We all agreed that it was amazing, some of the best Chinese we have ever had. We ordered a lot different dishes and tried our best to do them justice. The spicy ma pa tofu was really good, the mo gu Gai pan was delish. The beef noodles, the scallion pancakes, it was all great. 

In the morning I went for a run. I went north and ran down a long dock just for variety. Then I miscalculated the distance so I ended up running a little longer than the 4 miles I had scheduled.

We decided to try the Dim Sum place right across the street from Dan and Kelsey’s apartment, Yang Sing. It was fancy, even had a Michelin star! We were a little early and could walk right in (they don’t take reservations) but 20 minutes later the place was packed. It was very good and not as crazy expensive as they thought it might be. We got dumplings, Bbq’d pork buns, egg rolls, fried garlic tofu, egg tarts. Their egg tarts were amazing!

Now we’re sitting around their apartment, watching basketball on TV, and the bands of rain blow by.

Sunday March 5

After the basketball game (Mizzou won btw) we decided to go to Ballast, a new brewery in Dogpatch. It had only been open for the previous weekend so it really was pretty new. All ordering was done by QR code. The code at our table was kind of worn and I had trouble getting my phone to recognize it, but Dan’s phone could do it. We ordered several different beers and a couple apps. The apps came promptly but no beers. Finally Lee went up to the bar and asked and then a waitress realized that something was wrong and sorted it out. I have no problem with QR codes unless something goes wrong. We think that maybe there was some confusion about who’s table we were, but no matter.

We all got a few 4 Oz pours so we could try a few different things. Since I don't like hops I got a lager called Wahoo and then a Porter. The porter was good, it tasted like coffee and vanilla, just like the description. The lager was ok but very bland. I guess I think if you’re going to be trying fancy beers they should taste like something!

Then we drove over to a Greek place nearby called Souvla . They served various types of Greek salads, or you could get your salad as a sandwich on pita bread. Most of the salads included meat but they also had a veggie salad with potatoes and that’s what I got. It was really good! Daniel got some frozen yogurt for dessert. I took a bite, and then another, and then another. It was really good too!

This morning I went for my last SF run. It was a beautiful morning. It had rained during the night but when the sun came up the sky cleared and everything was bright. I ran toward Oracle stadium and back, 5 miles total. 

We took the trolley to Fisherman’s Wharf and ate lunch at In-and-Out. Then we walked over to the Musee de Mechanic, basically a penny arcade with all sorts of old fashioned games, everything from Pac-Man to mechanical pianos, to peep shows. Most things cost a quarter or fifty cents. It was silly, and fun.

Tuesday March 7

We flew home yesterday. We were delighted to land in Minnesota and even though they got 4 inches of wet heavy snow Sunday night, the Parknfly lot was clear and the truck was easy to get out. And our neighbors had plowed our driveway before we got home!

It was a great trip. In spite of my initial doubts about our bike trip I had a great time riding and would ride with them again. I have a little advice for them but I’ll save that for another post.

Now today, big doings as Sophie’s flight lands at 1:30 and our lives are going to change big time. A puppy! Well you know I’ll be writing about THAT! (and have once already. More to come of course!)

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

San Francisco and a Bike Trip - The Biking Trip Part II

Thursday March 2

Back at the b&b I actually fell asleep for awhile. I really was tired. We went down to happy hour and then walked to our dinner reservation at Dry Creek Kitchen. This was a very nice, fancy restaurant with a prix fixe meal and wine pairing too. We got the 3 course dinner, we didn’t think we could handle the 5 course tasting menu. As it was I could barely handle the dinner so that was a good call. They let us get one wine pairing and split it, which was nice. They even brought us both the pairings that went with whatever we had ordered, which was VERY nice! That way we actually got to taste 6 different wines!

Let’s see. For the first course Lee got the octopus and I got the hamachi. The hamachi was very nice, lots of interesting flavors. I didn’t think the octopus was that great but Lee liked it. It was roasted, and big. For our main course I got swordfish, which was wrapped in prosciutto and served on polenta and pine nuts. It was very good. Lee got a pork chop. Then for dessert they had ice cream so Lee got that of course! He ate a massive amount of it but couldn’t finish it all, there were 6 scoops! I got the dirty chai latte cake. It was good, not incredible but I shouldn’t talk since I ate it all!

I was stupidly full after that. It was good we had to walk back to the b&b, and I stayed up for a little bit just to help things digest.

I slept until almost 7. Yay! How nice to wake up and not have to wait for coffee!

Again we took our time and didn’t start on our bike ride until 10, just to let things warm up.

Today was sunny and beautiful with not much wind. We did the shorter Russian River loop, about 23 miles total. We rode to this one lane bridge over the Russian River and ate lunch by a redwood grove right by the bridge. I felt so much better without all that wind, even though today was even hillier than yesterday. I slowly removed almost all of my layers. First my ear warmers, then my gloves, then my windbreaker, and finally after lunch my windpants. It felt great to have my legs bare!

After lunch we rode a few miles and then stopped at a winery for a tasting, Landmark Winery at Hop Kiln. 

They had some very nice wines! We bought a Pinot and a Chardonnay that was like a French Chardonnay. We now have 4 bottles of wine so tomorrow before we leave Healdsberg we’re going to ship them.

Friday March 3

So continuing: yesterday we rode the remaining 3.5 miles to Healdsberg, and went to the coffee shop. We were a little later than we have been and it was almost closing time (3 pm). They came around with their leftover pastries and asked us if we wanted any. “Take 2! Take more!” Lol. I took a chocolate croissant and a blueberry scone. Thanks! I saved them for later.

For dinner we walked into town again and went to a Japanese place, Taste of Tea. It was ok. The tea was good anyway!  Got a mint/hibiscus/lavender variety. I got a mini rice bowl with unagi which was good, and some gyoza which were fine but shaped like wontons which was kind of weird. Lee got ramen and the broth tasted like tea. He liked it but I thought it was odd.

I was so tired, I couldn’t keep my eyes open past 8:30. I knew I would be up early but it wasn’t too bad, I made it to 5:45. With all that tea I had to get up and pee quite a few times.

After breakfast we drove to Petaluma and bought some sandwiches for lunch and then went to Point Reyes and took a short hike. We went up the Bear Creek trail to a meadow, ate our sandwiches, and walked back, about 4 miles total.

Now we’re back in San Francisco for the weekend.

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

San Francisco and A Bike Trip: The Biking Trip Part I

Monday February 27

It was a rainy morning in San Francisco. I finished Rossi’s sweater. It came out cute and she enjoyed wearing it. We tried to take her for a walk when the rain let up for a minute but it started raining again so we had to cut it short.

Daniel drove us to the rental car place at 11. It was pouring, but it stopped just long enough for us to get our rental car. Whew! We headed north on 101 to San Rafael. We ate lunch at a Peruvian place called Sol Kitchen. Their specialty was roasted chicken and it was delicious! Instead of fries I tried their plantains. I got both the garlic and the sweet ones. I liked the sweet ones better. I got a cafe con leche too, which was fabulous!

Sol Kitchen Lunch

Then we drove the rest of the way to Healdsberg. Such a cute little town in the Russian River Valley. We stopped at Getaway Adventures to check in and get oriented. So far I am not impressed, although my bike is nice. They are kind of freewheeling, which some people might enjoy but I like structure, especially when I’m biking around an unfamiliar area. He showed us in a general sense where to go and suggested some wineries. We had trouble getting the directions into Google maps, but finally got that figured out. 

Tomorrow morning is probably going to be rainy so we’re not planning on starting until the rain lets up around noon. Unclear if we will eat lunch along the way or before. They gave us water bottles for tomorrow but no snacks. And their itinerary says we have a guide the first day but there was no mention of that today. 

I know I need an attitude adjustment. I wasn’t in charge of organizing this, so I really should try to chill. Maybe after tomorrow I will have a completely different feeling about it. I hope so.

After that we checked into our b&b, The River Belle, right on the Russian River. It’s nice. Our room has a beautiful view, even if it’s small. Breakfast is included but the earliest we can get coffee is 7 am. Ugh. Maybe I’ll sleep til 6. We can hope!

Tuesday February 28

The b&b has a happy hour every afternoon at 5:30, so before dinner we went to that for a bit. There was a nice plate of snacks and I had a small glass of wine.

Then we walked the 1/2 mile to dinner at Lo and Behold Kitchen and Wine Bar. They have an eclectic menu. We got a few small plates and then split an order of their noodles with kimchi. The hostess here at the b&b recommended it. Sounds weird but it was really good! The noodles were perfect, the kimchi was fresh and tangy and the water chestnuts added a nice crunch. We got their eggs rolls and a pea shoot salad for the small plates and they were very good too.

In the morning I almost made it to 6, 5:45 anyway. Then I patiently waited until they brought coffee to our room at 7. At 8 we went downstairs for breakfast which was delicious. It was raining off and on, but Lee looked at the radar and said we’d have a window with less rain between 10 and 1 so around 9:30 we went over to the bike shop, got on our bikes, and off we went.

First we stopped at Oakville Grocery and got sandwiches and other snacks for lunch. Then we rode about 12 miles up Dry Creek West to Bella Winery. It was a very pretty drive, but hardly flat, as the bike tour said! I guess maybe by local standards it was flat, I don’t know. It rained off and on, briefly fairly hard, but never a real downpour.

We reached the winery around 11. They let us sit inside their wine cave and eat our lunch and then we did a leisurely wine tasting, about 8 wines. I bought 2 bottles. All day it rained, off and on. By 1:30 we were ready to head back into town. We could have gone a different way but we were wet and kind of cold and didn’t want to risk getting lost, so we just rode back the way we came.

We stopped in town for a coffee and then went back to the b&b. A hot shower felt really great!  Now we’re relaxing until it’s time for happy hour and then dinner with George and Lori.

Wednesday March 1

At happy hour yesterday we chatted with a couple from Europe that were also doing a bike tour but they were going from one place to another, spending each night in a different inn. That would be fun too, more like what we did in Italy.

We met George and Lori at Sweet T’s in Windsor, a little town about 10 minutes away. It was still raining when we got there. It was so nice to visit and catch up. The restaurant is known for their bbq.  Got a small plate with smoked brisket and Mac and cheese. Very good. I didn’t have any alcohol, I had enough thank you! But that meant I got to drive back to the b&b. It was dark but at least the rain had stopped. It’s getting harder and harder to drive at night. Sigh.

This morning I managed to sleep til almost 6. The coffee came at 7 and I had an energy bar too. Then we went to breakfast at 8 and I had a Belgian waffle. 

We waited to get started riding til almost 10. It was pretty cold, but sunny and bright! And windy. Like really really windy. The wind was out of the north and all morning we rode straight into it. It was very tiring. I felt like an old woman. It was a beautiful route, not very hilly, with lots of flowers and snow capped peaks in the distance. 

By the time we got to Geyserville for lunch I was hungry and worn out. We got a pizza and a beet salad and then I felt much better!

It was about 15 miles to Geyserville but only 10 miles back and we were riding with the wind. It probably took half as long! We got ourselves another coffee and then headed back to the b&b to rest.

View From Our B&B Window

Sunday, March 12, 2023

A New Westie Pack at the Nills

I thought I would be writing my next blog post all about Sophie, our new puppy. So this is partly about Sophie, but also a lot about our two other old ladies, Harper and Heather.

Sophie came to live with us on Tuesday. After a few days of major adjustment it dawned on us that she was not going to potty train herself so we buckled down, got on a schedule and started to really focus. She’s doing really well now, or we are anyway! Outside about every hour, and after meals, and after naps, and before bed. 

We are learning to make sure she is restricted to a crate when we can’t watch her. We are starting to work on basic commands, mainly sit. She is a cute little thing, 14 weeks old, and full of it. It will be fun to watch her grow.

I had my ideas about how the other two dogs would react. I thought Harper would be delighted, and for the most part she is. They are playing and snuggling together on a regular basis, and have from day one. She is also making sure that Sophie knows she is the Queen, but not in a mean way. And she is a teeny bit jealous of us paying so much attention to Sophie, so we have to make sure we give Harper lots of attention too.

Then there’s Heather. I thought Heather would be like, “oooo a puppy to take care of!” but it hasn’t been like that. It’s been more like, “crap a puppy to take care of! I’m too old for this shit!” For the first couple of days Heather wouldn’t have anything to do with Sophie, either ignoring her or rejecting her. But the last few days she has been warming up to her, playing with her a little, and even snuggling with her a little last night.

All good, right? Well so I thought. Last night we went to bed around 9:30. Shortly after that Heather went to the foot of the bed next to Sophie’s little crate where she is sleeping right now and started whining. I thought maybe she needed to go outside again. So I took her out but she didn’t do anything.

Back inside, the whining resumed, again next to Sophie’s crate. Well maybe she’s trying to tell me that Sophie needs to go out, so this time I took Sophie outside as well, and they both pooped. Okay I thought, that must have been it.

But no. Inside Heather ran anxiously around the house, and when I tried to put everyone to bed again she started whining louder, and louder until she was flat out crying. At this point I woke up Lee and I called the emergency vet.

All sorts of things were flying through my head. Heather has a tumor on her pancreas but she’s been doing great for over a year. Was this it? Had something happened with the tumor? Or was it something else. Some cancer, or some other disease. 

As we drove to Blue Pearl, Heather cried louder and louder. At one point I joined her, crying “oh God! Oh God!” as Heather screamed. It was truly horrific. Suddenly things were quiet. I turned around to look at the next stoplight and Heather had thrown up. She looked a little confused, but mostly relieved and peaceful.

The vomit was a lot of white foamy stuff and remnants of her dinner and bedtime treats. It didn’t smell.

At BP I rushed her inside. The vet tech had heard her crying on the phone and he was very concerned, and as confused as I was that she suddenly seemed ok. They admitted her for observation and said they would call me once the doctor had a chance to look at her.

Back home I slept fitfully. On top of everything it was the start of daylight savings time so everyone’s internal clocks were messed up too.

Once I talked to the doctor in the morning we decided to test for the most likely causes of what seemed like a bout of very intense pain. The results? Not kidney stones. Not a gall bladder attack. Not her heart. Not pancreatitis. Her blood sugar was normal. Heather was fine!

We were puzzled, but also relieved. I brought her home and she is sleeping peacefully on the couch. I know we will lose Heather someday but I’m really not ready right now, and the last thing I want is her dying in agony. I sent a text to Diane, our Westie breeder, and this is what she said:

 “Penta [one of her mamas] does this when I have puppies whether they're hers or not hers. She does this, she eats her breakfast then she runs around the house crying and crying and crying and pacing and pacing and crying and and then all of a sudden she'll throw up just dog food for the puppies to eat so it could be that Heather's motherly instincts could be kicking in and she feels like she has to feed the puppy.”

Bingo! This is exactly what Heather was doing! I’m sure Diane is right. The timing is a little off, but Heather is old, and deaf, and sometimes a little confused.

I sure hope this was a one time thing. It was really nerve wracking. I love Heather and seeing her in what seemed like intense pain was awful. I’ve been telling her she doesn’t need to take care of Sophie. I hope she is listening!

So now we have a pack again. It’s nice, but it does make me miss Cosmo again, seeing three little white dogs on the couch. Some day in the not too distant future there will be only one little dog lying there. But not today, and not tomorrow. Not yet. 

Wednesday, March 8, 2023

San Francisco and a Bike Trip 2023

Tuesday February 21

We’re not leaving until Thursday, that is IF our flight doesn’t get canceled, and our plane can get here. There’s a huge snow storm, beginning this afternoon, and not ending until sometime on Thursday. Hopefully Thursday morning. We could get upwards of 20 inches which is a LOT of snow for Minnesota. We’ve already gotten over 50” this winter. Nothing to rival 2015 in New Hampshire, but that’s OK! I don’t want to ever experience something like that again!

Right now the weather in California doesn’t look great either. Cold and rainy. Darn it! I think next year we’re going to go to San Diego. And maybe a short trip to Austin too. 

I bought clipless pedals for my bike, and shoes to match. It's on the trainer, so I can spend the next couple of months getting used to them so I won’t kill myself when I go outside.  So far I have no trouble clipping out, but clipping in is a challenge cause I have no idea where on my shoe the cleat is! Once I find the cleat it goes in easily but I need to figure out how to find it. 

I’ve started Sophie’s Universe, a massive, complex crochet afghan. Its beautiful and I’ve been eyeing it for at least a year now. I’m really enjoying the pattern. I hate to have to leave it behind when we go to Cally, but even though right now it's small enough, it's just too complicated to bring along on a trip! The instructions are a BOOK. So instead I’m making a few dog sweaters. Sophie (the new puppy) will need a few in different sizes. I made her one but I think it's a little big, so I’m going to make her another that is smaller. And one for Rossi too.


Friday February 24 San Francisco 

Well we made it! We were so very lucky. The giant snowstorm started Tuesday night. We got 3.5 inches, not too bad, but there was a lot more coming. It started up again Wednesday afternoon and all we could do was watch the weather, keep checking the airport and our flights, and keep our fingers crossed. About 350 flights were cancelled out of MSP on Wednesday, but our plane was staying out west and made it to San Francisco Wednesday night. It wasn’t supposed to fly to MSP and land until after 1 so hopefully it would be ok. 

There was a lot more snow Thursday morning, and it was still snowing. At 7 we had another 9.5 inches. We probably got another inch or two after that for a total close to 15. That’s the most snow we’ve seen since we moved here. Nothing will ever match 2015 in New Hampshire, but that’s ok by me!

Lee plowed the driveway. I dug the path in the backyard for the dogs. I fed the birds one more time. They’ve been being little pigs! At 11 I loaded up the truck and took the dogs over to Rita, our dog sitter. She lives right around the corner but when I got there her long driveway wasn’t plowed! So I drove on to the next side street, pulled over and called her. “I’m so sorry! My husband works for Delta and because of the snowstorm they won’t let him come home so we couldn’t plow the driveway!” We agreed that she and her daughter would tromp out to the end of their drive and grab the dogs and their supplies there. They had to carry both dogs; that snow was WAY over their heads!

Off we went to the airport. The roads were ok, not great, not terrible. We parked in Park n Ride, an economical alternative to airport parking or Uber. Their parking lot was cleared, barely. It was a little dicey finding a spot for the truck but we did. Everyone on the shuttle was a little giddy at our good luck. The airport had just opened back up.

I’ve never seen an airport so empty, except in the middle of the night. It certainly made things easy to navigate. Our plane arrived without incident, we boarded, and off we went, us and the St. Thomas baseball team, off to play a series of games in Sacramento.

It’s rainy and chilly in San Francisco but we don’t care. We ate Fresh Green salads for dinner with Dan and Kelsey and chatted until Lee and I couldn’t keep our eyes open anymore. We made it to 9 pm, which was our goal. Of course here I am up bright and early as usual. I made it to 5:30, more or less. Maybe I’ll go run in their fitness center in a bit. It’s pretty wet out there right now.

It stopped raining so I went for a run outside. It was nice, low 40’s, sunny. We went to Japantown and had ramen for lunch. I was stuffed. We bought cream puffs to have for a snack later. We took Rossi for a nice long walk. She was very happy! She kept checking to make sure all her people were still coming.

I got a Blue Bottle coffee at the end of our walk and took it back to the apartment to drink with my cream puff. We sat around the rest of the afternoon. I crocheted and played around with my iPad but I was so tired . I finally laid down for a nap at around 3:45 and Lee had to wake me up at 5:15! Yikes.

We went to a Jazz Club for dinner. Mr. Tipple’s. It was great! They had a  really good female singer. We had cocktails and ordered dim sum. I was able to just eat a little, have a Manhattan, and enjoy the music. It was a perfect way to end the day.

Saturday February 25

Sunny and cool. No running, just some PT exercises. Around 11 we walked very to the ferry building to the farmer’s market. We got lunch from the Mexican place and brought it back to the apartment to eat. We watched Mizzou play Georgia, and beat them.  Just enjoying their sunny apartment  and hanging out. This evening we’re going to a Vietnamese restaurant in Sunset that is famous for its garlic noodles and roasted clams. ThanhLong. 

Sunday February 26

ThanhLong was good but imo not great. It’s out in Sunset, so a fairly long drive for us, through downtown, through Golden Gate park, almost to the ocean. I like that drive though, the houses and apartments are so interesting to look at. This really is an amazing city. Sure it has problems with housing and homelessness, but it has also managed to preserve some beautiful and unique living spaces. I hope they find a solution that doesn’t destroy that.

When we got there we discovered that they no longer had valet parking. Trying to park in San Francisco is sometimes a real challenge and if we had known we might have taken Uber instead. But Dan found a spot not too far away. Lucky! 

ThanhLong is famous for their garlic noodles, and their noodles are great.  They are also famous for their roast clam. Daniel ordered a clam and shared some of it with Lee and I. It was ok, not amazing, but I almost always think clam is more work than it’s worth. I got prawns with my noodles. They again were ok. I thought they were a little tough. That’s it.

We decided to go get ice cream after. We went to a place called Hometown Creamery. It was really good! I got the bread pudding ice cream. Wonderful.

This morning I went for a run. I headed toward Oracle Park, as far as Crane Cove Park and back, about 5 miles. It was 45F, but no wind, and even thought it was cloudy it felt a lot warmer than Friday. I ended up removing layers, taking off my buff, my ear warmer, my gloves. Good thing I had spacious pockets!


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