Lots I'd like to write about but not finding much time at the moment. So enjoy another gratuitous kitten photo. They sure are growing up fast!!
Barring some sort of catastrophe (like the year the car died), I've gone to a county fair every year for as long as I can remember.
I love the funnel cakes, the regional ethinic foods, the livestock, and the exhibits. I can't explain why, but it's just an intrinsic part of summer for me.
Yesterday's trek to the Sonoma County Fair was my third trip to that particular fair. Last year, we weren't able to go until a weekend day midway through the fair, and missed out on most of the small animals. So this year, we planned ahead and went up on a weekday that coincided with some of the animal showing.
As my fair photo gallery shows, we saw lots and lots of cows and bunnies.
I had personally been excited about the fair's Sustainable Sonoma exhibit. As a slow food proponent, and frequenter of farmers markets, I was excited at the prospect of seeing some local growers and producers at the fair and giving folks some ideas on how to think more locally. Unfortunately, the reality of the exhibit however did not meet my expectations.
Set in a tent off to the side of the main entry hall, it featured a lot of unmanned booths (like the Sierra Nevada table that had some brochures and some keychains on it), a table with a little bit of produce and some olive oil, and a gentleman giving out samples of hummus and veggie spreads, some art made from recycled items, a booth on sprinklers, and a few other booths selling various art.
I had expected a vibrant and fun expression of the eat local scene, yet this felt more like a green themed extension of the entry hall concessions. I mean, there wasn't even a copy of the Sonoma Farm Trails map! If we lived in the area, I would be looking around now to sign up as a volunteer to curate the tent for next year in a way that made folks proud of their local purveyors and help them understand how they can grow fruits and veggies at home, etc.
But that is a minor complaint from an otherwise lovely day at the fair.
I swear these boys have doubled in size in the few short weeks since we brought them home…
On Sunday afternoon, we got to go pick up our new kitty babies. We arrived with our kitty carrier and were pleasantly surprised that our adventurous boys (following resident kitty Rosie's lead) climbed right in, ready to go.
On the short drive across town, the kitties were silent, except for one squeak after about 10 minutes. The boys spent a solid half hour running around checking out all the nooks and crannies in the apartment, only finding three teeny crawl spaces we had not anticipated, all of which were easily blocked.
Born in March, and abandoned in a box with the rest of their litter in the Central Valley, the boys are now at the super high energy stage of kittenhood. They need at least two rounds of feather-on-a-stick per day to tire them out. And I don't mean just 10 or 15 minutes at a time either.
Sunday night, I stopped after about that long to write a quick email. I hit send then swiveled my chair around to find both boys at my feet…and with the feather-on-a-stick in Bolvar's mouth. He made sure I understood that it was still playtime now, thanks.
It's interesting to watch how they interact. Despite their youth, they are already bonded and spend much of their time together. In addition to the vigorous wrestling matches that break out after feather play time, they run laps up and down the hallway and take turns washing each others faces at bath time.
We are already getting a sense of their individual quirks. Bolvar is our hunter gatherer. From bringing me the feather toy when playtime is not long enough to bringing us the miscellaneous cord he finds behind our desks or bookcase, he is always looking for the next shiny object to bring us. And when he catches the feather toy, he restrains it with both feet and bites it.
Marcello, tho he does carry around his favorite mousey, is more of a lounger than a hunter. His naps are longer and more stretched out across the sofa. He makes eyes at you as he tries to fight back the napping urges. He's the first one on the bed at bedtime, planting himself at my feet.
Overall they seem to have settled in pretty quickly, making themselves at home. But don't just take my word for it — I think this photo of Marcello speaks for itself…
Our major daytrip (is an overnighter technically a day trip?) was heading up to Sonoma for a relaxing massage and soak at the Fairmont Mission Sonoma Inn and Spa, and a little bit of wine tasting.
Thanks to the economic downturn, we got a great deal, via the Web, on a suite that had a jacuzzi tub and a balcony, giving us extra lounging possibilities. It was a great room but I have to say its $1500 rack rate (per the notice in the closet) is significantly higher than I would expect given the amenities. That said, thoroughly enjoyed the massage, and the rare treat of Food network on the tv while we ate room service breakfast. Loved Tony Bourdain's tour of Cleveland, including his stop at Lola, the only fine dining establishment I've been to in OH.
Last time we stayed here the mineral baths were nearly deserted. This time, despite it being off season, they were packed, making me doubly glad we had a tub of our own.
Wednesday morning, we packed up and got in the car and headed to Cline and Arrowood vineyards for some serious tasting. These are two of my favorite Sonoma wineries, so rather than hit up a bunch of places, we focused on these 2 for the sake of time and not becoming inebriated (in deference to lunch with my SO's grandma afterwards.)
A standout at Cline was their proprietary blend Oakley 5 Reds. Like the winery employee who poured for us, I wasn't taken with this blend prior to last year. Now I snap up a few bottles whenever I see it — it's a great wine for under $10 most places. And lucky for us it was on sale at 25% off. Some old vine zinfandel and pinot gris also came home with us.
Our visit to Arrowood got off on the wrong foot. This has been my favorite all around winery for a solid decade. I try to make it up there about once a year to buy a case, including a few bottles of their amazing late harvest white dessert wines. There were 3 other couples tasting when we arrived, with only one employee pouring (while another stocked shelves and pored over paperwork behind the counter.)
The other couples had a decade or two on us and as a result, were getting more of our host's attention. When she asked us, towards the end of our tasting, if it was our first time visiting the winery, I told her "No, we come up at least once a year. And Arrowood is my favorite winery, atually." A few moments later, we were offered a taste of the dessert wines and what had been a lackliuster experience thus far was salvaged.
The show stopping wine at Arrowood was the luscious, thick, golden Select Late Harvest White Reisling from Saralee's Vineyard. No words I have can do this wine justice. We bought two bottles, with the intention of giving one as a gift, but we shall see if we are actually able to part with it…
More photos here.
Every year since I started working, I've taken a week or two off from work in April for vacation. I hate standing in long lines or visiting beautiful places overrun with other visitors, so this has been the best time of year to plan on a trip. I have this week off from work. But for a variety of reasons, including the craptastic economy and a sickly kitty cat, I'm not off on one of my more typical cross-continent vacations. Instead, it's a Bay Area staycation (a stay-at-home vacation).
Although my significant other was looking as though he might stay in bed 'til noon, I managed to hassle him into getting up and out the door for our Marin County trek today.Today's daytime plans were not too ambitious– a leisurely drive up Highway 1 to Pelican Inn for lunch, then on to Muir Woods for a hike.
Thanks to this being a post-rush hour weekday morning, we were at Pelican Inn less than a half hour from leaving home, even with the inevitable Highway 1 roadwork lane closure. The fish and chips with non-mushy peas ( /cry) and the "english dip" roast beef sandwich weren't anything special, but you really could not ask for a place to eat that's any more convenient to the park. And the Fuller's London Pride on tap would have made it a must stop regardless imho.
Post-lunch, we made a short drive to the park's parking lot, then started the walk in. It's amazing how crowded Muir Woods can be even on a weekday. Then again, I suppose many of the families there were on Spring Break and trying to tire out their children…
We did the two-mile loop trail, then headed back into the city, via a leisurely Highway 1 drive.
I often forget just how close we live to Marin County and its myriad hiking trails. We just picked up a couple of comprehensive local hiking trail/day trip books: Moon California Hiking (Moon Handbooks)
and Golden Gate Trailblazer: Where to Hike, Walk, Bike in San Francisco & Marin. This should
provide some encouragement to get out and about in the greater San Francisco Bay Area more often.
More photos here.
I’ve posted the rest of the photos from the newly reopened California Academy of Sciences. Enjoy!
My first visit to the new CA Academy of Sciences today. Expect to see many more photos soon.