Monday, August 29, 2011

Rollercoasters, Hills, Music and...Prison?!

"Not all those who wander are lost"
- JRR Tolkien

A very true quote....unless however you've been in the car with us over the last few weeks. We've had an incredible knack for getting lost lately despite modern-day conveniences such as the mapquest app on my iphone AND having a library full of good ol' fashioned maps in the car! Regardless, it is all part of the journey...

While 98 square feet has been parked in one location for 20 days now,WE certainly haven't been. Since our last post we've beem to Monterey, Carmel, Santa Cruz, San Francisco, San Jose, Saratoga, Cupertino, Los Gatos and Alcatraz Island!

Santa Cruz
We had a blast playing on the Santa Cruz pier with T's cousin, Curt, and his daughters -  Britney and Amber.  A day of crazy rides, mini-golf and piggybacks...we were amazed at how much food small children can consume and how exhausted we were when we got home!

We also conducted an "interview" with Britney - so be sure to check it out:

Tracy & Britney ready for take-off

Tracy & Amber ride the horses

Amy & Amber take on the wild dragon!

Splashdown - Curt discovers riding alone
actually gets you MORE wet!

Tracy & Amber go for a drive!

Beautiful wharf with lots of wildlife and we hit it just right by showing up at lunch time since all the restaurants offer free clam chowder samples!   Pelicans were just hanging out on the wharf and seemed to be completely unaware that humans actually inhabited this space.  The sea lions were "barking" and posing for pics.  And we just enjoyed some time walking along the wharf and taking in the sites, smells and tastes! 

From here, it was a short hop to the 17 mile drive which offered spectacular views of Monterey Bay, mavelous homes that are more like small countries, and amazing golf courses like Pebble Beach!  Great stuff around every corner!

The wharf - quaint and cute!

Free clam chowder samples AND
giant ice cream cones

The pelicans really didn't care
that you were only 2 feet from them!
So adorable - sea lions strike a pose!

They love playing in the water and showing off

That's not a beach - just giant sand traps at Spyglass Hills

Lone Cypress - pretty amazing
it just grows on a rock!


The town of Carmel may just be my favorite little seaside town thus far!  Something cool and quaint to find around every corner!  After enjoying the infamous 17-mile drive, we soaked in some sun on a white sandy beach sandwiched between the Pacific and Pebble Beach Golf Course.  Then we strolled through the streets enjoying the shops, galleries and sights.  After having a cocktail at Hog's Breath, we rounded out the day with a fantastic dinner at Il Fornaio.

Right on Carmel beach - our dream home.
Our offer of $1 was sadly not accepted.
White sandy beach with
Pebble Beach in the background

Adorable little houses everywhere

Loved this little sign we found in someone's garden!

Drinks at Hog's Breath by the
outdoor fire.  Cozy!!

San Francisco
Two words:  Fog & Hills!! 

San Francisco lives inside it's own little weather's very strange!  Beautiful and sunny 5 minutes outside the city.....and then you cross over into a thick wall of fog.  In fact, many days you can just watch the fog roll over the hills and into the valley just outside of the city border.  Despite that, SF is a very nice city and I've always loved the look of row houses!!  Luckily we happened to have pure sunshine on Pier 39 - where we enjoyed lunch and the Jimmy Buffet vibes at Wipe-out Bar & Grill and did some shopping.

When they say that SF is defined by its hills.....they weren't kidding!  I'm thinking the cocktails at lunch must have influenced my insane decision for us to hike up to check out Lombard street - the crookedest street in the least it made me feel better about buying a big loaf of Sourdough afterwards (which originated in SF)!

Take a drive with us down Lombard Street:

Pier 39 used to have thousands of Sea Lions -
 they literally overtook the pier.  For some reason,
the Sea Lions have moved farther north.  They
think it's because their food sources moved, but
regardless of how many were there, it was still fun
to sit and watch them play, sleep and "argue"

The infamous Fisherman's Wharf sign

The pictures don't capture exactly how steep these hills are!!!

Lombard Street

Fog rolling over the hills - the ocean is on the other side

Whether or not you have a passion for history, visiting Alcatraz is a must if you find yourself near San Francisco.  I'm going to let the pics speak for themselves on this one....

View of SF from the ferry - sunny at Pier 39
Eerie picture of the halls

The warden's house - it burned down after Alcatraz was
closed - Indians were living on the island.

Visiting hours - I don't think I like being locked up.

Is she trying to look mean or sexy?  I'm still not sure.

The outdoor "playground" - trying to look tough so
other inmates won't mess with us!

The cells

14 is my lucky number - but this was "the Hole"
Solitary confinement and total darkness
when the door closed.  And rumors of paranormal
activity in that cell....let me out!

The Rock - fogged in as our ferry pulled up

Friday night we went to see Sugarland in concert at Shoreline Amphitheater - an amazing outdoor concert venue near the bay.  Vonda Shepard opened the show and then handed the stage over to Jennifer and Kristian who charmed us with their talent and love for performing!  We thought it apropos to share this Sugarland song with you as we're out on the road finding our "something more"!

Beautiful night outside on the lawn at the concert!

Aunt Cath and Dave
We thank them for their generous hospitality!  We've been spoiled by real showers, living space and a TV - it'll be an adjustment to get back into 98 square feet again!  We had a fabulous dinner at La Fondue together and we look forward to visiting them again!

Dinner for 4, but we ate enough for 8
Chocoloate Fondue with a
splash of some highly flammable liquer!

It's off to southern California where the following awaits us:
  • Waves crashing in Big Sur
  • Dune Buggy riding in Pismo Beach
  • Walks on the beach in Santa Barbara (T's favorite!)
  • Attending live tapings of 3 shows - including Chelsea Lately, which we're super excited about!

Until the next exit...

Amy & Tracy

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Northern California - Wino's & Beach Bumz

The Happy Campers have been "camped" in northern california for over a week now, and there's been so much activity it's hard to even know what to report on!  But, in true fashion, we'll try to share the fun stuff with plenty of pictures!

Since Amy decided that she needed to clean Aunt Cath's house today, I figured I'd throw a quick blog together.  (btw: for those of you that know anything about Amy, you'll get a kick out of this.  She cleaned 98 square feet last week, and I swear it took her just as long to clean that as it did our 2400 square foot house...I'm not joking!!!)

Redwood National Forest:
Amy was really looking forward to seeing the ol' Redwoods since setting out on this adventure and we're very happy that we took the time to do so!  These trees are simply massive....and they just have this wonderful majestic energy to them.  To look up and know that you are gazing at some of the tallest trees in the world, some of which connect us to the days of dinosaurs, is nothing short of incredible!  We also took a long and windy road to hike through Fern Canyon - along the way we even got to go "off-roading" with the Jeep and drive through a creek...woot woot!  And to top off our stay, we were in a campground on the Klamath River where a grey whale took up residence by swimming up the river with her calf and hasn’t wanted to head back out to the ocean.  Here are some pics to represent:

Amy shows off how big these trees are!
We had to pay our $5 and drive
through the giant redwood!

Look closely - I'm on the left, Amy's on the right
of Paul Bunyan's boots

Elk, just grazing in front of these cabins! 

Yes, that's Amy in the tree again.  It's HUGE!

When you look up, it's truly mind-boggling how big they are!

Do I need to caption this one?  I'm guessing
it's a boy tree.

Fern Canyon - such a pretty hike along the creek
Little Miss Jeep takes the creek!

The grey whale in the river - her calf went back out to sea,
but she's still hanging around in the river.  Coast Guard has
been trying to get her back out, but she's not budging yet!

The kids:
My cousin lives here in Norcal and has two little girls, Brittney and Amber.  I've only met them a couple of times, but Brittney couldn't wait to see "cousin Tracy" and proceeded to want to spend every minute with me the entire day! I'd cross my legs, Brittney would uncross them and sit on my lap - it was very cute, and made Oma (grandma) just a little jealous since Brittney claimed to "love me the best"!   LOL!!  And we heard that Brittney cried the entire way home...."I want cousin Tracy"!!  Oh yeah, I know how to work 'em all up, then send 'em home crying!!  But it was a fun day with the slip 'n' slide, hide and seek, and everyone's personal favorite - watching "cousin Tracy" trying to touch her toes while jumping on a trampoline!  Oh my word...this is downright embarrassing.  (I am barely giving consent to post this - so enjoy a good laugh!!!)

Video - Tracy touching toes:

Cousin Tracy, Brittney and Amber swing in the hammock!

Oh how I love me some good California wine!  I've been itching to get back to Napa and it didn't disappoint.  It was great to hit some of my old mainstays - Goosecross, Frog's Leap, etc.  Also found a new winery called Conn Creek where we met some very hospitable "wine lushes" (yes, this is legitimately what the employees call themselves!)  We got there around closing time, so they let us have some fun.  Despite Amy not drinking wine, she managed to get a couple of "nips" into a wine glass for her drinking pleasure!

First stop - Goosecross!
Lunch at V. Suttui

Wouldn't you love to have this in your basement??

Amy doesn't drink wine, but she takes a
cute picture at the winery!

Imagine that - Amy behind the bar with a guy on her! LOL!

Lovin' the Frog's Leap Red Flight!
Andrea (aka Wine Lush!) enjoys
a tasting with me at Conn Creek!

Black Stallion - beautiful winery!

Almost ready to be harvested!  We'll be drinking that soon!

The Beach!!  So many great memories of Capitola beach, Margaritaville, the colorful beach homes - what's not to love!  We hade a great day taking in the sun and then taking in some cocktails and then catching a band on the beach that night.  California summers - you just can't beat 'em!  And our drinks were so colorful - they even came with little plastic giraffe's which Amy named Sunkist and Lightning - I think she may have been a little buzzed!!  But the most amazing thing was THE BIRDS!  OMG, we have never seen anything like this in our lives!  There were literally thousands of birds flying over the water not far from shore.  It was truly spectacular.  Definitely watch the video, it's amazing!!!

There's Sunkist and Lightning!

I always loved these colorful beach houses!

The Birds - my lord, The Birds.  You MUST watch the video
to get the full effect!

Shoreline Park:
We took a beautiful walk around the Bay, and found a lake that offered kayaking and paddleboarding!  We've always wanted to try both, so we figured, hey, why not?!  At least if we fall in, it won't be 60 degree ocean water!  To our surprise, we weren't half bad.  I only took one minor spill, but I was trying to shove off the shore, so luckily there wasn't much of a splash since the water was only a foot deep.  We got some good video, so be sure to check it out!  And we highly recommend giving paddleboarding a try - it was fun, and a great arm workout!

Tracy - slow and steady!
Watch video:

Amy - nice matching outfit with the provided life vest!
Watch the video:

There's been so much more, but these are the highlights for now.  Next up is a yummy meal at La Fondue with Aunt Cath and Dave, pride festival in San Jose, Alcatraz and Pier 39 in San Fran, Carmel's beautiful 17 mile drive, more beach time in Monterey, SugarLand concert, and the much anticipated Michael Jackson flash mob that I plan to be a part of on 8/28.  Amy practically wets her pants everytime she sees me practice my moves!!  But being in a flash mob was on my "must do" list for this trip - so I can't let the opportunity pass me by!  Yes, there will be video, and I encourage laughter!

Until the next exit...

Amy & Tracy