Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

rossland, bc

This year for Christmas the Brancifortes and the Kernermans joined forces and headed to British Columbia. We set off from Spokane, and landed in Rossland, BC just a mere 20 minutes from the boarder. We posted up at the Red Mountain Ski Resort. Although, there wasn't enough snow to open the downhill slopes, there was plenty of snow for other forms of winter entertainment.  

On our first day, we strapped on some snowshoes and drove up the road to the Nancy Greene Summit area. We hired a guided, which ended up being a great idea. There are cozy huts along the trail, and they are hard to find unless you know what you're doing. We hiked to Red Dog Hut. It was about 2 miles in and about the coziest place on Earth. A fire was ablaze, lunch was cooking, and tea was served. Again, this was the perk of having a guided hike. All of the cabins are open to the public, no reservations required. Just pop in when it suits your fancy. Huts offer pit toilets, camping is not available. 

Red Dog Hut

Next, we traded in our snowshoes for some cross country skis. We made reservations with LePetit Fromage for a night ski session to a hut for a fondu dinner at Black Jack Ski Club. Before we hit the track at night, we spent the day scoping out the terrain.

Since much of the day looked like the above, becoming familiar with the trail before nightfall ended up being a good choice. After a day of skiing, we took a two hour rest, then headed back out at 5:30pm to get our fondu on. Bridget, our gracious host, cozified the hut before our arrival. She also provided a three-course fondu dinner, which was delicious. It's $75 a person, and you provide your own booze, so it's pricey, but definitely worth the cost. The best part was the epic night sky. 

On the third day, I rested. 

Monday, September 22, 2014

10 books

Here are my next ten books. That brings my grand total for 2014 to twenty books, which means I officially met my goal. I guess I'll be over achieving this year. Hurrah for me!

1. Eleanor and Park, by: Rainbow Rowell

Eleanor and Park is the newest popular teen fiction to hit the shelves. So, if you've already cried your way through The Fault in Our Stars, it's time to plow through this touching romance. You'll be rooting for this unlikely match with every turn of the page. As an added bonus, or some may find this a deterrent, it will make you feel like you are in high school all over again. Ahh, young love.

2. What Alice Forgot, by: Liane Moriarty

Basically Alice falls, hits her head, and wakes up thinking it's ten years in the past. In her mind, she has no memory of the three children she birthed, or the troubles her marriage is currently facing. Alice must relive all the pain and heartache of the last ten years as she catches up with the present. It's a good, entertaining read.

3. The Husband's Secret, by: Liane Moriarty

I enjoyed What Alice Forgot so much, I decided to read another novel by the same author. I was not disappointed. It's another page turner of a novel, which follows the lives of several seemingly unrelated characters. As for the husband's secret? Well, it's a doozy. 

4. Orphan Train, by: Christina Baker Kline

So apparently, our country used to ship off orphans from the East Coast to be adopted by rural families to meet childcare or farmhand needs. Who knew? Orphan Train parallels the stories of Molly, a present day teenager aging out of the foster care system and Dorothy, an Irish immigrant who loses her family in a tragic fire, and you guessed it, is placed on the orphan train. 

5. Veronica Mars: The Thousand Dollar Tan Line, by: Rob Thomas

Whatever, don't judge. This book was good. It picks up exactly where the movie left off. There should be more Logan drama. There's nothing more to say except, if you haven't already watched the series, you should. It's on Amazon Prime, so start binging now. You're welcome.

6. The Goldfinch, by: Donna Tartt

Never has a book been more torturous than The Goldfinch. I felt like I did something naughty and reading this book was my inhumane punishment. I've heard so many people talking about The Goldfinch, that I kept waiting for it to get good. Nope, it doesn't. It was a very long piece of pretentious dribble, with unlikable characters, and a boring plot. There, I said it.

7. The Lowland, by: Jhumpa Lahiri

The Lowland follows the story of two very different, but very close brothers as they cope with a changing India during the 1960s and 70s. One brother faces political strife head on, while the other flees to start a new life in America. Through distance and changes in situation, the brothers try to support each other and the choices they make. I can't really say anything else without giving away major plot lines. It's a beautiful and well written story.

8. Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption, by: Laura Hillenbrand

I wish Louis Zamperini was my grandfather. I don't think there is a more interesting man present or past. As Ryan and I were reading about his life, we were in disbelief that so much could happen to one person. Make sure to read this book before the movie is released on December 25th.  

9. Rules of Civility, by: Amor Towles

Katey Kontent is just living the life of a secretary in New York City in 1938 when she meets Tinker Grey and everything changes. Parties, love, accidents, drama, it's all there. Highly recommend.

10. What to Expect When You're Expecting, by: Heidi Murkoff and Sharon Mazel

This might be the most thrilling book I've read to date. I'm not all the way through yet, but it's definitely an engaging and relatable read. I'm currently at the bit about being 16 weeks along. I think that come March, I'll be ready for the sequel, What to Expect the First Year.

Well, there you have it, ladies and gentlemen, the second ten books on my quest to twenty. If you need more ideas, don't forget to check out the first 10 of 2014.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

surprise! inner sunset park tour

The Inner Sunset, in addition to being a fun, albeit foggy, neighborhood, has several visit worthy parks. I surprised Ryan with an afternoon touring a smattering of them. My plan was to begin the day with breakfast at Arizmendi Bakery on 9th, which has a great parklet for outside noshing. In a very O'Henry moment, Ryan hijacked my surprise date by surprising we with Arizmendi at home. So, with a quick change of plans, and after indulging in our morning pastries, we were on our way. 

We opted to take Muni to the Sunset, then headed out on foot to Hawk Hill Park. Hawk Hill has steep, sandy trails. After taking in the views of South San Francisco, the Outer Sunset, and the ocean, we decended the steep trail, and emptied the gallon of sand that had collected in our shoes. 

Our next stop, Golden Gate Heights Park, was just around the corner. Trails weave through a forested canopy. Views of the ocean and Outer Sunset occasionally peek out between branches. The fog collects on the branches, drips on the ground, and creates permanent mud, but that's ok because it feels remote and peaceful.

Rocky Outcrop Park was next up. Turns out this is literally just a rock outcrop. There are no trails and no access points. There is no visiting this park. We just kept on going. 

Our last park was Grandview Park. It's more of an outlook point than a park. An epic staircase climbs to the top of a steep hill, where there are views of Golden Gate Park, downtown, and various neighborhoods. There's also a bench for resting after the steep climb. A trail winds around the perimeter. 

At the bottom of Grandview Park are the Moraga Steps. These iconic tiled steps were bustling with visitors, making it difficult to get a good view of artwork. As it turns out, there are the 16th street steps up the street. These are just as spectacular, and completely deserted. Either head to the Moraga Steps first thing in the morning, or skip them altogether in lieu of the 16th Avenue steps. 

Moraga Steps

16th Avenue Steps

16th Avenue Steps

On our way home, we stopped off at The Ice Cream Bar in Cole Valley. This place has seriously good ice cream. My favorite is the vegan coconut chocolate almond. Don't judge, it's delicious, and you would never know that it's dairy free. Ryan ordered a milkshake from their old timey soda fountain bar. Soda drinks and shakes are concocted with droppers and formulas. It's all very scientific. 

Even though the fog impeded the views, we still had a fun time checking out new outdoor spaces in our city. The best part is the close proximity to our house. 

Monday, June 16, 2014

surprise! it's a secret island

Last week was my birthday, and to celebrate Ryan planned a surprise date. We hopped on our bikes and headed to, of all places, Fisherman's Wharf. I was convinced that he was taking me to Ripley's Believe It or Not. I would not have been disappointed. But, he had other plans. We queued up at a little pier next to the sea lions, boarded a small vessel, and made the 2 minute journey to Forbes Island. An island that after nearly a decade living in the city, somehow managed to evade my awareness.

Originally a bachelor pad in Sausalito, Forbes Island now houses the coziest restaurant I've ever set foot in. The kitsch factor is high. There is a lighthouse to climb, pirates to admire, and sailor paraphernalia is scattered throughout. The restaurant itself is slightly submerged in the Bay. Fish periodically swim past the cloudy windows, as you sway with the waves.

The wait staff were friendly, and even treated us to dessert and two bonus glasses of wine. We ended up closing down the restaurant and took the boat back with the staff.

Don't let the notion of Fisherman's Wharf scare you away. Apparently they feed mostly locals, and I can see why. It's a weird, quirky place with delicious food.

 Ryan definitely wins the prize for most unexpected and surprising date night.

(Photo via Forbes Island Facebook Page)

Sunday, June 1, 2014

emigrant wilderness

For Memorial Day weekend, Ryan and I headed out of town to do a bit of camping. To try something new, we went east to Emigrant Wilderness in Stanislaus National Forest. Even though we managed to leave town early, we were still running late. Maybe it was because of our stop to check out the Bass Pro Shop. That place is more intense than Disney Land.

Post horsing around at the Pro Shop, we continued on our merry way. We were planning on hiking into Relief Reservoir. The trail begins at Kennedy Meadows, where there are car camping spots, little cabins, horses, a restaurant, and a bodega. Our hike in was about 7 miles, and we left Kennedy Meadows around 5:30. Since it stays light so late, we were fine on time. The hike to the reservoir is strenuous. The trail relentlessly winds up steep and rugged terrain. Our map had a misprint, which left us momentarily lost and confused, but we sorted out directionality after just a 1/2 mile misstep. FYI, you go over two footbridges, not just one.

We hiked to the south end of the reservoir, then left trail to find a camping spot. In order to be near the water, it is necessary to leave the trail, but it's easy enough to find again. We found a great spot, near the creek and with a view of the water. The best part about Emigrant Wilderness is that you can have a campfire. There is plenty of wood to collect in the nearby forest. 

After a chilly night, we awoke to a blazing hot morning. We gathered the necessary items for a day hike and set off to explore the area. Since it was hot, we were drinking water like fish, but there are plenty of creeks as you go, so finding water was a breeze. We just needed to treat it.

We continued south on the trail for another 4 miles. We caught views of the surrounding snowy mountains, a few waterfalls, and the reservoir. The trail continues uphill, so it was another day of strenuous hiking. 

After two big hiking days, we devoured our dinners and then indulged in some hot chocolate with bourbon. Not a bad campfire treat.

On Monday morning, the reservoir was glassy and still. We took in the sights before we packed up and said good-bye.

With sequoias, campfires, and proximity to San Francisco, the Emigrant Wilderness has a lot going for it. Just make sure to bring the deet