Archive of ‘Wanderin’ Feet’ category

Off to Texas!

Happiest of Fridays, my friends! I’m on a plane to DALLAS this morning, heading to The Hundred Event!

The Hundred is a weekend conference hosted by some of my favorite bloggers (Bridget of Tales of Me and the Husband, Lauren of Aspiring Kennedy, Grace of Camp Patton, and Megan, formerly of Across the Pond Blog, now just Megan K. Graham). It’s an opportunity to network with bloggers, writers, and small business owners, and learn from some amazing bloggers and brands! It’s limited to 100 people, so it’s fairly small, approachable, and should be a downright blast!

I’m excited to meet some great people and have a weekend away from SF, AND it’s supposed to be about 100 degrees this weekend, which I am unreasonably giddy about. (That’ll last about four minutes when I start sweating BUT I miss summer heat and I can’t wait to experience it for three days.)

I’ll post all the details next week. For now, wish me luck! I’m wishing you a wonderful weekend filled with summer goodness from 30,000 feet.

- Taylor

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Wine Country: Larson Family Winery

After our epic day in Yosemite, we drove to a town halfway between Yosemite and wine country to find a decent hotel to sleep in before our Sunday plans. I mistakenly took a bit of a detour out of Yosemite, so our 2 hour drive went a little longer than expected and ended with us eating dinner past midnight at a Buffalo Wild Wings. It was pretty funny to be eating chicken wings at almost 1 o’clock in the morning, but hey, road trips are supposed to be spontaneous, right? At almost 3am, we were all snuggled into beds in the Holiday Inn Express Stockton with no plans to wake up and leave before check-out.

Fast-forward 8 hours, a few alarms, and some heavy duty blackout curtains later, we were all up and getting ready for our last day on the road. Sonoma, here we come!

At the recommendation from some friends, and because Mirai loves dogs, we chose to go to Larson Family Winery in Sonoma for an afternoon wine tasting, some yard games, and to play with their famous Labs.

It’s a casual atmosphere at Larson with picnic tables in the back where you can bring a group to hang out for an afternoon. You can play horseshoes, cornhole, or football in the field. You can walk through the vineyard itself. You can even hang out with the Three Labs of the winery, immortalized on one of their wine labels, generally found laying around outside being lazy.

We sat around a table, did a wine tasting, petted the three dogs (Bubba, Pete, and Buster), and ate birthday cake! Loved it!

I do have to say, it’s not the same as going to Long Meadow Ranch, but a day in wine country is still a great day! By the time we got home that night, after a Marin Headlands detour of course, we were all exhausted but happy campers. Birthday success!

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Yosemite: The First Trip

We had big plans for my birthday weekend. The Saturday after my birthday, we woke up at the crack of dawn to get ready, grab our Zipcar minivan (holla!), and head downtown to grab Ammai, Ranjeet, Yakov and Mirai for a roadtrip! Hello, Yosemite!!!

I’d been dying to get out of the city and see Yosemite and since Anish’s family was visiting, it felt like the perfect time to do it. I do have to say, I don’t recommend doing one day in Yosemite to anyone. It was a taste of paradise and absolutely not enough. But we only had two weekend days to use, so we were going to do it! Their time in San Francisco was dwindling fast, so we needed to pack it in. Saturday for Yosemite, Sunday for Napa. We’re not crazy, right? (Yes we are.)

Anyway, we went barreling out of the city like a herd of turtles and made it just over the Berkeley Hills before it was mandatory to stop for a Chick-Fil-A chicken biscuit breakfast. Tasted just like I remembered and the first-timers loved it!

With that rock in our stomach (that’s what it feels like!), we headed east through the land of golden rolling hills (drought), windmills, and ranches. Feels like an alien land out there between Mount Diablo and the Sierra Nevadas. It’s HOT right now out there and it’s a dry, dry heat. I was loving it, but applying chapstick like a madwoman.

After a few hours, we found ourselves driving up winding roads into the hills, heading for forests. I wasn’t sure what it would look like out there at all, honestly. I was picturing that we’d drive in from the bottom of some valley entrance or something, and it would be all Jurassic Park-esque. It wasn’t quite that… It was better.

We wound our way through forests before finally coming to an entrance to Yosemite National Park. We passed through with our National Parks Pass ($80 for a whole year for you and your partner, plus entire vehicle with ppl – WORTH IT!), and drove by a sign that said 25 miles to Yosemite Valley. WHAT! We were in the park already and it was still so far. Sigh…

Winding roads followed for ages and then BAM.

All of the sudden we rounded a corner and there in the distance was Half Dome. My mouth dropped into my lap and I was yelling, “Look! OMG! There it is!” We quickly pulled into the overlook to get out and take photos.

Land Before Time – that’s Yosemite. Just like that, the valley was visible from the road and the peaks of all the impressive mountains and cliffs were staring down at us. Mere mortals in an immortal land. Half Dome, El Capitan, Sentinel, Three Brothers. All there in front of us. The Merced River winding its way in the valley beneath us. I was (still am) in awe.

In that moment, all the dry heat and driving and Chick-Fil-A rock-in-the-stomach breakfast was worth it. We scrambled back into the van and excitedly headed down into the valley.

We spent the day stopping wherever we felt we needed to along the way. We stopped at overlooks. We walked in meadows. We visited Yosemite Village for a sandwich, while gazing through the trees at Yosemite Falls. We walked out to Mirror Lake to sit beneath Half-Dome and wonder how all those crazy people scale the rocks. We saw some deer, freaked out about potential mountain lions, and wished for a bear sighting.

It was the best darn day.

On our way out that evening, on the Glacier Point side of the valley, we watched the sun set over wildfires in the distance. It was hauntingly beautiful, and we left Yosemite in reverence to the almighty power of nature.

I’m already planning my next trip back.

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Diya Graduates! (As the sky falls…)

It started out as a gorgeous day. It was gloriously warm, the sun was shining, and there wasn’t a hint of bad weather to be found in the Montreal skies. We all woke up excited — it was Diya’s graduation day!

McGill’s big white [sturdy] graduation tent had been set up on the quad for days and graduations had been happening over the weekend. It was finally Diya’s turn after a weekend of awesome family adventures. We all put on our best outfits and wandered down in spurts to main campus, so we could take some photos before the event. So far, so good.

When it came time for Diya to go line up with her classmates, we headed into the tent to take seats with the general audience. Minutes later, Anish came by waving VIP tickets for the very front of the tent. He’d gotten the two tickets from Diya’s friend’s parents, and then convinced the VIP people to let us all (5 of us) sit up there. Go Anish!

Finally, we were all settled in along with 5,000 other attendees, and the proceedings began. First came the bagpipe player, then the professors and staff, and then all the graduates one-by-one in a line streaming in from the right side of the tent, walking beneath a pretty summer sky, excited for the end and the beginning. We strained to see Diya, caught a glimpse of her, and then all scrambled to take photos of her walking that turned out quite badly. 10-15 minutes later, the graduates were all seated and the speaker had already started.

That’s when all hell broke loose.

A gust of wind blew in from the right side of the tent, hitting it with such force that the whole thing shook under the pressure. Flaps started flying. The tent was shaking. People were gasping and stifling screams.

We all looked around and stared up at the staff on the stage thinking, What do we do? After a second, the staff suggested that the people in the far back of the tent, where flaps were flying hardest, should be evacuated to a classroom to watch the graduation. “Please calmly collect your belongings and evacuate the back of the tent. Please go to the following room to watch the proceedings.” People in the back started moving, and the rest of us nervously eyed the still-shaking tent and kept our seats.

The wind was continuing to blow, whipping in and out of the tent and keeping it shaking. Then came the rain.

The rain came in humongous drops battering the top of the tent and soaking all the pour souls who were being evacuated from the back. As the rain and wind hit the tent together, the top started shaking. The screens to show the proceedings to those in the middle started swaying above their heads. I started picturing the tent collapsing on us all and started gathering my things.

People were standing up everywhere. More screams and shouts were heard from the back. The staff in front was trying to keep calm, but couldn’t decide what to do. Diya came over to us and said the screen above her looked like it was going to fall any second and she wasn’t going to sit over there and wait for it to happen.

Finally the staff said the entire tent was being evacuated, and we should all proceed to a certain classroom, where they would decide what to do. Ensue more chaos.

5,000 people gathering their things, side-eyeing the swaying, whining tent, and looking out the entrances to see pouring rain. After stopping for a family photo (oh yes we did!), we took a deep breath and made a run for it into the downpour with the graduation programs over our heads.

A couple hours later, Diya walked across a small stage in an auditorium style classroom at McGill and graduated after four lovely years. All of us were sitting there, right near the front, sopping wet, and watched her do it. It wasn’t exactly what she’d pictured, but it sure as hell made a good story.

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The family on campus a few days before – getting ready to celebrate Diya’s grad!

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Like Montreal itself, McGill is gorgeous and fits right in the heart of the city.

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Our gorgeous graduate!

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The sweetest!

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Yes, this is the photo we took before dashing into the rain and making a run for it! Great photo though. ;)

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Congratulations Diya!

Quebec City

Before Diya’s graduation activities, while it was still the weekend and we had the car rental, we zipped away from Montreal headed down the highway to Quebec City for the day.

I was so excited for this day trip since I’ve been reading Louise Penny’s Chief Inspector Armand Gamache mystery series over the past two years. The series, which is set in Quebec, frequently visits Montreal and Quebec City. I’d fallen in love with Quebec through her vivid descriptions and the thought that one of my favorite characters in fiction had walked those very streets.

I’d imagined Old Quebec many times, dreaming of how it would look covered in ice and snow high above the St. Lawrence River. I’d pictured what the walled city would look like… The only remaining walled city north of Mexico and St. Augustine, Florida, it protects most of Old Quebec.

Our first stop was on the other side of the St. Lawrence for a peek at the view and a vanilla ice cream cone dipped in chocolate at Chocolates Favoris. I opted for the Classique Lait (classic milk chocolate) coating and Anish went for the Classique Noir (dark chocolate). After half of our cones, we were all in a chocolate stupor, but managed to climb in the car and head over to the city to spend the afternoon.

We visited in early summer so there was no ice or snow, but the magic of Old Quebec was just as vibrant. I felt like we’d walked straight through walled gates into a small European town with its cobblestones, stoned walls, picturesque homes, and old-fashioned buildings nestled together on the cliff above the St. Lawrence. The Fairmont Le Château Frontenac sits like a sentinel on the edge of the river and takes up most of the view into Old Quebec. It felt like a castle and I would not say no to a few nights there — what a dream!

I think pictures explain it best from this point… :)

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Family photo op: Old Quebec and the Chateau behind us!

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Cone dipping is an art.

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The entrance into Old Quebec! (Can you find Seb in this photo?)

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Look at how sweet this place is!

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In front of the Chateau (eh hem, castle).

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The St. Lawrence from the walled city.

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It felt like Disney, but in a real world sort of way.

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Being silly on the boardwalk… Anish always sweeps me off my feet. ;)

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Diya and Seb walking the grounds of the Citadelle.

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In front of Quebec’s Parliament Building, just outside of the walled city.

If you have the chance, I’d highly recommend a day (or two) trip to Quebec City to see it!

Book note: If you like well-written mysteries and descriptive stories, start the Gamache series with Louise Penny’s first book, Still Life. I promise you won’t regret it. You’ll soon fall in love with Gamache, Clara, Ruth and all the rest of the characters, and find yourself wishing that the town of Three Pines was real. In fact, I’m about to re-read all 10 of her books to prepare for the 11th coming in August! They’re that good (this isn’t the first time I’ve mentioned them before)!

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