Oregon – October 2016

Wineries from Jason
Willamette
  • St. Innocent ‚ÄĒ 11-5p daily
  • Brooks ‚ÄĒ 11-5p daily
  • JK Carriers ‚ÄĒ Fri & Sat 11-4p
  • Shea ‚ÄĒ the shit ‚ÄĒ Ressies Thurs, Fri, Sat
Columbia Valley
  • The Rocks – Syrah
  • Gramercy Cellars ‚ÄĒ syrah
Seattle
  • Resties: Wild Ginger, Canlis, EMP museum
Portland
  • Pok Pok
  • Distillery Row — ginger liqueur
Breweries
Hikes
  • Multnomah Falls
  • Get this guide:¬†Scott Cook‚Äôs guidebooks Bend Overall and Curious Gorge offer detailed (and irreverent) info, direx, and fun facts about all kinds of adventures you can have in two of the areas we‚Äôll focus on in this loop: Central Oregon and the Columbia Gorge respectively. They‚Äôre available at Powell‚Äôs in Portland and almost every coffee shop in the town of Hood River.
Surf Articles
North Coast Oregon tour (references breweries in Astoria)
101 Brewery Tour Oregon (coastal breweries)
RV options: Sprinter
Sample from Cruise America (need to call for one-way)
Anticantrea winery
Patricia Green winery
Amatello winery
Portland
Forest Park
Seattle
Westward

THE ITINERARY


 
Alaska Airlines AS571
San Diego 2:50 pm, Portland 5:14 pm
Alamo
Portland (PDX)
Residence Inn by Marriott Downtown/Pearl District
1150 Northwest 9th Ave, Portland 97209
Check in after 4:00 pm
Pok Pok (2.4 miles to Hair of the Dog Brewery)
Distillery Row
Hair of the Dog Brewery
Stay in Portland

 
Shea Wines – 10:00 a.m. booked with Peter Shea
The tasting will be in the winery, which is the first building on the left as you come up the driveway.
Travelodge Suites Newberg
Check in 2 pm, checkout 11 am
2816 Portland Road, Newberg (Oregon), OR 97132
J.K. Carriere –¬†Parrett Mtn. Paulee Party, 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m
Deschutes and 10 Barrel Brewing (both also in Bend)
Potentially Ten Falls Hike

 
St. Innocent Winery –¬†Tourt, Tasting, and Pairing –¬†11:00 a.m.
Brooks Winery2:00 pm, scheduled with Jessica Pierce via email, live music 1-4 pm
Cascade Trail Head – approx 1:05 min drive from St. Innocent
South Trailhead
Take 22 to the 18 to the Coast
3.4 miles, 6.8 out and back, can do car pickup after first half

Staying at turtlejanes bed n breakfast
Pacific City
Hike Cape Kiwanda
Pelican Pub and Brewery
Moment Surf Company – for rentals
Surf by haystack monolith
Hike Cape Lookout
Additional option: Otter Rock, south

Oswald West State Park – waterfalls, surf, creeks, tide pools, old growth forest
Short Sand Beach – Surf, protected and picturesque cove
Hug Point – go on low tide, beaches, caves, tide pools
Manzanita
Cannon Beach – Surf, Pelican Brewing
Ecola State Park – Cannon Beach to Seaside, 9 miles
Indian’s Beach – Surf, secluded, in Escola State Park
2740 South Pacific * Cannon Beach, OR 97110
Ph: 1-800-633-3466 | Fx: 503-436-9711
info@stephanieinn.com | www.stephanieinn.com

Please review the following information for accuracy.

Arrival Date: Tuesday, October 25, 2016
Departure Date: Wednesday, October 26, 2016
No. of Nights: 1
Number of Guests: 2 Adult(s)
RATE DETAIL: 
From:   10/25/2016    To:   10/26/2016    For:    1 room

         1 night(s)  in a 1st Floor Oceanfront King
PLEASE NOTE:
‚ÄĘ The Inn provides a completely smoke and pet-free environment.
‚ÄĘ We welcome children over the age of 12.
‚ÄĘ Check-in time is after¬†4:00pm. Check-out time is¬†12:00 noon.
‚ÄĘ All reservations with a credit card on file will be guaranteed for late arrival.
‚ÄĘ Reservations will not be honored if credit card declines or a deposit check is returned for any reason.
‚ÄĘ Cancellations: We adhere to a 7 day cancellation policy. Should you have a change of plans, please advise us no later than 7 days prior to your date of arrival. This will enable us to refund your entire deposit.

Once again, thank you for selecting the Stephanie Inn.

Seaside – Surf, Seaside Brewing Co.
Seaside to Astoria – approx 30 min drive
Astoria
Astoria Brewing Company, Buoy Beer Co. (see link above)
Astoria to Portland – Approx 1:45 min drive
Astoria to Hood River – Approx 2:30 min drive

Portland to Hood River, 1:10 min drive
Multnomah Falls – en route to Hood River
Three Waterfalls Hike (see link above)
Oneonta Gorge – en route to Hood River
Eagle Creek, alternative side trip – waterfalls, pools, wild flowers, forest. Could also do this Sat 10/22
Hood River, Columbia Gorge – SUP, biking
Double Mountain Brewing

 
Hood River to Bend, approx 2:40 min drive
Stop for hike at Tamanawas Falls, near Mt. Hood
     Use south/Tamanawas Falls hike entry, 150 ft waterfall
     Dry cavern behind the falls
Stop at Metolius River – hiking, wildlife viewing, world class
Stop at Smith Rocks State Park

Bend, hiking, mountain biking
Deschutes River Trail – potential SUP
Bend to Portland, approx 3:10 min drive
Leave Bend by 1:00 pm
Alaska Airlines AS 552
Portland 6:55 pm to San Diego 9:14 pm

Alaska: the last frontier

I needed a nature getaway. With work and wedding planning, I felt nature was a great way to connect to the very thing that “resets” me. So here’s an itinerary I took with a childhood buddy of mine in an RV for two weeks.

Italicized verbiage was my journal while there.

THE REAL ITINERARY


Mon, Aug 29

Fly out to Anchorage and pickup RV from Great Alaskan Holidays.


Anchorage

Flew in and picked up RV. Grabbed groceries from the local Walmart and Costco in Anchorage. Dinner at 9p at 49th State Brewery: beer flight — the Smoked Marzen was smokey and delicious. Beer battered halibut and fries. Drove until midnight; looking for side rest areas. Hard to see at night.

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Tues, Aug 30
9am – 14:30p ‚ÄĒ White water rafting @ 6 mile creek
http://www.chugachoutdoorcenter.com/six_mile_rafting.htm

We had some changes to our itinerary where instead of the 9am start, we started around 12:30 and it was perfect. So before the rafting, we opted for a really close hike with a view of Turnagain Arm.


Description: Three Canyon Six Mile Creek Rafting6 mile creek most challenging. On way from Anchorage to Seward.


OUR OFFICE FOR SIXMILE CREEK RIVER TRIPS IS LOCATED AT MILEPOST 7.5 ON THE WEST SIDE OF THE HOPE HIGHWAY.

TO GET THERE FROM ANCHORAGE GO SOUTH ON THE SEWARD HWY. TO THE HOPE JUNCTION, TURN RIGHT (NORTH) AND PROCEED 7.5 MILES DOWN THE HOPE HIGHWAY.

THE HOPE JUNCTION IS 70 MILES FROM DOWNTOWN ANCHORAGE.

SHUTTLE VAN TRANSPORTATION IS AVAILABLE FOR GROUPS OF 2 OR MORE FROM GIRDWOOD, COOPER LANDING, WHITTIER AND SEWARD.

PLEASE CONTACT US FOR PRICING.

CALL TOLL-FREE AT 1-866-277-RAFT (7238).

ANCHORAGE AREA RESIDENTS CAN DIAL LOCALLY AT 277-RAFT”

Exit Glacier:
Google Map: 1h 18m
https://www.nps.gov/kefj/planyourvisit/exit-glacier-area.htm
Ice Climbing Exit Glacier: ?8hrs — we opted for an easy 2 mile hike up to see Exit Glacier since we would be having our own ice hiking/climbing adventure at another glacier.

Post up in Seward for the evening:
http://www.rvparkreviews.com/regions/alaska/seward
http://www.cityofseward.us/index.aspx?nid=864
http://www.cityofseward.us/DocumentCenter/View/2969


http://www.themilepost.com/features/ipad-and-android-apps

Tuesday, Aug 30

Hope

Drove into Chugach National Forest — so beautiful! Tall mountains, tall trees and pines, gorgeous lakes and creeks. This morning, we were supposed to have a 9am white water rafting trip down 6 mile creek (class 5 Rapids)…. But there was a miscommunication. But, it got worked out — we ended up going to do Hope Point hike and saw some amazing views of the Turnagain Arm. After we did our hike, we went down to grab a coffee and snack at Kayak and Coffeehouse. The owner, Levi, was super helpful in explaining to us the bore tide as well as answering questions on what to do in town and what Alaskans think about the pipeline. After a bite and convo, we headed to our whitewater raft company to get suited up and do the 6 mile creek class 5 Rapids at 2p. It was an incredible experience. You do a practice swim…in a dry suit with a life vest…and then get in your raft with your guide. Canyon 1 and 2 are fun. The class 5 occurs in the 3rd canyon — Staircase is a 5 foot waterfall drop. And then there’s the other two right after (Sucker hole? And ZigZag). So rad. Just do it! Dinner in Seward at Chinook — yummy halibut. Fresh caught.

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Wed, Aug 31
Seward
TripAdvisor: Things to do in seward

Fox island kayak and cruise:
7am: Check in at Adventure Center (1302 4th Ave, Seward)
8am:Depart Seward on a Kenai Fjords Tours boat
9am:Arrive Fox Island


http://www.sunnycove.com/

Drive to Soldotna (possibly stop thru Cooper Landing on way?)

Wed, Aug 31

Seward

Woke up early for the kayak and fjord tour and found out that it was really windy and choppy on the water, so the kayak portion of our trip was cancelled. But we still got on the boat and checked out the fjords with glaciers! There were tons of wildlife out: sea otters, seals, puffins, bald eagle, northwest humpback whale, and Dall’s porpoise. So many incredible views and sceneries. After that, we did a little hike out at Exit Glacier. Then we rolled into Fred Mayer grocery store — which is like a combo of Super Walmart/Costco. We picked up our fishing license and then RV’d in the driveway of our fishing place for tomorrow in Soldotna. Seward was decimated by an earthquake back in the early 1900s and had to rebuild. But before that, it was on it’s way to becoming a big town!

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Thurs, Sep 1
-drive to Soldotna

Check out Cooper Landing:
https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attractions-g30971-Activities-Cooper_Landing_Alaska.html

Trip Advisor: Things to do in Soldotna

High Adventure Air: salmon
High Adventure Air Charter
38675 Longmere Lk Ct, Soldotna, AK 99669
(907) 262-5237 https://goo.gl/maps/AA39paQDgcw


730am flight:

buy fishing license there

Fishing in Alaska


Soldotna to Glacier view: about 5hrs (Google Maps)
Drive as far as possible…

Thurs, Sept 1

Soldotna

Took a fishing trip with High Adventure Air. Our guides were so wonderful!! Gorgeous seaplane flight from Soldotna to Crescent Lake. We flew over big lush trees and crater-like mountains. It was a beautiful takeoff and landing from the seaplane! We started casting out immediately and my first fish was a dead one. ;P. The next fish I caught was a silver salmon. Vinoop caught several Dollys and a lake trout. Overall, it was a terrific day with gorgeous sunshine and a beautiful backdrop of landscape. We also saw several bears including a mama bear and her two cubs. In fact, the fish we caught were kept in the lake water bc it was so frigid, but we had to gut and fillet them so the guts were thrown back in the lake which seemed kinda like a nice flowing river. The mama bear started swimming toward us and made it halfway across the lake to snatch up the guts of the fish we cleaned. It was pretty scary. Otherwise, the Bears did a good job of just keeping on their own. We checked out Kenai River brewing and then made the 4.5h drive to Glacier View for tomorrow’s ice climb!

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Fri, Sep 2

Glacier View

10:30a – 18:00 Ice climbing
https://micaguides.com/#_=_
https://micaguides.com/activities/ice-climbing/


(907) 351-7587
info@micaguides.com

Milepost 102.5, Glenn Highway
Glacier View, Alaska
Google map

Glacier View to Valdez


Fri, Sept 2

Glacier View

We arrived to the Matanuska glacier and Mica Guides for some ice trekking/ice climbing. They gave us our gear and strapped us into some gators, ice climbing boots, crampons, waterproof gloves that looked like dishwashing gloves, and a helmet. Once we hiked out to the glacier, they gave us lil activities to check our skills. First was learning how to walk in crampons. You want to dig your feet into the ice — stomping, kicking, anything to get a good grip. Duck walk to go up the ice…and the cowboy to go down the ice. Next check off was how to use a ice climbing pick. Reach behind like you’re doing triceps (keep your elbows in) and extend the pick up overhead and use the wrist to snap it down for more power. The key is the wrist snap. We practiced our safety grips as well. Always have the leash on — just like a beginner surfer! After getting familiar with the ice climbing pick, we practiced traversing a glacier free style (just a couple feet off the ground). It’s important to be able to kick into the glacier to get the 4 teeth on the front of the crampon to grip the ice. Test the bite and make sure it’s stable and then kick your other foot in. Our first test, we went down a glacial crevasse. It was spectacularly beautiful. We used our foundation that our guides Emily and Brett taught us. It’s difficult not to marvel at nature’s beauty. I felt like my rock climbing skills really helped. After that pass, we went to a more difficult pass known as a moulin ( like Moulin Rouge). It was a glassier, more iced over face that was shaded and had a different texture and feel. It was more difficult to get the ice pick and crampons into the ice. BUt, you just gotta make your tools stick. I felt like a real ice climber. It was such a wonderful experience!! After the ice climb, we got back into the RV and made our way to Valdez — stopping by Tok Thai — an awesome Thai place we found on Yelp. We settled in overnight at Copper Center along the road at a picturesque spot where you could see Mt. Sanford and mt. Wrangell.  

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Sat, Sep 3
 Valdez


Sat, Sept 3

Valdez

Walked around the pier here — home to the great Valdez derby. This derby is a contest to see who can catch the biggest halibut as well as the biggest salmon. We caught it on its last day — and so far the biggest salmon was 17.8 lb and the biggest halibut was 253 lb! Small quiet fishing town where the Alaskan pipeline ends. Seems to be a bit smaller than Seward.

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Sun, Sep 4

Evening close to Denali

View from bodenburg butte


Sun, Sept 4

Drove from Valdez to Copper Center thru Wasilla (home of Sarah Palin) to Bodenburg Butte. We did a lil hike there and then ended up heading to Denali Brewing Company in Talkeetna. Excellent Belgian strong there.  

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Mon, Sep 5

call for wonder lake shuttle tickets 8am (alaska time) shuttle
http://www.alaska.org/detail/denali-park-shuttle-bus

Drive to Denali


Camp in Denali Riley creek site.

Mon, Sept 5

From Talkeetna, we drove into Denali national park. We stopped for lunch at Prospector’s (it was rainy and cold). Excellent craft beer on top — like 40+ beers! Excellent pizzas as well! After lunch, we walked around the park and then decided to make the sled dog demo. These dogs are so excited to pull!! They’re Alaskan huskies who love to pull a sled. We saw the 6 week old pups! This is the only working sled dog kennel in any of the national parks. These dogs work hard in the winter freeing up debris from roads, hauling supplies to hard to reach places, helping keep the roads maintained — but they love what they do! Gotta say, they’re the hardest working federal employees! We stayed the night in Riley Creek campground (yes you still get a cell signal on AT&T).
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Tues, Sep 6


Tues, Sept 6

Early early morning shuttle bus ride to Wonder Lake — we saw beautiful views of bears, caribou, and moose. It was super rainy and drab…cloudy. We got to Eielson center and decided to take the 12p ranger led hike up Alpine trail. Although we got soaked from the rain, it was worth the 1000+ ft elevation gain to see the different terrain. We learned from Ranger Nick (which this was the last ranger led hike of the season) that there are a ton of earthquakes or at least seismic activity happening in the Eielson area. But we didn’t feel anything that day. Do take a moment to stop and check out Eielson center. It’s full of info and a great stopping point to watch a movie on climbers to summit Denali — 3 weeks, no Sherpas, and you carry your own waste in the freakin’ cold! I don’t think Denali is in the cards for me. We took the return bus (we didn’t make it to wonder lake)…cold and wet. Once we got to the RV, a change of clothes and a beer did the trick to turn our frowns upside down! We hit up Prospector’s again for dinner and it was fabulous!! Night again in Riley Creek Campground. 

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Wed, Sep 7


Wed, Sept 7

We decided to fill up our RV with fresh water and then check out of Riley Campground and park in the Visitors center lot (just for the day). We opted for the Mt. Healy Overlook trail — which is a strenuous 2 hour trail, one way, 2.7 miles, 1700ft elevation, 25% grade, 2 feet width, with native soils with roots and rocks. It was totally rad!! Great way to see the various terrain at the different altitudes. Pack a lunch and have it at the top of the trail as the views are beautiful — even on a partly cloudy day. The descent is much faster than the ascent. There are edible blueberries along the way for a great snack! Dinner tonight at Karsten’s — a new restaurant that has a yummy caribou burger as well as awesome sweet jalape√Īo cornbread! After dinner, we drove to Savage River campgrounds to RV for the night. No AT&T cell phone reception here.

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Thurs, Sep 8

From Savage River campground on Savage Alpine Trail

View from top of Savage alpine trail


Thurs, Sept 8

From the Savage river campground, we walked to the trailhead to Savage Alpine trail. This trail can be started either at the campground or at the end by savage river. If you have trouble with steep descents, I recommend starting at Savage river (from the campground, you can catch a shuttle to take you there) — it’s a steeper ascent by more relaxed descent closer to the campgrounds. The Savage alpine trail is strenuous, 3 hours one way, 4miles, 1500ft in elevation, 25% grade, 2 feet width, and has native soils with roots and rocks and gravel. So, from the campground going up you start a gradual ascent with tall grasses initially that breaks open to subalpine/alpine tundra that’s short. We didn’t’ see any large wildlife along this trail — but there are plenty of warning signs for bears. Once we got to the top (no more elevation gain on the maintained trail), we saw a rocky peak that we wanted to get to for a better look at Denali. So, we forged our own trail. It was rocky and barren and was an extra 400ft or so almost straight up (>25% grade). The wind was fierce and strong — but we made it. At the top, we had an Alaskan Summer Ale beer to celebrate the climb and enjoy the peace of the area around us. Our descent was tricky — super rocky terrain with steep areas. We went carefully and slowly down the mountain back to the maintained trail. I spotted an alpine squirrel who didn’t seem to be scared or even interested in me — he was going after some grub in the ground! The descent was super steep even once we got onto the main trail. After we got down from the savage alpine trail, we opted for an extra 2 miles along the savage river loop trail. Nice and relaxing 45min trail around the river with minimal elevation change. I’m still amazed at the sheer beauty of Denali and could easily come back here. We drove into town to see if we could arrange a flight for tomorrow to circle Denali. Looks like we’re a go with Talkeetna Air!

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Fri, Sep 9
Denali to Talkeetna

Denali


Fri, Sept 9

Today we drove from Denali to Talkeetna to catch a plane that will go over some glacial ice fields and then circle Denali from Talkeetna Air.  Impressively spectacular views from the plane!  I highly recommend it!  Dropped off the RV back at Great Alaskan Holiday and arranged for a taxi to Moose’s Tooth — a must stop for awesome pizza and craft brew in Anchorage!  After that, we took a taxi back to our RV and then picked up our luggage and then headed to the airport for a midnight flight.

Talkeetna to Anchorage: about 2 hours

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Sat, Sep 10


Sat, Sept 10

Flight home from Anchorage waaaaaaaay early!


Restaurants tackled on the World’s Top 50 restaurants

World’s Top 50 resties — 2014

It took me about 5 years to build up this list.  The amount of work and attention to detail that these restaurants perform is incredible.  In the same trip, I ate at Geranium and Noma.  At the time, Geranium was #50 and Noma was #1.  The two were almost indistinguishable.  2 fave restaurant in the US: Per Se and Alinea.  Bravo to the chefs and staff.  My culinary journey was nothing short of a blessing.

The 2016 World’s Best Restaurants list and with my updated dining list from 2015-2016:

  • (6) Mirazur
  • (7) Mugaritz
  • (10) Asador Extebarri
  • (12) Quintonil
  • (16) Azurmendi
  • (17) Piazza Duomo
  • (21) Arzak
  • (25) Pujol
  • (31) Nihonryori RyuGin
  • (46) Combal Zero

San Francisco – May 2015

Staircases:

Best new restaurant: The Progress, Lazy Bear
Restaurants: State Bird Provisions, Benu, SPQR, Quince
Bars: TrickDog, Bar Agricole
Bakers: B Patisserie, Craftsman and Wolves
Wine: a16
Swan Oyster Depot: http://www.sfswanoysterdepot.com
Breakfast @ Mama’s: http://www.mamas-sf.com/
Smitten ice cream… so so ice cream at best but the beer garden next to it was perfect!
Kokkari Greek restaurant (don’t forget the lamb riblets)
Twin Peaks summit hike

Masa’s (French)
Brenda’s French soul food: breakfast = bananas foster french toast
Kappa Japanese restaurant
No. 75: Coi
Cigar bar
Barbacco
Zarzuela
Commonwealth
http://www.10best.com/destinations/california/san-francisco/mission-district/
Chinatown: http://www.hiddensf.com/103-chinatown-san-francisco-california.html

Main Attractions:
http://www.hiddensf.com/400-san-francisco-attractions.html
http://www.hiddensf.com/410-san-francisco-tourism.html

Presidio Park:
http://www.hiddensf.com/430-things-to-do-presidio-sf.html
Batteries to Bluffs walking trail (view of GGBridge): http://www.hiddensf.com/batterys-bluffs-walking-trail.html

San Francisco Carnaval, Mission District, San Francisco
Festival, Saturday-Sunday,¬†5/23/15 ‚Äď 5/24/15, Free.¬†¬†Harrison St. between 16th & 24th Streets.
Parade, Sunday 5/24/14, 9:30 am, Free.  Proceeds west on 24th St. then north on Mission St.
A big, crowded Latin American/Caribbean Street festival and parade in the Mission District.

Caledonia Street Festival, Caledonia Street/Johnson Street, Sausalito
Saturday, 5/24/15, 11 am-5 pm,  Free.
A party for the people of Sausalito, very much like the old Sausalito Art Fair, featuring local art and music.  7000 people attended last year.

Sunday, May 24: The Mission and Presidio #SF

After a bit of a later start this morning (actually rolled outta bed around 9a), I decided it’s time to tackle The Mission. ¬†Why’s everyone always talking about this area? ¬†I had to find out. ¬†So, I hopped the BART and headed for the Mission 16th St stop. ¬†The area was pretty crowded…and here’s why: The Mission St. Carnaval!¬†

The energy and vibe were up! People lined the streets dancing, singing, eating, etc. Eventually, a gal builds up an appetite and Mission Chinese has been on my foodie radar.  I ordered the tea-smoked eel as an appetizer and the ma po tofu entree.  The app was a wonderful assortment of flavors and textures.  Perhaps the hoisin sauce was a bit overpowering, but kudos on combining a delicious flavor and texture-rich app.  The entree was massive!  Perfect amount of spice (probably a medium spice on my rating) for good heat without suffering through the tears and sweat of a super spicy dish.  Excellent flavor.  A side of steamed rice is welcomed to soften the salt load.


While waiting for my order to arrive, a gal was seated behind me and ordered the rice bowl. ¬†I happened to overhear her conversation with the waitstaff about maybe ordering the same tea-smoked eel as I had ordered. ¬†So, when my order arrived, I offered her a sample of mine to share. ¬†Food, friends, and sharing all go hand in hand — this is why people congregate around food. ¬†A familiar comfort with great company. ¬†I find out her name is Cristina Soltesz and she does event planning. ¬†We were conversing through lunch and before ya know it, she sees a friend of hers walking down the street. ¬†Alex came in and ordered some food. ¬†Then, more of her friends showed up — Sean and Emma. ¬†And then another one of her friends (I forget his name) showed up. ¬†In the end, 6 of us decided to roam the Mission. ¬†Actually, it was more like Cristina and her friends being super amazing hosts and graciously showing me the sights and sounds of The Mission.

After lunch, we opted to walk and find some yummy coffee. ¬†One of her friends suggested Four Barrel coffee. ¬†I ordered a pour over: La Cabana from Colombia. Mild, hints of sweet,…no sugar needed. ¬†Perhaps I am starting to understand what makes a great coffee…and it seems to be in the beans and the process. ¬†The barista (or is it baristo for the male version?) placed a coffee filter into a cone that was atop what looked like an erlenmyer flask (yeah, flashback to chemistry, right?). He poured hot water into the filter then weighed out some coffee beans and then had then ground freshly for my one cup. ¬†Once the grind was in the cone with moistened filter, he lightly poured some hot water over it until it started to show more packing and less liquid. ¬†Then he poured more hot water over it and set the timer for 30 seconds. ¬†After 30 seconds, another round of hot water. ¬†I think that was repeated one more time and that was it.

The perfect minimalist approach to a flavorful (no additives) cup of coffee.  Hipster? Maybe.  Delicious? Yes.

After coffee, we headed down a graffiti walled alleyway.  Interesting and ever-changing according to our Mission expert, Alex.

From 6 friends walking –> to 4. ¬†Then 3. ¬†We packed up into Cristina’s car and headed out to check out Dolores Park. ¬†It’s a beautiful open space but they were doing construction on it so most of it was closed off. ¬†After that, we headed out to the Presidio area and dropped off her friend Sean. ¬†We then headed back to her place and I met her husband and mother and father-in-law. ¬†They’re from Italy and were a delight! ¬†She speaks Italian as well — what can’t this gal do? ¬†After a brief meet and greet and tour of her place, we then headed out to see Presidio National Park which looks like a gorgeous forest.

We stopped to check out Inspiration Point and then took in the atmosphere at Off the Grid in Presidio.  What a great gathering! Food trucks, open grass, music, and a great view of the Golden Gate Bridge.  Sounds like a great way to spend a Sunday!  After that, we headed out to Baker Beach for a different shot of the GGB.

Despite the fog, it was still a beautiful scene.  A quick jaunt and history of Sutro Baths and Cliff House.

Then onto a quick drive through Golden Gate¬†Park. ¬†It was such a delightful tour of San Francisco. Without Cristina, I definitely wouldn’t have had the opportunity to see so many things in the city. ¬†She’s a real gem. ¬†How often will you quickly connect with a stranger? We seem to be like-minded and she’s got a great head on her shoulders. ¬†If you stumble across this, THANK YOU Cristina!!!

Saturday, May 23 in SF

Caught the early morning flight out of SD and landed in SF around 8:30am.  It was super easy to catch the BART from the SFO airport to downtown SF.  Checked my bags into the Clift Hotel so I could start walking the city!

From Union Sq I headed out to the Fillmore district and stumbled upon Japan town!  I bet both of these places  are hopping more in the evening than the early morning!  It was quite a hike and there were some dicey areas along the way.

The purpose of the walk was to head to the area where lunch was going to be.  Lunch resie @ SPQR!  It was very small but had a cute open kitchen concept.  Great staff.  Yummy chicken liver mousse. Savory beef cheeks.  Decadent tiramisu.

After this heavy lunch, I decided I again needed to do some walking so caught the Muni out to the start of the Twin Peaks hike. ¬†It wasn’t too bad. ¬†Nice uphill walk with beautiful views of the city. ¬†Too bad it was still pretty foggy — I can only imagine on a clear day that the sight would be spectacular!

The people I have met in San Francisco are incredibly nice. ¬†People were telling me how to get to places and which buses to take (yes, even after looking at Google Maps…human clarity was needed!). ¬†It’s a very different vibe from NYC — so I do truly believe that SF is more my vibe. ¬†West coast is the best coast!

After walking about 7 miles (thanks Strava!) back to the hotel, I was pretty tired.  Curled up for a lil nap and then started getting ready for my dinner @ Quince.  Grabbed an Uber and headed over for my 9p dining experience.

It started with a wonderful welcome by the staff (and yes, they were able to accommodate me a bit early at 8:45p).  One of my biggest pet peeves is being late to a reservation.  They greeted me with a wonderful champagne and the evening meal commenced.

They started with several amuse bouches to get the palate going. ¬†They were all so amazingly delicious! ¬†Alaskan uni?! ¬†Melted away on your tongue with that sweet and briny flavor that I’ve grown to love in my uni.

First course (middle left): Golden osetra caviar panna cotta with chive, egg yolk, and shallot paired with Delamotte, Blanc de Blancs, Brut, Champagne, France NV.  The wine pairing champagne that they brought out with the caviar was so lovely! It was floral and slightly sweet on the palate and effervescent.  I need to find a bottle!

Second course (middle right): California king salmon with Zuckerman farm green asparagus, buttermild, and dill paired with Lucien Crochet, “Le chene,” Sancerre, Loire Valley, France 2013. ¬†Terrific pairing. ¬†Salmon rare wrapped around a large tasty asparagus. ¬†Excellent flavors.

Bread course: rye bread with buffalo milk butter. ¬†I kept eating the butter! It was mixed with a yogurt for extra flavor — but it was so delicious!

Third course (bottom left): White asparagus with gulf crawfish, cardoon, and chervil paired with F.X. Pichler, Gruner Veltliner Smaragd, “Urgestein Terrassen,” Wachau, Austria 2012. ¬†This was an exquisite dish! The broth under the asparagus with so smooth and comforting — almost making this dish feel ‘meaty’. ¬†The wine itself was amazing. ¬†Perhaps I need to grab a bottle of this as well.

Fourth course (bottom right): Tagliolini stuffed with big island abalone, garlic scape, and scallion paired with Domaine Theulot Juillot, “Champs Martins,” Mercurey Premier Cru, Burgundy, France 2006. ¬†Delicious plate. I thought the course paired better with the wines from the 2nd and 3rd courses. ¬†It was a 100% pinot noir from Burgundy.

Fifth course (top left of 2nd grouping): Casoncelli stuffed with phil paine’s squab, ruby beet, and borage paired with Fattoria di Felsina, “Berardenga,” ¬†Chianti Classico Riserva, Tuscany, Italy 1995. The squab had a wonderful smoked flavor that was perfectly paired with the sweet beet and mellowed by the borage. ¬†I really enjoyed this dish. Also very nice pairing with the 1995 Chianti.

Sixth course (top right): Watson farm spring lamb with artichoke, zucchini blossom stuffed with lamb sausage, and sunflower paired with Chateau Leoville-Barton, Saint Julien, Bordeaux, France 1978.  This dish was extremely tasty.  Lamb three ways.  The cube on the left was lamb with a nice 5 spice seasoning and glaze.  The main chop was served medium rare and the flavor was overwhelming delicious.  The squash blossom was stuffed with a lamb sausage.  Lastly on the right was the cubed shoulder that was tender.  Well executed dish.

Palate cleanser (middle left): shaved ice, wild strawberries, strawberry jam and 24k gold flakes/paper.  Wonderfully light yet sweet.  The strawberries were intense with flavor.

Bday surprise dessert (middle right): a mousse of some sort that was delightful and very rich

7th course (bottom left): Valrhona guanaja mousse with goat milk gelato, grapefruit, and rosemary paired with Graham’s, “20 year tawny,” Oporto, Portugal. ¬†The goat milk gelato was incredible!

Overall excellent restaurant with wonderful flavor and staff. ¬†They had several people on their staff from San Diego. ¬†A really nice touch was that they would come greet me… all 3 of them and we’d chit chat about the city and dining scene. ¬†They also gave me some great tips for checking out the Mission for Sunday. ¬†Headed home via Uber — that’s a good thing bc after all that wine….I just wanted to zzzzzzzzz.

Itinerary to Valley of Fire, Zion, Horseshoe Bend, Antelope Canyon, Grand Canyon, and Havasupai Falls

April 12-19, 2015
Valley of Fire State Park (Nevada): http://parks.nv.gov/parks/valley-of-fire-state-park/
  • Map:¬†http://www.nps.gov/glca/planyourvisit/upload/Horseshoe%20Bend2.pdf
  • Approximately 5 miles south of the Carl Hayden Visitor Center on U.S. Hwy 89, just south of highway marker 545, turn west on the dirt road which ascends the small hill. Drive a short distance west on the dirt road and park at the base of the hill. Climb up and down sandy hill.
    1.5 mile (2.4km) round-trip
    Easy
OTHER IDEAS
Bright Angel Trail to Plateau Point

This 10.7-mile out-and-back dives more than 3,000 feet to a photogenic perch offering five-star views of the Colorado River and the second deepest canyon in the United States.

South Kaibab Trail to Bright Angel Trail

Trek to the bottom of the Grand Canyon on this 13.7-mile shuttle hike that tours rugged canyons, visits the Colorado River, and features stunning cliffside views.