Sudden Trip to Ireland with Mollie

Bright and early, we landed in Shannon, Ireland. Mollie and I brushed our teeth and changed in the bathroom before Bart and Kathleen picked us up. We drove back to Ennis and caught up before taking a much needed nap.Around 9, we got ourselves up and started our adventure plus Allen and Anna. We spent the morning driving about town and stopping at ruins all around Clare Abbey.Dysert O’Dea tower house, monestary, and castle. I prefer ruins that are left alone, so I didn’t love the tower. The monestary and castle were both great. I’d skip the cost though and just visit the castle.Quinn AbbeyWe also made a stop at Craggaunowen; a reconstruction of a Celtic lake dwelling. We explored old castle living, realistic 17th century homesteads, wool making and dyeing, and creeping through secret tunnels. Fun, but a bit touristy.All day, we battled tiny rain storms and wind, but it was plenty warm and the sudden spots of sun were stunning on the green background.Oh, and we stopped for many cows so Mollie could talk to them.For dinner, we ate at a fancy pub called The Abbey Tavern. The food was fancier than I expected, but my fishcake and crumble dessert were both really really tasty!After dinner, we retired to the house to watch some TV and spend some quality family time together.Today’s adventure began on a boat. And it began with very choppy seas. We rode for twenty minutes over waves the size of our boat on the Doolin Ferry.As Inisheer Island came into view we caught our first glimpse of The Plassey shipwreck way up on shore.When we finally landed, we walked inland a bit and rented bikes from a trailer. The bikes had some serious character. Chains came off, tires were flat, seats kept lowering by themselves… But what more could you need on a beautiful Irish island. We rode about town and through amazing fields split into small enclosures. There were stacked stone fences with no mortar built between all the enclosures. Why so many? Nobody knows.We rode about a mile and dropped our bikes to go check out the wreck. I really couldn’t believe there was any way the ocean, hundreds of feet away, could possibly have thrown the boat this far ashore. But it really seems that it did.The best part of the shipwreck was that it wasn’t in America. This meant we could climb up in it! The whole time, we barely avoided death by falling or tetanus. Worth it.After exploring every accessible area of the boat, we hopped back on our bikes and explored the rest of the island including churches, graveyards, and forts. When we couldn’t bike any more, we stopped in a pub and ordered some chips(fries) and beers.Our boat took us back to the mainland, then along a bit farther to the Cliffs of Moher. These, you might recognize if you have seen The Princess Bride or Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. These cliffs were used to film Voldemort’s cave and The Cliffs of Insanity.Apparently there were puffins, but we could barely see them flying around or bobbing in the water. The views were definitely worth it though.After our boat ride, we met up with Bart and Kathleen to walk around the top of the cliffs. Despite the ridiculous parking fees from the local farmer, we had a great time! Well, everyone except Kathleen who was certain her children would fall to their deaths.Everything was so picturesque. We bounced on peaty Earth and took pictures until the rain came in.On the way home, we stopped at Roadside Tavern in Lisdoonvarna for dinner. Mollie and I were quite excited because they brewed their own beer. After ordering the black at dinner, Mollie and I walked up to the bar to order the white and the red each. The bartender, Oisin, got to talking to us and ended up offering two free drinks if I stole my neighbor’s drink. Two or three locals in the background chimed in agreements. After a good long while I stole one sip from the bottle and enjoyed a bourbon Bailey’s and a green flag shot. Kathleen offered to come back to get us later, but we ended up heading home to hang with the family.Day three was a long one. We spent at least 10 hours in the car on and off to really see the sights. On the way, we drove through Killarney and all sang along to Christmas in Killarney, because we had to. We drove South to Killarney National Park to drive the Ring of Kerry (otherwise known as Kerry Circle and Kerry Loop).I was relatively underwhelmed by the repetitive landscape at first. While beautiful, there’s only so many rolling hills filled with square pastures that stay interesting.We crossed a bridge on the way to Valentia Island and the scenery quickly changed. Rocks, beaches, seels, tetrapod fossils, cliffs… So amazing.The rest of the loop was much more interesting. We passed through dense foliage, rocky cliffs, and so much more.We took a quick detour to a stone circle, then stopped in Kenmare for dinner at the Wander Inn before heading home. Fine town, fine dinner, but nothing very special.Allen and Anna headed home early on day 4. The rest of us got back in the car to head Northwest.We stopped for a quick saunter through Dunguarie Castle then continued to Galway. Castle was pretty, but nothing special.This was another necessary sing-along opportunity for Galway Girl of course. We also did a bit of digging and found that Claddagh rings are originally from this area, so I did some shopping and found myself a ring with Connemara marble as the heart. Definitely a touristy town, but seemed like a fun place with street performers and flags everywhere.We continued on to Connemara National Park and did a short hike. I’m a bit bummed we didn’t make it to the top, but the weather is constantly changing and we had more to do.After petting the horses, we checked in to Ben Breen House for an hour of down time. Really cute place!That night, we went out to dinner, then stopped at Molly’s Pub in Keelkyle. We met Molly the dog and chatted with the owner. He seemed really nice until he berated his wife extensively right in front of us…Day 5 started with a LOOONG drive. We split it by stopping at Mr. Chippie for lunch. Lots of fries. Nothing tasted good. Don’t go.Finally, we made a stop at Dunluce Castle. We didn’t have much time, so we just walked out to an overlook for a few pictures.When we eventually arrived at Giant’s Causeway, the rain had stopped. We walked down and, just like last time, it was beautiful.We walked as far as the paths would allow, then climbed some stairs to return on top of the cliffs. Stunning.Our next stop was in Belfast at our bed and breakfast, Comfy Wee House. A place of Jesus. Eek.Kathleen decided to call it an early night, but the rest of us still wanted to get a bite to eat. We circled the city quite a few times before finding the center. We passed countless old churches; some broken down and some still in use.We walked through a tiny bar district and through tons of live music. When we arrived at The Dirty Onion and Yardbird, they told us they were closed. It was 9:30 after all. Unfortunately, we found out that Belfast doesn’t serve food after 9. Anywhere.We decided to stick it out and have beer and purse snacks for dinner. Mollie got a gin fight and Bart made me bomb whiskey into beer to try a Boiler Maker.Since we were now in “England,” we had to use pounds. None of us had any, so I paid with a card and had no way to tip. I asked the bartender how I could tip him and he just asked for a $2 million check or a smile. He even topped off our drinks after we took a few sips.He also knew we were having beer for dinner, so he made me a dessert shot called a Choc Pop (or something of the sort, accents are hard).We came back to the table to find Bart attempting to communicate with some locals. Their accents were so think, I only caught every sixth word. Basically they wanted us to go party with them. That was our cue to head home. Where we snuck more snacks despite a “no eating in the room” rule.Off to Dublin!In Dublin, we stopped first at Guinness. The tour was just as good as I remembered. There was an additional performance by a drummer and tap dancers that was excellent as well.From Guinness, we walked over to The Brazen Head just missing lunch. After an okay dinner time lunch, we walked on to Christ Church Cathedral and then to Dublin Castle. Both were interesting, but nothing amazing.On our way to Grafton Street, we meandered through St. Stephen’s Green and by the Molly Malone statue.We stopped for a tiny bowl of gelato at Amarino and walked through Grafton Street finding absolutely nothing of interest. The gelato was worth the trek though, if you ask me. They let us get as many flavors as we wanted even in the smallest size. If only America had these!After an unnecessarily long walk back, we got back in the car to head on to Bray. Our bed and breakfast, Pat’s B&B, was great. Pat himself gave us the tour and offered suggestions for the evening. We were told we just had to visit a pub in town that had been given the title of “best pub.”On our walk down, we were stopped by a mother who asked Mollie to introduce herself as Katie Taylor to 6 year old Sophie. We quickly found out Katie was a local that had gone on to win basically every title in lightweight boxing internationally and was coming home tonight.We walked on to Daata where we had some really interesting Pakistani food (really good if that’s your thing, but I’d prefer to just eat Naan) then finished the night at Harbour Bar.I can see why it won such a title. There is a huge outside seating area and virtually every seat was taken. Inside was even more packed with live music, multiple bars, and a special gin menu celebrating some sort of festival. We opted to take our gin and tonics upstairs to a cozy, quieter area where we enjoyed fires, candles, and just enough room for a game of Spades.For our final day, we mostly had to make our way back home. Our first stop was a pick of Kathleen’s: Powerscourt Gardens. The gardens were huge and quite pretty, but not my top choice for something to do in another country.Next, we crossed the Wicklow mountains through Sally Gap which started off as really unimpressive peat fields, but ended up being quite picturesque.We ended up stopping at Glendalaugh, a glacial valley, and hiked around for a few hours. We poked around a lake via boardwalk then investigated a small town of ruins.Our final drive was to an old timey feast at Bunratty Castle. We walked in and enjoyed mead while serenaded by singers, violins, and harps. Then, they led us in to a big feast room with Harry Potter style tables. We were served three courses and wine with only a dagger to assist the meal. They finished up with a few songs from their choir, a crowning of a king, and a quick stint in the dungeon for one lucky guest. While it was definitely cheesy, this dinner was actually quite fun.Before we could leave, Mollie and I wanted one more chance at a pub experience. We walked with Bart and Kathleen to the local pub and played a round of euchre. The bartender wasn’t pleased to have foreigners, so Mollie and I sent Bart and Kathleen home so we could go to town.It was going to be quite a walk and when a taxi driver found us, he insisted on giving us a free ride to town. Once there we went to multiple bars, none with a good pub feel, but all with character.We met a bride celebrating her bachelorette party 6 months early and spent some time dancing with local gents at another.Finally, we gave up and found another free taxi home before heading to bed in preparation for the flight home.

Sudden Ireland Trip with Mollie May 2019 (NYC Edition)

Jeff’s passport didn’t come. Mollie and Jeff are sad. I’m pretty damn excited!

On the plane, we asked an important question: can you hear thunder on an airplane? Anyone? Our flight attendant has only heard it close to takeoff or landing…

We arrived at JFK at 5:30 AM and sleepily decided to make the trip into Manhattan. Just getting out of the airport was a nightmare. The AirTrain was shut down and we finally found a bus to get to terminal 4 to drop off our bags. We soon realized there were no signs, so we worked together with another traveler to figure out when to get off.
We dropped off our bags, then hopped back on a bus, then another bus, then finally the subway.

People watching was top notch. I was very impressed by the people sleeping, but never missing their stop. I can’t even imagine raising a kid in the city, but there they were.

Mollie told me I was supposed to try bagels and pizza, so we stopped at Pick A Bagel. We walked our bagels into Central Park and ate them at The Mall with a street performer making giant bubbles.

Next we wandered over to the Balto statue for some good old fashioned make believe dog sledding.

I was impressed by how many rock formations there were in the park. I expected the whole thing to be flat and mowed, but there were pagodas and gazebos up on hills and in along foliage.

We wandered around the park and decided to turn back about 3 miles in. We walked back by the pond and appreciated some man sized cherubs on the Bethesda Fountain. The Bethesda Archway right behind the fountain had intricate art on the ceiling tiles and the street performer music echoed beautifully.

I’m not a big city person, but Central Park made it quite nice.

But… I couldn’t leave New York City workout one more stop. Times Square was only a few blocks from our subway station, so we walked over. As expected, the streets got busier and we got bolder crossing streets. We clutched our purses and joined the ogglers oggling the Times Square Ball. Holy moly. It’s miniscule.

Well, not really. But certainly not as big as I expected. Definitely not my scene, but I’m glad I can say I went.

We hopped back on the subway and realized we had walked almost 8 miles. We soon joined the masses in snoozing between stops.

Whirlwind day in NYC complete. Off to Ireland!

Rapid City, South Dakota May 2019

For Memorial Day, the Mizenko family is going to South Dakota. I’m so pumped to see those heads!

At 8AM Saturday morning, mom and dad picked Rachel and me up in Golden. We continued on to get Nick and started our journey North.

Before we left Denver, we stopped at Lucile’s for a late mother’s day brunch. Holy moly this place was amazing. The decor was really unique. There was a clear Louisiana theme with beads, masks, and comfort. Nothing matches, but everything looks good. We ordered food comprising of fish, grits, and hollandaise sauce. Each meal started with a biscuit the size of our head. All the food was delicious and I’ll definitely be back.

Back in the car, we never once turned on the radio; instead discussing politics, which food best represented each state, the poop habits of my co-worker, and how to reroute the return trip to get an extra state checked off for the kids.

Our first stop, 6 hours in, was at Jewel Cave National Monument. We joined a group of 30 people and rode an elevator down 28 stories to start the tour. We immediately saw where its name came from.

The walls were covered in a variety of calcite crystals. Pretty much every surface in the cave is completely covered in spar.

And the cave goes on and on. We were on a simple walking tour that followed paved paths and staircases, but there are over 200 miles of recorded passageways which only accounts for about 5% of the entire cave.

Here are some other things we saw:

Draperies and Flowstone

Stalagmites and stalactites

Manganese

And even bacon.

The 1.5 hour tour 380 feet below ground was totally worth the trip. Just know, not all crystals are shiny.

Before leaving the monument, we asked for some suggestions. Which is how we wound up in Custer State Park. We spent a solid two hours driving Wildlife Loop Road and Iron Mountain Road on our way to Rapid City.

Wildlife loop road led us through some fantastic scenery and a ton of burned forests (is that why they’re called the Black Mountains?). Ultimately, we were watching for bison, pronghorns, and deer.

Quickly, we spotted our first bison.

Followed shortly after by a family of turkeys.

And finally, we found herds of bison with many right on the road.

We drove past pronghorns and white-tailed deer and miles more of rolling hills.

Once we got to Iron Mountain Road, the scenery changed to bulbous rock formations and windy mountain roads.

We passed through three one-way rock tunnels that all strategically showed off Mount Rushmore.

And to wrap up the really picturesque drive were three pigtail bridges. Basically you drive 360° over your own road. I can’t explain it, so watch the video here.

Finally in Rapid City, we ate dinner at Botticelli. Everyone was quite hungry and the slightly too loud, very annoying Italian music made the wait last forever. Fortunately the wait was worth it for most of us as we enjoyed tasty bread dipped in vinegar and oil, Caesar salad with the option of actual anchovies, and fancy main courses. Rachel was the only one who didn’t love her meal, so I give it a thumbs up.

The next morning, we met the grandparents at church for Sunday mass. I’m not a regular chuchgoer, but this was a pretty unique Catholic service. It was mixed with Native American traditions. We did a four corners prayer where they wafted smoke on us with a raven claw/raven feather stick thing. Many of the songs were in another language. And there was an incredible wooden flute player. Really interesting.

Our next stop was at Mount Rushmore. Everyone told me the heads were smaller than they expected. Everyone was right.

Turns out, the heads are each 60 feet tall and primarily carved with Dynamite. Smaller than expected, yes. Impressive, yes.

We did a little walk to get a bit closer then stopped in the museum. We looked through pictures and watched a short video describing how they carved the heads, why they picked these four presidents, and how long everything took. Here’s the most interesting fact I learned.

Since 1980 when we started monitoring the heads, no damage has been reported.

Rushmore is worth the stop, but definitely not a place to spend much time.

Despite big storm clouds and a not so good weather forecast, we drove up Needles Highway to hike Little Devil’s Tower. The drive was fantastic, but when we got out of the car, thunder clapped and raindrops started to fall, so we gave up and drove back to a little cabin for a snack.

The cabin was right next to Sylvan Lake which we had seen on our drive up.

Wow, was is more impressive on the drive down. We decided to don our warmest gear in the car and walk around the lake.

The rocks in and around the lake were incredible. We got a bit muddy, walked across wobbly logs and stones, scrambled through snowy tunnels, and couldn’t stop ooing and ahhing. DEFINITELY check it out.

After our walk, we drove back to Rapid City for dinner. We all stopped at Que Pasa for a drink. Yummy and quick service.

Then it was off to Texas Roadhouse for dinner. Through the toasts and catching up, we found time to choke down some mediocre food. The bread was tasty and who doesn’t love throwing peanut shells on the floor, but that’s where the good ends. Always choose local!

Back at the hotel, we ended the night with a few rounds of Hanabi and Kill Dr. Lucky.

We woke up and headed straight to the church for pictures and the wedding. After the small ceremony, we spent some time at the reception and then got in the car for the long drive back. We rerouted to hit Nebraska on the drive home. State 43 for me!

The state was mostly grasslands and cows, but we did pass by some really stunning rock features. Rain followed us most of the drive and lightning was a nice distraction from the hours of road trip.

Monterey Bay March 2019

The one thing, other than golf and beach, that I knew about Monterey Bay was that there are sea otters. It was my mission on this trip to see them.

April told me there was a 100% chance I’d see them around the aquarium, so we decided to take a stroll by the beach. Now, I highly suggest a stroll by the beach because that is always time well spent, but all we saw were some odd rocks in the water.

When a rock suddenly moved, we realized we were actually seeing harbor seals! And there were a lot more than we realized.

We continued our trek for sea otters and saw none. Very disappointing.

Before heading to the hotel, we decided to stop at a small beach. There were tons of people and dogs and it was so nice to get my feet wet in the very cold ocean. Again, this is always worth it. Do it.

We checked in to The Inn at Spanish Bay resort before heading to Carmel-by-the-Sea for dinner. Before we left, we made sure to stash away all of the free snacks in the room to maximize our weight gain.

Logan found Il Tegamino as a swanky dinner option. The restaurant was adorable and we ate outside in the chill aided by blankets at each chair and heaters above most seats. Dinner was fancy, but a bit too fancy for me…

We headed back to the hotel and enjoyed a bottle of sparkling Mumm Napa wine while catching April up on our northern California adventures from the previous week.

The next morning was Logan’s game of golf at Spanish Bay. I decided to sleep in a bit and woke up in a panic to a text that he was already on hole 7. I rushed out the door and a kind old man drove me in his cart to watch Logan’s final holes of golf.

Unfortunately, I had thought he was only playing 9. He was not. For the following hour, I hunted in the weeds for balls while getting much more sun than I was prepared for. The course was amazing. We meandered among the forest, trecked over sand dunes, and had fantastic views of the ocean. As Logan’s ball bag filled back up, we had a great time missing holes and taking pictures.

After his game, I convinced Logan to head down to the beach. Despite the sweater wearing beach walkers, we donned swimsuits and hopped in the water. For about 10 seconds. Then we hurried back to the sand and spent some time drying off and building sand castles.

Part of being at a ritzy resort involves perks such as free test drives in a Lexus LC 500.

Logan, knowing my goals, drove us out to Point Lobos State Natural Reserve where we hunted for sea otters.

Unfortunately, the amazing views were mostly missed. We ran/jogged two miles with possibly ONE glimpse of ONE otter in the distance. We had to make sure to get the car back on time. I’d love to go back sometime and explore the beauty of the park.

We were on a schedule anyway. One of the necessary activities at Spanish Bay was seeing the bagpiper come out at sunset. April, Logan, and I sat on the patio with cocktails and chatted as the sun set and the bagpiper piped.

Again, we decided to meander down to Carmel-at-the-Sea for dinner. This night, Logan and I went on our own to Hog’s Breath Inn. We were intrigued because it was formerly owned by Clint Eastwood and was modeled after an old Italian villiage. The restaurant was not at all what we expected. Despite the chill in the air after sunset, and the lack of sun, the outdoor restaurant felt like a summer day in Italy. There were fireplaces, huge murals, and even full size trees in the small alcove. And the food was fantastic! Definitely my favorite restaurant of the trip. Get the sweet potato ravioli for sure!

After dinner we wandered though town. We spent a good long while critiquing the displays in Khakis of Carmel. Apparently men can look fashionable by wearing 3-4 sweaters on top of each other with ties, flowers, and every color under the sun. Even I could tell they weren’t fashionable. Hilarious.

The next morning we had to head back towards San Jose to catch our plane. Logan knew how desperately I wanted to see the otters, so we caught an Uber back to Monterey Bay.

Logan took me to Old Fisherman’s Wharf and we dodged free samples of clam chowder (only necessary due to the time crunch because otherwise I would have been all over that) as we hurried to the edges of the dock on an otter hunt. It took a few attempts, but we finally found an otter up close and personal. He was diving to grab clams, then floating on his back to bang them on a rock to crack them open.

After a while a mother otter swam over as she watched her baby on her chest. She proceeded to knock him off and force him to swim alongside her. I could have stayed for hours watching their antics, but we had to head back to the airport.

What a fantastic way to end the trip.

San Francisco March 2019

March 27th, Rachel, Logan, and I started our drive from Davis to San Francisco. We were excited to see that the drive should only take two hours.Hilarious.California is full. That includes highways. After sitting in traffic and paying our toll, we crossed our first bridge: The Bay Bridge.And from the bridge we could see other pretty bridges, the city, and caught our first glimpse of The Golden Gate Bridge.

     Rachel told us the thing to do in San Fransisco is to get clam chowder in sourdough bowls from Boudin Bakery. She wasn’t wrong. Logan went nuts and got a crab chowder, but all dishes were delicious. Waiting in line was painless with so many interesting things to look at. First of all, there are slow moving baskets of bread slowly making their way around the building on a track hanging from the ceiling. Along the wall are the seasonal bread sculptures including crabs, turtles, and pigs. Highly suggest!After enjoying our bread bowls on the patio, we meandered over to see the Pier 39 sea lions. We could hear them long before we could see them. Rachel, Logan, and I stood on the platform viewing area and watched them for half an hour. They were playing, fighting, swimming, scrambling over one another, and barking constantly. Totally worth the stop.We wanted to head over the San Francisco bridge to do a hike, but Rachel said we had to stop by Lombard Street. I thought she just meant the typical steep San Fransisco road you see in movies, but I soon found that the steep road I was picturing was actually most roads in the city. Do not drive a stick in this city… The road we finally came to was another today I recognized. Zig zags through beautiful gardens still at the steep angle expected. It’s a really fun quick stop.As we approached the bridge, we made another stop at the Palace of Fine Arts. This building is incredible. It was made to represent a fictional ruin and it is absolutely amazing. Surrounding the palace is a beautiful pond. We were able to take some pictures after waiting for a bride and groom to finish up. We also had time to walk inside the arch. Absolutely go visit this free attraction just at the edge of town.And bonus, it’s within walking distance of a little beach that overlooks the San Francisco bridge. We walked through a neighborhood and a tree tunnel and were spit out on a windy sunny beach. We were able to take some pictures and get our feet wet (unintentionally) and then it was time to continue on.We got back on the road and drove over the bridge. We intended to walk over it, but the park across the bridge was packed and it was going to be a long walk with little payout, so we snapped a photo and moved on.And it was a good choice because our next stop was another hour away even though it was pretty close as the bird flies. To get to Cataract Falls, we had to drive into the Marin Headlands. My goodness… What a fantastical place! Long before we got close, the roads became windy and narrow. Rachel was definitely on the edge of her seats. As we approached the Muir woods, the fog started to settle in. We got to the top of the mountains and the roads were eerie. There were suddenly no trees, but instead grassy knolls. Around some bends, there was a drop-off into the fog with no indication of how far down it went. Guardrails would have ruined the beauty, so we put our lives in Rachel’s nervous hands. At one point, a small hole opened in the fog and we could see all the way down to the ocean.Slowly the fog dissipated and we worked our way down into what felt like a rainforest. We cut over switchbacks and started to see waterfalls along the road as we approached the trailhead. We got out, donned our pathetic hiking gear, and started the trek.We passed a pretty mountain lake, poked at some slugs, crossed mossy bridges and staircases, climbed logs, photographed clovers, and passed numerous beautiful waterfalls. After an hour of hiking and lots of sweat, we turned around.            Logan drove us back and with the fog gone, we finally saw the ocean.Our next stop was in San Juan to visit John, Marian, Zach, and Alex. Traffic wasn’t great, but we were distracted by an ever brightening rainbow that Rachel just adored.The next day, we drove back to San Fransisco with a stop at the Apple Spaceship on the way. The visitor’s center was mostly just an Apple store, but the augmented reality bird’s eye view of the spaceship was pretty interesting.The Google Plex was an interesting spot to drive by just because of how enormous it was. The Google buildings span countless blocks and all throughout you can see the colorful Google bicycles employees use to get around.
Dad had suggested going to China Town, so we stopped there for lunch. We had lunch at The House of Nanking where we were told to describe what type things we like and the chef would provide. The food was good, but my favorite part was the street art around every corner.We still had a bit of time to kill before our next engagement, so we walked down to the Vaillancourt Fountain. We explored in the fountain and got a bit wet. It was a bit of a bummer because the stairs to the top of the fountain were blocked off, but it was still a fun place.Our big plan for the day was Urban Putt in the Mission District of San Fransisco. We arrived right at opening and waited in line with many other people. Some went to the bar to get drinks to carry hole to hole. We opted to skip the additional line and go straight to the golf. The course is really unique. Every hole has a different theme. Here are some of my favorites.After taking a beating from both Logan and Rachel, we headed back to San Jose. We ate another meal with the Putzigs then headed down the street to Red Branch Cidery and Brewing Company. This cider was probably the best I’ve had and there were so many different flavors and combinations. Some of our favorites were the raspberry mead, blackberry cider, apricot cider, and more that I just can’t remember. They even put together really interesting mashups of cider, stouts, and syrups. Very good!

We finished off the night with board games, too many attempts at Hanabi, and hours of talking between Rachel and me before we had to part ways the next morning.

Davis and Sacramento, CA 2019

Sunday morning, we slept in then started our drive back to Davis.

We enjoyed the beautiful hills covered in moss and wildflowers on our way to the Lake Berryessa Glory Hole. This is a really pretty lake and there is a big pulloff for visitors to park and walk up to see the drain.

As we continued our drive back to Davis, Rachel suggested a stop at Berryessa Brewing Co for a flight of beers. Great spot to stop and eat some food from a food truck, or in our case, leftovers. Not my favorite beer, but the outdoor seating and the most interesting Muppet freak show taxidermy you’ve ever seen.

After our drive, Rachel wanted to show us around campus. What better way than on bikes? We found Uber electric assisted bikes on campus and, after a bit of struggle, had bikes.

We rode past a ton of interesting buildings and spent some time along the arboretum.

We parked our bikes to wander around the Econ building. Rachel told us the building is designed after the movie Inception. It’s not hard to see the connections.

We rode back to the car and drove back to town. We had to stop in to the Davis Creamery to contribute to the ice cream bracket. I’m not a tea fan, so I voted for Boston Cream Pie, but I’d bet the Earl Grey Lavendar option wins.

Their flight option is really quite lovely. If I’m remembering correctly, I had Blackberry Lavender, S’mores, Red Velvet, and The Trifecta. Yumm.

To walk off a bit of the sugar, we walked nextdoor to the John Natsoulas Art Gallery for a free visit to some of the more…interesting art of Davis. Not included here are some terrifying naked adult babies, rejection letter art, and so much more.

Entrance is free and there is free coffee and tea, so it’s definitely worth a peek.

For lunch, we stopped in to Red 88 Noodle Bar for some happy hour potstickers, fries, and my first drink of the Trinity. The FML was a bit sweet for my taste, but the prices and atmosphere are hard to beat.

That night, we hit up Three Mile Brewing for trivia with some of Rachel’s friends. Trivia was fun when we could hear the questions, but the beer left something to be desired. Not my favorite spot.

To finish out the night, we went back to Rachel’s house to drink the rest of our leftover wine. Simple, but a great way to spend the time!

The next morning was a bit of a struggle. We spent most of the morning watching videos on YouTube and playing Hanabi. Rachel and I would have played all day if we hadn’t already made plans to get sushi while we were near the fish.

Rachel, like some sort of heathen, prefers Huku to Halu. We decided to give it a shot. While I definitely still like my Golden option, the presentation here was hard to beat and Logan’s baked roll was really tasty.

To really showcase California, we had to stop in to Nugget grocery. Everything was very expensive and very California. We found cookies missing all possible allergens. Including fish. You go cookies. We also found interesting and delicious snack options including cinnamon bread that we all enjoyed for the next three days. Definitely worth a visit.

At night in Davis, what’s better to do than trivia? Monday nights are reserved for G Street Wunderbar. This is the best trivia in Davis because it’s done through Geeks Who Drink. Plus, all the locals find this bar to be a bit grungy, so it’s not very packed (or competitive). The beer here is really expensive, but both drinks I got were delicious. My absolute favorite of the trip was the Campfire Stout. Get it now.

We scored 4th out of 6 teams, but since one of the top three teams were employees, we placed. Free pitcher for us! Woo!

After trivia, we headed home for an early night so we could hit the road early the next day to Sacramento.

Tuesday morning we drove out to Sacramento; the city of trees. We started in Old Town where we just walked around the wooden walkways. All the shops are really interesting and we poked around in a Disney fine art shop as well as the entrance to a tattoo parlor.

If you walk one block down, you can get a great view of the Tower Bridge.

The city is very pretty with sculptures, plants, and fountains everywhere you look. The super sketchy alley we were let out on from out parking garage ended on a street with some very… interesting… art.

On the same street is the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament which is worth a stop.

Just a block or two further is City Park. Rachel tells us there are many/several types of trees and she’s not kidding. There were fruit trees, roses, palm trees, red woods, cacti, whomping willows, red trees, rainforest gardens, hedges, and so much more.

Challenge: can you spot Logan in one of the pictures?

Logan had a hankering for fish and chips, so he found us a place for lunch. Streets of London Pub was a fun place to hang out and play darts. Turns out I’m terrible. Logan and Rachel did pretty well though. The food left something to be desired though and soon we were on our way to a Geo cache Logan had found for us.

We still had some time to kill on our way to the next spot, so we stopped at a dog park. The three of us hung out in the small dog park for a few minutes and meet Cream Puff and 14 of her little friends.

Finally, 4 o’clock hit and we could make our way to Snug for a cocktail. The bar is small, but very fancy with velvet armchairs and lots of plants. All of the drinks were tasty and very posh.

For dinner, we choose a slightly cheaper option in Davis. El Burrito is cheap and comes with all you can eat chips and salsa. And there are lots of options for salsa, so it’s easy to eat your fill here. Highly suggest.

We were soon headed to trivia, but had a few more stops on the way. First was Wiki Bar which is a small tiki bar in the side of a Best Western. Not my favorite spot, but had to stop in for the second Trinity drink.

For the third and final Trinity drink we walked over to City Hall Tavern. On the way, we walked over the very sparkliest sidewalk in Davis and Rachel demanded that it be mentioned. We had to go nextdoor to their restaurant because bars are only sometimes open in Davis. I must say, the Trinity isn’t all that alcoholic and is so sugary that it will probably give you a hangover. Stick to regular drinks in my opinion.

We had a little more time before trivia and Rachel highly suggested University of Beer for Logan. Rachel and Logan each got a tiny taster while we avoided an acquaintance of Rachel’s. Fun spot to try a huge variety of beers for sure.

Trivia this night took place at Sophia’s.We sat outside under some heaters and squished seven of us around a small table. We completed with some of Rachel’s friends against a team of people we played with a few nights prior. Logan and Ben held us afloat while the rest of us laughed at a drunk opponent being ejected from the bar by his own team. We certainly didn’t win, even with the knowledge of the boys, but we did win a bottle of wine. As did our opponents. I was confused when they offered their bottle of wine to us until I tasted it. I don’t like wine. But this was repulsive.

We finished the bottles together and when the rain began to fall we all headed nextdoor for some cookies. Not my favorite trivia or bar, but we had a great time.

Insomniac Cookies was a great, late night, drunk stop. The whole gang got cookie sandwiches. Very delicious and open until 3, but not as good as Cream. The poor working man was very kind to a rambunctious group.

I love visiting Davis, but definitely plan on doing some trivia.

Napa 2019

Spring break 2019

Destination: California

Logan and I arrive 3/22 with a ride to Rachel’s house. Sleepy? Yes. Stay up and talk until after 1? Yes.

Napa

We got up around 9 and started the drive to Napa. The colors were beautiful and there were plenty of places to stop and take pictures of the scenery.

We couldn’t do that because we had to get to Sterling Winery for our tour.

Logan’s mom suggested it because of the sky tram.

We rode to the top and were given our own wine glasses to take on a self-guided tour. The architecture was interesting and the views from the top of the mountain were pretty. The wine pourer only laughed a little when Rachel asked what garné meant only to realize that the word was actually garnet. The wine wasn’t our favorite, but the tram was a lot of fun. Probably not worth the $35. Especially when the DD option is still $25.

Next we stopped at Castello Castle for a quick visit. We skipped the tour, but visited the emus, peacocks, and excessively feathered chickens.

These are pictures from a previous visit because apparently I didn’t take any this time. Definitely worth a stop.

We were getting a bit peckish, so we stopped at Oakville Grocery after a quick Google search by Logan. The store is very cute with sections for cheese, Olive oil, wine tasting, pastries, sandwiches, and memorabilia. We sampled wine, cheese, and olive oil and enjoyed some delicious toasted sandwiches. The store is a bit pricey, but worth a visit.

Next stop was Mumm Napa for a sparkling wine sampling. We sat in a restaurant style seating area with floor to ceiling windows overlooking the valley behind a beautiful garden.

Logan and I each got a flight of samples while Rachel had a glass of sparkling grape juice. Couvèe was my favorite.

After a full day of wine tasting, we decided to head to the store to grab flowers for Maddee and food to make for dinner. Of course we had to stop at the free wine tasting while we were there.

We arrived at Maddee’s and caught up for a bit. She suggested two spots to visit in downtown Napa. After a short drive we arrived in the cute town. We dropped in to Napastak and tasted some delicious balsamic vinaigrette. The shop also had a coffee bar and a wine tasting section. It was a very interesting store and if I had a checked bag I definitely would have come home with a bottle or two.

Maddee had suggested the rooftop bar of The Archer hotel. After waiting in line to be seated by a very bored and slightly rude hostess, we glanced at the menu. Prices were incredibly high, so we took a picture and left. Pretty spot, but not worth it for a group of poor kids.

We moved on to her next suggestion: Andaz Terrace Bar. We liked this spot much better. It was a beautiful and quiet second story bar with multiple fire pits, a waterfall, bamboo, and heat lamps. Logan got a beer and we rocked and talked in rocking chairs around a fireplace.

We walked back to Maddee’s house and she introduced us to V8 pasta. Boil the noodles in the juice and you have delicious noodles and sauce with no water. Yumm.


It was a fun day in Napa!