Monday, July 30, 2012

Honeymoon Pt II

We pick up where we left off in Carmel, California:

Carmel Mission

If I had to pick my most favorite place on any trip that Ron and I have taken, I would immediately answer with the Carmel Mission.

Years ago (2006 to be exact, on my friend Jess's 24th birthday), we were celebrating Jess's day at her parents' house.  They have many really cool paintings throughout their house, but my favorite one depicted a Mediterranean-looking church at what could be either sunrise or sunset.  Jess's mom saw me looking at it, and she told me the story of how she came to select it.  Turns out, the church in question was not in Europe: It was in California.  "If you ever go to Carmel, you HAVE to go the Mission.  If you go, this painting will make even more sense."

I got it.

Say what you will: Nothing beats a Catholic church.
The energy at this place is amazing.  I don't know what it is: the architecture, the gardens, the fruit trees, the fountains, the hidden statues, mosaics, or murals.  Probably, it's everything all together.

Plus, the weather this particular day was unbelievable.  Warm, but not sweltering.  Dry, but not oh-my-God-my-contacts-are-killing-me dry.  Days like this are too rare in Philly.

We even saw a bride there--that has to be good luck when you're on your own honeymoon, right?

Happy fourth anniversary to you, wherever you are!
17-Mile Drive near Pebble Beach

Ron grabbed a stone to take home.
Pacific Coast Highway on the way to Big Sur
Pfeiffer beach in Big Sur

I sorta wish we had had bathing suits and towels and just made a day of this.

I just remember that the sun was so blinding and the water was so blue and sparkly.
One of the bigger mistakes we made on this trip: Going out of our way to Bodega Bay.  Against the advice of my grad school friend, Rachel, I insisted on stopping here on our way to Napa because I really wanted to see where Hitchcock filmed The Birds.  What a mistake.  In terms of mileage, it was seriously out of the way, and I think we stayed in town maybe 30 minutes.  I have to tell you, no sooner did we arrive in town and I completely understood why Hitchcock picked this location for the movie.  It is incredibly, inexplicably creepy. It's way too quiet, and it feels incredibly isolated.  Geographically, it's not really isolated, but it's miles away from anything that I would call civilization (ie, supermarket, Target, traffic lights).  I won't ever go back.  The energy here is not comforting or positive.  The hair on the back of my neck still stands up when I think about it.

Rachel had been here before because one of her friends got married in this famous church.

When all the kids run screaming from the school house and the birds are dive-bombing them, my mom and I laugh and LAUGH. It's so hilarious. We are sick people.
A private family lives in the school house now, but there are public hours when you can enter through the front doors and see the front rooms from the foyer.  It was creepy and weird, and I don't remember the home owners being welcoming and friendly. Ron and I got back in the car and we said, "Why do they bother? They clearly hate strangers in their house ... Why don't they just close up shop?"

And then we shot the hell out of there.

I know it's a touristy thing to do, but go to Mondavi's vineyards when you're out there.  I knew nothing about wine or wine production when I went in there, and they explain everything so concisely. I thought it was great.  Call me a walking cliche', I don't care.

No lie: The people who took this were drunk, thus we are out of focus.

80 degrees and no humidity ... some of my best hair days of my life were here.
Seriously, I didn't even feel like I was in the US when we were in Napa.  For me, the essence of California is most noticeable here. It's like being in some foreign country where everyone happens to speak English with American accents. Completely bizarre.  In terms of a Napa strategy, I quickly figured out that it's worth going to many vineyards in one day to see the gardens and fountains.  You can only do so many tastings before you're wasted and unable to drive (unless you spit, which totally grosses me out), so we did one tasting and didn't bother at the other places.

Croque Monsieur at The Girl and The Fig

Ah, The Girl and The Fig. I love you, TG&TF.  I love sitting out back on your softly lit patio and drinking fig royales and your petite gateau plate.  Love love love.  Simon Pearce was the only thing I had that sort of resembled you, but alas he has left me and now I have nothing: No girl, no fig, and no Simon.

Another thing I just have to carelessly throw in here at the end: The A.M. buns at Sweetie Pies in the Napa River Inn.  OH!!! THE A.M. BUNS!!! I cannot stress this enough!  It is the most divine combination of sugar and butter I have ever had! They made me weep.  Enough said.

And that's it.  That's My California, circa 2008.

Pennsylvania: I love you.  I was born here and will probably die here. Sometimes, though, I hate you because your highways are falling apart, you're too uptight, you say weird stuff like "wood-der" and "be-cuuooz," and you lazily offer up Philly as the best way to spend a Friday night.  In those moments, sometimes I wish you were California. But, I love you anyway and will most likely not desert you.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Four years ago: California honeymoon

When Ron and I first started to think about our honeymoon, we tossed around going to Bermuda or to San Francisco and Northern California.  We almost picked Bermuda but ultimately decided against it to due hurricane season and the fact that we're not really beach people.  I don't know what drew us to California, but I felt so surprised at how exotic it felt: In my head, I was completely shocked that I hadn't used my passport to get there.  I didn't realize what a straight-laced, uptight East Coaster I really was until I spent a solid week around millions of West Coasters.

I took hundreds of pictures that week ... here are just 32. (Well, sixteen today and sixteen tomorrow.)

Italian Bakery on Columbus Ave

Waiting in line for the Alcatraz ferry ... Standing in line, I've never heard so many foreign languages spoken at once in all my life.  Clearly, the tourists are not flocking to Philly.

Ron is not pleased that we missed the ferry.
Ah, yes: That fateful morning when Ron tried too hard to rush me when I was getting ready, so I purposely took too long on my hair just because I could.  And then we missed the last Sausalito ferry, which I completely did not intend to do.  We watched the damn thing pull away, taking our plans for most of the day with it.  So what did we do? We decided to walk there and purposely planned our trip to cross the Golden Gate Bridge.  (If you look at a map, this is the only way to get there on foot.) We saw so much by walking ... but it took us about three hours to get there.

Three hours.

Most of the steel for the bridge was forged near Philly in Bethlehem, PA.  For some reason, that surprised us.  How the hell did they get the bridge from PA to CA a hundred years ago?  I'm guessing they piled all the pieces on a train.

When we finally escaped the misty fog that defines San Francisco, we stumbled upon what appeared to be the Italian coast.  It certainly felt like we had walked 6,000 miles to the Italian coast, but really we had finally arrived in Sausalito.  Sausalito is probably one of the wealthiest spots on the planet--it has to be. The real estate is completely unbelievable, and there are hundreds of boats lining the marina in town.  HUGE boats.  I've never felt so poor as I did walking through this tiny town, but I still really loved it.

We took the ferry back to the city later that day.  It took about 15 minutes.

Ferry Terminal Market: You can buy everything from olive trees to gourmet pastries to caviar here.

Let me explain the look on Ron's face here.  On day three or four of our trip (I think it was our last day in SF before we were leaving for Carmel), I broke my camera.  I had brought my DSLR on the trip which, by the way, was ONLY 2.5 years old at the time.  While I was sitting in the hotel lobby that morning, the camera slipped off my lap, slid down my leg and barely bumped the floor. I scooped it up, threw it onto my shoulder and we headed out for the day.  We had wandered ten minutes away from the hotel when I went to take my first shot ... and the shutter wouldn't release.  At first I was thinking, "Oh come on.  What I am doing wrong here? Just take the damn shot."  But in 15 seconds I concluded, "Oh. My. God. It's. Broken. It's. BROKEN.  IT'S BROKEN.  I'M ON MY HONEYMOON AND I BROKE MY $700 CAMERA. IT'S BROKEN. AND I DON'T HAVE ANOTHER CAMERA!!!!"

I literally melted down on the street like a sugared-up, over-tired four year old.  Ron began alternating between, "Calm down: It's ok!!" and "WHAT DO YOU WANT ME TO DO ABOUT IT???"

We sprinted back to the hotel, waited 20 minutes for the public computer in the lobby to open up, and searched for a local camera store.  Then, we sprinted in the opposite direction to the business district to what was probably a Ritz Camera.  My camera was declared DOA two minutes after the nice man behind the counter started to help us.  You know what's sad? He told me that I should have been GLAD that my camera (TWO AND  HALF YEARS OLD at the time) lasted as long as it did.  How stupidly ridiculous is that?  A tiny little spring that controls the shutter had snapped, and he was like, "You wouldn't believe how much it's going to cost to fix that. It's not worth it.  This camera is obsolete anyway. I wouldn't feel bad about it."

Stab me in the heart, why don't you?

Twenty minutes later, I plodded out of the store after dropping three figures on a tiny point and shoot camera.  I felt utterly devastated and completely convinced that all of my yet-to-be-taken-pix would be crap.  Fortunately, I turned out to be wrong: That little camera did a fabulous job.

So anyway: That shot of Ron. That was the first picture I took with the little camera. It always makes me laugh because I know those eyes are saying, "Oh thank God she finally stopped crying. And yelling really loud in public."

Mission Dolores--easily one of the most beautiful churches I've ever seen. Love the turquoise, blue, and stoney grey-white here.

St. Frank in the Mission's cemetery.
Carmel beach
Let me tell you something about Carmel beach:

Have you ever smelled a "beach scented" candle?  You probably have.  Carmel beach smells JUST LIKE THAT CANDLE.  Here's the thing: I live two hours from the beach ... in Jersey.  I love the Jersey Shore.


Jersey don't smell like no Yankee Candle.

It just doesn't.


Ron: "I have no idea what you're talking about. It smells like a beach--not a candle."


*  *  *
Next up, the rest of Carmel and Napa/Sonoma.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Four years ago

Monday, July 23, 2012

Life between weekdays

Would you believe it did not rain one drop? Not one.

Molly: Thanks so much for answering my text last Thursday! I would've gone insane if I had spent one more minute inside my house that day.  We will walk that meadow next time if it kills us (lightening or otherwise).

Messing around with Instagram filters:

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Julie and Vigg get hitched

It's been a pretty quiet summer round these parts, so we were due for a day or two of excitement last week.  Many of my friends are teachers, so those ladies (and one gent--Vigg) have been busy doing stuff around their own houses: Working on new kitchens and bathrooms, finalizing wedding plans, painting nurseries for new babies, assembling cribs, tutoring little kids for extra $$, etc.

Something I know for sure is that you can count on a wedding to change the pace of an entire weekend, and no sooner do the festivities begin when *bam* they're over.  Since Ron was in this wedding party, we squeezed two days out of this festa rather than one.

Some highlights from the weekend:

What would aliens think if they randomly dropped in on us and only observed this?

You can see all of the pictures here:

You should be able to click on the little picture above and go right to the album, but you know my luck with these things.

Tanti auguri, you crazy kids!  Wishing you all the best in the years to come.