Monthly Archives: January 2012

From Christmas to California

Merry Christmas! I mean, Happy New Year! Oh wait, that’s passed too! This holiday season I’ve been busy as a bee preparing some classes and trying to work on my own research. I think I’ve been busier during this ‘break’ than I was during the past semester! I’m taking a break right now, but to continue to feel quasi-productive I thought I’d write a post.

Vermont House

You can see a little snow on Stratton in the distance.

Every year for Christmas my family heads up to Vermont. Me, Mom and Dad, and Auntie, Unclie and Cuzzy-poo make the annual journey on the 23rd of December. Everyone except for me and my Aunt goes skiing. This year they headed to Stratton because it looked like there were more trails open. Plus, there was a pretty nice discount because of the lack of snow. My Aunt and I head to Brattleboro to do a little shopping, because what kind of person likes skiing anywhere besides Europe?

Stratton Mountain Mascot Ursa mingling with the skiers.

Christmas Eve night brings about another tradition: fondue. And not that cheesy kind, we use beef. It’s a lot of fun, as we all sit around enjoying some tasty food, drinking some tasty wine, and of course, having some tasty conversation.

This is what Christmas means to me. It's a big bowl of meat.

Although Sister Sarah couldn't make it she was there in spirit.

The next day we all head our separate ways. I love driving on Christmas Day because there is never any traffic. For someone who drives into New York City on a regular basis experiencing a day with no traffic is truly a Christmas Miracle.

This year, however, I headed up further in Vermont to strap on a snowboard and hit the slopes. I met up with some friends from Skidmore and we enjoyed a nice day on the mountain. The conditions were way better than I had expected, so I didn’t have to complain as much as I thought I would. That might have been because we spent more time inside the lodge at the bar than on the mountain (I drank mostly water, I swear).

Next I returned to NYC with a Ms. Stacy Adams. Debauchery ensued as we rang in the new year with some friends. This lead into the next adventure: San Francisco! Thank God for frequent flier miles.

We decided to go on a tour of wine country. We secured a Zip car and headed up to Sonoma and Napa for the day. First stop: The Olive Press, my mom’s favorite olive oil store. She is a member, and gets all her olive oil shipped across the country. It’s that good. They also have a free wine tasting for their associated vineyard: Jacuzzi. We continued northward and stopped at ¬†The Stags’ Leap Winery, which was pretty fancy…in my opinion. Any place that sells bottles of wine for more than $100 is fancy. After a $15 tasting flight we headed further north to the town of Healdsburg, CA, which is like ‘the strip mall of¬†wineries’ according to one of our friends. It’s classier than it sounds. We stopped at Toad Hollow for another complimentary tasting, and they sent us over to Topel, with a coupon for a free tasting. That comes to 4 tastings for only $15 bucks! I ended up buying a bottle at Topel, and then brought it home with me because we forgot to drink it. Whoops! It did manage to increase the value of the bottle by about $25, since I had to pay to check my bag.

First stop: The Olive Press

The vineyard at The Olive Press. Everything is kind of dead this time of year.

These are the wines I tasted at Topel. I bought one of the Double Gold winners near the bottom. We were only supposed to have 4 tastes, but the wine guy insisted we have just one more.

It was a really fun experience all in all. And, since it was the off season, at a few of the vineyards the wine pourers would start talking to you and then insist you try another wine, even though it shouldn’t be included in the flight. Luckily, I would just have a sip or two, and toss it. It helped stave off the wine-tasting-itis, so that I drove back in to SF while Stacy rested a bit.

Many of the ensuing days we spent doing work, but we did take one more excursion. We headed to Land End National Park right next to the ocean. We stopped at Saigon Sandwiches first and grabbed some banh mi pork sandwiches for a picnic lunch. My first, and it was A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. Had to wait 10 minutes or so because there was a line out the door, but they only cost $3.50 each, and totally fortified us after the walk to the beach.

My amazing banh mi picnic lunch on the beach.

Unfortunately, we timed it so that we hit the beach right around high tide. That limited what we were able to see, because you have to walk along the beach to get at all the structures. It was pretty neat though. We sat and ate on some driftwood down by the beach, then braved the rocks to check out some old army buildings that are now graffiti art. Nice way to take a breather from staring at a computer all day.

Friend of Spongebob? At Lands End National Park.

You can't tell it's a face until you get far enough away. Lands End National Park.

Sardines! Lands End National Park.

The bird looks like it's in jail. Lands End National Park.

Now I have to get back to work. No more vacations for a while…hopefully I’ll find some way to entertain myself in New York. But, while I’m there I’ll have the image of a prayer circle and the Golden Gate bridge in my head, reminding myself that by the time you get to the center of the circle all your problems are solved. I wonder if that works for homework too.

Prayer circle and Golden Gate Bridge. We picked a good day for our excursion. From Lands End National Park.