Saturday, July 8, 2017

Big Sur Fun - Day 3

After a relaxing breakfast overlooking the river, we packed up and headed to Point Lobos State Nature Reserve for a little hiking before we flew back to KC. We took the Cypress Grove Trail, which packs in a ton of beauty for 0.8 miles.
You just don't get views like this in KC.
The fog held in cool air and breezes while the sea lions barked in the distance.
Look who I found!
Cheers to adventuring with this guy! After spending some time in the park, we had some lunch and headed to the airport. Until next time, which isn't too far away! :)

Friday, July 7, 2017

Big Sur Fun - Day 2

If you don't know me, you might not know that I have a huge obsession with lighthouses - specifically living in a lighthouse. Before, during and after I was born in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, my dad was a lighthouse keeper and an ice breaker on Lake Superior with the U.S. Coast Guard. When we were planning a trip to Big Sur, the first to-do item on our itinerary was the 10am Wednesday tour of Point Sur Lighthouse. The lighthouse--built in 1889--former lighthouse keeper apartments and out buildings are maintained entirely by volunteers who have been restoring the properties.

The view on the way up the former volcano that was leveled to build the lighthouse. In the cove we spotted sea lions and sea otters playing in the kelp. They were too far away to capture but you could hear the barking from the sea lions the whole hike up.
We climbed to the top of the tower and braced ourselves against the wind for an amazing view of the pristine beaches below. (Also, Dad, if you're reading, I took a million photos of all the Coast Guard stuff for you!)
The lighthouse now houses several antique fresnel lenses (like this one) that were used over the years in this and other lighthouses. 
Inside the tower. All materials were brought up by a tiny train on a super steep track in the late 1800's to build the entire place. There was only one lighthouse manufacturer who made every single piece for the structure, including this spiral staircase that still bears the individual number on every item so the workers knew which one to install next.
The beach below.
The two residential buildings - housing a total of four apartments for keepers and their families.
The inside of the three-bedroom apartment, staged as it looked in the 1950's.
We stopped by Bixby Bridge on the way back to capture one of the most iconic structures in Big Sur. Afterwards, we took the rest of the day easy and lounged around our cabin and the river in front of it. Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Big Sur Fun

The inside of Big Sur Roadhouse before the breakfast rush. I love spaces like this that are relaxed but beautiful (why is it so hard to make my house look like this?). This is the restaurant that serves the cabin and rooms where we're staying.
We had a yummy hiker-friendly breakfast to get the day started. I had the huevos rancheros and we shared a fresh fruit bowl. Not pictured: my latte and our complimentary homemade donuts.
If you've been following the nature news of California lately, you might have heard about the mudslide that happened about a month ago. A few months before that there was another landslide that damaged a bridge so badly that they had to blow it up this winter (they are currently rebuilding and hoping to have it open in September). And, at some other point recently, there was a third mudslide. All three are along Highway 1.

So, our plans to hike extensively were rather hindered by all the natural shifting going on and a lot of the trails being closed for various reasons. We still went to Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, but our options were a bit limited. They recently built a Bypass Trail from campsite #31 that you can hike up to the rest of Big Sur from. So, we did that. (This photo is of the hike into the campground area of the park.)
When we arrived to what the locals are affectionately calling "The Island" the options for transport were rather limited. There is a shuttle bus that runs people back and forth about five miles to local businesses and there was a new electric bike rental shop that had just opened today. The plan was to bike 18 miles roundtrip to see a bunch of sites, however, we only made it about half of that. These 70-pound bikes were quite a challenge and the local highway traffic was a bit scary. It was a fun ride but it would probably have been better if I'd actually been on a bike in the past ten or twenty years...
It was pretty foggy while we were riding. The steepness of the cliffs is a little hard to capture but the rocky coast reminded me of Hawaii or Ireland. It was hard to take in the sights and stay on my bike. I only fell off once when another bike passed me out of nowhere - he circled back and I told him I was fine, just a little bruised ego and wrist sprain.
The best part about the biking was definitely this helmet's color...
...or when it was over, the local hard ciders and fire-roasted salsa and chips we had on the back patio of Big Sur Taphouse. YUM!

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Driving Highway 1

After breakfast, we picked up a Jeep and headed down Highway 1. With it being a holiday week, it was pretty crowded but that was offset by all the pretty towns and beaches we drove by. We stopped in Santa Cruz for lunch at The Picnic Basket. I had a yummy grilled cheese that I enjoyed while listening to people sing karaoke across the street at a bar -- pretty entertaining.
Trying to capture selfies from the pier, not drop my phone and get the beach in it proved to be slightly more difficult than imagined.
Vintage fishing boat.
Old Fisherman's Wharf in Monterey Bay.
We stopped for tea and a beer at a cute little place on the pier called Water + Leaves. They also had amazing local honeys in these giant vats. I bought some of the wildflower honey in one of those little plastic tubes - too hard to resist! 
Love how colorful these dinghies are.
After a stop at the grocery store, we made it to our final destination - Glen Oaks Big Sur. I tried to take photos, but I couldn't come close to the website's pictures, so you can check out our room here. We checked in, started a fire and enjoyed a bottle of wine and this tasty spread while listening to the crackle of the fire and the river in the background. All in all, a pretty perfect day!

Monday, July 3, 2017

Exploring the Bay - Day 2

Not sure what flower this is, but we saw them during our walk of Golden Gate Park yesterday.
After resting for a bit at our hotel (aka watching three hours of Shark Tank), we walked to Anchor & Hope for dinner. I had the lobster roll and giant tater tots. While it paled in comparison to Eagle's Nest, it was still pretty tasty.
We finished up with the Stone Fruit Crisp, full of apricots and peaches and homemade vanilla ice cream. After dinner, we headed to Zero Zero for a nightcap. We had the best bartender who taught us all about different liquors and made yummy drinks.
This morning we headed to Mazarine Coffee for some gourmet toast and coffee. We split the avocado toast and the chocolate raspberry toast with the cocoa nibs. We also met a nice couple from Australia who had just arrived in the U.S. for four weeks and chatted about our adventures. Speaking of which, we're picking up a car soon to head down to Big Sur. See you down there on the blog!

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Exploring the Bay

After a week of working (and working out), Brian joined me in San Francisco for some much-needed vacation time. After a quick breakfast and changing hotels, we walked towards the ocean to check out the exploratorium, the Museum of Science, Art and Human Perception. Despite way too many people and kiddos, it was a pretty cool place to learn about scientific concepts.
We walked up an appetite that we satisfied at two incredible places. We started with cocktails and dinner at Limon Rotisserie, a Peruvian spot that Brian had eaten at the last time he was in town. We had pisco sours, two amazing ceviches, a beet and potato salad, yuca fries and cheese empanadas. Everything was amazing! We then walked a few blocks over to Dandelion Chocolate for dessert. I had this amazing Chef's Tasting complete with a tiny cocoa spritzer.
This morning we started the day with a walk to brunch at Marlowe.
The inside of Marlow, just before the crowd rolled in.
Brunch makes me happy, especially when it's amazing. Starting with "The Butcher's Mistress" and the ricotta donuts with raspberry preserves and moving along to a strong cup of coffee and the chilaquiles, the meal was perfect.
We then headed to the de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park. In the sculpture park outside we found this giant safety pin (by the same artist that made the giant shuttlecocks in from of the Nelson Atkins Museum in KC).
And how 'bout these apples? (Sorry, couldn't help myself; these ceramic beauties made me do it.)
Inside, we checked out lots of art and this special exhibit celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love. 
My favorite part were the clothes, obviously. These hand-drawn dresses in particular.
After the museum, we walked around the park and headed to the corner of the actual Summer of Love. Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Winding Down in Turkey

After the conference sessions, we headed to this boat to go see the Black Sea. As soon as we boarded we had lunch and then learned that the weather was not going to allow us to go out of the strait to see it.
While that was disappointing, we did still see some amazing things from the water that were hard to see from land, like this fort...
...and these beautiful summer homes...
...and Maiden's Tower, a lighthouse with much folklore surrounding it. (Sorry for the graininess, it had started to rain a little at this point.)
We headed back to the hotel to get packed and ready to head home the next day. We met up with Beyza, my hostess for the conference who translated for me and helped me get ready for my panel. Cheers and thank you, Beyza!
One funny story to share: my hostess had tried to teach me how to say thank you in Turkish. This morning my room was being cleaned while I was in it doing some work at the desk. When the maid was leaving, I said 'thank you' in Turkish. She smiled at me and said, "Sorry, madam, I do not speak English." HA - so much for trying that phrase out!

In all, it was a very rich trip full of interesting places, people and conversations. I learned so much about a country that had previously been unfamiliar to me. Thanks for stopping by, I'll see you online soon!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Touring Turkey Continued

In between getting some work done, I decided to spend a little time touring more of the city. We tried the Big Bus tour, a hop on/hop off double decker bus. 
This was the view of the European side of Turkey as we approached the Bosphorus Bridge. The buildings are so colorful, the view reminds me of confetti.
We visited the Beylerbeyi Palace on the Asian side and encountered this sign containing the easiest Turkish words I've seen yet.
Built in 1865, the palace sits in the shadow of the bridge and was a summer residence of Ottoman sultans and a guesthouse for foreign heads of state. Daily tours are given of the inside but we didn't have enough time to take one.
A view of the Asian side of Turkey as we headed back over the bridge.
We stopped in a shop to buy some souvenirs. This wall of herbs, spices and teas smelled amazing. We ate enough samples of Turkish delight to count it as lunch - chocolate, pistachio, pomegranate, honey...yum! I bought some to share with my friends back home (and yes, you, Dad!). Afterwards, we grabbed a coffee at a cafe to cut the sugar a little bit.
After working in the afternoon, I met up with a group of speakers from the conference and had dinner and drinks along this pedestrian street.
We strolled around the city and landed on a cafe that faced the view in the previous photo. I had this delicious plate of grilled veggies and some cold appetizers (bottom right) with bread. There was a table of Turkish theater and philosophy students sitting behind our table that insisted we switch out our wine for raki, the traditional anise flavored liquor. It was good but we didn't drink nearly as much as they did.
All in all, a great evening trading stories and making friends with strangers (no more)!