Category Archives: Travel

Hello darlin’, it’s been a long time.

Hello you.

My friend, Dolores, reminded me today that I have this thing, this blog, out there in the world that people are actually interested in (people = my Mom, Dolores, possibly one other person). And I have failed miserably to keep it even minimally updated. I won’t apologize, because it would just be followed by work/life/laziness excuses, which are all so tired and never sound as good when you say them out loud – or type them – as they do in your head. That said, here are my updates…

Since August.

2011.

  • The promotion I got last Spring was followed up with some pretty drastic changes at work. I always feel like, when people talk about work, no one really understands what you’re saying. No one really understands exactly what you do everyday, or what issues you deal with. But at a fundamental level, there’s a language we all understand, so I’ll keep it simple: I’m tired, I work long hours and don’t feel like I ever get ahead, but I’m a perfectionist and don’t know how to do my job any other way. 
  • B and I had our official 10th anniversary in September. Yay for decade 1! Yay for decade 2!
  • Roadtrip Number Two commenced at the beginning of October – a full 10 days driving through the Northeast and into Canada. It was wonderful. Special highlights include: discovering that Bar Harbor can be the Charming Old People Mecca of New England in October, folks really love their Dunkin’ Donuts around those parts (I, for one, do not run on Dunkin’), my husband still cannot navigate his way out of a paper bag without the help of one Trusty Navigator (and I don’t mean Tom Tom) (and I do say that with love), the Ben and Jerry’s tour isn’t that fantastic and most people just go for the free ice cream sampling, which is just plain silly, because they sell the full mother-lode at the Conoco down the street (but still go for the graveyard, giftshop and phot-ops), yes, Stowe is really that pretty, and last but not least, I’m pretty sure I could live in the Canadian rest stops between Montreal and Toronto without ever leaving. As long as I have money to spend at Tim Horton’s for fake cappuccinos.
  • November brought about a sudden, and slightly weird, fixation on making the best cheese straws ever. I can say – goal accomplished. 
  • Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s were all great, meeting new friends, spending time with old friends, and having my parent’s visit.
  • Which brings us to the saddest month of all: January. Ugh. January. My birthday month, but even still, I find it to be the least attractive month of all. It’s like we’re all high on the holiday spirit and then…January. The rehab month of sorts, where we’re all forced back to our regular lives and habits without the fun of parties, special drinks and copious amounts of Bon-Appetit-level food. *sigh*
  • Somewhere in there, I made the amazing and exciting discovery that marshmallows come in jumbo size now. It may not sound like news, but it is. Embrace it.
  • And then there’s my birthday. This year marked my 33rd anniversaire, and boy, it could not have been shittier. From watching my beloved Saints lose to the Niners (yes, I was there; yes, I had a distinct urge to throw a full-blown hissy fit and punch everyone in the face), to being sick for four days after. I will say that B, who is normally the nice, pleasant, calm one of this duo, matched my anger over the loss quite nicely. It was the best birthday gift, if one can say that.
  • Last but not least, I started a weaving class. I’m confident I’ll finish my project; I’m confident it will not be wearable, but that it might make a nice dusting rag. The thing I like about weaving is that it’s a process, and sometimes a puzzle. It’s good for me, so I’m okay with the rag application.

So that’s it. To end this on a high note, I’m going to give you a recipe I’ve been dying to make (with those jumbo sized marshmallows – I bet you’re listening now): S’Mores Bars.

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Filed under Baking, Fun Times., Recipes, Travel

Roadtrip: Part 1/Oakland, California to Fortuna, California

It’s been a couple of weeks, and so much has happened. I feel tired just thinking about it. Here are some highlights:

  • I flew back home to Alexandria to help my Mom recover from surgery. There is nothing like having your parents going through months of tests and a serious medical procedure to scare the living shit out of you, so I was relieved to be home, to see her with my own eyes. She also called me the drill sergeant, which, with my need for control in all situations was quite fitting. She is doing better week by week, and I know that she’ll fully recover. If she can just take it easy.
  • I flew home for one night, and then………..
  • B. and I were off on our week-long roadtrip through the Pacific Northwest.

The roadtrip. There was no plan, no hotel reservations, no specific points to stop, just 2,037 miles of road. I had my trusty 2007 atlas, Brandon had his not-so-trusty Garmin (it failed around Seattle), and we were off like a couple of prom dresses. It was one of the most wonderful trips we’ve taken. And here’s part 1 just for you.

We started by driving through San Francisco, across the Golden Gate and up the 101. The weather was perfect. After lunch in Mill Valley, we made our way to Highway1 through Sebastopol/Guerneville/Jenner. We stopped  in Duncan Mills to go to an antique shop where we’d bought a piece of furniture on our honeymoon. We were sad to see that it was closed, and that the shop had been taken over by some completely inane store that sold plastic picture frames and ugly t-shirts that no one should wear. So we moved on. We were trying to end up in Jenner at a reasonable time so that we could eat at the River’s End, but no such luck. Three o’clock just isn’t the time for lunch or dinner. We decided to just keep driving…

Our first real stop was right after Jenner, when we stopped at one of the many vista points on Highway 1. We couldn’t help ourselves,  because this is what we saw. And this. And it was just plain beautiful.

Moving on. Have you driven up Highway 1? If not, let me give you some friendly advice: don’t eat before you go, make sure your driver is completely lucid and not too high on caffeine, and don’t – under any circumstances – shout out a little when said driver is going slightly too fast on the hairpin curves because he thinks he totally has it. Instead, ask politely for said driver to slow it down so you can take in all the scenery. This does not always work like a charm, since said driver knows you like the back of his hand and knows you are just wanting him to slow down, because you can see the scenery just fine at the speed you’re going. I’m just saying, you may need to take part of the drive with a Xanax and a couple throwbacks of whatever hard alcohol takes you down a notch.

So moving on…from the views of the ocean, to farms, rolling hills, eucalyptus trees shaped by the wind, curves and winding roads, it was beautiful. We watched the fog roll in from the Pacific, saw cows sunning themselves perilously close to the road where there was no fence to protect them (or us), came upon an old, beautiful cemetary where the fog continued to blanket us and we saw this, this and this. It was getting dark, so we decided to head inland to Ukiah to eat and regroup. We took another long and winding road, Highway 253, that took us through a scattering of small towns before we hit the 101 North. We landed at Subway in Ukiah, where the guy making our sandwiches was too cool for school. We figured out we would continue on, even though it was already pitch black out. We got back on the road after a quick Safeway pit stop where I had to gently talk Brandon out of the large container of spice drops. That man is a fool for spice drops. At 10:00 that night, we decided to call it a day and ended up in Fortuna. 

And that was only day 1, my friends. Stay tuned for day 2, including an oversized Paul Bunyan, his blue ox, and magical trees. 

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To do, to make, to learn, to stay.

I just happened to open the latest and greatest issue of Sunset magazine last night to find some seriously great ideas.

To do: One of those great ideas was a small paragraph tucked away about Pie Ranch. Like I said the other day, you never know what you’re going to find on the Internet – and the same can be said for magazines, newspapers and books. To read about Pie Ranch, and their monthly Work Day and Barn Dance, just click on the Pie Ranch link here. If you had told my Grandpa that working in the fields, then having a potluck and a barn dance afterward would become the thing to do on a Saturday night for city-fied folks, he would’ve laughed in your face. Hard.

To make: Stuffed Chicken with Rosemary Polenta.  So not only does this recipe call for polenta (Note to my Mama: They taste like grits.), but it also has fontina in it. I mean, you can’t really go wrong with a recipe that includes 8 ingredients for the entire thing. I’ll tell you now, I don’t like recipes that call for ingredients you’ve never heard of that are priced to kill and/or will never be used again because you discover after paying the exorbitant price for the ingredient, you hate it (saffon anyone?). Anyway. We would call this chicken and grits with some cheese thrown in there back home. But the picture sure does look good.

To learn: Another great idea was taking a class at the Institute of Urban Homesteading right here in the Bay Area. From Cheesemaking 101 to Backyard Beekeeping and Butchering, you can learn about all kinds of things to do right in your kitchen (or backyard). There’s also a class there about goats and chickens, if you’re so inclined. I am not. Classes range in price, but from what I saw, looked to be pretty reasonable. For the class schedule, click here.

To stay: Tree House Point in Issaquah, Washington was just amazing to look at. Essentially, they’re hotel-room-treehouses. When we travel, we always like to rent apartments through VRBO, because we’ve always had good luck and we’ve always enjoyed the places we’ve stayed. Plus, you don’t spend tons of money eating out – and since most places have a washer and dryer, you can pack less. Anyway, washer and dryers and cooking aside, the Tree House Point is definitely a place I’d like to find myself.

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Grand adventures in my own backyard.

Hey there folks. I’m back (I’m tempted to include “and better than ever”, but that’s simply not true). 

Let me start by saying that work has been a beast and is keeping me busy as a bee. It hasn’t been fun, and I’ve missed taking the time to do something personal (like update my blog, or get home before 8:00 at night). I decided today would be the day that I didn’t work through lunch, but took a half-hour (okay, I worked through half my lunch) to give you an update. It feels good to do this. 

So last weekend, we took Woodreaux out for a spin in the Bay Area. Grand adventures and all. Brandon was initially in a dark little mood, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to spend quality time with him. As we drove over the Bay Bridge into San Francisco, and easily found parking in the Marina (miracles do exist), he relaxed a bit. We had some lunch and Brandon had another obscure star-sighting (as usual, he recognizes some guy from a show on the History Channel, or National Geographic or Discovery or something). We hopped back in the car and headed over the Golden Gate. Earlier in the week, I’d done an off-site meeting with work at the Marin Headlands, and I wanted to share that with him. We ended up in an even better spot than I had been in, with 360-degree views of the city, the ocean and the headlands. It was beautiful. 

What was even more interesting was the history behind the Marin Headlands. During WWII, several batteries were built into Hawk Hill (part of the Headlands) to protect the Bay Area from aerial bombardments. The batteries were never used, but they’re still there. So so interesting. 

Here, take a look for yourself: 

View from the lower level.

View from the lower level.

 

Woodreaux and Golden Gate.

Woodreaux and Golden Gate.

  

Marin Headlands to my right, Pacific in front.

Marin Headlands to my right, Pacific in front.

  

Marin Headlands to my right, Pacific in front.

Marin Headlands to my right, Pacific in front.

  

Marin Headlands.

Marin Headlands.

  

Marin Headlands.

Marin Headlands.

  

View from Hawk Hill, Marin Headlands.

View from Hawk Hill, Marin Headlands.

  

View of the Pacific from Hawk Hill, Marin Headlands.

View of the Pacific from Hawk Hill, Marin Headlands.

  

View of Golden Gate (and Brandon) from Hawk Hill.

View of Golden Gate (and Brandon) from Hawk Hill.

  

View of the Pacific coming down from Hawk Hill.

View of the Pacific coming down from Hawk Hill.

  

View of the Headlands leaving Hawk Hill.

View of the Headlands leaving Hawk Hill.

  

Last view.

Last view.

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Woodrow becomes Woodreaux. And the Saints win big.

It’s been a very long two weeks since my last post. 

A very.long.two.weeks. 

Highlights include: 

  • Woodrow making the trek from Northeast Oregon to the Bay Area with no hiccups.
  • Me not killing my husband during said trek.
  • The Superbowl party of a lifetime.
  • The Superbowl win of a lifetime.
  • Woodrow miraculously passes crazy California emissions test and gets a high-five from our mechanic, Robert.
  • Woodrow makes another trek – this time up to Tahoe – with only minor hiccups.
  • I rediscover that Brandon is MacGyver when he fixes the back window (after taking the entire thing apart) – and has the patience of Job when he has to put everything back together again.
  • I don’t completely lose it when I have to spend two hours registering Woodrow at the DMV this morning. TWO HOURS. This included one of the ladies talking to me like a four year old with a listening problem. I don’t have a listening problem, by the way. I have a you-are-a-dummy-and-no-two-people-that-work-here-give-the-same-information problem. It’s like you need a secret handshake, an archaeologist and a Bible to uncover the mysterious ways of the DMV.
  • And last but not least, Woodrow officially becomes part of our Louisiana family – and therefore, he is now Woodreaux.

Hope you guys didn’t miss me too much. But dang, I missed you. 

A few pictures from the last couple of weeks (I’ll upload all of them in the next couple of days): 

From Ashland to Oakland.

From Ashland to Oakland.

 

From Eugene to Ashland.

From Eugene to Ashland.

 

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Filed under Family, Football, Fun Times., Photography, Travel, Wagoneer

Woodrow is coming to California.

Exciting news in the Panepinto household: Woodrow is coming to California. Say hello to Woodrow:

Woodrow

Woodrow

Woodrow is a 1989 Jeep Grand Wagoneer. We’re flying out to eastern Oregon tomorrow morning to pick him up and drive him home.

Up next: Woodrow (fingers crossed) passes stringent California emissions test.

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A trip I’m not so sure about.

Driving West...somewhere in Arizona...

Driving West...somewhere in Arizona...

 

As you know, one of my goals for the year is a big trip. Brandon and I have been turning over ideas as fast as we can dream them up, and we’ve landed (let’s say “semi-landed”) on one that just might stick: the big American roadtrip. We’ve gone from New Zealand hiking to London driving and European backpacking – in a word: all over the charts – but something seems more plausible about this one. 

But. 

I want to drive one way, see some sights in a particular destination, then fly back in the lap of luxury (also known as Virgin Air economy class). That’s my idea of fun times.  Brandon wants to drive roundtrip – as in a whopping 7,200 miles (I know the mileage, because I calculated it). I just talked to him and broke the news – he was, nevertheless, NOT stunned. In fact, he seemed pretty okay with the fact that we would be in a car for two straight weeks. He asked me if 12 hours a day of driving would work. No, no it wouldn’t. Twelve hours of driving a day is practically asking me to kill you with my bare hands. Twelve hours a day is not okay. I can settle for eight – and six if he wants me in a good mood. 

So we’ll see what happens. Like I said, this is all very semi-landed-pre-planning. Things could change at any moment.

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