Everyday Moments

Surprises are the Best

December 10, 2014

So I have to admit before I get into the post that I don’t like surprises happening to me. I just don’t. However, I like surprising other people. Which is exactly what I did last weekend when I flew back to Nebraska to surprise my mom for her birthday.

A couple months ago I go an email from Southwest about a super awesome sale happening. I had no intentions of booking a flight for anything in the near future, but I checked out the sale anyway. That’s when I saw that I could fly roundtrip for $90. 9-0 dollars! I haven’t been able to do that since freshman year of college when Southwest used to be cheap. Knowing my grandparent’s 60th wedding anniversary party was also happening sometime around then I called my dad. Who then had me call my aunt. Who then had to ask my grandparents to move their party, come up with an excuse to tell my mom and reschedule the photographer who was going to take family photos at the party. All so I could fly home and surprise my mom.

My sister was able to snap an amazing photo of my mom’s face when she first saw me. I won’t put that picture up, but it basically looked like this…

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Best face ever.

I think I’ve only come home and surprised my mom one other time since moving to St. Louis, but I may have to do it more often after seeing her face. All of the family knew, so I was a little surprised when no one accidentally spilled the beans! The rest of the weekend was spent seeing friends and family I hadn’t seen since June. It’s hard to believe that Christmas is only two weeks away and I’ll be making my way back up there again. Which means I need to finish my Christmas shopping!

—m.

Everyday Moments

November Recap

November 30, 2014

Holy moly. This month has been insane. I feel like the events that happened at the beginning of this month actually happened last year. How is December tomorrow?!

• The month started with our third and final wedding in a row and for the year. If three in a row wasn’t enough, we know of three couples getting married on the same day this coming summer. So, that should be fun and interesting.

• I jetted off to San Francisco for a long weekend to visit a good friend that moved out there.

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• As soon as I was home and able to get my suitcase unpacked, my parents came down to visit for a long weekend. I can’t even remember what we all did. I remember some shopping and eating, which are clearly important.

• Tim was out of state for work for a few days and then headed down to Knoxville, TN for a Mizzou football game. That week here at home was nice and quiet.

• The entire city of St. Louis, and I’m sure much of the nation, watched what happen when riots in Ferguson broke out. I feel so bad for those business owners.

• Thanksgiving was a busy day. We hosted a few of Tim’s family members at our house and then headed to his mom’s side later in the day. I made several of the side dishes and my very first homemade pumpkin pie. Oh, I drank entirely too much wine.

• We ended the month with a day trip to Columbia to watch Mizzou play their last game of the season against Arkansas. Mizzou showed up in the 4th quarter and came back to the win the game. I must give my Huskers a shoutout for winning against Iowa in overtime. I’m pretty sure I got some funny looks when I got all excited about Nebraska winning, while being surrounded by Mizzou fans.

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December is going to be another busy month for us. But seriously, who ever has a calm or slow December?

—m.

Travel

San Francisco

November 20, 2014

I should have been prepared for the hills in San Francisco. I mean, I knew it was a hilly city. I just didn’t fully realize until I was in an airport shuttle en route to my friend Nicole’s apartment.

Hill #1 – “That was a big hill.”
Giant hill #2 – “I hope we don’t roll back.”
Giant hill #3 – “Holy shit.”

Oh, and walking them? I felt like I should have left with the most perfectly toned booty and legs ever. Spoiler: I didn’t.

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The next couple of days involved a combination of walking and driving tours, eating and exploring. I have to admit that I left the city with a neutral feeling. I didn’t hate the city by any means, but I didn’t love it. And I mean “I didn’t love it” as in I didn’t like the city enough to want to move there. But visit again? For sure! It was such a different city than anywhere else I’ve ever visited. It wasn’t a bad thing…it was just so different. Being in the car with Nicole while she tried parking on a hill also made me nervous.

We drove or walked through places like Russian Hill, Chinatown, the Marina District, down the Embarcadero, North Beach (a favorite area for me), the Financial District, Pac Heights, the Haight, the Mission, the Castro, the Tenderloin (it was a direct route for where we were headed but I don’t recommend hanging out in this part of town), Richmond District and the Presidio.

We stopped by the Harley Davidson store near the Fisherman’s Wharf to get our dads a shirt, made our way through Ghirardelli Square and then stopped for a peek at Lombard Street. Walking up the hill between Ghirardelli Square and Lombard street was awful. Plain awful.

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Nicole then led us to the Ina Coolbrith Park for an incredible view of the city. It’s the highest point in Russian Hill (or close to it), and it almost felt like this secret park that tourists don’t know about.

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We ate yummy pizza from Tony’s in North Beach, had tacos from Tacolicious, got breakfast from La Boulange, had clam chowder and crab cakes from Boudin, ate at four different sushi restaurants including Elephant (get the flaming sea bass roll!), and waited in line for dessert from Tartine. Oh, and I stopped at Brioche Bakery & Cafe for a croissant and latte my last morning in town.

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I didn’t want to do many touristy things, so there was a lot of hanging out and catching up over the weekend. That happens when you don’t see someone for over 10 months. The trip was such a nice vacation. Other than a couple things, we didn’t really make an itinerary. Just decided what do to once I got out there.

I did learn a couple things about the city. For instance:
– Pedestrians have the right away at four-way stops. So cars have to stop for you to cross the street. (Follow the traffic signals when there’s stop lights, though.)
– The tracks for the trolleys vibrate and are loud.
– The majority of buses are zero emission vehicles. They’re put on cables to get around the city, but can disconnect if needed.
– The fog has it’s own name: Karl. It’s not afraid to take over and blanket the city.
– Ficus trees are quite popular in the city and line many streets.
– And lastly, even though I just went to San Francisco for the first time, November is THE time to go. Seriously. It was 70 and sunny the whole time (other than my last morning). It’s off season so there isn’t the crowds like the summer months. It was awesome.

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I was scared I wasn’t going to get out of Denver on my way home. There was snow coming down and it was a “balmy” 18 degrees. My flight was delayed and planes were having to be de-iced.  But thankfully I made it home, only to have that cold weather and snow to arrive in St. Louis a couple days later.

Is it time to go back to California yet?

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—m.

Travel

Muir Woods

November 16, 2014

The one thing I really wanted to do while out in San Francisco was to go hiking at Muir Woods. So the first full day I was there, we made our way over the foggy Golden Gate Bridge towards the national park. We managed to find a parking spot in the second lot and started off on the Dipsea Trail.

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We estimate that we went a couple miles on the Dipsea Trail before we connected to the Ben Johnson trail and made our way onto the main Muir Woods trail that would take us down through the touristy part of the park and back to the visitor center. We think we went about 4 miles total. The hike was on the easier side (in my opinion), which is good because we forgot our water in the car. It was a really pretty hike, though I will say that the trees weren’t quite as big around as I was expecting. Maybe I was thinking of sequoias?  We only ran into a handful of people while on the Dipsea trail. It was really nice because once we got down to the main trail, there were a ton of people.

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The giant trees were quite impressive. I loved seeing when trees twisted around each other to create one larger trunk. If I lived out there, I would definitely frequent the area to explore the fairly large trail system and the lookout points!

—m.

Everyday Moments, Travel

That View

November 14, 2014

I was in San Francisco last weekend visiting a friend that moved there this past summer. I plan on doing a couple posts about the trip, but until then I’ll share this awesome view from one of the lookouts at the Marin Headlands.

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—m.

Everyday Moments

Favorite Places: Castlewood

November 5, 2014

I know I’ve mentioned in a few other posts about my visits to Castlewood, but I am full on declaring my love for it in this one.

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But first a story…A couple years ago, I was getting burnt out on road running during my 12 Races in 12 Months goal and needed a change. When I learned about the trail race, The Skippo, at Castlewood State Park I immediately signed up. You pick between doing a 10K, 20K or 30K distance. Being a noob to trail races, I opted for the 10K.

I drove out to Castlewood for the first time (by myself) and had no idea where I was going or what trail to even start on. Thankfully, there were a couple other seasoned trail runners heading out at the same time and let me join them. They filled me on the the few trails that could be accessed from where we started and some “rules” of the park. (Mountain bikers always have the right-of-way.) I ran about 2.5 miles with these two other runners before we parted onto different trails (they were going out for a 10 mile run), but I felt this camaraderie I hadn’t felt with other runners before. They let this lost (literally) stranger join them and taught me a few things. It was pretty sweet.

Anyway, by the end of 3.5 mile run I was hooked. Being outside, the various terrain, and the views were awesome. The park is lovely year round, even during the winter. It’s hard for me to not stop and take pictures every so often while I’m out there! I haven’t explored the other half of Castlewood (my next goal), but the three main trails I do are enough to keep me coming back.

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• The River Scene trail is a favorite because of the awesome views. I start out flat along the river and climb up the 200 steps. This one is probably the most popular with people—especially those with dogs.

• The Lone Wolf trail connects to the River Scene trail and is a fairly easy trail with some switchbacks. This trail seems popular with mountain bikers.

• The Grotpeter trail is great because the various terrain. You can either connect from the Lone Wolf trail by crossing the creek or start flat at the trailhead before climbing up a hill followed by switchbacks later on. I love this one because I rarely see runners on it, but will almost always encounter mountain bikers and horse every once in a while.

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I’m not getting out there right now as much as I’d like due to an injury from the half marathon last month, but hopefully my knee and the weather cooperates enough for me to make it out there in December. There’s some hidden gems throughout the park that remind you of the history before it became a state park—a resort and party area for locals of all things!

My sister said it best the one time I took here there…”I can believe there’s a place like this in St. Louis.” It is pretty awesome.

—m.