Wednesday, May 22, 2013

California Girl!

My trip to California was awesome!  If only I hadn't had to, you know, WORK, I would have had even more time for awesomeness!  As it was, we stayed out later than normal (based on my home time zone) so we could cram in more fun!

My flight first flight was a little before 8:00 am on Monday, so I said goodbye to my mom and kids at home (I was the only one that cried!) and Adam drove me to the airport.  He parked and came in to make sure I got checked in and everything was on time, and to eat a little breakfast with me, and then we said our goodbyes.  My layover was in Chicago, so the first leg of the journey was very short.  I had about 2 and half hours at O'Hare.  OH!  When we landed, our plane actually drove on a bridge over an interstate.  Seriously.  Then I got to my departure terminal and immediatly spotted a huge dinosaur skeleton!  I couldn't help buy miss my Tyler man then, he loves his dinos!

Bracheosauras!  I don't know how to spell that! And spell check suggests Brontosaurus!

 I spent some time wandering around my terminal, buying snacks for later and a coffee.  I charged my computer and cell phone for a little while, then bought some lunch.  My flight to Sacramento was long and fairly uneventful, aside for a long 15 minute wait in the aisle for a bathroom to open up (one of the lavatories was occupied the entire time I was standing there--mile high club?  LOL).  We actually landed in California about 20 minutes early, which was awesome!  I called my coworkers, Nova and Mari Lynn from our Kentucky office, who'd arrived earlier in the day and we waiting for me.  After I collected my suitcase, I met them outside an we were off!  We drove from Sacramento to our hotel in Vacaville and got checked in and unpacked and then we headed for San Francisco!  I was in love with the mountains!  I must have taken 30 pictures of just the mountains! So pretty!

I never realized JUST how flat Indiana is!

 Then we drove across the Golden Gate Bridge!  It was amazing!

View from below

We drove around a bit, eventually finding a place to take some cool pictures of the bridge, then we drove to Pier 39.  It was really cool too, tons of people and shops and the ocean breeze!

San Fransisco, Pier 39

We met up with some other coworkers there for a few minutes. Then we went out to the docs to see the sea lions and get a view of the boats and Alcatrez!  Very cool!  I had no idea Alcatraz was so close to land!



We wandered around, shopping for souvenirs and people-watching.  I got an adorable Tshirt for Tyler that shows an adult and a baby sea lion with your child's head as the adult sea lions!  And a Bib just like it for AJ!  I found a crystal for my mom at the Swaroffski store (WOW could I have spent a lot of money in there!) and then treated myself a little!  There was a little shop where you could pick out you own oyster and see if there was a pearl inside!  Legit?  I don't know, but it was fun! I found a pearl! :)  Nova got a silver one :).  The sales lady of course tried to sell me a lot of very expensive (and pretty) settings, before I finally got her to admit there was a very basic, inexpensive one :)  So I got it mounted on on little setting to wear as a necklace.

Do you see the pearl?

When we were stumbling around we were so tired, we ate dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe.  Then we drove around some more, trying to get back to the GG Bridge. Eventually we found a really good place to take some more pictures!

The Golden Gate Bridge!  And me.

Then we headed back to the hotel.  Eventually we started wondering if we shouldn't have come to our hotel yet.  Apparently, CA has a lot of those exits that don't have off ramps in both directions! Thank God for GPS!  We got back to our hotel around 9:30 pm (12:30 pm Indiana time) and went to bed!

I got up early Tuesday (3:15 CA time) to Skype with Adam and the kids before left for work.  I couldn't go back to sleep (BLAH!).  Around 6:30 I headed down for a quick breakfast before we headed to Dixon, where our office is located.  The training went well and it was great to see everyone again and meet the new hires.  After work, we went to dinner at a little Mexican place where I had a very yummy quesadilla which had pieces the size of pizza slices!

WAY too much yum!

After dinner, some of us drove to the Outlet Mall in Vacaville and had major fun shopping!

The next day we did half a day training and then we all drove up to Napa to Jarvis Winery.  It was amazingly beautiful and really cool!  Outside is a little meadow with a pond with lily pads and lotus flowers.  This place is the first winery ever built completely inside a CAVE!  No kidding!  Apparently the owner, William Jarvis, bought the huge property to build a summer home on.  He eventually sold his business and moved there full time and decided to grow a few grapes and make some wine in his barn.  He took some wine courses at a local college and met a very prestigious wine-guy (I don't remember what his actual descriptive title was lol) and they hatched the idea for this winery.  William wanted to be vary natural, no big factories and such, so when the outgrew the barn he had the cave drilled out.  There is tunnel leading to some impressive doors (just one set of many).  The cave within is shaped kind of like a wagon wheel, with four spokes.  In the center is a waterfall, fueled by a natural underground spring that feeds off into a little stream that runs past the tasting room.  All along the outside ring are barrels of wine, medium sized ones and huge ones where wine is being separated (skins/pulp, etc). At the far end is a really cool set of doors, called Butterfly Doors, because they are joined in the center and fold out like the wing of a butterfly.  They lead to the Geo Room and a ballroom with a starry sky.  The tour ended in the tasting room (of course) where we sampled six wines (a few of us tasted a seventh also).  Unfortunately, I didn't like any of them--they were all pretty strong and dry for me.  I had fun trying them though, and the group had a good time together.  The first wine served was the only white and as he finished serving, our guide was saying to be sure to leave some for later, because the wine tastes differently when it warms up. One of my coworkers, Jessica had just finished downing her glass in one and she said "Whoops!" and we all about died laughing!  She was embarrassed and got a huge case of the giggles!

Entrance to the Winery

Entrance...doesn't look like a cave, but it is!

Inside the cave!

The Geo Room

The tasting room. yes, you have to step on stones in the creek to get in.

Ready for us!

My wine--not a big fan, but it was fun!

Outside by the pond.  Like my new sunglasses?

Nova and I at the Winery

So pretty!

The "Butterfly Door"

The waterfall inside the cave!

After wine tasting we went back to Vacaville for dinner. Oh, let me tell you, people on that mountain drive like CRAZY!  It's all sharp bends and curves and they were literally honking and swerving.  We kept pulling over to let them pass!  Crazy!  We got to town a little early, so we went to a pub next door and Nova and I played pool (she won, but in fairness we're both pretty not-good).  Then we had dinner at an Italian place called Fogo's.  I tried another wine, Reisling, which I sort almost liked.  I had fettuccine and a salad with candied pecans, strawberries, pickled red onions, and vinnegrette and for dessert I had tiramisu.

The next day we wrapped up the training just after lunch.  We made a quick stop at the hotel to change and then drove around for the afternoon. We went back to the outlets briefly and tried to find something else interesting to do. We ended up back in "downtown" Vacaville looking for a historic homes tour, but we never found it, nor did we see anything that resembled a historic home.  Eventually we found an amazing little consignment shop that I could have spent HOURS and a ton of money in.  Unfortunately she was closing at 5:00 pm, so we had to rush through a little. I still ended up with too really cute and cheap tops for work.  Then we headed for dinner at a little place called Merchant and Main.  I wasn't too crazy about the menu, so I ended up ordering a salad and potato skins.  I also had a tasty cocktail with strawberry and lime. 

After dinner we headed back to the hotel. One of my coworkers was going back home Thursday night, and another group was moving to a hotel in Sacramento since their flight was so early.  I could have done the same, but I didn't want to mess with booking another room and another fee etc, and Nova didn't mind getting up early to drive back, so I decided not to.  We went to fill up the rental with gas and then hung out at the hotel for a little while.  Eventually I went back to my room and packed up most of my stuff.  I tried to go to sleep but I wasn't having much luck and then Nova called. She had bought too much and couldn't fit it all in her suitcase!  I went over and "helped" her and then we chatted for another hour. By the time I went back to my room, it was about 11:15 California time.  Since we wanted to leave the hotel by 3:00 am, I didn't get much sleep.  I swear I set my phone's alarm, but I ended up oversleeping!  Thank God I only had to throw on clothes and pack the last of my things.  We checked out and left on time, although sadly without the coffee I desperately needed.

We got the airport, returned our rental, caught a shuttle to the terminal, and got our bags checked and our boarding passes.  We ate some breakfast and when the shops started opening, I bought a few more souvenirs for the family, including a bag of tumbled stones for Tyler (he loves rocks) and a very sentimental item for myself.  Here's a picture:

So it's literally HALF a coffee cup.  My Great Aunt, who was basically another grandmother to me, had a brown half coffee cup that read "You ASKED for half a cup of coffee!" on it.  After she passed away, my immediate family was able to get very little of her possessions, sadly, and the cup was one of the things that was lost in the estate.  I saw it and I almost teared up.  My sister's both want one too!

By the time I was done shopping, it was time to board my plane!  I said goodbye to Nova (I wish I could have brought her home with me!  We had SOOO much fun!) and sat down for a few minutes to rearrange my carry on items.  I was surprised when my name was announced over the speaker, with a request to come to the counter.  Free seat upgrade! Apparently a family was rearranging to sit together so I got bumped to priority :)  More leg room is never a bad thing.

View from the plane home!

The flight was uneventful aside from noticing that we had taken off a little late and we were cutting into my short 45 minute layover in Chicago.  By the time we landed, my boarding pass said my other plane was about to board.  I was able to get off pretty quickly and identify my departing gate (in another terminal, of course).  I half power-walked/half ran down the terminal, across the gateway (legs burning), down the other terminal and reached my gate during boarding WHEW!

The flight was short, only about 35 minutes, which was good, since I hadn't had time to grab lunch.  I made do with a few pretzels and a bag of cookies.  By the time I landed, I just wanted to see my family!  I couldn't wait!  I got to baggage claim and was pleased when the luggage started appearing pretty quickly--usually I have to wait ages for it.  After a few minutes, I spotted my bright blue bag!  And then I realized it wasn't my bright blue bag. And then my bright blue bag still wasn't coming...and then nothing was coming.  There were still several of us standing around.  And them I'm thinking, I barely made my plane, maybe my suitcase didn't?  A check with the office confirmed it.  My suitcase was checked in for a 4:30 arrival in Indianapolis!  LOL Thankfully, United delivers!

So I headed out to the street, calling Adam and watching for our van. And then it was there, my kiddos were there!  AJ was asleep but Tyler was VERY excited to see me and he loved his rocks!  It is great to be home!  It was a very fun trip, but very tiring and I missed my family like crazy!  Next trip to CA needs to include them! I got back last Friday and BOY had I missed my kiddos!!  Tyler missed me, AJ didn't really seem to notice, aside from CEASING the sleeping through the night thing he'd been doing for Adam all week.  Good stuff!


S.I.F. said...

I love San Francisco so much! It looks like you had a great trip - I am totally jealous!

Elizabeth :: Bébé Suisse said...

Very cool trip! Too bad about the work part of it, though ;)