Running – Week in Review (7/17-7/22)

Each week I am going to start posting the results of my runs. This is good for my own accountability, but hopefully it’ll also help me meet more of you fellow runners out there!

Monday (Cross Train): 30 minutes of walking

Tuesday (3 miles): 8:33, 9:02, 8:11. Time – 25:48

Wednesday (30 minute tempo): 9:33, 8:58, 9:12, 2:17

Thursday (3 miles): 9:00, 9:04, 8:42. Time – 26:50

Friday: Rest Day

Saturday (6 miles): 8:54, 9:42, 10:28, 9:20, 10:35, 9:48. Time – 58:51.

That Saturday run absolutely wrecked me. It was so hot and so humid and I had a toe issue halfway through. Summer running is no joke. But hopefully it’s making me stronger for the fall!


Muir Woods – Day 7

We woke up on Friday with the sad remembrance that it was our final day of vacation. However, thanks to a red eye flight, we pretty much had the entire day to do some final exploring!

Chris fixed breakfast for us again on our final morning at her lovely home. This time we had bagels, fruit, ham, sausage, eggs, and hashbrowns. It was yummy!

From her house we drove a couple of hours over to Atwater to visit the Castle Air Museum. Andrew loves aviation and he was super excited to visit this place. I don’t remember the exact number of planes they had, but it had to have been over 30? 40?

The admission price was $15 which I don’t think was worth it. Everything was outside in the boiling hot sun which definitely detracted from the enjoyment level. They also had a small museum you could walk through. It again was okay, but nothing special.

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Perhaps the coolest thing they had (IMHO) was Air Force One!

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Anyways, by this point it was around 12:30pm so we started trekking back to SF to figure out what to do with the rest of our time. During this point we decided we were going to try and visit Muir Woods!! We had heard so many good things about it that we knew we had to at least make an effort to see some coastal redwoods.

It was a long drive but got there around 3:30pm or so and were able to find a parking spot. Our suggestion is to visit early in the morning or a couple of hours before close. Parking is scarce and the popularity of this place continues to increase.

We were SO glad we decided to visit. I mean, check out these trees. Beautiful!

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Muir Woods also has a few different trails you can hike on, but we weren’t really prepared for that. We stuck to the main loop and walked slowly taking in all the scenery. It’s hard to believe that Muir is so close to San Francisco because it feels other worldly.

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After hanging out there for a couple of hours we decided to head back to SF. Andrew was tired of driving and truth be told, we mainly wanted to just get rid of the rental car. As nice as it was, it was also a hassle and we didn’t want to deal with parking in SF.

We returned it and then decided to head to the airport early since we had nothing to do with our suitcase. We got to the airport around 7pm, did security, and then ate dinner at one of the sit-down restaurants since our flight wasn’t leaving until midnight.

I know, I know, we could have spent more time in the city. But we were pooped so we were fine with chilling in the airport and taking it easy.

We finally made it home around 2pm the next afternoon. We were tired, but so thankful for our time in California! It was an unforgettable trip!

Yosemite National Park – Day 6

The big day had finally arrived! After months of planning and reading numerous blogs, we were going to Yosemite National Park! (Side Note: Earlier this summer I finished a three-book series on Teddy Roosevelt, so that also added to my excitement)

We woke up at 6am on Thursday morning so that we could get ready, pack our hiking bags, etc. Chris had breakfast on the table for us at 6:30…and what. a. spread.

She fixed waffles, pancakes, ham, sausage, eggs, and fruit. It was marvelous. And a good way to begin a long day of hiking!

We then left the house around 6:50am as we had a one hour drive to the gate. We again drove on very narrow, winding roads and I think I had my arms on the dash in pure terror the whole way. My husband is a saint for dealing with me.

We made it to the gate around 8:05am and headed straight for Tunnel View. We got there and were surprised to see that it actually wasn’t all that busy. We took some photos, but they can’t even begin to do that view justice.

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I actually took this photo later in the day around 5pm when we were passing back by. But, Tunnel View is awe-inspiring at any point in the day!

After enjoying this view, we went chasing waterfalls (and it wouldn’t be the last time that day either). When you leave Tunnel View, you can drive a couple miles back down the road and stop at Bridalveil Falls. We were so excited and then we saw it!

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Don’t get me wrong. Bridalveil was lovely. But man, just wait until you see the photos down below.

Once you leave Bridalveil, you’ll re-join the road that leads into the main part of the Valley where you can park. We chose a parking lot near to the Visitor’s Center. There were plenty of spots available and we had no trouble parking. Remember: Gate by 8! Do this and you should have no problems.

We then walked around for a bit to get ourselves oriented and then hopped a shuttle bus to the Happy Isles shuttle stop. The shuttle was easy and not crowded early in the morning.

Once at Happy Isles, we found the trailhead for Vernal Falls and began our hike on the Mist Trail. We were accompanied by a lot of other people as this is the signature hike in the Valley. I definitely understand why. After you hike .8 miles, you come to the footbridge.

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I can’t quite remember if this photo was at the footbridge or not, but I had to post it. From the footbridge it’s another .7 miles to the top of the falls. You begin ascending stone steps that are right next to the falls…hence the name the “Mist Trail.” Here’s the thing though. This year, Yosemite got way more snow than usual. The waterfalls are typically drying up by this point in the summer. However, thanks to the snow, it’s more like the “Shower Trail” as the snow is still melting and the waterfalls are all raging. It was awesome and I am so thankful that we were fortunate to get to go this year!!

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As you can see, I came prepared with a poncho! That’s the falls right behind me!

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Now THAT’s a waterfall! It was spectacular! And the view from the top was pretty nice also.

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We hung out at the top for a bit drinking water and eating some snacks. Even though the hike up wasn’t too far, it was really hot and we wanted to practice smart hiking.

Once at the top, we decided to continue to Nevada Falls so that we could then connect in with the John Muir Trail for the descent.

Nevada Falls is also incredible. The hike thinned out people-wise at this point too, so we actually felt like we were in nature and not on a field trip. This hike had some shade, but it was mostly in the sun as you traversed rocky switchbacks. Fear not though. Mostly anyone can do this hike. Just take it slow and make sure to take breaks. You’ll be fine.

We made it to the top of Nevada Falls and again took some time to drink water and eat some snacks. The top was incredible, but I think I enjoyed it too much. I didn’t take nearly as many photos. No regrets.

We decided then that we should start trekking back down to the trailhead. We connected in with the John Muir Trail which actually makes this hike longer, but the benefit is different scenery and you don’t have to traverse the wet steps of Vernal Falls again as lines of people continue to clamber up. You also get this spectacular view of Nevada Falls and Liberty Cap on the way down.

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Man. I love nature!

The only downside of our day at Yosemite was waiting for the shuttle bus once we got back to the trailhead. There were a ton of people waiting for the bus so we had to watch a few go by before there was space for us. Once on, it was highly crowded and we got stuck in Valley traffic on our way back to the Visitor’s Center. All in all though, we didn’t mind too much. It was nice just to be out of the heat. Plus, it was nice to see so many people enjoying nature.

Once we made it off the bus we decided to eat at Degnan’s Deli for lunch. By this point it was already 4pm so the plus side was no lines! We both ordered pizza at the kiosk and then bought Gatorade to accompany it. The pizza wasn’t too unreasonably priced and it was really good! We both ate our whole pizzas.

We then headed back to the car so we could drive out to Glacier Point. It’s an hour from the valley and you pass by Tunnel View on the way. The roads are once again super curvy and narrow so I didn’t enjoy that, but I knew it would be worth it.

We had originally planned to hike out to Taft Point which is really close to Glacier Point, but then Nevada Falls happened. We had planned to turn around at the top of Vernal but decided that Nevada would also be cool to see. So unfortunately we didn’t have time to hike to Taft. I’ll certainly do it next time I’m there though.

We got to Glacier Point around 6:15pm or so. I know I’ve said this a lot, but the view was incredible!

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This was Andrew’s favorite part of the day and that made me happy because by this point, his ear was screaming at him and he was tired of driving. We both really enjoyed Glacier Point and I’m glad we made the trek out to see it.

As we were leaving we were stopped by two guys from NY who asked if we could give them a ride back to their car. They had parked at McGurk Meadow which was 8 miles down the Glacier Point Road and had spent the day hiking their way to Glacier Point. We told them to hop in and had a nice chat about life, hiking, and Germany (random, I know). They were nice dudes and it made for a nice Yosemite memory too.

Once we dropped them off we headed back to our AirBnB. We got there around 9pm and chatted with Chris for a bit and listened to her tales of backcountry camping and snowshoeing Yosemite in the winter. Seriously, please stay at her house if you go to Yosemite. You can find a link to her listing in my previous day’s post.

Then, it was time for the big finale to our day: we each had a nice soak in Chris’ old-school bathtub AND IT WAS GLORIOUS. I could feel my body aching by the bath was so soothing. Then, it was off to bed.

Our big day in Yosemite had gone far too quickly, but we left feeling that we had made the most of it.

Have you been to Yosemite? What was your favorite part?


San Francisco to Sequoia – Day 5

On Day 5 we said goodbye to San Francisco and hello to the start of a journey to 2 National Parks.

We checked out of our hotel and headed over to City Rent a Car. Their location was a couple miles from our hotel so we got over the pretty quickly. We definitely recommend using them for your car rental needs. The guys at the front desk were super nice and another bonus is that you can return your car after hours. That was a major selling point for us considering that places like Enterprise did not offer that option.

So, we headed out in our Nissan Sentra and were able to easily navigate ourselves across the Oakland Bridge. Since it was around 8:30am we thought we might hit morning traffic, but nope. It was quick and easy!

And so began our long drive to Sequoia National Park! We skipped breakfast this morning (oops) so we decided lunch at 11:30am wasn’t too early. Andrew had never been to In-N-Out so that’s where we decided to eat.

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We both got the double-double with Animal Style fries. This was my second time eating there and I still don’t fully understand the hype? Don’t get me wrong. I definitely enjoyed my meal, but west coast people always talk about In-N-Out like it’s the best food EVER. Perhaps their love for this place is similar to east coast people’s love for Shake Shack? Anyways, I did enjoy my lunch. Promise!

From there we kept trekking to Sequoia. We made it to the entrance gate around 1:30pm or so. Unfortunately, nobody told us it would still be another 1 hour drive to the parking lot in the Giant Forest. You ascend something like 3,000 feet and it’s switchbacks the whole time. So needless to say, the speed limit was low and slow.

BUT, we eventually rounded a corner and then the big trees began:

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At this point, my excitement level started to grow! You may not think seeing big trees is something to get excited about, BUT IT IS! These trees were magnificent, and things were only just getting started!

We eventually parked the car and hopped a shuttle bus to see General Sherman – the largest tree by volume in the WORLD. Seriously, it was incredible.

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How can I describe the wonder of this tree with words when I can’t even fit the whole thing in a photo?!

We spent a couple hours just hanging out and wandering around through the trees. I had hoped to also do the Moro Rock hike because it is also incredible I’ve heard, but we just didn’t have the time. We still had a 2.5 hour drive to our AirBnB for our trip to Yosemite the next day, so our time was crunched.

In hindsight, we should’ve probably skipped Sequoia. We didn’t give it the appropriate amount of time it deserved and it made for a lot of car time while on vacation. On the other hand though, I am still thankful for even a small amount of time to gaze at these skyscrapers called trees.

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Like I said, once we left Sequoia we still had a long drive ahead of us. We didn’t make it to our AirBnB until around 8pm. At that point we still needed to go back out for gas and dinner.

Our AirBnB was absolutely incredible though. We stayed with Christine who is 73 years old. She is climbing a 14,000 foot mountain in September, but it”s casual. WHO AM I KIDDING?! It’s incredible. She’s incredible. What am I doing with my life?!

Well anyways, if you plan on going to Yosemite, stay with her. I cannot recommend her home enough. Click HERE for her AirBnB listing. She makes you breakfast each day of your stay and it is legit. Pancakes. Waffles. Eggs. Hashbrowns. Bagels. The list goes on and on. Plus, she also stocks your room with drinks and snacks galore! It was heaven.

I digress though. Once we settled in, Christine gave us directions to the gas station and the town of Mariposa. We ended up eating at Burger King because we wanted something fast and simple. The town was quaint, but it was a 30 minute drive from where we were staying.

We got back around 9pm and were in bed by 9:30pm or so. Our next day would involve conquering the Yosemite Valley and we had an early start to the day to get ready for!

San Francisco – Day 4

Tuesday was the 4th of July and we were super excited! Neither of us had ever been in a big city for fireworks so this was quite the change of pace.

The morning started out pretty casually with Andrew doing some work stuff for an hour or so. After that was done we were headed to Mama’s on Washington Square to meet up with our friends for brunch.

We decided to take the bus to get there and all was going fine until we got to a bus stop in Chinatown. At this point 2 transportation officers boarded the bus asking to see everyone’s proof of fare. I showed them my Visitor Passport on my phone and they asked to see the QR code. As fate would have it, my phone chose this moment to then take a million years to generate the code.

In the meantime, one of the officers commented that my Passport had been activated on July 1st and was making it seem that I didn’t have appropriate fare. I pointed to the top of the phone where it clearly said that the Passport expires on the 7th.

It felt like years but the code finally popped up and they told me I was good to go. They then pulled a mom and her two small kids off the bus. I think she had fare but her kids didn’t. I understand they were doing their job, but it still made me sad to watch them walk off the bus.

We finally made it to Mama’s – one of the best brunch places in SF we had read. It had over 3,000 Yelp reviews so we figured it could be trusted. It was no surprise then that there was a long line out the door when we arrived.

We hopped in line with our friends and after about 20 minutes we started debating whether or not we should go elsewhere. After a fruitless search for another restaurant on Yelp, we decided to stay put.

Remember in an earlier post where I questioned who would ever want to wait 2 hours in a line?? Well, I became that person. We waited for 2 hours, but we kept our spirits up and it actually went pretty fast.

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Once inside we made it to the counter to order! I got the delicious french toast sampler (orange cranberry, lemon berry, and one other I can’t remember) and Andrew got their Monte Cristo which they are famous for. They were both sooo good!! I highly recommend eating at this place if you’re in San Francisco, but get there early so you don’t have to wait as long as we did.

After that, we decided it was a good day to explore Golden Gate Park so we hopped in an Uber and headed that way. We walked through the park for a bit which was great since the weather was a bit warmer and we felt like we were away from the crowds.

We headed towards the water so that we could see the Dutch Windmill in the park. It was certainly a site to behold!

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See what I mean? I know, I know, it’s just a windmill. But we really liked it!

From there we walked down to the beach and then on up around by the Sutro Baths and Lands End.

People. If you go to San Francisco, I cannot recommend walking around Lands End enough. It is technically a hike, but I had on TOMS and was fine. The views are amazing AND we got to see 10-12 whales out in the water. We enjoyed it so much we sat down on a bench at one of the overlooks and just watched them for about 30 minutes.

Whales were an awesome bonus and we also got to see the bridge too:

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This was probably my favorite afternoon that we spent in the city. It was laid back and we felt more like locals than tourists. Except, you know, when we started taking photos of the bridge.

After that we stopped by a local coffee shop and then headed back to our hotel to hang out for a bit before dinner and fireworks. I will admit though that on the way back I made Andrew go in a gas station with me so I could buy an It’s-It. It’s-It is an ice cream sandwich with two oatmeal cookies and ice cream (vanilla, cappuccino, strawberry, mint, etc.) sandwiched in between and then covered in chocolate. It’s a SF tradition so I had to get one. And you guys! It was so delicious!! I tried to find one later in the week at two separate gas stations to no avail. They aren’t sold anywhere near me either, so now I’m questioning if I should have them shipped to my house?!

Anyways, after that we really did hang out at the hotel for a while. Then we took an Uber to a place called Nick’s Crispy Tacos for dinner. They were having a special that night- $2 street tacos, $2 nachos with salsa and guac, AND $2 margaritas! That’s a deal wherever you are!!

This place was bumping too. And I don’t necessarily mean with people (although there were quite a few of them). There was a DJ set up in the back and he was cranking out the tunes at quite the loud level. The lighting consisted of chandeliers and the seating was mostly these huge semi-circular booths. It was quite the set up and we had to show our ID’s before heading in.

Regardless, the food was good and I really enjoyed the guac. I would eat there again for sure. Especially with such cheap prices!

After that was done we headed down by Ghiradelli so we could watch the fireworks. We were so excited at first and then we were so disappointed. As you know, SF is on the bay. The bay brings in a lot of fog. The 4th was a very foggy evening. So, the fireworks were shot into the fog and then not much was visible. Sure, there were some fireworks that we could see and they were nice. But overall, this was a disappointing end to our time in the city.

After that, we walked about 1.5 miles back toward the hotel, called an Uber, and went to sleep shortly thereafter. All in all, it was a great day!

BUT, the fun isn’t over! On day 5 we rent a car and head out for some national park action. Stay tuned!


P.S. If you have questions about transportation, food, things to do, etc. let me know! I am by no means an expert, but I am more than happy to answer any questions you have.

San Francisco – Day 3

Monday was wedding day for our friends Whitney and Jasen! The wedding was set for 11am at City Hall so we had some free time in the morning.

We headed around the corner from our hotel to a small coffeeshop called the Oakside Cafe. It was a local place and I had one of the best vanilla latte’s ever. We both got breakfast sandwiches and enjoyed them amidst the eclectic art and decor on the coffee shop’s walls. From there, it was back to the hotel to get ready for the wedding!

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This photo was taken inside City Hall and although it’s not the best representation of the building, I think it gives you an idea of how elegant it was. I was sincerely surprised at how beautiful it was. City Hall conjures an image in my head by default, but in my head it was never this ornate! I mean, the dome on the outside has real gold on it! It’s that impressive.

Here’s another photo from the wedding:

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I didn’t get any good photos of or with Whitney and Jasen on my phone. But I am excited to see how their photos turn out when they get them back!

After the wedding, there was 7 of us who headed to Blue Barn for lunch. It’s a sandwich shop over in the Russian Hill neighborhood and I highly recommend checking it out. The sandwiches were huge and tasty and everyone left feeling full.

From there we walked over to Lombard Street. I was amazed by the traffic jam this street caused simply because people wanted to drive down it. There were people everywhere – both in cars and on foot. The top of the street had a great view, but we only spent minimal time there before moving on…to Ghiradelli!!

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You see, I gave up sweets for the month of June. Therefore, by the time we were leaving for SF, I was pumped about getting a huge sundae from Ghiradelli. I got the brownie sundae with homemade hot fudge and it was just as incredible as I hoped it would be. We also only had to wait in line for about 15 minutes before making it to the front of the line. It helps too that Ghiradelli passes out chocolate squares for free while you wait.

At the end of this we didn’t really have a game plan so we just walked around the wharf. We decided we’d go find the famous Pier 39 sea lions. And here they are in all their glory:

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Yeah…anti-climactic. Apparently this is pretty common during the summer months. But hey, at least we got to see a few!

By this point we were pooped so it was back to the hotel to hang out until the dinner reception for the wedding.

We headed over to Beretta at 7:30pm which was down in the Mission. It’s a cool Italian place and the wedding reception was downstairs in its own room.

Oh. My. Food. The lighting was dim, so I didn’t get any photos. BUT I’m pretty sure we got to eat at least half the menu.

We had: glazed olives, meatballs, calamari, crab cakes, margherita pizza, sausage pizza, arugula salad, manicotti, panna gelato, chocolate gelato, and tiramisu. And those are the foods I can remember. There might have been more.

If you ever go to this restaurant, you NEED to get the panna gelato. It was one of the most delicious desserts I’ve ever had. And I say that as someone who was over the moon excited about having tiramisu that night.

Needless to say, Monday was a delightful and slower-paced day than the one before it. Get excited because Day 4 is coming!

The Alcatraz Library

I love visiting libraries when I travel, but sadly I only got to see one while out in San Francisco. But truthfully, I’m not sure if this one even counts because all of the books were gone. (I’m going to say that it counts though)

Let me backtrack and explain what I mean.

If you read my Day 2 recap of our trip to California, you know that we made it over to Alcatraz for a tour of the prison. As we journeyed through the Cellhouse, we came to a door with a sign over it that read, “Library.”

Oddly, I was the only person who took a photo with that sign. People seemed much more interested in taking photos of the solitary confinement cells to my right. Weird.

But, as you can see, my enthusiasm was big:

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I was so excited to walk through that door and turn the corner! What would a prison library at the Rock look like, I wondered. Well, as it turns out, it looked like a whole lot of disappointment.

When we rounded the corner, the only thing in the room was this:

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Now, don’t get me wrong. I understand the prison is no longer in use, so there is nobody needing to check out any books. But I expected something a little more exciting.

Despite that though, it was cool to read that the library contained 15,000 volumes! Prisoners would read anywhere from 75-100 books a year! I know that had time on their hands, but that’s still impressive.

Anyways, to date, this is definitely the most random library I have visited. If you go to Alcatraz, don’t blink because you’ll miss it.