Sunday, September 30, 2012

Vacation - The Final Edition

We've been back from vacation for weeks, and it's taken me FOREVER to get through just a few posts. I am so sorry for the delay, but things have been hectic around here lately. And to make it worse, I haven't even unpacked my suitcase yet. How embarrassing!

Now let's see, where did we last leave off? Oh ya, Yellowstone. We packed up our tent and headed for beautiful Grand Teton National Park. I had never been, but I knew it must be good if it was Dean's favorite place! By the time we did a bit more exploring in Yelllowstone on the way, it was later in the afternoon when we got to the Tetons. We set up our tent for the umpteenth time and then went for a short bike ride (okay, really short) to the Jackson Lake right behind out little campsite. I can't ride for long because it really hurts my booty. I just think it needs to be conditioned though. Some day I'll be able to ride longer with the captain, as long as it's not up a mountain. He's crazy! After our little trek around the campsite and playing a little nickle knock (I kicked his booty!), we decided to have a meal cooked for us and headed to one of the restaurants in Coulter Bay. If my memory serves me correctly, we had the trout and the captain had buffalo meatloaf. Of course we couldn't finish dinner without a gorpy, over the top mud pie! Boy was it good. I almost wanted to lick the plate, but I didn't. On the walk back from dinner, we saw one of the most beautiful sunsets I could remember. It was stunning and the perfect way to end our first evening in the Tetons.

love this picture of the captain

that's right - I won!

isn't the captain funny?

most beautiful sunset ever #nofilter

When we woke up the next day, the captain wasn't feel too well - he was coming down with a bug! Poor guy. Nevertheless, we decided to adventure out to Jackson Hole since a storm was going to blow in and potentially bring some sprinkles. Camping and the rain don't mix! That wasn't before we took a short hike around Lake Jackson. It was nice to feel the wind in our hair. Literally. The winds decided to really pick up and while the captain was taking some photos, his hat flew off and hit me in the face. Ouch! Talk about windy. He got an amazing shot of me though. I should frame this one for him.

windblown at the tetons.

After an hour of exploration, it was off to Jackson Hole. It was only a short drive away and good thing we decided to do that, because it started to sprinkle shortly after we left camp. Yikes! And what better to do when it rains - have lunch in a teepee! I don't know why I was so excited, but I was. A little too excited considering I forgot to take a picture. Oops. Next time. A buffalo burger and a mug of hot cocoa and this girl was in heaven! Once we got to Jackson Hole, I knew I had to get a picture under these huge antler archway things. They were everywhere! It must have been the "Jackson Hole thing to do" since everyone else was doing it. I didn't know when we'd be back, so we had to too! We strolled around the town for awhile doing some window shopping and I eyed this chocolate place out of the corner of my eye called Cocolove. I don't know what it was about it, but I knew we had to go. Plus, we needed something chocolaty to warm us up on that chilly afternoon. I don't recall exactly what we had, other than it was small, chocolaty and had a hint of huckleberry. Who knew the place was run by one of the top pastry chefs in the world? I sure didn't. Only in Jackson Hole. On our way home, we decided to go moose hunting, but we didn't have much luck. Darn it. I really wanted to see a moose! After a long day, we finally got back to camp, tired and hungry and guess what? All of our camping gear was gone! GONE! Our tent was there, but we had a lovely note saying that we were out of compliance and not being "bear aware". Darn it! We didn't have anything out that a bear would want. Unless they like paper towels and silverware. After finding a single bar of reception and getting in touch with the ranger, they took us to where our stuff was and luckily, no fine. Apparently they can be up to $100! Phew. It was a long night and by the time we got our stuff back it was almost 9:30 before we had dinner. Nothing like a chicken enchilada backpacker meal to warm you up on a wet 35 degree night. Before we knew it, our bellies were full and we were piled under 100 blankets to keep us warm. Maybe that was just me. Ya, it was just me. I must have had at least six blankets in addition to the sleeping bag. It was chilly!

Jenny Lake


see, told you there were lots of antlers

The next morning we were headed on our trek back to California. We packed up our stuff, folded up the tent for the last time and hit the road for beautiful Winnemucca, Nevada. Can you sense my sarcasm? It was about a ten hour drive from the Tetons and because the captain wasn't feeling well, I tried to drive as much as I could so he could rest. Has anyone ever told you how boring Nevada really is? Well let me tell you. It's boring. Flat, open and boring. Oh, I forgot to tell you the most important part - WE SAW A MOOSE! On the way out of the Tetons, everyone was out of the side of the road looking at buffalo, but the captain saw something waaaay out there. With a pair of binoculars, we could see it. What a special way to say goodbye to the Tetons. Thank you moosey moose! As the trip was coming to and end, we made our way to Winnemucca for a hot shower and a real bed for the night. Trust me, it's not anything special there. You're not missing much. But, we did find a pretty good Mexican restaurant among the old and strange casinos. The hot salsa is enough to cure even the worst of colds! The next day, we hit the road home on our final leg  and made a quick stop in Reno to take a look at the planes in town for the Reno Air Races. A last minute decision took us to Lake Tahoe for and extended route  home. It was absolutely beautiful in Tahoe and the perfect way to end our amazing two week adventure. The cold I caught from the captain when we got home was not.

proof we made it to Winnemucca!

postcard perfect day in Emerald Bay

My Ryan in front of a Ryan.

I couldn't have asked for a better vacation or a more amazing person to share it with. We drove 2600 miles, used 150 gallons of gas and through everything, manged to survive it all with one another. If that's not true love, then I don't know what is. Well, true love with a few hangries thrown in the mix.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Vacation - Part Three

Are we done yet? Nope, not even close. There will be one more vacation installment and then it will be back to recipes. Promise! Although I bet you can now see why I didn't put my whole vacation into one post. I don't think you would have kept with it to read for an hour. Or maybe you would have.

After our first week of vacation (which was totally amazing and full of memories), we were on the road again and headed to Montana for a real shower, a real potty and a real bed! We left Washington, drove through the panhandle of Idaho (I want to go to all the panhandles in the US. Don't ask why. I just do. Especially Oklahoma), and made our way to Missoula, Montana. That's not before stopping in the middle of Montana for a must needed pit stop and some huckleberry ice cream. It must be huckleberry country up there because every other billboard was advertising something huckleberry. Guess we had to stop then, right? The ice cream wasn't as good as I thought, but it was a good sweet treat to power us through the next hour or two of driving. I almost scared the captain by saying it kinda tasted like blueberry (he HATES blueberries). It even looked like they were in there too! I did a quick google and calmed him down - did you know huckleberries and blueberries look almost identical? 

I have an obsession with claw machines. this was a cool one on our stop in Montana. No, I didn't play it. Sad.

huckleberry ice cream!

After getting sugared up, we finally made it to our hotel and a beautiful sunset greeted us. They don't call this big sky country for nothing. Let me just say though, a real shower never felt so good! Of course we then had to explore the culinary achievements of Missoula. After a recommendation from our DMB friends Dave and Lisa (hi guys!), we tried out Stone of Accord - a totally delicious Irish pub with great food. Even better, it was right across the street from our hotel! Ryan had some pesto noodles that were super yummy and I had scallops over a pea puree. SO YUMMY. Not to mention the white sangria. That was just as delicious. Although, rather potent. Since we were on vacation, we had to oink out and get a super gorpy (Dean's word) dessert - an Idaho potato sundae. It's vanilla ice cream shaped into a potato and then rolled in cocoa powder. Then it's topped with whipped cream to look like sour cream and then mint to look like chives. If that wasn't enough, the whole thing was floating in caramel and hot fudge and then sprinkled with chopped oreos and nuts. Amazingess. No other words could describe it. I was so full when we got back to our room, I literally plopped on the bed and started book two in the Fifty Shades of Grey series. I think I got about 10 pages in before I fell asleep. Now that's a good food coma. Ps. Sheri - have you started the first book yet?

sunset. no filter.

I didn't even touch the potatoes or bread. The scallops were too delicious!

The captain is planning the next leg of our trip while I read my book. Well, more like slept.
After good nights sleep, we hit the road in hopes of going to Sawtooth mountain range, but it was so darn smokey from all the fire, we didn't even go there. We needed to escape the smoke! It's not good for my lungs and for some reason, that morning I felt like I was coming down with a cold. That or it was allergy related from the smoke. Come to find out it was just the smoke. Phew! Our change of plans was actually a good one though - we decided to go to Yellowstone! I had never been, so I was super excited. It took us a couple of hours (and a potty in a bush later) to get there, but we made it. I knew Yellowstone was big, but I didn't realize how big. There is SO much to see and it's near impossible to see everything in just a day, but we did see some beautiful, but stinky springs, paint pots, old faithful, some elk and so much more! 

we made it!

these springs didn't even look real. they were so blue and so beautiful - so hot though. And so stinky! Think worst rotten egg EVER.

these paint pots looked just like it sounds. bubbling mud that looked like paint. ewww.

elky elk elk!

proof I was there!

it took us an hour, but we saw it!

we also crossed a continental divide. 
After exploring, we had to get our tent up quick as the sun was getting down and it was getting cold, fast! After camping last week, we got good at putting up that tent! We got our tent up pretty quick and also got dinner cooking. Or should I say water boiling. I really wanted to try one of those backpacker meals. You know the ones you pour the boiling water in to and let it steep? I know I am crazy, but it was pretty good. We had Italian chicken and risotto. Definitely warms up the body on a cold 35 degree night. That and some cocoa and Guinness for dessert. That was the captain's idea. I don't think I was quite ready for it to be that cold though. Luckily our camping neighbors invited us over to their campfire and we warmed up a bit before bed. I must have had on two pairs of pj bottoms, two long sleeve shirts, a sweater and then a jacket with a hood and a scarf. Oh, and two pairs of socks. No joke. It was freezing! I had a picture, but I deleted it on accident. You wouldn't want to see it anyways. I looked ridiculous! The next morning the captain and I made bacon and eggs and heated up a cinnamon roll (one the fire!) we found at a little store in Yellowstone. With a cup of cocoa to warm us up, it was the perfect breakfast! Night one of freezing camping = success!

see, told you we had dinner in a pouch.

cocoa + guinness = perfection

breakfast is the most important meal of the day
When you paid for your night at the campground, it also included two showers. Who knew! I was suprised how nice they were and that they also had a full on laundrymat there. I know it's a big national park, but 30 washers and dryers? Crazy! After a hot shower and getting all clean, we made our trek over to the Grand Teton National Park (with your admission into Yellowstone, you also get access to the Tetons!). But that was not before seeing buffalooooooo. Yes, the extra ooooo's are necessary. I made the captain laugh my yodeling to try to call them out. It wasn't long after I did a little "yodel lay hee hooo" that they were all over! They were so amazing and SO SO big. I was so excited to see one. I was like a five year old! Just ask the captain. He probably still thinks I'm silly for yodeling. He loves it though. He just won't admit it. Probably.


After a few more sightseeing stops to see some waterfalls and a salami and cracker stop, we were back on the road and headed towards the Tetons for more adventures. It's not over yet!

One the last and final vacation edition:

  1. Making it to the Tetons!
  2. Adventuring out to Jackson Hole (I want to go back when it snows!)
  3. Seeing one of the most amazing sunsets EVER
  4. Coming back to our campsite and having all of our stuff gone (not cool)
  5. Moose hunting (not shooting, just trying to find one)
  6. Driving through Nevada is pretty boring and the tumbleweeds are not pretty
  7. Our trek back to California
Hang on tight. We are almost there. I told you this was a long and wild adventure!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Vacation - Part Two!

Sorry to keep you all waiting on the second installment of my vacation. This week a cold set in after our wild adventures and I haven't had much energy to do much - not even blogging! Sad. Nevertheless, I am on the mend and feeling better. Minus the constant hacking, I really do feel much better. Phew.

Okay, back to round two - Labor Dave Weekend! This one is a little long, but so worth it. Hang in there with me.

 Last I left you readers, we were on our way to a weekend of Labor Dave - a full weekend of friends, camping and Dave Matthews Band. If you haven't seen them live, it's a must. Even if you've never heard of them (if you haven't, have you been hiding under a rock?!), check them out. Seriously. Once you do, you'll be hooked. Just saying. Okay, back to our trip. The captain, Scott and I left Oregon bright and early Thursday morning and took the trek up to Washington. Since the drive is about five hours long, the captain thought it would be a good idea to put my new traveling crock pot to work. Of course I couldn't say no. Who can say no to making peach cobbler in the truck while you are driving? Not me. I whipped up everything for the cobber right before we left (thank you Barb for all the last minute supplies!) and we were off. The cobbler was plugged in and cooking away. It was probably within an hour we started to smell the peaches! After about three hours I had a feeling it was done - the top was puffy and it looked just about right. The captain said to keep it cooking (what could it hurt?), but I was a little worried. We let it keep going until we got to The Gorge and lets just say, the cobbler was looking a little more like cobbler pudding. Perhaps it's the new thing? The condensation from the lid just made it a bit gooey, but the flavor wasn't bad at all. I was a little upset it wasn't perfect, but that just means we need to go on another long trip to test it out again. I did read online (the drives were long and when I had reception, I did research) that putting a paper towel under the lid would help collect the extra water. I will try that next time! I can't wait to try this cobbler again and even more on our next adventures. Thanks for the crock pot honey!

mmm, cobbler!
Once we finally made to Washington, our first mission was to get our tent set up at Wildhorse Campground. This is seriously the best campground. They have a little cafe that serves great food, hot showers (you do have to wait in line), and everyone is so nice. They do have port-a-potties, which is gross, but they clean them twice a day and they have hand sanitizer in there, so it's really not all that bad. Over the past few years I've come up with the plan of waking up early in the morning to get a clean potty and a hot shower with little to no line! I know it sounds silly, but just go with me on this one. This year was probably one of the best years there. At least I think so. The weather was warm, but not too hot and all of our friends were there. I am just sad we never got a picture of us all. There is always next year! They are seriously some of the most fun and loving people I've ever met. Seriously. Love you guys so much!

sunset from the first night at the campground. such beautiful Washington sky.

 Now on to the main attraction - the shows! Labor Dave weekend is three nights of Dave. You may think that it's a lot of nights, but trust me, once you go to the Gorge you can not get enough! Night one, the captain and I were on the lawn. It's nice to get a view of the whole venue and see the sunset above everything. The best part of night one - they played my favorite song! Grey Street! Three hours of dancing and music later, the show was over. Sad. It always goes by way to fast. Note to self - make sure to bring snacks so you don't get a stomach ache from a hungry tummy. Or get the hangries.

view from our seats on night one

I had no idea this was even taken. Photo Credit - Ryan's friend Scott
On to night two - the pit! The captain was able to get us tickets in the pit which is a little area right in front of the stage. Like rows away from Dave. So ridiculously close I can't even explain it. We did have to get there right when the gates opened - about five hours before the show started - but it was so worth it. We were just three rows away. You could almost touch him. Almost. Don't worry, I didn't. I wanted to. Oh boy, did I want to. The capitan asked me if I would rather have a sweaty Dave shirt or one from Buster Posey. Sorry Buster, I love you, but I love Dave more. Please don't be sad. Night two had the best set list and the captain and I definitely danced our booties off. That was until some drunk girl started to get all up in my space. I won't go there though. Let's just say, I don't like other peoples boobs pressed into my back. It just ruins the mood. Nevertheless, it was better than night one and something I'll remember forever. We were so close it was unreal.

I wish I remembered what song he was singing here.

this must have been within the first couple of hours of waiting. all smiles.

oh heeeeey dave! check out Allen Stone - great opener!

Night three was just as awesome. We were just behind the pit in a special reserved seating area. I don't know why they give chairs considering everyone is up singing and dancing, but it is nice to sit down once in awhile. The seats were amazing and I finally got to hear All Along the Watchtower! I didn't think Dave's voice would make it after three days, but he did it! The one strange thing that I still can't seem to figure out is that night three seemed SO much louder then night two. I would have thought night two would have been way loud considering how closer we were, but nope. Then again, you haven't been to a good concert until you can't hear for the next day! Side note - we also went wine tasting at Cave B that day too. Of course I spent too much money on wine while I was there, but their whites are great and I couldn't resist buying a bottle of their new sparkling white either. I figured it would be great for a special celebration. Or just because. Knowing me, the captain and I will have it just because. Or with a piece of cake. Oooh, that sounds good. Who doesn't like champange with dessert!

nothing like sharing a bottle while enjoying a wildburger

view from Cave B Winery

wine tasting with my favorites! Photo Credit: Cindy (the one taking the picture!)

Night three!

After four nights of camping and three nights of Dave, it was time to roll up the tent, load the truck and say goodbye to our friends. It was hard to say goodbye, but I know we will see each other again very soon. After almost a tearful goodbye (I blame the hormones), the captain and I were back on the road and headed for Big Sky country for even more adventures!

Here's what's coming up in round three:

  1. Going through my first panhandle. I'll let you guess which one.
  2. My first trip to Montana. They don't call it big sky country for nothing!
  3. A real shower and bed after four days is the BEST EVER.
  4. My first trip to Yellowstone
  5. Having to go potty in a bush because I drank too much water and there are no bathrooms anywhere in the middle of nowhere Montana and the entrance to Yellowstone
  6. Camping in freezing (literally!) weather.
  Until next time. xoxo.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Vacation - Part One

Wow, it's been awhile since I've posted something. Or at least it feels like a really long time. Wondering where I've been? Vacation! Even better, for a two whole weeks! I'll be the first to say I am always nervous to go on vacation for fear that something will happen at work while I am gone (it never does though). I'm getting better with that though. Usually I will log in to my email and check on things, but this time, I was a good girl and didn't check a single thing. Promise! Every time I go on vacation with the captain, I always tell him I won't check it - and then I do. And then I get stressed out. That's not the point of vacation. Vacation is to relax and have fun. Which is exactly what we did. Let me tell you about the first part of the journey. Don't worry, more recipes are coming your way, but I must tell you about our adventures first!

The first two days of vacation were spent with my wonderful sister, Jessica. I don't think I've told you all, but she is recently engaged! I am so so so happy for her and so proud to be her maid of honor. The captain and I went to the Giants game (the best part about night games with him are sharing a Ghirardelli hot cocoa, a huge chocolate chip cookie and a giants win!) on Thursday and he was sweet enough to drop me off in Berkeley on the way home to spend some time with my sis. The next morning went to a totally amazing breakfast at Cafe M (if you are close to the Berkeley area, you must go!) and then we took BART into the city for some wedding dress shopping! She must have tried on at least eight dresses - all of which were beautiful. I am sorry, but I can not show you the dresses. They were pretty though! I was so happy to be there with her and I can't wait until she can come shopping with me some day. After a long afternoon of dress shopping and a little extra us shopping, we needed to fuel ourselves with some deliciousness at the Nordstrom Cafe in Union Square. Their french onion soup was amazing! We headed back to Berkeley where we then turned right back around to go to the city with the family for Italian Heritage Night at AT&T Park. Giants games with the fam are the best. Especially when I can get my Dad to fist pump when the song comes on. If you've ever gone to a Giants game, you know what I'm talking about.

splurged on a decaf soy latte. mmm.

eggs milan! tomato, green onion, mushrooms, pesto and cheeeeeese. All on top of thinly sliced and golden potatoes 

french onion soup. do I need to say more?

we also ordered bruschetta. the balsamic reduction was killer.

Italian heritage night dancers!

A few days after sister time...

The first week of the captain and I's two week adventure started out with a trip to Oregon to do one night of camping near Crater Lake and then spend a couple of days with his Dad and Barb. We hit the road early Monday morning with Ryan's friend Scott and made the long trek up to Oregon. We made a few stops for lunch and essentials and before we knew it, we were at Crater Lake. The captain took a couple photos of me sleeping on the way up, but I won't show you those. I can't believe he took them! Sneaky guy.  Here we are at Crater Lake (thanks for the photo Scott!)

love this picture of us.
Did you know that Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the United States? I didn't. But now you do! I'd be willing to bet they'll ask that on Jeopardy some day. After checking out the lake, we headed over to Diamond Lake for a night of camping. It was quite, beautiful and our camping spot was right on the lake! Here is the view from our tent in the morning. It was chilly, but the lake was so beautiful with the fog just hanging over the water. It almost didn't look real.

our home away from home. at least for one night.

view from the tent. such a beautiful morning at Diamond Lake, Oregon.

After a night of camping, it was three more hours to Dean and Barb's. I'm sure I slept again and I'm sure the captain has another picture. Sorry honey - you wore me out! We had a great time visiting with them both and we even met up with our awesome DMB fans and friends Wayne and Cindy for dinner one night. It was great to see them - it had been too long. I wish I had taken a picture at dinner. Guess I was too excited to see everyone! Oh, I must not forget Barb's totally awesome peach coffee cake with fresh and juicy peaches from Washington. Boy was it delicious and the perfect morning treat to enjoy on the deck (I love this morning tradition they have). I need the recipe, Barb! Barb makes all kinds of delicious things when we come up! The second night we were there, she made this fab Texas lasagna casserole (I think that's what it was called.) and I whipped up a batch of my roasted cherry brownies, as per Dean's request. You should have seen all the boys around the bowl when I was done. They all wanted a lick! Silly boys.

pit stop on the way to Sister, OR for a quick scenic sammich break. such a beautiful shot of the Sisters Mountain Range.

the peach coffee cake! Don't lick the screen.

here are the boys licking away.
Oh, and I totally forgot to tell you one of the best parts - my new cowboy boots. Boot Barn has a "stinky boot sale" every August where if you bring in your old boots (work or cowboy), you get a certain dollar value off your purchase of a new pair in the store. How could I say no? I already have a brown pair, so I supported the Oregon economy and bought black pair. They go with jeans and they go with work pants (at least that's what the captain tells me). Shoot, they go with everything! Before I forget, let's go back to the jeans for a second. I am not really a jeans kind of girl (that is, buying expensive or flashy ones), but I think the Oregon air brought it out in me. Or it was the smokey air from the fires. I'll blame the latter. The captain convinced me that I needed to buy my first pair of Wranglers. I am not talking old cowboy style Wranglers here. I am talking all girly, fancy, flashy booty, super low rider, kinda Wranglers. I was a little worried they wouldn't fit right, but they did. All of the eating well and working out has been working and I am now in another smaller size. Hooray! Since they fit and looked great, I couldn't say no. Who knew Wrangler's would be so expensive. Damn cowgirls!


every cowgirl needs a pair of Wranglers! photo credit: mama Sheri

I can't seem to locate the ones I bought online, but if you want a pair of totally comfy, great pair jeans, check out the other Rock 47 by Wrangler styles online here! I am already counting down to when the captain and I can go back and get another pair. Now if only I can convince him to get a pair too. Not one with sparkles on the booty though. I don't think he'll go for that.

That's all for part one. Here is a sneak peek of what part two will involve:

  1. Three nights of Dave Matthews Band at the Gorge
  2. Making crock pot peach cobbler in the truck. Yes, I said in the truck!
  3. Hanging out with amazing friends and camping at Wildhorse Campground
  4. Wine tasting at Cave B and spending too much money on wine
  5. Being in the pit for Night Two at the Gorge and being ridiculously close to Dave Matthews

And that's just the first week. Hold on tight - there are more adventures to come!