Monday, October 31, 2011

Fleet Week

Jeremy and I, admittedly, have never really been gaga for Fleet Week and the Blue Angels, like many people around here. Having a little boy changes the fun entirely. All week while they were practicing, Finn would hear a plane coming and stand on high alert, neck craning all around to try to find the jet. On Saturday, the day of the air show, we wanted to make sure he had a good view, but we also didn't want to fight the crowds/ traffic jams, which is a guarantee if you drive anywhere remotely close to Crissy Field. So we headed a few blocks north of our house to our beloved Land's End Trail, the east end.

It was perfect. Close enough that Finn could catch sight of the planes, and track them with amazement, far enough from the field that they didn't scare him with their loud proximity to his head.

We'll definitely check out the show again next year.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Pinnacles National Monument, East Side

We finally made it out on Finn's maiden camping trip. We'd been looking forward to the time when we could start taking him. He's not been the most flexible sleeper, and without sleep can get a little out of control. As he gets older he handles sleep deprivation a little better. It took about 2 hours to get to Pinnacles National Monument from our house. When we arrived, we set up camp at site #67 (whilst vowing to get #66 next time).
Then we started our hiking in the blazing sun.
We drove to the Bear Gulch Day Use Area and hiked up the Condor Gulch Trail. When as a backpack passenger Finn demanded "wa-wa" for the entire first 45 minutes, we quickly realized that 1) He was seriously spoiled by our moderate SF climate and 2) We didn't bring enough water for that kind of heat. The scenery and my joy at being in the mountains made it so I hardly noticed my parched mouth.

This place is awesome for rock-scrambling.

This is the view from the top of the hike, which is also a junction with another trail.

Finn did do some of his own hiking, and liked to take breaks for snacks and rock collecting.

The hike wore our little boy out (or heat stroke got to him) and he fell asleep driving back to the campsite. We met up with our friends, the Stanleys and hopped in the campground pool (what?!?). Afterwards we had a great dinner, went on a drive and topped the day off with S'mores.
Not sure if it was the sugar high, the late nap, or the odd setting that made it a huge battle to get Finn to fall asleep that night. It made for the puffiest eyes I've seen in a while the next morning. Jeremy was kind enough to entertain the boys with watermelon and squatting exercises while the rest of us slept a little longer.
Of course stick and rock-collecting were also a big hit.

Here is the jammy and cowboy boot-clad Finn showing off his "tummy trick."
After a far too short car nap for Finn, we all set out on the Moses Spring Rim trail loop, a short hike full of tunnels and caves--perfect for kids. Henry did awesome walking the whole way.

A hungry and tired Finn made for a bit of a whiney hike, but it wasn't anything that will overrule future camping trips.
There wasn't really a great place to stop for lunch along the way, but we did anyway since both kids were more than ready to eat and even a short hike takes a long time with young'ns.
We came back to the campground pool and had another refreshing, post-hike swim.
Other campground residents also needed cooling off, apparently.
Popsicles from the campground store topped off the trip nicely before we jumped in the car and headed home.

What do I think about the Pinnacles in general? I did a lot of camping and hiking in the rocky desert growing up, so this felt good to me. Great nearby option for camping with kids. Good hiking options for long and short hikes. This place would be a rock climber's heaven! The pool is an awesome touch to cool off and another reason this is a good camping spot for kids. I would totally go back, but as hot as it was in the fall, I would NEVER go in the summer. Yep, like Finn, SF weather has made me a tad delicate.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Sammies to the South

Our favorite sandwiches in this area can be found in South San Francisco, and Burlingame, at Little Lucca's Sandwich shop. The sandwiches are giant, and amazing. One side of the bun (Dutch crunch bun, please) is smothered in a jalepeno sauce, the other side smothered in a garlic sauce. Our favorite is the salsaito turkey (has a bit of a kick) with swiss cheese and pepperocinis added along with the regular fixings. Jeremy and I always split a sandwich and come away very full. I'm seriously salivating right now. And bear in mind that I'm not really a sandwich person, per se.

A common weekend activity for us is to head down there, grab some sammies and then drive further south to the Sawyer Camp Trail that runs along Crystal Springs Reservoir. This trail has been the site a handful of long runs for me as I've been marathon training. It is an ideal place if you have a certain pace goal, because there are markers every quarter mile, so it is easy to stay on your training pace.

Post-Finn, we've gone there on casual runs with Finn in the stroller and most recently, to let Finn cruise down the path on his "mo-mo."

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A Weekend in Cornwall and Bath

Post by Jeremy
Ever since I have known Liz I have told her about all the places I want to visit. The list just keeps getting longer and longer. I also often tell her we should move to …… even without ever having been there. Some places I just know I am going to love. Cornwall was one of those places.

We didn’t have a lot of time in the area so we just wanted to pick one place and avoid more driving. We chose Port Isaac area based on rave reviews by our friends, the Davis family. We actually stayed at a place called Port Gaverne which is about a 3 minute walk to Port Isaac, basically connected. We stayed in the Port Gaverne Hotel right on Port Gaverne, which is this beautiful, long, narrow finger of a bay. Finn loved Port Gaverne for two reasons: 1. There was a cat always wandering around outside 2. They used a tractor to maneuver the boats in/out of the water. We loved that this place was quieter, being outside of Port Isaac, which was quite busy during tourist season. We also loved their amazing breakfasts.

Port Gaverne Hotel and Bay

These pics are taken from the path to P.I.

Finn, like his parents, is a sucker for an ice cream shop. Cornwall is well known for its ice cream. Note the flake bar sticking out of the huge ice cream cone- classic British style.

Finn and I played in the beach/harbor area of Port Isaac on a low tide while Liz ran back to get the hiking gear.

I borrowed a boat to keep Finn from running back to the water while I got dressed.

Just like Pembrokeshire Coast Wales, this area had beautiful coastal paths for miles.

Walk along the coastal trail

Every Friday evening during summer months the Fisherman’s Friends (group of local fisherman) perform a free concert to fundraise for local charities. Liz saved us a spot up close while Finn and I went to the chippy to grab dinner. The wait was unbelievable, >1 hour. It was getting late for Finn and it started to rain so once we got our fish n’ chips we just headed back to the hotel. Seriously the best fish n’ chips I have ever had in my life. Well worth the wait. They were so good Finn didn’t mind the rain. I ran back and watched some of the concert that night.

Rainy fish n chips
The tidal swings are amazing here. The bays would basically completely drain leaving them open for exploration!
Port Gaverne

Tuning Out for a nap

That next morning we headed south to Polzeath beach. I was hoping there would be decent waves to surf, but they were pretty shapeless. That didn’t stop the British from going out. They are so stoked on surfing. Whole families would be in wetsuits trying to surf. That was fun to see. Polzeath is one of my most favorite beaches ever though. On a low tide the beach would open up forever, and it exposed so many cool little nooks, crannies and little pools to play in.


We loved where we had our home base. It was awesome to be able to go on fabulous little walks every morning, during Finn's naps, and in the evenings.

View from Port Gaverne Coastal Path

Port Isaac

South of Polzeath beach is a hopping town called Padstow. We went there looking for some good food. Rick Stein, who we had never heard of, is quite something special in that town. He owns heaps of places. We were able to snag a table at his café and had a very tasty seafood dinner.

Rick Stein's cafe

Dusk in Port Isaac

We loved Polzeath beach so much we went back the nextday. I got a little bodysurfing in (in just trunks), and Finn threw hundreds of rocks into the water. This is one place that I know we will return to for a visit, but maybe not during August again.

Showing mus-cles amongst the mussels

Bath was mostly a stopover for us on the way back to the Airport, but we were pleasantly surprised having not read anything about it. It was a beautiful old city and was really fun to walk around. Plus they have a Thornton's! The town seems to cater to shoppers these days, but was a perfect place to stop on our way back to London. We stayed at The Henry House, a very pleasant and comfortable bed and breakfast.


Finn had a lot of fun dancing to the band playing at the park.

Liz thinks the Bath Cathedral is just about the prettiest she's been to.

We left Bath with plenty of time to get to Heathrow for our flight. It worked out perfectly.
And that is a wrap on our summer adventures in the UK. What a great trip!