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Sonoma and San Francisco

One of the great things about having a house instead of a tiny condo is how much easier it is for guests to visit. We’ve had a handful of friends come by already this year, but a couple weeks ago my Uncle Dan and his new wife Jovie came into town and stayed with us – our first family visit at the new house! They kept themselves busy throughout the week with visits to San Francisco, a surprise jaunt to Las Vegas, and a trip north to visit the redwoods and drive along the coastline. The first weekend they were in town we spent it showing off our favorite spots in Sonoma and the areas in San Francisco that were easier to see by car.

All four of us at Queen Wilhelmina’s Tulip Garden in San Francisco

After a local breakfast on Saturday, we made the trek up to Sonoma. This made for my second visit to wine country since learning I was pregnant! Just like the last time, a few sips here and there at tastings were fine, but I was cautious to keep my total consumption to below a half a glass. As an aside, going from drinking being a regular part of my life to near abstinence hasn’t been a challenge for me, but it sure is disappointing to visit my favorite wineries and not dive in like I usually do!

Still, Glen Ellen up in Sonoma is beautiful. We enjoyed visiting Benziger for their extended tram tour and to show off where we got engaged, Imagery to expose my family to the experience that is Code Blue (wine made with blueberries), and a stop at B.R. Cohn for an olive oil tasting (I can do that!). For dinner we ended up at Umbria. Umbria is a special place for us. It spent 21 years at 2nd and Howard in San Francisco, putting it on the same block where we lived. Citing increasing costs of doing business in SF, they closed up shop in May of 2017. We were there for their last night of business, where there were lots of tears and hugs, but hope as their plans to move to Glen Ellen were already in the works. They opened up in Glen Ellen in August. It was nice to show up and have Chef Giulio recognize us as he welcomed us to their new location. The menu hadn’t changed much so I was able to order my usual (Da Mayor’s Special – half a piece of eggplant parmigiana and half a piece of lasagna). It was as delicious as we remembered.

Sunday we were off to explore the western and northern edges of San Francisco. We started off with brunch overlooking the ocean at the Cliff House. From there, we went to the San Francisco Zoo. It had been several months since I’ve been there, so it was nice to see our favorite tiger parents Leanne and Larry (together again! parents again soon?), as well as their daughter Jillian who we saw grow up at the San Francisco Zoo before temporarily going to Sacramento. We also got to visit my favorite sea lions, Silent Knight and Henry, and lots of fluffy lemur piles. It was a good day for the zoo visit, a bit foggy but perfect weather for walking around. Our day then took us over to Golden Gate Park for a visit before heading back toward the heart of the city.

The weather was clear enough on the east side of the city to make a drive up Twin Peaks worth it. Even having lived here for over eight years, I never get tired of the view of San Francisco from up there.

San Francisco, as seen in many car commercials

We then made our way down Market into the Castro, and then north to Crissy Field for some pictures of the Golden Gate Bridge from the south side. A stop by the Palace of Fine Arts concluded our San Francisco side adventure for the day and we made our way across the bridge to Marin county for some more bridge views and a dinner at Murray Circle Restaurant.

I had a few more meals with them throughout the week, but largely they were able to explore the area on their own as we got back to work on Monday. The visit concluded with brunch in Alameda before they made their way to the airport the following Saturday.

Aside from the family visit, there hasn’t been much other excitement lately. I’ve been busy with work and doctors visits related to the pregnancy, and first trimester exhaustion hit me pretty hard. I struggled through every day for over a month, so my weekday evenings tended to be uneventful. Still, I made progress on a few things. I tired of all of MJ’s shoes still being packed so I ordered and put together a bamboo shoe rack for our closet the other day. The CPU fan in my desktop has also been quite irritating for months now, and the CPU itself was running a bit hot. A couple months ago I replaced the 8 year old thermal paste, which dropped it a few degrees, but the whining of the fan got to be a bit too much. I swapped it out for a $15 fan I got on Amazon and the system is now reliably running 10C cooler. As you can see, Caligula helped with both the shoe rack assembly and the computer.

This week we’re in Philadelphia again to get one of those residential moving and storage containers packed with furniture, household items, and other goodies we want to ship out to California for varying degrees of usage and storage at the house there. Soon, the den that I work from when I’m here will no longer be full of boxes! We’re also visiting several friends while in town, so it should be a nice week for us, especially once the container is on its way.