Monday, July 5, 2010

July Vacation!

And it's almost over! I managed to score a 10-day vacation with only taking five days off from work. Not bad, eh? I have a lot of photos to share, so I'll let them tell a lot of the story. To start, we met Kevin's parents for a Father's Day BBQ up at Sand Harbor. It was windy which made it cold, but it was nice to spend some time with the fam, especially Alice who is home from her first year of college! I only managed one good picture of the boys though:
On Saturday, June 26th (right after work, on vacation day one), I drove out to Red Hawk in Sparks for Andy and Sarah's wedding! It was a beautiful day for an outdoor wedding, if a bit warm in the sun. I snuck a pic of Sarah before the wedding, who was just able to keep the tears back as last minute gifts were exchanged.
Kevin was one of the grooms men (you can see Dr. Mack and Earlene sitting right in front of him),

and Dan & Amy's Aubrie was the flower girl (sweetest ever!) and Chris & Geneveive's Tai was the ring bearer:
Then out walked the bride with her father,

and we watched a beautiful ceremony. Aubrie, as I a fore mentioned, was the sweetest flower girl I've ever seen. Just look at her twisting her curls!

Andy and Sarah, I wish you joy and peace and a long lasting life together! I know you will, with these radiant smiles!

During the photo session, Kevin and I passed around our camera too and got a nice one of the two of us:

And the fun begins!

On Monday, Kevin and I drove through Gardnerville to drop Sean & Ashton off with their grandparents for a few days and headed on through to San Francisco to celebrate our 11th Anniversary (July 3rd). On the way, I suggested stopping at a fruit stand, which also led to a stop at a winery in Davis. How did I choose which one to go to? I typed in "Winery Davis" (which we were soon to drive through), and picked one that was right off the highway. The lucky winner was Rominger West Winery. There were 5 wines all lined up for a free tasting when ever someone walked through the doors. It was neat to see the working winery, with barrels and equipment in open view. I liked the 2008 Rominger Ranch White best, but the 2005 Syrah - Yolo County was also very good, and Kevin's favorite. So. We bought a case! A 40% discount made it totally worth it since the 4 bottles we wanted to get was nearly as much on their own. Never bought an entire case of wine before! Great gifts. :)

On to San Francisco! We stayed in the Argonaut Hotel, which was right at the end of Embarcadero. Our room wasn't huge, but they did offer the guests a glass of wine at 5 every day! Plus the gym was pretty nice.

About once a year, or every other year I make it out to SF for one reason or another, but I've never been to a professional baseball game!

Since the Giants were playing Kevin's team, the Dodgers, and because I've never been, we pretty much had to get tickets. By the end of the first inning and heading into the second, the stands were packed!

If you look really close, you can see the ball just about to pass over home plate (click on the photo for an up-close):

And the best part of the location of this stadium? It's right next to the ocean!

The Dodgers killed the Giants, 8 to 2! And get this. For lunch I went All-American and had peanuts. And a beer. Proud? :) And I have to say that watching a game in the stadium is NOT boring like it is on TV! I greatly enjoyed myself.

Of course there was lots of shopping at Pier 39, and we stopped to watch a show at the end of the pier: Captain Jack Spareribs. And guess who he pulled out of the crowd? You guessed it. Kevin! When asked his name, he gave the first alias that came to mind: Jack. Funny. He was invited on stage to help with the show, and he was game, and even yakked it up a bit!

He got to sword fight, and even poke lances and swords through the basket containing Captain Jack's "daughter"!

Kevin said she was definitely IN the basket the entire time and guided the poking objects through the basket so she wouldn't get skewered. VERY impressive. I wonder if that ended up on YouTube (there were lots of people recording), because while I did record it on my camera, I didn't post it. I would post it here, but it takes forever and a day to upload. Also on the pier is the famous San Francisco Aquarium of the Bay, and for an extra $6, we got a 45 minute behind-the-scenes tour! I learned a ton about sea life, and the kitchen where they prepare animal food is no larger than my own! Seriously, the fridge is actually a double freezer that is only slightly larger than the one in my kitchens. Fish apparently don't eat much, or very often. Most of the fish are only fed once a week, small fish like mackerel and shrimp. The three largest fish they own, white sea bass (average weight is 315 lbs), they feed three times a week- mackerel that are only about 3 inches long. There are schools of sardines in the tanks if the fish decide they need a snack in between meals. It's a very delicate balance- keeping the fish well enough fed that they don't eat each other. For the smaller animals that have mouths too small to eat fish they feed brill that comes in dried form to the aquarium and they add water to. Like sea monkeys! The other thing I learned at the aquarium is how fascinating octopi are! The are VERY intelligent animals (most intelligent invertebrates in the world), and have been known to cause "mischief" at large aquariums. Our guide told us that they are dark-dwelling creatures, and at one particular aquarium (in So. Cal?) they had a small exhibit with a light shining down into the tank. So the octopus squirted water at the light bulb until it burst, and knocked down the power in half the aquarium! Then it was happy in the dark. :) I also watched a video that talked about how they contortionists- they have only one hard bone in their bodies- their beak, and can go through any opening large enough to fit their beak through. Indeed, I watched one problem solve it's way through an underwater gerbil maze into a big tank of water on the other side. I also watched as one octopus took the lid off a jar to get the crab inside it, out. A third experiment they tested their intelligence with was a with a Erlenmeyer beaker with a crab in the bottom. The octopus could see it and smell it, but wound it's way around and around the jar and couldn't get to it. Then it sat back for a minute, thinking (I swear it was problem solving!), then went back for a second go. One of it's tentacles found the opening in the top, and then it sucked it's entire body in to get the crab, where it ate it happily. Amazing!

The other major event of our 3-day trip was to see Wicked!

I read the book, Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire with my teen book club at the Carson City Library in December (yes, they are a very mature group! Their pick, I swear!) and have been dying to see the musical ever since. I was not let down. And being married to a band director has its advantages- he wanted to see it almost as much as I did! I need to buy the CDs now...

On Wednesday night (July 1st) we picked up the boys and headed home. We were going to plan a trip to Montana to visit my brother Scott and new wife Sara, but decided that my back couldn't cut 35 hours in the car (we were going to come back via Seattle so I could visit the Woodland Park Zoo and see the snow leopards). Instead, I gained some time on the homefront catching up with things like some deep cleaning (weeded the boys closet), and extra workout time, and most importantly, quality time with m'boys! On Friday, we headed out to Virginia City with my co-worker Abbey and her two teens, and while I somehow didn't take any pics of us, I did get this great view of the valley behind VC:

We had a great time window shopping, eating ice-cream and taffy from the Candy Barrel, and Sean & Ashton even picked out a piece of agate to take home. On Sunday, we headed to the Animal Ark (it's no substitute for the Woodland Park Zoo, but I like to support our local animals!). Sendari, their snow leopard, died a few years back, but there are lots of other lovely big cats, including Ashton's favorite: a white tiger!

They also have two cheetas, Moyo and Jamar, brothers from the same litter who can purr loud enough for you to feel the ground vibrate under your feet. They are very close, as you can see here. Makes me think of my own twins who are almost never apart (except not the licking or snuggling part). :)

We also saw the CUTEST arctic fox named Effie! When we walked up to her enclosure, she had just caught something, which she paraded around for a minute before hiding in some tall grasses.

Then she came right up to the fence like she wanted us to pet her! Awwww, I totally would too if it were allowed. :) What a sweet face!

Right by the side of Effie's enclosure was one of the biggest bumblebees I've ever seen. I tried to get a close-up, but it crawled most of the way into the flower before I snapped the shot:

The boys also had fun in the gift shop. Check out that huge stuffed snow leopard!

To celebrate Independence Day, we trekked out to Truckee for the Firecracker Mile and parade (and don't forget window shopping!). Gretchen made a great report on this event last year, and I thought I'd give it a go! I warmed up with a 25 minute jog up a super steep hill (that's about all that was available unless I wanted to head right out of town, and I didn't know of any immediate trails, which is what I would have preferred and looked for), and then stretched and waited with about 350 other runners for the one mile entirely-downhill race. I've never run this short a distance in a race before, so I didn't have much of a game plan other than hold a quick-ish steady pace and try not to slack off. Shouldn't be too hard since it is all downhill, right? I don't normally run so much as a warm-up because normally I use the first 1-2 miles as my warm-up in a longer race (yes Chris, I'm not nearly so competitively built as you!)- otherwise I get too tired at the end of the race. But since my body wouldn't have warmed up until after I finished this race, I figured I'd better change things up. My left knee didn't so much like all the downhills I ran (and jogged), but I was careful of my stride and managed a 7:24.5 minute mile, as they clocked me (I had 7:29ish). New PR! Whoo-hoo! I had fun anyway, and came in 109th. I walked/jogged back up the hill to where Kevin and the boys were watching the beginning of the parade, and was congratulated by many of the bystanders, and asked how I did. I've never run with so many people cheering on the runners before! That was awesome! I didn't get a great picture of the boys begging for candy on the front line, but you can see how many people support this event (especially since Reno doesn't do a parade, or have any $$$ for fireworks this year for that matter).

We didn't actually make it out to see the fireworks this year, much to Ashton's disappointment, because Sean wasn't feeling great, and running around in the sun for 4 hours probably didn't help. So while Kevin headed off to see the Aces game (which DID sport some pretty cool fireworks, apparently) I treated the boys to a new DVD purchase of their choice and we had what they like to call a "snuggle night." Which they are always begging for because it means a movie of their choice, and popcorn. Well, there wasn't any popcorn this time because I made them a very festive dessert, complimented with a glass of Martinelli's.

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