"To strive, to seek, to find and not to yield"
- Alfred Lord Tennyson, 1833

"live deep and suck out all the marrow of life"
- Henry David Thoreau, 1845

"Some guys, they just give up living
And start dying little by little, piece by piece
Some guys come home from work and wash up,
And go racin' in the streets."
- Bruce Springsteen, 1977

"...to the heart, there's no time for you to waste.
You won't find your precious answers now
by staying in one place."
- Frank Turner, 2009

"The best things in life aren't things.
They're living and breathing."
- Michael Franti , 2011

"I owned every second that this world could give,
I saw so many places, the things that I did"
- Ryan Tedder of OneRepublic, 2014

All written content and photos by Rob Fulfer unless otherwise indicated.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Lordy, Lordy, Look Who's....in NorCal for Her Birthday!

Ashlee's 40th birthday was on the horizon and to celebrate, we headed out to San Francisco and other parts of Northern California for week of fun with a gaggle of our friends from all over the place for different amounts of time throughout:

Saturday, Sept. 1 - We flew out of Nashville with a pretty good fare to San Francisco on Frontier Airlines with our friend, Brenda.  Meeting us at the San Fran airport were our friends, Mike from Chattanooga, and Amy and Jeremy from New Hampshire.  Arriving before all of us was our friend, Rex from Atlanta.  Our friend, Wayne, who is also from Nashville would arrive late the next day to complete our eightsome (sp?) after running a half marathon in Virginia Beach (impressive!).

The upstairs view from the 4-bedroom house we rented was nice.

The fog that San Fran is famous for found us on our first morning there.
After settling into our rental house on Masonic Avenue we ambled a few blocks and found the Magnolia Gastropub and Brewery for dinner.  The place was hopping but they were able to accommodate our large group rather quickly and we had a great meal and a few libations to celebrate our long journeys westward.

Our rental house was just a few blocks from the famous psychedelic corner of Ashbury & Haight, an iconic area of the free-love movement and the hippie lifestyle.  It struck us kind of funny that in the shops along Haight Street which were celebrating simple living and a desire to get away from all things corporate and capitalistic, they still had bluejeans for sale for $145.  Gonna have to sell a lot of flower-necklaces to make that purchase.  Our favorite breakfast spot on Haight turned out to be the hilariously-named, Squat & Gobble, which is exactly what we did there a couple of different mornings.

Sunday, Sept. 2 - We spent the day in the city today with an afternoon gourmet food tour being the only scheduled thing on the agenda.   While waiting on the tour to begin in the Hayes Valley area (a mile or so from our house), we found a great "portable" beer garden (aptly named Biergarten) where the bar is located inside a shipping container.  It's one of several "proxy projects" in the fast-developing area that may or may not be there in the future.  We sure hope it still is when we return someday because it is a perfect place to hang out.

On our way to our food tour we stopped in Alamo Park
for a great view of "The Painted Sisters" row houses
and downtown behind them.  Remember this shot from
the TV show, "Full House"?

The Day One Group huddling in a neat sculpture garden  before our food tour.

An $80 box of chocolates from the Christopher Elbow Shop, one of the 7 stops on our gourmet food tour.

The one place not on the food tour that was recommended by our guide was Smuggler's Cove, a kind of secret bar nearby with a very plain exterior and a funky, 3-level, tiki-bar interior.  Their drinks were very good and Ashlee's "Volcano" was among the most amazing of them.

Monday, Sept. 3 - We spent Labor Day "laboring" the day away in a limo tour to Napa Valley and Sonoma with visits to Cakebread Vineyards, V. Sattui Winery in St. Helena for lunch, Schramsberg Vineyards and Caves, and finally Cline Winery.  When we got back to San Fran we all had a great dinner with our friend, Roman, and his wife at NOPA - a wondeful restaurant in the NOrthern PAnhandle area.

An unscheduled but amazing first stop on our limo tour was right
across San Francisco Bay to see The Golden Gate Bridge starting
to emerge from the fog.  A great start to a great day!
A Napa view from inside our limo

First stop:  Cakebread Cellars, Napa Valley

A little dust on the bottles inside Schramsberg's aging caves
 Tuesday, Sept. 4 - We loaded up the entire "Full House" of eight people into a rented Yukon and headed on a long road trip to Yosemite National Park today.  It was worth the trip as the weather was perfect, the company was great and we hopefully avoided the dreaded hantavirus that had plagued (literally) the park earlier in the summer.  It was worth the time and the risk to see this American jewel.

Windmill field on the way to Yosemite
The winding road to Yosemite from San Francisco
Our first look at Yosemite was one of the best with El Capitan (left),
and Half Dome (center) soaring into the beautiful skies.
El Capitan, the largest granite monolith in the world.
Bridalveil Falls at late summer/early fall level.

Wednesday, Sept. 5 - It was another day in the city with only another food tour (this time in Japantown) scheduled for five of us.  Sadly, we had to bid Rex a fond farewell as he headed back home today. 

After the great food tour, we snagged some amazingly-cheap, last-minute baseball tickets ($2.22 each!) to see the San Francisco Giants play the Arizona Diamondbacks at beautiful AT&T Field tonight.  It was a beautiful night for a game with mild temps.  The food at the ballpark was exceptional and I guess we made up for the money we saved on the tickets with all the snacks we bought.  (Editor note:  October 2012 - We went and saw one pro baseball team play this year and we will be danged if they didn't go and get themselves in the World Series, and then win it in a sweep!  Congrats Giants!) We followed that up with some after-game bowling at the ultra-cool Lucky Strike Bowling Center near the stadium.

A delicious Japanese snack called onigilly (rice balls wrapped in seaweed).

A beautiful rainbow appeared on our way to the baseball park.

AT&T Park is a jewel of a place nestled right on the SF Bay.

Our seats were very good, especially given the fact we paid less than $2.50 for them!

The abandoned nachos and stray popcorn clean-up crew after the game.
Jeremy's score should have an asterisk by it...that's all I am saying.

Thursday, Sept. 6 - Another great day in the city that started with all seven of us taking a bike ride from Pier 33, across the Golden Gate Bridge and down to the beautiful town of Sausilito where we had lunch and then took the ferry back across the bay.  We hung around the piers the rest of the day and five of us took an Alcatraz night tour.  Ashlee gave her ticket up to Wayne who have never been before and wasn't able to get a seat on the sold-out tour. She and Brenda did some shopping and coconut-macaron (not macaroon) tasting instead (evidently they are as big as your hand!).

The crowded Golden Gate Bridge, even on a weekday, but what a great ride!

Friday, Sept. 7 - And then there were four.  We said goodbye to Brenda, Amy and Jeremy, who all headed home today.  The final four rented another car and headed south to the town of Mountain View (home to Google, by the way) to catch a concert by Linkin Park and Incubus at the Shoreline Amphitheatre. Before heading out of town we hooked up with our friend, Roman, again and had a tasty brunch at Q Restaurant and Wine Bar near our rental house.  Thanks again to the Food Network TV show, Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, for another excellent recommendation!
You don't really have to "search" to find Google Street in tiny Mountain View, CA

Linkin Park doing what they do best and doing it live.

Saturday, Sept. 8 - Time to part ways.  I headed home, as did Wayne and Mike.  Ashlee was off to Portland, OR, for a day of fun before continuing north to Spokane, WA for work conference the following week.
The whole gang from L to R - Ashlee, Rex, Brenda, Wayne, Mike, me, Amy and Jeremy.
Thanks for all the fun and laughs everyone and Happy Birthday, Ashlee!!

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