Monday, November 18, 2013

Napa Valley and the Golden Gate Bridge

Day three.  We had ambitious plans to get up super early and drive out to Napa for the morning.  Those were thrown out the window when Shannon groggily woke me up after 8am.  Obviously we needed some sleep after the previous two days adventures.

After some discussion, we decided to get moving quickly and still make it out to Napa -- just for a shorter amount of time.  We were on the road - with smoothies - in no time!  I had NO idea that Napa was just over an hour away from the bay area!  

I should have zoomed this in, but you can see
all the giant cranes and barges in the bay 
In no time at all, the buildings and highways turned in to rolling hills and rows and rows of grapes.  I couldn't believe it!  Shannon was used to the drill now.  She just pulled over to the side of the road every time I said, "OH WOW!"  so I could get out and take pictures. :)





We drove all over Napa Valley - up an down the little roads with different wineries on either side.  It really was beautiful with all of the fall colors!  Since it was a Monday, there were hardly any people around.  We walked right in to the fields at several spots. 




It was still early, and we had already driven all over around Napa.  We started heading back towards the city to hit some more wineries on the other side of the valley, and decided we couldn't leave without actually going in at least one.  So we pulled in to Domaine Carneros, which just happened to open at 10am. (It was about 10:15 when we got there!)  

I don't really enjoy wine, and certainly don't know anything about it.  So I didn't really appreciate Napa quite as much as most people would who drink wine.  But I still thought it was gorgeous and really something cool to see!  I just need to watch some documentaries on the wine making process and Napa, etc.  It would probably mean more then. ;)  Either way, the winery was beautiful!  We didn't do any tasting because it was so early still!  And we had to drive back shortly.  So we just checked the place out, walked around a little, and then hit the road. Shannon had so much more she still wanted to show me!

Wine tasting at 10am??

Northern California is so funny.  In no time at all, we went from the Bay area (city), to Napa Valley, and then to this flat swamp land!  I know it's an awful picture, but I know what it was. ;)
Swamp land
After a few wrong turns and sweet maneuvering skills by Shannon, we ended up at Whole Foods for lunch  I love that place!  And this one, in San Rafael, was way better than the one we have in KC.  

I grabbed a giant piece of lasagna, and a pre-made salad for later, and we took off again.  No time to sit down and eat.  Shannon ate her piece of corn bread (can't believe that was her lunch) and I had tried not to spill my lasagna while we sped down the highway.  

We got off the highway once so I could grab my NorthFace out of the trunk, and then again when we got close to a NorthFace store to call and see if they had the size I wanted to exchange it for.  No such luck.  But somehow, with some nice moves from Shannon, we ended up right back on the highway we were supposed to be on...even if that did involve a few u-turns in the middle of the road. :)

Our next stop was a quick driving tour through Marin and Sausalito, two of the most expensive neighborhoods in the bay area.  The houses were huge, they had ridiculous views of the Golden Gate Bridge, and the cute little streets were lined with awesome shops and restaurants.  I definitely could have spent some time there...

From there, we kept driving to the Golden Gate Bridge - the last thing she just had to show me before I left.  And we barely had time for it.  She drove crazy fast up a little windy road to get to this good view point:

As soon as we had the shot (above), we took off down the hill -- flying past people driving too slow for us -- and decided to take the extra few minutes to actually drive across the Golden Gate Bridge!  I mean, it's one thing to say I saw it, but I had to actually be ON it, too!

Driving across the bridge.  A must.
We didn't even stop once we got across.  No time, haha.  We just turned around and drive right back across it.  We were cutting it close on time, but we decided we had time to stop for literally one minute to take another picture from a viewing point back on the other side of the bridge:
It was hazy, but that is downtown San Fran across the bay
Golden Gate Bridge - we were at this spot for all of 1.5 minutes

We raced back to San Leandro, stopped at Costco for gas -- and Shannon parked on the wrong side, haha.  She improvised though (see pic below).  After a quick stop at her house to go to the bathroom and grab my bags, we were off to return the good 'ole rental car.  Shannon was so sweet and picked me up from there so I didn't have to deal with the shuttle bus again. Plus we were officially cutting it close on time after the "just one more stop"s we had that day!
Gas at Costco
Shannon dropping me off at the airport
I thought the airport might be busy since it was a holiday, but no, it was dead.  I found a spot right outside my gate that had a couch and a tv...with no one around.  So I plopped down on the comfy couch and watched some tv before my flight boarded.    

We took off a little late, and I already had a quick turnaround.  So I had to do the airport sprint in Denver.  Why couldn't I have lucked out and had my new gate be right next to the one I came out of?  That always seems to happen when I have plenty of time.  But today it was pretty much at the opposite end of the terminal, and I was L A T E.  So I took off running, and there wasn't one person at my gate when I got there.  Not even anyone working to scan my boarding pass.  I was just sick.  I knew I had just missed my flight.  But I looked out the window and the plane was still sitting there, so I just took off running down the little bridge thing...boarding pass still in hand.  One of the workers was standing at the other end and laughed at me -- clearly out of breathe.  I wasn't the last one on.  Everyone else was already on the plane, but it wasn't anywhere close to full, and they were waiting on two more people with late connections, too.  Ugh.  Either way, I made it, and I got a whole row to myself to lay down and sleep.  Which is exactly what I did for the whole flight back to KC.


Coming home to cold weather is so much worse when you've been somewhere warm.  I was NOT excited about the below freezing temperatures when I stepped outside.  At least my flight was on time and I didn't get home in the middle of the night like I normally do.  That would have been double-whammy. ;)  

It was such an awesome weekend in California.  Seriously awesome (like, one of my favorite vacations ever), but oh so exhausting.  Definitely slept well that night!

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