Monday, July 22, 2013

Pre- and post-Vineman happenings

When I signed up for Vineman many many months ago now, I think that one of the main draws for me to this race was the timing and the location.  It seemed like the perfect time to visit Sonoma - during the summer, when I have time off and we can really make a road trip out of it?!  Sign me up!  What was nice about rolling the race experience into a family adventure is that 1) it distracted me from the race anxiety the days leading up to the race and 2) it made the trip about more than just this race.  Michael's great about supporting this 'hobby' of mine that has increasingly become more demanding, but it is nice to make these trips about more than just one event.

With that in mind, we planned out quite an ambitious road trip - spending a few days in San Francisco before the race and a day in Sonoma afterwards and then heading east to Colorado for 2 weeks.   It's funny because we used to head north to San Francisco at least twice a year, but slowly many of our friends have started to move away from the city, so we visit it less and less.  Also, we love traveling with Gus and Milo, but that can be somewhat difficult at times. This time, "the boys" were pretty happy that we included them - and so were we!

Ready to hit the road

We have discovered that San Francisco IS a great place to visit with the dogs.  We usually stay in an dog-friendly apartment thanks to VRBO.  I briefly made a reservation in a dog-friendly hotel, but then I remembered that in addition to the dogs, we had two bikes, all of my tri gear, and stuff for Colorado.  We would have looked like gypsies moving into the hotel, so we opted for an apartment.  When we go to the city with our dogs, we all spend lots of time walking around parks so that the mutts are exhausted (a tired dog = a happy dog).  We also allow them certain 'privileges' that they don't enjoy at home, such as being on the bed!
A very happy Milo!

Views of the Bay as we walked around the Ferry Building

Being city dogs

And enjoying the countryside!

After spending Thursday in San Francisco and visiting a friend in Berkeley, we headed to Marin on Friday, hoping for warmer weather (I've now lived in Southern CA too long to remember how cold the summer months in San Francisco are!).  We also took a nice, dog-friendly hike to Kehoe Beach which they really enjoyed (I know, I'm sporting some great-looking footwear here).  They loved the beach but couldn't quite make it into the water - so much for that labrador/water dog part of their mix!

We left the city on Saturday morning and sent the boys to a kennel in Sonoma - they were extremely unhappy about that decision, but it made things easier for us, logistically.  Saturday and Sunday were Vineman-focused (I've blabbed enough about that already), but we gave ourselves Monday to explore Sonoma a bit.  This was our first time in Sonoma, which is kind of crazy since I've lived in CA for over 10 years now.  We really enjoyed the experience and hope to return before too much time passes.  It felt a bit more rural and less "polished" than Napa, whether that is true or not.   We visited two wineries on Monday - enjoyed a private tour thanks to a colleague at Hafner, a very small vineyard, and also had a tasting at Robert Young.  The afternoon called for a big fat nap followed by a quick walk through Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve which was just a few miles from Guerneville.  We would have never made it there, but a friend recommended the visit and it was so worth it as we walked through a grove of redwoods.

We left Sonoma on Tuesday morning, promising to come back to hike, visit the coast and enjoy more of what the area has to offer!  As we headed east, Sonoma felt quite far away, especially crossing into Nevada, where we traversed the state driving Highway 50, dubbed "The Loneliest Road in America".  It was a long day but much of it was a beautiful drive.  We spent the night in Baker, NV at the Silverjack Inn.  

Twilight in Baker - a lonely town along the loneliest road

We discovered yet another place that deserves a longer visit - not so much Baker (this motel is about all that there is!), but Great Basin National Park which is just a few miles away and offers wonderful views, great hikes and varied terrain.  Plus, it's one of the least-visited parks in the US, probably making for some solitary moments. Sadly, this was not the trip to explore the area - we continued our trip east on Wednesday, suffering through sights like these...

Driving through Utah

...before rolling into Boulder, CO where we've enjoyed some 'active' rest days - plenty of biking, eating, drinking and napping!

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