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#sanfrancisco

San Francisco Family Edition

Family edition is a whole different beast from solo edition.  Seven people moving through the big city is not a nimble operation.  It happened, though, and we lived to tell about it.

My sister and I have recently begun to appreciate that we should travel more with our parents.  Time is moving on and there will come a day when they either aren’t able or aren’t willing to join us on our escapades.  For now they are quite willing participants, however, so we schemed up a trip to San Francisco to visit my sister and take in the city.  My daughters and I flew in a day after my parents and younger brother arrived.  We were fortunate enough to find an Air BnB in the Mission just two blocks from my sister’s place.  It had high ceilings, a nice kitchen, two decks with gorgeous views of the city and a steam dryer that somehow turned my slightly wrinkled shirt into a dripping wet piece of cloth.  But I digress.

All good arrivals should start with a glass of wine.  #noexceptionshere

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The view from our deck.  You guys, seriously.  This place is the best.  You can find it on Air BnB. https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/19969592?s=51

 

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My Cuyana travel bags in the bathroom.  These are the best.  And so pretty!

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After we settled in and had a little happy hour we headed to Blue Plate for dinner.  I raved about this place in my previous post about San Francisco.  It was so good we had to go again.  The deviled eggs are still amazing!  #prettiesteggsever

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Our first full day started with the girls heading to Palo Alto for a little shopping while the boys toured Alcatraz.  I can’t report on what happened there but they seemed to have a good time.  After surviving the train ride we headed straight to Blue Bottle for oat milk cappuccinos and hot chocolates.  Must caffeinate before shopping.  The milk art never ceases to amaze me here.

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Coffee was followed by a loooong stop at the American Girl doll store.  The girls brought the dolls, had their hair done in the salon and purchased new outfits.  It all took about an hour and felt like an eternity.  But they loved every minute of it.  They are also old enough now that I felt okay leaving them in the AG doll store while I stole across the street for some fizzy water.  Must hydrate.

These two are serious shoppers.  I’m biased but I happen to think they have learned from the best!

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After more shopping, we trained home, regrouped and headed to dinner at Foxsister.  This eclectic Asian restaurant in the Mission offers a diverse range of foods, perfect for a large group.  We adored the Korean BBQ, fried chicken and garlic black bean noodles.

The following day saw us heading downtown.  First stop, more Blue Bottle.  I forgot to mention the waffles earlier but they are amazing!  Made to order, hot, crispy, sweet.  Don’t miss these if you find yourself at a Blue Bottle.  After coffee and waffles we headed to the nail salon for manis and pedis while the guys checked out the cable car museum.  Again, I can’t really report on what happened there but they seemed satisfied enough.  We were quite pleased with our few hours of pampering before we hit the city streets again.  I love how creative the girls are with their nail color choices!

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We lunched on clam chowder in bread bowls.  My oldest adores clam chowder and was properly astounded by this whole operation.

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We journeyed home by way of Heath Ceramics and Tartine Manufactory.

 

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The day ended with persimmons with ricotta and honey and Halloween themed gingerbread houses.  Random but real.

 

Our final day in the area involved a family trip to wine country.  This sounds quite lovely in theory but in reality is no small feat.  Challenge #1……moving 7 people from San Francisco to Sonoma Valley.  This obviously necessitates renting a large SUV.  The largest SUV ever, in fact. The SUV is perfect.  Everyone fits in it relatively comfortably (it’s not really a family road trip unless someone is a little uncomfortable) and all of our gear can stow in the back.  Large SUVs are pretty great when you live somewhere remote, like Montana, for example.  They are actually a large pain in the rear when you are in a large city, like San Francisco, for example.  In the city the streets are narrow and the turns are tight and the parked cars are a real hazard.  Also, the cyclists.  Real life hazard.

I love a good challenge, though, so we got the SUV, drove back to the apartment, picked everyone up and hit the road.  My sister had found a corn maze in Petaluma and thought we should swing in there on our way to the wineries.  Sure, sounds great!  Let’s go!  How hard can a corn maze be?????  Challenge #2…….

 

So pretty!  And innocent looking!

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Earnest little explorers. #confidenceiskey

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Our view from the lookout tower.  Can anyone see the exit?????

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Nope.  We can’t.  All of our family dynamics played out in that damn corn maze.  Sibling squabbles, righteous indignation, parent-child dysfunction.  It was all right there.  For the whole world to see.  We had to get out of there, and fast!  So we did what any self respecting adult would do and headed for the entrance.  Yep, we came out the same way we came in.  Whatever.  We got out.

Relief!

 

No longer being foolish, we headed straight for Iron Horse winery.  I love this place.  If you ever get the chance to go, you must.  The wines are gorgeous and so are the views.  We were lucky to hit it on a Sunday which meant that the Oyster Girls were on site selling oysters and shrimp.  Not much better than oysters and bubbly in my opinion.

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The views….

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Bubbly all day!

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Picnic lunch in the gazebo after our wine tasting.

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The kids did quite well at the winery.  The beautiful outdoor setting led to lounging, being silly, taking pictures, and sketching.

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#sistertime

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I’ve been here many times and it really never gets old.  There were a lot of hassles getting to and from here (and one impossible corn maze) but it was worth it.

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The following day we left the city behind and flew home.  We packed a lot of adventure into a few days.  We ate great food, drank great wine, laughed a lot, rolled our eyes, got annoyed and impatient, made our way and found our way home.

Traveling Solo SF Edition

My sister and I fancy ourselves to be pretty clever people.  Just ask us, we’ll tell you.  Humbly of course.  We’ve had a lot of great ideas in our time but one of our recent ones is going to go down as an all time favorite.  For a few years now, we have struggled with the idea of gifts.  You know, birthday gifts, Christmas gifts, online browsing and pulling your hair out trying to find the perfect gift gifts.  We wanted to get gifts for each other, but, we didn’t want to spend time or money on gifts that nobody wanted or needed.  Last year we decided that we weren’t going to buy each other birthday or Christmas gifts any more.  We were going to have experiences together.  We decided to take a yearly sister vacation in lieu of material goods.

Now on to the good stuff……where to go, what to do?  The opportunities were endless.  We could go to Europe (too expensive and time consuming), Costa Rica (ditto), Arizona (uninspired), Mexico (hmmmm….real possibility here), wine country (we always have fun in wine country).  We went back and forth for awhile but nothing felt quite right.  Then my sister, who lives in San Francisco, got the happy news that she was getting a raise at work.  While not the kind of raise that allows you to take six weeks off and roam Europe, it was the kind of raise that allowed her to afford her apartment without a roommate.  Which is almost as good as Europe.  Seriously.  So after spending most of her adult life sharing space with people possessing various degrees of compatibility and cleanliness, she gave her roommate notice.  It was time to move on.

Once the roommate moved out, my sister gained a guest room.  Suddenly, operation sister vacation was in action.  What better than a long weekend in San Francisco with affordable (free!) accommodations, allowing us more money for food, drink and adventures.

When the time arrived I packed my bags (including 10 pounds of bison meat and a sourdough starter) and left Montana for San Francisco.  Upon arrival I dashed to my sister’s house and packed the meat in her freezer.  I then walked to the station and took the train downtown to complete a little solo shopping while my sister finished working.  I powered through Cuyana (I’m obsessed) and Anthropologie (spring wardrobe refresh).  I then met up with my sister for oysters and a cocktail to kick off the long weekend.

We spent the next three days hitting the best of San Francisco.  We got pastries at Tartine Manufactory (delicious!) and wandered through Heath Ceramics.  We drank Boba tea and ate pizza.  We browsed the Mission district.  We got a bottle of rosé and drank it in Mission Dolores Park on a gorgeous sunny afternoon.  We wandered through Flora Grubb and soaked in the beautiful plants and art.  We sat on the porch and drank coffee and took afternoon naps.  We ran with my sister’s running group through Golden Gate Park on Saturday morning.  We ate breakfast burritos and drank coffee at Philz in the Castro.  We had cocktails with friends and gorged ourselves on crab at PPQ Dungeness Island.  Insider tip…..go to PPQ.  It’s the best.  While we wandered, we talked.  We talked about things big and small, but mostly, we spent a few days living in each other’s universe.  We coexisted without the distractions of parents, partners, children or work.

It may not have been an exotic vacation but it was packed full of experiences and time with my sister.  Those are priceless commodities.  Those are the vacations that provide happiness and good memories long after they are finished.  Those are the vacations that make life fun, and meaningful and fulfilling.

Here’s to more sister vacations and meaningful travel.

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