Wednesday, October 8, 2014

My Napa Adventure Continues (Part 4)

Needless to say, I slept extremely well on Saturday evening once I made it to back to my hotel room!  I crashed and didn't wake up until my alarm went off the next morning.  The rest of the BAMRR team was headed back to San Francisco on Sunday morning to catch their flights home/to meet up with family and friends, but first we had to clean off our beautiful vans!  

Smitha and I were sad to clean off our dear Van 2
Jen Lewis and Dimity cleaning off Van 1 and me it would seem!
Dimity passing off the Ragnar glass (Captain's gift) to Erin, who had the most "badass" leg! 
Yeah we were!  (In the parking lot of our hotel in Vallejo)
We tried using Windex and some towels from our hotel room to clean the vans, but it involved a lot of elbow grease.  However, Lisa cleverly suggested we use our hotel room cards to gently scrape off the window paint and it worked perfectly!  

Soon enough, the vans were clean and it was time to say goodbye to my dear BAMRR girls.  I cried saying goodbye to these amazing women who I will forever be bonded with, but I know it is not the last time I will see them, as we are already planning a few reunion events for 2015!  

I met up with my mom in the parking lot of the hotel and we set off on our mother/daughter adventure!  Our first stop?  Food!  This girl needed some sustenance, so we found an IHOP and I feel like I ordered everything on the menu.  Belgian waffles with strawberries and whipped cream?  Check.  Bacon?  Check.  Sourdough toast?  Check, although I only managed to eat one piece and ended up taking the rest to go.  We also made a quick stop at Starbucks to get some caffeine and they were out of pumpkin spice syrup (oh the horror!  And I'm kind of serious.  I had a salted caramel latte and it wasn't quite the same as a PSL).

Mom had a great adventure of her own while I was doing Ragnar; she set out for some beach time and found a great book store, where the owner gave her a recommendation for a wonderful beach about 12 miles away.  I had fun seeing her pictures of the beach on Facebook during my rest times for Ragnar.  She found a neat light house, visited Half Moon Bay, and Sausalito. I'm really glad Mom came out with me and was able to have fun while I was running so that we could have some fun together after the trip! 

We headed out of Vallejo and made the drive to Napa.  In our rental car, mom and I had the four blankets that the owner of the Marina Motel had let us borrow.  When he gave us the blankets (which were retired linens from the hotel), he only asked for one thing in return; that we donate the blankets when we were finished.  The Marina Motel typically donates their retired linens to local homeless shelters or shelters for abused women, so his request was that we do the same and we were happy to oblige.  Mom and I had driven past a Goodwill store in Vallejo, but we decided to keep driving to see what we would find.

As we were on the highway approaching Napa, I saw on the left side of the road, a large white house (it looked like a mansion) and I asked mom if we could pull over, because I was quite certain that it was one of the wineries that I saw the day before while we were running.  We pulled over and found out that it was not a winery, but in fact, it was a local VA facility.  Mom and I knew this was the perfect place to donate the blankets, because my Dad was an Air Force Veteran and my Grandpa was a Marine Veteran.  There were a lot of buildings on this VA campus and we finally found a building that seemed to have some activity (it was a Sunday afternoon, after all), which turned out to be the VA Hospital  I hopped out of the car and went inside to find someone and I found a really nice gentleman who listened to my story and told me they would gladly take the blankets.  I got a little teary eyed when I walked back to the car to get the blankets.  I really felt my Dad's presence that afternoon and I don't think it was a coincidence that I felt the need so strongly to pull off the highway and go to this particular building.  Dad was definitely with me that day and it was nice to have him be a part of this wonderful trip. 

Donating our wonderful Ragnar blankets to the VA Hospital.  
Grateful to have found a good home for the blankets
Mom and I had a wonderful day visiting wineries in Napa.  We stopped at Robert Mondavi and shared a flight of wine, which had the most delicious Moscato!  We couldn't get over how beautiful the scenery was in Napa, too!
Our first glasses of wine in Napa
Next we stopped at V. Sattui Winery and had a lovely picnic with more Moscato, a baguette, and some fabulous dill flavored goat cheese!  So good!  We also hit up Sutter Home (free wine tastings, fyi!) and one of my personal favorites, Castello di Amorosa, which is an authentically styled Tuscan castle.  By this point, I had consumed a fair share of wine, so there were shenanigans aplenty, but I always enjoy being a little inebriated with my mom.  My motto has always been, if you can't get drunk with your mom (after you turn 21, of course), who can you get drunk with?  
Enjoying our Moscato outside at V. Sattui Winery
The beautiful Castello di Amorosa
The courtyard at Castello di Amorosa

My sweet Mama

Winery #selfie with my Mama 

The view driving down the driveway at Castello di Amorosa.  #Beautiful
After our winery stops on Sunday, we headed back to Calistoga (where my Napa race ended) and checked into a really cute hotel (Golden Haven Hot Springs Spa and Resort) for the night.  After we checked in, we went to downtown Calistoga for dinner and to do a little shopping.  We ran into Melissa from my team and her friend; they, too, were staying in Calistoga to visit some of the wineries.  It was so nice to see Melissa one more time, as I was having withdrawal and missing my girls!  Mom and I had a great dinner at Checker's in Calistoga and I had the most amazing shrimp pasta with tomatoes.  Yum!  We also stopped for ice cream at a local shop, which hit the spot.  We noticed as we window shopped along the main street in Calistoga that several shops had "Welcome Ragnar" signs in the store fronts, which I thought was really nice.  Some stores were even offering discounts to Ragnar runners.
My delicious shrimp and pasta dish from Checkers!
A warm welcome for Ragnar Runners from the local businesses in Calistoga
 Mom and I had a good night's sleep on Sunday and when we woke up on Monday, we headed back into Calistoga for breakfast and to do more shopping.  The main street in Calistoga had some darling shops!  I also loved how biker friendly Calistoga was.  Our hotel, and several others that we saw, had complimentary bicycles for guests to take into town, which I thought was really neat.
The backyard of our hotel in Calistoga
After we finished breakfast and sightseeing in Calistoga, Mom and I headed to another winery, which Sarah had pointed out to us as we were driving to the finish line on Saturday.  Sterling Vineyards sits atop a hill and you actually take a tram to the winery for the tour and tastings.  It was a beautiful day and the tram ride to the top was awesome!  The winery was also participating in an art project called "Before I Die..." and they had a chalkboard outside the entrance with spaces for people to write their goals.  I thought this was such a neat concept!  It was also grape stomping day at Sterling Vineyards, but Mom and I just watched a couple who happened to be stomping when we walked over that way.  We also got to watch some of the vineyard employees emptying crushed grapes out of one of the wine vats, which was pretty cool (and fragrant!).

Gorgeous drive into Sterling Vineyards

The "Before I Die..." board

That is my "before I die" sentiment!
Mom writing on the wall.  Her sentiment:  to live on the beach! 
Our tram 

In the tram ready for #MoreWine

The view from the tram on the way to the top

So much wine! 
Me and my Mama at Sterling Vineyards
 Mom and I decided to head back to San Francisco on Monday night since our flight was at 1 p.m. on Tuesday.  We figured it would be good to be somewhat nearby the airport and we wanted to go down to Fisherman's Wharf and Pier 39 in the morning before our flight.  We came back to San Francisco via Santa Rosa, because I had a little to-do item on my agenda: to get another tattoo.  I've wanted to get a tattoo for some time now, one that would honor Jack.  I have a tattoo for Nick (and one for myself), but I don't have one for Jack.  I also wanted to get a half marathon tattoo, but I thought I should get Jack's first.  However, I don't know exactly what I want to get for Jack and rather than rush into it, I decided to wait on his tattoo and get my half marathon tattoo since I knew exactly what I wanted.  The fun part is that my Mom got a tattoo also!  I double, no, triple checked to make sure she really wanted one and in such a visible place (her wrist), and she did.  She got a blue star for Nick and she handled it like a pro!  My Mom and I have bonded over a lot of things in life, but I never thought we'd bond over ink!  She surprised me!  Mom, I'm glad we got to get inked together! :)
Mom and Brent, our tattoo artist in CA

Mom's finished tattoo for her grandson, Nick
One of my favorite quotes is "She believed she could, so she did" and I contemplated getting this tattooed on my foot for my half marathon tattoo, but that seemed rather lengthy.  Then I considered just getting a small 13.1, but I wanted something more.  As I was googling half marathon tattoos a few weeks ago, I came across the perfect tattoo for me.  (This is partly why I waited so long to run post-Napa.  I didn't want to wear socks while my tattoo healed.  Probably silly, but I wanted it to heal properly before I put socks on it!)

On the top of my right foot.  The word "believe" to remind me of my favorite quote, with the "b" represented by a 13. and the "l" represented by 1.
As we were driving around trying to find a tattoo parlor in Santa Rosa, I saw street names that looked familiar and I put two and two together and realized where I was.  Santa Rosa being the place where I ran my second, and favorite, leg of Ragnar.  I thought it was pretty fitting that Santa Rosa then ended up being the place where we got our tattoos!  

After our tattoos, Mom and I drove into San Francisco and stopped to walk for a bit on the Golden Gate Bridge and then we settled in a hotel for the night.  We ordered pizza and watched tv and I crashed yet again! 
Mama and I on the GG bridge at night
On Tuesday morning, Mom and I woke up and headed down to Fisherman's Wharf.  We went to Boudin Bakery again, because I wanted to show Mom all of the sourdough deliciousness and then we went to see the Sea Lions at Pier 39.  I remembered that on Pier 39, I saw a produce stand with the biggest fruit I had ever seen.  The girls and I saw the stand on Thursday when we were at the Pier and I wanted to show the fruit to Mom.  

I don't think I have ever seen a plum that big! 

Sea Lions at Pier 39 
Mom and I also drove down the crookedest mile (a portion of Lombard Street), which I remember doing when I visited San Francisco years earlier with my parents.  It wasn't nearly as crowded as I remembered, but I guess it was a weekday.  I loved all of the beautiful flowers that were planted in front of the homes on the crookedest mile.  The hydrangea's were stunning! 

Looking up at the crookedest mile from about halfway down the street
 Mom and I headed back to the airport to return our rental car and catch our flight home.  We flew to Denver and had a little layover there, which gave us time to have a nice dinner at one of the restaurants in the terminal before catching our flight home.

Farewell San Francisco.  Thanks for the wonderful memories! 
I had a wonderful, amazing trip and it still seems like somewhat of a dream since it went by so fast!  I'm looking forward to sharing what I learned from my Ragnar adventure on my next post!  It was an awesome journey that I would absolutely do all over again! 

"'What if I fall?' Oh but my darling, what if you fly?"