Monday, July 23, 2012

They have Microclimates, So Wear Layers

This is a representation
of how Party and I traveled
around on vacation.
Okay, not really.
The Party and I just got back from our first "real" vacation since having kids.  That is to say that we went away for an entire week without our kids, so it was an actual vacation.  As you all know, when you go on "vacation" with your kids it's not a vacation at all.  It's merely a different location, the work's the same.

This was actually relaxing.  We were away in celebration of our 20th anniversary and we mostly got along the whole time.  No really, that is actually a big deal.  How often are you with your husband 24/7 for an entire week?  With no one getting injured or threatened?  I thought this was a good sign that when the children leave we will be able to live harmoniously and not try to kill each other.  So overall, I would say the first 20 years of marriage has been a success and our trip confirmed that staying married still sounds like an excellent plan.  Don't get me wrong, The Party's main hobby is still aggravating me for sport, but he's a keeper.

Okay, so you are probably wondering where we went (just play along).  Because we are such good friends, I am not only going to tell you where we went, but tell you some fun things to do and what to avoid.  This will save you time and money in regard to researching your own trip.  We went to San Francisco and to Napa Valley.

First San Francisco.  Here are the two main things you should know.  One, no one lives there.  Well, hardly anyone. There are tourists and there are people who work in the stores and restaurants.  I saw maybe 5 people who appeared to actually be residents and/or be going to work.  Also, none of the tourists seem to be American.  That is neither good nor bad; I just noticed that every family we saw/ heard was not speaking English.  Further, I didn't recognize a lot of the languages I heard.  Many of these people were Nordic looking, so maybe they were speaking Swedish or Norwegian.  I don't know.  I will say, everyone was way more mellow and non-shovey than they are in New York or D.C.

Second main thing - there are "microclimates."  I put that in quotes because I am extremely skeptical that being surrounded by water and hills and winds, which makes for changeable weather, should really be called microclimates.  My friend Glen (please refer to old friend from last paragraph of Don't Judge A Book By Her (Leathered) Cover) lives in SF and as part of his very helpful "what to see/do" information he repeatedly mentioned the microclimates and that we should be sure to dress in layers.  He insisted temperatures could vary by 10 degrees from neighborhood to neighborhood.

Golden Gate Bridge
There, you've seen it and they
even Photoshopped
the fog out for you.
Glen said that you can spot all the tourists because they are cold and unhappy.  I don't like being cold and/or unhappy, so we did dress in layers and mocked the tourists who had to purchase ugly pastel-colored "San Francisco" fleeces.  While I appreciated the weather heads-up, I still don't think there are microclimates. Apparently, this makes me hard-headed because why won't I accept there are microclimates when someone tells me there are and then sends me articles and maps of said phenomenon?  There was some suggestion that this was due to my being a Jewish woman from Philly.  Really?!?!  Whistle.  And smack.  Oh - and it's my new whistle I got at Alcatraz.  (Wait until you hear about their brilliant whistle-focused people management system!)

You should definitely go to Alcatraz and Sausalito.  You can get to both via a very pleasant ferry ride.  You can see the whole bay area.  Do you want to know a good way not to see the bay area?  Try to see it from the Golden Gate Bridge.  You can walk, drive or bike over the bridge.  This might sound like fun, but you are going to be disappointed.  Close your eyes.  That's the same thing you can see from the bridge if there is fog, which there usually is.  Also, when you're done looking and going over the bridge to the other side, you know what you have to do?  That's right, turn around and come back.  Snore.

Sausalito was a very cute little town on the water.  Lots of shops and restaurants.  We got to play our own form of Jeopardy while we were there.  "Is there actually a Fort at Fort Baker?"  "What is a question that should be asked before you walk 3.4 miles uphill."  We got a visitors map when we got off the ferry and The Party saw there was a Fort Baker.  He said he wanted to go and I said okay.  I had kind of assumed he knew what it was before he saw the map.  Not so much.  He likes forts, the map said "fort" and off we went.  Because I am always sunshiney, I was not mad or annoyed.  It was a nice walk and we laughed about it.  I just want to point out though that if *I* had been the one to have us walk to nothing Party would have never let it go.  Yes, Party, you know I am totally telling the truth.

Moving on to Napa.  Much warmer there.  You don't need layers because although those people like to talk about how it gets hotter as you move north up the Napa Valley, it's summer everywhere you go (at least in July).  They don't use the word microclimates, they like to say appellations.  This is just a fancy way for the wine people to talk about growing different grapes in different parts of the region due to the different temperatures.  If you go there and already know that word, you'll look smart.

Hey!  No one told us that the
wine was "bottled poetry."
Isn't it a bad sign when you
think your wine is talking to you?
Napa was very cute and we had a good time.  We went on a wine tour, which was very interesting and fun.  We used Platypus Wine Tours, which I highly recommend.  Our tour guide (Shawnda from Texas) was just too cute and looked like a pretty Chelsea Clinton.  She was a great guide and took us to four smaller vineyards/wineries.  You will also look smart if you know there is a difference between a winery and vineyard (I did not).  Grapes are grown in a vineyard; wine is made in a winery.  Some places do both, some only do one.

Besides learning a lot about wine, the most important thing that happened on the tour was that during our lunch break (the tour provided a lovely picnic lunch) Shawnda set up bocci ball.  This is important because neither The Party nor I had ever played and, long story short, I kicked his ass 9-2.  He will try to tell you how I had no strategy or skill and was just winging the ball at full speed, blah, blah, blah.  I won, he lost. I am an undefeated bocci ball queen.  Wine and giving out ass-kickings, what could be better?

In my next post I think I will give you a general list of things you should know/ and observations about San Francisco and tell you why Alcatraz should be used as a parenting model.


  1. Bocci Ball ROCKS. Glad you had a good trip. Can't wait to see the next post!!! :)

    1. yes it does! The Party said it was mean of me to mention I won. Bahahahaha!

    2. Mean? I think not. You would have said if he won. (ha!)

  2. As an East Coast girl who's never been west of Oklahoma or on a vacation without her (many) children, I'm thankful for this handy guide. Should the opportunity ever arise, I will definitely be going to Napa Valley!

  3. SF is one of my must-see cities. When I do actually go, I'll tell people I go with about the "microclimates" and everyone will think I am so smart. Thanks for the heads up!

    1. Another thing that will make you seem in the know: book Alcatraz way ahead of time. It sells out a month or so in advance.


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