17 October, 2009

{Honeymoon} The Road Home

What a long road it was.  We waited until the last minute to leave our hotel room, knowing we would need our energy for the drive and red-eye flight.  Having been to the Bernardus dinner 2 nights earlier, we decided we needed to return home with some wine, so we went back for another tasting.  Next, we headed to lunch at a place recommended by one of our wine dinner companions.  It was on our way to San Fran and sounded good, so Phil’s Fish Market was a must.  Upon arrival, we knew it was going to be great based on the lack of parking and the clientele, a mix of must be locals and motorcyclists.  The place was indeed worth the trip though we were glad it was day time.

After a great lunch, for me at least (E had too much fried food), we had plenty of time, so we thought a trip along CA Hwy 1 would be a great coastal drive.  We stopped at Santa Cruz’s boardwalk on the north end of Monterey Bay and decided it was not worth fighting the crowds.  Back in the car, we continued along Hwy 1 to see plenty of cyclists and kite & wind surfers.  We made an impromptu stop at a lighthouse were we took some pictures and enjoyed the coastal views.  After some HEAVY traffic in Half Moon Bay for some festival, we finally made it to the airport area where we made a repeat visit to In N Out Burger and gassed up before the dreaded airport, where we now sit for 3 hours before our 5 hour red-eye flight.

16 October, 2009

{Honeymoon} Carmel & Monterey

We awoke to a slow morning after our late night dinner and drinking at Bernardus.  We did not leave the room until around 2, but we were still able to accomplish quite a bit of sightseeing.  The first stop was Carmel beach, which has beautiful seaside houses along tree lined roads, then drops down 10’ to sandy beach.  Next was a visit to the neighboring town of Monterey, where we stopped by the aquarium for the last hour and then walked Cannery Row, a once famous sardine canning section of town that has been converted to shops and restaurants.  Now that night had set in we headed back to Carmel for dessert at a little bistro with live music in the plaza square before going back to our hotel for a movie.

{Honeymoon} Dinner at Bernardus

Last night’s dinner deserves it’s own post.  When Eric was goggling things to do in Carmel, he noticed that a nearby winery was hosting their annual Anniversary Dinner, so he signed us up.
Upon arrival, we quickly discovered we were by far the youngest people there, and definitely the least experienced wine drinkers.  At least we have beer tasting experience, so we could “fake it” enough :)

The evening began with two wines paired with cheese and a prosciutto focaccia appetizer. After thirty or so minutes we were seated, by name card, in the ballroom.  The flower arrangements were stunning, complete with fresh grapes and grape vines.

The menus were at our seats, along with several sets of silverware and more wine glasses than I could count.  I’ve never sat at such a formal table (Katie, I thought about your table setting test - this would have been the crème de la crème).  We introduced ourselves to our neighbors and learned that we were among some “famous” people. One man did signal processing for the department of defense.  One man helped invent wine storage software for anyone from a individual collector up to places like the Bellagio. Another man was the head concierge at the Sheridan hotel in Maui (where the Buergler’s stayed for Christmases) and was presently studying for his level 2 sommelier exam.  Never mind that he also was a brew master for Sierra Nevada for a few years.  I have never met someone with such a rich food and wine vocabulary and working knowledge of flavors and pairings.  Impressive.

Needless to say, Eric and I felt like peons, but we warmly welcomed and found our company to be delightful.  We admitted our shortcomings and everyone at the table helped describe the food and wine to us. They even convinced me to eat fish! The man who had been the brew master and is now the sommelier was able to draw helpful parallels between the two worlds.

And now for the good stuff!  Dinner included:
Crab Salad
cucumber gazpacho, navel oranges, breakfast radish
Petrale Sole
kind david apple, chervil, creamy fennel sauce
Roasted Capon Leg <>
chanterelle mushrooms, currents, kadota fig, foie gras, black truffle
palate cleanser
Veal Rib-eye
chestnuts, brussel sprouts, house made bacon, cipollini onions
Pink Apple Panna Cotta
cinnamon stick creme anglaise, garden mint, spiced <>
Chocolate Sea Salt Cookies (to go)
Every bite was better than the last. The wines paired perfectly, even the sommelier agreed!  Our table was the last to leave, we all hugged and exchanged information - what good company! 
As we were leaving, the valet pulled around a brand new black Bentley.  Too bad we were going home in the Dodge Charger rental :)
Be sure to check out http://www.bernardus.com/lodge/ for a small sample of the views and service!

15 October, 2009

{Honeymoon} Carmel-by-the-sea

Last night Eric and I arrived at secret location #2: Carmel-by-the-Sea.  And yes, Aunt Keri, it is right next to the artichoke capital of the world!  After our tour of the Carriage House Inn, Eric and I found a nearby place for dinner.  The place we chose had outside dining with a fire place.  We had a great dinner and stayed cozy warm!

This morning we slept in and woke up to breakfast delivery.  With nothing on the agenda, we took our time eating & getting ready for the day.

We walked through most of Carmel before lunch.  The town reminds us of Highlands, but is a little bigger and includes some designer shops like Coach, J. Crew, and Anthropologie and dozens of art & antique galleries.  Eric’s doing his best to keep me from spending all our honeymoon money.  So far, only one gag-gift purchased!

Lunch was at a seafood restaurant the innkeeper recommended last night.  And then we walked through town again in search of the perfect snack.  We found a sweet shop and enjoyed one too many pieces of fudge.

Although the town & weather are perfect, the wedding/traveling exhaustion finally set in, so we spent much of the afternoon paying bills, watching CSI, and catching a little shut eye.  I finally made Eric call the rental car company to see what could be down about the broken splash guard the has been dragging along the road as we drive.  Good thing we called it an early day, because it’s taken Eric over an hour to remove it.

We have early dinner reservations in “the valley” (a surprise location to me), that I believe involves some wine!

14 October, 2009

{Honeymoon} Sequoia pt 2

I woke up this morning to Eric blinding me with sunshine as he opened the hotel curtains to find that it was no longer raining!  We quickly packed, ate, and were back in the car as to take full advantage of the sunny day.

First on our stop was the half mile hike around the General Sherman tree, largest tree in the world by volume. The tree was impressive, as were the dozens of trees of epic proportions.

Next we drove through a fallen tree.  Eric and I both thought it was going to be that we drove through the tree “long ways” but when we got there we were disappointed to find out that it was more like a true tunnel.  It was kind of lame.

Our last major stop before leaving Sequoia was to climb to the top of Moro Rock (437 stairs & 300 feet to be exact) to achieve an elevation of nearly 7000 ft.  The view was like nothing I’ve seen in the US.  In the ten minutes we stood atop the mountain, we saw the clouds roll up and over us - at some points blocking our view beyond two to three feet, yet just on the other side of us was a clear sunny view of the valley.  So strange.

We ate one last meal at Wuksachi Lodge, looked at a few more Facebook wedding albums, and began our road trip to....???

The drive (we’re still in the car) has been entertaining: grape farms, almond silos, llamas, cows on parade, mini-canals for farming, wind farms, small towns and random port-o-potties on the sides of mountains.

(By the way, the rock lodged under the car in yesterday’s video has caused us a little trouble today. We have the undercarriage of the car duct taped together since a screw or two fell out.  Ooops!)

13 October, 2009

{Honeymoon} Sequoia pt 1

The first of two days in the National Parks of Sequoia and Kings Canyon, we awoke to rain and cold.  As we tried to gear up for the inclement weather we both realized we were severely underprepared for rain (stupid forecast).  We set off nonetheless, determined to make the best of our honeymoon.  We drove back the way we had come in the previous night, thinking it would be much easier going even in the rain, but we quickly discovered snow/slush covered roads and had to go even slower.  We stopped at Kings Canyon Lodge for lunch and road updates and continued on to the Grant Tree, the nation’s Christmas Tree.  It is the widest tree in the world at 40’ wide and 3 largest by volume.  On the same short hike was the Fallen Monarch, which you can walk through (without bending over).  Even though the hike was only a third of a mile we returned to the car with legs that were completely soaked and hands that were on the verge of numbness. After that, we decided no more outside adventures, car only.

The next portion of the day was spent driving into Kings Canyon, a beautiful, craggy canyon complete with caverns, shrubbery, and a rushing river.  I (Eric) did my best to avoid all of the falling rocks and only failed once as one was lodged under the car.  The overlooks were wasted since they were filled with only the white of clouds, but the drive was gorgeous all the more.  After a long day of driving we made it to Grizzly Falls, where I ran for some pictures and we decided to turn back for the hotel.

After the long day of driving, I took a nap while Elizabeth edited videos and updated our blog.  Dinner was excellent, as was the company.

12 October, 2009

{Honeymoon} San Francisco

This morning Eric and I began our impromptu trip to San Francisco.  Instead of seeing the city on the last day, Eric rearranged things so we started out honeymoon there.

First we drove along the bay and found a small beach site to take pictures in front of the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz.  Of course we decided to put the camera on a rock and take a picture of us standing as close to the shore line as possible.  Fortunately the camera stayed still; the shoreline however was ever-fluctuating and during the 10-second self-timer, Eric and I got splashed by waves not once, but twice.  We started the day with wet jean cuffs, but with the car heat on full blast we dried out in no time.

Next up we drove down to the piers.  We walked down the street along the bay coast where all the piers jet off.  First we walked Fisherman’s Warf and ate mini-donuts from one of the snack shops.  Next we checked out the sea lions in the cove next to the pier and then we continued down the street to see the cruise ships docked.  There was a myriad of street entertainers and homeless with humorous signs including my favorite, “A band of evil ninjas killed my family – need money for kung fu lessons”

Along the piers we found a bakery that made critters out of sourdough bread and specialized in bread bowls, so we ate a tasty lunch with a great view of Alcatraz and the bay!  The crab and corn bisque I had for lunch rivals anything I ate in New England.

Before leaving San Francisco, we visited Ghirardelli Square for a tasty dessert and to see the dead end of the cable car line.  I am incredibly impressed with the road ways and the public transportation in the city.

Then began our 5+ hour adventure to our mystery location.  Eric did a great job navigating the many detours and he endured my singing along with every Miley Cyrus song on the radio   The roads were windy and foggy, but we finally made it here to the Wuksachi Village where we enjoyed a tasty organic, locally grown dinner.

I can’t wait to see the sites of the Sequoia National Forest in the daylight!  So far everything here has been beautiful!! 

11 October, 2009

{Honeymoon} Airport Mayhem

This morning Eric and I were sent off in style!  The Buergler’s hosted a brunch for us to visit with our family and out of town guests one last time before leaving for our honeymoon. 

As many of you know, Eric kept the honeymoon a complete surprise except for a brief packing list, weather forecast and the general destination of “California”.  For all I knew we could be skiing one day, swimming one day, and drinking wine another.  It wasn’t until our arrival at the ticketing counter and the sky cap said, “Two for San Francisco”

Tim drove us to the airport and joking said, “hope you don’t miss your flight” as he dropped us off, because Dan & Leeann missed their honeymoon flight.

Well, we did.  Thanks, Dad!

Our itinerary said 2:50 PM departure, but we quickly found out that the flight had been changed to 1:40.  Despite Eric’s best planning efforts, he cannot turn back time.  Alas, we had to change to a later flight.  We ended up on the last flight out scheduled for 7:02.

Since we had so many details to sort out with hotels, rental cars, and the airline, Eric and I thought it best to just stay at the Atlanta airport in anticipation of our flight.  This actually worked in our favor because we were able to spend a few hours visiting with some of our college friends also waiting on flights.

Our 7:02 flight finally boarded at 7:55 and departed at 8:30.  And the rest of our travels were uneventful, and as Aunt Jo says, “uneventful is a good thing!”

The first stop in California was In-and-Out Burger!  I am amused by the fact that you can get a combo meal at In-and-Out for cheaper than a tank of gas cost in California.

I can’t wait to see how the rest of our trip unfolds.  So far I know that tomorrow we’re going to sight see a little in San Francisco before we head to our real destination.

01 October, 2009

Party Like a Rock Star

Not to brag...

Okay, to brag.

I have quite the all star line of up clergy celebrating our wedding Mass. Never in my life would I have expected to know such holy and amazing men, or to have enough of a friendship with them to invite them to celebrate our Sacrament. To get an idea of just how much of rock stars they are check out this video from the Bishop's Ordination Mass on Tuesday, yeah...they're next to the Bishop & Archbishop in the procession. No big deal.

Party Like a Rock Star:

Austin - Seminarian
Dennis - Seminarian
Deacon Dennis - Chancellor of the Archdiocese of Atlanta; Director of Deacon Personnel
Deacon Leo - Director of Religious Education, St. Brigid
Fr. Exume - Parochial Vicar, St. Brigid (and one of the smartest men I know!)
Fr. Diosmar - Archbishop Gregory's Emcee
Msgr. Reynolds - Former Vicar General of the Archdiocese, present Pastor of St. Brigid