Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Freshman Car Wash - Andrew Christian Style

Check out what my Blue Ford Focus was up to on Monday...

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Boom

Oh, the Places You'll Go at Burning Man!

Can't wait to go...

Monday, January 2, 2012

New Years Trip: Days 6 & 7: Family Visit and Return Home

There isn't too much to say about our sixth day of travel as most of the traveling was from the sofa to the goody tray, occasionally to the restroom, and back to the sofa. It was a family day, spent enjoying each other's company. We ate a bunch of delicious holiday goodies, and drank warming brandy drinks.

Embarrassing losses: Rummikub twice to my sister, Apples to Apples once to David. The pictionary game was a forfeit on all sides. Notable accomplishments include: consumed three glasses of wine, a huge slab of delicious prime rib, six slices of two kinds of fruitcake, four pieces of fudge, and two Irish coffees and a Tom & Jerry.

We just talked, and chatted, and gabbed, and gossiped, and caught up, chewed the fat, shot the breeze, talked some smack, and made kindling from the throw pillows (pretty sure that last one is a Native American term). There was no drama, just laughter and fun. It is interesting to consider family dynamics and how they have developed over the years. My nieces and nephew are grown (they are at very least adult-like and/or close enough), and this is the first holiday season without my grandpa, who died at the end of August. That also means that Patsy was able to travel as she often stayed in Elko so grandpa wasn't alone. It was just good for everyone to be together.

Day 7 began with a quick breakfast at my sisters (bagels and smoked salmon (the salmon caught by Ron, smoked by Jill--delicious!), whereafter we packed up some xmas gifts and departed exactly on time.

There wasn't anything particularly notable about the return trip with the exception of our route. We took the 395 back to Los Angeles which is a lovely drive, but not one you would want to make in the winter, without chains or snow tires, anyway. This year, however, there was no snow at all. There were a few small skiffs near Mammoth, but the remaining landscape was barren and wintry sans a blanket of snow. Good for driving, but bad for picturesque wintry landscapes. Regardless of this, there were many vista points and we took advantage of them all.

We stopped in Bishop at the world-famous Eric Schat's Bakkery. And apparently someone mentioned this to the world since most of the regional population was here including passers-by and most of Phoenix. The sandwiches were okay. The bread is good, but it doesn't play a huge part. Uniformly thin-sliced and very light, it is easily over powered by the sandwich contents. The clam chowder was just awful. We all agreed the memory of fisherman's wharf and the clam chowder sampling had stomped this thin, flavorless, generally "not good" clam chowder back into its shell.

This bakkery, or as we say in America, bakery, is full of various breads, plain, savory, and sweet. Buy the bread and just get a to-go sandwich. If you want to stand in the line, which is probably not that bad on a non-holiday weekend, there are many sandwiches, hot and cold, to choose from. They have a deal on half a sandwich and soup, but only certain sandwiches qualify, so be read carefully or you will end up like me, saddled with 16 ounces of boring clam chowder, and paying for it ala carte. Options are limited in Bishop, since the other option was KFC. Choose the Bakkery.

We drove along the sierras as the light faded, and all details of the foothills became a mountainy silhouette against a purply bluish sky. The sunset was lovely, reinforced the promised 84 degree January day tomorrow. We returned safe and sound to our homes and cars which were thankfully not burned by the mentally ill angry German tourist.

It was a wonderful trip and we had a lot of fun with David, Beth, and our new and old friends, as well as getting to share some great food and delicious wines and yummy holiday treats. Here's to new and delicious adventures in 2012.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

New Year's Trip: Day 5: San Fran to Reno and Happy New Year!

We had to be up in time to meet our friend Josh for breakfast in San Francisco. We followed Aprille's recommendation to visit Mama's, a breakfast cafe that always has a line. We waited for an hour and a half, and it was nice because we took that opportunity to talk with Josh and catch up. It is always a little difficult if the restaurant is too efficient because you're trying to talk while voraciously cramming omelets in your face. As we got to second in line, a man exiting the restaurant with his family said to everyone in line, "it's worth it!" A boost! Luckily it was a nice sunny day in the city, despite being winter.

It took almost another half hour to get seated, but in the meantime we placed our order and got a breakfast bread, some crumb cake and a sour cream blueberry cake (they were both really soft and scrumptious). When we got up to the counter the guy in charge of the register told us the longest line was between three and four weeks--seriously, though 3 hours.

I ordered an Italian omelet with garlic jack cheese mushrooms fresh basil and pancetta. Gregory ordered another Benedict, this one with prosciutto and tomatoes over an English muffin. I don't know if it was the wait, or anticipation, but the food was really good.

Overall, Mama's was amazing, but I don't know if I want to do this again. Mostly because there are a million restaurants of similar quality in San Francisco, and I feel like I should exhaust all the other options before I start a revisitation tour. If I happen by again and the line isn't too long, I can see myself jonesing for an order of one of their many signature French Toasts.

We had a fairly long drive to Reno and so we said farewell to Josh and left for our next stop: lunch! ...in Sacramento. After a couple of hours we weren't hungry at all, but nonetheless met a friend of David's at Bernardo's Cafe. It was nice afternoon with some nice conversation with Corey, as Gregory and I split a grilled salmon sandwich and sipped a, get this: hot apple chai. After lunch was over, I got a soy latte to go and Gregory got a regular chai latte to go. Neither were particularly exciting. We enjoyed the sandwich, but their drinks need some work.

We said goodbye to Corey and to San Francisco and headed to Reno. The drive was without incident and we didn't stop again until we got to a rest stop at Donner Summit, just above Reno. Basically we stopped in order to fulfill the tradition of eating a tourist. The hunt was quick, the kill was clean and the tourist was delicious, but we didn't want to fill up on the ultimate game. My sister had just texted to let me know she had picked up some Papa Murphy's take and bake pizza for dinner. I love Papa Murphy's and am sad there isn't one in the Los Angeles area. For a while there was one up in Ventura, but a four-hour round trip is a bit far, no matter how good the pizza.

We arrived to my sister's lovely home, and were excitedly greeted by Beth the dog. Sad that Beth the human wasn't with us, but at least we had an equally gregarious "Beth-entity" to fill the void. Being New Year's Eve, we played games (board games, not emotional mind games) and drank warming drinks, and just before midnight we broke out the funny hats, and champagne and counted down with Ryan Seacrest and Dic Clark, who had been dug up and reanimated just in time to ring in 2012. Then we blew the noise makers and banged pots and pans. My dad didn't bring his black powder rifle this year, though, so no deafening blast. We would have to count on our vibrant air horns and loud fashion to compensate.

2011 was a pretty good year, but I'm looking forward to 2012. I feel it is going be even more interesting and rewarding year. Even if it ends in a zombie apocalypse, it sure will make next year's Christmas interesting, "Oh brains! You shouldn't have... nom, nom, nom."

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