Monday, June 3, 2013

Jackie D in Da House

Good Afternoon Ladies & Gentlemen,

Here's a quick breakdown of how the week has gone...

Saturday – Dizzy & I picked up Jackie D at SFO airport then headed straight for brunch at Magic Flute in Pacific Heights. I’ve been here before & it’s a pretty good place… and everybody seemed to like what they got. Next stop was bottomless mimosas at Café Avellino (not just good for pizza) so we put down a few decanters while catching up & kind of plotting out the week as far as what we wanted to do.
After drinks, we wandered over to the Palace of Fine Arts where Dizzy told us of an exhibition of fellow students from the Academy of Art. The exhibit is located in the former building for the Exploratorium (they moved a few months ago) and was very interesting… here are some pictures…

After the exhibit, we checked Jackie D into the Hotel Adagio, which I had never seen before but was actually a very nice place. They just underwent a pretty major renovation & it appears to have paid off well. Reasonably priced too… and they apparently hooked her up with a nice view since she was staying for a week (and Game recognize Game of course).
Sunday – Though Jackie D had spent a few months living in the city, she really didn’t get to see much of the surrounding area. About the only trip that she took was our road trip to LA the weekend before she left. So the next few days, I was pretty much determined to show her some of the beauty of the Northern California area. First stop was a quick three-hour road trip to Lake Tahoe. Along the way, listened to Jay-Z which I guess is kind of our road tripping thing… for LA it was “The Blueprint”, for road trip from Vegas to the Grand Canyon it was “Watch the Throne” and for this one “The Blueprint III”.
Our first stop was Fifty Fifty Brewery for some fine ales & chicken wings. The weather was absolutely gorgeous. Sun was out, not a cloud in the sky, gentle breeze through the pine trees, good stuff. First stop after lunch was The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe to show her how the other half lives… and now she wants to go back to spend a few nights.
The next destination was “My Spot” which is featured on half of the postcards for Lake Tahoe (the other half being Emerald Bay) and basically when I was living in Truckee, it was my place to go & just reflect on things, whether sunny day, sunset, snow, whatever. We grabbed a couple of tall boys along the way & just relaxed on the beach, putting our toes in the sand. She tried the water but… it’s late May, so you can easily see how the water is snow runoff.

Next was a stroll to a few places along the main road of Truckee (Donner Pass Road) for food & souvenirs. Jackie D bought a nice placard for herself that read “Be a Lady & Drink Whiskey”. Chu’ch! The drive back was right around sunset so we got to see that in the distance through the foothills & conifers. It was a pretty amazing day.
Monday – We (Dizzy, Jackie D & myself) went on another road trip to Sonoma in the heart of Wine Country. We again stayed at the beautiful Renaissance Lodge at Sonoma (shameless plug for a great property) and spent the remainder of the daylight going to various wineries for tastings. First up was Gloria Ferrer, which you may recall from our previous trip with C-Real. The tasting area is on a nice patio overlooking their vineyard & we enjoyed a few flights. The weather on Monday wasn’t great… but hey, even bad weather in wine country isn’t that bad.
Next stop was Jacuzzi Winery and we ended up buying a bottle of their chardonnay. Now, I know what you’re probably thinking… “$teve, you’ve talked about drinking this whole extended weekend… involving road trips… and you also think that drunk drivers should be tarred & feathered. Just to be clear, am I missing something?” Yes, you are. I drink responsibly 99.9% of the time… and I’m blessed with the ability to realize when I should absolutely not be driving a motor vehicle even when I’m well within the legal standards. However, I’m a large man… these drinks were consumed at a snail pace over many hours… there was a lot of walking in between… but you don’t want to hear about all that. Trust me, I got this.
Next stop was a little tasting area for Keating Vineyards… and yeah, it was okay… just a small space in a little strip mall kind of area with sculpture gardens. After that, it was getting to be dinner time… so Dizzy had to go to work but Jackie D & I went to Sonoma Square for some beer & food at Murphy’s Irish Pub. We had some of their 50-50 sliders (half beef, half bacon), shepherd’s pie & pulled pork sandwich. All were pretty excellent.
Next we went to a place called HopMonk a few blocks away and basically watched Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals to see my San Antonio Spurs complete their sweep of the Memphis Grizzlies. It was a pretty good game but the Spurs just proved too much for them, similar to the previous three. After the game, we stopped by a frogurt place & decided to walk back to the hotel (about a mile). Then the weather turned a bit & it started to rain… only a light drizzle… but because I hadn’t break my coat, my t-shirt was basically soaked when we got back. After that, we split the bottle of chardonnay from Jacuzzi & watched a little TV until Dizzy got back after work.
Tuesday – We had breakfast at the hotel’s restaurant… and it was decent. They know how to poach an egg & cook a pancake but nothing to really write home about. Then we were off for a little drive through Wine Country. We hadn’t gone outside of Sonoma on Monday so we took a little scenic drive out to Castillo di Amoroso to have a wine tasting in the castle’s dungeon… er, wine cellar.

Next stop was Sterling Vineyards to take the tram to the top, see the view, drink along the way & then drink more in a seated area. Here are some more pictures…

Afterwards, we ate some barbecue at Buster’s & started to head back to the city. The only catch was… apparently so did everybody else, so traffic was pretty ridiculous… on a Tuesday? Really? Oh well. That just meant that we pulled off at Merryvale Winery for another tasting for about an hour while we waiting for the streets to clear a bit during rush hour (and they were open until 6 PM). The server & I knew a few of the same people in my company so we chatted briefly about that & enjoyed some fine wine in their place. Here are some pictures since it’s pretty much the only new one that we ventured to…
The best part about Wine Country is the experience while you’re drinking wine. Whether it’s a unique atmosphere like a castle… or a beautiful overlook of the valley while you sip… or riding a train through the Napa Valley… or clever conversation with a server… or just trying all of the different kinds to find what flavors you prefer… with the proper preparation, you can really get into the “wine culture” & enjoy yourself there. As long as you’re responsible in your travels & plan accordingly, you can have an amazing time in one of the pristine portions of the world. Dizzy & I have talked about opening a winery with our Scrooge McDuck-like masses of money but even if we can just visit in the meantime, it’s not a bad deal. I highly recommend it.
Wednesday – Back to work & of course there was plenty of work to be had upon my return. On top of the usual was a unique situation where I had to prepare for a coworker’s birthday party. “$teve, you know you have Lady’s birthday, right?” “Yup, next Tuesday, right?” “Actually… she’s leaving for vacation on Friday so… we kind of half to do it tomorrow.” “OH! Oh… okay… I can ugh… Totally… Yeah, I’ll get on that. Sorry, thought I had the weekend to prepare.” Luckily, my lovely ladyfriend Dizzy made a delicious chocolate mint cake with vanilla cream frosting (all I really know about Lady was her favorite ice cream was mint chocolate chip, so thought that would work) & some of ladies from work offered to help with decorating her office Thursday morning… so she was taken care of… and I got caught up on work for the most part. TEAMWORK!!!
After work, I met up with Jackie D at Rickhouse for some pre-movie drinks as I had scored some free preview passes to “This is the End”. However, apparently Jackie D had been there for about 3 hours… and she hadn’t eaten… and she was being bought drinks… so she was a little plastered when I met up with her. I didn’t even think that was possible. I had seen her put away booze that would destroy men twice her size… but alas, she was a little faded. No worries, I had a drink with her, then immediately took her to get some greasy food (Pizza Pomodoro’s personal meatlovers… she had most of two of them by my design) & then we went to the movie theatre just in time for the 7 PM start. About ten minutes in though, it was hitting her pretty hard… so she had to excuse herself. Long story short, she ended up going back to her hotel to rest.
It’s too bad because “This is the End” was the latest from Seth Rogan & Evan Goldberg (“Superbad” etc) and starred the likes of Craig Robinson, James Franco, Jay Baruchel, Jonah Hill, Danny McBride & basically half of Hollywood. The story is that Jay comes to visit Seth in LA (by the way, they all play themselves or version of them) and they decide to go to James Franco’s housewarming party. All of young Hollywood is there… drinks & drugs are being consumed… and then… the Apocalypse happens. The worthy are drawn up to Heaven, while everybody at the party is left to Hell on Earth. Now those left have to survive… and the gang posts up at James Franco’s house. It’s the usual R-rated comedy that you’d expect with a lot of celebrity cameos… but yeah, pretty hilarious though REALLY risqué humor. Luckily it fits my demographic quite well for a few cheap laughs. It’s not going to win any awards but I recommend it for a cheap fix.
After the movie, I took a cab home & relaxed by myself. Not for too long though, because I had an early morning planned.
Thursday – Up before 6 AM to head to work early & decorate a coworker’s office, but we got it done… and she loved it… and everybody loves Dizzy’s cake. After work, I met up with Jackie D and we headed over to Occidental Cigar Club because she had mentioned that she was looking for a cigar the previous day (while a little intoxicated) and found one of the few smoker-friendly environments in California. You know… non-marijuana smoker friendly. Good time, smelled like an old hunting lodge… clean whiskey & dirty livers… what you’d expect.
After a smoke & a drink, we headed over to Irish Bank for some grub, more beer & the first half of the Heat-Pacers in the Eastern Conference Finals to determine who was going to lose to the Spurs in the finals. Shepherd’s pie, Reuben sandwich, potato skins & beer… and good times were had. However, after dinner, I had to play the part of party pooper & head back to the apartment to meet the new roommate (and it had been a long day anyway).
Okay, so I got back… Batgirl had all of her stuff packed & placed in the living room… then she & Pixie were watching “Star Trek: The Next Generation” (the one with the Native Americans being moved from their planet apparently) and then the new roommate (Char Char) stopped by drop off some of her things with her boyfriend… so basically the living room was full at that point. Though not nearly as full as when I moved all of my stuff in during the overlap back over two years ago. She seems nice though it was really in & out. I’m excited… but a little sad to see Batgirl move on. Oh well… that’s how it goes.
Friday – After work, I met up with Jackie D & we went bar hopping a little bit. We filled up on Chipotle & a few beers (don’t hate) and then ended up at Bourbon & Branch for some cocktails in a speakeasy atmosphere. We actually hung out there for a few hours and… let’s just say scotch based drinks were my thing this evening. For about the last hour, I chatted up with the bartender while Jackie D wandered the room & met up with some young gentlemen. About the time Dizzy got off of work, we met up at Rickhouse… and Dizzy & I politely excused ourselves so that Jackie D could do her thang. Honestly I was kinda feeling like a 3rd wheel anyway… and I was buzzing pretty good.
Saturday & Sunday – Basically we just chilled respectively… Dizzy & I at my apartment, Jackie D at the hotel, we watched movies… and the ones that I saw will be on a future entry. Sunday morning, I drove Jackie D out to the airport, we said our goodbyes & already trying to figure out how we’re getting to the Maldives next year. Neither of us realize that it was in the Indian Ocean so it’s not really a hub for Delta or anything. I’m sure that we’ll figure out a way though. It was a great week having her around… and she got to relax a bit, which she really needed. Until next time Jackie D…
That was pretty much it… fantastic week with friends… hope you all enjoyed reading about it a tenth of what I enjoyed doing it. Have a great day everybody!!!

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