OOPS

Guys, I know I said it was travel week(s), but I've got a confession to make - I haven't felt like writing about traveling. Or, really, like writing about anything at all! I'm pretty wiped out after a couple stretches of being on the road, a visit from my parents, and a little cold...and I'm also watching "Master of None" and "Game of Thrones" with the roommates, reading a couple great books at the same time, and...oh yeah, in year-end at work. WOMP. 

Additionally, one of the big trips I was planning on writing about is our February vacation to Miami and Puerto Rico...and it feels a bit insensitive and callous to share gorgeous vacation photos knowing that both of those areas have been/are being slammed by hurricanes. I've been following the news lately and it's devastating...please consider donating to the American Red Cross or finding another way to aid these areas in recovery

I'll be hopping right back on the bandwagon after a weekend full of fun, but until I do, a few quick things to share: 

This week was official Stanford move-in week - classes start next week - and it's brought a completely different buzz to the entire area. Welcome to campus, Class of 2021, and welcome back to all the students! I can't believe it's been ten years since my family loaded up my dad's SUV and road-tripped to South Bend to move me into the smallest freshman double on North Quad...time flies. 

It may be the first day of fall, but in California it's always summer, right? Over Labor Day, the Bay Area hit temperatures of over 100 degrees, and I dealt the only way I know how...large quantities of ice-cold champagne. Our building's pool opened the week before the long weekend - perfect timing - and I barely got out of the pool all weekend. Perfect excuse to use more of Chandon's American Summer merchandise - the "champagne wetsuits" to keep my bottles cold, and the American Summer towel to dry off between dips!

Speaking of alcohol...when Dick Schweg comes to town, it invariably means there will be whiskey cocktails in my future. Dave shares my dad's affinity for whiskey, and while he was on call last weekend and couldn't join us, my dad and I officially hit the Changing of the Guard...time for a new bottle of Crown in our bar cart!

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I've taken a fair amount of teasing from friends for the snap, above, from this Tuesday's Taco Night family dinner at our apartment. One friend said "he doesn't even know if he has that many matching dishes," while another gave me grief for "getting my whole kitchen's worth of dishes dirty." Taking all the grief in stride, I think that food is extra-delicious when served out of matching bowls, and I have zero shame over the fact that I took five extra minutes to make our taco bar look good. Given we don't even have a dining table and eat around our coffee table/in front of the TV most nights...I'll call it a small victory. 

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And as always, a little Fiona to close out. You can tell Dave is secretly her preferred of the two auxiliary roommates - I've never come home to her cuddling MY shoes. Then again, I don't come home and immediately tell her, "YOU'RE AMAZING! YOU'RE PERFECT! I LOVE YOU!" like Dave does, either...hmm...

Happy Friday campers! Hope your first fall weekend is all full of pumpkin spice and everything nice! 

A Capitol week!

I had the best intentions of being really on top of things this week with all the travel posts I planned on putting up, but as usual I've been distracted by work, books, laundry, sleep, and starting "Game of Thrones"/finishing "Bachelor in Paradise" with the roomies. OOPS. Delayed gratification builds character, friends - really, I'm doing you all a favor. 

I spent last weekend and most of this week in Washington, DC for a work conference - and the ever-fabulous Kaitlin was willing to join me for a quick weekend adventure before the conference started! I planned on taking a red-eye Friday night that left San Francisco at 11pm and arrived in Baltimore at 7am. Imagine my horror when Laura dropped me off and, at bag drop, I was greeted with this news: 

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I was CRANKY, campers - I'm not a late-night person anymore, I had never taken a red-eye, and I was already exhausted from a super frantic week at work. What's a girl to do? First, buy some totally unnecessary but happiness-enhancing new perfume (I've gotten legit a dozen compliments on my choice, Jo Malone's Red Roses!). Then, hit the bar for the trifecta: bourbon, champagne, and books, duh. 

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After a few further delays, the most hellish ride in the back row of an airplane from the 90s with a child next to me, and zero sleep + another whole book, I landed in Baltimore and finally found this girl!

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We hadn't seen each other since my trip to Boston for the Shamrock Series in November of 2015 - I can't believe it had been that long, and weirdly, it didn't feel like it had been. Kait is the kind of friend with whom I can fall right back into our usual habits and rhythms - our inside jokes are never forgotten, our witty repartee is always fresh, and we have remarkably similar priorities for our time together. Namely, bottomless brunch. DC does an amazing thing in that they offer prix-fixe bottomless food AND alcohol at brunches, and we hit up Agora in Logan Circle for ours. Bottomless Mediterranean food and mimosas that, somehow, contained less and less orange juice as brunch wore on? Definitely recommend, friends. 

After brunch, we took a long digestive/exploratory stroll around Logan Circle down toward the monuments, and Kait came up with an amazing game: statue selfies! Below, a few faves, with Webster (of unknown origin/significance, but NOT the dictionary guy!) and my BOY Lafayette - he's taking this horse by the reins. 

The ultimate, however: the statue outside the National Geographic museum. OMG, A SHARK!

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Before we knew it, we had stumbled on this dump:

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We seriously didn't realize we were on Pennsylvania Avenue until we walked right into the barricades and were like "wait is this the White House? It's totally the White House." So we did what cool kids do and took a selfie. 

Honestly, I was surprised by how chill things were around #1600...with all the focus on DACA we had expected much more hubbub and maybe a protest or two. The crowd around the gates was comprised mainly of selfie-taking tourists, the lone exception a "Free Tibet" placard and this guy, which we spotted abandoned halfway to the Treasury:

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We had the best intentions of walking all the way to the Washington Monument, but the funny thing about 555-foot-tall obelisks is that they look deceptively close and tend to recede as you think you're approaching them. Instead of hoofing it all the way over, we surrendered, called an Uber outside the back of the Treasury Building, and headed back to our hotel for free happy hour. 

And here's where I totally become a shitty blogger: from the point when we took the photo above to the point when we took the photo below, I didn't take a single picture. What happened? We met up with our friend Michele from Notre Dame, who is an assistant principal in a DC school, and Kait's friend Andy from her Bmore days, who had recently moved to DC from LA. 

We had beers at Drafting Table, then met up with Michele's boyfriend and a few of Andy's friends to go to ChurchKey and watch the ND-Georgia game. After a few more beverages, a quick, late dinner, and freezing our asses off until the third quarter, we headed home to the comforts of our hotel, the Kimpton Rouge. 

A quick aside re: the Kimpton Rouge: Kait and I are pretty sure the theme was "bordello chic." The walls, as you can see below, were upholstered in red leather. There were twenty statues of the same coyly naked woman outside the entrance. The minibar was stocked with a "pleasure kit" (details NSFblog). And the suite we stayed in came with these bad boys: 

If THAT sight doesn't put you in the mood for romance, I don't know what will. Much hilarity was had. 

On Sunday, we slept in a bit and walked over to Dupont Circle for coffee and a breakfast sandwich, admiring street art along the way...

...and then, being true adults, we headed to the Smithsonian National Zoo! 

Not pictured: bonding with elephants from ten feet away; pandas taking the most adorable waddle around their enclosure ever; a baby orangutan that absolutely made my entire day with his antics. 

Pictured: a lioness brunch squad, and a golden tamarind aka the pet that I never knew I wanted (and definitely should never actually get to have). We spent over three hours walking around and people/animal-watching - it was an absolute blast. 

From the zoo, we walked to Adams-Morgan for a street festival, featuring the best "vegan" brownies I've ever had and plenty of art, street vendors, and live music. We met Michele again at El Tamarindo for jalapeno margaritas and pupusas, which are basically little tortilla Hot Pockets from heaven. Before we knew it, Kait had to head to Reagan to catch her flight and I had to head to National Harbor for my conference! 

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The fun wasn't done, though - we were invited by our independent consultants, Baker Tilly, to join them in their suite for a Nats game on Tuesday night! We started the evening in the Bullpen, an old shipping yard-turned outdoor beer garden...

...headed in with a gorgeous sunset and perfect weather to enjoy...

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...and got comfy in our suite, with pulled pork nachos, crab dip, a fondue fountain, and a fridge full of beer, wine, and champagne. Our view was incredible - the game, not so much (an 8-0 victory by the Braves). Highlight, for me? The Presidents' Race...I don't think I've laughed that hard or lost my shit quite so loudly with delight in a VERY long time. I tried to take a video, but I was laughing so hard that, on watching it back, it's near-impossible to tell what's actually going on. BOO! 

All that remained by Wednesday was to wrap up the conference and head to Dulles, where I very nearly bought my dad one of each of these sweet shirts: 

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...scored an empty middle seat...

...endured a terribly turbulent but undeniably pretty landing in San Francisco courtesy of Karl the Fog...

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...and made it home in time for the Bachelor in Paradise finale, two pounds of cupcakes, and plenty of bubbly to celebrate the second anniversary of this girl's twenty-ninth birthday! 

Excellent DC weekend - I'll definitely be back!

Christmas with the Redwoods

While we spent yesterday in wine country with friends, today we're heading just a bit south to the stunning Muir Woods, one of my family's favorite stops over the holiday trip to Northern California that started it all!

We were stumped as to what to do on Christmas Day - almost all the wineries were closed, and we knew most of the restaurants and attractions in San Francisco would be too. Emily had the brilliant idea to see if the national parks were open, and sure enough, they were - so we were up at the crack of dawn in our Sonoma Airbnb and at Muir Woods before they even officially opened! 

A word to the wise: if you are planning to visit Muir Woods, do plan to arrive early. The parking lots and road spaces tend to be filled as early as 9:30-10am on weekends and holidays, and there are no alternatives for parking in or near the forest. While there are shuttles, those, too fill up and it's better to arrive early and not have to deal with the hassle in the first place. 

It's fairly clear from our attire in these photos: the Schwegfam is not composed of hardcore hikers. We love nature...we are just generally poorly equipped to do crazy-intense hikes. We loved Muir because there was a really wide variety of trails, with a range of difficulty suited to the group. The main loop is a clear, paved path with signs and handrails - legit even a child or older person could handle it - but there are other, lengthier, more challenging loops that can be tackled too. We did a short one that ran parallel to and above the main trail and really enjoyed it. 

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As for the redwoods - words can't do them justice, and I feel like a sad imitation of a writer even trying to do so. I had read plenty about the redwoods over the course of my life, but to be honest I couldn't even have told you the difference between a redwood or a giant sequoia. Muir Woods had great educational information scattered throughout the park, and I geeked out hard throughout our hike (stroll). Who's surprised? Nobody. 

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The sheer height and scale of the redwoods can't be captured on camera - or at least not on my iPhone. Christmas morning was cold and misty, and the woods were utterly silent when we headed in. The peace and quiet created a truly otherworldly atmosphere, one that left me completely in awe of what we were seeing and experiencing. 

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As we explored, the sun peeked through and burned off the fog, and the day got warmer. Watching the sun filtering through the trees - absolutely gorgeous. We made approximately a hundred jokes about finding the perfect Christmas tree and having a "Muiry" Christmas courtesy of Emily, but we also all constantly repeated how stunning the scenery was. 

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As the day wore on, the woods got much more crowded and hectic - and we got a little sick of the chatter and tourist traffic jams. So we headed out of the woods and over to Muir Beach for a change of scenery! 

The beach was blustery and cloudy, and far less crowded than the woods - definitely not swimsuit weather, but the views of the Bay were ridiculous. I would certainly not hate having a little beach shack there...right?!

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Looking back, I'm probably sentimentalizing this quite a bit, but I think this is about when I started to maybe percolate the idea of heading west. The clouds over the bay were illuminated from behind by the sun, creating a hazy mid-afternoon sky that looked almost twilit. With the salt wind blasting my face and my toes so cold they were numb, it hardly seemed like an idyll - but that wild, severe, varied beauty was something I hadn't experienced like this before. 

I'm not going to assign more emphasis to this than I should, but I think there's something about redwoods and the ocean around here that makes everything seem amazing and possible and just a little bit fantastical. 

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A wine country 30th!

One of my favorite things about living in the Bay Area is that it's such a magnet for people to come visit...especially wine country! I think I've gotten a bit of a reputation for being a wine country fiend (shocking, huh?), and so many friends have reached out to let me know they'll be in town and want to get together. 

A few weeks ago, my friend Carly was out for her 30th birthday with her family and a few close friends, and invited me up for a weekend of wine tasting in Sonoma. Naturally, I couldn't say yes fast enough, so Saturday morning found me unloading an obscene amount of wine and cheese and taking in this amazing view...

I actually met Carly and her husband Carl (I KNOW, dead from the cute) in the weirdest set of circumstances - at the Minnesota Opera Symphony Ball last June through MIchael, who went to law school with both of them! We ended up joining their family for the night, including midnight cocktails at the speakeasy across the street, and Carly and I rapidly struck up a friendship based primarily on our love of champagne. 

Where better to cement that love than at Domaine Chandon?! I'm starting to feel like Chandon is my "backyard winery:" I've been up there half a dozen times in the three months I've lived in California, to the point where I recognize the entire tasting room staff. It's such a fun spot - and the group agreed!

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We enjoyed a fantastic tasting in the private garden area, including the Etoile Brut, their Carneros pinot noir, and a few champagne cocktails courtesy of our tasting host! Several members of our crew joined the wine club, and I left having ordered two more cases of Em's summer bottles for my parents (as well as with my August wine club shipment!). 

Our second stop was Honig in Napa, for an outdoor tasting of sauvignon blanc and cabernet. I loved the adorable signage they had for our group, and we really enjoyed the cab (though our first sauv was not to anyone's liking). 

One of the highlights of being in Napa on the cusp of harvest season is that the grapes are nearly ready to go - and Honig was excited to show that off! They clipped a few grapes for our group to enjoy, and invited us to take a stroll back into the vineyards that ran up against the patio for more samples. It was one of those "what, this is my life?!" moments for sure. 

The hands-down unanimous highlight of the day, however, was stop #3 at Flora Springs, where we had one of the best experiences I've had thus far in wine country. The winery has a fascinating history, and has been family-owned since its founding in the 1970s. 

After starting off with a little chardonnay in the tasting room, we were unleashed into the vineyards to taste their single-vineyard Malbec grapes, alongside their single-vineyard Malbec itself...the circle of life in action, ha! 

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Once we'd finished the vineyard tasting, our guide took us into the 13,000 square feet of underground wine caves...fun fact, there's no property tax on caves in California since they pay tax on the land above! 

While in the caves, we did a barrel tasting - one young Cabernet out of a French oak barrel, and one out of an American oak barrel. The difference was apparent, and fascinating - which spurred a length conversation about the philosophy of barrels affecting taste in wine in general, and how that's viewed in the wine community. 

From the caves, it was back to the tasting room to try some of the best wine I've ever consumed. Flora Springs specializes in cabernet, and we were lucky enough to try a few of their highest-grade bottles. From their "Wild Boar" single vineyard cabernet to their world-renowned "Trilogy" and, best of all, one of the last 50 bottles of their 40th-anniversary cabernet, every bottle was a revelation and the appreciation around the table was universal. I'm pretty sure every one of us joined the wine club that day - well worth it for one of the most personalized, special experiences I've had yet in wine country.

Once our tastings wound down, we headed back to the houses for champagne, cheese and charcuterie on the deck, followed up by an enormous amount of pizza and, you guessed it, more wine. Before I knew it, it was past midnight, we had listened to Keith Urban's "The Fighter" no less than a dozen times, and everyone was ready to crash hard. 

We spent all day Sunday in downtown Sonoma, starting off with a ridiculously yummy brunch at Girl and the Fig. I'm frankly still fantasizing about the chocolate-dipped balsamic figs, thank you very much. 

From brunch, we walked around the corner to Sigh's gorgeous new champagne tasting room. My inner basic bitch lost it over the champagne quotes on the mirrors, the wall of champagne cage caps in the bathroom, and the fact that they had Lelarge Pugeot (one of my favorites from our Champagne trip!) on the menu. Definitely a place I'll be returning to! 

Our final stop before everyone had to head to airports: Pangloss Cellars, where I fell hard for their gorgeous tasting room - as a "Candide" lover, let's be real, there was no way I wasn't going to love the place. 

Though we were all stuffed from brunch, we found room for food and wine pairings...the things we must do to enjoy good wine, ugh! Carly and I split a wine-and-crostini pairing that was presented so beautifully I couldn't help but be that girl taking photos of her food. 

With my stomach full of food and my blood type pretty much just cabernet at that point, we loaded into cars and went our separate ways - but what a wonderful weekend with great friends, new and old! Already looking forward to the Lund-Numrich-Bowman-Camarata crew's next trip out west - they are a blast to travel with! 

It's Travel Week(s) at MinneapoLiz!

I just spent my weekend rampaging through Washington DC with Kaitlin – a much needed reunion, as we hadn’t seen each other since Boston 2015. WHAT?! That got me thinking – I’ve been fortunate enough to go on some seriously kickass trips in the last year or so, and I’m terrible about actually chronicling those trips. Since I’m out of town (and will be busy with a national conference for the next several days), I’m officially declaring it MinneapoLiz Travel Week(s)!

Going back through my photos, I never touched on the Norway portion of last summer’s Scandinavia trip, which is egregious (because Norway was my FAVE part of that trip). So that’s getting covered for sure, along with the rest of last winter’s trip to Northern California (before this move was even a thought in my head!! AHHH!)…and this February’s Miami and Puerto Rico trip for Josh and Tash’s wedding. I’m also finally going to post photos from the Schwegfam Cali trip this July…I hate posting on such a lag, but it’s worth waiting for Emily’s pro-quality camera’s gorgeous photos. And finally, of course, DC shenanigans…because with Kaitlin and me, there WERE obviously shenanigans. (And mimosas.)

Can’t wait to show off some of my favorite adventures with my favorite people!