Monthly Archives: September 2014

Fiestas Patrias

Please forgive that this post is a day late. Oops.

September 18th always brings two words to mind: Fiestas Patrias, the Chilean holiday. Now, this wasn’t always the case. Growing up, I really didn’t know anything about Chile. I think I dressed up like a “typical” Chilean for some school culture project in fourth grade… or wait. I’m pretty sure I was a gaucho from Argentina, not Chile, but I’m not sure (a little help, Mom? Bonus points if you have pictures of awkward Jessica with those awesome huge glasses and buck teeth). I even pronounced Chile like the comfort-food soup chili. Ah, the shame.

Thankfully this all turned around while I was in college and decided to study abroad and eventually chose to go to Vina del Mar in Chile. For any college students out there: please please please consider studying abroad. I know I’m not alone when I say that studying abroad was the best experience from my college career (apart from meeting my husband, of course). I learned how to get around a new country all on my own while speaking Spanish filled with “cachai”, “poh”, and “bakan.” I was able to see a different part of the world and be part of a beautiful culture. I made my faith my own and found a wonderful church to go to for my five months in Chile. I learned how to do a long distance relationship with Chip. I made some truly wonderful friends with other students in my program. These friendships run deep and I am so thankful for them. I had one friend surprise me for my 21st birthday my senior year at Trinity and had a couple of super awesome girls come to our wedding three years ago.

I was lucky to study abroad in Chile during Fiestas Patrias, which meant several days off from school. My friend Caitlin and I decided that this was the perfect opportunity to travel to the Atacama Desert in the northern area of Chile, the driest non-polar desert in the world. After looking at travel options, we decided to take a 24-hour bus ride instead of fork over a little extra money for a flight. That’s right, 24 hours. Thankfully we had some movies on our bus (with no audio, but were accompanied by our own commentary) to watch and some wonderful 90s sing alongs to keep us entertained (a favorite was I’ll Stand By You). We were meeting a couple of other friends up in the Atacama Desert and had a great time exploring the driest desert in the world.

Naively excited for our 24 hour bus rides

Naively excited for our 24 hour bus rides

Traveling light? Maybe.

Traveling light? Maybe.

This seemed like an adequate amount of space at first

This seemed like an adequate amount of space at first

A little tired the next morning on the bus... I totally forgot about my old red glasses.

A little tired the next morning on the bus… I totally forgot about my old red glasses.

Soooo ready to be done with the bus

Soooo ready to be done with the bus

In San Pedro de Atacama for Fiestas Patrias

In San Pedro de Atacama for Fiestas Patrias

San Pedro de Atacamas

San Pedro de Atacamas

San Pedro de Atacamas

San Pedro de Atacamas

Freezing our bums off at El Tatio Geysers

Freezing our bums off at El Tatio Geysers

El Tatio

El Tatio

Leaving El Tatio

Leaving El Tatio

On the tour later in the afternoon

On the tour later in the afternoon

Part of the tour of Valle de la Muerte and Valle de la Luna

Part of the tour of Valle de la Muerte and Valle de la Luna

Part of the tour of Valle de la Muerte and Valle de la Luna. The landscape was so stunning.

Part of the tour of Valle de la Muerte and Valle de la Luna. The landscape was so stunning.

Part of the tour of Valle de la Muerte and Valle de la Luna

Part of the tour of Valle de la Muerte and Valle de la Luna

Part of the tour of Valle de la Muerte and Valle de la Luna

Part of the tour of Valle de la Muerte and Valle de la Luna

Further north in Iquique, Caitlin and I went paragliding. I'll spare you the pictures where we look a little less confident...

Further north in Iquique, Caitlin and I went paragliding. I’ll spare you the pictures where we look a little less confident…

Paragliding in Iquique

Paragliding in Iquique

And now prepare for more Chile photos because now I’ve become plenty nostalgic on this wonderful and at times challenging semester abroad. Here are a couple of other more luxurious blog posts on Chile that I’ve loved reading from Lesley Murphy and Ker & Downey. Please let me know if/where you studied abroad or if you’ve ever visited Chile before! Viva Chile!

Part of our orientation in Olmue

Part of our orientation in Olmue

Exploring neighboring city Valparaiso

Exploring neighboring city Valparaiso

Exploring neighboring city Valparaiso

Exploring neighboring city Valparaiso

Exploring neighboring city Valparaiso

Exploring neighboring city Valparaiso

Out in the bay of Valparaiso

Out in the bay of Valparaiso

My dog friend at the botanical gardens in Vina del Mar

My dog friend at the botanical gardens in Vina del Mar

Taxi ride after arriving in Cajon del Maipo

Taxi ride after arriving in Cajon del Maipo

Cajon del Maipo

Cajon del Maipo

Cajon del Maipo... CBuck and I always ate well together

Cajon del Maipo… CBuck and I always ate well together

Cajon del Maipo

Cajon del Maipo

Cajon del Maipo

Cajon del Maipo

Cajon del Maipo

Cajon del Maipo

Cajon del Maipo

Cajon del Maipo

Cajon del Maipo

Cajon del Maipo

Cajon del Maipo

Cajon del Maipo

Cajon del Maipo

Cajon del Maipo

Cajon del Maipo

Cajon del Maipo

One of the highlights to my semester abroad was when my mom came to visit and we traveled to Peru together

One of the highlights to my semester abroad was when my mom came to visit and we traveled to Peru together

The ruins of Ollantaytambo

The ruins of Ollantaytambo

Machu PIcchu with mom

Machu PIcchu with mom

Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu

I loved the llamas of Machu PIcchu

I loved the llamas of Machu PIcchu

Machu Picchu, day two

Machu Picchu, day two

Machu Picchu, day two

Machu Picchu, day two

Celebrating my 20th birthday

Celebrating my 20th birthday

The entire COPA Program

The entire COPA Program

Our great Spanish class with Jorge

Our great Spanish class with Jorge

With Elsie's fabulous host mom, Angelica

With Elsie’s fabulous host mom, Angelica

End of the semester with Katie and Caitlin

End of the semester with Katie and Caitlin

End of the semester with Vivi, Claudio, Katie, Pame, and Caitlin

End of the semester with Vivi, Claudio, Katie, Pame, and Caitlin

Love these girls

Love these girls

My fellow gringos at Union Church

My fellow gringos at Union Church

With our Chilean friends at Union Church

With our Chilean friends at Union Church

With Pastor Richard at Union Church

With Pastor Richard at Union Church

At the end of the semester, Katie and I traveled south together

At the end of the semester, Katie and I traveled south together

Getting cold in Puyehue

Getting cold in Puyehue

In Puyehue

In Puyehue

Reading outside our cabin in Puyehue

Reading outside our cabin in Puyehue

Puyehue

Puyehue

Ziplining in Puyehue

Ziplining in Puyehue

Another stray dog friend in Pucon

Another stray dog friend in Pucon

River rafting in Pucon

River rafting in Pucon

It got a little intense... we all ended up outside of the raft (except for the guide)

It got a little intense… we all ended up outside of the raft (except for the guide)

Being lifted back into the raft

Being lifted back into the raft

Post rafting experience with a nice ankle injury

Post rafting experience with a nice ankle injury

Caitlin and I in the Dallas airport after our flight from Chile

Caitlin and I in the Dallas airport after our flight from Chile

With Kam and Caitlin at our wedding. Kam caught the bouquet!

With Kam and Caitlin at our wedding. Kam caught the bouquet!

By golly, Miss Molly

It’s been a while since we last fostered a dog. Almost a year and a half, to be exact. Chip and I had been talking about fostering sometime soon when one of my old co-workers Annaliz texted me about a sweet, young lab named Molly (formerly named Raisin… I know, not the best dog name). She had been fostering Molly for a few weeks and asked if we would be willing to bring her into our home. Annaliz mentioned that Molly seemed like the female version of Duke, our very first foster dog. Once she said that, I knew we didn’t stand a chance at saying no. We had to foster this dog.

I picked up Molly from Annaliz’s house three weeks ago. She was so timid and terrified to leave her comfort zone, which was Annaliz’s backyard. We eventually got her into my car and she did alright on the short drive home. Chip was waiting for us when we got to the house and had put Wrigley in our bedroom so he wouldn’t overwhelm Molly as she walked in the door. We led her outside to the backyard and gave her some time to explore and sniff things out before we let Wrigley join her outside. Thankfully, they have gotten along great since we brought Molly home. It’s been so sweet to see how Wrigley has (unintentionally, of course) taught her how to be a dog. Without him, I don’t think she would be learning to trust us as quickly or even figured out the doggy door.

By golly, Miss Molly

By golly, Miss Molly

Molly has shown so much improvement over the last three weeks. She’s always been happy to play with Wrigley, but she gets so much more excited now when we let him out of our room every morning and they go outside together. If anyone is looking for a second dog to keep another pup company, Molly is the one for you. We’re slowly getting to see more of her goofy personality, which includes shaking her head and flapping her ears whenever she gets excited, carrying her food bowl around outside to whichever spot she prefers to eat from, pouncing after the birds in our yard (maybe she’s a hunting dog!), and wrestling with Wrigley.

 

Ready to play

Ready to play

During her first couple of weeks here, she was terrified to be inside the house with us. She would come in through the doggy door, but if either Chip or I walked into our living room, it was like she couldn’t run back outside fast enough. We gave her the first couple of weeks to do things on her own time, but recently started bringing her inside in the evenings and closing the doggy door behind her so she can’t escape to the backyard. Nothing like a little forced family time, right? But we really do think it has helped her get used to our voices and realize that it’s normal for us to come in and out of rooms and that everything will be fine. She now comes in on her own and naps while we go about our daily routines, instead of staring back at us with huge, dilated eyes. We still haven’t got her to spend a night inside the crate, but she’s been great sleeping on her new dog bed and hasn’t had a single accident inside.

Yesterday was a big day for Molly – we took her on her first walk with us. I’m a big fan of the Easy Walk harness so I quickly ordered one for her and after getting in the mail last week, we decided to go on a walk together yesterday morning. Chip got the car ready with dog blankets and waited outside with Wrigley while I (slowly) got Molly in her harness. She was pretty skeptical and froze when it was time to get in the car (Chip had to carry her in), but we eventually made our way down to Blue Star. We love the path there along the River and thought it would be calmer than walking her at a park. Considering that she was shaking the first few minutes in the car and had her tail tucked under when we started our walk, she ended up loving the morning. It didn’t take long for her to enjoy sniffing along the path next to Wrigley and wagging her tail as we finished our two mile walk. So glad we had that little 24-hour taste of Fall weather for a nice, cool walk and an afternoon of the dogs napping inside with the windows open.

Starting to enjoy the walk

Starting to enjoy the walk

Check out that smile on Molly's face

Check out that smile on Molly’s face

Don't worry, Wrigs. You're still the beloved first born.

Don’t worry, Wrigs. You’re still the beloved first born.

She’s still learning her name, and she’s still hesitant to come up to us, but she’s always wagging her tail when we talk to her and is slowly learning to trust us. She’s a sweet dog and we can’t wait to see her find a forever home.

Farewell, Napa and SF

Finally, it’s here! The last post on our vacation to California back in August! If you missed any posts, here are parts one, two, three, four, five, and six. I could have sworn I just wrote four posts. Whoa. Six? Maybe next time I’ll take fewer pictures and take less time to write about our trip. Mm, probably not.

Thursday was the last day of our vacation. We had one final breakfast at Oxbow (shocker, I know) and let me tell you, I really miss those C Casa breakfast tacos. I know San Antonio has breakfast tacos at just about any restaurant, but these were so different from what we have here. Don’t worry, fellow San Antonians, I won’t be turning down any bacon and egg tacos anytime soon. Unless, of course, C Casa opens up a location here in town.

Now that's a breakfast taco

Now that’s a breakfast taco

Mom at breakfast

Mom at breakfast

Another of my "alright, Chip, put the camera down" faces

Another of my “alright, Chip, put the camera down” faces

My dad does breakfast right

My dad does breakfast right

After breakfast, we got the car loaded up and started the drive back to San Francisco. We made really good time before our flight back in the afternoon, so we were able to have one last meal at Tacolicious as well as do some sight seeing around Ghirardelli Square and Fisherman’s Wharf before heading to the airport.

Foggy view on the Golden Gate Bridge

Foggy view on the Golden Gate Bridge

With my mom at Ghirardelli Square

With my mom at Ghirardelli Square

My dad loves selfies

My dad loves selfies

Exhibit A

Exhibit A

Exhibit B - taking a selfie with my mom

Exhibit B – taking a selfie with my mom

IMG_5001

Last year, we put our feet in the Atlantic Ocean. This year, it was the Pacific. And it was cold.

Last year, we put our feet in the Atlantic Ocean. This year, it was the Pacific. And it was cold.

Really cold

Really cold

Really, really cold

Really, really cold

Dad wasn't phased by the cold water

Dad wasn’t phased by the cold water

Neither were these (crazy) swimmers

Neither were these (crazy) swimmers

I am my father's daughter

I am my father’s daughter

Farewell, California

Farewell, California

In case you couldn’t tell from all of these pictures and somewhat lengthy posts, we had a really great time on this vacation. If you haven’t visited Northern California before, you should try to make it out there sometime! I promise  you won’t be disappointed.

Wednesday in Napa: Frog’s Leap and Mumm

When my mom and I started planning this year’s family vacation to Napa, she asked if there was any winery Chip and I had visited during our anniversary trip last year that we would want to go back to. It was an easy answer for us: Frog’s Leap. We really enjoyed our time at this winery last October and appreciated how relaxing it was, how beautiful their grounds are, and how great their wine was (and more affordable than other wineries!).

Frog’s Leap was booked on Monday and Tuesday, so we made reservations for our tasting tour on Wednesday morning. We started the day off with breakfast at Oxbow again before we made the drive out to Frog’s Leap in Rutherford (where wines are known to be “dirtier”). We got there a little before our 10:00 tour started, so that gave us time to walk around the grounds, which seemed to have more flowers and garden space since our visit last year.

There was another family in our tour group and we had a great time touring the grounds and seeing their wine barrel room with them. With this being our third winery of the trip, it was really interesting to see how each of them differ in their wine making process, from whether or not they irrigate their vines (most don’t, when the vines have to “work” to get to water, you typically yield more quality vs quantity grapes), to how many times a single barrel is used to age wine.

No other vineyard compares to the beautiful grounds at Frog's Leap

No other vineyard compares to the beautiful grounds at Frog’s Leap

Our tour guide encouraged us to try a couple of grapes from the vines while we were out on the property (not that we needed any encouragement). We were there a few days before the harvest started, so we were lucky the grapes were still out on the vines for us to see (and taste!).

Slightly overexposed, but I love the colorful wildflowers at Frog's Leap

Slightly overexposed, but I love the colorful wildflowers at Frog’s Leap

They have an amazing garden at Frog's Leap, here's the garlic they had recently harvested.

They have an amazing garden at Frog’s Leap, here’s the garlic they had recently harvested.

Testing out my lighting with my very willing subject

Testing out my lighting with my very willing subject

My dad could totally live on a vineyard

My dad could totally live on a vineyard

At the end of the winery tour

At the end of the winery tour

At Frog's Leap last year...

At Frog’s Leap last year…

And now this year!

And now this year!

Checking out the different fruit trees... can our garden look like this, please?

Checking out the different fruit trees… can our garden look like this, please?

Our chicken friends

Our chicken friends

We didn't want to leave Frog's Leap

We didn’t want to leave Frog’s Leap

I also didn't want the wine samples to end...

I also didn’t want the wine samples to end…

Refill, please?

Refill, please?

Love this guy

Love this guy

My new friend, Abbie

My new friend, Abbie

I let her check out my new Frog's Leap hat. She approved.

I let her check out my new Frog’s Leap hat. She approved.

Oh, Abbie. Someday I will have a dog with a scruffy face like yours (don't tell Wrigley).

Oh, Abbie. Someday I will have a dog with a scruffy face like yours (don’t tell Wrigley).

Abbie liked my dad, too

Abbie liked my dad, too

Frog's Leap

Frog’s Leap

Loving my new Frog's Leap hat.

Loving my new Frog’s Leap hat.

Leaving this place was not an easy task

Leaving this place was not an easy task

Frog’s Leap is a great casual, friendly winery. Each of the wineries we went to were all unique and different, and we loved how accessible Frog’s Leap is in how laid back the tours are as well as in price. They even sell a few bottles at HEB every now and then; Chip and I like keeping our eye out for them so we can have some Frog’s Leap Cabernet on date nights at home.

After our tour at Frog’s Leap, we drove down the road to Mumm Napa, a sparkling wine winery. After enjoying the four vineyards of this trip, it was a lot of fun to end the trip on a little bit of bubbly. Our tour guide there was a lot of fun and walked us through all of the differences between the regular wine and sparkling wine making process.

The view from Mumm

The view from Mumm

Looking at the different grapes at Mumm

Looking at the different grapes at Mumm

The beginning of the harvest at Mumm - grapes are picked earlier for sparkling wine

The beginning of the harvest at Mumm – grapes are picked earlier for sparkling wine

After our tour at Mumm, we drove to Sonoma for lunch at The Girl and The Fig. We were pretty hungry by this point and the food did not disappoint. It was pretty easy to see why so many wine country blogs mention this restaurant. After our late lunch, we walked around downtown Sonoma for a little bit before driving back to our rental home in Napa.

The view on the drive from Sonoma to Napa

The view on the drive from Sonoma to Napa

 

 

Del Dotto Vineyards

Remember that trip to Napa we took last month? Don’t worry, the last couple of posts on this trip are on their way.

Like most of our mornings in Napa, we got the day started with breakfast at Oxbow Public Market. Over the course of our time in Napa, we loved spending our mornings and free evenings at Oxbow. There were plenty of little shops to check out and great places to grab food. There was actually a farmers market there on Tuesday morning, so we were able to have some fruit and pastries outside before heading back into Oxbow for breakfast tacos at C Casa.

Whole Spice - Chip's favorite place at Oxbow

Whole Spice – Chip’s favorite place at Oxbow

Oxbow Public Market

Oxbow Public Market

With dad at breakfast

With dad at breakfast

"Okay, Chip, that's enough pictures for now"

“Okay, Chip, that’s enough pictures for now”

"No, really. Stop."

“No, really. Stop.”

After breakfast, we drove to Del Dotto Vineyards where we were scheduled to do their barrel tasting at their Napa location. Del Dotto is a family-owned winery that focuses on small production of premium wines. A large amount of the wine at Del Dotto is already “sold” by the time it is aging in a barrel. We were really excited to tour their cave where many barrels are kept and try the wine straight from these barrels. Our tour guide Adam was great and like Cristhian at The Hess Collection, he gave us some hearty samples as well as a few extra ones. Our favorite samples were when we could try the same type of wine aged in two different barrels and see how differently they turned out. If you want to have a great experience at any winery, do your homework. Learn the basics about the wine-making process so you can ask the guides questions and get more from the vineyard experience. Adam taught us a lot not only about the wine making process, but also tips for a better tasting. For example: don’t hold your wine glass around the bottom of the glass, but at the bottom of the stem (just hook your pinky underneath so it feels more stable). When you keep your hand around the actual glass part, you’re unintentionally warming the wine. He also encouraged us to share whatever it was we thought we were tasting in the wine. I was so surprised when a wine reminded me of breakfast sausage and he told me I was correct. I know it sounds weird, but it was tasty.

Outside of the Del Dotto caves

Outside of the Del Dotto caves

My dad's a goof

My dad’s a goof

Ready for the cave tour and barrel tasting

Ready for the cave tour and barrel tasting

First wine sample of the day

First wine sample of the day

The wine thief: this is how we were given samples from the barrels

The wine thief: this is how we were given samples from the barrels

Wine thief, part two

Wine thief, part two

This is when I stopped taking pictures of our cave tour and barrel tasting. It was pretty dark in there and the amount of time I needed to stay still for the slower shutter speed on my camera in this lighting just wasn’t happening by the time we got through our first few samples. Looking back, we should have put my camera on auto focus after our first half hour there. Let’s just say that by the end of the tour, it was like we had had several full glasses of wine and our manual focus was a bit sub-par. Oops.

Really should have used auto focus...

Really should have used auto focus…

We left Del Dotto in very high spirits and decided that we now only do tastings from barrels. We’re such a classy bunch. We had been planning on grabbing lunch at Melted, but since we were pretty full from our wine session, we went back to the rental home to relax. Alex and Teresa had to fly back to Denver that evening, so after grabbing their suitcases, my parents dropped them off at a shuttle bus that would take them directly to the San Francisco airport. Chip and I said our goodbyes to Alex and Teresa at the house, and while my parents dropped them off at their shuttle, I took one epic wine-induced nap.

We took it easy and hung out in the cozy backyard when my parents got back and eventually went to dinner at Pearl. I really can’t give a thorough review on their food. I still wasn’t very hungry, but everyone else seemed to really enjoy their meal. we did some more walking after dinner and went to bed early for another full day in Napa on Wednesday.

Don’t worry, just two more posts to go!