02 Nov San Francisco {A Girl’s Weekend of Epic Proportions}

chairsandhats

Disclaimer: this is a long, wordy post with no recipe at the end. It does however include lots of stories about my friends (I think we’re pretty fun), some brief winery reviews and a marriage proposal. So if you’re into that kind of thing, read on. 

Last, last weekend (or is it last, last, last weekend?) I spent four days in San Francisco with my very best friends. It was magical. Seriously, the best weekend I have had in a long time. I am still coming down from the bestie high.

As you may remember, I spent my summer training for the Nike Women’s (Half) Marathon San Francisco with plans to run it alongside two of my best friends, Taylor and Stephanie. It was no easy feat. Try running more than 3 miles when it’s 100 degrees out and you’ll know what I’m talking about. Needless to say, my training schedule was sparse at best, so it probably comes to no surprise to you that I was thoroughly dreading the notorious hills of San Fran.

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Something had to be done. Enter girl’s weekend.

What better way to perk up a foreboding trip to the West Coast than by adding 5 more of your best friends into the mix? (There’s 8 of us now, keeping track?) AND planning a celebration trip to Napa the next day?

Buuut, true confessions. My impending exhaustion isn’t the only reason that the weekend was a death run turned girly party. I am leaving out a HUGE piece.

Waaaay back in July, my best friend Taylor’s (you may know her a Miss Sheila Longbottom) boyfriend fiance let me in on a big secret. He was thinking about surprising her and proposing in Napa on the day after our half marathon!  

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(Of course in true male fashion, it took him months to actually make the decision and finalize plans…but that’s beside the point. [Love you TT!])

Knowing that Tay wanted to be surrounded by loved ones on her big day, I rallied the troops. One by one, the girls all purchased plane tickets to join us in San Francisco. Hotels were booked, a limo was rented and plans were made. When the big weekend finally arrived we were beyond excited but of course had to play it cool to avoid any suspicion from Taylor. Of course, being a group of 8 ex-sorority girls (or should I say sorority alumna?), we can display all kinds of excitement without arising suspicion. Squealing comes second nature to the likes of us. So instead of “playing it cool” we squealed and giggled and jumped up and down all in the name of our besties reunion (as fas as Taylor knew, anyway).

The Run:

On the morning of the race I crawled sprung out of bed at the butt crack of dawn…still 30 minutes later than Steph & Tay. (I’m not sure what that makes the part of dawn they got up at).  In a sleep deprived haze, we dressed ourselves in matching running gear (cute, right?) and choked down a few bagels that we tore and dipped into a shared tub of cream cheese. See how excited I look?

SF Weekend Pre-Run

Steph’s fabulous gentleman of a fiance, Sam, who generously slept on a pull away bed while the 3 of us shared the king bed (hotel mix up, long story) managed to wake up long enough to take our pre-race photo. With only one eye open. That’s the kind of mixed commitment to love and rest that I like to see, people! (So it’s blurry and we all have demon eyes – it’s pretty good for 5am!)

Runners

After our pre-dawn photo shoot we braved the chilly early morning streets of San Francisco. My best purchase of the weekend was definitely a pair of men’s gray sweat pants from a little shop in China Town. I even got a whole $1 off thanks to my haggling skills (ha!). I’m convinced I would have fallen victim to frostbite without them.

After close to 2 hours of waiting/shivering/whining on the city streets, just as the sun began to come up, it was our turn to cross the start line. The first few miles of the race were peppered with discarded clothing and spent dodging walkers and strange city smells (strange = sewage = poop). Once we hit the Embarcadero things opened up a little bit and we were able to set a comfortable pace.

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Per the course map, we had mentally prepared ourselves for ONE very large hill. Either we don’t know how to read an elevation map or Nike lied because miles 6-8 and 11 were almost completely uphill. But being the BAMFs that we are, we powered through them! I 75% attribute our success to this hilarious Marathon Thoughts YouTube video. There’s nothing quite like half singing, half shouting your own exhaustion-induced mash up of Rob Thomas’ Smooth & Don’t Pants Your Poop as you take on the hills of Northern California. (Seriously though, watch it) We even managed to stay together for the entire run – no woman left behind! (The picture below was taken around mile 4, I’m sure we did NOT look nearly as chipper by the end.)

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All in all it was a great race. Most of the course was along the coast but unfortunately we didn’t see the water once due to thick fog. Even so, it was a gorgeous run and I handled it much better than anticipated. The course took us through parts of the city I had never explored and since I love the architecture of San Francisco I was entertained, even without the picturesque seaside views. And of course the fact that I was rewarded a Tiffany necklace by a SF firefighter wearing a tuxedo at the finish line was icing on the cake. Nike obviously knows a thing or two about the way to a woman’s heart! (It’s the triangle shaped necklace I’m wearing in the black and white picture below.)

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Post run I had a fabulous “surprise” in-room massage; a belated and oh-so-thoughtful birthday gift from a special someone. The masseuse, who was maybe 4’11/80lbs even got on the table and walked all over me. Quite unexpected…but I liked it!

We finished out race day as a group, with mani/pedis (somebody’s hands needed to look presentable for pictures!) and a celebration sushi dinner at Umami. Note that this is really the only meal I felt was worthy of sharing with you from this trip. While I was a little put off by the steep prices (there are so many “hole-in-the-wall” sushi spots in SF where you can get amazing sushi at reasonable* prices) in the end, Umami won me over. Mostly because of the Sriracha-lada. A play on the michelada with Kirin beer, lime and you got it, lots of glorious Sriracha. And a yuzu salt rim to tie it all together. Life changing cocktail, y’all. Definitely spurred one of those “Why didn’t I think of that?!” moments.  Also, portions were healthy and everything we had was fresh, well-balanced and disappeared off our plates. (Try the White Tuna Tataki)

*San Francisco reasonable

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Napa & The Proposal:

Monday morning we woke up stiff but refreshed, and ready for some wine country action. We piled into our stretch limo, mimosas in hand, and left the city behind for a day of Celine-Dion-blasting, hand-raising, funny-hat-wearing, sparkly-things-and-teary-eyes, MAJOR-SURPRISES kind of day.

Our first stop: Frog’s Leap, an absolutely stunning winery with an obnoxious website (sorry guys, maybe don’t click that link). Upon our arrival we were directed to wait in the den area of the winery house, where they conveniently display hats that can be worn for the duration of your visit or purchased to take home if you should so desire. Put a pile of floppy hats in front of a group of spirited women and what do you think it going to happen? Being 2 mimosas in at that point, I promptly placed one atop my head and thought to myself damn, I look good.  

Katie and Natalie

Our host (who’s name slips my mind) set up a tasting table for our group and walked us through each of the wines we would be sampling. Starting with un-oaked Chardonnay, then moving on through Zinfandel, Merlot and Cabernet Savignon. Surprisingly, my favorite was the Zinfandel – I am typically a Cab Sav girl. In fact, I ran out and splurged on a bottle ($30, steep for a girl on my budget) as soon as I got back to Austin.

After our tasting we took some time to explore the grounds. Whoa damn. Instead of trying to put it into words, I’m just going to let you oggle the photos below.

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We didn’t want to leave. Can you blame us? But there was more wine to be had!

Second Stop: Fluery Estate Winery. Great name, right?

While I really enjoyed Fluery, it didn’t have the ambiance-rich tasting room or impressive grounds that Frog’s Leap offered. It’s a smaller, newer winery with a portfolio of limited-yield wines. It’s the kind of place you go if you’re really into high-end, boutique-style wineries. (I’m not sure if that’s even real winery speak, but I’m going with it.)

The wine was mind-blowingly good. In fact, it’s the only winery where we purchased  bottles to ship home. The tasting took place in a large warehouse, surrounded by aging wine barrels (quoted as an unusually intimate wine-tasting experience on their website). While the staff and owners were very respectful, I do feel like they were a little unaccustomed to hosting groups of our…tenacity(?). Real talk, we were a little rowdy for the place. But hey, they had giant wine bottles. Did they really expect us not to use them as photo props?

Fleury

My favorite wine from Fluery was the Rocket Juice, a red blend that will set you back $85 a bottle. So in my case, a lovely choice for a special occasion.

Intermission: Right about now you’re probably craving a glass of wine so go pour yourself one. When you get back I’ll give you a little update on the status of the surprise.

At this point, we are running late. The original plan was to eat lunch after Frog’s Leap. Unfortunately, being the newbies that we are at this whole wine tour thing, we didn’t allow ourselves enough time at each winery when making reservations. Two wineries down with no food in our stomachs means we are all getting a little tipsy. Do we delay our reservation at the third winery to stop for lunch or do we power on and call it a liquid lunch? Note that Taylor’s boyfriend (we’re calling him TT) is already at winery #3, probably hiding in some chilly corner of a wine cellar, waiting for his beloved to arrive so he can pop the question. We all know this except for Taylor. So we power on.

Stop #3: Ehler’s Estate.

Between the blaring lady jams and seated dance moves, the drive to Ehler’s flew by. This is a good thing because it didn’t allow us time to let the excitement build, in which case we probably would have started acting suspiciously. It gets harder and harder to mask one’s emotions with the more wine one consumes.

When we arrived at Ehler’s our guide announced that she was going to take us on an unplanned winery tour. I knew this was part of the plan but was a little concerned Taylor would find it odd that we were being given a tour that we did not make a reservation for. Luckily, she just thought it was part of the tasting and we moved forward without a hitch.

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The original plan was that we would arrive, go on the tour and when we got to the barrel room, TT would be waiting for us and wham, proposal. You can imagine my surprise when we walked into the barrel room and there was no TT in sight. Huh? He didn’t chicken out did he?

As I began to panic I felt the familiar buzz of my cellphone. “After the barrel room, it goes down.” He must have sensed my impending panic attack turned ninja moves on his face if he messed this up. Back to poorly masked excitement mode!

As if to intentionally drag out the suspense a little longer, our guide suggested we enjoy a quick tasting in the barrel room surrounded by aging wine and sub-70 temperatures (cold!). Swish, swish, sniff, gulp – ok let’s get to the good part!

We finally finished our tour and the guide led us around a bend into a sort of yard with a vine-covered arbor on the opposite side. As soon as we turned the corner there was TT, standing in the arbor, looking mighty dapper in a suit with a bouquet red roses in his hand. We were still pretty far away (and Taylor’s vision may have been slightly blurred due to multiple glasses of wine) so she didn’t recognize him at first. In her state of semi-shock/surprise/confusion she exclaimed “There’s a man over there!”…as we got a little closer…“That man looks like TT!”“OMG, TT!!!”.

Once she finally picked up on what was going on she walked over to him, they embraced and we all got to watch as he got down on one knee and asked our best friend to spend the rest of her life with him. And obviously, she said yes. My best friend, who hates surprises, got the surprise of a lifetime. And she loved it.

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We spend the next hour (or was it two?) celebrating over bottles of wine while the happy couple made calls to friends and family. And then we left to celebrate some more…

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Stop #4: Ram’s Gate.

Our last stop was Ram’s Gate Winery, a Sonoma location that is conveniently located on the way back into the city from Napa. We got there right at closing but the staff was nice enough to let us in to share a bottle of wine and watch the sunset. I’m going to be honest, I can’t tell you much about the wine. At that point, I’d had my fill of wine for the day, to say the least. But it was a beautiful spot with a great veranda overlooking the picturesque vineyards – the perfect ending to a very big day.

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So there you have it! The not-so-brief story of my fantastical weekend in the Bay Area. If you’ve gotten to this point, thank you for taking the time to read this entire post! Extra cookies for you!  Just as soon as I stop talking and get around to baking them.

And much love to TT & Taylor – I can’t wait to celebrate your commitment to a lifetime together!

XOXO, Katie

3 Comments
  • Cerys {mascara & mud}
    Posted at 10:30h, 20 August Reply

    omg! just found your blog and you don’t half make me laugh…and cook some mean stuff too!
    Cerys {mascara & mud} recently posted…Kayaking in FranceMy Profile

    • KWahlman
      Posted at 11:35h, 20 August Reply

      Thanks Cerys!! Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  • Nutella Crunch Cake Balls - Butterlust
    Posted at 09:52h, 18 September Reply

    […] you may also know as Miss Longbotton and/or recognize from from this post about the surprise proposal or this post about the bachelorette, or maybe even this post about our […]

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