Saturday, June 15, 2013

The Napa Chronicles: Day 1 - San Fran Bound!

A few months ago, a group of my favorite people decided to take a trip together. It was Cat and Josh's 5th anniversary, Lane & Lolly's 6th, and Sarah and Derek's TENTH!! Steven and I are about to celebrate our 1 year (dating) anniversary, plus both of us had birthdays in, we all had a LOT of occasions to celebrate! After discussing several potential destinations, we decided on Napa...the thought of all that wine, temps in the 70s, and beautiful vineyards was just too enticing! And thanks to the months of travel at my old job, Steven and I got to fly FREE on Southwest (with my miles and his companion pass) - score!

So on the Thursday before Memorial Day weekend, we headed out to San Fran (well, technically Steven and I headed out to Oakland, since that's where Southwest flies into). Since Southwest doesn't do direct flights to California (curses!), we had to stop through in Albuquerque. The first leg of our flight shall I say this...AWFUL. Horrible. Terrible. It was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad flight. The turbulence started almost immediately and lasted the entire time. And this was no run-of-the-mill turbulence...this was pure hell. Sudden HUGE drops, side to side shaking, people gasping, airplane creaking, and me, the girl who hates to fly even on good flights, freaking the F out. Poor Steven, it was his first time to fly with me...not a great first impression, I'm sure. He tried to be sweet and comfort me but I refused to look at him and ignored his hand stroking my arm and leg...I was too busy thinking about how long it would take before the plane started to go down until impact. When we finally landed, I cried a few tears of relief, then promptly went to the airport bathroom and sobbed for about 5 minutes (while researching rental cars and how long it takes to drive from Albuquerque to San Fran). Upon realizing it was a 16+ hour drive, I knew I would have to suck it up and get on the next leg of our flight. Sweet Steven never told me I was being that man! We spent our hour layover in an airport bar, where I downed 3 vodka sodas in about 30 minutes (to calm the nerves, ya know). In a very strange coincidence, we also ran into our friend Taylor and her sweet pup Bartlett on their way from San Diego to Texas. Between the booze and the catching up with Tay, I was finally relaxed enough to board our flight, which was smooth and  uneventful, thankfully!

Me, Leg 1 of Flight:

Aaaaand Leg 2:

Now on to a happier part of the story! We arrived in San Fran and checked into our cool hotel, the Parc 55 in Union Square. Since we were just crashing there for one night, we really didn't get to spend much time in the hotel, but it was the perfect place for  us to call home base for our quick stop in San Fran. Since our flight didn't land till 9:00, we didn't have time to do much (plus we were thoroughly exhausted). Cat and Josh landed around the same time - though at a different airport - so once we all checked in, we met up at Annabelle's Bar and Bistro down the street. They had delicious cocktails, a warm, intimate ambiance, and amazing food. Steven and I split the tomato basil soup and short ribs over polenta. Here are a few pics from dinner:

It looks weird in the pic, but this was a plate of pure deliciousness!

Me and my babe at dinner...the poor guy had to have been worn out from dealing with my neurotic flying freak-out from earlier that day!

Our dinner dates - the Sheps! So glad we got to spend the first night relaxing with these two!

After the self-proclaimed "best dressed homeless man in the city" gave us some advice for catching the trolley in the morning, we drug tired selves back to the hotel and crashed, looking forward the next day in San Francisco. That post is coming next. Spoiler alert: Steven and I found a crack den on our way to breakfast, we walked in the footsteps of Al Capone, and a charter bus driver likely turned in her resignation after driving our rowdy group to our next destination...Napa!

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