Small is the gate and narrow is the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.


A Birthday Visitor

Last Thursday night, my Mom and the man she is dating (Jack) flew in from Louisville for a visit. They were supposed to arrive during the day, but their flight was delayed which meant that Landon and I got to surprise them at the airport. It was just as much of a surprise for Landon as it was for them. He had no idea who he was waiting for as we watched people come out of the terminal, but he said he wanted it to be Grandma.

Lucky for him, it was! With a late arrival our originals plans were scrapped and instead we enjoyed a quick dinner before a trip up to Twin Peaks for a view of San Francisco. Unfortunately, it was a foggy night and the city was barely visible, so we called it a night and went back to our place.

Friday, while I was working and Landon was at daycare, Adam took them around some of the sights in downtown. They made their way to the Ferry Terminal and to Fisherman's Wharf were they ate lunch with a view of Alcatraz. I'm jealous. Afterwards, they continued over to Coit Tower for some wonderful views of the city.

Then they walked to China Town before Landon and I met up with them for dinner at Calzones in North Beach. Calzones is the best little Italian restaurant in Little Itay, but I'm not sure "best" counts when we haven't even tried any others. We found something good and have stuck to it, but Mom agreed, it was delicious!

When dinner was over we walked around the area for a bit before dropping them off at Pena Pechamama for a night of live music. Located in North Beach, Pena Pechamama is an old speakeasy which now serves as a Bolivan vegan restaurant that has a variety of nightly entertainment. When I first heard about the place I immediately knew that Mom would enjoy it. It's always fun to go somewhere and do something you couldn't easily do at home. They had a great time and talked the place up enough that it's somewhere I would like to go on a date with Adam.

After, a late night, we all slept in Saturday. Once we were all up and moving we had a big breakfast before heading out to one of the most perfect San Francisco places, the Marin Headlands. If someone only had one day in San Francisco, I would recommend they spend half of it at the Marin Headlands. Maybe it's because my first real San Francisco experience was there, but I really believe that this is the place where you fall in love with the city. 

We took them to the very top, to a place called Hawk Hill, where we hung out for a bit enjoying spectacular views of San Francisco. 

And of the headlands from the opposite side.

Once they were done picking their jaws off the ground and able to move on, we found our way to a quiet little sport for a picnic. I think this was the part of the day I was most looking forward to. I've been waiting and planning a picnic, slowly accumulating the perfect picnic items and I had to admit, it paid off. We enjoyed a wonderful picnic of meats, cheese, hummus, fruits, and wine. Now, I just might have to picnic every weekend.

After our little feast, we headed back to the peninsula to share another wonderful San Francisco experience, sunset on the beach. We made our way down to Marshall Beach where Landon played in the sand while we pulled out the blanket, enjoyed the last of the wine and watched the sun fade into ocean. 

I have to admit, it wasn't the most spectacular sunset I've witnessed here. The sky was a pallet of colors, but only momentarily. Still, it was beautiful and we hung out on the beach until darkness began to fall at which point we made our way back up the mountain (as Landon likes to call it) and to the car. Adam snapped this picture just as we were leaving for the night.

Since it was dark, but only 6pm, we decided to make a stop at the Palace of Fine Arts. A beautiful open air domed structure situated on a lake, it's a place Adam and I had been wanting to visit and when we passed it earlier it caught our guest's attention as well. We walked around the area, enjoying the structure lit up at night while reading about it's history.

Built to resemble Ancient Greek architecture, this peaceful oasis downtown makes you feel like you are transported to Ancient Greece, a world away from bustling San Francisco. Even Landon enjoyed the visit, telling us stories about the angels while we walked around. Afterwards, we went back to our place and spent the rest of the evening relaxing and hanging out.

Sunday, we decided to get some brunch on the way to Muir Woods, a place my Mom really wanted to see. After a little research we decided to try a well known brunch place called The Dipsea Cafe. It was a great choice! We had omelets, eggs benedict, home style potatoes, fresh biscuits, pancakes and even a pumkpin waffle. The food was wonderful and the setting was adorable. I know my Mom enjoys a good brunch and we really found a gem with this place. It is somewhere we will be frequenting often on our trips to Marin as it's on the way to Muir Woods and Muir Beach. After we were good and stuffed we made our way to Muir Woods. 

Jack, asked if I ever get tired going to the same places. I've been to Muir about 4 or 5 fives now, but the answer is no. I think I could go to Muir Woods everyday for a year and never grow bored. As my Mom put it, it's an enchanting place. It's impossible to explain it with words, you just have to feel it. I've never really understood what it was that made Muir so enchanting until I heard the park rangers talk this visit. I've heard other talks, but this time the park ranger explained that Redwoods have tannic acid in them which helps them fight fires, disease, and ward off insects. Because there are not many insects in Muir, there are not many birds. Thus, for woods, it is very quiet. When she said that, it hit me like a tons of bricks. I knew it was quiet and still and that it was different, but I could never put my finger on the reason why. Now it made sense. Any place outside without birds singing might sound unattractive, but I can tell you it is anything but that. Just another reason why I could visit everyday.

Of course, they both loved it and I'm pretty sure this was Mom's favorite part of the trip. After our afternoon visit to Muir, we parted ways for the next few nights. My Mom had rented a condo through her timeshare near Santa Rosa so they left for their condo for a few days in wine country. While they enjoyed wine tours, we went back to work and school for the week. Mom's birthday was Tuesday and we planned to meet them that night for dinner. Landon was most excited about her birthday because he knows birthdays mean birthday cake. Since he was so excited for cake and loves to help, I thought he could enjoy baking a cake for her, so Monday night Landon and I had a baking session. Complete with a full spoon licking session.

Tuesday, after work, we drove up to Petaluma and met them at a wonderful Italian restaurant. I think all of us ate every single bit of our dishes. After dinner, we headed back to their place for birthday cake, ice cream, and gifts. Can you tell what Landon was most excited about? Poor little guy had to wait about 24 hours after we baked it to eat some delicious lemon cake.

Mom opened her cards and gifts. Since she came to California to celebrate her birthday and loves pictures, figuring out what to get her this year was a no brainer.

A picture of all us from Saturday overlooking the city. We returned home late Tuesday night and didn't see them again until Thursday night. They arrived in the afternoon and we spent the evening together eating Chinese takeout and enjoying the night before their flight back home Friday morning. 
While I wish I had been able to celebrate Mom's birthday with her all day Tuesday, the entire trip was a fun reunion/celebration for all of us. I'm so glad she chose to spend her birthday with us and I hope that she ended up having as much fun as we did. 

Living so far away from family really makes you enjoy the time you get to spend with them. It's fun and exciting, but also bittersweet. Lucky for us, we've had a lot of visitors and will have many more. Mom is already planning her next birthday trip, for Landon's birthday in January. Now we have big shoes to fill to make his as much fun and I can only hope I look this good when I turn 62 years old! 

Happy Birthday Mom! 

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