Hello sweeties! I have been away and now I am back! Christmas morn after all the prezzies were opened, hubby handed me a card. Inside it said to "party till the cows come home" and that I was being taken on a mystery trip (there was a cheesy poem that I will spare you from). I was given a list of clothing ideas and had 48 hours to get my affairs in order. He had already arranged for child care and transport.
(Note: I have included links to as many places as I could because I took over 150 photos and it is going to take me a bit to process all of them)
I was packed and ready to go. We got a ride to the airport on Tuesday afternoon. It wasn't until we were checking in that found out would be flying to San Francisco! Wheee! We arrived super late but lodging was already covered. My youngest sis and her boy-boy had arranged for us to have a room at the W as a Christmas present! The original plan was to meet up in the bar when we got there but the rains had delayed us. Talk about a rock star hotel, it was amazing. Our room looked out over the golden gate bridge and there was champagne and robes in the room (this will be a re occurring theme by the way) We lounged, sipped and nibbled strawberries before hitting the sack.
Next morning it was to the Lower Haight to have breakfast with Nicole and see her neighborhood. Had a lovely chat and a wonderful bagel and lox breakfast. The rain had quit, the sun was out and we actually needed sunglasses! Alas, I was not allowed to dawdle we had to hit the road, but where to?
Next thing I know I am helping DH navigate through San Fran to PCH 1, heading south. I have always wanted to do this drive and we had the best weather, sunny and calm. We talked, took in the sites, stopped for snacks and pictures, it was lovely. After a while, as I was looking at the map I had to ask. "Are we heading to Monterey Bay?"
Why yes, we were! We were booked at the Monterey Plaza in a room overlooking the bay. We managed to fit in a wine tasting before dinner at a little fish market/ restaurant, yummy. Also had a local artichoke with a garlic butter sauce (so that's what a fresh artichoke tastes like! Damn, you folks are lucky) We headed back to the hotel, there wasn't much nightlife but that's ok. Another bottle of champange had been delivered to our room with chocolate covered strawberries ( hubby had mentioned we were celebrating our anniversary to the booking agent) We put on our complimentary robes and ordered "The 40 Year Old Virgin" on Pay per view. This movie is hilarious and I highly recommend it. We fell asleep that night listening to the waves crashing outside our room.
Up the next morning and off to take a few piccies and grab a bite while hubby plays event planner on the computer. We hook up a half hour later and hit the road. We decided to take the faster route out of Monterey. We ran right through Gilroy and yes, it really smells like garlic, I waved at the Hollister exit (totally bummed I didn't have Heather's phone number) and then I started looking at the map again more closely. I didn't want to dream it possible but yes, we were headed straight for Napa!!!!!!!!! This was the trip we had originally wanted to do for our 10 year anniversary but instead we had a baby and bought a new house.
We stoped in Old town Napa to get a vineyard map. DH had a few picked out but we weren't sure how much time we had left. Most places closed at 4 pm.
We stopped at Mondavi first, Lovely spot, pretty crowded. I would recommend going to the reserve wine room first, much better stuff and a few less folks. Time was getting short so we jumped ship and headed to the Niebaum-Coppola vineyard. Beautiful grounds, an amazing reserve chardonnay, I would definitely go back and wander more and take the tour, we were running a bit late at this point and our final stop was da' bomb!!! We went to Chandon and did the tour. It was dusk so we didn't see much of the grounds but I have decided my ashes will be scattered here when I die. I love champagne and sparkling wine!!! We visited the tasting room, had some truly remarkable vintages and a cheese board from heaven. Next visit, we will stay for dinner. We came home with 3 bottles of sparkling wine and they are now in our "wine cellar".
We drove for about 5 minutes (hubby was the designated driver) to our next hotel. The Napa Valley Lodge. A lovely room with a fireplace, over looking the pool and grape vines. Because they are the same company as the Monterey Plaza, they had a bottle of wine waiting for us in the room with a Happy Annivesary note. By this point we were pretty hungry, we ran across the street to the Napa Valley Grille. Unfortunately it is just like the one at the Mall o' America. An overly done menu. I am a foodie but this place makes me roll my eyes at the amount of ridiculous ingredients and descriptive words used on the menu. We opted for a Harvest platter and a nice glass of Pinot Grigio. Our waiter was of the clueless variety and when I asked about the cheeses on the platter he had no idea and didn't bother to check and come back and tell us. I do know one was a Cowgirl Creamery cheese and if you ever have a chance to sample something from them, please do, it is wonderful. We asked around for another spot to eat and we we told PJ Steak was THE place. Just around the corner and ohmigawd it was fabulous. We shared Kobe beef short ribs served on mashed potatoes and a reduction sauce so good I would have slept with the chef to get the recipe. We lingered and chatted over candle light. Finally back to the room. We decided to enjoy the hot tub for a bit so we put on our robes and wandered down for a soak. It was gently raining and the hot water was the perfect way to end the day.
Ok, next morning, cell phone rings early. The FAA had cancelled our flight out of SF, too much air traffic. DH gets up, takes the laptop down to the lobby and sets up shop while I get to sleep in. He manages to get us a flight out of San Jose but we need to get moving, it's raining and we aren't sure of the traffic.
We arrive in San Jose no problem, return the car and head to check in. We walk up to the counter and the woman says "2 for Las Vegas?" Are you effing kidding me, now we are off to Vegas? I thought we were heading home and continuing our vacation at home, but no, the Robman has struck again!!!!!!
An hour and half later we arrive in Sin City. First stop, In N Out Burger. We don't have them in MN and it's a good burger. On to the room. We were booked at the MGM in the new West Wing, very hip and posh, along the lines of W (see above) We flopped in the room for just a wee bit, got dressed and wandered out in search of drinks and mischief. We arrive at Coyote Ugly (the bar based on a movie based on a real bar) at the New York, New York. They pour a mean drink here. Women are encouraged to dance on the bar and there are lots of men to ogle the women. Average age of bar patron was 23 ( I am so NOT 23) It is all very silly and VERY Vegas. Yes, I danced on the bar, not once but twice. We wandered through the casino, ate bad pizza, went back to the bar for a bit and then headed for the MGM. Sat in the uber hip lounge of the West Wing, had another cocktail and finally went up to bed.
Up the next day around 11 ish, off for some breakfast/lunch. We ate at the Wolfgang Puck cafe in the MGM, awesome stuff. On to the Desert Passage shops inside the Aladdin Hotel. Found Rob some new rock and roll wear at Lucky Brand jeans and had a few wonderful beers brewed by Sin City Brewing Company. I love shopping and drinking.
Ok, back to the MGM for a nap, it is New Year's Eve and we want to be ready to party till the wee hours. After a nap Rob helps me choose my outfit for the evening because We have tickets to see the Goo Goo Dolls at the House of Blues, yeah baby!!!
Opening for them was a kick ass girl band from Buffalo, NY called The Juliet Dagger, they are awesome and we picked up the CD. The drummer is a little guy, totally buff and he and Rob (also a drummer) totally hit it off. If you like rock, watch your city's listings, they are playing out a lot this summer.
We were so close to the stage that I could have hit Johnny Rzeznik with a tennis ball (not that I would) I have been a casual fan of the Goos for a really long time but now, I plan to pick up the CD's I don't have and truly appreciate the words and music. We got to bed about 4 am and were up by 11, grabbed some lunch at Border Grill in Mandalay Bay (awesome Mexican food) and
headed towards the airport.
If you ever fly out of Las Vegas, please allow 2 hours before your flight. The security screening takes effing forever. We thought we had allowed enough time but we managed to miss our flight(thanks TSA). Ended up buying new tickets on another carrier in order to get home, otherwise it would have been 24-48 hours of trying to go stand by, eeek!
We got home really late, slept till noon and became parents again by 4 pm.
It was the most amazing trip ever. We started calling it the Sampler Platter trip, because we tried and saw so many things. Now we know where we want to go back (Napa and add Sonoma next time) and of course, Las Vegas. For me it's like the State Fair but with better food and drinks the people watching is superb. We maybe dropped $3 in the slots, much better to use $$ for drinks.
Keep checking back, I will add photos as I can.