Buenos Aires, by Noelia Diaco. Photo is not visible, used only for sharing on social networks.

Summer at Lake Tahoe

August 18, 2015

We go up to Tahoe a lot in the winter. And every time Ben says we need to come back in the summer. This year, we finally did.

We stopped in Tahoe City on the way for beers at Tahoe Mountain Brewing and a beach concert by Con Brio.

Ben enjoying the concert

Commons Beach in Tahoe City

We hiked from our campsite to Vikingsholm "castle."

Hiking the Rubicon Trail


We admired the views.

Lake Tahoe

Emerald Bay

We swam in the crystal-clear water. I've never seen water that clear except in the Caribbean.

It's possible to see 67 feet down in some places.
There's no seaweed or algae.

We sunbathed at a "naturalist" beach.

Secret Cove, in Nevada

Morning fuel, before hitting the road

 - Steph

Moving odds and ends

July 19, 2015
We moved! To a 1.5BR house in Berkeley. We'll post photos once we've settled in a bit more, but for now a few reflections on the moving process (it's been nearly three years since we last moved).
  • It took us one full weekend and four weeknights to pack our 600-square-foot apartment. This was by far the most painful part of the process.
  • Full-service movers quoted us $700-$900 dollars to pack the truck in SF, drive it to Berkeley and unload it. That price included the truck, but required us to pack ourselves. We didn't want to spend that much.
  • Last time we moved, we hired two people via TaskRabbit for $80 to help us unload the truck. We planned to do the same thing again, except this time TaskRabbit quoted $65-$100 per person per hour. More than actual moving companies, no thanks.
  • We knew we couldn't move all our furniture down three flights of stairs. We tried a number of different sites/companies and finally found movers for $31/hr on Thumbtack. They were great, they didn't damage our stuff and they were even good at figuring out how to fit everything in the truck. They arrived at 9 a.m. and by noon we were on our way to Berkeley.
  • We considered hiring them to help us unload in Berkeley, but we're glad we decided against it. Unloading from the curb to our front door was a million times easier. Even with just the two of us, we had the whole truck unloaded by 4:30 p.m. (with a break for lunch from Chipotle).
  • We made the smart decision to pay an extra $40 for a one-way UHaul rental. This meant we didn't have to drive back to San Francisco at the end of the day. 
  • We had plenty of extra room in our 15-foot UHaul, but definitely would not have wanted to try to squeeze everything in a 10-foot UHaul.
  • We moved on a Tuesday, which worked out wonderfully and which I would definitely do again. Ben was able to work an extra day the week before and take Tuesday off. We moved into our new place the first day it was available, which saved us from double-paying rent (waiting until Saturday would have cost ~$250). And if you've ever tried to cross the Bay Bridge at noon on a Saturday, you know it's not a pleasant experience. On Tuesday, we zoomed across, even in a UHaul. And we had the whole preceding weekend to get most of our packing done.
  • We had saved most of our boxes from the last time we moved. We rescued a few more from the recycling bin at Good Eggs and asked a local grocer for boxes that were going to be thrown out. This meant we only bought about five total boxes.
Moving costs:
  • Movers: $160
  • Truck: $190
  • Supplies: $46
  • Total: $396
So overall, moving wasn't as bad as it could have been, but we're glad we waited until we found a place we love. 

- Steph

Classic SF

July 3, 2015
I took this photo for my dad and brother, who don't understand our love for kale. Something about this photo just screams "SF" to me.

San Francisco kale rainbow flag

- Steph

Weekend trip: San Diego

June 30, 2015
It seems that every winter my family decides to escape New England and come to California. My dad was here in the beginning of March and then my mom came out at the end of March for a conference. She doesn’t trust San Francisco weather, so I met her in San Diego for some guaranteed warmth and sunshine.

san diego ocean skyline
I was excited to explore more of the city after our very brief trip a few years ago. We started by exploring Seaport Village and relaxing at the hotel pool before going out for dinner in the Gaslamp Quarter. My mother hadn’t been to San Diego in 23 years and she couldn’t believe how “happening” it was.

The next day we rented a car and drove up to La Jolla. We explored the coastline, shopped and ate a delicious lunch at George’s on the Cove (blackened fish tacos and a blackberry mojito). Then we headed north to Torrey Pines State Park. My mom wanted to walk all the way down to the beach, but I demurred, so we admired from up high. After returning to San Diego, we ate at The Fish Market because they’re one of a small number of restaurants that carries cockles.

torrey pines state park surfers
Torrey Pines State Park

For our last day, we took the ferry over to Coronado, an island a few minutes away from San Diego. I had wanted to visit Coronado with Ben, but we didn’t have time. We rented bikes to ride to the beach, which we thought was about a mile away. Half an hour later we were still pedaling, but all the other tourists had disappeared and our only company on the bike path were hard-core cyclists with clip-in pedals and road bikes. In contrast, we were riding beach cruisers. We realized the beach was actually 5 miles away, but we eventually made it. On the way home, we stopped at the Hotel del Coronado, an all-wooden structure built in 1888 which is one of the last such structures still standing.

San Diego has a huge craft beer scene and my mother had never visited a brewery so we knew we wanted to visit one. Happily Coronado has its own brewing company and we snagged seats on their outdoor patio. We tried about 10 beers and both agreed that Orange Avenue Wit was our favorite.

coronado brewing sampler

After this trip, I can now say I've spent significant amounts of time in most of the major West Coast cities, including San Diego, Portland and Seattle. I think we’ll have to make a trip to LA soon.

shell beach san diego
san diego skyline roses

Practicing our selfie skills

- Steph

Weekend trip: Russian River

June 29, 2015

We'll call this our first getaway of the summer: floating down the Russian River, camping at Bodega Dunes and lunch/beers at Russian River Brewing Company.

Sonoma Coast State Beach
Sonoma Coast State Beach
bodega dunes campground sonoma
Campsite at Bodega Dunes
beer sampler russian river brewing
Sampler at Russian River Brewing Co
- Steph

Happy birthday Ben!

March 24, 2015
Happy birthday!
I'm someone who loves birthdays. I especially love my own birthday, but I also get pretty excited about Ben's, especially as it presents a perfect excuse to plan a weekend away (see Point Arena Lighthouse, 2013). Ben's birthday falls during the best part of ski season, so where better to spend his birthday than Tahoe?

Our typical Tahoe weekend involves waking up at 5 a.m., driving four hours, skiing, driving an hour, relaxing in the hot tub, eating dinner, collapsing at 9 p.m. in our cheap motel room, eating quick bread at Starbucks, driving an hour, skiing, then driving four hours home. As you can tell, it's exhausting and not particularly luxurious.

Ben's birthday weekend started out differently. He left work early and we drove up to Gold Country for an Iberian-themed tapas dinner at Runquist winery. The winery is located in the Sierra Nevada foothills in Amador County, one of California's newer wine-making regions. They almost exclusively make red wines, with some unusual varietals and a focus on balanced, not-too-tannic wine (we discovered them on my birthday trip and are members of their wine club). We hadn't attended a wine club event before, but after this one, we'll definitely be going back for more. We sat by a fire, eating delicious food and drinking unlimited amounts of excellent wine while the winemaker fed the fire with old oak barrels and cooked up "dirty steak." I even got a dozen strangers to sing "happy birthday" to Ben.

We stayed at a bed and breakfast in Sutter Creek, where the innkeeper implied that we were a bit younger than their standard clientele (we were also by far the youngest attendees at dinner). The next morning, we wandered around the towns of Sutter Creek and Amador City before continuing to Tahoe.

Objectively speaking, this ski season has been a bust —we've had fun, but 159 inches is pathetic for resorts that average more than 500 inches. Less than thrilled about the skiing conditions, we decided to hike instead. A lot of roads close in the winter so it took us a while to find an accessible trail. We finally settled on a 6.5-mile hike to Dardanelles Lake, which worked out perfectly — it was a good length, a good level of strenuousness and terminated at a beautiful alpine lake (see photos at end of post). We realized we hadn't done any real hiking in months and definitely want to come back to Tahoe to hike this summer.

Instead of staying at our standard motel, I booked a room at 968 Park Hotel, which bills itself as a "pinnacle of sustainability, style and comfort." We knew it could be our last weekend in Tahoe for the winter so we chose our restaurants carefully. The first night we ate at our favorite Basecamp Pizza and for Ben's birthday we tried a new brewpub, Cold Water Brewery and Grill. Our beer flight lineup: Water House Wheat, Mr. Toad's Wild Rye, Ninkasi Oatis Stout, Heretic's Evil Twin Amber, Le Freak Belgian IPA and Ellie's Brown Ale.

For our final day, we planned to finally hit the slopes at Heavenly, but they shut down the mountain due to 30mph gusts. We drove up to Northstar, where the snow wasn't great, but we found a few good runs to potentially cap off the season. Fingers crossed we'll get one more storm.

Birthday selfie
dardanelles lake tahoe
Granite cliffs above Dardanelles Lake

Must climb rock
Big Meadow
bridge hiking lake tahoe
Almost back to the trailhead
Don't fall
Dwarfed by the trees

We're scheming how to get our hands on a wine barrel.
dirty steak
"Dirty steak" at Runquist winery

- Steph

Video: It finally snowed!

March 15, 2015
Last weekend, Steph's dad visited us to ski for five days at three Tahoe mountains (photos here). I put together this video from our GoPro footage:

(Best viewed at 1080p quality.)

Fortunately, the weekend before he arrived, it finally snowed! You would not believe how happy we were to see snow. We were sitting at a rest stop on I-80 because they had closed the road to Tahoe and we weren't even upset. We just kept saying, "It's snowing! It's snowing!" We even made a snowman as we waited. It was 1 p.m. by the time we hit the slopes, but who cares? For the first time all season, we had fresh snow. Here's the highlight reel of 17" of cold, light powder (compiled by Steph):

- Ben

Austin getaway

March 13, 2015

The list of the American cities I most want to visit: Chicago and New Orleans, followed by Los Angeles, Charleston and Santa Fe. Austin used to be near the top of that list, but now I can cross it off as I was there in January! I met up there with one of my good friends who lives on the East Coast (we split the distance). We visited the LBJ Presidential Library, enjoyed a show at Esther's Follies, listened to live music and wandered around all the quirky stores. It was an awesome trip (Ben was a bit jealous, so we'll have to return together sometime soon).

Non-Photoshopped version


- Steph