Saturday, November 22, 2014

Off to Napa

A week's time has passed since sweet Ellen's visit and our grand California adventure. Last Saturday, we started the morning with Saint Frank's coffee and then ventured to Muir Woods, drove along the California 1, brunched at Parkside Cafe, walked along Stinson Beach, listened the Serial podcast as we drove north, and finally arrived in Napa Valley. It was only about 2 in the afternoon—plenty of time to hit up a winery or two.

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We chose the first one randomly: Alpha & Omega. It was good and we were spoiled. We shared a tasting flight, and we enjoyed each of the four wines––the sauvignon blanc, the cab, the chardonnay and the red blend. Tones of bubblegum and cigar box and cedar and winterberries.

We next visited the Hall Winery at the recommendation of our server, but alas, we had high expectations at this point. The art exhibits at Hall were amazing to be sure, but the wines... Ellen and I did not find one standout favorite. #spoiled

The friends we made at Hall Winery urged us to end our mini Napa tour at Mumm's for a trio of champagnes. This experience was impersonal and generic, but our conversation was good. Always so good and easy.

We did Napa.

Friday, November 21, 2014

When Oceans Rise

I looked for accompanying quotes on oceans, but perhaps my ramblings will do just fine. Living alongside the ocean... the bay... is one of my favorite bits about SF. This everchanging facet of the landscape, with unknown depths and consistency, and unmeasured power. The ocean's patience and endurance. The quick changes and the ones made over dozens and thousands and millions of years. Oh, we could probably only talk of oceans and I would find myself to be satisfied.

Ellen and I walked along Stinson Beach and marveled over rocks and sea foam and beach birds and fellow beach goers. It was all quite simple.

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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Driving By Unseen Paths

If you come to visit me in San Francisco, make sure you ask me to drive you down the California 1 Highway. Don't leave without the experience for the sight might bring tears to your eyes.

For if I were to compose a list of favorite drives:
1. Baca Loop Road leading to my family's ranch.
2. California 1 Highway from SF to Stinson Beach.
3. The 2222 from 38th to Lake Austin.
4. Roads cut through mountains in Colorado.
5. Monument Valley's 17 mile loop.

Wow wow wow. It made it to #2. Well, it's a magical drive. Ellen and I were both speechless. We let Spotify do the talking. And finally, we pulled off the road and ventured onto a less traveled path and neared the cliffs overlooking the sea. The ocean, really. The whole Pacific.

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"Adults follow paths. Children explore. Adults are content to walk the same way, hundreds of times, or thousands; perhaps it never occurs to adults to step off the paths, to creep beneath rhododendrons, to find the spaces between fences. I was a child, which meant that I knew a dozen different ways of getting out of our property and into the lane, ways that would not involve walking down our drive."
– Neil Gaiman, The Ocean at the End of the Lane


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Among the Trees

I'm splitting up my Elle-adventures by focal points: trees, oceans, wine. Hope that works.

One morning, we ventured out to Land's End and danced along the water's edge and marveled at how the ocean met the rocky shore and spoke aloud of how our friendship came to be. We mentioned how we often surprised each other and the things we had taught each other in the past. The role I had played in Ellen's sophomore year of college, and the ways in which she had been a counselor to me. The conversation was rich and we learned more about ourselves and present struggles as we walked along.

Mostly, I was struck by how easy it was with Ellen. She sat with me at a coffee shop for two hours as I was online for work. She ventured out among the cliffs and equally marveled at this California landscape. Together we posed questions and thoughts, and actually reflected before answering. We spoke truthfully. On Saturday morning, we stepped into Muir Woods. We thought of trees and I mentioned my desire to live forever, and grow forever like a tree, for history's sake.
Oh, I don't know why I'm rambling. But in sum, this is a uniquely rich friendship.
And that's all for now.

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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Home Team

"Everybody has a home team: It’s the people you call when you get a flat tire or when something terrible happens. It’s the people who, near or far, know everything that’s wrong with you and love you anyways. These are the ones who tell you their secrets, who get themselves a glass of water without asking when they’re at your house. These are the people who cry when you cry. These are your people, your middle-of-the-night, no-matter-what people." – Shauna Niequist, Bittersweet

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I distinctly remember my sophomore year of college, living at the Block on 25th in Austin's "West Campus," and sharing life stories with my roommate. After a long day of sorority recruitment–which is physically and emotionally and spiritually draining—I sat with Maddie and we told the stories of our lives. We talked about family and friends and high school and achievements. But we also shared our struggles and shortcomings, our dreams and desires.

In the midst of those first few months of living together, Maddie also shared Shauna Niequist with me. She opened the chapter on puppies and several chapters on food. Maddie would read a section of Cold Tangerines and later Bittersweet in the evening and we would sit in wonder and then talk of application. This is where the term home team comes from, this is how it entered my life.

Sometime during that sophomore year, I started forming my home team. Who are my people? Who do I call? Who are my counselors? Who knows me? This is the year that sweet, sweet Ellen joined my home team. She has always been a key player, and the foundations of our friendship–its roots and origins–cannot be credited to ourselves. It was and to this day, still is a gift. A real surprise. And if you truly know me, you know my stance on surprises...

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Ellen married my good friend Jordan back in May. They are some top people. They are family and have a dear place in my heart. Andddd, given that mushy bit, this weekend, I received a truly wonderful gift.

Jordan: guess what
Victoria: WHAT
its basically your birthday
cause i’m getting a present from Austin?!
yep, the best present ever

Ellen came to visit this weekend. And while her visit wasn't a surprise... because I was really counting down the days just this past week... some aspects of her visit WERE a sweet surprise to me: how rich, how restful, how filling, how easy, how joyful, how simple, how testimonial, how affirmative, how good.

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Thursday, November 13, 2014

Big Basin Redwoods State Park

On Saturday, we drove south of the city and cut through the fog in our search of fall foliage. Our sixth companion, Taylor Swift's 1989 album, sang endlessly throughout the journey. There was a trip to Safeway, a mini hike, a winding forest drive, and a picnic within the arms of a redwood tree. This was followed by the departure out of the woods and into town and into an ice cream shop and a coffee cafe. Oh! And in a fit of spontaneity, Brian pulled off the side of the road and we jumped in piles of fall leaves — oranges and reds and yellows and browns. Finally, we returned to the city.
Fall Foliage Fest 2014: success.

duo fallfoliage

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Land's End

Very rarely, I take photos with my iPhone. And once in a blue moon, I actually like how the photos turn out. Two weeks ago or so, I ventured out to Land's End with the roommates, Kaity and Melinda. Thanks for what you offer, California. Thankful for what I have here: roommates, adventure, future.

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Sunday, November 9, 2014

Pumpkin Patch

Good golly, it's so easy to get behind on personal life things here in SF. Laundry? Changing light bulbs? Dry cleaning? Throwing out leftovers? Who has the time for these things! Additionally, I am super plugged in to tech and all things social during the work hours that when 7 pm rolls around... I turn my computer and phone and brain off. Okay, maybe not... if only.

About two weekends ago, I hit up a pumpkin patch with some sweet SF pals. We drove out to Half Moon Bay and stopped by a little roadside pumpkin playground. It's starting to feel like fall here in California and I don't mind one bit. I hope that wherever you are, the weather is getting cooler and the leaves are changing colors, and you can pile on some layers and breathe in crisp air.

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