Clay planned a weekend getaway for us to Safari West in Santa Rosa (which I never knew existed before). Our weekend consisted of a one-night stay in one of their giant African safari tents, as well as an in-room massage and an afternoon safari tour. I must admit, this glamping experience was quite pricy. Clay and I also had mixed feelings seeing some of the animals being kept in cages when we first arrived. However, we ended up really enjoying the safari tour, which helped us to change our minds about our initial reservations. Our 4-hour tour was extremely informative and allowed us to learn so much about each animal that we saw. We learned about how Safari West cares for its animals by practicing enrichment, which involves changing the animal's physical environment on a daily basis. We were able to see how the animals (whether it be monkey, rhino, or ostrich) really did have a good relationship with their caretakers. Some benefits the animals at Safari West get are: ample food and shelter, safety from predators, and breeding opportunities. Overall, it was neat to see how Safari West promotes wildlife conservation, research, and public education. It also gives those who love animals the opportunity to work closely with them. Pretty much all the employees we met there were genuinely excited and passionate about their work with the wildlife.
During our trip, we were also able to visit downtown Santa Rosa for a couple of meals, and were surprised by how hip the restaurants and coffee shops there were! Bird & the Bottle, where we went for brunch, served us a delicious Asian fusion dish. We also found out that Santa Rosa is the home of Charles Schulz! We saw several statues of different Peanuts characters scattered throughout downtown -- apparently, there are 70 statues in public view that one could spend an entire weekend looking for in Santa Rosa!
At the beginning of June, our dear friends from Seattle, Eric, Lovina, Billy, and Saili came to visit us! Our plan was to spend the weekend exploring California's wine country together. I had only been wine tasting in Napa once before with Clay's coworkers 5 years ago and neither of us had thought of going back. But after this weekend, I finally understood why Napa is such a popular attraction! I didn't know the area could be so fun before this trip took place.
Anyway, here is a recap of what happened. Billy booked the Sonoma Farmhouse for us to stay for two nights. The 6 of us had one video chat session to figure out how we wanted to spend our time. Everyone contributed an idea for an activity to do or a restaurant to book (good idea, Billy!). We arrived on a Friday night after picking up Eric & Lovina straight from SFO and basically had a day and a half to do everything before we had to leave on Sunday afternoon.
Saturday, we grabbed brunch at The Fremont Diner, where we enjoyed an American breakfast and their photo booth. Our first winery of the day was Domaine Carneros, which specialized in sparkling wine. Afterwards, we rushed over to Napa Valley Bike Tours, where we had reserved tandem bikes that would get us to our second winery, St. Supery, on St. Helena Highway in Rutherford. Off we went on our bikes in grueling 97 degree weather, hoping to make it to our next wine tasting on time! Little did we know that Eric & Lovina's tandem would soon suffer a broken bike chain that would call for a bike replacement halfway there. Luckily, we were able to wait in the shade and didn't have to wait too long. We were also very lucky that St. Supery was still willing to accommodate a bunch of late, sweaty, and out-of-breath bikers. Our tasting ended up being such a delightful experience that the Sus and the Yans decided to buy bottles to bring home, and Billy & Saili ended up becoming members! Last stop of the day was dinner at Ad Hoc, Thomas Keller's restaurant in Yountville. Our family-style dinner of American comfort food was very delicious and too satisfying. Clay had more than enough cheese to eat and Billy got so full from all the various carbs that he became the opposite of hangry. After dinner, we returned home to shower and nap so we could have energy for an evening of back-to-back games: A Fake Artist Goes to New York, Wizard, and In Kahoots. Always down to learn new games!
Sunday, we checked out of the farmhouse and spent the morning walking around Sonoma Plaza. Some of us grabbed coffee at Basque Boulangerie Cafe and some bought chocolates to bring home from Wine Country Chocolates. Everyone enjoyed sausage flights at Hare & Hatter Sausage Emporium (such a brilliant take on the charcuterie board). Of course, after all that, we still had room for our lunch at The Girl and the Fig. Even though my pancakes a la mode came out super late, I still enjoyed them very much (along with the milk & cookies that Eric & Lovina ordered to share). Last stop of the weekend was Gundlach Bundschu Winery, where Eric had booked a wine tasting & cave tour for us! Wow, we really did do a lot in a very short amount of time. All in all, it was a very memorable weekend with the best company. Looking forward to being reunited with everyone again soon.
Just capturing as I go.