san francisco [day 3]

We started our third, last full day in San Francisco by going to Mr. Holmes Bakehouse. I hate to admit it, but it was the second time on this trip we were standing in a line that we didn't know what it was for. So, here we stood, outside in a line as it started to rain. 

Thanks to some girls next to us who also wondered after about 5 minutes what they were in line for, they investigated. Turns out everyone was a line to get a cruffin [a croissant / muffin hybrid], which wouldn't be available for another 20 minutes. Sure a cruffin sounded delicious, but it wasn't worth waiting for in a long line, in the rain. 

We decided to bypass the long line and get a boring 'ol donut and bread pudding.

The show we had planned to see this particular afternoon was Superego. We had first seen them the last time we were in town for Sketchfest

Not only did we see the Superego regulars, but some amazing guests where there as well including John Hodgman, Amanda Lund and Janet Varney.

The show we saw has not been released, however, you can check out TONS of Superego on Howl.fm. I highly recommend this.

After the show, we found out there were still some tickets left for the Workjuice Players [basically, The Thrilling Adventure Hour]. However, it was for the late show. Meaning 10:30 pm. MEANING 12:30 am our normal, back home time. You know, two hours past our normal bedtime. 

But, we decided to live it up and got tickets. Knowing we had a late night ahead of us, we decided to not do too much and just walk around / explore. Maybe grab a beer and a snack. 

The beer and snack idea did not go as planned. We found a cute coffee shop, but they had JUST stopped serving food. 

Then we found a brewery Eric wanted to check out. Both their bar areas were full, but since we would be sharing an appetizer they would not let us sit in the dining area [even though it was before the dinner-time rush and only 2 tables were currently occupied].

[Thanks for nothing 21st Amendment Brewery.]

We were about to give up and head back to the hotel when we came across a little sports bar on the water. At this point we were exhausted from walking and just needed to sit for a bit.

For dinner that night we stopped at Gott's at the Ferry Building before heading over to the Brava Theater

It's probably worth mentioning that we spent most of our time in SF at Brava. All three shows we saw took place there. Needless to say we knew our way around that area pretty well by the end of the trip. 

The Workjuice Players started out with a solo by Rhett Miller, singing Life on Mars. [Unfortunately it was the next day that David Bowie passed away.] You can hear Rhett's great performance here. You can also hear Sparks Nevada, the story it proceeded, here

I'm glad we stayed up way past our bedtime for this show. There was so much talent on the stage and it was such a fun way to end our trip. 

san francisco [day 2]

Day two of our San Francisco trip was the busiest. We started out bright and early [thanks to still being on Central Time] and went to have breakfast at Blue Bottle

We had planned to ice skate that morning but we were too early and it wasn't going to start for another hour. We weren't too bummed though, since this left time to explore and work on our glutes. 

Upon arriving back at the skating rink when it opened, we were still the only ones there. Although it was nice to have the rink to ourselves for a half hour before others arrived AND to be skating outside and not be freezing [as we would have been in WI]. 

After skating it was time for lunch so we headed over to Jaspers Corner Tap. We had already eaten here our first time to the city, but it was close and convenient so we went again to plan out the rest of our day. 

Instead of resting, we decided to go check out Baker Beach. It was quite overcast and there weren't too many people, however, there were dogs. And lots of them. One lady in particular had six dogs with her. I really wanted to take some photos but felt bad so I asked her first. 

Her name was CJ and she runs Gentle Dog. CJ was very nice and at one point I was talking to her and Eric took off without me. He soon found me after he realized I wasn't behind him. I mean it was pretty obvious. If there are animals, I'm hanging out with them. 

That evening, we attended the first Sketchfest show we had tickets for which was Spontaneanation with Paul F Tompkins. This podcast was not quite a year old when we saw it, but Eric and I had both listened to every episode up until this point and it never had disappointed us, so we knew we were in for a good show. 

The show is comprised of a monologue by PFT, an interview with a special guest and then an improve story which includes 3 additional people. We definitely hit the jackpot with the show we saw. If I had been asked the three improvisers I'd want to see - these three would have all made the top of my list. 

The improvisers were Craig Cackowski, Matt Gourley and Janet Varney, while the special guest was Jon Hamm [yeah, I know I probably don't need to link him to anything but hey, I'm trying to be fair to everyone mentioned]. Oh yes! And the improve is all scored on piano by Eban Schletter

If you ever get the chance to see this show live, DO IT. I can't recommend it enough. You can listen to the particular show we saw here and during the few occasions you don't know what's going on, but the audience is laughing uncontrollably? Well, too bad, you should have been there. Also, you should have been there to hear everyone sing "Don't Stop Believing". That's something you won't hear on the recorded show. 

After the show there was a meet and greet. We decided to wait in line and well, meet and greet the performers. I had brought along a picture I wanted signed if there was a chance, so here it was. 

I'm no stranger to autographs. I still have all my autographs I've collected over the years [I'm not sure if it's more embarrassing that I have kept them all or that I knew exactly where they were].

EXAMPLE A - A magician / comedian from some random show my parents made me go to.

EXAMPLE A - A magician / comedian from some random show my parents made me go to.

EXAMPLE B - Elijah Wood, of course. 99% sure this is not authentic, but a copy sent out in bulk to teenage girls who wrote letters to their favorite teen actors.

EXAMPLE B - Elijah Wood, of course. 99% sure this is not authentic, but a copy sent out in bulk to teenage girls who wrote letters to their favorite teen actors.

Although, after standing in line for a while I began to feel silly. I'm already an awkward person meeting people I don't know. And do I really need an autograph? No. But is it neat to meet the people that entertain you during long drives or while you sit for hours editing photos? Yes. 

So, we stayed in line. And I got my picture of Maude [concerned that she couldn't listen to a live Superego steam because of technical difficulties] signed by 1/2 of Superego. [I had the chance to collect the other 1/2 of the group the following night but still felt weird about meeting and greeting, so I refrained. Not sure if that makes this signed photo more or less rare.]

tl;dr Go see Spontaneanation live. Listen to these podcasts: The JV Club, I Was There Too, Pistol Shrimps Radio + Superego. Make up your own mind if getting an autograph is cool or not. 

san francisco [day 1]

This past January Eric and I traveled back to San Francisco. In most cases I like to travel to new places [Seattle / San Juan Islands excluded from that statement], but Sketchfest was calling our names again.

We went for the first time in 2013 and had so much fun, we had to return. Our plane left on a Thursday morning and once we had arrived and checked into our room, we went for a walk. It was too early for supper and we had just been sitting most of the day. 

Eventually we ended up at Mikkeller and sat down for a beer. A very good beer I might add.

By now we were started to get hungry so we made our way over to Uno Dos for some delicious tacos.

We hadn't planned to see any shows at Sketchfest this first night, but instead wanted to check out the Exploratorium. Since it was Thursday, it was open from 6-10 pm for their adults only After Dark event and we had read there would be exploding ping pong balls. 

The Exploratorium was huge! I'm sure we could have spent a whole day there if we really wanted to look at everything. It was a bit overwhelming that there was so much to see and do. 

Before 9:00 we made our way over to where the ping pong balls would be exploding. I didn't get a picture since we were told to cover our ears, but you can see a video of it here. There were over 3000 ping pong balls in a garbage can which exploded when liquid nitrogen, which had been in a sealed bottle, exploded. Now that's how you end your first night in San Fran. 

santa cruz, part 3

On our second full day in Santa Cruz, we left the hotel early in the morning. The last two nights of our trip we stayed at Hotel Paradox. It was not on the beach, but it was a nice hotel none-the-less. The check-in desk was part of a huge redwood and there were nature-esque decor all around, which I'm a big fan of. 

The morning was cloudy and rainy but we were hoping it would clear up by the time we got to our destination to do some sight-seeing. 

Our first stop was at the Baylands Nature Preserve in Palo Alto. It was not raining, so we got to walk around for a bit. The goose below did not like me taking pictures and tried to attack me. 

Because we were still craving tacos, we drove to downtown Palo Alto to go to Tacolicious for lunch. It was still a little early, so we browsed the farmer's market and did some window shopping before making our taco stop. 

The drive to Big Basin Redwoods was beautiful. VERY curvy roads and almost every other vehicle we passed had a Christmas tree they were hauling home. We didn't get to hike that far into the woods since we didn't have much time before we needed to head back. Also - surprise! It started to rain again. 

The only thing I'm bummed I did not see was a banana slug. Maybe next time. 

Before heading to supper, we went to watch the sunset at Steamer Lane. Many others had the same idea and the beach was filled with couples and families trying to soak up the last of the sun before it set. 

Finally it was the night I had been waiting for - the Aimee Mann Christmas show. It was held at the Rio Theater [iPhone pictures below] which was a bit smaller than we had expected. There were a bunch of seats in the middle-front which were reserved but all others were general admission. We decided to sit on the right side, second row. Yes, we were right by the speaker but knew it wasn't going to be deafening. However, we overheard countless people complain before the show about how it was going to be too loud, or they weren't even going to chance it. Wimps! 

Also pre-show, I enjoyed other overheards like:

"I think it's a small band, her husband is here.", referring to Ted [not her husband].

"Who's the opener?" "I don't know but it will be good since she's a music snob."

The show was filled with both comedy and music. The main story was that Santa was murdered backstage and it was Aimee and Ted's job to find the murderer. The opening for the show was an amazing video of "Murder, She Sang". [I just tried to search for the video since I keep hoping it finds its way online. It hasn't but I found the skit from Wits which must have started this idea?]

Along with being excited to see The Both [Aimee and Ted] I was also excited to see comedian Tim Heidecker. I'm pretty sure no one at this theater understood his humor. We, along with maybe one other guy, were the only ones laughing. Santa Cruz - stop being scared of loud music and comedians! 

Anyway, I just want Aimee, Ted and Tim to know - we enjoyed the show! We laughed with you and also at you [well, mainly just Ted in his baby New Year outfit]. 

santa cruz, part 2

Looking back at our two full days in Santa Cruz last December, I realized we did A LOT on the first day. I last wrote and shared pictures from the first half of the day. Picking up where I left off, we were at the Natural Bridges State Beach and from there walked to the butterfly preserve. We happened to be there at a great time to view the monarchs since this is one of the spots many of them migrate to for the winter due to the eucalyptus groves in the park.

At first we didn't see much, but after a while we could see little specks of movement. Those where the monarchs way up in the trees! Although you can't see the specks in the picture below, that was the view looking up. 

Inside the learning center there were a few monarch chrysalis to view up close. It's amazing how intricate they are and how they are formed. We also got to see a monarch that had hatched just moments before we got there. 

After viewing the butterflies we headed back down West Cliff Drive to the main surfing area which is known as Steamer Lane.  There were a bunch of surfers out and they were a lot of fun to watch. 

From here we traveled downtown to eat lunch at Lulu Carpenters. After walking around and checking out a few stores, we stopped at The Penny Ice Creamery and shared a scoop of delicious apple crisp ice cream. 

And because we can't sit still we then headed to Capitola. Eric knows me so well that he knew I'd love to take pictures of the colorful beach homes. And of course I did. 

As it had been off and on the whole day, it was no surprise it started to rain again. Although this time, it was not letting up. We tried to figure out where we could go and we remembered - THE BIGFOOT DISCOVERY MUSEUM! If you are ever in the area, it's a must see. It's too hard to explain all my feelings and thoughts on it, but I will leave you with my three favorite things I shared on Twitter about the place: 

After the Bigfoot fun, we found the perfect bar down the road where we stopped to have a drink and play cribbage. The bar was Monty's Log Cabin and it had an up north Wisconsin, small bar feel. No one was really there together, but yet they all knew each other. We felt like outsiders, although it was fun to people watch. 

For supper that night we stopped at Redwood Pizzeria in Felton before heading back to Santa Cruz for one last amazing stop before the end of the night. 

THE CHRISTMAS HOUSE. I'm sure locals may have another name for it, but that's the best I could come up with. We first drove by it during the day and knew we'd have to come back once it was dark.

We weren't the only ones who had stopped to take a closer look and take pictures. Eric even got to talk to the owner for a bit. 

I also want to mention it was weird to be in a warmer climate so close to Christmas. It's one thing to see decorations here in Wisconsin and even if there's no snow on the ground, it's at least freezing. Here in California, it seemed wrong to see things like decorative flags that have a penguin on a snow covered hill. You guys don't know what Christmas weather feels like! 

Anyway, here are a few pictures of the Christmas House. It was a cheery ending to our very busy day.

santa cruz, part 1

Last December Eric and I took a short trip to Santa Cruz. We decided on this specific location for a couple reasons. The main reason was because Aimee Mann was bringing back her Christmas show and it's something I have wanted to see for a long time. Also, California is warmer than Wisconsin in December. 

We got into San Francisco in the afternoon and our plan was to stop at Tacolicious for supper before we headed to Santa Cruz. We had found Tacolicious on our trip to San Fran a couple years ago and haven't been able to find any tacos that compare since. So, we were quite excited to be back in the area to have some delicious tacos again.

We stopped at the Palo Alto location and noticed it was quite empty. I figured it was a little early for people to eat supper, so that was the reason. Nope. It was empty was because it was closed for a private party later that evening. Ugh. 

Not a great start to our trip! 

Instead of finding an alternate place to eat, we continued our road trip to Santa Cruz. We checked into the hotel we'd be staying at for one night, the Dream Inn. There was a beautiful view of the ocean and sounds of crashing waves and sea lions talking. 

After checking in, we walked to Surfrider Cafe for supper. It wasn't Tacolicious, but it was still a great meal! 

The next morning we woke early and were actually able to get a nice view of the ocean since it was dark when we had arrived the night before. 

We then left to drive to Davenport to eat breakfast at the Whale City Bakery and take a walk along the seaside cliffs. 

I'm sure we could have walked around this area a lot longer, but it was starting to rain and we needed to check out of the hotel. 

After we left the hotel, we stayed in Santa Cruz and drove to another trail along the ocean. This led us to the Natural Bridges State Beach. There weren't many people there, but there were lots of pelicans and birds. I had fun taking pictures of the birds and at one point almost got hit by the tide coming in since I wasn't paying attention to the waves. Completely worth it though. 

Surprisingly this was only the first half of our day! Stay tuned for the second half...