Tag Archives: Christmas

A Point Reyes Christmas!

12 Jan

James and I spent Christmas in Point Reyes this Christmas. It’s about 1.5 hours from San Francisco, so it’s perfect for a long weekend getaway.

Christmas Eve

We’d picked up our rental car the day before, so got an early start on our trip. Here we are heading out of the city:
IMG_20171224_081946We arrived at the Point Reyes Lighthouse a little bit before it opened. There were very few people around, and on the walk to the lighthouse we saw some elk. This one crossed the road right in front of us!IMG_20171224_095757I guess he has a fancy necklace because they monitor the elk population or something?

We had some nice views of the seashore and (what I’m going to assume were) Cypress trees.
IMG_20171224_100144Before descending to the lighthouse, a warning to us all:
IMG_20171224_100802There were just a couple of other groups, and everyone was very considerately staggering themselves, so we had the lighthouse to ourselves.
IMG_20171224_101407We saw the Fresnel lens and the inside of the lighthouse. James read the lighthouse keeper’s diary and said it was basically the diary of a man slowly going mad. Apparently it was mainly complaints about how little work the other lighthouse keeper did, and also every few months he would see a boat.

The way back up – 308 steps!
IMG_20171224_102810We went to Point Reyes Station to do some grocery shopping (it was slammed!) and then headed to get our oyster lunch(es).

Our first stop was Hog Island Oysters where we ordered raw oysters, oysters with barbecue sauce, and half a Dungeness crab.
IMG_20171224_123909They sold oysters that you could take home and shuck yourself, which sounds amazing. Maybe next time!

Afterwards we went to The Marshall Store. They were more expensive than Hog Island, so if you’re getting plain oysters you should probably go elsewhere, but the smoked and barbecued oysters were incredible – and the barbecued oysters came with a giant, satisfying hunk of bread!

Hog Island Oysters had the pretty fairy lights, but it was really nice sitting on the water with our delicious oysters. IMG_20171224_140411Afterwards we headed to our rental cabin in Point Reyes, ready for an early start the next day.

Christmas Day

We got to the Palomarin trailhead around 8am to hike Alamere Falls. It’s one of the most popular hikes in the area but the parking lot was empty on Christmas Day.

It’s an 8 mile (12.8km) round trip – we actually did 10 miles (16km) because we missed the turn-off. We think there used to be an official sign but now there’s just this mysterious rock arrow pointing into some bushes.
IMG_20171225_102019On our hike back we watched from around the corner to see what people would do, and everyone took the shortcut. I guess James and I are just very untrusting people. =(

After a long and circuitous walk on an empty beach, we finally arrived!
IMG_20171225_113928The falls emptied out to the ocean, which was really cool.
MVIMG_20171225_113959
Here is James having lunch at the base while I wandered around.
IMG_20171225_114252When the tide came in it cut off the beach route that we had taken to get to the falls. The shortcut involved a bit of a scramble up a cliff. IMG_20171225_120228At the top there were several little falls before the main waterfall.
IMG_20171225_120731 We think this was the top waterfall but you can never be sure. IMG_20171225_121216
There were a lot of people on our walk back and when we got back to the carpark it was full, which was a bit surprising given that it was Christmas. But I guess I don’t know how full it would have been on a regular day to compare.

We got home, showered and napped. Then we had dinner, drank a bottle of champagne and played Exit: The Abandoned Cabin, an escape room game. It was so cosy and satisfying spending the evening solving puzzles together. What a perfect day. =)

Boxing Day

This was our cabin at sunrise.
IMG_20171226_074223 (1)After we checked out we went kayaking on Tomales Bay. It was a beautiful morning and the water was like glass.
MVIMG_20171226_110400 We spent a lot of the time following this bird around. He hated us; every time we paddled within 50 meters of him he glared at us and flew away. MVIMG_20171226_104019We saw some elk on a beach. They also weren’t happy to see us, and fell a couple of times trying to jump a ledge to get away from us. Sorry elk!
Elk at Tomales Bay failing to climb a ledge, as seen from our kayakWe stopped for lunch on Heart’s Desire beach and then continued on our kayak journey. The water had gotten quite choppy and we were fighting against the current. I say “we”, but unfortunately for James, my paddling was largely decorative.

You can tell by his happiness levels. Here we are, kayaking out:
IMG_20171226_102750 (1)And kayaking back:
IMG_20171226_124600Logistically it had been a poor decision to kayak on the day we didn’t have a hot shower immediately available, but it was the only way I could have fit everything in since the kayak place wasn’t open Christmas Day and the lighthouse wasn’t open Monday to Thursday.

But anyway, we dried off as best we could and headed back to San Francisco. It was a really wonderful way to spend the Christmas break. =)

We spent the rest of the day relaxing at home (OMG my ankles were so sore after the hike) and playing with the cats. Then in the evening Jaimie and Jeff came over and we played Watson & Holmes (where we were all completely out-deduced by James).

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Google Holiday Party 2018: Wonderland

14 Dec

When James told me the Christmas party was Wonderland themed I was like “Oh nice. Winter Wonderland!”

Nah. Alice in Wonderland.IMG_20171209_195208

It was held at the Exploratorium, which is an interactive science museum, and we could look at all the exhibits (mostly) without lines.

Here is James (you’ll just have to trust me on that) in a weird helmet thing that he kept changing the colours for with a little dial on the side.
IMG_20171209_194448He used this spinning wheel to change the direction his chair turned in.
IMG_20171209_211923My favourite exhibit was the Drawing Board. The other time I went to the Exploratorium this was really hard to get a ticket for, but at the party we just walked straight on (and started a movement! I think people didn’t realise it was a thing before we did it).

We picked four colours, swung the machine how we wanted and let the momentum draw pretty patterns for us.
00082IMG_00082_BURST20171209200304_COVERWe also went to the Tactile Dome which was free for the evening (it normally costs $8-15).

There was quite a long line for it – maybe 30 minutes? But it was pretty cool – you had to take off your shoes and feel your way through this pitch black route with slides, a mini rope course, bits where you had to crouch and climb, etc.

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image from Exploratorium website

I only saw one casino table this year, but that makes sense when there is so much to do at the Exploratorium. Otherwise it was pretty similar to previous Christmas parties – open bar (no signature cocktails this year though), sushi bar, taco bar and photo booths.
IMG_20171214_111423One thing that was new was the boba tea room (a huge hit!). They had several milk teas available – Hong Kong milk tea, taro, and jasmine are the ones I remember – and it was a really nice non-alcoholic option.

I also loved the little teapot sugar cookies they had as part of the dessert buffet:
IMG_20171209_224322Adorable. (I had two!)

We did a lot of standing around and chatting with James’ coworkers so we didn’t get to see as much as we would have liked. James gets free entry to the Exploratorium as a Google perk so maybe we’ll head back another day and play with all the exhibits!

Christmas at Mammoth and June

10 Jan

We finally made it to Mammoth for Christmas! Last year our flight kept getting cancelled but this year we managed to get ahead of the storm (we also got upgraded! Yay!)

I always love de-planing at Mammoth. The mountains are so pretty and the air is so cold and crisp. =)
IMG_20161219_162507On James’ birthday his aunt and uncle took us out for a fancy meal which was super nice of them. We had a couple of sunny, not-too-busy days to get our snow legs back before the storm. Plus lots more eating and drinking!

On the day of the storm it was cold, wet, and the visibility was pretty bad.
IMG_20161223_120034Storm days are always my favourite because the snow keeps getting refreshed and hardly anyone is on the mountain, and everyone who is there is so happy! It was definitely the best day of the trip. =)

The weather was pretty cold this time – I wore five layers most days. My gloves are pretty ratty now, so for the next trip I bought a bright pair of mittens so I’m nice and easy to find.
IRIGLOPL

All the days leading up to Christmas were pretty decent crowd-wise – last year the Christmas to New Year period was awful, so we were pleasantly surprised.

This is James looking majestic on Christmas Day.
IMG_20161225_114911
The highlight of the day had to be meeting up with Woolly and a random Santa!
IMG_1116 (2)It was a great way to spend Christmas morning/afternoon – the snow was nice, the sun was out, and everyone was in a good mood.

But then … disaster! As we were walking back from the resort James got paged. =( He spent the rest of the day (4pm-1:30am) on a work emergency. Here he is, looking very depressed with his festive hat and champagne flute.
IMG_20161225_184938Poor thing. =( We were all eating our delicious Christmas dinner and he was in the corner on a conference call with a plate of food.

The next day Ian, James and I headed to June Mountain to escape the Boxing Day crowds. It was busier than the last time we went but not too bad.

This is the view from the resort – gorgeous!IMG_20161226_141636I can’t remember which run I took this photo on – it was a green run that had beautiful views all the way down which made up for the fact that the snow was fairly crappy.
IMG_20161226_140628Last time Ian and I were at June we took the ski-back trail, but there wasn’t enough snow this time so we had to take the chairlift back to the parking lot.

Going down was a very different experience to going up! I was holding my snowboard and had the bar down because if the chairlift suddenly stopped I didn’t want to go tumbling down the mountain.

The most nervewracking part was when I took my phone out for some photos – the board was wedged between me and the bar, and I had a death grip on my phone … which I couldn’t even feel because my hands were so cold.

No regrets!
IMG_20161226_142151Then our last day we spent at Mammoth again, and that was our Christmas holiday! I snowboarded seven out of the eight days we were there, which isn’t bad.

It was great seeing James’ relatives again, and I’m looking forward to our next trip out!

Google Christmas Party 2016

31 Dec

The holiday party this year was Peter Pan themed. Weird, but it could have been weirder I guess – Anne Marie’s party theme was Mythbusters!

It was in the same location as last year (though no oyster bar, boooo!) and everyone agreed that this year seemed much more crowded. The food and bar lines moved quite quickly though, so it wasn’t inconvenient – just busy.

Helen got there right as it started so was able to take this photo with almost nobody in it:

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photo stolen from Helen

As usual the party had casino games, cigars, bourbon tasting, various food stalls, wandering entertainers and foosball/ping pong/shuffleboard games.

The new stuff they had included a room of giant teddy bears to chillax in, a lovely lady with a snake and caricatures (apparently the line was crazy long so we didn’t bother).

The food and booze were much better this year! I did miss the oyster bar, but the sushi bar helped make up for it.
IMG_20161217_202123(Wow, red-eye – haven’t seen that in awhile!)

The sushi bar only provided teeny tiny plates but we used larger ones from one of the other food stands – people kept coming up to us and asking where we’d gotten them from.

The evening’s signature cocktails (though they could make other stuff if you wanted):
IMG_20161217_194701I also met James’ manager. He was very nice and introduced James to his wife as “the guy whose coattails I’m going to ride to get promoted”. =D

This snake was called Lola and she was my favourite part of the entire night:
IMG_20161217_215513She was so docile (which apparently they are bred for) and her scales were surprisingly moist. And here we are with her handler:
IMG_20161217_213905 (1)There was a big pirate ship in the middle of the hall, with lots of comfy seating next to it:
IMG_20161217_223855Which I didn’t need because I swapped to ballet flats about 3/4 of the way in.

There were the customary photo booths. This one took three photos in quick succession:
Google Holiday Party 2016 with Nick and KellyLook at that expert prop exchange. It took a lot of planning.

And here we are in the giant pile of teddy bears at the end of the night. It was hard to get too comfy in them because I saw a guy leap into the bears, and as he did, a huge layer of dust went up in the air like a mushroom cloud.

IMG_0384 (2)

photo stolen from Alex

We caught up with friends, ate and drank in moderation like responsible adults, and had a really great night. =)

A Christmas Coastal Trail Hike

19 Jan

This year for Christmas we were supposed to be at Mammoth with James’ family but our flight and replacement flight both got cancelled so we were stuck in San Francisco. Booooo!

Most of our friends were out of town, but luckily a few were going for a hike on Christmas Day so we were able to piggy back on their plans. We all headed up to Rodeo Beach in Marin.
IMG_20151225_135715It was a gorgeous day. We started along the lagoon (which you can see part of in the photo above) and headed to a dirt trail. It wasn’t steep steep but it was a long, unshaded uphill segment and we were pretty impressed by the cyclists that occasionally passed us.

Then we turned onto Wolf Ridge trail, which had beautiful hill views and was quite steep in parts. At what we think was the summit (or at least the turnaround point of the hike) there was some sort of army base with abandoned buildings and great views of the Pacific Ocean.

I saw this structure and said to James “you want to climb that don’t you?”

Of course he did.
IMG_20151225_130117And a rare behind the scenes glance at how the magic happens …
IMG_20151225_130152The rest of the hike was easy and just descending, though James has a bad knee so descents are actually the difficult part for him. I think it must have joined onto another hike because it suddenly got a lot more populated (though that could have been because it was later in the day – on the drive back to San Francisco we saw that outbound traffic was completely snarled).

The second half of the hike had a lot of stuff to explore.  There was this cool artillery thing.
IMG_20151225_134521And a couple of creepy abandoned buildings that I didn’t go into but James did, taking this photo for posterity.
IMG_20151225_131739 (1)And here I am holding everyone up with my wanderings.
IMG_20151225_133826The hike alternated between views of the headlands and, as we came to the end, the Pacific Ocean.
IMG_20151225_140419We spent some time here just chatting, snacking and watching the surfers.

James has long arms so is always on selfie duty.
IMG_20151225_132537And strong legs and core so also on piggyback duty.
IMG_20151225_132653(Why do my teeth look so … golden?)

Then afterwards we had dinner and played games until 3am. It was a really nice day with friends and it totally saved us from having the most depressing Christmas ever. Like seriously, we didn’t even have any food in the house.

Last year we wouldn’t have been able to do something so last minute for Christmas and I feel really fortunate that we made some really great friends in 2015. I still prefer Seattle as a city but I love, love, love our friends here.

Google Holiday Party: Under the Sea (Unda da Sea! Unda da Sea!)

13 Jan

This year the Christmas party was held at one of the event venues along the SF pier. We found our friends almost immediately which was great, since last year everyone kept wandering around and missing each other. We claimed a couple of big tables and just kept refilling it with food and booze. Because we’re pro.

A lot of stuff was the same as last year’s party, like the green screen photos:googleholiday002Cheesy but fun! They had props this year too.googleholiday001They also had the same casino games that they did last year. We played a little bit but it’s hard to keep interested without money involved. They seemed quite popular though.

And also like last year they had booze tasting (bourbon this year instead of scotch), cigars and a dance floor.

One thing they had this year that I don’t think they did last year was a game area with ping pong tables, shuffleboards, billiards, foosball, corn holes, and even a fishing simulator.
IMG_20151219_192743(In the background you can also see one of like, seven open bars that night)

And here are some freshly shucked oysters! You can bet we kept coming back.
IMG_20151219_194018You could also put on 3D glasses and walk through this colourful corridor. The line was non-existent which was nice because it was kind of meh.
IMG_20151219_200821No wait, apparently I found it amazing. IMG_20151219_200932Also the food was great! I mean, I mainly had oysters but I did sample stuff from the other buffets. Later they packed up the buffets (though they kept the taco stations open) and brought out a dessert bar with little cakes, mini root beer floats and teeny tiny cones of spiced popcorn. Heaven!

Last year there were more things to do at the venue itself (aircraft simulators, multiple ship tours, photo ops inside jets, etc). I think that’s why they had more performers and acrobats this year, to keep everyone entertained. But this year I had more fun since we got to hang out with our friends. =D

PS – I’m not sure this link will work, but check out James’ colleague’s photo album. You can see us in a couple of photos and he did a much better job getting photos of the food and entertainment. Probably because he wasn’t stuffing himself with oysters all night.IMG_20151219_193831

(No regrets)

 

The Google Christmas Party

4 Mar

3 months late is better than never! And blurry photos are better than none!

Last December James and I went to the Google Android Christmas party (the company is too big so they have to split the parties into different departments). It was 1940s themed and held on the USS Hornet, an old aircraft carrier.
IMG_20141206_192403There was a lot going on as soon as we entered the carrier – music, food, drinks, games, etc. There were also tours of the ship but we didn’t sign up for those in time – bummer.

We both got some silly press-on tattoos to start the night.
IMG_5016There were lots of food and booze stations. James was drinking Old Fashioneds all night but I was more excited about the sushi.
IMG_5020 And the fresh donuts!
IMG_5021We met up with James’ coworkers and it was awesome to see how well-regarded he was, even after only a couple of months. One of the managers was introducing James to someone and was like “this is one of our new hires – and what a hire!” =D

We also rode in a fighter plane simulator and got to look at various exhibits. Here I am clutching my fresh donuts (also you can see my flaming skull bicep tattoo):
IMG_20141206_204423And here James is in one of the planes!
IMG_20141206_213213We also played some casino games like craps and blackjack with fake money.

You could walk up and down the (very narrow and rickety) levels of the aircraft carrier, and on the deck they had a band, some scotch tasting and souvenir cigars.
IMG_20141206_202642Of course, James and his friends decided they had to smoke cigars and drink scotch the rest of the night. =P We bummed some matches from some other people but it was really windy on the deck so they kept sputtering out. James eventually managed to light his cigar by using one of the lanterns inside.
IMG_5027Look at Jamesy. He thinks he’s so cool with his cigar, face tattoo and little hat.
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It was a fun night (aside from James feeling a bit sick on the shuttle ride home). I’m looking forward to this year’s party because I have a couple of friends whose husbands work in Android so I’ll know some people in my own right. Plus I won’t be as crazy homesick as I was last year, so it will be even more fun! =)