Hello From Texas

I'm simultaneously saddened and joyed to report that I'm back to my recently rain-soaked Dallas home. Sad, because my awesome vacation is now over; and joy because the aeroplanes and taxycabs delivered me safely here and not in an fiery ball of wreckage. And despite the recent news of airlines "losing" record amounts of luggage and selling it in a warehouse in Alabama, all of my checked luggage appeared on the baggage claim belt, though not until the bitter end when everyone else was already walking away with their own bags that looked confusingly similar to my own.

When you've been on a long vacation, part of you is always glad to get back to normality and the comfortable routine. I wasn't too pumped about going back to work today, but I didn't mind it so much either. Part of that was knowing that I only have two days to work until the weekend arrives. I have no doubt that next week I'll be banging on the alarm clock snooze button for half an hour, just like old times.

I was also happy to get back to my stuff. I was missing my dog, my bed, my tiny keychain pocketknife, my espresso, and my 2-ply toilet paper. Some things just aren't practical or legal to take on the plane, no matter how big your bag or how many "diplomatic pouch" stickers you put on it.

I'm attempting to prepare a 60-second summary of the things Sofia and I did while in California, knowing that I'll be (gladly) telling the story a dozen or more times in the next week. I want to try to include as much as possible without getting too wordy or inciting too much jealousy, so I'll practice here. I can elaborate if you ask.

We spent the first four days in Napa Valley and the next day in Sonoma Valley. During this time we must have visited about 20 wineries, where some of the products and experiences were more memorable than others. We didn't take many bottles of wine with us because most of it was really expensive. We ate at a few charming little French and Italian restaurants, though I hesitantly admit my favorite food was at a Bar & Grill we visited for lunch. The last three days were in San Francisco, where we did all the usual touristy things like visiting the Golden Gate Bridge, Muir Woods, Chinatown, Baker Beach, and Fisherman's Wharf. Although we didn't plan on using the car at all while there, there was surprisingly little traffic, so we drove on the incredibly steep hills and even Lombard St, the crookedest road in the world. The scenery was amazing everywhere and I dare say there was never a dull moment.

I took several hundred photos of our wine-country and hill-country adventures, which I will share here once I've filtered out the ones not suitable for the public (by that I just mean blurry and underexposed photos, of course). Some of the better ones will have captions because otherwise you won't know why I was taking pictures of some seemingly random barn out on the country-side. I'll give you a hint right now though: we didn't stay in a hotel the entire time.

Stay tuned...