Roadtrips


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According to my big brother, I haven’t posted anything since November 8th, and I’d be the first to admit that ever since this pregnancy began, I’m lost my blogging rhythm, which I suppose can only be expected. But worry not – things have been carrying on here at the Cleaver household, in perhaps a more chaotic fashion than usual.

Work has been keeping me very busy, we’re having new insulation put in the house, I’m trying to finish up a number of deadline projects, and I’ve been building up a cache of knit and sewn baby things I hope to share with you soon. In the midst of all of this, we took off Thanksgiving week to visit my extended family in Southern California.

With three other shutterbugs snapping photos of all the family gatherings, I neglected to pull out the camera for any of the family events, but I did take my camera with us on our Tuesday trip to the Happiest Place on Earth, Disneyland, thanks to the generosity of my aunt and uncle. Because everyone else was still working that day, it was just Mr. Cleaver and I, but I was pleased to accompany the Mr. on his first trip to Disney.

We gamely avoided any of the non-pregnancy-friendly rides, but still found more than plenty to fill our day. Mr. Cleaver declared Pirates of the Caribbean to be the best ride, while my favorite of the day was the new-to-me Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage. Between all the standing in queues and walking, I think it took my legs 3 days to recover!

But it was a fabulous fun day and a great transition into the holiday season!

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Sot it’s been several weeks since Rhinebeck but I’ve finally got my act together to put pen to paper (as it were). The trip as a whole was a bit of mixed bag because of some hotel troubles, but the Festival itself, along with the excellent company, made it an overall win in my book.

We headed out early Friday morning to take a detour to Northampton and WEBS, and everyone managed to pick up copious amounts of yarn – even me! I got enough yarn to make myself a Wispy Cardigan, a Porom Hat, and a bag of worsted weight tweed for a Mr. Cleaver sweater. At Rhinebeck itself, I limited myself to two skeins of FoxFire Cormo/Alpaca which will likely end up as these. When I will have time to knit all these things I don’t know, but a girl can dream right?

In our hotel room we entertained ourselves by reading the “naughty bits” of romance novels out loud and chowing down on snacks.

On the first day of the festival, we all got a good laugh when Bristol got recognized as the Winnowing designer about five seconds after we got into the long line at the front gate. After that there was more shopping (I got a Jennie the Potter bowl and a sheepskin), some apple cider doughnuts, and chatting with friends and fellow designers we saw along the way. After we tuckered out at the Festival, we headed to Poughkeepsie and saw the Walkway over the Hudson.  While just three of us walked the whole length and back (which admittedly was probably more walking than I should have done after walking all day), the views were definitely worth.

On the second day of the Festival I took a “drafting methods” spinning class, along with Maggie and Bristol from Beth Smith, It was my first spinning class and I found it highly enjoyable and educational and would recommend Beth as a teacher. After our class, the whole gang got together to photograph our matching sheep heids, before hitting up a few more booths and heading home, suitcases full of yarn.

If you follow me on twitter (@ms_cleaver) you’ll know I spent the majority of last week at a work conference in Washington D.C.

While I didn’t have as much free time as I did on my last D.C. visit, I did manage to find a few times to sneak out and see some sights.

I was traveling light, so here’s the trip in iphone/Instagram shots:

DC 2012 Mosaic

The photos above include:

And don’t worry, I got plenty of work/networking done too!

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It is Mr. Cleaver and I’s longstanding tradition to get outta dodge at least once in midwinter – usually late January/early February. It’s been overnight trips to Boothbay and Lake Geneva, or as simple as a day trip to FunSpot. This year we returned to a place we’ve played hooky in a few times before: Boston.

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This year’s excursion was specifically inspired by the current special exhibit running at the Museum of Science, A Day in Pompeii (still around until Feb 12th – if you’re interested).

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I’m a bit of an ancient history geek, having minored in Classical Studies in college, and while my Latin is sadly a bit rusty these days my love of classical art and history hasn’t diminished.

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The Pompeii exhibit was very well done and if I were to describe it in a single word, it would be “striking.”

The preserved artifacts are incredibly well preserved and cover a wide range of items from the sophisticated plumbing pipes and fixtures to intricate statues to wonderfully bright colored frescoes.

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Of course the most striking of all are the body casts, which are really a punch to the gut that bring home the tragedy in an all too effective way. I was most shaken of all by the two chained figures – one a man and one a dog, that had no way of escaping the volcano.

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We spent a little over an hour in the Pompeii exhibit before enjoying the rest of museum, including a collection of Geckos and a fun exhibit on model-making, which included making your own fish and seeing how long they survive in the environment  (Mr. Cleaver’s far out-survived mine.)

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The other museum highlight for me what a photo exhibit called “What I Eat: Around the World in 25 Diets.” The exhibit featured a series of portraits of people from various countries and that day’s food intake, along with a calorie count – which raised some interesting connections, such as the model, cod-fisherman, and refugee who all had similar calorie intakes, though wildly different food choices.

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It certainly made not want to think about the bacon and onion ring-covered burger I had for lunch (Yes, there’s a burger under there, it’s from the 21st Amendment and it was delicious, one the best burgers I’d ever had).

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All in all, it was a fun trip, well worth the pre-sunrise train ride down.

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Maybe it’s because I have food on the brain, but I took a lot of photos of food on our California trip, and truthfully we did a lot of eating out while we were there, so I thought I’d share some highlights.

Oxbow Public Market

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For southern Mainers, the Oxbow Public Market is like a successful version of what the Portland Public Market tried to be. INside the market there are a dozen or so food-related booths ranging from cupcakes and ice cream, to spices and olive oils, to oysters. Even on a Wednesday the whole market was fairly popular.

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We grabbed some delicious Tacos at Casa and had the unseasonable pleasure of enjoying them outside on the patio seating. Casa’s food is my favorite kind of Mexican – instead of the heayy refried bean and cheese fare at most Mexican chains, their food was fresh and light and featured some tasty but untraditional favor combos, like my blue cheese/onion/steak taco below.

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Buttercream Bakery:

My visits to Butercream are more about nostalgia than anything else. The food at the diner is simple diner fare, while the doughnuts come in regular and fancy varieties. We picked up a dozen of my old favorites, but I most enjoyed the red velvet doughnut I’d never tried before. So much for nostalgia!

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Genova Delicatessen
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A great deli in an unassuming location, this is the one spot my brother always makes sure to visit whenever he’s in Napa.

See’s Candies
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If you’re Californian, or ever been in a California airport, you probably know See’s Candies. I used to always try to get to the sprinkled one first – never realized they were mocha-flavored. If you visit one of the stand alone-stores, you get a free sample!

In-N-Out Burger
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What is there to say about In-N-Out that hasn’t been already said. Of all of my food photos from the trip, this is one that made Mr. Cleaver the most hungry again.

Boon Fly Cafe
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I was most excited to visit the Boon Fly Cafe.

One summer during college I worked at the under construction Carneros Inn (its parent/location) as a temp in the accounting department filing papers in a trailer full of soap and shampoo and one day my supervisor took me to lunch at the Boon Fly, which I remembered as delicious.

My memory served me well.

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The Boon Fly is my favorite kind of restaurant, simple food done incredibly well. The blackberry lemonade and flatbread pizzas were especially tasty. As a bonus the restaurant boasts a beautifully designed and relaxed atmosphere.

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Ghirardelli Ice Cream Shop

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After all this food, there’s still a place for desert. While in San Francisco we stopped at the Ghirardelli Ice Cream Shop, and let me tell you they do not mess around with chocolate there.

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Other notable stops (non-pictured):

Gillwood’s Cafe – Napa locals’ favorite brunch spot

Norman Rose Tavern – a new spot w/ great comfort food and an impressive tap list that includes several local beers and ciders in addition to the expected wines.

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Last week Mr. Cleaver and I headed out to Northern California to visit my family. The weather was beautiful and we ate enough food for the entire month of January – in fact most of my trip photos were of food, so I’m going to give the eats their own post.

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Today I wanted to focus on the last day of our trip when my big brother (hi Luke!) took us to Muir Woods and San Francisco before depositing us at the airport to catch our red eye back to Maine, where it promptly snowed 8 inches on our return.

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Luke had suggested we go to Muir Woods, and since Mr. Cleaver had never seen a giant redwood tree, I heartily agreed!

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If you’re not familiar with redwoods, the coastal redwoods are the tallest living trees in the world and can grow up to 380 ft (115m) high. These amazing trees grow only in a small region of Northern California and the the Pacific Northwest and I visited them often growing up on camping trips with my family.

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Perhaps even more amazing is that these giant trees grow from the tiniest pinecones!

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Coming from Maine, it was fun to see how green everything was, even if the non-evergreens had lost their leaves.

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For a complete 180 from our woodland trekking, we ended the afternoon at Ghiradelli Square and Pier 39 in San Francisco- the epitome of touristy hustle and bustle.

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The  Bourdin Sourdough Bakery

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IMGP4812.JPGChecking out the Sea Lions at Pier 39

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Sunset over the Golden Gate Bridge.

 

Brunch

Day Two in DC began with brunch at Afterwords Cafe, which is, I am told, an Institution. I was leaning toward sweet, so I got the French toast. Excepting blah scrambled eggs, the food was good and the service was quick and excellent. I also appreciated the complimentary orange juice.

Escalator at Dupont

Suitably fortified for the morning, I walked a block to the Dupont Circle Metro station, which has the longest escalator I’d ever seen  – seriously. I found the DC Metro to be very user-friendly and and efficient. The fares do change by destination and time of day, but $5 was more than sufficient to get me to the Mall and back again.

Washington Monument

I came out at the Smithsonian station to a large crowd of people participating in an Epilepsy Charity Walk. One of the things that becomes quickly apparent is that the National Mall is equally a gathering place for locals and tourists. Throughout the day I encountered as many local joggers, kite fliers, and Frisbee players as I did international tourists with cameras.

The Mall itself is a very beautiful and, at times, very emotional place to wander.

Washington Monument

I started my tour of the monuments at the impossible to miss Washington Monument. It’s hard to grasp the scale of it without standing right next to it. I checked for tickets to enter the inside, but by the time I reached the ticket stand (around 9:45ish) they were sold out for the day. I didn’t mind one way or the other, so I continued my way west toward the Lincoln Memorial.

Kites on the Nat'l Mall

Located between the Washington and Lincoln Monuments is the relatively new World War II Memorial, which was for me the most striking, and emotional, of all the monuments.

WWII Memorial

The monument is ringed with a series of bas-relief panels depicting various scenes, a family listening at the radio, soldiers in the pacific forests, nurses tending to the wounded, etc. The sculptures did an amazing job showing emotion on all the faces. I’ll admit as I went from panel to panel I began to cry.

WWII Memorial

The back center features the “price of freedom” wall, with one gold star for every 100 lives lost in the wall.  This combined with the panels puts a real human perspective on the war.

WWII Memorial

WWII Memorial

Next up was the Lincoln Memorial. With the Lincoln (and Vietnam) Memorial, my experience was akin to seeing American Gothic in a museum – it’s cool, but the imagery is so familiar, its hard to see it as anything other than the image.  The one surprise was the pennies people left on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in memoriam.

Lincoln Memorial

Vietnam Memorial

It was the memorials I was most unfamiliar with (WWII, Korea) that held the biggest impact. I think that impact was furthered by the fact that I knew people who had fought in those wars, whereas I didn’t know anyone who had fought in Vietnam.  The life-sized sculptures at the Korea Monument in particular made it easy to image my father-in-law among them.

Korea Memorial

After the emotion of the war memorials, it was a nice change of pace to the beauty of the Tidal Basin and its 2,000 blooming cherry trees located mostly between the FDR and Jefferson Memorials.

Cherry Blossoms

Fala

Cherry Blossoms

Blazer: J. Crew Outlet

Sweater:Manu, made by me

Shawlette:Ishbel, made by me

Cherry Blossom Pin: FDR Memorial Gift Shop

Denim Skirt: Old

Boots: Naturalizers

Jefferson Memorial

Cherry Blossoms and Bridge

Jefferson Memorial

After I visited the Jefferson Memorial I worked my back to the Washington Monument, completing a five-mile loop of the major monuments. By this point my feet were killing me. I thought my boots were comfy, but not comfy enough for five miles. But the walking wasn’t done yet – I only had one free day in DC, so I had to see more.

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After an encouraging phone call to Mr. Cleaver back at the home front, I pushed on Eastward to the Smithsonian Museum of American History. I enjoyed both the pop-culture-y bits like Julia Child’s kitchen and the ruby slipper, as well more educationa exhibits like Science in American Life.

Sam & Friends

Julia's Kitchen

Ruby Slippers

Atomic

Exhibits on American reactions to Atomic Energy and the Labor movement seemed especially timely in light of recent political events.

The American Twins

I was excited to discover the gallery of First Lady inaugural ball gowns at the museum and thought of how striking it was to see Michelle Obama’s dark-skinned mannequin after rows and rows of white mannequins just a few exhibits away from a sit-in lunch counter.

Michelle Obama

After several hours at the American History Museum, I went to the far end of the mall to satisfy my geek leanings at the Air and Space Museum – unfortunately I only had about 30 minutes to do a whirlwind tour do to some dinner plans, but it was well worth it.

Air & Space

Gemini IV

Air & Space

Air & Space

My last day in DC was mostly spent at my conference (I tried to look very work-y).

Looking Work-y

Dress: Notary Dress, made by me.

Scarf: Vintage, purchased at Ferdinand.

Fortunately, I had five hours between the end of the conference and my flight time, so I got so see the one thing I missed the day before – the Capitol.

Capitol

Unfortunately, my coworker and I were too late for the tour, but we went to our Senators’ office in the Russell building and got passes to the Gallery, which was very cool. Even cooler, I got to witness a roll-call vote for the confirmation of a NY District Court Judge.

Senate Gallery Pass

All in all, it was a very satisfying first trip to Washington D.C. I’d love to go back and spent more time there with Mr. Cleaver, particularly at the other Smithsonian museums.

For a listing of all the places I visited, check out the Google Map of my Trip, with all the locations mentioned here and in yesterday’s post.

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