List 44: Attend the SF Chinese New Year Parade/ Hike Mt. Sutro (#4 and #20)

IMG_2626 Some of the items on my yearly lists come from pretty random sources:

Hike Mt. Sutro #20

In the case of Mt. Sutro, I saw an Instagram photo by a photographer I follow, that instantly had me making a note about it in my planner (even in this big world of technology driven apps and calendars  I will still choose paper over everything else). When I finally went back and checked out the trails and photos online for Mt. Sutro I was sold. It’s like a little forest oasis in the middle of San Francisco. And on some days it looks magical even. The photo I saw on Instagram and what I read on this site had me hoping for a foggy day for this hike but leave it to me to pick a wonderfully sunny day to visit San Francisco (just kidding…who doesn’t love a clear beautiful day in SF). We had some difficulty finding a spot to park initially. If you are looking to hike this park and try to follow Google’s map directions,  it will take you to the heart of the park and there is no parking there. And most of the parking around the park is for UCSF students. The website I linked to has better options for finding parking than the way we did it. We lucked out with a spot right off of Parnassus Ave, just steps away from the park. We cut through the back of the school, up quite a few wooden stairs, winding around different school buildings until we located a trail. The trails themselves are very easy to navigate. After some of the hikes we’ve been doing lately this trail was almost too easy. We did the whole park in just about an hour and a half (3.45 miles).IMG_2611

IMG_2608If you find yourself in the city and want an easy, short hike this definitely fits the bill. This is a good one if you want to take your kids on a hike too. I can see this being a reprieve, of sorts, from the city life. When traffic and people are just too much, you can just take a quick break and hike these trails. Even though it’s right in the middle of the city the trails are quiet and it’s hard to believe there is a whole big city surrounding it.

**We had some time between the hike and the start of the parade so I looked up what  other “must see” place was close by and the Painted Ladies popped up. All the times I’ve been to San Francisco I still hadn’t made it over to see these iconic houses. So on our way to Chinatown we made a quick stop to check them out. Beautiful weather in San Francisco means there are tons of people out and on this day the park was packed with people. One area of the park was so busy you couldn’t walk on that portion of the grass. I’ve never seen anything like it. Nate and I talked about how this was not something you would see in our area. Monterey, for all it’s beauty, is lacking any kind of an interesting social scene that other, bigger cities and towns seem to have. It was cool to finally see these houses in person and I’m happy I can cross that off my list of things to do in San Francisco.

Attend the Chinese New Year Parade in San Francisco #4


My (year of the) dragon guy next to a cool dragon

I added this to my list when I turned on the news one evening in 2014. The 2014 parade had happened that day and the news was showing video of the it and I thought it looked like it would be really fun. What I learned from this activity was that I hate parades. I think its funny that I just realized this though, having been in numerous parades back in my marching band days. And I can remember liking them as a child but maybe I was just easily excited by things as a child. 90% of this parade was b o r i n g. I loved the different costumes and the excitement of being in a crowd and all the fireworks and poppers being set off. I loved the long, colorful dragons they carry along the parade.  I loved being in the middle of all that chaos and being near all the other people enjoying the parade. The boring part, the politicians and other folks driving by in cars or walking by is what I discovered is not really my thing. having never been to Chinatown before we wandered around for a bit before the parade started. I was looking for a little trinket to pick up inChinatown and we tracked down the fortune cookie factory for Nate. They make them right in front of you and when you buy a bag they also give you a handful of the unfolded ones, right off the “press”. Warm and buttery and so crisp (I didn’t actually eat any of these but that’s how these smelled). Nate was in cookie heaven! We left a little early from the parade so we would hopefully (ha!) beat the traffic and we learned later that we missed the big, really long dragon that makes an appearance towards the end of the parade.Kind of  a letdown to find that out. Despite that disappointment we both felt it was a fun day.IMG_2652The thing about San Francisco is that even if you spend a day sightseeing there is still SO much more to do up there. I’ve lived here almost 22 years and I still haven’t seen half of what this city has to offer. Looking forward to some more SF adventures this year. There are at least 3 or 4 on my #45list!




Hiking adventures: Pinnacle Peaks Trail- Scottsdale, Arizona


Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset Now that we’ve pretty much stopped drinking we find that we are often filling that time with hiking. (Actually, friends have also noticed this and pointed it out to us too , which is pretty funny) When I plan trips now, I no longer look for breweries or drinking establishments, I look for hiking spots. It’s our new favorite way to spend time together. There is no doubt, in either of our minds, that this is a much better way to spend our time together. I feel so much better and being outdoors and active is so much better for us as a couple. Traveling has changed a bit because of this lifestyle change though. We normally make it out to Arizona at least once a year to see my family but in the past it’s always been in the summer ,mostly because of Alex and school, and because my dad had a pool. Not a fancy pool by any means but a pool that I have enjoyed on and off for the past 25+ years of my life. He sold that house though and opted for a new house, in a new housing community, where the pool is a community pool. Now, I don’t have anything against community pools per se but the convenience of rolling out of bed, donning my swimsuit and jumping into the pool by 9:00am is gone. I am a little heartbroken about this still, btw. Anyway, because of his residence change, we opted to travel to Arizona in January this time. This worked out better with our current lifestyle too. IMG_1613In the past we would spend our time in Arizona visiting breweries and hanging at the pool because in Arizona, in the dead of summer, there isn’t much else to do. We stayed with my sister in Scottsdale for the first few days (my dad moved out to the middle of nowhere) so that meant our first hike needed to be near or around Scottsdale. Nate had already done Camelback Mountain years ago so I was looking for a hike neither of us had done before. Pinnacle Peak seemed like the perfect hike to start with. Not too long. Not to far from my sister’s house. (Nate hates how spread out everything is in Arizona). I read a few things about the hike and it seemed like it would work for us. Even though the weather in Arizona this time of year is wonderful it’s still 10 degrees more than we are used to. IMG_1632I had read that this hike was busy on weekends but I was not prepared for this kind of busy. It was almost like a conveyor belt of people. There was always someone right behind you or right in front of you. The hike itself was great. It’s been referred to as the “stairmaster” hike and that name fits it. It’s a steady climb up to the peak (1300 ft elevation gain) and the trail itself is only 3.5 miles round trip but the views of the Valley are great. The houses out there are amazing too. We spent some of our time discussing which house we would live in if we had that kind of money. It’s a fun  hike but if you are looking for a one without tons of other hikers, this is not the trail for you.  Can’t beat the view though. Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetAs I’ve grown older I’ve begun to appreciate the landscape of Arizona much more than when I was younger. I disliked everything about the desert when I was growing up here and couldn’t wait to leave it. Looking back now though I’m sure it was just that I was looking for a change. Looking at the familiar landscape now just makes me feel nostalgic and I appreciate the beauty of the desert. Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

We invited our friend Ian along for the hike and it is always fun to hang out with him. He and Nate have been friends since elementary school and I’ve always appreciated that when we’re in Arizona that Nate has someone he can also connect up with. Arizona trips are often filled with seeing my high school friends so it can be a bit boring for Nate when I’m off having lunch or shopping with girlfriends. Or dragging him to happy hour reunions filled with people he doesn’t know. Neither of us are good in new social situations so I can understand his anxiety when I drag him places like that. I appreciated that Ian came out and hiked with us. His wife and kids were out of town and he had a BBQ to go to but still he made time for us. We were rewarded with a special treat at the end of the hike too. One of the animal rehab organizations (Wild at Heart) had brought out a variety of birds/raptors for people to see. They had a Great Horned Owl, a Red Tailed Hawk, a Peregrine Falcon and an amazing Bald Eagle. I’ve never seen an eagle up close like this. It was a wonderful way to end our morning of hiking.Even though I wasn’t allowed to hug(or even touch) the hawk like I wanted to;)


Hike length: 1.75 miles each way. (3.5 total)  Elevation gain: 1300ft   Trail condition: excellent

List 44: do my first 5K AND run The Color Run (#13 and #14)

Before the mayhem started

Before the mayhem started

Two bucket list items done in one event!

Item 1: I’ve always wanted to run (aka jog) a 5K. This particular item has shown up on my yearly “bucket list” since I was 38 . I just thought I should try it, at least once. I’m not a runner though. In fact, I don’t even like running. It hurts my knees and right hip. My breasts already sag enough, they don’t need more help. Seriously. Even when I was younger the act of running never appealed to me. I wish it did. Nate ran a 5K years ago and that snowballed in to him training for the Big Sur marathon. And my friend Martha started with a 5K and now she runs all types of races, of all different distances,  all the time. It’s just too hard on my body. I already have to be careful of what shoes I wear and I have to make sure I stretch my feet often because my feet, I discovered last year, have issues. Or so my podiatrist says. They have some mechanical defects that make things like running a bad idea.  Despite their issues though I wanted to attempt at least one 5K in my lifetime.

Item 2: My interest in doing this particular 5K came about from seeing a friend of mine, Nicole and her Instagram photos. Those photos immediately made me want to participate in one of these fun runs. For me, if I’m going to go out and run… there better be fun involved because I… will never be a serious runner. Never. And this one was colorful and ended in a big party at the finish line. Who wouldn’t enjoy that kind of fun!

Scratching these items off my list,  in the past few years though, just wasn’t working out. Scheduling issues normally. We just never seemed to be available the weekends that a Color Run was happening. Or I found out about it too late and they were sold out for that run. Or they were happening during hot months in very hot areas and I don’t even like walking around in really hot weather let alone attempting to run in it. I felt like the universe was working against me. I thought “It’s not going to happen AGAIN this year”

Back in November 2014, I was planning our vacation to Arizona in January, and was still undecided what week we were going to be out there when on a whim I decided to check the Color Run website.  I couldn’t believe it. There was a run happening in Tempe during the same time period!  And just like that it all fell into place. Nate even agreed to run it with me! It was meant to be this year:)



We could not have asked for a better day to do this run. The weather in Arizona, in January, is amazing. It really is one of the best times to visit this area. This would probably not have been as popular inthe dead of summer. There were so many people participating in this race. It’s a popular race with young people (aka college kids). Just look at the wave of people behind me in the above photo. And we didn’t leave in one of the early waves. We’re probably in the 10th or 11th wave at this point (the line to the bathroom was ridiculous and the reason we weren’t in an earlier wave). “Runners” as far back as the eye can see. It was totally crazy!

 Even with my recent 50lb weight loss this was still tough on my knees and feet. I told Nate to go off and run it at his speed and we would catch up with each other at the finish line. Awesome husband that he is though, he finished and then turned around, found me and ran the final leg of it with me. He really is such a great guy. I’ve lucked out on so many level with him as a husband. And this race…it really does end in a big party. They hand you more color packets (you get colored corn starch thrown on you during the race) as you cross the finish line and this year they’d added a “sparkle” to the color lineup and so everyone starts throwing the colored cornstarch in the air on & on their friends and it’s just everywhere. It is crazy. Nate and I were finding glitter for weeks after this run, on everything. Even items we didn’t have with us on the trip.

























I was thrilled to get two items off my list accomplished on this trip. 44 items doesn’t sound like a ton but you’d be surprised at how much your regular, everyday life gets in the way of accomplishing things (even easy items).  And this is exactly the kind of items I want to accomplish. One that takes me out of my comfort zone and makes me try something I’ve been scared to attempt before. Looking forward to even more adventures this year. Jen