A Weekend in Wine Country

As promised, here’s a review of the weekend that Matt and I enjoyed in California’s Temecula wine country earlier this month!  I’ll pick up where I left off in my last post – Las Vegas, NV.

On Friday afternoon Matt and I finished up our work week at the Sands Convention Center around 5PM.  We picked up a rental car at the airport and set out on a 4 hour drive over the mountains and through the Mojave Desert to Temecula, California.  The sunset was beautiful!!

We arrived at Ponte Vineyard Inn in what felt like the middle of the night and went to sleep immediately, oblivious to our surroundings.  (Between the long week in Vegas and still sort of being on East Coast time, we were exhausted!)  It wasn’t until I woke up early the next morning and peeked out the window that I realized we had arrived in a beautiful fantasy land of vineyards, sweeping vistas, and gorgeous weather.  I snapped this photo through a crack in the drapes before going back to sleep for an hour to dream about wine and hot air balloons.  🙂

4 View out our window Saturday morning

Matt and I officially began our first day in Temecula with a 3 mile run that took us past 4 wineries, orange groves, and a horse farm.  Then we set out by car to Mount Palomar Winery where we feasted on an outdoor lunch at Shorty’s Bistro before enjoying a leisurely 6-wine tasting in Mount Palomar’s relaxing, flower-filled courtyard.  True to its name, Mount Palomar is situated on a high hill with breathtaking views of wine country.  We wandered up to the terraced gardens and took a few photos – the blue California sky with perfect fluffy white clouds was unreal!

We next visited Wiens Family Cellars, which is conveniently located less than a quarter mile from Ponte Vineyard Inn.  (Which should have been an easy walk except I was in heels and it was a deep gravel road… good thing there was wine waiting for us at Wiens!!)  We did another 6-wine tasting at Wiens while snacking on cheese and crackers before trekking back to Ponte (where I promptly changed my shoes!).  Then it was time for our final tasting of the day at our ‘home’ winery, Ponte Family Estate.  We took our time working our way through Ponte’s selections (our favorite was their 2011 Zinfandel Holiday Reserve), then headed back to the room to relax (and blog about the Security 5K) before enjoying a late dinner at The Restaurant at Ponte.  All in all a great day!

On Sunday we visited Miramonte Winery.  Like Mount Palomar, Miramonte is up on a hill overlooking the vineyards and they had a beautiful outdoor space that encouraged relaxed, comfortable wine tasting.  The Miramonte bar tender served our Sangria with a little champagne and ice and we liked it so much we bought a bottle to bring back to Ponte with us.  Once we returned to Ponte we walked over to the other neighboring winery, South Coast, where we split a few glasses of wine over lunch.  Then we took a guided tour of Ponte’s vineyards, tasted some “young” wine straight out of a steel cask, and sampled a port wine that was still in the process of barrel aging.

All of that tasting and touring made us tired, so we settled down with our books (well, Kindle and iPad, to be exact) in Ponte Inn’s courtyard for some reading accompanied by Miramonte’s Sangria.  Reading, sunshine, and sangria made for a lovely afternoon but I have to admit that by the time we made it to our 8PM dinner at Ponte’s outdoor restaurant, I was super sleepy and just felt like drinking water!!

On Monday morning we said goodbye to Ponte paradise and headed back to the real world of business meetings.  Fortunately we finished up our meetings (and made it thru LA traffic) fairly quickly which gave us time to explore the area around our hotel in Irvine.  I did a quick web search and discovered that we were fairly close to Laguna Coast Wilderness Park, so we drove to the access point at Woods End Wilderness Preserve and set out on a hike on the rolling hills above Laguna Woods.

The weather was pleasantly hot (80°?) and we jogged a little before being startled by a loud noise on the side of the trail.  We stopped and discovered a huge orange rattlesnake casually sunning himself on the edge of the trail… eek! (I guess he thought 80° was pleasantly hot, too!!)  We gave him a wide berth and continued on our hike (keeping away from the trail’s sunny side), but I was a little freaked out so we didn’t make it much further before I voted to turn around and head carefully back to the car.

Tuesday marked the end of our west coast adventure.  After some meetings in the morning we headed to LAX (again, somehow managing to miss all LA traffic, which was awesome!) and returned home.  I always like arriving home after a long trip, but I have to say that California was pretty amazing.  Our weekend in Temecula wine country was completely relaxing with beautiful weather, good wine, and, of course, good company.  🙂  I thoroughly enjoyed our time there and I would go back in a heartbeat!

Security 5K in Las Vegas!

Hello blog world!  Matt and I are enjoying a relaxing weekend southwest of L.A. in California’s Temecula wine country.  We tasted wine all day and as I type this post I am sitting on our private patio at Ponte Vineyard Inn looking out at this gorgeous view of grape vines and mountains… AMAZING!

Ponte Vineyard Inn

I’m getting ahead of myself, though.  I’m sure I’ll be doing a full recap of our time in Temecula next week, but the purpose of this post is to recap the 5K that Matt and I ran in Las Vegas on Thursday!  The race was the Security 5K, a fundraiser event sponsored by the security conference/expo that we were exhibiting at in Vegas for work.  Here I am post-race, just before we jumped on a shuttle bus to get back to our hotel in time for the expo’s 10am start.

Annie Security 5K

The flat 3.1 mile course was a few miles off the strip at a local park just south of the airport.  There were 380 participants (308 men and 71 women) and the race started at 7:30am.  I typically eat breakfast 3 hours before race time, which meant that I had to venture down to the Palazzo Casino’s gaming floor to get breakfast at 4:30am.  That’s the earliest I’ve been in a casino and there were some interesting characters down there who had definitely been up drinking and gambling all night!

The start of the race was pretty chaotic.  The only other race that I’ve done with more than 300 participants was last year’s Turkey Trot.  For that race they had the 600+ runners lined up on a road that was the same width as the starting line so that start went pretty smoothly.  That was not the case for the Vegas 5K though, where all 380 runners plus all of the 2K walkers were massed together in a big, wide blob at the start line.  The crowd was significantly wider than the start line, so when the gun went off everyone patiently began to walk forward before politely waiting their turn to cross the line.   This makes sense because the race was chipped, but it was still weird not to take off running when the race started!!!

Matt Security 5K

Matt finished the race 122nd overall (113th male) with a 24:41.  I finished 146th overall (13th female!) with a 25:26.  I’ve really been hoping to go sub-25 but considering the traveling, long work hours at the expo, and higher than usual elevation, I was pretty happy with my time.  As my splits show, I felt like I got a great start (I even kept up with Matt for a while!) but then my speed sort of petered out in the last mile.  I didn’t know at the time because the race was chipped, but the 12th place woman beat me by less than a second! I’m pretty sure that I would have been able to run a little faster at the finish if we had been running neck and neck, so I’m going to use this as a lesson to always finish as strong as I possibly can, especially in a chipped race where the actual person you’re competing against might be several seconds ahead of or behind you.

Security 5K Runkeeper Stats

After the 5K we spent Thursday and Friday working at the expo.  Then we packed up on Friday and headed west to California!  I’ll wrap up this post on that note because it’s time for me to stop blogging and start reading a book while watching the sun set over the vineyards.  I can’t think of a better way to spend a Saturday evening!

Miles since last post:  20.0
Days since last post:  6
Avg. Daily Miles since 7/18/13: 4.84
2014 TOTAL MILES: 456.3

Related Posts:
•  Color Out Cancer 5K (3/30/14)
•  Athlete’s Closet March 5 Mile (3/1/14)
•  Athlete’s Closet February 5K (2/1/14)
•  Athlete’s Closet January 5K (1/4/14)
•  New Year’s Eve 5K at the YMCA (12/31/13)
•  Athlete’s Closet December 5K (12/14/13)
•  Turkey Trot 5K (11/28/13)
•  Let’s Go Streaking! (11/21/13)
•  Trinity Presbyterian 5K (11/2/13)
•  Oy Vey 5K (10/27/13)
•  Fueled Up & Fired Up 5K (10/19/13)
•  Run-A-Muck 5K (9/22/13)
•  The Challenge Begins: 100 Mile iPad Mini Challenge (7/23/13)

Weekend Getaway to Virginia’s Eastern Shore

This morning it snowed (AGAIN!!) but as I type this huddled next to our propane stove I am thinking of the warm, sunny, amazing weekend that Matt and I just spent with our friends in the quaint seaside town of Cape Charles on Virginia’s Eastern Shore.

Cape Charles Beach

We drove down to Cape Charles on Friday afternoon and checked into Cape Charles Blue, a cool boutique hotel with exposed brick walls and super high ceilings.  Then we walked down the little main street to Kelly’s Gingernut Pub, a great restaurant/bar in a converted bank that dates back to 1907.  We ate in the old bank vault and the food was delicious… I had bangers and mash (yum!!!) and Matt had a rich shepherd’s pie with lamb and beef.  In addition to excellent food Kelly’s also had 10+ beers on tap which made it the perfect place to hang out with our friends the next day.

On Saturday we woke up to perfect blue skies and amazing temperatures in the mid-60s.  After the insanely cold winter we’ve been having in Pennsylvania it felt like we had traveled to an exotic tropical island!  I went for a run that I had intended to be around 4 miles, but I felt invigorated by the great weather (and the total lack of hills) so I kept on running until I hit 6 miles.  I paused a few times to take photos of the beach and fishing pier.  What a beautiful day!!!

After my run we joined our friends at Kelly’s for drinks before hopping on a chartered minibus and heading up to nearby Machipongo, Virginia for the weekend’s main event – the Barrier Island Center’s Annual Oyster Roast.  The Oyster Roast is an all-you-can-eat oyster and clam fest that benefits the Center’s mission of protecting and preserving the history of Virginia’s barrier islands.  And when I say all you can eat, I mean it!  There were huge metal counter-height tables set up on a grassy lawn and the caterers continuously delivered perfectly roasted, steaming hot oysters and clams to the tables by the bushel-full (or maybe by the half-bushel-full… either way it was a lot of mollusks!)  We crowded around the tables with little containers of melted butter and cocktail sauce and ate oysters as fast as we could.  They were delicious!

31 Shucking Oysters

That’s Matt shucking an oyster in the photo above.  I was a little hesitant about using the oyster knife so Matt opened my oysters for me.  Luckily the clams were already steamed open so I could eat those while I waited.  🙂

After a late post-Oyster-Fest night at Kelly’s we woke up to another unseasonably warm day on Sunday.  Matt and I went on an easy 3 mile run around town before joining a few of our friends for breakfast and saying our goodbyes.  5 hours of driving later we returned home to our snow-covered yard and cold temperatures which was a bummer, but at least we got to enjoy two days of spring-like bliss in Virginia!

Cape Charles beach

Viva Las Vegas!

As I mentioned earlier today, Matt and I just returned from a week-long trip to Las Vegas, Nevada.  Despite the fact that we were in Vegas for work (we go every January), we still managed to squeeze in lots of good meals and fun.  We even went running!  Here are some photos from the trip.

The most epic run of the trip (or actually maybe the most epic run of my adult running career?) was on Friday when my brother and I ran nearly 7 miles to see the famous Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign.  The length of this run shows you how HUGE the Las Vegas Strip is.  We were staying on the Northern end of the strip at the Palazzo and the sign is located at the southern end of the strip near McCarren Airport and Mandalay Bay.  So the run to the sign involved us running on the sidewalk past several casinos… easy, right?  Nope!!  Not only did we run by casinos for 3 1/2 solid miles (that’s a LOT of casinos!), we also crossed 8 or 9 pedestrian bridges (3+ flights of stairs up and down for each) and got waylaid as we wove around construction sites (Vegas is always changing!).

It was totally worth the crazy journey once we got to the sign though.  We were the only people there who had made the pilgrimage on foot and a group of friendly tourists took our photo for us in exchange for us taking theirs.  We also saw Elvis and a taxicab full of reallllly drunk guys who told us that they had been awake for 48 hours (for the record it was about 8:15am at that point).  Fun times!

Runkeeper Stats for our Las Vegas Sign Run

All in all we had a great time in Vegas.  Matt and I will be heading back in April for another work trip and I’m already looking forward to it!

Miles since last post:  75.3
Days since last post:  15
Avg. Daily Miles since July 18th: 4.86
2014 TOTAL MILES: 91.6
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Have you ever been to Vegas?  What was your favorite attraction or activity?
Any running recommendations for when Matt and I return to Sin City in April?

A (Long) Look Back at 2013

As 2014 rapidly approaches I am happily reflecting on the wonderful year that I had in 2013.  Most importantly, I married my best friend and the love of my life (and had a blast doing so!).  I also started running again after a six year hiatus, I spent time with Bailey, and I cooked lots of yummy foods.  All in all a good year.  Here’s my official recap!

Matt and I got married!

On June 8th Matt and I got married at Sweetwater Farm in Glen Mills, PA.  The celebration started Friday night with a laid back barbecue ‘rehearsal dinner’ during Tropical Storm Andrea (luckily we were under a covered patio!).  Then the sun came out on Saturday and we got married outside at the edge of the woods before partying the night away with our guests in a renovated 18th century red bank barn that doubles as a winery.  After our wedding Matt and I honeymooned in beautiful St. Lucia.

I ran! (a lot)

When Matt and I returned from our honeymoon I decided it was time to get back in shape.  I started streaking on July 1st and we bought a treadmill on July 18th.  Spurred on by a goal that I set for myself (100 miles in 42 days), I started walking, jogging, and then running like crazy.  I hit 100 miles in 21 days, 200 in 37 days, and 300 in 54 days.  Then I nervously entered and triumphantly finished the Run-A-Muck, my first 5K race since freshman year in high school.

After Run-A-Muck I was completely hooked on running.  So much so that I overdid my training and injured my foot to the point where I could hardly walk.  I didn’t want to break my streak, so I switched my training over to the elliptical trainer in our garage.  With time my peroneal tendonitis healed and I was ready for more 5Ks.  Matt and I ran three races on consecutive weekends in late October/early November (Fueled Up, Oy Vey, and Trinity) and then enjoyed a crowded Turkey Trot on a chilly 29° Thanksgiving morning.  Matt hurt his back so he cheered me on from the sidelines at the Athlete’s Closet 5K in mid-December, then I finished off the year with a new personal best (25:13) at the New Year’s Eve 5K at the Upper Main Line YMCA.

iFit Stats as of 12/31/13

I started tracking my mileage on July 18th and I’m finishing off 2013 with exactly 812 miles.  That’s an average of 4.86 miles a day since mid-July, whew!  My best month was August with 180.2 miles, followed by a strong December with 161 miles.  My longest run was an 8 mile jaunt in Wallingford, PA on December 22nd (I didn’t mean for it to be that long… I got lost!).  I’ve been streaking for 184 consecutive days and I don’t plan on stopping any time soon!

Bailey played!

I can’t write a year end recap without mentioning our cuddly, energetic, “petite” German Shorthair, Bailey.  Bailey turned 6 in May, competed at the DockDogs Regional Championships in June, had a GSP house guest in July, wallowed in the mud in August, and frolicked in the snow in December.  When she wasn’t outside patrolling the yard for squirrels, Bailey snuggled with us on the couch (she’s only allowed on the furniture if we invite her up) and snoozed in her doggie den bed.  She also started K9 Nosework classes in January and she’s working on hunting for birch scent now.  (That reminds me that I really need to do a post about NW one of these days… maybe next year!)  🙂

Hiding behind the tulips

We cooked!

When we weren’t busy planning a wedding or running, Matt and I spent time in the kitchen making lots of yummy meals.  Here are a few of our favorites from 2013:

Smoky Beef ChiliBanh Mi Steak SandwichesZacatecas Skirt Steak Tacos

Chicken Lo MeinWhite Pizza with Sausage, Spinach and RicottaPork Carnitas Tostadas

Pozole RojoCoconut Cream PieCaramel Corn

Rotisserie Chicken BurritosStuffed Poblano PeppersMexican Pizza

I blogged!

And, finally… in 2013 I blogged!  WordPress sent me a stats summary for the year so I thought I’d share a few quick factoids.  My blog had over 58,000 views in 2013 and my visitors came from 150 different countries!  Thank you very much for visiting, everyone!!!

My most popular post by far was this recipe for Candied Yams (it had over 1300 hits on Thanksgiving day alone!).  Other popular posts were my DIY Tutorial on making your own “vintage” blue ball jars and my Rotisserie Chicken Burritos.  I’ve really enjoyed blogging in 2013 and I can’t wait to continue next year!

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OK, I’m off to get ready for a New Year’s Eve party.  Have a wonderful last few hours of 2013 and happy new year!!!

Dogs, guns, and hiking… a typical weekend at the Hunting Camp!

Dogs, shotguns and the great outdoors… sounds like a good time, right? Well that’s how we spent our Labor Day Weekend at a “hunting camp” in Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania! The “camp” is actually a private fishing and hunting club that my step-father’s grandfather helped to found back in 1913. One hundred years later it is still a rural paradise complete with a large house that sleeps 20+, a beautiful lake and – the best part – hundreds of acres of quiet, uninhabited woods. The camp is surrounded by other similar hunting clubs and a huge state forest, making it one of the only places in the world where we feel comfortable letting Bailey run off leash. Bailey absolutely loves it there, as demonstrated in this photo of her wallowing in a mud puddle after a long run in the woods!

Bailey the mud puppy

Happy as a pig in mud!

Bailey’s not completely off the grid when she’s at the hunting camp, however. We learned a few years ago that it’s nice to know roughly where in the wilderness she has wandered to, so we now strap a GPS collar around her little neck to keep track of where she is and how many miles she’s gone. On our first day there we arrived at lunchtime and Bailey ran 10 miles before dinner. The second day she covered 17 miles and on day three she was a little tired so she only did 14 miles… She’s nuts!

Bailey shows off her GPS collar and its really long antenna.  We tied her up occasionally for mandatory resting time... otherwise she would have never stopped running!

Bailey showing off her GPS collar and its really long antenna. We had to tie her up occasionally for mandatory resting time… otherwise she never would have stopped running!

Bailey had lots of canine friends to play with at the hunting camp this year. My family brought along a whole pack of pooches including Hershey the chocolate lab, Ganon the 9 month old puppy, and Clyde, the adorable newfie-lab mix. All of the dogs had a blast running through the woods, swimming in the lake and cooling off in mud puddles mid-hike.

When we weren’t hiking with the dogs we enjoyed playing in and around the camp’s beautiful lake, riding ATVs through the woods and shooting clay pigeons with shotguns. We also made sure to spend plenty of time relaxing in the rocking chairs on the hunting camp’s big wraparound porch!

After a fun-filled Labor Day weekend at the hunting camp we headed home with a VERY tired Bailey. I can’t wait to go back next summer!

Tired Bailey at the Hunting Camp

Bailey catching some Zzzs after a weekend at the hunting camp.

DockDogs Eastern Regional Championships 2013

Less than 72 hours after returning home from our St. Lucia honeymoon Matt and I packed up the Subaru and set out with Bailey to the WISP Resort in western Maryland for the 2013 DockDogs Eastern Regional Championships!  If you’ve been following my blog for a while you may remember that last year at the 2012 Regional Championships Bailey earned an invitation to Worlds by placing 4th in the Elite Big Air division.  Bailey didn’t do quite as well this year but we still had a blast!!

Bailey the Little GSP!

Bailey’s best Big Air jump of the weekend was 21’2″ and she grabbed 5’10” in Extreme Vertical.  I think that’s pretty good considering that she hadn’t jumped off a dock since last November!  🙂  Here’s a sequence of one of her Extreme Vertical jumps:

Bailey EV PhotosOne of my favorite things about DockDogs events is that Matt and I get to spend quality time snuggling with Bailey.  She is not allowed in our bed at home, but when we travel to pet-friendly hotels she sleeps with us and she makes herself very comfortable on our bed when we leave her alone in the room.  We have an ongoing battle where we try to shield the pillows with blankets (because, as much as I love Bailey, it’s not my goal to sleep on a pillow that’s been nuzzled by a dog dipped in DockDogs pool water!) but, try as we might, Bailey always burrows her way under the blankets and we return to find her nestled in a luxurious doggie pillow nest.  (It’s adorable.)  I’ll have to try to get a photo of Bailey on the bed next time, but for now here are some other photos from the weekend!

This next photo cracks me up… I always let Bailey watch the dog before her jump to get her excited but I didn’t realize that Matt was capturing the moment on camera!  The jumping dog is Mojo, a fellow Delmarva DockDogs club member, and yes, that’s Bailey’s little head peeking over the side of the pool!! (And me making a funny face… I was telling her to look!)

Bailey getting psyched up watching Mojo

Good times.  Well, that’s about it for the event recap.  Thanks for stopping by!

Bailey doesn't want to get out of the pool!