My mom gifted us with an entire weekend away from the children, and we took advantage of it in between our birthdays and around our anniversary. It was a little spur-of-the-moment, and it was one of the few weekends in the past year that it was actually stormy, so we couldn’t spend much time outside. I couldn’t find any rooms available in the places that that were recommended out of town, but I did find a nearby resort that seemed decadent enough to celebrate nearby.
Palace of Fine Arts, overlooking the cloud-laden Golden Gate Bridge
We stayed in on Friday night, since I’d only gotten a few hours of sleep the night before and we wanted to rest up. The next day, we left in a leisurely manner and went across the Bay Bridge to San Francisco, to a museum where we’d never been. We toured the Legion of Honor Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco, which has an amazing collection of art and artifacts, and has a beautiful view. They had a fantastic Rodin collection there and paintings that I’d seen in books. They had a nail from ancient Babylonia, with cuneiform writing on it. They had an entire salon (French neoclassical) from Louis XVI restored and installed, from parquet floor to ornately gilded walls to the arrangement of the chairs to the lighting to the window treatments to the coved ceiling.
Justin and a Rodin
After the museum, we went to Pagan Restaurant right nearby, which has a huge menu of Burmese and Thai food. We got Thai iced teas and a few appetizers and one main course, and it was delicious. Pagan is pronounced “Bagan” and is a huge ancient city in Burma. Justin traveled through Burma about a decade ago and took a lot of really nice photos then, which is why “Burma” was one of the first 50 words that Ronin learned how to say. Ronin was fond of a picture we have on the wall and asked about it enough that he learned that word as early as he learned basic colors and body parts and common foods and drinks and animals.
“DANGERGOUS” is even worse than dangerous
After lunch, Justin and I went to Sutro Baths at Land’s End in San Francisco. I’ve wanted to go there ever since I heard this wonderful podcast about it on 99% Invisible about the allure of the Young Ruin. Check out the link, and you’ll want to go there, too. I will not take the time to describe the fascinating history of this place, since my links provide far more context and do a much better job than I could do. Every time we’ve had a weekend free, or even a weekend in San Francisco, it’s been too stormy to go. It took me a while to make the connection, but one of our other favorite places, Playland-Not-At-The-Beach, is filled with artifacts from the amusement park that used to be here.
Perfect for Valentine’s Day, a heart-shaped hole in the rock
We walked around the ruins of Sutro Baths, and saw the waves pounding at the walls and frothing through passageways and spraying against rocks. We went through the tunnel, watched the waves sweep up through a few inlets, and stood at the other side. It was dark and uneven and full of little screams and laughs as people tripped through it.
Justin on the hill overlooking Sutro Baths
It started to rain again and the wind was whipping around us as we explored, so we thought we should end this segment of our expedition and head over to our hotel. We drove across the Golden Gate Bridge to Cavallo Point in Sausalito, where we had a “date night” reservation including one night’s stay, a dinner credit at their acclaimed restaurant, and breakfast. This is a luxury resort in a National Park setting, so for most of the day we were in the Golden Gate National Park, on both sides of the bridge.
Here is a picture of it on a sunny day
We had a room in the more modern section, up on the hill, with views of the bridge. There is no driving in most of the resort, so they recommend valet parking and a golf cart escort to the room. However, we were in Justin’s car and he has modified it enough that it is difficult for other people to drive it. Converting it to run on ethanol was just a small part of the work he has done. The valet parking attendants looked askance at us, but even I have never driven it. We went to the self-park area and walked up the hill with our bags. It wasn’t raining too hard yet.
View from our room at Cavallo Point
Our room was lovely. There was a fireplace, a huge bathtub, a sitting area, another sitting area, a balcony with a couple of chairs, lots of windows. There was also a leftover salami that a previous guest had left, completely wrapped, which we chose to think of in the same manner as the two chocolates that were waiting for us. We went down to the reception at the main cabin later on, and enjoyed sipping wine on the long porch while watching kids and dogs run on the big lawn. We strolled through the art gallery. Our dinner reservation wasn’t until 8:30, so we filled the time with relaxing and exploring and chatting.
Our dinner menu
We ended up getting the tasting menu. I don’t know if you can see this, but it was one small thing after another for a long time. We started out in high spirits, conversing easily and enjoying ourselves a lot, but eventually we lost our steam. It was all very good, but after a long day we were tired and not used to staying up that late and eating for that long. Our last two items were given to us in boxes and we went back to our room, dodging the raindrops. The fireplace had been turned on, soft romantic music was playing in the dim glow of the room, and a scent of lavender filled the air. The covers were turned back and from across the room I spied a tube of something on the bed! I was a little suspicious of what it was until I saw the staff had put the “organic lavender relaxing spritz” on the bed.
About to have breakfast in bed!
I was so glad the next morning when I saw we had the option to get room service instead of having our breakfast in the restaurant, because it was pouring out and I wanted coffee and Justin was still asleep. I ordered food and we had breakfast in bed without worrying about laundry. We left in a bit of a hurry because the winds were picking up again and the ground was wet and the car was parked in a eucalyptus grove.
Eucalyptus trees, native to Australia, have adapted to climates all over the world thanks to their shallow root system. Approximately 90 percent of a eucalyptus tree’s roots grow in the top 12 inches of soil, which allows them to survive in areas of limited rainfall and harsh environments. After heavy rains when the soil is drenched and when strong winds come along, exposed eucalyptus trees can easily topple over. These are the trees that have been falling all over the Bay Area during the past big storms. The winds had torn the screen off our window at the resort and all kinds of things were banging around. We wouldn’t be surprised to hear trees crashing. We did know the kids were okay, though, because both Mom and Claire sent us emails.
Another stormy view from our room
We had two more stops on our date weekend. I didn’t take pictures. We drove back over to the East Bay. We had lunch at a pasta place and then watched The Imitation Game, a real movie in a real theater. We got back home around 5 PM Sunday evening, so we had a full 48 hours to ourselves. It was possibly the best present I’ve ever gotten, and I’m only saying “possibly” because I don’t want to be unknowingly forgetting some really awesome present that really was the best present ever but is escaping my mind in the sleepless years of present. Or maybe it’s better to just think everything is always the best, without hesitation, like Ronin often says, “Today is the best day ever!”