Open Letter to Viansa

Wow…three posts in three days – if I have any blog followers, I’m sure you’re loving this…anyway, the point of writing, we went to Sonoma, we were expecting certain things and they failed.  Big time.  So, my first open letter. 
To long/didn’t read (TLDR): Corner 103 is amazing. Go there.  Avoid Viansa.

Viansa is the second winery off the 121/Arnold Drive.  It’s on several wine bus/wine tours.  Its been fabulous.  I won’t lie…it’s been a huge part of my life, but recently, and not so recently, its been different.  I thought it might get back to ‘the good old days’, but, I realized today that wasn’t the case.  I’ll forever be thankful for the friends I’ve made there, but, as I’ve learned in the recent past, sometimes knowing when to let go is just as important as knowing how long to hold on….     

Below is the email I sent to Viansa – our home away from home for several years…where we met some great friends, and more than that, where we re-discovered ‘us’.  It’s a great email, but a sad email where I canceled my wine club membership after 8+ years….   

Hello!

I updated my information this afternoon, but would actually like to cancel my membership.  Like most of America, I’m a busy person, but feel compelled to tell you why.   

My husband and I have been members for nearly ten years and for the most part, we’ve enjoyed every minute.  Between us spending time at Viansa to work on our marriage to a surprise 30th birthday party – you’ve been a big part in our lives.

We loved the staff, they always made us feel at home. When Lloyd owned the place, we never felt like anything less than one of his own. Kelly was always amazing…coming to see her was like seeing an old friend. It never mattered if it had been a week or a month, she always treated us as if it was only yesterday.   

Today, I arrived at the winery for the members party and it felt cold and corporate – the very thing I try to escape on the weekends. I entered the tasting room and recognized no one. I asked someone about Kelly, and was told, ‘she don’t work here no more’.  Quoted. Not even proper grammar. 

I don’t fault the employee, it’s not her fault. But, I do fault the winery. It’s become the corporation I wish to escape on the weekends, and while I can’t bring back the old days, I can take my money there.

I’ll look back fondly on my Viansa days, and at the same time realize that we all move on. We’ll move on as well – we’re loyal to Lloyd, Kelly, and the  rest of that crew, but we’re done with Viansa. 

Please let me know if you need additional information from me in order to cancel my membership immediately.

Thank you,
Kim

Who Ya Gonna Call…..

So, don’t ever have anyone hit your car….it’s a pain.  Figuratively and literally…..anyway, poor Slimer.

After much back and forth (and a little bit of yelling at the right people), I was able to take Slimer to a shop in the city on Tuesday.  Somehow, I managed to get out of work at the last minute to drop off the car, which was good since it was either that or the week of the 20th.  Which, as I told multiple people at Progressive, was unacceptable.  No, I didn’t know if the car was drivable.  Yes, it did run….however, no, I wasn’t sure that it SHOULD run.

When I got to German Motor Cars, the Progressive Rep met me at the entrance, and I was reminded why I love Progressive.  She was comforting and checked to make sure I was ok, and we walked the car together…..she helped me figure out a rental, the deductible, the other driver – basically all the things I’d been wondering.  She called in a rental while I waited for the German Motor Cars rep.  For the first time in several days, I actually felt ok about the whole thing.

The German Motor Cars rep was fabulous as well.  She checked the car, explained the process, and let me know when I could expect to hear from her.  Then the guy from the rental car place came to get me….it was right around the corner, and I totally could have walked, but I had four different bags and it had to be 85 in the city, which is unheard of.  haha….and he had a full gold mouth grille.  Of course he did…why wouldn’t he.  Keep it classy San Francisco….

I get my rental and I’m on my way.  Great.  Since then, its been radio silence – they told me it might take until Thursday at the latest.  Of course, Thursday I get two messages – one from the mechanic saying I’ll get an email with the repair estimate by the end of the day, and a second from the German Motor Cars rep stating that Progressive is still working on it.  Now, what good is going to come from that??  Ugh…..

Luckily, I heard from them today and they’re able to fix it.  It’s only going to take a month.  REALLY??  Hopefully I can keep the rental that long….or become really good at walking to Redwood City……

In the midst of all this, I headed out on my first work trip – 24 hours in Vegas.  It was….an experience.  On so many levels.  Apparently the conference has changed over the years, and this year was…..a new low?  I don’t know….according to the people who had been before, it was one or two trade show booths that were worth visiting and a bunch of cellphone accessory booths.  Yeah…..I have no words. Or maybe lots of them.  I don’t know.  Again, it was an experience.  It was good to get to know my coworkers a little better, great to attend a meeting with some of them, and also nice to see the dinner we’d been working on come to life.

The best part of it all?  I had a few minutes to go back to my room and get ready for dinner…..I only had the one outfit – a black business dress and a jacket (remember this for a few seconds), so it was pretty much adding some jewelry, re-curling my hair, and touching up my make-up.  So, I do that and head out for the restaurant.  I checked the map of the casino before I left the room so I’d have a fighting chance of getting where I was going (let’s remember how good I am at direction….), and I was in good shape.  Literally, I got off the elevator, stepped into the casino, and had some random dude ask me if I ‘worked’ there.  It took me a minute to understand exactly what was going on, but then…really?  REALLY??  I’m in a business outfit…..god knows I’ve been in Vegas in far more ‘appropriate’ attire, but this is when I’m going to get propositioned….seriously??  Although, if I need to pay for a month of a car rental, I know where I can find a third job….ha!

In better news, Dr. Hal (highly recommend Chiro Medical), taped up what was my good knee and adjusted/cracked everything from my hips up to my shoulders.  Ahhh….best feeling ever.  I’m so excited to get back out on the trails tomorrow.  He thinks he can have me up and running in time for North Face, which is fabulous….so tomorrow, I’m planning to get back out on to those trails for the first time in a long time.  I’ve enjoyed learning about other trails and parks all summer, but the headlands will always be home.  Its been too long since I’ve planned running routes while drinking wine on a Friday…haha….

Ok…until next time….over and out…..

Impromptu Chicago Vacation

So today started out as a normal travel day.  Early morning, easy pass through security, lots of seats at the gate.  And then the flight computer was broken….but they started boarding….then they stopped boarding.  We’re checking connecting flights, they said.  Unless you’re going to Reno, don’t worry, they said.  If we leave by 11:30, all connections will be fine, they said.  We were ready to leave by 11:35….

Then something else broke.  Don’t worry, they said – connections are fine.  Here are all the gates for connecting flights…..if we didn’t read your gate, you don’t have a problem, they said.  I never heard Oakland….of course, my first thought was that I mis-calculated the time in flight and the time difference and actually had an hour.  They wouldn’t just forget me, right??  I decided I must have screwed something up, and continued swapping airline horror stories with the couple from Portland that was seated next to me.  Small world – she was from Redwood City (where I just took a job), visiting family in Buffalo.

Once we landed, I knew something was off.  My phone confirmed the time – 12:21….my flight was planned to leave at 12:15.  No email or text stating it was delayed….but, they were holding the Portland and Reno flights….so, maybe I was going to get lucky?  Maybe they just forgot to mention it?

I made a beeline for the flight monitors as soon as I was off the plane: Nashville…Omaha…Orlando….Oakland?  Anybody going to Oakland?  Does my flight exist?  I went to the first gate I saw and asked for help.  Yup, they confirmed that my flight left.  Awesome.  So….what now?  She’s messing with the computer to see when they can get me out….tomorrow 6:20pm.  uhhh….ok.  So, where’s my hotel voucher.  Oh wait, there’s nothing in her email about my flight delay being mechanical, so no voucher for me.  But she gave me a card and I can call the number on the card and they should be able to help me out (never mind there’s no phone number on the card)….she sends me along to the next gate over where there’s a plane headed to San Francisco that I can maybe be standby on.  Great…..

After my somewhat disappointing interaction at the first gate and feeling abandoned by Southwest, I headed over to the San Francisco gate.  No one was there and the jet way door was closed, neither of which was a good sign, so I waited in line at the desk there.  Coincidentally, I get behind another lady trying to get to the bay area.  The guy tells her the same thing the other lady told me, but somehow she got on a flight to San Jose…and I think they’re paying for her cab to Oakland or San Francisco or where ever she’s going.  I also watched them give another guy a food voucher.  Finally, it’s my turn.  I asked the lady if there was a customer service desk at the airport, and once she told me it was her, I handed her the card the previous desk had given me, and explained the situation.  Of course, she tells me the card isn’t going to get me anywhere.  However, her boss (who was helping the other Bay Area passenger) told her if I was on the Buffalo flight to give me the hotel voucher.  So I got that, then asked about food….so she gave me one meal voucher.  Ok, not trying to be difficult, but I have at least five meals (vs. the one I was planning on) between now and 6:20pm tomorrow, which is the next time you can get me out.  She tells me customer service should be able to help me sort that out…based on previous experiences, they are pretty helpful, so I thanked her for her help and went on my way.

Since my food voucher was going to expire today (and I was pretty hungry), I decided to grab a bite before leaving the airport.  Went to Harry Carey’s for a delicious lunch of Chianti and Fettuccine…yum.  Especially yummy since I didn’t know what or when I would be eating next.  

After lunch, I found my way out of the airport – pretty quick when you don’t have any bags – and found the sign for the Midway Hotel Shuttles.  I waited for a few minutes, along with a few others standing in a the general vicinity, but then had a fleeting thought that maybe I needed to call the hotel so they would send the shuttle to come get me.  Did a quick google on the phone and called the Midway Hampton.  Yes, in fact, you do need to call.  The little red bus showed up less than five minutes later (as the lady told me it would) and just about everyone there jumped on it.  Was I the only one who thought to call for it?  How long had these people been waiting before I got there?

Checking into the hotel was pretty painless.  Got a room easily and there’s even free breakfast, though I’m pretty sure I’m going to miss that tomorrow.  The nice lady at the desk even gave me a toothbrush and found a phone charger in the lost and found for me to borrow.

After getting to my room and figuring out exactly how the key works…of course it’s all it has on it is a picture of kids in a wagon and the caption, ‘backseat driver’, no arrow or anything to indicate how to use it in the door.  I call Southwest to figure out how to get reimbursed for the additional meals and to check and see if there’s another flight they could get me on.  The good news, I can get out at 6am tomorrow….ugh for the earliness, but yay I’ll get home and can take care of the pets.  Of course, they can’t check me in until tomorrow morning, so I’m sure I’ll be at the back of the C’s….goodbye B8….The maybe good news, only customer service at HQ can deal with any meal reimbursements and they aren’t open until Monday.  Ok, I’ll call them tomorrow, last time I called the HQ service people, they were super helpful, but really??  No one else is empowered to do anything in this situation?  Wouldn’t it be easier for the people at the airport to be able to handle it and be done?

Once I was off the phone with the airlines, I took off for Walmart…..the only thing I really needed was a bottle of contact solution.  I mean, I wanted wine and deodorant would be a nice courtesy to the people on the plane tomorrow, but being able to see was the main driver.  So, I headed off to what I believe is the same Walmart Brian and I went to a few summers ago when we were sure we were going to star on the next episode of The First 48.  It looked like it was going to pour (of course, I’d get my storm now…) and at some point, raindrops did start falling.  At that point I started jogging, thank you knee for holding up during that one, but the rain held off.  It even held off for me to get back to the hotel, despite the people in front of me having the poor cashier price check all 30 of their items.  All in all, a successful trip….contact solution, wine, and deodorant.  And there was a Subway in the Walmart, so I have a sandwich for later.  

Shortly after returning to my room, I realize that while I have procured a bottle of wine, I have no way to open it.  So, being the tech savvy person I am, I look on google for ways to open a bottle of wine without an opener.  Use a knife….yup, definitely don’t have that.  Put it in a shoe and bang it against a wall…hmmm, probably not the best idea in a hotel.  Use a key….ahhh, yes, I have a few of those I don’t use.  I’ve been looking for a use for that old desk key anyway….So I try that.  And break the key.  And possibly my shoulder.  So I try another key.  Not getting very far.  I briefly consider asking the front desk, but I’m pretty sure they don’t have a wine opener and have already lent me a phone charger.  So, I decide to head out on another adventure to find a wine opener, there has to be a convenience store nearby that’s closer and less sketchy of walk than Walmart, right?

So, I head out.  Somehow, the rain has held off or blown over or is probably waiting to either disturb my sleep or impede on my travel tomorrow morning.  I decide to head the opposite way of Walmart, since it looks like there are signs of life down that way as well and what looks like a liquor store on the next block.  Liquor store – sweet – they have to have a wine opener, right?  Sure, they probably did….back in 1990 before they closed.  As I get closer, I realize it’s nothing more than an abandoned building with nothing left but the awning.  A block further, there’s a Continental Sales – Lots for Less – Food, Household Goods, and More, on the corner.  That sounds promising.  A bit sketch, but promising.  And oh what a place that was….kind of like if a grocery store and a TJMaxx had a baby, this place would be it.  But, they did have a $.75 wine opener.  Score.  And, it works pretty well, I’m a little sad I have to leave it, but am pretty sure it’s not allowed on the plane.  haha.

Alright, it’s time to sit back, relax, and enjoy the fact that I’m at a hotel instead of the airport and for less than $10 have food and beverages for the evening….I mean, who doesn’t love wine in a paper cup and a sandwich from a Walmart Subway?  And Southwest, well, at the end of this you’re either going to be the prime example of customer service or the bain of my existence….only time will tell.

Until next time (hopefully from home)….over and out.

Everest Bound!

After over a year of planning, training, and getting excited, it’s finally here!  Somehow, we got through the crazy week, where it seemed like everything that could go wrong, did go wrong. But, it’s all worked out, or we’ve been able to plan around it.

My busted foot is healing, still multicolored with bruises, but far less swollen. Hopefully it will continue to get better before we start trekking. My hand is still sore, and probably going to scar (awesome), but it did scab, and will hopefully be almost gone before we start the trek. We weren’t able to get the xterra back (huge thank you to the jackass who threw the rock through the window), but we have a friend picking it up and we were able to super shuttle it to the airport. Our bags were far too big for both the trek and the plane, but Brian’s friend brought us new ones last night. Granted, packing everything at 9am was an adventure, but at least we found out in time and fixed it. Even my work project came together well (I hope) and got sent off this morning.

It’s still going to be an interesting time to travel to Nepal and Everest, with everything that’s happened with the avalanche. Luckily, the treks have not been impacted…yet. Hopefully the Sherpas and the government can come to an agreement soon.

The super shuttle ride was an adventure in itself…we had a ton of bags and of course it was full. And I’m pretty sure the driver took the most inefficient route through the city. And then the last people tried to fight with her over something. Good times!  But we made it. Check in was painless, thank you Korean air. Security was smooth, and we’re at the gate in plenty of time. And, we’re pretty much the only people at the gate.  Sounds like the perfect time for a glass of wine…5pm somewhere…haha…

And our adventure begins at 167 feet of altitude…over and out, until next time…or I get back.

Time flies….

so i realized today how long it’s been since i updated this…where does the day go…

really, where did today go.  and why did it end with a meter eating my money, a broken microwave at school (thank god for 2 folsom), and birds not liking my bright green car…..

anyway…since its been so long…

puerto rico was amazing.  just what i needed – not that germany wasnt fabulous, but it was so nice just to be able to hang out…not worry about a presentation or a race or needing to be anywhere.  i also bought my first new dress in probably eight years…pretty cool.

other than that, life has pretty much gotten back to normal.  well, normal with a side of school and work craziness.  i cant believe its holiday again…yikes!  its crazy, but we all know that on some level, i love it.  and school…well, last class.  thank god!  but its so much work.  so.  much.  work.  ugh…but, its over in a few weeks and then….GRADUATION!  haha…i cant wait.

other than that….as if there is time for anything else….

im on a crash course of training for the north face endurance marathon.  hardest trail marathon in the country.  oh the things that sound good after several glasses of wine.  anyway, its the weekend before graduation and ive run a grand total of 11 miles.  must do 20 the next few weeks.  hopefully ill be able to finish…hopefully.  im sure it will be an adventure anyway, and i love an adventure.  even training has been an adventure – bob cats and trails and terrain and new shoes and training adventures.  always a good time.

we’ve also started to plan our next adventure – nepal/everest in april.  its almost still too far away to be real just yet, but all the forms are signed, we’re looking at flights, and travel shots have been ordered.  we’ve also looked at all the gear we need – eeek….so much stuff.  so crazy, but hopefully it will also be an adventure :).

ok, im pretty sure this is the most pointless blog ever, but i wanted to get something up since its been so long.  until next time….

A place called Wuhan

Oh what would I do without travel adventures.  Checking out of the hotel was much more complicated than it needed to be…back to the 1000 yuan deposit.  So I charged lunch once, and then there’s hotel fees, so the total bill was 143 yuan.  Fine.  Can I pay that?  No, you want my card…fine.  Great…but, why are you charging more?  And do I get credit for the amount I didn’t spend. Of course, she can’t confirm anything, keeps telling me it’s my bill and all I’ve signed is something for an additional charge.  So she grabs the girl next to her and she’s at least able to explain that they’ve charged the new amount and I will get credit for the old amount.  Fantastic…now that we’ve sorted that out….

I go out to get a cab.  The bellhop asks me where I’m going and I say the airport.  He proceeds to ask me additional questions in Chinese.  I just look at him….so he tries again.  Yup, still don’t understand you.  Then he’s like, domestic or international.  Ah, something I understand.  So I get in the cab and tell the driver where to take me.  After all that with the bellhop, I don’t think he ever communicated with the driver.  The driver takes me to the airport for 15 yuan…yup, was definitely swindled by the non-taxi driver.  Then he proceeds to pop the trunk and sit there.  Ok, apparently I’ll be getting my own suitcase.

The airport is interesting – of course all the check-in counters look the same, so I have to go to a general counter to attempt to ask where to check in.  That was actually easier than I thought it would be, she brought up the flights to Beijing on a computer, I picked mine out and was on my way.

I could only find one restaurant in the airport, despite seeing the signs for KFC.  I would totally eat KFC right now.  But all I could find was ‘the lucky shamrock’ or something like that.  And it was….well…lucky for them, theyre the only restaurant here.  My choices – steak and French fries, lamb and French fries, steak tips and French fries, chicken wings and French fries.  Great…..so I end up with chicken wings and fries.  Which they drown in catsup, and the chicken wings were so fried, I don’t think there was meat on them.  And of course there aren’t any napkins.  And, extremely thirsty, I ask for water….yup, none of that either.

Ok…is there some reason the lady across from me cant cover her mouth when she coughs?  Moving on…

On my hunt for a bottle of water, I notice that there are massage chairs all over the airport, kind of like slot machines in vegas.  Interesting, and slightly gross.

Alright, Beijing bound, thank god.  And my jeans are still wet….

And then….i get on the plane, and some guy has taken my seat so he can sit with his family.  Fine, whatever, hes taken my aisle seat and given me a window seat.  Which, actually, im fine with.  I like the window…I have my own space, I can sleep against the window, im good to go.  Other than it’s further back, but whatever.  I remember a conversation with my father about how the back of the plane is the safest place to sit, so im good with that too.

And somehow, despite the relaxing, restful, five days ive had, I fall asleep.  Only to wake up to an announcement about turbulence.  Fine, whatever, ive survived that before.  Then another announcement followed shortly after that….i think the first two versions were in mandarin and Cantonese, so of course I don’t understand…I can just read the mild panic on the faces of those around me.  Ok….whatever is coming isn’t good.  And then they get to the broken English….’the plane is experiencing difficulties, so we will be emergency landing in wuhan’.

Great, awesome…this is what I always hoped for….and then we hit turbulence on the long landing approach.  Somehow, I was eerily calm, and could just think, well, im not going to know what happens until it does.  Is my seatbelt tight (like liam neason in whatever movie Jaime and I watched last weekend with the plane crashing), I can pull my legs up, and brace myself against the seat in front of me.  Ive got this….or something.

And then we land…worst runway landing ever, but we made it.  So I thought maybe we’d get off the plane.  Or not so much.  I guess they decided to fix it with us on it.  I have pictures of them fixing the wing right outside my window….awesome, I totally could have had a front row seat to whatever was going to go wrong in the air….i have photos…will post once I get back on facebook.

The whole experience was about 2 hours….and really one of the most humbling yet.  I know people have been stuck on US tarmacs and runways for much longer, but really, when youre stuck in a plane, with 170+ people who you don’t understand, and don’t understand you, and its hot (think bikram yoga), and your only source of information is the gauge of people’s emotions around you….it’s totally different, and totally humbling.

And of course, my phone only half worked, but I was able to text Brian and let him know what happened, and say I love you, and text Jaime and let her know I would be late.  Jaime offered to have someone find out what was going on via phone, but I was pretty sure there was no information to be had, other than that I was hot, sweaty, and hungry in the back corner of a plane.

Luckily, they did feed us dinner…or unluckily….choices – rice and chicken or something and noodles….i asked again, and they said – rice and chicken, and I was like, yes, that’s fine. It smells disgusting….im kind of sad I ate my first granola bar when we landed and my last when I was on the phone with Jaime 20 minutes ago…

And it was, disgusting….i didn’t really have any chicken – the lady next to me was lucky – she had a bunch.  I had rice and nasty veggies marinated in some sauce.  So gross, but I was so hungry.

And they continue making announcements….some translated, some not.  At some point, I started ignoring them and just reading the people around me.  Then the lady next to me looked out the window and was like, it’s raining…and I was like, yes, yes it is.  You speak English.  Yay!  She asked where I was from, and I her.  She had been on vacation with her husband and lived in Beijing.  She asked if I had come here to travel, I said yes, for that and school.  Then there was another announcement…I looked at her and she said….we’re leaving in 10 minutes.  They never bothered to translate that to English.  Later when I saw her at baggage claim, she waved to me, and I waved back.  Short and sweet, but with limited language skills, I had made a friend.

And then I went to take a cab to the hotel…an actual cab this time.  Jaime had one of her DM’s tell the driver where to go in Chinese, so all should have been well.  Until he took me to some random hotel, and….somehow, I was pretty sure this wasn’t correct.  Of course he’s talking at me in Chinese, and im like, I really have no idea….so I call them and we try again.  And he’s still talking/yelling at me in Chinese…and im like, yeah, whatever…the plane didn’t kill me, keep it coming.  So then he calls the hotel….and then pulls up to some random people on the street to ask for directions…eventually we get there, and id survived adventure number 2 of the day.

The hotel was actually quite accommodating….secondary check in was far easier than I thought it might be.  Someone took my bags up, and then I came down for some food…really my first food of the day….so excited…only to find the restaurant closed.  After I found that out, I must have looked like I was going to cry, because the manager came out and was like, you just checked in, right?  And I was like, yes, yes I did.  So she told me I could have a meat, cheese, and bread plate, or a salad.  I opted for the meat, cheese, and bread plate, along with some wine, and all was right with the world.  I had survived adventure number 3 of the day.

And then I get a text – ‘we should find somewhere to get foot massages’.  Yes, yes we should…that, that sounds like heaven right now.

life begins at the edge of your comfort zone….

and here we go…my attempt to blog my way through three countries, five cities, and twenty four days.  and really, probably two countries, four cities, and twenty two days, cause the likelihood of me blogging in vegas is slim to none.  well, there is that whole time change thing.

anyway, im caught between the somewhat surreal feeling that this trip is actually here and happening, after all the drama surrounding it, and the OMG….what am i doing???  truthfully, im in a bit of a freakout, and the glass of cheap chianti isnt helping.  but, thats what this is all about, right?  an adventure, a breath of fresh air, life at the edge of my comfort zone.  what started out as small adventures on either side of a school trip has become my own happily married version of ‘eat, pray, love’, or something like that.  i havent read the book, but it is on my kindle.

overall, im so excited.  im excited to experience different cultures and different aspects of the gap business.  im also excited for an adventure…to explore, to write something that doesnt require citations and read something thats not a text book.  sure, its a little scary, but i did jump on a plane to the british isles at 13 (dannielle, if youre reading this, that was for you ;)).

thus far, its been a good experience.  what little of cathay pacific ive seen has been good.  they come and get you out of the check-in line and escort you to the check-in station.  a far cry from the ‘next’ im so accustomed to hearing at the airport.  they were patient while i dug out my travel documents and took the time to explain everything, even though i didnt need it.  hopefully the flight is as nice as check-in….though, i cant decide how i feel about 12+ hours of flying.  hopefully i can sleep….lord knows i have at least that much needed sleep stored up.  and when that runs out, theres that paper i need to finish…and those books i want to read…and that book i want to write.  plenty to keep me busy, i hope.

alright….the restaurant/bar ive been occupying is closing.  luckily, duty free is still open (kim, if you are reading this, that was for you ;)).  signing off for now…catch ya on the other side.