So. Much. Time….

Crystal: We’ve once again been neglecting our blog. We’re sorry. We’re horrible people. OK not really, I mean, sorry we’re not sorry but sometimes life gets away from you. You know what I’m talking about.

Jonathan: I’m honestly not sorry, nor do I think we owe anybody an explanation. We need time to go do the shit we write about anyway right? How do you do this if you’re constantly buried in the computer? I’ll tell you…you don’t. Or at the very least your blog is boring as hell. If we didn’t take the time to go have little adventures now and then you know what people would read about? Us watching Netflix or Amazon Prime and us watching Bella go crazy running back and forth on the couch or her random tired-barking when she thinks she hears something. Actually…now that I think about it, that is pretty entertaining…the dog part. More people should have dogs. And by more people I’m specifically referring to Paulette.

Crystal: Yes! Paulette definitely needs a pooch. Okay. We’ll get the sad shit out of the way first.

Jonathan: Uh oh.

Crystal: Yeah.

We lost Moritz.

Jonathan: Blows. Huge. Moritz, despite his penchant for creating little (and not-so-little) lakes of vomit that one might easily step in during the middle of the night…in bare feet…gross…was absolutely the man!!!

Crystal: I know he was old and he had a good life, but it still hurt like hell. He was such a little personality. We have a wonderful vet, Dr. Laurie at the Animal Clinic of Benicia. She came to our house so Moritz wouldn’t have to endure being in a strange setting.

We miss you, buddy.

Jonathan: Yep. And Dr. Laurie takes care of her humans just as much as their furry companions. Making a house-call to help ease the emotional toll of losing a pet may seem like a simple thing, but it was an indescribably huge deal to us as pet owners and we will be forever grateful for it.

Moritz pose

Crystal: OK. No more tears. Let’s move on to lighter subjects.

Jonathan: Yes. Let’s.

Crystal: We’ve gone to Yosemite TWICE. The first trip was crazy, we did an epic 15 mile hike up Four Mile Trail to Glacier Point and then Panorama Trail back to the valley. We were SO sore the next day, we were walking like a couple of 80 year olds that had just run three marathons in a row.

Jonathan: As Crystal has told me, it’s impossible to accurately describe how huge Yosemite is…you just have to see it. It’s true. Words nor pictures do it justice. That being said I’m going to try anyway.

Crystal: Of course you are. 🙂

Jonathan: I’ll be brief, using mostly pictures. 😉

Crystal at Four Mile Trailhead

This is Crystal at the Four Mile Trail trailhead. We’re on the valley floor at this point and that’s Sentinel Rock towering over her in the clouds. About four hours after this photo, we’d find ourselves 3,214 above the valley floor. Take note of that large boulder to Crystal’s left. It looks big, right? Just wait.

Crystal by Boulder

Here is Crystal next to that same boulder. You can see exactly how deceptive the scale of this place can be. Like I said, it’s hard to put it into words or even pictures.

Jonathan and Sentinel

Here’s another shot to try to put things into perspective. Scroll back up to that first pic of the trailhead. That big rock in the clouds? There it is behind me in this picture (that pointy, sheer-faced rock just to the right of me). At this point we’ve hiked up almost 3,000 feet above the valley floor.

Yosemite Falls - Blog

And this was our view of Yosemite Falls, one of the world’s tallest waterfalls (2,425 feet), directly across the valley from our location. Pretty wild huh?

Amongst the Pines - Blog

We’re getting pretty close to the highest point of our hike here. This is where the trail finally begins to get a little less steep (albeit not by much) but nonetheless continues to impress with its ability to make you feel SO tiny.

Glacier Point - Blog

And here was our reward for making it to the top. The view from Glacier Point. I’d say it was worth it. It’s also good to note that we still had about a 10 mile hike back down to the valley via the Panorama and Mist trails. That would take us the rest of the day and end up with our final couple miles of descent occurring after nightfall. That was a bit of a miscalculation on my part, but we were prepared with lights and used our heads to ensure we made it down safely…AND we even made it back to camp in time to order a pizza!!!

Crystal: It was no miscalculation, although it’s sweet of you to call it that. The lack of daylight was due to my struggle to get up 4 Mile Trail. It took us longer than Jonathan anticipated, because I had to keep stopping. I literally couldn’t get enough air, and at a few of the switchbacks I had to sit down because I felt like I was going to throw up. Lovely, what altitude can do to a person. But it was absolutely worth it. Would I do it again? Umm…..maybe.

Half Dome and Bird - Blog

The second time we went we hiked around in the valley and saw many cool things that most people miss as they’re staring up at the glorious vistas surrounding them.

Jonathan: Like this little guy!

Squirrel - Blog

Crystal: Yes, which I apparently missed even though you stopped to snap several pictures of him.

Half Dome

As for the vistas, there’s Half Dome. I only took a few pictures on my phone. Jonathan took a bunch with his fancy camera. Here’s another from my phone:

Washington Column

That’s Washington Column. We saw climbers on that crazy rock!

Jonathan: Oh…you mean these guys? Can you spot them? There are three of them and they were JUST starting their climb as night was falling.

IMG_3173

We could hear their voices echoing through the valley and see their headlamps moving while we laid out in the middle of a dried up pool/creek bed near the base of Half Dome and took in views like this:

Milky Way - Blog

Crystal: That was amazing. I’ve never seen so many stars! I was worried about becoming a bear snack, so I insisted on holding one of Jonathan’s knives the entire time. We were fine though, I guess all the bears had full stomachs that night.

We also saw a bobcat, who was too fast for Jonathan to get his camera out (sneaky puss), a herd of deer walking through Camp Curry, and a lone ten point buck relaxing in the shade under Sentinel Bridge.

Jonathan: Here’s the mule deer buck.

Sentinel Bridge Sentinel (1 of 1)

As for the bobcat…I believe I was guilty of one of the cardinal sins of photography: NOT having my camera out as we were walking. Had I just taken it out when we started (like I should have), you’d all have a nice picture of a bobcat to gaze upon. Instead, you get this “Where’s Waldo” version that I’ve had to enhance a bit to help you pick out the vague shape of the elusive little feline.

Muffin's Cousin - Blog

If you look carefully in the highlighted circle area you can JUST make out the four legs and paws of the bobcat as it trotted off into the bushes. It’s running left to right and away from the camera (just to give you an idea of what you’re trying to see). I know…this is like one of those Bigfoot photos, but I swear on my life that that bobcat was real and we saw it.

Crystal: I swear too! It was there!

Jonathan: We stayed in the Curry Village Campground both trips to Yosemite and I would highly recommend it to anyone considering visiting. The facilities are fantastic, food/supplies are close, and you’re RIGHT in the heart of the valley. Here’s a picture of Curry after we came back from our stargazing trip.

Curry at Night - Blog

Finally, as we were leaving Yosemite this last time, we saw a wildfire burning above Bridalveil Falls.

Bridalveil Fire - Blog

If you look closely you can see the firefighting helicopter to the left of the smoke plume. They were dipping into Bridalveil Creek to help fight the fire. At this point it had only consumed about an acre, but it went on to burn around 40 acres. There was no danger to people or the park infrastructure and, as it happens, is quite crucial to maintaining the ecosystem of Yosemite.

Valley Fire (1 of 1)

Wildfires also create spectacular lighting conditions making already glorious vistas (like the Tunnel View here) even more impressive.

Crystal: We also went back to Disneyland and rode rides to our heart’s content. We were talking about going back in December, to see Disneyland in all its Christmas glory, but we’re driving to Dallas again this year and decided that would be a bit much. Maybe next year.

Jonathan: Ahem…camping our way to Dallas. Not just driving.

Crystal: SHHHH!!! I haven’t gotten to that part yet.

Jonathan: Oops. I mean…yeah, we’re driving to Dallas.

Crystal: Like I was saying, Bella is doing well. She got into the Disney spirit too:

mouse 1

Isn’t she the cutest dog on the planet?!

Now. We also bought, drum roll please….

Jonathan: Even though I already gave it away.

Crystal: A TENT!

Jonathan: Not just ANY tent though. It’s a—

Crystal: Wait!

Jonathan: Oh…you’re going to tell them aren’t you?

Crystal: Yes.

Jonathan: And I almost gave it away again didn’t I?

Crystal: Uh-huh.

Jonathan: But I’m SO excited about it!

Crystal: I know! So am I and so is Bella!

Yes folks, the Biccums are going camping. Jonathan, as intrepid as ever, researched until he found a tent that would last a long time and be easy to set up. He decided on the…

Jonathan: Kodiak Canvas Flex Bow tent!

Crystal: Better?

Jonathan: Yes. Thank you.

Crystal: And, like Jonathan mentioned, we’re going to camp our way down to Dallas. But first we’ll be heading to Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park to see how Bella does in a tent. Will she sleep soundly? Will she bark and huff at every noise? We don’t know. Hence the testing of the hound in a camping environment.

Jonathan: But either way we’ve committed to camping our way down, so she’s just going to have to get used it. Which she will. And why? Because she’s the BEST DOG IN THE WORLD!!!

Crystal:  Yes she is!!!

Another fantastic update is that my mom has cancer beat, like the little bitch it is!

Jonathan: BOOM!!! Cancer can suck it!!!

Crystal: She just had a check-up and is good to go. So thank GOD for that! Also, my dad found out his thyroid was misbehaving and is now on meds, which has cleared up some of his issues. Good stuff!

Jonathan gets out of the Air Force in….ONE MONTH! WHOA! Yes, he will soon be a civilian with a beard. And lots more tattoos.

All right folks. I can’t promise that it won’t be a long time before we blog again, but rest assured we haven’t forgotten about you. Have a great Halloween!

Pumpkin Fucking Spice Cupcakes a.k.a. Disney Wine

Coffee and CupcakeJonathan: ‘Pumpkin Fucking Spice Cupcakes!’ was the exclamation that burst forth from the passenger side of the F150 as I deftly wove in and out of the clear spots on the freeway, moving us ever closer to the palate pleasing pleasure I’d just discovered was awaiting us at our destination. I immediately applied extra pressure to the rightmost pedal, easing us slightly above 80 miles per hour since it was clear from the hint of panic in my passenger’s voice that time was of the essence. That passenger, of course, was Crystal.

Now some of you that know Crystal might think, “she’s not the one who liberally sprinkles F-bombs throughout her day to day conversations”, and you would be correct. That’s usually me. But there are times when F-bombs spring from her lips as easily as a dolphin glides through the waves. Of course nearly all of these times involve alcohol or football…bust mostly alcohol.

Crystal: It is now perhaps prudent to inform our readers that I am, at this moment, drinking alcohol.

Jonathan: And watching football.

Crystal: And watching the Packers!

Jonathan: Go Pack Go!

Now one can quite easily judge Crystal’s level of intoxication by the frequency with which F-bombs arise. Apparently the other times involve Pumpkin Fucking Spice cupcakes. Okay, well not just Pumpkin Fucking Spice cupcakes (though they are unbelievably tasty), but really any and all of the cupcakes made by the evil genius behind Fox & Fawn Bakehouse. Well evil is not the case, but genius sure is. These are by far the World’s Best Cupcakes. There. I’ve said it. The secret is out. Shit…forget that I said that. You never heard it. In fact, these are quite possibly the WORST cupcakes you’ll ever have.

Too late. You know these are the best. Shit. More competition. Well, I will NOT back away from a cupcake fight.

Crystal: Me neither. Fuckers. I will cut a bitch. (Alcoholic drink count: 1)

Jonathan: No Crystal, you will not cut a bitch. But seriously. These are fantastic. I’ll let Crystal explain all the details why they’re so amazing. Go.

Crystal: These cupcakes taste like they were made by little angels in heaven, floating on clouds of gluten free goodness and sprinkling happiness and joy into the frosting. And the gluten free part is true; some of her flavors ARE gluten free. How they can taste so fucking magical and be lacking in gluten is beyond me. And the frosting…it’s perfect! You know how a lot of these specialty cupcake places just completely overload the tops of their cupcakes with mounds of frosting? Well, Tara doesn’t do that. She knows that her cupcakes are practically perfect as is, and a simple layer of delicious frosting is all they need to complete their fucking awesomeness.

Cupcake

Jonathan: The frosting to cake ratio is absolutely my favorite detail in Fox & Fawn’s baking artistry. It is absolutely perfect. JUST enough to accompany the exquisite texture and flavor of the cake. Any more and the frosting would dominate, ruining the experience. Not with THESE cupcakes. These will blow your mind!

Anyway…back to the speeding down the freeway part. To say time was of the essence could easily be the absolute truth or a bit of an exaggeration. Let me explain. They’re the best cupcakes. Fact. Now you must add that they magically appear once a week at our local Farmer’s Market (not telling where that is) and when they’re gone, they’re gone.

Crystal: We’ve actually experienced this, getting to the Farmer’s Market too late and missing out on the cupcakes!!! Noooo!!! Fuckity fuck fuck!!! (Alcoholic drink count: 2)

Jonathan: This is a very disheartening moment. But it can be avoided!  In these extreme circumstances, it’s necessary to place an order. You can check out Tara’s website at www.foxandfawn.com. Aside from baking delicious treats of heavenly goodness, Tara is a total sweetheart. Her husband is a super good dude as well.

Crystal: We enjoy supporting local businesses that not only have a kick ass fucking product, but are run by people who are FUCKING AWESOME.  INTERCEPTION BY THE PACKERS!!! FUCK YEAH!!! (Alcoholic drink count: 3)

Jonathan: Yes indeed. Packers up 31-17 over our most hated rivals, the Bears. Mickey Mouse shaped pancakes (a Goofy shaped one for Bella), coffee, Fox & Fawn cupcakes, Bloody Marys, and Packers football. I’d say it’s a damn fine Sunday.

Mickey and Goofy pancakes

So to sum up the first part of this entry…Fox & Fawn makes the World’s Best Cupcakes (and cakes, and mini pies).

But we cannot forget about the ‘bottles’ part of our blog, so on to the wine.

Crystal: TOUCHDOWN!!!  WOOOOOOOO!

Jonathan: Packers 38, Bears 17.

Crystal: NOW it’s wine time.

Jonathan: Yes, but not time to drink wine, time to tell everybody about yet another fine bottle we recently enjoyed.

Those of you who’ve been following us will have read about the custom wine rack I built for our linen closet. (see The Best Wine Ever) It’s finished now and this is where we keep our special wines. We decided to bust one out the other night in celebration of our excellent weekend at Disneyland. (see The Happiest Place on Earth a.k.a. Shitty Cell Phone Pics a.k.a. Rookie Bloggers). What better way to accomplish this than to open a bottle of WALT?!

Walt

Okay, so it’s not actually a ‘Disney’ wine, but it IS excellent and appropriately named for the occasion. We picked up this bottle after a visit to Hall Wines (WALT) and it was easily our favorite in their selection. Their Cabs are great as well, but there was just something special about this Pinot for us. Here’s how Hall explains it:

Aromas of bright fresh cherry, raspberry and pomegranate are bolstered by crème brulee and earthy spices in this dark garnet wine. The palate reflects the nose with a rounded weight and density that is complete and compelling. The finish is concentrated with an exquisite mouthwatering grip.

Well I can’t tell you how accurate that description is because I don’t possess the same sense of taste or smell as the person who wrote that blurb, but what I can tell you is that WALT was a fantastic pairing for our dinner of organic roasted pumpkin pasta purses in a brown butter sage sauce with grilled chicken breast. The light body of the wine balanced well with the richness and full flavor of the brown butter sauce and the sweetness of the berry notes balanced out the char on the grilled chicken. Either that, or we were so excited about our trip to Disneyland that WALT was going to be the perfect wine no matter what. In any case, it is another wonderful wine and if you feel like splurging a little, it is well worth the price.

NOTE TO OUR READERS: You may have noticed the absence of Crystal’s commentary during the wine description. It appears that all the Packer game excitement, coupled with the Luksusowa-infused Bloody Marys have taken their toll and the Nap Monster has won. Fear not readers. She’ll wake up in a few hours and will be back with us for our next post. Until then, here’s a gratuitous Bella pic! (She’s helping me build my workbench)

Bella and the Bench

The Happiest Place on Earth a.k.a. Shitty Cell Phone Pics a.k.a. Rookie Bloggers

DISCLAIMER: The pictures that follow are indeed shitty cell phone pictures. These are not the kind of pictures that one would normally include on their blog…after all, people have come to expect nice hi-res pics. But, rookie bloggers that we are, we didn’t bring the ‘good’ camera with us, nor did either one of us realize that bringing said camera was actually feasible at Disneyland. Furthermore…we did not get photos of every ride we talk about. We’re sorry…actually, we’re sorry we’re not sorry. Disneyland is WAY too much fun to worry about getting great shots of everything. If you really want to see things you have two options. Go there yourself, or Google it. 

Crystal: This past weekend, our jobs took us to the Happiest Place on Earth: Disneyland.

Jonathan: YES!!!!!  DISNEYLAND!!! One of my favorite places ever!!! WOOOOOO!!!

Crystal: Now, I’ll confess to being somewhat of a Disney non-believer. I like Disney movies (with the exception of Frozen. That one sucked. Hard.)

Jonathan: Worst. Disney. Movie. Ever. (though the reindeer was pretty damn cute)

Crystal: Yes, Sven was adorable and the only decent thing in that movie. Anyway…as a kid Snow White was my favorite. I still have the Snow White Live at Radio City Music Hall VHS tape that I practically wore out watching. My second favorite was Robin Hood. You know, with the little foxes and rabbits. Cute as hell.

Jonathan: I gotta go with Aladdin as my number one.

Crystal: Anyway, the non-believer part is in the actual amusement park that is Disneyland. Amusement parks are NOT my thing. I have motion sickness, I’m deathly afraid of heights and I don’t enjoy feeling my stomach in my throat. So roller coasters are basically a no-go for yours truly. I was apprehensive about riding the Disneyland rides to say the least. Jonathan was SO excited to be there and all I felt was dread.

Jonathan: SO excited. You have no idea. It had been over two decades since I’d been to Disneyland. AHHHH! I still get excited talking about it!!!  All the rides…all the sights and sounds…all the magic…all the CHURROS!!!  But there was also dread. Dread that the clock would reach park closing time too soon!

Crystal: Not that kind of dread. Dread that I was going to pass out on Space Mountain, dread that Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride would be too wild for my stomach, dread that any churros consumed would end up all over Jack Sparrow’s face during Pirates of the Caribbean.

Jonathan: CHURROS!!!

Crystal: Yes the churros were quite tasty. But back to the part about dreading that this whole Disneyland thing would suck. In fact it was the exact opposite. All the rides were great, and they did not make me want to vomit!

Jonathan: Except for Star Tours.

Crystal: Oh yes. Except for Star Tours which was our first ride. That made me want to vomit, but that was the only one.

Jonathan: My bad. In all my excitement I TOTALLY forgot about the whole motion sickness thing. Being locked in a little room that shakes around while you watch a TV screen…probably a bad choice. Sorry babe. But at least all the rides thereafter were WAY better in the motion sickness arena.

Crystal: True. That was the worst one. After that we headed over to Matterhorn and despite the weird, red-eyed yetis, I did okay.

Jonathan: Those used to be much scarier when I was a kid…I’d always be really excited and scared at the same time when they’d appear…and it was a lot faster when I was little. But still awesome!

Crystal: Then it was on to Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride…

Jonathan: Excellent.

Crystal: Big Thunder Mountain Railroad…

Jonathan: I LOVE Big Thunder!  Probably my favorite ride when I was a kid. Still up there. Every single part of that ride is fantastic…the waiting area…the ride itself with the cool trains…the sound effects…the exquisite detail throughout. Just great!!! Actually, the attention to detail throughout the park is extraordinary. It seems that every possible thing has been thought of; every single sightline in the park is considered so no matter where you look, the magic is there. It’s brilliant.

Crystal: Pirates of the Caribbean…MY favorite ride, and interestingly the longest ride in the park. It lasts about 15 minutes total and tells such a great story. And yes, the detail at Disneyland is pretty amazing.

Jonathan: Pirates was definitely different from when I was a kid…there was no Davy Jones or Jack Sparrow back then, but this was still every bit as badass as when I was little.

Pirate cup

Tasty beverages too. But really bad eggs. 

Crystal: Haunted Mansion looked incredible, all made up for the Halloween season.

Haunted Mansion

Jonathan: Also quite different from when I was young, but I don’t really mind. The Nightmare Before Christmas was such a fun movie and adding it to the park in this way makes perfect sense.

Haunted Entrance

Jack Skellington

Clock

Crystal: And finally Indiana Jones.

Jonathan: Badass! This one was as new for me as it was for Crystal. Talk about detail in THIS attraction. They even have the actual Mercedes jeep from “Raiders of the Lost Ark” as part of the cue area! This one came close to nudging out Big Thunder for my favorite…almost. Still Big Thunder.

Crystal: If I had to sum up our first day at Disneyland in two words, they’d be: Super. FUN!

Unfortunately we didn’t get to do Space Mountain the first night. My back was killing me by that point (bad shoes) and I wussed out of standing in the 90 minute line to get in.

Jonathan: Not a wuss. And we DID hit Space Mountain the next evening…in the VERY last seats where the ride is the best. Crystal was a champ. You can see how much she loved it here.

Space Mountain

Notice the sheer terror elation written all over Crystal’s face. 

Crystal: Not loved. Not quite Star Tours bad…but almost. It was bearable though.

So after I wussed out, we took the Monorail to Downtown Disney and walked back to our hotel. The next day I was really looking forward to riding the rides again, which is SO not normal for me at all. Like I said, amusement parks are not my thing. But I was happy to find out that Disneyland IS my thing! I can’t wait to go back.

Jonathan: YAY!!! I can’t wait to go back!!!

Minnie Ears

How can you say no to a hoodie with ears?!