Vancation: Cataract Falls & Mt. Tamalpais

What better way to start a Vancation weekend than with some tongue-dying green beer and jello shots. A Happy St. Patrick's Day, indeed! 

To celebrate our non-existent Irish heritage, Pete and I ventured to our local brewery, the Tied House, which was voted "The Best Place to Celebrate St. Patrick's Day." Our friends, Jeremy and Sara joined us for all the leprechaunic shenanigans and debauchery. 

I would hardly call this buzz-worthy outing a "Vancation," but we did sleep downtown (next to a police station...eek!), which is a bit of a departure for us. More of a stay-cation. Really, it just meant that we woke up hungover for our actual Vancation.  

Sunday morning, Jeremy, Pete and I piled into the van and headed to Marin County. Our friend, Rikard, invited us to his lovely home in Tiburon to celebrate his birthday. We opted to take the van because Pete thought it could benefit from some highway miles. And we'd have all of our stuff with us in case we decided to just forgo responsibility and live in beautiful Tiburon forever.  

Lacking a third seat, I got to lay in bed for the drive, which was actually far less comfortable than you might imagine. In fact, it was cold and rather exhausting, utilizing all my muscles to refrain from falling off during sharp turns. 

The van was cruising fine for the majority of the ride; our only minor setbacks being traffic jams and a closed on-ramp. But as we approached Rikard's house (maybe 10 minutes away), the transmission slipped into neutral and the van instantly filled with the smell of pungent smoke. Oh dear Lord. 

We can't have one thing go right in that damn van. After a quick pull off to the side, we realized that all hope was not lost. Carefree, we popped that baby back into drive, and we were back on the ever-winding road to Rikard's. We figured, we'd just have to make it to his house, and if worse comes to worse, we'd have AAA tow us back to Mountain View. They give you 100-mile free tow with membership. We only traveled 55. Phew. 

And whattayaknow, we made it. Time for some adventure. 

Wisely leaving the van behind for the day, we hopped in Rikard's bad-ass Hummer H1 and took off on a beautiful tour of Marin. I feel like we do a lot for Mother Nature, so don't knock us for lovin' some Hummer. And sorry if we made you jealous, Astro Van. You're just too old and weak...

Much of our excitement came in the form of Rikard's flawless driving skills on narrow, curvy mountain roads. The entire drive was spectacular. We hopped out here and there for a hike, a photo op, or just to take it all in. Here are some highlights:

We did a short hike at Cataract Falls on the north slope of Mt. Tamalpais. Recent rainfall made for some beautiful waterfalls. 

Pete and I weren't really dressed for hiking- Pete's shoes had no traction and I was wearing a dress and carried a purse (like an idiot). But we managed to climb onto slippery rocks nonetheless. 

Jeremy is a bit more of a monkey. I was really hoping for some Dirty Dancing moves on this log:

We wanted to keep hiking, but there was so much more to see. We promised to set a date for a proper climb in the future when we have the time and apparel to make a 2 mile ascent. 

Continuing on our Hummerific journey, Rikard decided it was time to catch a glimpse of the ocean. We pulled off to the side and made our way up a hill. 

The views were sublime, but man, was it cold and windy up there. Below, Rikard points out Stinson Beach, where I'm sure he spent many a high school summer being a super-cool California teen. I, on the other hand, went to theater camp. We're both winners. 

Our roadtrip wouldn't be complete without some obligatory snapshots with our pimp ride, H1. Rikard even wore matching attire for the occasion:

And then there are the three passengers, acting like goons from all the excitement, adrenaline and cutting windchill:

Continuing on, we drive past a parking lot where Pete spots a DeLorean. Instant U-Turn. I assure you, we were not the only ones taking photos. Doc Brown vs. Mother Nature. Doc, you win this time:

Continuing our ascent, we make one final pit stop. Below, you can see it all: San Francisco, Mill Valley, Belvedere. Here we just sat in awe. Simply gorgeous. 

And then it was time to make our descent. We were all pooped. 

We arrived home just in time for a feast of lamb, Frozen Planet, and clever mind tricks courtesy of Rikard's dad. Overall, it was one helluva day. Happy Birthday Rikard!

But we had one more piece of business to worry about: getting home. We went for it in the Astro Van, knowing we had the AAA backup plan. That little baby surely wouldn't let us down again! Not after all we've done for her!

This time, I actually tucked myself into bed, exhausted from the glorious events of the day. I closed my eyes in San Francisco and what felt like only minutes later, I opened them in Mountain View. She made it! 

Astro, you only gotta hold on another week. You can do it!