Keli Francis
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Studio Updates

Posts tagged vacation
San Francisco, Napa
Domaine Chandon, Napa, California

Domaine Chandon, Napa, California

Domaine Chandon, Napa, California

Domaine Chandon, Napa, California

Domain Chandon, Napa, California

Domain Chandon, Napa, California

Vino Bello Resort, Napa, California

Vino Bello Resort, Napa, California

Vino Bello Resort, Napa, California

Vino Bello Resort, Napa, California

Vino Bello Resort, Napa, California

Vino Bello Resort, Napa, California

I don't remember which variety of grape this was but it was delicious! Underneath this vineyard is the resorts' spa and wine tasting cellar. It's dark but so enchanting! I booked a morning massage which was very relaxing and perfect before heading back to Berkeley to see Reese and family. 

San Francisco, Alcatraz

I know I said before that even in July you need a sweater, umm, go ahead and add ear muffs and gloves...and perhaps a snow suit. IT'S COLD and the wind is worse on the boat and walking around the outskirts of the island.

Once we got on the island, in his best Sean Connery accent, "Welcome to the rock." said our tour guide as they took us all by force and led us into the escape hatches and tunnels underground till we emerged in a jail cell.....Okay, so none of that happened, but I sure wish it did because the actual tour guide was quite annoying and made us all stay in one spot to listen to her new single, The Rules of Alcatraz singing to the tune of Adele's Rolling In the Deep. This is where the ear muffs come in real handy. 

Moving on!

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The audio tour. You get a set of headphones and a prerecorded tour taking you from room to room with narrations from the guards and prisoners who stayed at Alcatraz before it closed. The in-depth descriptions of what took place like the infamous escape from Alcatraz that inspired the movie, Escape From Alcatraz, makes you feel like you were there. Spoons, man. Spoons!

You can hear the cell doors closing, walk into solitary confinement, sit where family and friends sat to speak with prisoners, and walk through the open spaces that were once active. They also take you through a room of portraits of Wardens of the past and speak individually of each one. The guards talk about what its like working there. Many of them would leave to go party on the main land once their shift was over but were stationed with bedrooms in their own building on the island. The Wardens quarters have now crumbed and only a few partial walls remain.

The gift shop at the end of the tour is definitely worth checking out as well. We got some goodies for the kids and I got a book. Turns out the day we were there, Inmate William G. Baker was doing a book signing of his book, Alcatraz #1259

William G. Baker, former inmate at Alcatraz

William G. Baker, former inmate at Alcatraz

If you have the chance to check out Alcatraz, I highly recommend it. Just make sure you plan in advance. Comment below if you have any stories of Alcatraz that you'd like to share. If you enjoyed this blog post, click on the social icons below to share with friends.

To San Francisco...and beyond!

Every year we plan a new destination for family adventures. Last year we took our youngest to San Francisco and with no real set itinerary, we played it by ear and let the adventure begin. As you can imagine, the excitement was pretty profound in all of us experiencing it all together for the first time. Our cousins living in Berkeley graciously allowed us to stay with them in their beautiful home that we heard overlooks San Francisco. Once we landed, we were quick to get the best rental car they had. 2016 blue mustang convertible? Yes, please! This would later be forever known as the "blueberry car"

The drive meant going through tunnels and over new bridges until we reached Berkeley and had some catching up to do with family. Cousins, Erin and Tony greeted us at the door and made the best hosts. The modern elegance of this home had two levels of floor to ceiling windows, heated concrete flooring, fine art covering each wall...but that view. Oh, that view.

Golden Gate Bridge

Golden Gate Bridge

Just stunning....

This WAS last year, so some of my memory on date and times may have faded a bit but I can 100 percent recall my first experience seeing a hummingbird for the first time and it was perfect timing. Outside, here on the balcony, soaking in the scenery...and boom. I'm in a mecca of hummingbird territory. I may have got a teensy bit hysterical and dramatic about it, but my inner National Geographic expedition took over, grabbed my camera, posted up in a chair and patiently waited...and waited...and waited. Then finally, like a bullet, this little guy appeared and swooped in a photo debut showing me all his good sides.  

We slowly settled into our new surroundings and made it a night in for dinner with our family. Erin ordered us takeout from their favorite vegetarian Burmese restaurant...I can still taste the coconut rice and hear Reese asking for more. We watched over the city through the telescope and finished the night with a glass of wine and long conversations on the couch. First day was a huge success.