Thursday, July 28, 2016

San Francisco: NCTM Conference

Thursday morning we were all up bright and early for the NCTM math conferences. The night before I planned my day and selected the different conferences I wanted to attend. There were so many math teachers in attendance from all over the country. It was such a great learning experience to be with other educators and share what works, what doesn't work, and how we can always improve on our math instruction. If you know me, then you know that I'm new to teaching fourth grade math. Most of my teaching background is in the first grade. Let me tell you, there's a lot of ground to cover between math in first grade and math in fourth grade. Whew! I enjoyed the two days of conferences and I came away with a lot of good information that I can't wait to share with my coworkers. Plus, walking around the city of San Francisco on my way to the different conference rooms was so nice. The weather alone put me in a great mood every single day. 

After a full day of conferences, it was nice to unwind each night with some chips and dip and a Dr. Pepper at the restaurant at the top of our hotel. The view was incredible! 

Thursday night we had a great dinner beside the bay and spent the evening discussing what we'd learned from all of our conferences that day and since we had a teacher from the elementary, middle, and high school on this trip we were all able to share a different perspective on all of our conferences. We were all learning so many new things to help make our teaching more engaging for our students. We ended our night with some yummy ice cream and headed to bed.

Friday was basically a repeat of Thursday. We each had conferences from 8:00 until about 5:00 that evening. Our brains were swimming with math information overload at this point :) We ended our last night in San Francisco with dinner at a really neat restaurant called The Stinking Rose, an Italian restaurant that was known for its insane amounts of garlic it served with each dish. We were all reeking of garlic when we left but it was a fun experience! We walked back to our hotel and on the way ate some more ice cream because vacation :) What a fun trip this had been! We were able to see and visit so many new places, eat incredible food, ride the historic cable cars, and engage with such a wonderful group of educators. The NCTM conference was such a wonderful learning opportunity for me and I hope I can attend another one in the future.

San Francisco: Visting Wine Country

We knew that we wouldn't have a lot of time but we all wanted to just see what wine country looked like. It didn't take long to get to the outer edges of wine country from Sausalito and soon we were surrounded by rolling hills and acres and acres of vineyards. We had entered Sonoma :) We didn't have a particular winery in mind so we agreed to just stop at the first winery we saw. That led us to Viansa Winery and I must say it was beautiful!

The Viansa Winery provided some of the most stunning photographs ever. The entire property looked like it was from a movie set. I joked that the only thing that would have made it better was if this was Italy instead of California. (Italy is DEFINITELY a Bucket List Trip for me!)

While a few of the girls decided to do a wine tasting, I opted to roam the property and take pictures. I'm not a wine drinker so me spending money on tasting wines didn't sound like much fun or make much sense. I had so much fun walking around and seeing all the rows and rows of grapevines. 

The girls met me outside after about 30 minutes or so and we loaded up and continued to the next winery, the Jacuzzi Winery. Once again, I was stunned at the beautiful scenery surrounding us.

At the Jacuzzi Winery they did FREE wine tasting, so I decided to jump in and taste some because "when in Rome..." I'll say this I didn't hate it, but I didn't like it. I'm just not someone that is ever going to enjoy ending the day with a  glass of wine. Now if there had been a sweet tea bar...hello, you have my attention :) #southerngirlatheart I did leave the winery with a bottle of red something or other for Josh though because he does enjoy a glass of red wine at night. (He's more refined than me, haha!)

The last winery we visited was Cline Winery. They were extremely nice and helpful here and once again their grounds surrounding the winery were beautiful. Seriously, all these people worked in gorgeous locations! They also did free wine tasting so I participated one last time. I enjoyed talking to the men who worked here because they were so knowledgable and passionate about their wine. You could tell that wine was truly a love of theirs and getting to share that with others made their day. Josh ended up with another bottle of wine from this winery :) After purchasing it, I spent the rest of my time walking around the grounds taking pictures. 

I wish that we could have visited more wineries but three is all our time allowed. We needed to head back to San Francisco so we'd have time to wind down before our math conferences started the next day. I must say that we did SO much in the limited time we had in San Francisco, and it's a city that I truly fell in love with. I can't wait to come back one day with my family so I can enjoy it even more! 

San Francisco: Lunch in Sausalito

After spending a couple of hours in the quietness of Muir Woods, we decided to grab some lunch in the little town of Sausalito before continuing on our journey. Sausalito is a city right by San Francisco Bay so we were able to sit on the deck at a local restaurant and watch the ferry boats going back and forth from San Francisco to Sausalito. It was so pretty and serene. We had a delicious lunch and the weather was perfect. This Southern girl was totally into the San Francisco climate! We finished our lunch and then walked around to a few shops in the area. Then it was time to get back in the car and head to our last adventure of the country!

Monday, July 25, 2016

San Francisco: Muir Woods National Monument

After our brief stop in Mill Valley, we continued our trek north of San Francisco to Muir Woods National Monument. Now if you know me personally then you know that I'm a huge nature lover and seeing the Redwood Forest has been on my Bucket List forever. I knew there was no way we would be able to visit Redwood National Park because of how far away it was, but when I started researching San Francisco I stumbled on Muir Woods National Monument. It was only 12 miles north of the Golden Gate Bridge and it was home to some really large redwood trees. I read that most of the trees there were between 500 and 800 years old and there was one tree that was 1,200 years old! I locked that information away just in case anyone else on the trip expressed interest in seeing the redwood trees. Tuesday night when we were discussing what we wanted to do the next day I mentioned Muir Woods and everyone agreed that was something they were interested in doing. Oh my goodness was I excited! 

I knew that we wouldn't be able to spend all day at Muir Woods but the couple of hours that we were there were amazing and just awe inspiring. It was so humbling to walk amongst those giants of the forest and to see the reverence that every visitor to the park I passed showed. Hardly anyone was talking and the ones who were were whispering quietly. It was like being in a giant cathedral or library. Oh, and there wasn't any cell service so everyone had to focus on the beauty around them! Your mind was able to get completely lost in the beautiful landscape before you so you could thoroughly enjoy what you were seeing and experiencing. It was such a calming and peaceful experience and I was in awestruck wonder at God's amazing creation. 

With all that said, Muir Woods National Monument is a MUST DO if you ever go to San Francisco. If I ever go back to San Francisco-and I really hope to one day-I'll visit Muir Woods National Monument again and this time it will be for a lot longer than just two hours. Two hours left me wanting for so much more time and I hated to leave, but it was definitely better than not ever getting to visit. Here are some of the pictures I took during my walk around Muir Woods and they just don't do the trees justice. It's something you have to do in real life but hopefully you'll be able to see some of the beauty I was able to see in these magnificent giants. Enjoy! (Lots of pictures of giant trees follow!)

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