It’s The Return Of The Munchkin

July 28, 2011 § 24 Comments

This morning I woke up feeling a little dazed and confused. Where am I? Oh, that’s right, I’m back in balmy Singapore. And that can only mean one thing… heeeeere’s Maple!

 

I wish I could say that my return to Miss Maple was a tear-jerker worthy of being an epic drama on the Hallmark Channel, but the truth of the matter is that our mini-reunion lasted only 15 seconds (most of which was spent by Maple sniffing my airplane-numbed gluteus maximus). Shortly thereafter, it didn’t take long for us to settle back into our old, albeit comfortable, ways again. However, I have noticed one precarious change in Maple’s behaviour—her rebellious tendencies have vanished!

MM has become a suspect in choreographing this new transformation. I have a feeling their one-to-one/heart-to-heart bonding time was carried out very much in the fashion of a canine bootcamp drill. As a result of all those weeks of physical activity, Maple has not only become more mellow and attentive but it also seems that her puppy chubbiness has been replaced with a lean physique that would make any dogster (or human) jealous. Well, I guess I’ll be lacing up my runners, too, and joining Miss Maple and MM on their twice daily workouts!  

All of that exercise should help me to overcome any lingering symptoms of jetlag. And once I’ve bounced back from the post-vacation blues, it is high-time I try and get a few things in order.

First and foremost, I’ll be resurrecting Maple’s blog from under the dust. I’m sure the little pipsqueak appreciated my efforts to save Happy.Bark.Days with impromptu posts about my holiday, but I bet she’s looking forward to being the focus, once again, of her blog. Secondly, our furball has grown an immensely thick coat and is in dire need of some serious grooming. We are not about to repeat a lesson that we learnt five months ago, so we’ll soon be whipping out the clippers in our very first attempt to home-groom Miss Maple (*nervous chuckle*). Lastly, I sneaked a couple of toys into my luggage and cannot wait to surprise Maple on our next trip to the park—the lil’ miss will have a field day! 

Time sure has a way of flying by quickly and now there is so much catching up to do. In spite of it all, it does feel good to be back. And I think Miss Maple would agree :D

I Left My Heart In San Francisco

July 14, 2011 § 33 Comments

After some intermittent postings here and there, I am happy to be reporting once again to you from the blogosphere. For those wondering, I am still hovering in the Northern Hemisphere. MM, however, is doing a remarkable job of keeping Maple company while her momsy vacations takes a long-needed break. Unfortunately, the weather in Vancouver is still not quite reminiscent of summer yet so last week I went searching for sunshine in… sunny California!

With a flight-time of less than 2 hours from Vancouver, it is difficult for a self-confessed urbanite to resist the temptation of a one week staycation in a cosmopolitan hub like San Francisco. For the longest time, San Francisco has resided at the top of my travel list but the opportunity to visit this city never really came to fruition until now. Together with my parents, who last did a road trip down to San Francisco 33 years ago(!), we packed our bags for an 8-day adventure in San Francisco, Monterey/Carmel, and Sonoma/Napa.

San Francisco is truly in a league of her own. As I wandered through the city streets, parks, and hillocks, I could only imagine with delight the wonderful adventures our blogging buddies, Lori and Gus, from According to Gus would have as they explore this city (one of many on their whirlwind trek through the US). San Francisco is both a dog-lover’s haven and a cultural feast for the eyes!

On our first night in San Francisco, I was perusing a copy of the San Francisco Chronicle in our hotel lobby and was pleasantly surprised by a fullspread article on local San Franciscan celebrities and their beloved pets. If you look closely, you’ll see Coco the Toy Poodle cradled in the arm of former San Francisco 49er, Roger Craig. [Note: I’ve come to realize that the longer I’m apart from Miss Maple the greater the tendency I have to hone in on Toy Poodles!]

The Golden Gate Bridge—an amazing engineering feat and currently the ninth longest spanning suspension bridge in the world. If you don’t mind negotiating the pedestrian lane with tourists, joggers and bicyclists, then by all means make some headway through the crowds and walk the bridge!

   

When in San Francisco, do not miss the de Young Museum located in Golden Gate Park. Here is a little known fact about this facility… There is a tower with an observation deck on the 11th floor (admission is free). The 360-degree views of San Francisco’s skyline will mesmerize you.

   

From Golden Gate Park, we took MUNI #5 to Alamo Square. This neighbourhood park (with a lovely off-leash area for the dogsters) is situated on a hillock overlooking the city. But what makes this little green oasis so famous are the ‘Painted Ladies’, a row of beautifully refurbished Victorian-style houses.  For those familiar with the American television sitcom, “Full House”, you may recall the swooping panoramic scene of Alamo Square in the opening credits of the show. Click here for a retro video that will surely send you back in time!

Another stunning attraction worthy of a visit is the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA). The permanent exhibits are categorized into different genres of art ranging from architecture & design to photography and painting & sculpture to media. Admission is free every 1st Tuesday of the month, which worked out perfectly for us!

   

We were quite fortunate that the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market (situated at the Ferry Building) is open three days a week, one of which falls on Tuesdays. So, after our viewing of the SFMOMA collections, we took a leisurely 15-minute stroll down Market Street to the Ferry Building. Naturally, we followed our noses to the fruit and vegetable stands.

   

That afternoon, we were scheduled for a tour of Alcatraz Island. Tickets for the ferry ride to Alcatraz do sell out fast, so it was a good thing we heeded the advice of the website and pre-booked our tickets online a few days in advance. With all the fanfare that Alcatraz receives, however, I was initially weary of falling into a tourist trap. But ‘The Rock’, which now falls under the purview of the US National Park Service, proved to be more than just a tourist attraction—it is also a wildlife and horticulture preserve.

   

Upon our return to shore, we walked down the Embarcadero and made a pit-stop at Pier 39 where we took in the sights and sounds of this shopping/dining/amusement playground-by-the-waterfront. I also happened to stumble upon a cute dog boutique—the sign on the door caught my eye.

   

Our last stop of the day was Fisherman’s Wharf. By then, we had worked up quite the appetite—all the better for us to check out the flagship store of Boudin Bakery and indulge in their signature San Francisco sourdough bread (made from a specially-cultivated mother dough), served with piping hot clam chowder. Perfect for a chilly San Francisco evening by the water!

San Francisco is comprised of many distinct neighbourhoods, all of which contribute to the vibrant and eclectic nature of this city. Chinatown is one particular neighbourhood imbued with lots of history and old-world charm. I think we could have spent one week exploring the streets and alleyways of Chinatown and there would still be plenty of nooks and crannies to uncover. For example, if not for the help of one local that we stopped along the way, we wouldn’t have discovered Great Eastern Restaurant on Jackson Street—a hidden gem for a very nice sit-down dim sum lunch.

   

Coit Tower on Telegraph Hill is accessible via a bus but, after a filling lunch of dim sum, we opted to walk. The journey along Kearny Street involves quite a hike (a sure way to get a feel for San Francisco’s topography), but the vistas are well worth the effort. What really struck me, however, are the murals spanning the rotunda walls within Coit Tower. The scenes depicted in these art deco paintings appear as if they could spring off the walls and come to life—the details are truly immaculate.

With our time in San Francisco winding down, there was just one last adventure we needed to partake in… a cable car ride! It’s fun, thrilling, and a great mode of transportation when your soles are begging for a break. 

I hope one day to make a return trip to San Francisco—if I’m ever lucky enough, perhaps MM and Miss Maple will be able to accompany me. I have a feeling they will *heart* San Francisco as much as I do!

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It’s Wordless Wednesday (well, so much for being wordless…LOL)—time to blog hop!

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