Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Northern California San Francisco Guide to Glamping Spots

Glamping here is defined as any campsite where I had access to a toilet and didn't set up a tent. Sites below are arranged in no particular order.

Safari West in Santa Rosa - Antelope Alley Base Camp King ($310/night in Sep 2017)

75 miles north of San Francisco on Highway 101.

Access to pie: Noble Folk Ice Cream And Pie Bar in Healdsburg, CA is a short drive north of Santa Rosa.
Outside Safari West tent

My husband and I stayed here in September 2017 right before the North Bay fires. Our tent was huge with a private bathroom and hand hewn furniture inspired by an African safari. The room had a clear view of the giraffe habitat. Since the tent walls are made of canvas, you will hear the various sounds of the nocturnal animals. If loud human guests are staying at the camp, then you’ll hear them too. We didn’t go on safari, but guests have access to many of the outdoor habitats including the monkeys and flamingos.

Bottom line: Stay here if you love animals.

Safari West tent bedroom

View from the tent front window

Giraffe view from private viewing deck

Safari West flamingos

Slice of pie from Noble Folk 

AutoCamp Russian River in Guerneville - Standard Airstream ($310/night in May 2018)

90 minute drive north from San Francisco on Highway 101.

Access to pie: Follow the signs for pie on River Road heading into downtown Guerneville.

Airstream, private fire pit and dining area

The camp was fairly quiet on a Wednesday night stay in May 2018. The Airstream came equipped with a private bathroom, flat-screen TV with cable, free wifi, 2 bottles of Voss water, 3 roasting logs for our personal fire pit, and everything else needed to enjoy a meal outdoors. Breakfast featured fresh-squeezed juice and individual packs of Nutella. Bikes and helmets were available for exploring the surroundings and restaurants in downtown Guerneville. If you’re feeling lucky, stop at Graton Resort & Casino on the way back to San Francisco for slots and cards.

Bottom line: Stay here if you love Instagram.

Inside the Airstream 
View from the Airstream bedroom  

AutoCamp blue bike

Costanoa Lodge in Pescadero, California – Pine Village Tent Bungalows

One hour drive south from San Francisco on Highway 1.

Access to pie: Stop for pie at Pie Ranch in Pescadero on Highway 1!

Pine Village Tent Bungalow
Bring your headlamp to the bathroom at night
Cascade Bar and Grill fries and artichoke

I stayed here with two girlfriends in March 2015. Our bungalow had one double bed, one twin bed, and a personal fire pit. The reservation included access to free wifi, sauna, and public bathrooms with showers. Guests can visit the on-site spa, Cascade Bar & Grill, and General Store for necessities including synthetic firewood. Big Basin State Park is a short drive away, and beautiful secluded beaches are accessible by foot.

Bottom line: Stay here if you love secluded beaches.

Yosemite Curry Village (now Half Dome Village) – Heated Tent ($138/night in May 2015) 

Three hour drive east from San Francisco.

Access to pie: Visit the Pizza Patio for a hot slice after a long hike.

The waterfalls in Yosemite peak in May when snow is still present in the park. I stayed cozy in a heated tent with my then-boyfriend in 2015. Each tent has a bear locker for storing food and is an easy distance from the public bathrooms and many hikes. Guests can also access a free shuttle bus, ice skating rink, and swimming pool.  

Bottom line: Stay here if you love chasing waterfalls.

Half Dome Village Heated Tent

Inside Half Dome Village Tent

Half Dome Village Pizza Patio

Hot slice
Hot slice 2 lol

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Sanrio Boys Recap, Season 1 Episode 2: Gift Gate After the Rain

Season 1 Episode 2: Gift Gate After The Rain
Air date: Jan. 13, 2018
Language: Crunchyroll English subtitles

Episode 2 starts with Yuu and Shushu in the shower (separately). Shushu tells someone off screen that he's used their towel. Yuu asks someone off screen, "Can't we go together sometime?" They meet outside adjacent Twin Towers and head to school.

At school, Kouta talks to Tsucchi and Macchi about the Sanrio Boys. It's well known that Yuu and Shushu love Sanrio characters, but they're still popular and cool despite having a few haters. Kouta can't understand how they can be so open about it. Later at home, Kouta's mother is surprised to see his old "favorite thing" Purin back in his bedroom. Kouta bristles at the description and says, "It's not food, don't say it like that."
Kouta keeping his legs shut

The next day at lunch, Yuu invites Kouta to go shopping at Gift Gate after school. Yuu is loose and relaxed, while Kouta snaps his legs closed tight at the idea of perusing new Sanrio goods. He claims that he doesn't like Sanrio at all and leaves the lunch room. Shushu tells Yuu that he's too pushy, and Yuu wonders if Shushu is jealous. Kouta bumps into shirtless Student Council President Minamoto inviting students back to the student council room.
High school Student Council President

Later in the week, Kouta returns home from school to find that his mother has accidentally sent Purin away with the recycling. He freaks out and runs into the street to find Purin. It starts raining and he falls on his face. He's lost Purin and his grandma, who believed that he could do anything. Yuu and Shushu find him miserable in the rain. Kouta asks Yuu, "How can you admit that you love things so easily and not be ashamed?!" Yuu grabs him by the collar quick and yells, "There's absolutely nothing to be ashamed of in loving something!" Yuu and Shushu take Kouta to Okada Recycling and find Purin.

Kouta is ready to do Kouta. He loves Pompompurin and he's going shopping at Gift Gate with the Sanrio Boys! After the ending credits, the Boys leave Gift Gate all feeling pleased with themselves. Suddenly they're spotted by a girl named Yuri who looks exactly like Yuu. She calls them disgusting and asks, "Aren't you ashamed of yourself, Brother?" She is terrible.

Boys basics

Key Quote: "I love the Pompompurin that my grandma gave me!"

Shirtless Boys: Kouta, Yuu, Shushu, and Student Council President Minamoto all take off their tops

Best drink: Mackerel Cola

Episode Factoid: The Musashi-Kosugi Gift Gate is the image at the top of Sanrio's store introduction page.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Sanrio Boys Recap, Season 1 Episode 1: It All Started with Pompompurin

Season 1 Episode 1: It All Started with Pompompurin
Air date: Jan. 6, 2018
Language: Crunchyroll English subtitles
Factoid: Pompompurin's most attractive feature is his "butt hole."

The series pulls a J.J. Abrams storytelling move by starting at the end. We're introduced to the Sanrio Military Academy, where the students are at war. Two Midnight Cinderella-looking knight candidates are dueling with swords. A nobleman rushes in to intervene, but the knights are unable to withdraw and end up injuring the Johnny-come-lately, who starts to bleed profusely all over the stage. It's a play, you guys. We were bamboozled with the promise of a Sanrio Military Academy. The actors break the fourth wall to let us know that it's chill, and how about they tell us how it all started?

Kouta is a second year high school student who doesn't have any shine. He's focused on various other Boys at school, because they have shine. Kouta has ennui. He and his friends Tsucchi and Macchi (they are boys but they are not Sanrio Boys) go out to search for girlfriends over the weekend. They come across a lost child and, after some hand wringing about being called out as a pervert, Kouta tries to help the little girl find her mother. She's holding a puppy purse with a tail and *-shaped butt hole. The puppy's name is Pompompurin, and they take turns poking its butt hole (no perverts here). The boys return the girl to her mother, and Kouta receives a Pompompurin sticker for his troubles. The other boys aren't impressed by this Sanrio character and ask if it's a steamed bun.

Flashback! It turns out that Kouta knew the identity of that Purin puppy the whole time, because his grandma and a big squishy Purin pal were his best friends and supporters just 4 years ago. Some mean kids bully him about his love for Purin, and Kouta renounces both the puppy and his grandma. It's an emotionally rough scene, and Purin nearly loses an ear. Kouta's grandma sews it back up and tells Purin that someday Kouta will come back to them. She ends up in the hospital and Kouta waits outside her room, wanting to apologize but telling himself that he'll do it tomorrow. She passes away, and he never tells her that he's sorry.

Yuu chatting it up with Shushu

Back to the present day. At school, Yuu is watching Shushu take a shower after sports practice. This is real gratuitous nudity. We almost get a peak at the D which is blocked from the shot by a bottle of Hello Kitty soap. Shushu tells him not to look, and Yuu assures him that friends don't get embarrassed. The boy in the next shower stall is moderately alarmed. Yuu is worried that he's lost his "princess" and asks if Shushu's seen her.

Shushu confronts Kouta

Meanwhile, elsewhere on campus, Kouta ends up finding the princess, which is a charm with a bunny character named My Melody and purikura photo of Yuu and Shushu stuck on it. He tries to return it to Yuu at school but chickens out, because he doesn't want any bullies in class to see the Sanrio princess. A chase around campus ends with Shushu backing Kouta up against a wall and staring deeply into his eyes. Two girls walk by and agree that My Melody is kawaii but "kinda weird for a guy." Yuu says nah, Sanrio is cool, right Shushu? Shushu tells Yuu not to involve him but reveals that he's carrying a Hello Kitty talisman. Yuu declares that they're the Sanrio Boys and winks.

Boys basics

Key Quote: "I wasn't able to apologize and I can't even admit to liking the things that I like."

Sanrio Boys:
Kouta (Pompompurin) - wants shine
Yuu (My Melody) - DGAF about your gender norms or personal boundaries
Shushu (Hello Kitty) - soccer star

Side Boys:
Tsucchi and Macchi (friends of Kouta)

Shirtless Boys: 1

Best accessory: Yuu's pink hair clips

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Akihabara: Don Quijote, Ita color's yellow nail salon, Deco Latte and Sanrio Danshi

Totoro nail art from Ita color's yellow in Don Quijote, Akihabara
I'm a massive fan of the Don Quijote store in Akihabara. They sell food, cosmetics, clothes, and toys, and I recently discovered an otaku nail salon on the bottom floor. On my most recent visit I stopped by the Ita color's yellow nail salon and got a walk-in appointment. The salon has loads of their nail art featuring anime characters and idols on display. The artist assured me that she could do a full manicure or just one character nail if I wished. I showed the artist a photo of Totoro from my phone, and she took a photo of this on her phone and worked off it during our session. After I picked out a base color, she began mixing paint colors and hand-painted a flawlessly detailed Totoro on my thumb nail. She applied individual pieces of glitter at the very end. The whole process took over half an hour and was worth every penny!
If you've never seen a blue duck, look out at the entrance!

1100 yen per 10 minutes and it's OK only 1 finger

Amazing artist at work!
Don't forget to do some shopping after your fab new mani! I did a mini haul of these Deco Latte featuring Rilakkuma and Gudetama and spotted the Sanrio Boys or Sanrio Danshi on a line of birthday cards. I didn't find any other Sanrio Danshi merchandise on this trip so I scooped up a card to send a friend.

Deco Latte from Rilakkuma and Gudetama plus Sanrio Danshi card
Rilakkuma Deco Latte in my Starbucks 

Gosso nose hair remover :-p

Halloween edition KitKat! Pumpkin flavor?

Sake flavor KitKat
Ramen noodle machine

I don't know these lady characters but they want to sell you water and more from their vending machine

Kose Coen Rich Q10 Snoopy and Belle whitening cream

Friday, September 30, 2016

Tokyo Skytree Solamachi: Pokemon Center, Kirby Cafe, and kaiten sushi Toriton

I visited the Skytree Solamachi (Oshiage station) on Autumnal Equinox Day, which is a public holiday in Japan. Despite the rain, many fans were happy to queue for the Kirby Cafe. By the time we arrived around 9:30 AM, the line had already dispersed and all the cafe tickets were gone except for the final time slot of the day 21:00-22:00. We were lucky to get a store ticket for 10:30 AM from a kind stranger (this is confusing but a store ticket is totally separate from a cafe ticket).

Bright sunny day don't cost nothing - Foggy rainy cloudy Skytree
Come early for a Kirby Cafe ticket!
At 10 AM we went up to the new Skytree Town Pokemon Center on 5F to catch all the cutest Pokemon merchandise.

Pikachu and Rayquaza the Skytree mascot

Game machines housed in a separate room at the Pokemon Center

At 10:30 AM we turned in our ticket for the Kirby Cafe store. Many items sell out but are replenished throughout the week. We got the last 2 magnets, a badge, tote, and The Sound of Kirby Cafe CD soundtrack. The ramen keychain in the photo is from Super Potato.

Kirby stealing Waddle Dee's pasta from the Kirby Cafe badge pin - so kawaii

Next we headed to 6F for kaiten sushi at Toriton and got in the long line before the 11AM opening time. I've been to a couple of the Michelin-starred omakase joints in San Francisco and honestly I prefer Toriton! It's fun, delicious, and you get your own personal green tea station. Order from the menu or grab a plate from the conveyor belt. I recommend coming early, but the line moves quickly so you can get out and keep shopping.

I found my friend Cup no Fuchiko x Hello Kitty from a blind box at the Party Rico store (1F)