February 18, 2011

After 38 years we finally meet!

It all started with my fifth grade state report 38 years ago. For some of my long time readers, you may have already heard this story, but for those of you who haven't, I'll tell it again. Our fifth grade class had to do an extra assignment of finding a pen pal in a town selected by the student, in the state you did your report on, my state was Iowa. I remember that day very well, as I closed my eyes and pointed to one of the towns in Iowa from the atlas my teacher had. I then had to write to the chamber of commerce and hope that they would forward the letter on to a elementary school in that town. When Carolyn answered my letter I was over the moon excited, and that started a 38 year letter writing/email friendship! We wrote about all our teen aged angst, our marriages, babies, and just day to day life. In the picture above, we are holding our very first letters to each other. I was so thrilled that she had brought the one I had sent. We both laughed at our silly fifth grade grammar and letter content. Before Carolyn had arrived, I had noticed on the first letter she had sent me, the post mark read February 16th, 1973! How funny that we should meet in the same month 38 years later.
In my excitement upon meeting up with her at their hotel, I forgot to ask David or Caitlin to photograph our initial meeting, but her husband did, so I hope to have a copy of the photo. I really didn't feel nervous, just really excited about the whole meeting, and she was exactly as I thought she would be, kind, good sense of humor, and having lots in common, one of them being sewing, I knew we would have fun.
We decided to give them a small sampling of the Bay Area, by taking them to some very iconic places. The day they arrived I just had to take Carolyn to my favorite fabric stores, and also show them some places that I knew her husband Jim, being a grocery store owner, would enjoy. Berkeley Bowl was on the list and Whole Foods. I think he enjoyed seeing these places.

On Wednesday, we got up early and drove over the Golden Gate bridge, on our way to Muir woods to see the redwood trees. We had to have some pictures taken though, and don't we look a sight with the wind whipping our hair in all directions!

I have driven by this area before, but never took the time to walk through the park. It was magical, as it had just rained, and everything was fresh smelling and crisp.

I think they were quite impressed with the mighty redwood trees.
After a quick bite to eat at the park, we drove to Napa, so they could see that area as well, and have a wine tasting at our favorite winery, Stag's Leap.
The rain had let up, and there were some beautiful views of the vineyard.
We then headed back to our house, and made them a home cooked dinner of fresh rolled pasta and salad, and chatted some more. Exhausted by the day, we took them back to the hotel. Thursday, it rained like no other, and on the news, it said that in their town in Iowa, it was sunny and close to 70 degrees! We laughed as we walked though our town in the pouring rain to do a bit of shopping that they needed to do. We had a nice lunch with Caitlin joining us, then hung out at the house for a bit, until we had to make our way to the hotel near the airport to have them check in.
After situating them in their hotel by the airport, we headed into the city to meet up with Nicole at the Ritz for a drink, so that they could meet her. The time went by entirely too quick, and then we headed over to our dinner spot. Her husband Jim, loves to watch the Food Network, and so I thought it would be fun to take him to Tyler Florence's new restaurant called Wayfare Tavern.
This picture is of Carolyn trying oysters for the first time. I too ate one for the first time just minutes before she did. I loved them, but I think the jury is still out for Carolyn :)
Carolyn had escargot
David had a wedge of iceberg lettuce with blue cheese, for an appetizer.
My entree of 48 hour braised short rib.....yummy!
Jim had Salmon, he loved it. Carolyn had the house specialty of buttermilk brined fried chicken, but the picture wasn't clear, so imagine a nice pile of yummy fried chicken.
Just a pause before dessert
We split this wonderful goat's milk cheese cake with gooseberries, and......
flourless chocolate cake with hazelnut ice cream. A sweet ending to our wonderful dinner and visit.

Rolling out of the restaurant, with our tummies full, we drove around the streets of San Francisco for a bit of a night time tour of sorts. The rain had passed, and there were some pretty views to see. We came across a bit of excitement in the North Beach area with many police cars and fire trucks, and were left wondering what was going on. We quickly left the area to more serene parts and then off to their hotel to say good bye.
What a wonderful experience, and we both want to plan another meeting again, next time out in their direction.
This is one of those memorable experiences not soon to be forgotten, and a true gift !!!
Until next time my dear friend........................


  1. I was thinking about you, ladies ! and Muir Woods, since you had told me Elizabeth that you would go.
    I'm so happy that you got to meet & had a great time together ! this is a beautiful story.

  2. such a great experience and what great tour guides you guys were! enjoy your weekend!

  3. That is so cool! (Yes I still say cool.) It looks like a wonderful time together.

  4. So happy that you finally got together! I love this story...sorry to hear about the lousy weather though. The photos are great...

  5. Looks like a great time had by all.
    Glad you were able to meet up after all these years.

    Have a super weekend.


  6. Although I am very happy for you that you got to meet up with your pen pal of 38 years, I have to say that you are killing me with the Tyler Florence restaurant. As you know,Elizabeth, I am a foodie at heart. Not only do I own most of Alice Water's books, I also own those written by Tyler Florence. My mouth is watering and it is only 7:30 in the morning - making it very difficult to stay on my diet. I may just have to book a ticket out there. Carolina

  7. Good to hear that meeting up with your penpal of so many years was so successful. (I remember Muir Woods from a holiday when our two were younger. Those trees are very impressive).

  8. i loved reading this!! how incredible that you kept your friendship alive for all those years just through letters and emails...this is a testament to the power and importance of the written word! so very cool...thanks for sharing!

  9. I loved hearing the story of your pen pal relationship over so many years. And to meet and have such a nice time together is wonderful--never dreamed of back in elementary school I'm sure.


  10. So amazing that you too met finally. It looks like you had a great time

  11. That is SO amazing! It makes me want to pick up pen-palling again:). And, your goat's milk cheesecake looks phenomenal.

  12. what a sweet story! i love that you both had kept your first letters!

    and the food looks incredible, my goodness.