On Sunday I turned 38. When the yeah began, our hope was that we would be living in Ireland well before then. Then, when our paperwork began getting processed, we hoped that we’d have our visa approved in time to at least land in Ireland on my birthday. When a few weeks ago it became clear that was not going to happen, I gave up the dream and planned a local birthday adventure instead. At this point several of our friends have asked how many going away parties we’re going to have, but at least we’re finding plenty of opportunity to hang out with them.
Last year we spent the day out at Tomales Bay Oyster Company, and while it’s a really fun thing to do, we’ve done it a lot this year. I decided instead that I wanted to do something local. I thought about organizing a tour of Oakland’s wineries, but the companies who do such things wanted to make things more difficult than I thought it needed to be so I nixed it. After a couple more ideas, I settled on an afternoon at Golden Gate Fields, a horse racing track about 15 minutes from our house. I grew up going to Santa Anita Race Track and as much as I love it, we’d only been to GGF once, for a wine club event several years ago.
While it was raining and humid on Saturday, Sunday dawned clear and sunny. It was a little warm for my liking, but we managed to snag great seats in the shade making it more than tolerable for me. Oh, and it was $1 day which meant $1 hotdogs and $1 beer. I’m normally a bit of a beer snob, but I drank my fair share of ice cold Miller High Life this weekend.
I lost most of the races I bet on, except for one and that was a total fluke. Basically, how I bet is I look at the program before any of the races start and I pick horses entirely on the write up at the front of the program, where they were bred, and … their name. Then, before each race I go down to the viewing area to check out the horses and make my final decisions. For race five, I had chosen You Sleep on That because … well … I like to sleep. A lot. So in comes the horses and You Sleep on That is mad as hell. They can’t really get him settled into his stall all that well and while they’re trying to calm him down, he bites one of the handlers and then rears back. Poor boy looked spooked as all hell. Then, when they took the horses out of their viewing stalls to make their way to the starting point, he went the exact opposite direction. You Sleep on That was having None of That. I decided right then that he just might be crazy enough to win the damn thing. I never bet big, but I bet on him to win. And he did! (I later lost all of my winnings betting an the only horse to race that day who was born in Ireland – he came in 2nd.)
After we were done at the races, a handful of us continued the celebration over at Speisekammer in Alameda. Damn I love that place. I can’t wait until we’re in Ireland and we can make quick & easy trips to Germany to check out the real thing. The other thing I’m looking forward to? Going to the Leopardstown Christmas Festival outside of Dublin starting the day after Christmas.