From wine country to camping

So you know all of the times I’ve mentioned hiking Half Dome in the past few months? Well, it was a bust. Sadly, Yosemite was closed down because of fires the weekend we were supposed to go.

The group of friends we were going with made last minute reservations at Camp Nauvoo in Placerville. Mike and I decided to meet them there for the weekend but enjoy the 2 days we’d taken off in wine country.

I’ve been wanting to stay at the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn for some time now and, with an already planned few days off, we booked a room. We arrived Wednesday evening, greeted with glasses of bubbles to kick things off. Then we found a cozy spot in the lobby. Generally I think hotel lobbies/bars are underrated. Mike and I love ordering a drink (and maybe a few noshes) and just hanging out in the lobby. The seating is usually plentiful and comfy; you don’t have to travel far (just a few steps from your room); and who doesn’t feel like a badass charging your final bill “to the room?”

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On Saturday morning, our biggest accomplishment was clocking some hours on our wedding website. Over coffee and tea, we wrote “our story,” listed our favorite places to visit and eat near our house, and outlined wedding logistics for our guests. A fun thing to do together and – added bonus – something off of our To Do list.

Next, we thought it was a good idea to walk into town to a local market for some picnic ingredients and then to a winery. Overall our picnic was fun but the walk there was a sweltering one.

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The heat was all but forgotten once we had our snacks and wine. We were supposed to be wrapping up hiking Half Dome at that point… I’ll say vino and charcuterie aren’t bad alternative plans.

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We took a Lyft back, changed into our bathing suits, and headed right for the mineral pool at the Fairmount. My biggest complaint about this hotel was their only hot tub was in the spa area, that you had to pay to use. I was initially annoyed when I found out about this but, pleasantly, the regular mineral pool was like a bath (love it) and felt silky smooth. I didn’t miss the hot tub after all.

After a dip, we laid out and caught up on some reading, which is one of my favorite vacation activities. I dozed off for a little bit and woke up hungry. We went back to the hotel to shower and change, anticipating heading to the hotel restaurant for dinner.  Sadly the menu didn’t look that great… Instead we walked over to Cochon Volant BBQ, which is a cute hole in the wall eatery with good BBQ, cold beer, spicy sauce, and sub-pare sides.

Mike and I spilt an order of the Carolina pulled pork, coleslaw, and mac n’ cheese fritters. We ordered 2 pints and sipped slowly on the patio in-between bites. (Sad I forgot to take a picture!)

We ended the night with a game of corn hole on the hotel lawn. It was one of those perfectly warm nights that follow a dreadfully hot day.

The next morning I woke up early for a free yoga class in the gym. Rule of thumb: never pass up a free yoga class! I felt so great after spending a full hour tending to it (#YogawithAdriene) that morning. If only I could make that happen every morning…

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Not wanting to research another place to eat, we went back to the same restaurant and ordered the same breakfast as the day before. Then we went for one last dip in the pool before packing up and heading out to part II of our vacation.

Next up? Camping. We arrived at Camp Nauvoo much later than anticipated because of traffic. Most of our party was already there, fully immersed in camping. We piled our stuff in these carts the camp provides and trucked everything up a hill to camp. After pitching our tent, we caught up with a few friends there before dinner.

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Every year on this annual trip the meals are broken up between groups. The “Friday group” made Indian for dinner that worked out better than I think we all expected. We went to bed on the earlier side. I read once that sleeping outside can help reset your sleeping schedule and I think it’s true. I always sleep well camping.

I woke up early on Saturday and attempted to shower but the water was freezing. Wah! Baby wipes it was…

After a quick breakfast (and a cup of much needed coffee; one of the perks at Camp Nauvoo is their keurig) we were off on an adventure to a nearby swimming hole.

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Trying to figure our how to get down

A steep climb down a sandy hill and we were the only ones at this swimming hole oasis. The rocks were a little slippery, and the water took some getting used to, but this place was pure feel-like-a-kid-again magic.

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We splashed around, ate sandwiches, and drank rosé for about a hour before skirting our way over rocks and through waterfalls to a deeper section. There was a mossy flat rock that we all sat on and watched people from another party rope swing. Of course Mike wanted to join in on the jumping fun, which I was pretty nervous about. And since we’re getting married (!) he had to take my feelings into account… 😉

In the end, I knew if Mike felt safe doing it, he would be fine. So he jumped. And he jumped. Again and again, he climbed up there and made my heart stop for a few seconds every time. Haha

I, on the other hand, kept my booty on that moss covered rock the whole time. Over the years I’ve learned most things are more mental than physical. Physically, I knew I could jump and be fine! Mentally… I didn’t trust myself to actually let go. And that’s the last thing you need on a vacation; some chick dangling (crying) from a rope swing, stuck suspended in air because she couldn’t let go.

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We eventually retraced our steps, climbed up the hill, and drove back to camp. We had pasta for dinner, played a few games, and slept under the stars one last time.

…Until next year (beach camping here we come)!

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Yosemite 2016

We spent the weekend camping in Yosemite and I’m already jonesing to go back. Mike and I took half days off of work on Friday, driving out to meet friends that were already there. We arrived around 7 that evening and just in time for dinner!

Every year our friend Ben (who we went to Tahoe with in February) plans a trip to Yosemite with a bunch of friends and the meals are divided between everyone. This is nice because you only have to worry about cooking one meal the whole time you’re there. On Friday we had salad, spinach ravioli, and garlic bread. Nom nom. Being the class act that I am, I brought a boxed Pinot and sipped it from a solo cup while we jammed around the camp fire for a bit.

Lucky for us there was a meteor shower that night so around 12am we headed down to the beach (along side of a river) and got cozy under the stars. I saw the brightest, biggest shooting star within the first 10 minutes we were there. It was spectacular (!) but the rest of the stargazing fell short in comparison… After 45 minutes or so (and no more huge shooting star sightings) we headed back to camp and called it a night. …or so we thought.

Both Mike and I had trouble sleeping the first night. Finally – at one point when we were both awake at the same time – we decided to go back out to the beach for some more meteor searching. The best time was supposed to be around 4am so we thought we would have better luck on our second round.

Instead of making it down to the sand again, we ended up folding our towels into makeshift pillows and laying on the bridge connecting the camp grounds to the beach. This was both very romantic and terrifying at the same time. My mind kept alternating between us sharing a RomCom-esce moment, sweetly laying hand in hand on a bridge underneath the stars, and a horror movie with a predator bear on a killing rampage (&two star gazing lovers making for a tasty appetizer). Ek!

When I wasn’t movie-montaging my life, I was concentrating on the sky. Unfortunately it ended up being later than we thought (around 5am) so we didn’t see too many shooting stars but, nonetheless, there is just something about being surrounded by nature, isn’t there?

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The bridge (in daylight) we were stargazing on

We went back to camp and were able to sleep for a few hours, waking up around 9:30am for a slow and delicious morning. I happily learned that there was coffee for sale at the general store nearby. We were staying at Housekeeping, which is almost glamping (oh hey!) with the showers, laundry facilities, a store and, most importantly, fresh brewed coffee on the premises. Mike and I took a stroll down to the store and filled up on caffeine while breakfast was being made. When we got back we had eggs, bacon, waffles, and fruit to fuel us for the day.

After breakfast we all went for a hike to lower Yosemite falls and let me just say, highlight of the trip! To get to the falls you “hike” – but really rock climb – up about a mile or so. The climb up itself was a lot of fun (especially since I’ve recently got back  into rock climbing and felt like a little ninja up there, demonstrating all of my bouldering abilities) but nothing prepared me for the gorgeous scene that was waiting at the top.

My words won’t do this spot justice but imagine a rocky nook hidden in a waterfall’s stream – boulders lazily laying all around – with water pooling and making the area a swimming hole. When the waterfall is at full power and, well, water is falling, this place is unreachable. But this past weekend the water was more …trinkling than falling (a watertrinkle!) and we took full advantage.

I will let the pictures we took up there tell the rest…

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(Word to the wise, if you have/use a Go Pro, be sure to constantly wipe the thing down so water spots don’t ruin your pix! At least half of our pictures are blurry because we forgot to.)

After a few hours in the water, we hiked back down to our camp site; just in time for lunch! Ben’s dad and stepmom had an amazing spread of homemade chicken pesto salad, assorted breads, hummus, chips, Mary’s Gone Crackers (my fav!), fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, and cantaloupe.

I usually try to balance out my meals  – aiming for a carb meal, a protein meal, and a combo meal within a day – but with all of the hiking we did, I didn’t even care that I had some heavy carbs that morning (waffles); BRING ON THE BREAD (and crackers and chips). Full and ready to hit the water again, we headed down to the river, armed with rum and floaties.

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The river!

We left the beach after a hour or so and went back to the campsite. It mine and Mike’s turn to cook for everyone. We made a salad and fajitas, which turned out to be great for vegetarians and meat eaters! (I opted for my fajitas without chicken since I already had meat earlier in the day.)  After dinner we were transported back to college and played a few rounds of beer pong. (I learned that I’m still terrible at the game and Mike quickly replaced me as a partner;) We ended the night with a few rounds of a new board game Mike has been playing (with a title that isn’t very PC…).

The next morning we went to brunch at The Majestic Yosemite Hotel. I didn’t even know this existed and, to be honest, it was a little off-putting to see such a grand hotel in the middle of a national forrest… Don’t get me wrong, brunch was good (I had eggs, ham, fruit and an iced coffee) but I couldn’t help but think do we really need couches, a flat screen TV, and a fireplace in Yosemite!?

Fun fact: I did learn the Obama’s recently stayed there by eavesdropping on a another table’s conversation with a waiter. I think I was literally craning my neck to hear more.

After brunch and packing everything up, we all said goodbye. Having taken our bikes but not having a chance to ride them, Mike and I decided to bike to the hike from the day before (Mike, bike, hike…). It was as amazing the second time around as it was the first and a great way to end a fun weekend!

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THAT view though