Family vacay | San Diego to Sebastopol

We’re coming off of 2 weeks of family vacation and I wanted to document some highlights.

My grandparents celebrated their 45th wedding anniversary on Saturday, June 30th. Mike and I flew down to San Diego to meet them, my mom, little bro, and stepdad. San Diego was the first place my grandparents lived together as a married couple so it had sentimental value. Mike and I also celebrated our one year anniversary there years ago. I will say San Diego was more crowded than I remember.

This time around, we all stayed in the same Airbnb in downtown. Unfortunately the parking at our Airbnb was terrible. We had the 2 cars my family drove there in and risked a ticket every night by parking in the church lot next door. Our Airbnb was also very cozy for 6 people, plus a baby, but we managed.

After we settled in, we drove to Old Town. My grandma used to work at Wells Fargo so I planned a surprise tour of the Wells Fargo museum for her. Our guide was very informative and fun. After, we had lunch at Bora Bora. My mom and I spilt the cheese enchiladas and they didn’t disappoint!

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Exploring Old Town

That night, we went to dinner at Donovan’s Steak House to celebrate my grandparent’s milestone anniversary. Parking in downtown was a nightmare, as to be expected, but everything else was perfect. We basically all ordered steak and I didn’t hear a single complaint. The waitstaff was friendly and attentive, even holding Gio for a bit!

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After dinner Mike and I went to the National Comedy Theater. We had been there years ago and knew we wanted to go back the second this trip was planned. It is the funniest improv show. Like, bent-over-belly-laughing funny.

When traveling, some of my favorite things to check out are local improv/comedy clubs, yoga studios, and walking tours. Which, speaking of… on Sunday we made a spur of the moment decision to do a walking tour of Coronado. Mike and I celebrated our 5 year anniversary on the island ~2 years ago and fell in love (you can read about our stay here and here). The walking tour was $20/each for 90 minutes. We saw a bunch of historical houses and ended at The Del. I thought it was well worth it for everything we learned. Plus, we were the only ones on the tour, which is always a nice surprise.

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Gio’s first walking tour; catching a ride from SISTER
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Canadian cutie outside The Del

We had lunch after at Tavern. I’m surprised this place wasn’t more crowded because it was really good. It’s a big win when your entire group is happy with the menu and their food. The decor here was really cute too. And I’m a sucker for ambiance. My family was ready to head back after but Mike and I stayed to enjoy a drink on the patio together. Then we took the fairy back to San Diego, which I definitely recommend as it is pretty cheap and just fun.

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That night my friend from high school came to visit because her son is a huge Andy Z (my stepdad) fan. It was so cute to see him starstruck by Andy. We all just chilled out with some wine and heavy apps. As with most family vacations, we turned in pretty early; tired from a full day of activity.

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Patio chillin

On Monday we went to the San Diego Zoo and I was like, #OutOfOffice y’all. What’s better than being on vacation on a Monday? I knew the SD zoo was huge so we had to get an early start. First up? Flamingos!

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We had an okay lunch of hummus wraps and pasta salad that, surprisingly, didn’t break the bank. Food at any of these places (theme parks, zoos, etc.) is typically so unhealthy and expensive. I was glad our lunch was decently priced but I really should learn to pack a picnic instead.

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The whole fam.

The real highlight of the zoo was when Mike and I were strolling along and a zookeeper came out saying “please move to the left side of the walkway so we can walk our cheetah.”

Wait, what!?

Sure enough, seconds later, there is a cheetah walking a few feet from us (obviously on a leash). The trainer stopped at a bench right in front of us to feed the cheetah. It was one of the coolest things I’ve seen and completely unplanned.

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…not the best picture but the Cheetah is behind her dog buddy, who were introduced when the cheetah came to the zoo and are now BFFs (the dog helps the cheetah stay calm and relaxed).
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Hi there!

Sadly, we were all had to go home on Tuesday. Before heading to the airport, Mike and I went to a cute cafe we discovered, Lofty Coffee. Best house made chai lattes. I typically don’t order chai unless I know it isn’t made from a powder, so I was happy to see a solid option on the menu.

It is a quick flight home from San Diego. Being that we were on vacation, we headed straight to our pool. That night we went to our neighbors for apps, dinner, and gallons of wine. 😉 It was so nice to catch up over good food and a few drinks. Plus, the girls and I decided to start a book club. (tipsy Prime usage FTW) so we’ll be getting together again soon.

Mike’s parents arrived for a visit on Wednesday, 4th of July. For the past 4 years, we’ve spent the 4th with our friends Gary and April (in Calabasas last year and Mexico the year before!) so I was happy that they could make it too. We grilled chicken at our house for tacos and played a few games. It was a fun, low key 4th of July.

Having taken the week off, we decided to take Mike’s parents to the Barlow for an overnight stay Thursday to Friday. They’ve been to California a number of times and have done almost everything touristy in the area. This was a new adventure so it was extra fun. The Barlow is a sweet little area filled with organic food, wine, breweries, cafes, and our favorite distillery.

We started with a wine flight and cheese plate at MacPhail tasting lounge. It was nice to be outside enjoying the warm weather and catching up between pours. It is a particularly exciting time because we’re in the middle of wedding plan, which I always find fun to talk about.

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Next we went over to Pax and spilt a bottle of wine, plus an order of warm olives. Again, such a nice time.

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After we went to a brewery for burgers and a few rounds of games. Sadly, I lost both… Specifically Jenga, when I pulled the block that made the tower tumble. Boo!

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Faaaaiiiilll

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We ended the night with a dip in the hot tub and a discussion of wedding songs. 🙂

Friday started with coffee at Taylor Lane, where they serve organic coffee and creamy almond milk. Win. We took Mike’s parents to Spirit Works Distillery after to show them the barrel room and spilt a tasting flight.

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Wanting to beat rush hour in SF, we left shortly after. On the way home we met my dad for a light bite at The Fish Market in San Mateo. The Fish Market has a few locations throughout California but the best one is in San Mateo, without question. It was a nice day so we sat outside on the patio. I was happy my dad got to spend some time with Mike’s parents since they live far away and our families don’t get to see each other often.

The week was fun and family filled. We packed in a lot of activities in a short amount of time. But, to be honest, the rest of Mike’s parents stay was just as jam-packed as the first few days. They were here for 10 days total and we did something almost every night.

On Saturday, we had our lovely engagement party hosted by my mom and fam. It was great to see our closet friends and family come together and get to know each other before our big day next May.

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On Sunday we enjoyed a cheese, cracker, and beer night to get through some of the leftovers.

On Monday I went back to work but we still went to a Giants game that night. Which they won. Go Giants!

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Tuesday was dinner at home. Mike cooked. The best.

Wednesday we were back at The Fish Market for an official meal there. My dad joining again. 🙂

Thursday we visited the hotel that our room block is at for our wedding. Notably also enjoying a glass of wine on their cute patio and brainstorming after-party ideas.

Friday was their last night here (sad), which called for a fancy dinner at Dry Creek Grill. This was our first time there and we loved it! I can see it becoming a go-to place to dine for us.

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Cheers!

Overall it was such a fun 2 weeks with family. I can’t believe how fast time is going. Our wedding is just over 10 months away and I have a feeling it’s going to go by in a flash…!

Bali: final days

Read about the rest of our trip here, here, and here.


Thursday started with more smoothie bowls and a surfing lesson! …A surfing lesson for Mike anyway. (I’m a nervous beach-goer and SUP in Australia a few years ago was my limit for ocean activities.) I sat on the beach with the intention to read while Mike was in the water. Instead I chatted the whole time with a mom whose daughter was also taking a lesson. I later learned that her daughter competed in the Rio Olympics as a swimmer for Australia. Pretty cool!


After about 1 1/2 in the water, Mike’s lesson was done and we went back to the house for a second breakfast of bacon, eggs, and toast. Since we were getting up so early, second breakfasts become a regular on this vacation.

A while later we collectively decided we could go for a massage (keeping with tradition from New Years Day when we were all in Santa Rosa). Spa treatments are cheap in Bali. We paid about $15 for a hour massage. After our relaxing massages, we were back in the pool to play volleyball. 

Sometimes I’m a bit of a joy kill when it comes to playing games… it’s not that I don’t like them but it takes me awhile to get into it.  I think because I much prefer conversation or reading, like the wise old soul that I am 😉 

I was going to tap out of playing because I had my contacts in and didn’t want to deal with taking them out to play. Instead Mike’s brother-in-law threw me a pair of googles to protect my eyes (lol) and started throwing the ball towards me. Of course it was a lot of fun! Almost too much fun as we stayed in the pool for a lot longer than expected.

We had planned to go to dinner at Old Man’s for Mike’s dads last night but we got there too late and it was crowded! (Which was a bummer because everyone had gone when we were in Ubud and really liked it.) Instead we ended up at the place next door which turned out to be great!

We sat up on a high deck, overlooking the beach. There were dimly lite orange and yellow lanterns everywhere, giving it a very whimsical feel. The place wasn’t crowded, which was surprising because the food was so good. I ordered the Australian cheeseburger with a side of corn and it was probably the best meal I had in Bali (aside from The Shady Shack).

The next day, our last full day in Bali, was filled with favorites from the trip. Mike and I woke up early and set out for first breakfast. I had avocado toast and an iced coffee with coconut milk. An ideal breakfast combination, in my opinion.

We had second breakfast back at the villa a while later. Then more pool time. I can’t remember exactly but I think a few Bintangs were consumed at this point too. Coffee chased with beer? Talk about vacation mode.

Lunch was at Taco Casa for more of their strawberry sangria and nachos! After drinking and eating, we all appropriately took a midday nap. Mike’s sister and company flew back to Australia that night but not before a last round at The Lawn. We went back in the afternoon for a drink, some apps, and a dip in their pool (how genius is it to have a pool at the restaurant?). Then we took our last family walk on the beach back to the villa.

Silliness at The Lawn

A few hours later, everyone was packed and ready to go home. With all of the company we had that week – not to mention, the giant house we were staying in that was now quiet – it felt pretty lonely for just Mike and I to be left.

So, we quickly reapplied bug spray and headed back to The Lawn for dinner (The Lawn isn’t paying me for this post, I swear hah). We ordered cocktails but probably should have skipped them because we were both already so tired. It was approaching 9pm, which was around our Bali bedtime. lol

After dinner, we walked back to our empty villa and went straight to bed. We woke up the next morning with the intent to enjoy all of our Bali favorites one last time. After smoothie bowls on the beach, we walked around the main strip before it got unbearably hot. Which wasn’t long after…

We wanted our last meal to be at The Shady Shake but, unfortunately, they were closed. Instead, we got avocado toast to-go and ate it back at our villa by the pool. We still had a ton of Bintangs left and thought, why not? We popped two open and the second they got warm, we opened another bottle. What else are you supposed to do with 2 people and half dozen beers? 😉

We finished the last of our packing, drank the last of the beer, and then it was time to go. Our transport picked us up and a hour later, we were at the airport, ready to embark on the 18 hour journey back home.

Airport adventures…

Our Hello Kitty themed airplane 😂

 

 

Bali!

“Morning!” He said, with his mouth half full of breakfast bites. The older Balinese man was sitting outside a small convenient store we’d passed dozens of times already that week on our walk into town.

“Morning!” We replied, matching his enthusiastic greeting.

He gave us a thumbs up and a toothy grin in return. I smiled back.

It was our last morning in Bali and the heat hadn’t become unbearable yet. We were on our way to get smoothie bowls – a nice morning ritual we developed there – to take to the beach.

We arrived in Bali one week and one day prior. The island of black sand beaches and warm ocean waves. Congested streets with scooters and small cars beep-beeping everywhere. Kombucha tea and stray dogs on every corner. Seemingly endless organic food and tap water you’re warned not to drink. Hot. Humid. Lush.

After over a hour in rush hour traffic (which takes on a whole new meaning in Bali but more on that later), we finally arrived at the villa we were staying with Mike’s family. We dumped our suitcases in the living room and drenched our skin in bug spray. I changed from LuLu leggings to shorts and we were out the door to dinner.

The entrance to our villa

The humidity in Bali is no joke. The short walk to restaurant was sticky as my body tried to adjust to the new climate. But when we arrived at The Lawn, an open beachfront eatery, I finally felt like I was on vacation.

We caught up with Mike’s family over cocktails and dinner. Then, later we all sat outside near the pool for a nightcap. It was the perfect start to our holiday!

The next morning we woke up earlier than expected but jet lag has no rules. The villa we were staying in had staff who graciously cooked us breakfast every morning. But first, coffee.



Mike, his dad and I walked up the street to Mangsi where I ordered an iced coffee. There was’t anyone in there but us and it was taking ages to make. I mentioned to Mike that maybe I should have ordered something on the menu instead of asking for an iced coffee. The two guys working there seemed a little confused about my order. I saw them take out a cocktail shaker and gave Mike a worried glance… Little did I know I had nothing to be worried about! My iced coffee turned out to be one of the best I’d had. 

After breakfast, Mike, his sister and I headed to a Hatha yoga class at a studio nearby called The Practice. We thought the class was only a hour but realized after it was a hour and a half. It went by so quickly though and the studio was gorgeous! I loved practicing there. The instructor did a nice job of mixing movement with mediation. In my opinion, she didn’t overly concentrating on only breathing and just siting there. I’ll admit it, I am a bit of a vain yogi and care more about my flow (and toning aspects!) than the mediation.

“yoga accepts and yoga gives”
Post yoga pic
After yoga, Mike and I went for lunch at Little Flinders. Mike’s family had been there the day before for lunch and everyone liked it. There were so many cafes to try, recommendations are key! We both ordered salads and Mike loved his but mine was just okay. I still think it’s worth going and checking out though.

We met everyone back at The Lawn a little later for a round of drinks. This is the only day we had rain while we were in Bali. I have to say, I actually didn’t mind it but I’m almost always a sucker for rain.


After drinks we opted for a casual dinner at a pizza place near where we were staying. Surprisingly (idk why I assumed pizza in Bali would be different than pizza in the US; neither are Italy!), the pizza here was really good. Sitting outside and munching on slices while sipping beers was a nice end to our first full day in Bali.

The next morning there wasn’t a rain drop in sight and it was HOT. After breakfast, we all walked to a local market nearby.  On the way there Mike and I spotted a kombucha place and stopped to buy a guava booch. It was so good and a much needed refreshment! By the time we got to the market, I was sweating like I’d just finished an intense workout. I bought a couple bracelets and a cheap, cute dress while we were there but it was too hot to stay for long.

Instead we opted to go back to the house and get in the pool! Sweet relief from the heat. After splashing around for a while, a few of us walked up the street for a mid-afternoon snack at Taco Casa. Here we ordered the best sangria and nachos to split.


Dinner that night was at The Shady Shack, by far my favorite place we went to in Bali. The Shady Shack was a quick walk from where we were staying as well (a huge benefit of our airbnb was the location!). They serve only vegetarian food. Nom. We sat outside among the trees (and shade during the day) at a big wooden table. Mike and I split an appetizer that had different dips (including hummus, a carrot dip, and another that I can’t remember), crackers, and a variety a vegetables. For my main, I ordered zucchini noodles with spinach – although, truth be told, the appetizer would have been plenty of food.

The desserts all looked drool worthy but we were stuffed. All the more reason to return to The Shady Shake before we left; which we did, multiple times…! After dinner, it was time for bed. The sun went down around 6pm there and we found this often made it seem a lot later than it actually was. It become a routine to be in bed by 9pm and up around 7am. Although, because there was so much beauty to see in Bali, I didn’t mind one bit!


Check back to read about our day at Potato Head Beach club. 

 

White Christmas ⛄

Mike’s family is in town for the holidays and we spent the past week in Tahoe. On Monday we all drove up to South Lake Tahoe. Since there are 6 of us + Mike’s niece (who is a year and a half), we opted to stay in Airbnbs this holiday. Having access to an entire house and all of the comforts of home is great when traveling with a big group of people.

Our first Airbnb was nice and spacious! After we unpacked, a few of us went to the store to stock up on supplies. It’s a huge money saver to have a kitchen to prepare meals in when traveling. After a day of traveling, we decided on an easy dinner of spinach and cheese ravioli with green beans.

We spent 3 days in South Lake before heading North. During our stay, we ate at MacDuff’s (the same pub we went to in February when we went to Tahoe with friends). I love this place, particularly in the winter because it is so cozy. And what’s more comforting than a huge portion of corned beef and cabbage (my go-to order) in cold weather?

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Baby Ella ready to leave MacDuff’s!

One day we walked down to the beach to “get our steps in.” It was about a 45 minute walk which wasn’t bad at all, though it did get significantly cooler on the walk home. While we were beach front, we stumbled upon a restaurant called Jimmy’s. Here we warmed up with spiked minty cocoa and hot toddies. It was snowing a little bit but not enough to stop us from sitting outside around the fire pit. Talk about a movie moment; snow, a fire pit, and boozy winter beverages. I’ll take it!

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It’s snowwwing (and my jacket is not water snow proof)
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Drying socks fireside

On our last night in South Lake we went to see an improv show at Harvey’s. Felicia Michaels and Gene Pompa were performing. They were both funny but I remember the show being better a few years ago when Mike and I went (with different comedians performing). Either way, standup seems to be one of those things I forget how much I love until I see a show. (Side note: if standup shows are your thing, Ali Wong: Baby Cobra is hysterical.)

Midway through the week we drove to North Lake. Before the drive we stopped at Free Bird Cafe to fuel up on coffee. I just happened to come across this place when I Google mapped “coffee” and I’m so glad I did. It is a little hole in the wall type place with good coffee and healthy snacks. Definitely recommended!

About half way through our drive, we stopped at Emerald Bay and went on a snowy hike. I was happy to get some exercise in after many glasses of wine and indulgences. Unfortunately I didn’t finish the last bit of the hike because my shoulder was hurting from falling out of crow pose a day days before (embarrassing!!). I also didn’t snap many pictures this vacation but, if you haven’t been, Emerald Bay is worth a visit. It’s gorgeous!

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That view!

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Once in North Lake, we got a severe storm warning. We went to the store to stock up on more supplies (water and wine topping the list) and spent another lazy night in.  The next day, despite the snowy weather, we headed to mine and Mike’s home away from home, The Resort at Squaw Creek (you can read about our other Squaw adventures here, here, and here) for lunch at Sandy’s Pub.

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Fresh snow in North Lake

On Saturday, Mike and his brother-in-law went snowboarding and, from what I heard, the conditions were perfect. The rest of us met them for lunch in the Village at Rocker@Squaw. After lunch, Mike’s sister and I stayed for a drink until the boys were done on the mountain. It was fun being in the Village while it was snowing. #winterwonderland

Sunday was Christmas and we spent the morning opening stockings and eating breakfast. A few years ago we were in Australia on Christmas (read about it here), which had a similar vibe to this year’s Christmas festivities. The day was casual (it’s hard to lug presents for everyone when traveling to different countries) and cheerful!

After stockings, we packed up and headed to Reno for Christmas dinner with my grandparents, mom and stepdad. It was great having so much family altogether. 🙂

This weekend we are off to Sonoma for New Years. Stay tuned!