Romantic getaway [Squaw Valley]

Squaw Valley is mine and Mike’s “spot.” It’s about a 4.5 hour drive from our house and the perfect getaway. We used to make it up there multiple times a year but now it seems we only get up there once. I’m not complaining though! Even one weekend a year to disconnect from the outside world and reconnect as a couple is great; especially in magical Squaw Valley.

We’ve been going up there for so long, we have our own little traditions in place. This past trip incorporated our favorite things to do (of course) but we also explored a lot of new things too. We even got extra fancy this time and took a day off from work to enjoy a nice, long 3 day weekend together.

We arrived late on Thursday night and basically unpacked and went straight to sleep. On Friday we woke up early for our first activity of the weekend; hiking! Side story: we got permits to hike Half Dome this August so we’re trying to do a lot more hiking in the next few months to prepare. With this in mind, I picked the hardest hike Squaw has, Shirley Cannon Trail. As a bonus, we were able to get some altitude training while up there, which isn’t a possibility at home.

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Those Bombas socks were key on the trail

The weather predicted rain and thunder storms around 12pm so, after a quick bowl of oatmeal in our room, we started out on the trail at 8:15am. The original plan was to hike up and take the gondola down* but things didn’t work out that way (#foreshadowing). On past Squaw trips, we’ve taken the gondola to the top and spent the day hot tubbing, eating, and drinking champagne. What a different plan it was this time!

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The Shirley Cannon Trail hike is no joke. It’s gorgeous but strenuous. You cross multiple streams, see a few waterfalls, and have to actually boulder quite a bit. No lies, the altitude started to get to me once or twice and I had to stop to rest. But overall I was impressed with my fitness and feel less anxious about Half Dome.

Unfortunately there was still a lot of snow at the top of the trail and, given it looked like it was going to rain and we were on slabs of granite, we turned around before making it to the top. WHICH MEANS we had to hike down too. Not the original plan. Plus, to top things off, one of my contacts fell out about halfway down. Not ideal. Nonetheless, we made it back down just after 12pm and promptly treated ourselves to a brewski and lunch.

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So high up

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We intended to take a quick 40 minute catnap when we got back to the hotel but slept for a hour and 20 minutes instead. I wasn’t mad about it though… I think our bodies needed the rest.

After snoozing, we hit up the hot tub and got caught in a little rain storm. But who cares when you’re already wet? Squaw has the best hot tub scene, with 3 different Jacuzzis and a giant pool. All that and a gorgeous view of the mountains. It’s not a bad way to spend an afternoon…

Before our dinner reservations, we had time for a glass of wine and a little Royal wedding watching. Correction: I watched updates on the wedding. Mike could not care less. Who else is obsessed with MM like I am though? 🙋 She’s so gorgeous and an American/Californian. I had to support. 😉

After my pop culture history-in-the-making fix, Mike treated me to a cozy dinner at Six Peaks. We spilt a bottle of red, an order of lobster mac n’ cheese, and indulged in fillets. It was such a nice night. There is just something about splitting a bottle of wine that is so romantic to me. AND we got to toast the official less-than-a-year countdown to our wedding!

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On Saturday we had a big adventure planned. But first, COFFEE (and tea and breakfast sammies). Wild Cherries in Truckee and is my favorite local coffee spot. I am a picky coffee drinker and have never been disappointed with their java. They also have made-to-order sandwiches that are hot and fresh every time. I may need to start a campaign for them to open a location in the Bay Area…

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AND THEN it was adventure time. We drove to Tahoe Treetop Adventure Park in Tahoe Vista for 2.5 hours of zip-lining and swinging around in the trees.

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For $60 you get to explore 9 different obstacle courses up in the treetops. You are harnessed in while you try things like walking across rolling logs or rock climbing on a suspended wall. There are also zip lines sprinkled throughout each course. I was a little nervous at first because you have to jump off to start zip lining and don’t have anything to grab onto but your harness. After a few tries though, you don’t even think about it.

Mike and I completed all 9 courses (and one twice, by accident) so we were pretty proud of ourselves. I highly recommend trying this if you’re in the Tahoe location. The same company has 2 other parks and I’m sure we’ll be back for more.

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After our treetop adventure we scarfed down quinoa (for me) and orzo (for Mike) vegetable salads that we had bought at New Moon, a health food store next to Wild Cherries. Then it was a quick drive back to Squaw for some relaxation in the form of a couples massage.

Now that we are engaged, on vacations like this, I think about how in few years we might have a little babe with us; and vacations will likely look a lot different! hah 🙂 But for now, it’s still just me and Mike and we can indulge in things like bottles of wine, hour long adventures, and massages.

We hit up Sandy’s Pub in the resort after for beers and sweet potato fries. I have good memories of Sandy’s including basically sneaking in a bottle of wine to drink with my future mother-in-law a few years ago; to actually sneaking into the hot tub outside the restaurant another time with my friend Sandra and eating at Sandy’s after. Not to mention all of the times Mike and I have been there. ❤

We spilt a pizza and a salad after and then, perhaps proving that we are ready for parenthood, went back to the hotel to chill for the rest of the night. Oddly enough we found an interesting documentary on the Weather Channel (of all channels) and proceeded to learn all about the Donner Party. Not a super romantic topic… ek 😐

On our final morning in Squaw, we continued a tradition we have that involves a mountain view, tea, and hot tubbing. Who doesn’t love hot tubbing right in the morning when their the skinniest they’ll be all day?! Jk.

Then we spilt a chocolate croissant (hot tub before you eat, I’m telling ya;), packed up, and said ✌️ to Squaw; our favorite home away from home.

A sweet life it is.

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*Mike was actually going to PROPOSE last year when we had the same plan but we didn’t end up hiking that trip. Instead he proposed a few months later in the sweetest, most perfect way. Spoiler: the day included hot tubbing, apple picking, wine tasting, and of course, a very special question. 🙂

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!

 

Tahoe Birthday Festivities

We celebrated Mike’s birthday at one of our favorite places this weekend, Squaw Valley in North lake Tahoe. Since it was a long holiday weekend we got up early and left on Saturday morning, anticipating a nice, relaxing 3 day weekend. After fueling up at our favorite local bagel shop, Bagel Guys, we set out  on the 4 hour drive to Tahoe. We arrived around 12pm; just in time for lunch! Since check in at the resort wasn’t until 4pm, we decided to eat and then spend time on the lake kayaking.

We stopped at Tahoe Brewing Co. for lunch and split a flight of beer, chicken wings, and a hummus + avocado wrap. I’ve mentioned on here before that I typically aim for one carb meal, one protein meal, and one combo meal (carb and protein meal) in a day. I find this to be the most effective way for eating a balanced diet (esp. when traveling!) and maintaining a healthy body weight. Of course, I’m also sure to load up on veggies whenever possible! Our wings and veg wrap were the perfect combo meal and kept me full for hours.

Unfortunately the lake was too choppy for us to kayak after lunch so we went to the resort early and had a drink poolside with our toes dipped in the water. For dinner we went to Sandy’s Pub and split the ribs and mango shrimp. (Since we had bagels that morning – hello, carbs! – it was time for a protein focused meal.)

After dinner we went back to our room for gifts, scotch, and games! Mike’s actual birthday was on Sunday but I couldn’t contain myself and made him open his presents early. We also FaceTime’d with Mike’s sister and niece in Melbourne (where it was already his birthday!).

Opening presents fireside 🙂

On Sunday we woke up and had cheesy eggs on bagels (I actually skipped the bagel knowing the day was going to be full of indulgences), fruit, coffee and tea. After we FaceTime’d with Mike’s parents in Toronto (family all over the world!) we rode our bikes to Olympic Village. There we took the same gondola we did a few years ago to the top of a mountain where we spent the day in the hot tub, basically only breaking for lunch (a hot dog and veg and chicken kabobs, split of course).

On our way up!

For dinner I took Mike to Six Peaks, one of our favorite fancy places to dine! Everyone is so friendly there and the food is ah-mazing; it’s hard not to have a great time. We started with a  charcuterie board with Humboldt fog (the best cheese!!), Toma cheese, and prosciutto. It was served with honey and blackberries and was devine.  For dinner, we each ordered a filet mignon and shared side of truffle mashed potatoes and asparagus. They brought Mike dessert for his birthday that (we think) was banana pudding in a cookie-crust bowl with bananas, whip cream, and chocolate shavings on top. I don’t think we would have ordered it if we saw it on the menu but, like everything at Six Peaks, it was heaven.

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Our view of the pools at dinner
Strong after-dinner selfie game

On Monday, Mike woke up early for a swim. I met him a bit later for tea and hot tubing! We spent a lazy morning alternating between the pool and hot tub. For breakfast Mike had banana bread and a chocolate croissant (I had bites of both!) and I stuck to fruit and hard boiled eggs (definitely a less decadent breakfast but I find protein in the morning works better for me).

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Morning bliss!

Since we weren’t able to kayak on Saturday, we tried again before we left and luckily the water wasn’t as choppy! We spent a hour on beautiful lake Tahoe, kayaking together and taking it all in. One of my favorite things about mine and Mike’s relationship is how much we do togetherHe urges me to explore the world through activity (bike rides, hikes, kayaking, etc.), while accompanying me on my never-ending quest of healthy eating and compassionate living. I don’t think I could have picked a better partner! 💙

After working up an appetite on the lake, we broke into our cheese, cracker, and prosciutto leftovers from dinner the night before. Then, still hungry and needing more food, we went to Rocker@Squaw and noshed on (more) wings and a veggie plater with hummus and Green Goddess dressing. NomNOM.

After lunch we stopped for a coffee and one last splurge at Dorinda’s Chocolates – best sea salt caramels in all the land!

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As usual, our time at squaw did not disappoint! Now the countdown is on for when we return in December with Mike’s family. 🙂

South Lake Tahoe

We’ve been planning a trip to south lake Tahoe since the end of last year with 4 other couples and it finally happened this past weekend! Tahoe is the perfect weekend escape if you live in the Bay Area (and recommended as a detestation even if you don’t!) because it’s only about 4 hours away and has all different activities to do in the summer or winter. Mike and I usually frequent north lake (you can read about our trips here and here) but I feel like the south shore has more of a party vibe and is better to go with friends.

All of the couples spent the weekend in a cabin we rented close to the state line (between California and Nevada) but Mike and I drove up late on Thursday night. We split a room at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino with our friends Ben and Sandra because the boys wanted to spend all of Friday on the mountain snowboarding and skiing (instead of driving up like everyone else). On our way up, we stopped at Panera, which is a go-to place when we are on the road since it’s relatively healthy.  The restaurant recently rolled out a new campaign using clean ingredients and having a “transparent menu.” In my opinion this should be standard for waaaay more (if not all!) restaurants but at least someone is making the first steps. I am happy to support businesses that care about nutrition and the health of their costumers so I gladly spend my money here. Sadly we nixed our weekatarian ways and ate meat during this meal. I ordered the broccoli and cheddar soup and a Cobb salad without cheese; both were good and kept me full for the rest of our journey to Tahoe.

When we got there around midnight, Ben and Sandra were still about 45 minutes out and we couldn’t check in without them since the hotel was under Ben’s name. Instead we grabbed a beer in the casino and tried not to inhale too much. #smokingkills

On Friday the guys went straight to the lift and Sandra and I spent a leisurely day getting coffee, sushi, and drinking wine while watching Ellen. Since I broke my no meat on the week rule the day before, I ordered vegetable tempura and  a cucumber roll for lunch with a side of edamame. Around 6pm most of the other couples arrived and we got ready for dinner at MacDuff’s Pub. This place was cute and cozy; basically a quintessential Irish pub. Half of our group ordered the truffled mac n cheese and, as good as it looked, I knew it would be too rich for me so I got the corned beef and cabbage instead. I also went against tradition and got a hot toddy instead of a beer. After dinner, we went back to the cabin and played Anomia, this crazy fun card game that involves a lot of quick thinking and shouting at each other.

Saturday started with a lazy breakfast of eggs, bacon, and fruit + a coffee run. It could be just me but heading to Starbucks with a huge list of coffee orders makes me feel oddly very much like an adult…

Back at the cabin, armed with caffeine and Chromecast, we alternated between watching Beyonce and Justin Bieber music videos. (Also, very adult like;) Finally around 1pm we collectively decided it was time to go outside and play in the snow. We gathered our gloves, hats, beers, and googles to go sledding nearby.

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I was starving when we got back to the house and was stoked that I had leftovers from the night before. After scarfing down the rest of my corned beef and cabbage, it was time to hot tub! While we were soaking in the jacuzzi the last couple arrived. We all went to Cold Water Brewery & Grill for dinner with the intention of going to the casinos after. Mike and I split pretzel bites with beer fondue, a rice + veggie bowl, and fish & chips. It was a lot of food and we just couldn’t rally after… The whole group was tired and suffering from food comas so we went back to the cabin and fell asleep. …I guess that’s what  happens when you vacation with a group of 26+ year olds.

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Everyone!
On Sunday there was another coffee run and some brunch action before going home. We saw the brunch menu at Cold Water Brewery & Grill the night before and went there again to try their monkey bread. Mike and I split an order of the ooey-gooey-carmel-delcious- ness and each got an order of eggs Benedict which was WAY too much food.

Overall the weekend was filled with more beer than vegetables and essentially no exercise but a lot of fun with good company in a great location! Sometimes you just need a weekend away with friends… amIright?!

#VegOut

♡ Ashley

Food Crawlin’

This past weekend was full of favorites for me and Mike. We spent the weekend at Resort at Squaw Creek in North Lake Tahoe. We stayed at this resort for the first time last year and got upgraded to a “fireplace suite.” Whoever upgraded us should get some sort of promotion because the resort has become a home away from home for us during the past year! And – not to be bougie – buuuuut if we had stayed in a regular room* that first time, I don’t think the weekend would have made such a lasting impression on us. Now, we splurge for the suites and, let me tell you, having a fireplace (and a stove, a toaster, a master bedroom and 2 TVs) in your hotel room, never gets old!

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Aside from staying at the resort, we partook in a pretty amazing food crawl. If you don’t know what a food crawl is (like many of the waiters and waitresses who wanted to be sure we only wanted a salad… for both of us… to split…), it’s when you “crawl” from eatery to eatery having your appetizer, salad, soup, entree, dessert, etc. all at different restaurants. Food crawls are great because they allow you to sample a lot of different foods, especially on vacations when there are so many restaurants to try! (Note, they do get a little pricey with the tipping included at each new place but I think it’s worth the experience.) 

We started at the welcoming event the resort offers on Friday evenings with beer and app samples and then went to the pub located on the property. Here we each ordered a cocktail and decided on the pretzel bites with jalapeno cheddar (for me) and spicy mustard (for Mike) dipping sauces. From past experience (you might remember when I wasn’t eating meat in March and ordered these same pretzel bites for dinner), I know these are delicious so it was hard to get just the half order but we knew we have to save room for the rest of the evening!

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Next we took the free shuttle service to The Village and stopped at a bar(?) called 22. If I’m being honest, I have to say this was my least favorite stop on the crawl. We split a steak salad with fennel and beets. I enjoyed the salad but the atmosphere, in my opinion, was lacking. It felt a little old world and stuffy… (and I thought it smelt weird but Mike didn’t feel the same so, who knows?) After our salad, we went to another pub (this one Irish) and ordered the potato skins and sliders which were so unhealthy and full of fat and cheese and calories amazing! We ended our food crawl with a pear tart at a pizza place (not photographed) and a nightcap back in our suite!

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Lunch trio!

The next day, we took the tram to the top of the mountains where there was a pool, hot tub, cafe, bar, and a mini-museum from the 1960 Olympics that were hosted at Squaw. At the cafe we split 3 appetizers (another good way to try a lot of different things!!); the bruschetta with an avocado drizzle, a flat bread with spinach, figs and a balsamic glaze, and BBQ wings. I had higher hopes for the flat bread and the bruschetta – which were both just okay – but the wings were the bomb.com and Mike gave me the last/uneven extra one so ya know, I fell in love with him all over again, type thing.

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Cheese and meat eats

For dinner (I fell in love, yet again;), Mike treated me to a fancy-schmancy steak dinner at Six Peaks, the resort’s restaurant. We started with a cheese and meat sampler that I could have had all to myself and called it a meal. We also ordered/split (do you see a common theme here?) a rib-eye and a fillet with truffle mashed potatoes and asparagus. Seriously. So. Good. And last, but not least, we ended the night with my FAVORITE chocolate covered Oreo’s with mini M&Ms on top (I don’t even like Oreo’s in real life, but put me on top of a mountain, charge me Mike $4.50 per Oreo, and #bliss).

So, to recap, obviously my attempt to stop eating meat during The Veg Voyage has been derailed (steak salad and wings and rib-eye, oh, MY!) but you know what they** say………………….. Oreo’s are vegan.

#VegOut

♡ Ashley

*#barbaric – JUST KIDDING!

**”they” being HuffPo