God’s Country: Yosemite Valley

“The mountains are calling and I must go.” – John Muir
IMG_8362My childhood summer vacations were spent exploring around Yosemite Valley, wondering through the Ahwahnee dreaming of what it would be like to stay there, basking in the sun and playing in the freezing cold river, laying in the meadow gazing up El Capitan & Half Dome, and taking deep, deep breaths of rejuvenating mountain air.  As a kid we stayed in the cabins, which were flooded and ruined in 1997, so we moved to Yosemite Lodge.  My brother and I would be packed up in my dad’s old, yellow Mercedes, and meet all his buddies and their kids.  It was the greatest experience a kid could ask for.  Yosemite is home for me.  

If you’ve never been to Yosemite Valley, it’s hard to describe the feeling you get looking up at the massive granite walls surrounding you.  It’s humbling and awe-inspiring; it’s unreal.  I try to go at least once a year, either for a day trip or a weekend of camping.  To get a weekend campsite is a bit of a challenge – as it fills up right when reservations open.  I was fortunate enough to grab the last spot in North Pines Campground for this weekend.

The weather was overcast  when we rolled in on Friday afternoon, so we unpacked and rode around (you must bring bikes!) the valley.  It was my beau’s first time, so it was fun for me to take him around.  We went to shops in the Yosemite Village, Ansel Adam’s store, walked around the Indian site and explored the museum, and wrapped up with some hot coco from the cafeteria at Yosemite Lodge.  We came back to our site, lit a fire, made some dinner (steak fajitas!) and tucked in with a good book (the BFG – Roald Dahl) right as the rain rolled in.

IMG_0254

If I ever get married (again) it’s happening here!

IMG_8292

Even though we’re in a drought, the falls were mighty!

IMG_8375IMG_8331
On Saturday – we woke up to a b-e-a-utiful day!  We woke up leisurley, enjoyed some breakfast and hoped on our bikes to lower Yosemite falls.  We walked up the trail and enjoyed the views – and debated doing the much longer hike to the upper falls, and decided a drink at the Ahwahnee sounded a little better!  Ha!  We got a seat on the patio, ordered coffee, tea and cheesecake (of course) and enjoyed our afternoon.  We then went back to the site for a little nap, and got back on our bikes to stroll around Mirror Pond and Curry Village.  We wrapped up the evening with chili and cornbread by the fire.

IMG_8311 IMG_8301 IMG_8321  IMG_8307 IMG_8319

IMG_8315

Best spot in the house!

Sunday morning we woke, enjoyed some delicious blueberry pancakes and packed up camp.  As we were heading out, we realized we had a dead battery!  Luckily, we had a very nice neighbor who jump started us, and we were on our way.

I truly can’t express how amazing Yosemite is.  There’s places to stay (and eat) for any budget, tons of hikes, amazing scenery and neat things to do.  It’s a must visit for anyone!

Oh ya, we saw this guy too:

God is good friends.  God is good.

Advertisements

California Coast Part 1: Santa Cruz Region

Do you ever just need to run away, if only for a night?   I needed escape from the everyday routine.  I know I didn’t want to go too far, but far enough to feel like a mini-vacation.  We decided to go to the Santa Cruz region.  We picked Santa Cruz because 1) Boo has never been there 2) I have only been to the tourist Boardwalk & downtown 3) I heard it’s lovely.   As usual, I like to talk to folks who know the area to get some recommendations on where to eat and what to see.  I used the handy dandy interweb to find a good place to stay.  Here’s what we did.

Accommodations:  Redwood Croft B&B
Room:  The West Room with private patio.
Cost:  $225 + tax (that was with a military discount.  Yikes!)
Rating:  This place got rave reviews online.  I’ll give it an A for location and scenery, a C+ for breakfast and host.  The host seemed a bit… passive aggressive.  It was a bit odd.  Another couple raved about the breakfast, so I was a bit disappointed when plain pancakes and sausage came out.  Overall, we enjoyed out stay, but will likely not return.

IMG_8207 IMG_8217 IMG_8212  IMG_8242 IMG_8210 IMG_8209IMG_8214    IMG_8213   IMG_0363IMG_8241 IMG_8235 IMG_8231 IMG_8229

As usual, when I travel, I look for the best spots to eat.  I got these 2 recommendations from a friend who used to live in the area – and she was on point!

Breakfast (on our arrival morning):  Whale City Bakery, Davenport, CA
I heard the pastries were awesome but we went for a meal and split the Huevos Tortillas which was pretty good.  The coffee was tasty and the outside patio was awesome – and dog friendly!

Lunch:  Pizza My Heart, Downtown Santa Cruz
This place has grown significantly since I visited last.  It used to be a hole in the wall, and now it’s a huge restaurant.  The za was fine, nothing to rave about anymore.

Dinner:  The Cremer House, Felton, CA
If you’re in the Santa Cruz area and don’t want to head downtown for dinner, you HAVE to hit up The Cremer House.  This place is awesome!  The historic building is charming, with a nice wrap around porch for outdoor seating (with heaters).  The inside is super cozy, and you feel like you’re walking into a friends house.  After out late pizza lunch, we decided to go light and split the “Bob Salad” which was amazing.  We also ordered a flight of beer (3 of 8 were good) and the donuts… which were ah-mazing.  The staff is great, and everything else on the menu looked amazing.  Great spot.

IMG_0358 IMG_0360 IMG_0362On the drive home, we made a pit-stop in a little town called Pescadero to grab coffee and check out the shops, took a shot of the coast, and enjoyed every winding minute of the famous Highway 1.

IMG_8261 IMG_8258 IMG_8254 IMG_8260 IMG_8257 IMG_8256 IMG_8255 IMG_8253Great little runaway.  Very blessed to be able to take little vacations – so close to home.

God is good friends.  God is good.

Silverado Trail Part 1

Today was glorious.  Started out at church, followed by a delicious brunch and wine tasting!  Perfect way to spend a Sunday.

IMG_8066

IMG_0008IMG_8072

Here’s where we went:

Brunch:  Alexis’ Baking Company & Cafe (ABC) Downtown Napa.
They change their menu seasonally (maybe monthly) so we ate off the March Spring Menu* & Everyday Breakfast Menu.

IMG_9983

Food:  Creme Brulee French Toast with Fresh Strawberries* ($14.95) and Smoked Salmon Sandwich with Eggs, Cream Cheese, Red Onions and Capers on a Potato Bun ($12.95) with a side of Potatoes with Cheese ($4.95).  Hot Chai Latte & Cold Chair Latte – YUM!  (Around $3.50/each)

IMG_9984 IMG_9985IMG_9986 IMG_9982

Wineries:  Regusci Winery, Robert Sinskey Vineyards & Chimney Rock Winery.

Regusci:  Stumbled upon this gem after we missed our turn for Chimney Rock!  A flight of 4 wines for $20.  A BIG thank you to Brittany for waiving the tasting fee when I asked about military discount.  Today we tried a Chardonnay, Zin, Merlot and Cab.  I hate to say it.. but we really only enjoyed the white – and I’m not normally a big Chardonnay fan, but this was a good one.  The tasting room and outdoor patio was really charming, the grounds were lovely, and the old building was beautiful!

IMG_8057IMG_8058IMG_8055

Robert Sinskey Vineyards:  This spot was recommended by Brittany from Regusci.  We pulled in, and though it was under construction, it was lovely!  A flight of 4 wines for $25.  Another BIG thank you to Kyle for offering a waived tasting fee for my military discount, and throwing in an extra taste.  We had an Abraxis, Orgia (label made of acid paper…), Pinot Noir, Cab and a POV.  The Abraxis was pretty tasty, especially on a warm summer day.  The reds were good, but we didn’t walk away with any.  What I especially liked about this winery was that they included a little food platter to sample with your tastings – and everything on here with yummy!  Especially the roasted almonds with rosemary, sage, olive oil and salt.  MMMmmmm

IMG_8059 IMG_9988IMG_9989

Chimney Rock:  Found this on the Winery Finder App offering discounts, and also on yelp.  And boy are we glad we came here!  We made this the last stop for the day, and it was perfect.  A flight of 1 white and 4 reds (2 different flights to choose) for $35, and a flight of 3 whites and 1 red for $25.  A BIG thank you to our sommelier for offering a 2 for 1 taste for my military discount.  I’m going to be honest here… it was the end of the day, and the wines were blending at this point.  I had the 3 whites and 1 red, and enjoyed them all!  Ha!  My partner had 1 white and 4 reds and enjoyed them as well.  What we really enjoyed was the grounds.  The back patio was just lovely, a perfect spot to spend the afternoon.  The only bummer was you can’t picnic here due to Napa laws (or something beyond my scope).  We will definitely be back here!  Loved it.

IMG_8063 IMG_8068 IMG_8069 IMG_8086

It truly was a beautiful day in wine country, and I am looking forward to the Silverado Trail part 2.  This part of the trail was the Stags Leap region – and it was beautiful and tasty!  Great day to be a Californian.

God is good friends.  God is good.

Mammoth, CA

With camping season around the corner, I decided to post about an amazing trip I took a few years ago.

3 friends and I loaded down my Subaru and hit the road to Mammoth.  I planned this trip around the annual Bluesapalooza Music, Beer & Food festival.  I had never been, but what’s better than camping, good music, beer and food?  The answer is nothing, nothing is better.

Mammoth:  This place is GORGEOUS.  There’s so many lakes, hikes, fishing opportunities… a nature lover’s dream!  We went in early August and it was beautiful out.  Not too hot during the day, not too cold in the evenings.  The awesome sunset shot below is the result of a fire that was raging about 20 miles west of our spot.

IMG_4945  IMG_4922IMG_4920

Campsite:  Coldwater Campground, Inyo National Forest.  We stayed Friday – Sunday in site #55.  The campsite was walking distance to the lakes, and provided a shuttle to downtown.

IMG_5833IMG_5841

Festival:  Mammoth Bluesapalooza. Unfortunately we didn’t book far enough in advance to get the Blues/Brews 2 day – Friday night & Saturday pass (sells out fast!) so we got the Saturday evening concert.  I was mostly there for the beer, so missing out on the free tasting on SaturDAY was a bummer, but with the evening pass you could buy some brew.  Buy in advance!

IMG_4934IMG_4936

Drive:  Having never been to Mammoth, I didn’t realize how far it was.  In the future, if you’re coming from the Bay Area, or anywhere over 3 hours, I would stay at least 3 nights.  2 nights wasn’t enough – considering it was about 6 hours each way!  Woof.

Can’t wait for camping season!  This year I have camping trips planned to Mt. Diablo SP, Yosemite’s Upper Pines, Pinecrest and Fallen Leaf Lake.

Happy Camping friends.

God is good friends.  God is good.

 

 

Occidental & Healdsburg

Saturday called for early afternoon rain – so I figured I could get a quick bite and some wine tasting in before it came!  California thinks it’s spring – so the hills are luscious green are flowing with mustard flowers!  Such a beautiful day!

IMG_9636 (1)

Here’s what I did:

Travel time: 3.5 hours total

Locations:  Breakfast in Occidental and Wine Tasting in Healdsburg

Cost:  Irish Eggs Benedict, Coffee & Chai Tea Latte – $25 including tip.  Private tasting (fee waived) and 2 bottles of wine – $64.

Breakfast was delicious!  I stumbled upon Howard’s Station Cafe this past President’s Day when I was exploring on my own, and I had to bring my Beau back!  The first time around I had the Original Eggs Benedict with a side of fruit and a Chai Tea Latte.  YUM!  The second time we had the Irish Eggs Benedict with a side of potatoes.  We had a snack on the drive up (1.5 hour) so we split the dish – which was perfect.  Out server was great, and all the staff helped each other out.  Good experience x 2!

IMG_9616IMG_9615

Alex enjoying MY Chai Tea Latte!

Wine Tasting was delectable!  We go wine tasting quite frequently – and I always try to find new spots.  To be honest – I mostly look for spots with great reviews and great views!  I stumbled upon Acorn Winery in doing a random yelp search – and boy am I glad I stopped in!  Their license requires patrons to make an appointment – which was fine by me.  Betsy – owner and darling lady, was wonderful!  We were the only ones in their small tasting room, and had the most intimate tasting.  We learned so much – and for the first time ever, I enjoyed all of the wine.  They do not mass produce, and they’ve definitely poured their heard into their “second career”.  I purchased Cabernet Franc and my beau got their Dolcetto.  Yum!

FullSizeRender (4)

As always, we had a great time!

God is good friends, God is good.