Monday, June 27, 2011

the mendocino coast

We had a leisurely morning today with a walk down the street to two of my favorite shops - Trader Joe's and Cost Plus World Market. I love browsing these stores and finding sweet treats and fun things that you can't find elsewhere. We got some neat magnetic games at Cost Plus and some yummy dark chocolate peanut butter cups from Trader Joe's (they came highly recommended!) After a quick stop at a huge toy store on the way back to the RV park, we were on our way. We drove up Hwy 1 along the gorgeous Northern California coast to Mendocino. It was a long, winding drive but so scenic! I love all the little tiny villages and towns tucked away along the coast.

Midway up the coast we needed a break from driving so we stopped at Manchester State Park and had an awesome time on the beach.

We were all jumping off a big sand ledge and when it was Bella's turn, she launched off but rather than stopping she kept on running, gathering far too much speed for her little legs. It wasn't a happy ending! She did the biggest face plant I've ever seen! Face in the sand, legs and hips in the air.... she got up with a mouth full of sand, one eye covered in sand, sand up her nose.... oh my.... she was not a happy girl. But we got her cleaned up and enjoyed the rest of our time there.

                                     Can you tell how fast she's going?!?!  Trouble ahead!

     We put an offer on a little beach shack... it's a bit of a fixer-upper but the location is fabulous!!! What do you think?!

           Looking forward to more exploring tomorrow!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

the big sur coast

We had a lovely time with John's family in Santa Maria. We got caught up with his siblings and the cousins had fun playing together. The kids LOVED having time with Gram and Gramps. We ate yummy fruits and veggies from the local farmer's markets.... it was a good relaxing week. Unfortunately I gave my camera a week off too so I have no photos to show for our week there. But the memories are firmly embedded in our minds and in our hearts.

After big hugs and some tearful good-bye's we headed north up to the Big Sur coast. This is one of my favorite places in California. It's rugged, somewhat remote, and completely magical. On the way up we stopped to see the elephant seals just north of Cambria. This in another one of our favorite stops! They are so entertaining to watch and observe.

It was really foggy the day we drove up, so we didn't get to enjoy the spectacular views along the coast. We stopped at Salmon Creek for a hike up to the waterfalls - fun except for all the poison oak. John reacts terribly to that stuff so we are all very leary of it. It was EVERYWHERE along the trail! When you're hiking with 3 kids, it takes a lot of the joy out of it when you're spending all your energy trying to avoid the poison oak. We decided to add to our list of criteria for a possible homestead.... no poison oak!

We spent one lovely morning at one of my favorite places in Big Sur - the Nepenthe - oh how I love this place! I love the weathered wood, the lush plants, the Phoenix gift shop with wares from around the world, the pillows outside of the restaurant, the yummy pastries and drinks at Cafe Kevah. The smell of the sea air, the ocean breezes, the view..... the energy of peace....

I could have just sat here for hours, soaking up the warmth of the sun and enjoying the tranquility.

While on the Big Sur coast, we spent an amazing day at the Esalen Institute. This is a place I've wanted to see and experience for years, so we arranged to spend a morning volunteering in their garden in exchange for meals and use of the facilities for the rest of the day. The gardens are beautiful! It was so wonderful to have our hands in the dirt again and the people we were working with were so welcoming and kind.

We harvested flax seeds, cleared and prepped beds, transplanted flowers, and planted seeds. Zara worked right along with us while Bella and Thor loved digging in the dirt, and helping out with the harvesting. They were enchanted with the baby chicks so spent lots of time sitting on stools in front of the brooder, watching and giggling at their silly little antics. They were so good at entertaining themselves while we worked. It was  fun to be in the garden working as a family -  hard work but so wonderful too. I loved hearing the waves crashing just below us and watching the fog lift throughout the morning. When it finally cleared and the ocean came into view it was just the icing on the cake! The food was yummy too! We left late that afternoon to return to our campsite, exhausted and happy.

The next day we continued north to the Santa Cruz area and had a wonderful time with our friends Dave and Marcie Kirby and their two wonderful boys and Marcie's sweet mom. We spent a day at the beach in Capitola watching a paddle board competition, cheering Dave in after a 12 mile race, and just enjoying the hubbub of race day. We got to help Marcie celebrate her 40th birthday at a yummy mexican restaurant in Santa Cruz later that night with a group of their friends. Another wonderful re-connection and another bittersweet goodbye.

      The kids had so much fun playing on this rope swing! Bella pretended she was an acrobat in the circus!

We ended the weekend with an afternoon and evening with more great friends - Phil and Lara Grace and their kidlets. They live just north of San Francisco in the Marin area. Phil came and picked us up at our RV Park and took us back to their house where we swam, visited, ate good food and enjoyed the heat and good company.

We've been on the road exactly 6 weeks today - hard to believe. It's gone so fast and has been so wonderful. Tomorrow we are heading up to Mendocino and Fort Bragg for a few days of Northern California loveliness! Ahhhh.... life is so good!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

family, friends and beach time!

So you may remember me writing about our weekend in San Diego, reconnecting with John's uncle and aunt, Neil and Carolyn. If not, you can read about it here. They have 2 older kids - Annie working in New York and Emily at university at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo (Central Coast of Cali). Zara slept in Emily's room while we were there, and tried on all her old costumes and paraded around in her highest heels. Zara also did some texting with Emily on Carolyn's cell phone and just felt a real connection with her. So we were all thrilled when Neil and Carolyn stopped by GG's place on the way home from picking up Emily at the end of her school year. Zara loved Emily before even meeting her, and they just clicked right away!


GG with some of her clan. It was a super short, but super sweet visit! We were all sad to say good-bye... again. We also said our farewells to GG as our time in LA was ending. We look forward to visiting her in Washington again this summer! 

The next day we drove up a long winding mountain road to Lake Arrowhead to visit Danny and Nancy Eager, some friends that we hadn't seen for about 7 years. We ate lunch by the lake, then played in the park and raced go carts. Zara had never driven a go cart before and was bit nervous about it, but she just cruised around that race track! Bella loved being her co-pilot!

Zara doing a little happy dance after the racing!

We spent the night with Dan and Nancy at their lovely cabin, then headed back down the next morning to pick up the motorhome and make a beeline for the ocean! We arrived at Refugio State Park that afternoon - what a beautiful spot! A lovely sandy beach, bordered with palm trees, dolphins swimming by! Blissful!

                                            Bella doing her "Stick tricks" (Musketeer moves!)

                                                           The view from the RV! A sweet spot!

That night after dinner, the sun had set and the sky was turning a pinky grey, when Zara yelled "Dolphins!". We raced outside to the beach and there were 6 bottlenosed dolphins hanging out in the bay about 50' off-shore. They were playing, interacting, rubbing up against each other, jumping, spyhopping, just enjoying each other and in no hurry to get anywhere. What a gift to witness these magnificent creatures! We watched them for about 20 minutes before they slowly made their way out of the bay. Wow! We said good night and thank you to the dolphins and went to bed!

The next morning we loved exploring the point with all the amazing rocks.

We spent most of the day on the beach. There was a cool breeze blowing much of the day that kept us deceptively comfortable! We all ended up getting a bit sunburned - we're not used to being out during the hottest part of the day! We won't let that happen again. It was just too beautiful to leave!

Late that afternoon we headed north about 45 minutes to John's folks place in Santa Maria. We've now been here for almost a week, enjoying time with family, and taking some down time after a busy month on the road. We are now more than halfway through this part of our adventure! We'll enjoy a couple more days here, then will hit the road again. I wonder what adventures are waiting for us just around the corner?

Saturday, June 18, 2011

fun at the magic kingdom!

We spent a day last week at "the happiest place on earth"! At least that's what some people call Disneyland. I think that might be pushing it a little bit, but we did have fun! It was busy and the line ups got long, but we found little quiet spots throughout the day to rest and relax and catch our breath in the shade.

We got on a little train that chugs around the entire perimeter of the park and this sign was right in front of us. Bella said "So I guess you're not allowed to dance on the train. We have to stay sitting down"! I thought that was such a cute interpretation of this sign! 

The girls loved seeing the princesses. They no longer wander around the park so we had to see them at this show and meet them afterwards. I love the look of wonder on Bella's face as she met Cinderella! 

We saw the new "Mickey's Soundsational Parade" - the floats were great as was the music. The girls were excited to see Arial on her float.  

I'm not sure who was having more fun on Mr. Toad's Wild Ride. Thor loved "driving"! We all finished the day tired but happy.

The next day we drove to Pasadena to visit an urban homestead that I've been reading about online for years. Here's the link if you'd like to learn more about them. The Devrae family homesteads here on .10 of an acre! They grow enough for themselves as well as some restaurants and a porch farm stand. They also have bees, chickens and a goat! So inspiring to see it firsthand!

            From there we visited Kidspace - a very fun, interactive kids museum. The kids enjoyed all    the different things to do and explore.

We are now on the Central Coast with John's folks and family, enjoying some downtime and connecting with family. Before I get to that though, I'm going to do one more post to get caught up from last week.