Saturday, April 9, 2011

California dreams...backblogging.

****** a little behind in blogging. There was simply too much to fun to be had! So I've been back blogging this week and will do a quick back to the real world recap soon too********** :)

So we are on our vacation to Cali right now. Usually people think of vacation as a time to relax and rest, for us this is rarely the case and our need to go, see and do all that we can has continued on into our trip. Therefore I've not even taken the time to get on the computer and write about what we're doing. We are about an hour away from our dinner reservations in our last night in Yountville, so I'll take this time to try and create a brief synopsis of our trip thus far.

Day 1 March 31- we drove to Louisville to catch our flight to LAX. Wheels Up-Louisville. We had the smoothest day of traveling we've ever experienced together. Our flights were on time and everything went according to schedule. Once we arrived we picked up our car and met Tim and Autumn at In-n-Out Burger. The smell of salt filled the air and I felt relaxed instantly. We stayed at Tim and Autumns cute apartment right in Playa Vista which is in the middle if everything LA. Tim had to got to work at Shutters around 10:00pm and we retired to bed soon afterward.

Day2- April 1st- oh April fools day! We drove south about 45 minutes to see Josh and Meissa and to meet 6 month old Annabelle. It was a beautiful drive along the coast to get to their place. Being greeted by Josh holding his little girl was a weird thing for us to see. She is 190% precious. Their place is completely perfect, a nice open and cozy condo with beautiful grounds, pool, and ocean access. They were sweet enough to make us a delicious brunch while we caught up on each others lives.
Afterward Josh put lil Annabelle down for a nap and we walked down to their beach access spot. It is mostly a rocky landscape but a beautiful spot all the same! I sure wouldn't mind being able to walk down a few steps and have the ocean splash my toes!
When Lil LuLu awoke we all went for a dip in the pool. She was too much for words in her little BumbleBee swimsuit, equipped with wings and a hat. TOO MUCH!!!!!
We then headed back up to Santa Monica, in the middle of the rush hour traffic, but no worries with some of the pretty views along the way. Unfortunately with the timing of everything the bike ride we had planned to take with Billy was not possible. We did stop by his place and hea down the street for a walk around the Venice pier. It was great to see him and the spot where him and Nikki call home.
We quickly took showers after getting back to Tim and Autumns and the four of us headed to meet everyone for dinner at Villa Blanca in Beverlly Hills.
My restaraunt pick, and I was dying to see the interior. It was beautifully decorated inside and out, and I would love to have everything in our house white and sparkly like that. Our dinner was fit for reality TV no doubt......all we were missing were the cameras. Win, Liz, Billy, Nikki, Tim, Autumn, and eventually Josh all experienced a unique evening out in BH. :)
Win encouraged us to endulge at Diddy Reese afterwards which was an extremely good choice. The line to get in to this little dessert joint was wrapping the block but Win, Liz, Autumn, Tim and us braved the storm! The reward was sweet with two warm cookies of our choice sandwiching the ice cream of choice......can we say Yummy?

Day3- We woke up and went for a bike ride down through Venice Beach and up through 3rd Street with Tim and Autumn. It was a cloudy, cool day but a great day for biking. It was interesting to see all the color and exuberance of that area. Even with the clouds it was so nice to smell and see the salty body of water!
After biking Barry and I got cleaned up, and packed up for our next stay. Then it was off to the Getty Museum. We had heard wonderful things about the museum and were excited to see the works of some great artists. We were both DYING of hunger when we arrived and were able to grab some great sandwiches and sit outside to dine. The architecture and landscaping of the Getty were indescribable. It was a hazy afternoon, so I can't imagine what the views might have been on a clear day. We enjoyed walking around the space outside and the amazing art inside. Insert * Irises* :) Unfortunately our time there was cut short due to UK's appearance in the Final Four against UCONN. We probably saw only a quarter of the art they had showing but some great impressionist, European, and Italian paintings were observed as well as Chinese photography.
We watched the game with the entire clan (-Meissa and LuLu) at one of the Cali groups good friends condo, Leo. He was so wonderful to host everyone there, and I must say it was a great place to watch a game. Look straight ahead, there are the CATS, look to your right, theres the ocean......not to shabby. *BCOOP- It wasn't so much that UCONN beat us, but more that we beat ourselves. The team looked tight all night and was unable to loosen up (with the exception of Doron Lamb). The upper clansmen (Miller, Liggins, Jorts) who had played so well in the last eight games to this point just disappeared. We still only lost by one despite the poor performance. It should always be remembered, though, that this team went farther than anyone expected of them. Despite this poor game, it was still the semi-final game of the national tournament. They ended up ranked No. 3 overall, and found a special place in the hearts of Big Blue Nation. GO CATS!!!! *(Yep that was his quick version) ;)
Blue as blue can be we departed quietly from Leo's and said our goodbye's to everyone but Win. We then trotted on up the coast to Malibu to spend our evening with Win.

Day4- We had a fabulous morning with Winston. He made us a most amazing breakfast consisting of eggs, bacon, avocado and mango. Liz came over after breakfast and we all headed out to a nearby hiking spot. The hike was completely sick! A steep incline up the trail provided amazing views of rolling hills and the ocean with a cool breeze and warm sun joining us along the way. We stopped for some tricep dips, push ups LOL, views of waterfalls, picture taking, and site seeing.
The end of our hike meant it was time for us to pack up and move north. We made our way up the PCH for the remainder of the day observing the most amazing views along the way. Our eyes couldn't take it all in at once. Barry said it perfectly "everywhere you look there's something beautiful, mountains, the ocean, or flowers."
We found out that part of the PCH (unfortanetely the Big Sur/Pfieffer Beach area? had washed into the ocean after the severe rains they had last week. SO........we had to find an alternate route. We went as far north as we could enjoying the views, thinking we were lost, and changing radio stations every two seconds, (our ipod adapter didn't work). We missed the easiest road we could have taken to put us back on the 101, so I navigated us to the next road we coudl find on the map that would put us there. This little 9 mile drive to get to a road to connect us to the 101 took about 45 minutes to drive. The windy, and many times one lane road, was quite an interesting drive. It was completely beautiful but very secluded with few houses around. At one point I saw what appeared to be a road sign way above us on the top of the mountain. I told Barry I thought there might actually be a road up there.......little did I know we'd be making the sharpest turn I've ever seen in my life and driving "straight into the sky" to get up there! We were a bit worried our rented Kia woulnd't pull through! :)
The rest of our drive ran smoothly and we made it to Monterrey. We stayed at the Marisa Posa Inn. It was super cute and we enjoyed our fireplace in our room. They had outdoor firepits and a great breakfast there too. We had dinner that night at a little Greek restaraunt in Carmel by the Sea called Demetra. Alison and John had told us about it. The food and drinks couldn't come quick enough after our day of traveling. We had a great meal and enjoyed being serenaded by the owners on their fancy little guitar and smooth singing! :)

Day5- We spent most of the day walking around Carmel by the Sea. It was the cutest group of high end shops I have ever seen! It was a beautiful afternoon! We loved all of the shops we went in and most especially the french antique store, Jan de Luz. Everywhere you looked people had their dogs. We certainly missed Keightley on this day. Even all the shops and restaraunts were dog friendly!
We had a delicous and fresh lunch at Basil. I had a Cucumber-Basiltini...YUMM! We then headed down to the Carmel beach. Oh my goodness! Maybe one of my favorite beaches ever!!!! BEAUTIFUL surroundings. Wonderful sand and the scenery was to die for! Families of children and dogs were playing and enjoying the hot hot day! We were half tempted to go put on our swimsuits and stay for the day but decided there was too much to see...... But don't you worry Carmel, we will be back to visit you! We could both spend an entire weeks vacation there, and it would be a great place to bring a family!
We headed south on the PCH to try and see as much of the views as we could before getting to the road closure at Big Sur. WHAT A DRIVE! We could drive 1/4 mile without pulling over onto one of the many viewing areas! We were both snapping pictures left and right, trying to capture the waves crashing onto the black rocks where seals were playing. We found a great little spot and decided to park because we saw a path to the beach. We grabbed our bottle of Vino, fruit and chocolate that we had purchased and made our way down the sandy path. We found ourselves on a very private and beautiful setting. Large rocks scattering the shore made the crashing waves an interesting sight. We enjoyed our snack and the setting we were in and snapped pictures with furry!
We headed north once more, making our way toward Napa. We arrived in Yountville around 7:30 and checked into our sweet little Bed and Breakfast Maison Fleurie.
We had a delicious dinner at Mustards Grill and enjoyed our evening. It was nice to unpack our things for a few days stay!

Day6- We woke up and came downstairs to the sites of home made breakfast dishes and a fire in the fireplace! We then went for a bike ride through Yountville's countryside and vineyards. We came back in time to catch our tour of four vineyards with Platypus tours. It was a great day! We learned alot from our guide as well as the people hosting the tastings. Our first stop was at Vilo Vino the Cliff Family Winery tasting room, we purchased a bottle. Next stop Casa Nuestra, a hippy little family owned winery with a very electic variety of grapes being pressed. We did our fist barrel tasting there, and had a nice picnic lunch. We walked away with a second bottle. Third stop was Ballentine which was in a beautiful setting and we were able to see a larger production facility...but we were not so impressed with their wines. We saved the best for last at Scott Harvey. We had a relaxing afternoon on the porch and enjoyed some of our favorite wine! We became club members here! We can't wait for that box on our front porch!
After our extremely long day of wine drinking we decided to have a low key dinner in downtown Napa at Downtown Joes. We came back to the B&B and enjoyed some relaxation in the hot tub before gettinga good nights sleep.

Day7- We woke up without a hangover!!!!! Surprise to me! :) We came down to a different spree, but equally delicious breakfast once again. Blue skies and sun shining we put ourselves back on our bikes and headed down the road again, only this time we took a different route. We went in the opposite direction towards a busier section of town. The ride was beautiful and serene and we passed many wineries. It was tempting to just stop in and do a bike tasting. :)
We came back and got showered up and ready for our solo day of tastings. I knew of several I wanted to visit through suggestions or just love of the wine.
We started the day at Cakebread. I've always liked their wine, the wineries story was a tale of self made success (like so many of these wineries are). The landscaping was immaculate, our tasting was decent, yes I say decent. My tastebuds had been opened to a whole new world the previous day and I was surprisingly less than impressed with my normal Big love of Cakebread.
From there we headed to Frog's Leap, at the suggestions of Alison and John and Meredith and Justin. What a fabulous experience. From the moment we walked in the door I was snapping pictures. The inside of the building held my dream living room/dining room/patio. We were taken to the patio. It was a beautifully sunny day but the wind was blowing strong cool air. We were seated on the covered patio, under a heater with a view of the amazing grounds. The tasting was such a personal, self exploratory experience with the wines. The glasses were filled by a worker carrying the wines in a wicker basket and the grapes and vintage were explained to us. A plate of cheeses, fruits and nuts lay on the table to enhance the tastings. We were able to bask in all the glory this place held for us. After our tasting we found our way to some wooden rockers sitting in the warm sun. Peeling ourselves out of the chairs we explored the gardens. I truly never wanted to leave......Can I please live here?
We drove to Castello Di Amarosa, (Laura's favorite). The castle was very neat and built of authentic materials to a true Italian castle. The experience itself seemed to fall into a theme park category, and the wines left something to be desired on my tastybuds....All and all though a neat experience.
Driving back we decided to call our tasting quits and head to Yountville to walk around the town. The town is unbelievably quaint, filled with sights, sounds, and smells to delight. The evening was growing cooler, and even windier as a front rolled in with a forecast of storms. We walked to Bouchon Bakery for a little treat to nibble on, and then Cafe Jeantte for $1 oysters and a drink. The town was quite lively with taste of Napa event in session. Our B&B provided wine and h'orderves that we grazed upon while talking to other people staying there.
We ate dinner at Bottega, Chef Michael Chiarello's restaurant. The atmosphere and dining experience were wonderful. Barry and I strayed away from wine, he ordered a bourbon and I had a lavendertini, which was beyond delightful. He looked way to handsome for words! I really enjoy sitting across the table from this man!

Day 8- We spent the morning exploring the V Marketplace area where Bottega is located. The shops, garden area and Taste Napa store were a great find. It was suppose to storm and become quite frigid, but once again we were blessed with sunshine and complete blue skies! :) We had lunch at Pacific Blue. Seated at the bar with us were two older gentlemen who happened to be brothers, and happened to own a winery (neighboring Cakebread), Sequoia Grove. They told us all about their adventure from Pennsylvania to Napa where they began their business, knowing nothing about grapes and learning from their neighboring farmers. We decided to head up there for a tasting. They made wonderful wine, the older brother showed up and took care of us. We walked away with three bottles of wine and a great memory.
We began the drive south to San Francisco. Somehow my Droid led us astray and we ended up an hour in the wrong direction. Oh bother! We arrived in SF and met up with Ryan and Whitney, who were such fabulous hosts to us! We found out that we only actually had that night with them because they had to leave Saturday morning to prepare for a shower Whit was throwing for Liz and Win. I wish we could have spent more time in their company, but what time we had we thoroughly enjoyed. Whitney is full of life and great to talk to, Barry and I were happy to see Ryan with such a great match. Ryan drove us around to see some of the city, we drove to the top of Lombard street to see the city at dusk, take some pics, and meander down the curviest street in the world. We went to dinner at____________hmmmm ok I don't actually remember the name. But regardless, we had delicious little sliders, of all different fillings and toppings. We enjoyed chatting/laughing and sipping it up and then headed to American Cupcake. The interior of this place, all white, letting the cupcake shine! Oh how delicious they were! Mocha melt in my mouth!

Day9- Ryan and Whitney had to get up early to head to Santa Barbara, then Malibu for the shower. They were kind enough to let us stay there and explore the city. This day was full of walking, beyond lost, and laughing at ourselves.
Oh the line for the cable cars!!!!!! Wow this took a while! But how could we be there and not ride one? It was another beautiful blue sky day and we enjoyed our ride down to Fisherman's Wharf. The Wharf area itself was somewhat of a seafood carnival. We walked up to Ghirardelli Square and shared the BEST sundae I've ever had in my life. We walked down to the pier to try and catch the Ferry to Sausalito only to find out the next one wouldn't leave for an hour. We waited in the little shops, walked around, had a glass of wine and made our way onto the water. Sausalito was definitely more my speed. (Barry liked the city better than I did) The harbor was lined with masts and flags=smiles. We got a ride from a local up to the top of the hill and peered out at a nice view of the Golden Gate bridge. This was a much better choice than biking it in all that wind!!!!! We took a tour bus back down the hill and headed onto the Ferry again. Past Alcatraz and the sailing schools, we landed back at SF Harbor.
We walked around downtown a bit searching for a place to set ourselves down for dinner. We decided on Ozumo Sushi and French Restaurant, interesting combination I know. We had a nice slow meal, winding down from our busy day, reminiscing on the trip and preparing for our early day of travel.
We packed everything up and headed to bed around 11:00.

Day10- 6:30am Wheels Up San Francisco. Yawns, walking, sitting, waiting. We made it home by 8:00. Karen and Don delivered Keightley, dinner and a half gallon of milk so we didn't have to worry about the grocery story. They couldn't be any better if they tried. It was so good to see them after four months of them being in Ft. Myers! Keightley was happy to see us, but also happy to have had such a great grandmommy and grandpappy to keep him.
Wow did we sleep good in our own bed!!!!!

Our drive was

1 comment:

  1. Marengo on Union ;)

    Love this post! Such a great way to commemorate your trip! I can't wait to cook something fancy from the Taste of Kentucky cookbook you gave us, and please know that you all are welcome anytime :)