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California Coast Hwy 1 – Day 4

An early drive down the coast to Cambria .

20140722_094431_AndroidMission Carmel: The first Mission in California is a beautiful church.  A self guided tour learning so much about how Christianity came to the west.  The Pope visited and all his vestments were on display.

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A 60 mile drive took us almost 3 hours.  Every turn was one more picture taking moment.

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We pulled over at the  Point Lobos State Park and did a short hike. Again, breathtaking.20140722_131913_Android

20140722_131353_AndroidEvening arrival at the  Sand Pebbles Inn.  RIGHT across from the ocean.  (Breakfast included)

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We had the distinct pleasure of seeing elephant seals- teen boys to be exact.  Let’s just say it’s a whole lotta blubber and a lot of testosterone on one beach.

20140722_160556_AndroidA two hour beach walk that landed us at Morro Rock.

20140722_185148_Android20140722_185952_AndroidRoses Bar and Grill:  A fun drink and some amazing fish while watching the sunset.  We arrived at 8 pm , just avoiding the evening rush.

20140722_200130_AndroidGelato from Kelli Kandi’s in the car while hearing the waves.

Perfect day!

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California Coast Highway 1 – Monterey Bay – Day 3

We woke up to a very rainy, cold day in Monterey Bay.  We put on our shoes and headed up the hill to the local shops. We found the sweetest little breakfast stop – The Victorian Corner.  This Sicilian Style restaurant has been owned and run by the same family since the early 70s.  I had a cappuccino and made to order omelet with local produce.

20140721_093523_AndroidWarmed and fed, we headed out to the Kayak shop — Adventures by the Sea.  With a tandem kayak, we headed out into the Bay.  The water was calm and we saw sea otters, sea lions, seals and a lot of kelp.

20140721_122216_AndroidCold and ready for lunch, we headed to THE BEST MEXICAN VEGAN restaurant-El Cantaro.  Made to order homemade corn tortillas, hot tortilla soup, fresh juice–an obvious locals hang out and AMAZING.

20140721_151131_AndroidWorking off lunch, we wandered Cannery Row.  This infamous street was where all the seafood was canned and shipped.  Now it houses many tourists shops, including The Sweet Shop where I may or may not have purchased and eaten several pieces of homemade taffy.

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20140721_160000_AndroidWe decided to head to Carmel via 17 mile Drive through Pebble Beach.  The rain had left and the sun was out, making for a beautiful drive.  We saw the famous Pebble Beach cyprus tree and landed in Carmel ready for dinner.

 

20140721_181448_Android20140721_173747_Android20140721_175746_AndroidCarmel is the cutest, amazing town.  I wish we had more time to explore.  It has streets of shops and art galleries.  We ate at the rooftop restaurant, Tree House Cafe.  Matt ordered homemade sausage and I chose smoked salmon.  (I had a great glass of red wine, convinced that would serve as a great dinner–which did not work out about halfway into it!)20140721_205333_AndroidWe caught the sunset and ended up at the Carmel Bakery for gelato. It’s also an Italian bakery and the macaroons were too enticing NOT to buy.

 

20140721_211721_AndroidA very full, well spent day!

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California Coast Highway 1- Los Gatos/Monterey Bay – Day 2

We decided to explore Los Gatos Sunday morning in hopes of finding a good coffee shop.  The problem? There were too many good coffee shops!  I loved walking the streets in my Nike shorts and feeling right at home — this place is a mecca for runner type people — not super skinny just healthy! The best part was seeing families out together.  Oh and dogs. EVERYWHERE in California there are dogs.

Matt found us the perfect local coffee shop. I knew it was a winner as soon as I walked in.  Runners everywhere, getting their post run caffeine on!  Lost Gatos Coffee Roasting Company. If you keep your cup, you can come back for refills!

20140720_110552_AndroidRight next door to the coffee shop was the cutest Farmer’s market.  I LOVED all the amazing vegetables hanging out.  We got a few bags of figs and heirloom tomatoes.  So yummy!

We did a bit more walking around Las Gatos–great buildings.  We happened upon this photography studio.  Don’t you love the theme?  They had kids dress up in what they want to be…so cute!

20140720_110348_AndroidWhen we planned this trip, we had originally wanted to go to the BIG Redwoods north of San Francisco.  Reality quickly settled in, knowing that we would not be able to drive the Pacific Coast Highway AND do that 5 hour trip north.

20140720_121402_AndroidHenry Cowell Redwoods Park it was!  We spent the $10 to get into the park and walked for about an hour, taking in the monstrosities called trees.  Then we headed to a locals hike we heard about from one of the guides. (We often asked guides for locals only hikes. They often have the best intel as to amazing hikes with less people.)

20140720_132356_AndroidWe started on the Fall Creek Path and ended up combining several trails for a 5 hour hike.  Some of the hills were STEEP but thanks to coming from 6500 feet, sea level hills felt pretty good.

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We got in the car and headed to Monterey, staying at the Sunset Inn.  (So apparently most hotels in Northern California do NOT have air conditioning.  When I asked the Inn’s manager for a fan, she assured me that I would be sufficiently cool in the evening.  Guess that’s what the white noise app and ear plugs are for!)

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The sky on our drive down to Monterey was unlike anything I’ve ever seen.  The marine layer made it look like there were two sets of sky.  Beauty!
20140720_204548_AndroidMatt enjoyed reliving his high school years with dinner at Islands.

 

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California Highway 1 – Pacific Coast Highway Trip

Several months ago Matt and I started discussing our 15th wedding anniversary.  While our wedding date was perfect timing when we were childless and fancy free, early January makes any trip away tough.

So we got our people together and arranged a July trip to California.  Oh sure, we had thrown out all kinds of ideas before landing on California.  Looking back, this week was exactly what we both needed.  I can say we are officially rested and able to take on what life is throwing us!

Rather than blasting a whole bunch of photos at you and ending it with a sweet little  bow “all done” I thought I’d share some favorite places we stayed, restaurants we ate at and things to do this past week.  Matt put a TON of research into our trip and it showed in every detail.

Without further ado, I’ll start with Travel Day 1.

Delta continues to treat us very well and we got to use our companion (buy one, get one free) ticket.  With a brief hop into Salt Lake City, we were in San Francisco by noon.20140719_072243_Android

We wanted to rent a car with GPS and were appalled at the prices until we found the winner – SilverCar.   (Their slogan says it all “Car Rental that doesn’t suck.”) We texted them when we landed.  Strolled to the spot where the brand new (note only 5 miles on it!) 2015 Audi A4 and was on our merry way in 20 minutes.  I felt sorry for the throes of people we passed waiting in the car rental lines.  Not only did we have a fully loaded brand new A4, we had amazing service, including free WiFi, GPS, Sirus Radio and a turbo engine.  All for $50/day.  It was a winner and we will do it again!

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Driving along the coast, we headed to Half Moon Bay to Barbara’s Fish Trap.  I had heard about this place on Splendid Table with my two buddies on Roadfood.com.  These two drive around the US finding the best mom/pop food places.

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Barbara’s FishTrap was worth the 20 minute wait.  They catch the fish and prepare it that day.  AMAZING! Matt got calamari and I had fish and chips with a GF beer to boot!20140719_152530_Android

With a full stomach, we headed to Santa Cruz.  The drive there was beautiful, stopping at a beach between Half Moon Bay and Santa Cruz.   Frankly we were tired by the time we arrived at Santa Cruz and there were so many people around us that we lasted only 45 minutes before calling it quits.

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Off to our hotel in Los Gatos.  First off, this little town is so sweet. The main road is lined with quaint little shops, bakeries and cafes along with wine bars.  Our hotel, The Los Gatos Garden Inn’s, claim to fame is they housed Marilyn Monroe and Joe Di Maggio on their wedding night.  In fact, drum roll, we got the room they supposedly spent their first evening in.

20140719_202138_AndroidIt had air conditioning, a king sized bed AND a fully functioning kitchen which came in handy when we happened upon the BEST farmer’s market the next day.

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It was a full packed day filled with wonderment of the Pacific coastline.  I get why people LOVE California.

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Day one down.  Tomorrow: Day 2, the Redwoods and a 15 mile hike!

*When we road trip, we hit a local grocer and load up on snacks.  Being GF and mostly meat free, Farmer Markets are also a win/win.  Having a load of snacks makes exploring fun and easy.

 

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The Weight of it All

My heart woke me up in the middle of the night.  This summer I have heard stories of cancer that have encroached on families. The women in each story are my age; mothers of young children.

Each woman has shared their beautiful story; allowing words to speak their journey.  These words are hard to read.  I found the stories various ways–family friends, blogs recommended, facebook connections.

20140603_071114_AndroidAround 2 am, I woke up with profound sadness on my heart.  I began to pray for a woman I’ve never met, in fact, one I’ve never even commented on her blog.  Her story has pushed forward in my head and I often think of her.

20140622_123125_AndroidThere is a weight to deep sickness.  Pain of potential loss, grief of the unexpected disruption in life plans, unknowing of what the future holds.

Her words, Kara’s word on her blog Mundane Faithfulness, are rich and heavy.  They are not often easy to read but they are so very authentic.

She speaks about living in the moment.  She honestly challenges us, her readers, to invest in the at moment at hand.

All this came crashing down on me at this dark hour.  The weight of the last few weeks have challenged me.  I have found myself wondering if life will get easier.  Will a child of ours finally understand that she is loved boundlessly?  Will worries and fear of a young boy saying good bye to our dog of almost 16 years be assuaged? Will I find myself living in the moment, truly enjoying each minute rather than finding myself longing for something else easier?

20140518_154943_AndroidThe “what ifs” get bigger as I read more about other’s pain.  The regrets of each moment build in my mind until I feel like I’m going to burst.

I want to live intentionally. I don’t want a life altering illness to be my wake up call.  I don’t want to live a world of regret that I did not do enough.

My mind kept going back to the scene of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane.  He wept tears, angst ridden over the weight of what was ahead of him.  If I allow myself, for just a brief moment, to sink into the world of just a few people struggling with life, that burden seems mind numbing and huge.  I cannot imagine the weight of all pain, of all grief, of all hurt.

I don’t want to linger in the world of “what if” when I have the world at hand.