travel. three days in northern california.

The pure beauty of summer break has come and gone. It’s always so magical and I really didn’t want it to end this time ’round. However, with just the one babe at home now, I have a bit more time to reflect on what a sweet and simple summer we all had.  Especially after our crazy summer last year (with the move back to the midwest), simple and easy was more than perfect.  Although we didn’t have the opportunity to take a big family trip, we all did have a little fun of our own.  Maddox went on a mini trout fishing vacation with my brother in Northern Arkansas.  Isla got to attend her first ever week long sleepover Summer Camp and was able to finally experience my hometown County Fair with my mom and family friends multiple days in a row.  And Bryan and I got to spend a few days together in northern California.  He was there for work and I got to tag along.  It was much needed and we had a really lovely time.

Thus far, being back in the Midwest definitely feels like home and the right place to be during this chapter of our lives.  However as much as my homebody self loves the comforts of home, travel, especially spontaneous travel, is always so revigorating and re-inspiring.  Having kids doesn’t always make spontaneity travel possible, but when it is it is cherished – even if its just a few hours or days.

Day One:  I flew into Sacramento with a layover in Denver.  With an afternoon to myself, I did a little sight seeing in downtown Sacramento and visited the Crocker Art Museum.  It was a great museum – such a beautiful blending of the old and new.

Travel –

Crocker Art Museum & a visit to Old Town and Downtown Sacramento –

(the above was a color on silk piece of a home/ yard in Webster Groves, MO – a little of home away from home) 

Day Two:  Bryan had to work most of the morning and afternoon.  I got up and left before the traffic got heavy in and around Sacramento and headed out to explore a small piece of the California Delta Countryside.  I followed or stayed near Route 160 or the River Road Scenic Byway.  It is a rural road that twists and turns through California’s Delta region along the San Joaquin and Sacramento Rivers.  I had such a lovely time getting to explore and see charming homes and estates (seeing the style and architecture prevalent in another part of the country is always so fascinating), cute bridges, quaint towns, windmills and wide open spaces with beautiful vegetation around every corner.  I went through the small towns/ communities of Isleton, Walnut Grove, Antioch, Rio Vista, and Courtland.  My favorite part was getting out and walking through the downtowns of some of these small towns – some were nearly vacant and some slowly being revived.

Then late afternoon, I met Bryan back in Sacramento and we made the couple hour trip east to Lake Tahoe.  A sight that we both had always wanted to lay eyes on, but never had until now.  The weather was spectacular and of course the view even more so.  After wandering around the lake for a couple of hours, we ate at Sonney’s BBQ Shack. I was prepared to be disappointed (after living near abundant great BBQ in the Midwest and the South for years), but it was really fantastic and worth the long wait. Then we drove back west up and down the mountains through dusk and dark. 

Day 3:  After once again waking early (because of the time change), we headed east towards the coast.  A drive to see the west coastline on this trip was necessary to me.  We landed in Bodega Bay.  Such a fascinating and gorgeous area. On the way there and back we were able to enjoy the scenery of Sonoma County and the area near Napa Valley. We would’ve explored the Napa area a little more, but the weekend traffic was really starting to pick up at this point.  I guess I couldnt leave California without experiencing at least one traffic jam. 🙂

*Tip: Wear layers when visiting this part of the west coast.  Temp ranges varied drastically depending on the time of day and where you are in relationship to the water.  We really wanted to do more hiking higher up (close to the water) but it was so windy and cool that we had to cut our hiking and beautiful views short.

(I ate at In-N-Out Burger for the first time while in CA.)

Day 4: Travel home via Denver again. Such gorgeous views from the sky!

It had been such a long time since Bryan and I were really able to soak up time with each other, drive and go as we pleased, and eat while conversating.  It was such a lovely few days. There are so many more things that I would like to see and do out west and in CA, but for now this was the perfect start.

Now, back to the end of August where the littlest one and I are left to soak up the dog days of these last few weeks of summer on our own.  We will do our best to make the most of them (lots of park, walks, and play time) while the “bigs” are at school and Dad’s at work.

Hope your Summer has been dreamy!

 

a visit to the Alabama coast and Easter.

This past week/ weekend we celebrated Easter and the two biggest littles spring break. For the first time since moving back to Missouri, we road tripped down to the shores of Alabama to visit family and enjoy the beautiful weather there this time of year. The gulf waters are still a little chilly but other than that the spring and fall times in southern Alabama are picture perfect (without all of the crowds and chaos of summertime).

Our favorite things this trip . . .

The beach. Of course! There are a few we frequent on our visits to Gulf Shores/ Orange Beach/ Fort Morgan areas, but there are plenty of public and private beaches to choose from. The beach is always a favorite for me, but this visit was especially fun for Tate. The never ending sandbox was like a little piece of his heaven.

The Pier and fishing. Always so full of life, creatures, and learning. Our oldest became fishing obsessed when we lived in the south and if you have the right equipment The Pier is such a wonderful place to do so. From high above the gulf, we often spot small sharks swimming in the waters below.

Bike riding on the trails of Gulf State Park. You could easily ride all day and not pass over the same spot twice. This is such an enjoyable and active way to take in all of the additional beauty (other than the beach) that this part of the southern coast has to offer. We stopped for lunch here. I highly recommend the brussels sprouts and mac n’ cheese 🙂 but everything was really delicious and fresh.

Shopping.

Eating. This visit, we ate at Lulu’s. The kids love it because of the large sandbox/ play area. It can get a little crazy during the summer season but this time of year the wait was nil. And if you like cold (abundantly) sweet treats, The Yard is worth at least one visit.

The road trip. Perhaps my favorite part! Having all of my people together for a long period of time yes, almost too crazy to be bearable at times. But the BEST! Even during that late at night six hour stretch of no civilization in Mississippi.

Easter Sunday. Although not our traditional Easter, we love visiting the church in Foley. And the weather was really breathtakingly beautiful! So much so, that we spent Easter afternoon at the beach.

Early A.M. swims. Throwing on a bathing suit and hitting the pool first thing in the morning.

A few of our other favorite things to do while in the Gulf Shores area are . . .

  • The National Naval Aviation Museum. It’s free admission and parking. If you are able, watch one of the practices of the U.S. Navy Blue Angels!
  • The Fort Morgan historic site. A really beautiful place to explore.
  • USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park. This is in Mobile, but is worth the drive if you have the time.
  • Bon Secour, Alabama. If you are up for a short drive and just want to see some local scenery, this small community is so quaint and cozy. There are also a few places nearby to purchase some fresh seafood!
  • Fairhope, Alabama. Such a quaint, beautiful and inspiring town off the coast of the Mobile Bay. Spend the afternoon shopping, eating, and admiring the beautiful homes and cottages. Also, a lovely place to ride bikes!
  • Alligator Alley.
  • Burris Market. We used to stop here on our way to the coast. They have the best pies and pecan cobbler.
  • Scoops Ice Cream.

We returned to Missouri mid week with the dogwoods in full bloom, Easter baskets, and for me, more than the usual amounts of coffee.

(after they had been rummaged through)

It’s so nice to be home. The littlest guy and I went to two estate sales yesterday and one of our purchases was a new chair for the back deck. I am hoping to do some relaxing and refreshing there this weekend. May you find your “spot” and spend as much time there this weekend as possible. Enjoy!