Archive of ‘travel’ category
I took a little mini-vaca this past weekend, and drove up to Pismo Beach. I’ve never been to the Central Coast. I’ve spent plenty of time in San Diego, LA, and Northern California. But have never ventured up Highway 1 until Saturday. And it was amazing. I wish I could’ve taken pictures from the road, but I was the one driving, so decided to play it safe instead. The weather report called for thunder storms all weekend, but all we had were beautiful puffy clouds with scattered storm clouds, tons of rainbows and a few very short downpours.
This last minute trip came at the perfect time. Work has been totally insane, I’ve been working way more overtime than I like and I needed a brain break so bad.
We stayed at the Sea Crest Hotel, which was right on the cliffs, as you can see from the picture above. That was the sunrise view from my balcony. Tough life I lead, right? We were in the North Tower on the fourth floor, so the views were amazing. The rooms are a really good size, very clean, and I swear I saw their patio furniture at Target last season. Which is fine by me! They have a really great breakfast that’s included in your nightly fee, with yogurt, fresh fruit (including grapefruit!), toast and waffles (not homemade waffles, just the kind you toast), oatmeal, cereal, hard boiled eggs, juice, coffee, pastries…more than the average breakfast at an average hotel. I ate breakfast outside next to one of the firepits they had going. I did not want to leave.
The night we were there we went to a restaurant recommended to us by a local, at the SeaVenture Hotel. Most restaurants there use only local ingredients, and this place was no exception. It was so good! I had the margarita flatbread with a balsamic reduction, and the goat cheese and beet salad. Oh yeah, and a flight of wine.
They said a flight was three pours that were each a third of a glass of wine, so it was supposed to equal one glass of wine. But c’mon, they were three whole glasses! Not a bad deal. Everywhere I had wine this trip, it was excellent. Being in the Central Coast wine country, I shouldn’t have been surprised. Here was my view from the table…
They supposedly have a great happy hour M-F with half off appetizers and drinks. With this view and those prices, it’s possible I’d be there every night. Just sayin’.
The next morning bright and early I grabbed some coffee from the lobby and took a walk down these wooden stairs to the beach.
These little birds were so cute. They kept chasing the waves, then running away from the waves, with their tiny little legs.
Extra credit if you see the little rainbow in this last picture! (Hint: it’s to the right of the end of the pier)
There is so much wildlife there, more than here in San Diego. Which sounds strange. But there just is. I saw tons of dolphins in the water, nine deer all together up in Lopez Lake, flocks upon flocks of all different kinds of birds, bugs galore! My poor windshield was never clean. I guess I was really heavy handed on the beach pictures, but the hills on the other side are so incredibly green and lush! The ten minute drive to Lopez Lake was like you were in the Irish countryside. The trees were so pretty, with knotty and twisted dark trunks and branches, and moss hanging from the ends. Driving into town you pass so many vineyards and wineries. I could only stay two days, and with five hours driving each of those days, I totally didn’t get to explore enough. But I’m already making a list of what I want to do next time!
While I was at my dad’s house, I did my fair share of exploring the neighborhood. One morning we walked to Peet’s and looked way too much like homeless people in the Ross, which was in the same parking lot. It might have had something to do with me trying on a dress in the middle of the store over my workout clothes, complete with tennies and a beanie because it was freezing outside. The laughing dressing room attendant may or may not have told me I should just come back later to try it on properly.
One crisp morning, I ventured out on my own. I knew there was a trail nearby, I had been on it years ago with some friends. I sleuthed it up on google maps and headed there. I knew it was going to be pretty. But I didn’t anticipate the morning sun making every single thing in my path glow.
I really tried to narrow these pictures down for you, but I just couldn’t. I couldn’t even decide which mushroom picture was the best. You can choose! I took these pictures with my phone and didn’t edit them one bit. The sun is just that slanty and amazing up there in the wee hours of the morning. Just beautiful.
Last week, I was on vacation. This wasn’t any ordinary vacation, though. Because my little sister is engaged! And we had a wedding to plan. I mean, she had a wedding to plan. I mean…I’ll try to not get out of control.
So, first stop after the airport was wedding dress shopping! At my favorite wedding dress designer, Sarah Seven, in her San Francisco flagship store. (Can you tell I used to be a wedding photographer? I know way too much about the wedding industry!) I’ve never been real wedding dress shopping, so I was hoping for champagne. And look! We got champagne! Not in fancy glass flutes, but I’ll take what I can get.
Let’s take a closer look at these beauties, shall we?
That was totally worth the zoom.
The shop was on the second floor of an old San Francisco building with a bay window and old wooden floors that creaked when you walked on them. The door was unmarked, like it was a secret. Perhaps to avoid walk-ins? The bridal consultant heard us clomping around the stairwell and came out to find us. These dresses are gorgeous, the fabrics luxurious. All the dresses are designed and made to order, custom to each individual bride, in Oakland, which is where my sister lives. How great is that?
Did I mention she asked me to be the Maid of Honor? Let the games begin!!
Later on that night we had to do a few Polish cherry vodka shots with the fam, of course.
One little cup is missing…one for our older sister. She can never get away from work this time of year. But we missed you!! Kisses!
We had a great meal with family friends in Piedmont that involved wine, laughs, amazing brisket, and an impromptu piano duet by two very talented pianists. I slept in most mornings, stayed up late most nights talking and listening to great music by twinkle light. Ate too much cheese, drank too much wine, and did you know it’s peony season??
Since when were peonies available in December? Madness, I tell you.
The sun in Northern California this time of year is amazing. This is the quaint little street my sister lives on. That hillside of homes were just glowing with the setting sun behind me shining on it. It blew me away. The sun is extra slanty up there, I didn’t realize how different it was from San Diego. Every sunset was a crazy golden glow, the sun always in your eyes, but you welcomed it. The sunsets in San Diego are more pink this time of year. Not that I’m complaining about beautiful pink sunsets.
It’s always tough when vacation is over, but always nice to get back home to my little world down here. Even if it does mean back to work with no vacations for awhile. This month is going to be a long one!
I thought I’d fill in the gaps for you with the rest of the trip to LA to see Airborne Toxic Event. Pretty exciting stuff, people! It has trains, food AND lipstick involved! Very exciting stuff.
It all started out at the train station. I of course was paranoid there was going to be an overturned semi on the freeway to prevent me from getting from my work to the train station in time, so I left about a half hour too early.
And Amtrak was about a half hour late. That’s me waiting there for the train. There was a girl standing next to me that insisted we were on the same train, even though they were scheduled to leave at completely different times, had different train numbers, and were a different train company. So when her train changed to the next platform over, she tried to literally pull me over there with her. I’m on a different train lady, leave me alone!!
Here’s what’s great about the train. You get on it, you connect to their free wifi, stick headphones in your ear so you can listen to Spotify, take out your ipad so you can Pinterest and write stuff, and you drink the free wine whilst gazing out into the beautiful Pacific Ocean. Here I’m trying to show you just that. Look guys, I’m drinking wine out of the bottle and Pinteresting at the same time because I’m classy! Are you buying it?
I couldn’t manage to get a non-blurry picture of my ipad, wine and view. Besides, they all looked stupid because I’m just holding them up. I was trying to contort myself into a position that looked classy yet comfortable so you’d think I didn’t set up the shot, but I’m just naturally that cool. I’m so not good at this.
In other news, look how green the water is! Keep in mind, this is from the train which has a filthy window full of sea air stuck on it to muck things up. But the water is indeed green. In San Clemente. Who knew?!
After this (and the wine) I proceeded to take about 75 selfies of me gazing out of the train, trying to make it look like someone across from me was taking the picture. I shall not bore you with those. They’re pretty hideous. You think anyone saw me do it? Gosh, I hope not.
And now I’m at Union Station! Fabulous. This night was the concert, so I already filled you in on that. Remember when I told you that I was obnoxious with my order and asked they build my usual breakfast for me? Well, here it is. In the flesh, people.
Except they didn’t put the avocado between the bread and the eggs. They must’ve seen right through me trying to be rich and famous in LA, and realized I’m just a normal bozo who doesn’t know how to demand things. This was at The Standard Hotel in Downtown LA. Really great, right? The food was super good, those potatoes were goooood! I wanted to sit outside, but it was suddenly fall, so I was down for inside with constant coffee refills.
Later on that day we ventured out to Hollywood for the TMZ Bus Tour. I do not follow the celebrities, but my friend does, so we hopped on the bus and hoped to find us some famous people! We didn’t, but it was still fun. You can literally see a line in the grass where Beverly Hills ends (green) and LA starts (brown). The other half, am I right?
I decided this would be a great time for me to find the perfect red lipstick. I walk into a practically empty MAC store (unheard of) and I pretend to look at makeup until someone comes up to help me. Which was only two seconds, which is great. So this guy in all black (as they do) sits me down in a chair and grabs their most popular lipstick. A44. I forget what it’s called but that’s the number. As he’s cleaning the lipstick before putting it on me, I try telling him I’m new to this whole red lipstick thing, but I think I need to get into it because it’s awesome. He proceeds to line my lips, fill them in with liner, then puts lipstick on top of that. You guys, I felt like a pale drag queen. Do I look like a pale drag queen?
I almost didn’t show you, because…well, because. But you’ve been with me on this red lipstick journey, so I feel I owe it to you. Please note my lip is NOT that crooked, he lined that side funny. Again…drag. The liner was out of control. Had a mind of its own. I told him maybe I need something a bit calmer, to ease me into the red lip, so I tried on four more lipsticks, and by that time my lips were stained and peeling from wiping so much lipstick and liner off. He looked at me with his hand on his hip and said “maybe if we put some…” then waved his hand up at my face “…bronzer or blush or something on you.” Okay, I get it! I’m pale! I don’t wear a lot of makeup! I probably should never have stepped foot into a MAC store! What was I thinking. I laughed (because lets face it, he’s totally right) then said I’ll walk around with this last color on my lips and see how it makes me feel (please see the shopping rules), and go from there. Then I took a picture for you.
The middle one is A44, and it actually looked best on me despite myself. I think maybe I’m just not ready for red lipstick? Love/hate relationship, people.
I said goodbye to DTLA and my mini-vaca, and took the metro back to Union Station for my
train ride back free happy hour. Riding the metro is fun, because it reminds me of the subway in NYC and I miss the city so much it hurts.
Then, for a very exciting turn of events, the too-small boots I ordered online (what is wrong with me?) were waiting for me at my house and get this…THEY FIT!
This is why I’m not a fashion blogger, folks. All the pictures would look like this. But those boots are pretty rad and I want to wear them every day of my life.
So, I’m I’m LA right now. It’s noon-thirteen. On a Friday. I got back in bed after a lovely breakfast at The Standard, where I demanded they put avocado AND eggs atop my dry toast, so I could pretend it was a Saturday and I was at home doing my usual home things. I’ve been sitting in bed (again) for approximately an hour and nineteen minutes, and I am just loving it. Reading, listening to playlists, gazing out the window at the TCW building (what goes on in there anyway?) listening to the fire trucks blaze by, smelling the sushi place eleven floors below me, and watching the sky grow a bit darker every seven minutes or so. (If you take anything away from this post, it’s that I loathe even numbers.)
It rained last night. And I’m hoping it rains today! I thankfully brought my new puffy black jacket, and am just tickled I get to wear it today. You know, when I get out of bed.
Last night I was at the iconic Greek Theater listening to an iconic band, The Airborne Toxic Event. Do you know the song Sometime Around Midnight? You know, the one that’s beautiful and heart wrenching? Yeah, that’s them. TATE and I have a history. You know when an album suddenly becomes the soundtrack for a particular era of your life before you even know it’s about to happen? I was suddenly living in this dinky place that used to be someone’s garage, my bed was in my kitchen was in my living room, and I routinely had to shove pieces of paper towels in the crack of the window so the spiders wouldn’t crawl through and lay eggs in my ear. But I loved that dingy, light filled place, because that’s where I was. It was right after Airborne Toxic Event released their album Such Hot Blood. Sure, I knew a few of their songs from the last few albums that were on the radio, loved them, but nothing hit me so deeply as Such Hot Blood. The music, the lyrics, his bleeding heart. They were reaching into my soul, pulling out my heart and watching it bleed. And I wanted them to do it. There is a different song for each part of my heartbreak. Different words for each memory, each pain, each dream, each hope. I have lived through far too many Fifth Days, yet I can’t get enough. All your songs are sad songs, but they’ve been hurting and healing me, and I am so grateful for that.
So, back to last night…fall was just about to hit Southern California mere hours after the concert ended. But we had perfect weather for the outdoor venue. The air was just crisp enough, the wind gently meandered through the trees and made Anna’s dress billow in time to her violin on stage. They sounded amazing, performed amazing. They had such a good mix of songs, from all their albums. They might have left out a couple of my favorite ones on their set list, but they played enough of them to touch my soul and break my heart all over again. To finally see them live was…well, it was epic, guys. I’m a bit sad it’s all over and I’ll have to wait for their next tour. But I’m so glad I made the effort to trek all the way up to LA and take a day off of work to see them. And I’m so glad this little band from Silver Lake made it big and got to play The Greek. They totally deserve it. You guys are amazing. Please keep writing music and keep breaking our hearts.
And now I wanted to leave you with some amazing photographs of the show that I did not take, but this awesome photographer Ryan Tuttle did, but alas, I can’t use them without his permission. BUT! Here’s a link…go check them out, he is quite talented. And has a pretty rad job, am I right?
To continue my Los Angeles tour of trying-not-to-sink-in-the-mire (starting here), I checked out the Natural History Museum and the adjacent gardens. Guess which was my favorite? GARDENS! But first…dinosaurs & cows.
That picture of the cow totally creeps me out. He looks so real. He did in real life, too. Probably because he’s a stuffed cow. I mean a real stuffed cow. I think that would make a good profile picture or something. You have my permission to take my high quality iPhone picture and use it as your profile picture. Or corporate headshot, even. Why not?
I have a love/hate relationship with museums. Did I talk about that when I went to the Getty? I dunno. Anyway, I want to be the kind of person that just loves walking around museums. That can stand in front of an exhibit for an hour reading everything on it, staring at it from all angles, discussing it with an old man that happens to be standing next to me, wearing wire-rimmed glasses with his pants pulled up too high and white eyebrows hanging out all over the place.
But I’m not that girl. I like to breeze through, see what looks pretty, maybe read the plaque, maybe not (is that teeth-plaque? or label-on-a-painting-plaque? Whatever). So that is what I did. For the most part. I don’t have a whole lot to say about the inside of the joint. They had the usual stuff Natural History museums have…dinosaurs, giant dioramas of the Serengeti, Robin Williams sitting on a horse, mini villages of mini people saying “for crying out loud!” Oh wait…that’s a movie. Anyway, the gardens are way more fun for me. So let’s take a stroll, shall we?
They had veggie gardens and herb gardens, and quaint little seating areas all around. That was an eggplant up there. Eggplant in the wild! Sort of.
Across a walkway area was a giant rose garden. I had no idea this thing existed. You have to walk out of the museum through a very inconvenient door, walk around the perimeter of the property, and finally make it to the rose garden. There wasn’t access to it from right here, even though it looks like there should’ve been.
Let’s go in, shall we?
I spy a rainbow!
This rosebush was breathtaking. I wish the sun was at a better angle so the picture turned out better. It reminds me of a magical Monet painting that I used to own, of a woman sitting underneath a rose tree.
I guess I lied. It’s called “Lilacs, Grey Weather” so I guess those are lilacs, not roses. In any case, that rose bush up there reminded me of this painting that I just adore. It evokes such a calmness. Hey look, now I’m being that person, analyzing paintings! I have transcended! (Have you seen that Johnny Depp movie, Transcendence? I just watched it last night)
Okay, back to pictures.
The rose garden is free, every day. I would love to grab a sandwich somewhere and eat it in the rose garden. It reminded me of Paris. And who doesn’t love to be reminded of Paris?
So, that was my adventure of the Natural History Museum. Next up…perils. Oh, things got perilous.
Yesterday, it was raining. Full on summer storm with thunder, lightening, and even a bit of rain. Some people reported hail, even though it was 70 degrees out. Storms make me want Fall to be here so bad. To wear boots again. Stay in bed a bit longer each morning, under the warm covers (even with my crappy mattress). To curl up on the couch with a blanket and watch the weather outside with a hot cup of coffee in my paws. Keep the sliding glass door open just a little bit so I can hear and smell the rain outside.
It also makes me want to go to New York. Did you know I used to live in New York? I did. A long time ago I had an amazing chance to move to Brooklyn. So I did. Uprooted my entire life to start a new one. I loved every minute of it. It was a really great time of my life. So many good memories there. I moved back to Southern California almost 15 years ago. It’s been awhile, hasn’t it? Every couple of years I get the hankering to go visit. It’s been about two years since I was there last, so yeah…I guess it’s time to go back.
I want to stay at this hotel:
Explore the surrounding neighborhood on one of these:
Buy flowers and baguettes at a local farmers market and put it in the basket. Where is this amazing place, you ask? NU Hotel, Brooklyn. I discovered it on my hotel search when I was going there a few years ago, but got a great offer to say with a friend, so I did that instead. I have not forgotten about this boutique hotel, though. I want to stay here so bad! In the room with a hammock, of course.
How weird would it be to go by myself? It could be a writing retreat. Only, I’m not writing a book or anything. You know how writers need to go places all by themselves to write? Without any distraction, but inspiration all around them. I could pretend I’m one of those. Carry around a leather bound notebook and sharpened pencils, walk across the Brooklyn Bridge and sketch the spokes (aka suspension cables) from the inside. Walk through the Brooklyn Botanical Garden to clear my head and take in the scent of flowers. Close my eyes on the subway ride from Manhattan and know exactly which stop is High Street without opening them. Evening walks along the Promenade, pretending I live in one of the brownstones right on the water. Explore Park Slope and stop for a drink just because the place looks like an adventure. Buy ridiculous souvenirs and take a thousand pictures.
There is so much inspiration in New York City & Brooklyn. So much of my heart is there. And right now, it’s aching for it.
I just got back from Northern California. Most of my life I’ve debating moving back up there. It’s just so beautiful. But San Diego is also amazing & beautiful in a totally different way, and turns out I have a great job here, so I guess I’m not going anywhere anytime soon! But it’s sure great to visit. Especially when fun family is involved.
Of course there was happy hour every evening. Have you met me?! I got in early Saturday morning, the parents picked me up and we headed back to the house. Had cherry pinwheels in the backyard with coffee. I hesitate to tell you this, because you’ll try to get there before me and buy them all, but…Alpine Pastry & Cakes in Concord makes the most unbelievable cherry pinwheels I’ve ever had! In fact, best pastry I’ve ever had. And I don’t even like cherry pastries. You have to get down there very early on the weekends in order to get some. They sell out fast.
Not a bad view, eh? We ventured out after a bit to buy food for dinner that night, and stopped by an area that had food trucks out to get a bite to eat. I still had cherry pinwheel in me, so opted for the fish tacos instead of the BLT with goat cheese spread from a truck aptly named Bacon. I’m a little sad I didn’t go for that, but the fish tacos were very good.
Check out those torpedo onions from Lunardi’s! I had no idea these things existed. But I immediately want to buy a bushel full. (Do people still sell things in bushels? It sounds delightful.)
The next day I spent the afternoon with my sister seeing the sights of Oakland. The Oakland I know of is the airport section! When she told me she wanted to live in Oakland I was like…what’s wrong with you?? But turns out there is so much of Oakland that’s really amazing. I’m glad I got to see it through her eyes. And spend some quality time with my sisser!
That evening her boyfriend had a gig in Napa (he plays piano in a Jazz duo), so we drove up to see them. The four of us shared a few appetizers and bottles of wine while we watched them. It was such a great night! We wanted to grab coffee at The Carneros Inn beforehand, but ran out of time. Not to worry, we drove up there the next morning!
We lounged around a bit, got some coffee, ate some lunch, then drove around Napa and Sonoma before heading to the airport. It was such a nice, relaxing day and the weather was perfect. We didn’t do any wine tasting, so I decided to do that at the airport! It’s how I roll, yo.
Those little crostini things were so good. Smoked salmon over a crab parmesan spread. I’m so making this next time I need an appetizer.
I’m back to the grind now. And I can’t say I’m happy about it, but taking a few days off was really great. You have any mini-vacations planned for the summer? Or even better…big ones? The summer is halfway over! Ack!
Now I shall leave you with a couple random pictures from my Instagram from the weekend:
What are you up to this weekend? I’m taking a little trip up north to visit my dad, step-mom and sister. Remember when I went last time? I won’t be visiting these mineral baths shown above, unfortunately. But we are making a day trip to Napa. Ahhh, the wine country. Couldn’t be finer, no?
I’ve been doing good with my mini-trip-resolution this year. My boss probably thinks I’m always gone, but I only take one day off here and there. Much better than taking an entire week at a time. I’d like to think taking breaks makes me a better worker. I’m pretty sure there’s a scientific study that proves that. I’d quote said study here, but science is boring, so I won’t.
Hope you all have a great weekend! If you need me, I’ll either be taking in the Napa countryside or lounging at the pool.
I landed in Las Vegas yesterday evening at around 6:30 for a work trip. I’d love to pretend I’m important enough to travel for work often, but I’m not. Once a year though, I get to go to a convention in Las Vegas. Here’s the thing, though…I hate traveling alone. In fact, I hate going anywhere alone. Unless it’s errands or shopping. Going out to eat alone? Horrible! Awkward! Not okay! But I decided this trip would be different. I would purposefully put myself in situations that are extremely uncomfortable for me. Push myself, make me enjoy traveling alone.
First challenge…sitting in the window seat instead of the aisle seat. I have the bladder the size of a pea and have to go to the bathroom every five seconds. If I’m not near a bathroom, my bladder starts to panic and makes me think it has to pee when it doesn’t! It’s cruel, really. A mind of its own. So I always need to sit in the aisle just in case. I almost never get up to use the bathroom, but that’s not the point. It feels trapped in the window seat. Trapped! Claustrophobia! But look at me, taking pictures from a window seat. Challenge #1 conquered!
i took a shuttle to the hotel that took forever. Good tour of the strip, though.
I finally get to the hotel, after chatting with a French guy who swims with sharks, sky dives and is planning on bungee jumping from the top of Stratosphere, and I need to eat dinner. I love my hotel room, it’s so clean, nice finishes, and a non-smoking hotel near the convention center.
That’s the view from my window. And where I plan to be immediately after this post until I have to start work this afternoon.
Challenge #2: Dinner. Yikes. This one is tough for me, guys. Eating alone? At a table? In a real restaurant? So awkward, strange. I imagine people looking at me, thinking I don’t belong there, I must have no friends. Or they’ll just feel sorry for me. I’ll just be awkward, bored, staring off into space, no one to talk to. Who would have fun eating alone? No one! How is it possible?
You guys. I had fun. I took a cab two whole blocks to The Barrymore (what? It’s a sketchy neighborhood! These streets are like dark back alleys if you’re not walking on the strip), which I had scoped out on google maps prior, to see what was close to my hotel. Turns out it’s an awesome swanky place! I told my friend Cara who lives here where I was going, she said she loves that place. Score! I walk in, and there’s Lucille Two singing her heart out in the bar. If you’re not up on your Arrested Development trivia, that would be Liza Minnelli. Only she was younger and blonde. I grabbed a seat at a tall little table, ordered a Pom Martini and some risotto, sat back and sang along to Proud Mary. The waiter was awesome and brought me a giant basket of bread. It was pretty expensive, so only ordered an appetizer. He brought me a couple mini macaroons when I declined a dessert menu. I didn’t feel out of place at all. This eating out alone thing could really catch on!
I decided to be brave and walk back to the hotel. I walked mostly on the strip, but did need to go down a dark alley next to The Riviera (stayed there last year, horrible hotel!) which was totally sketchy. But I lived. I came across a couple super drunk girls stumbling around holding hands wearing only bikinis. Tasteful girls, tasteful.
If you’ll excuse me, I’m now starving as it’s taken me forever to post this on my iPad. It’s just not happy I’m not posting on a normal computer! I can’t even link anything, so you’ll just have to Google Barrymore all on your own. So if you need me, I’ll be at the pool sipping mimosas and eating croissants.