October-Moon

I’m embarrassingly late with the last month-moon post, but it has to be written to complete our full year of month-moons! I highly recommend taking these monthly get-aways, whether they be a short day-trip or an extended weekend, just getting out of the routine can do a relationship good.

For our finale – our October-Moon – and to celebrate our one -year anniversary, we decided to go back to where the honeymoon began. Carmel. We stayed at the same hotel where we stayed for the first two nights of our honeymoon – The Tickle Pink Inn – nestled on a cliff in the Carmel Highlands. We lucked out with beautiful weather once again and enjoyed a walk on our favorite beach and eating the melt-in-your-mouth gnocchi from Casanova.

The view from our room. Yes, I asked if we could just move in.

Our favorite beach that we discovered last year!

Rating: 2 enthusiastic high-fives.

What we’d bring with us next time: Absolutely nothing. It was a perfect finale to our month-moon getaways.

September-Moon

Back in January, we dreamt of a September-Moon in Spain. We bought a guidebook, interviewed other Spain travelers, and mapped out our route. But, things don’t always happen as planned. Funds and lack of time off caused us to re-route and simplify. So, we landed on Taos, NM – we heard great things about it and that it was also settled by the Spanish (the next best thing to being in Spain, right?). You could also call this “Honeymoon” trip our Baby-Moon… but that would imply that we’re not going to be out and about and traveling until February. No way, I say. I have a stubborn travel gene. Have bump. Will travel.

We took the “High Road” rather than highway from Albuquerque to Taos so we could enjoy the scenic route. As we drove our sporty compact rental, we came across the small town of Madrid. Maybe we were in Spain after all.

We followed Sunset Magazine’s advice and stayed at the Hacienda del Sol – a B&B with an amazing view of Taos Mountain and the a spot where Georgie O’Keefe used to stay as well. We claimed to be aspiring artists in residence.

So we took our first oils painting class from a local artist. Taos boasts the most artists per capita than any other city in the U.S. When in Rome…

We painted local scenes from Taos, and found out from the artist that the photo Carl was painting from was actually taken from the Wal-Mart parking lot, and the adobe building the background was actually an Applebees. Nice. But she assured us that when you’re an artist, you can “play God” and edit those kind of details out. Carl avoided the neon apple logo.

On one of our days, we took a long drive to the town of Abiquiu (if you can call it town… as it only had a convenience store). Georgia O’Keefe lived there and was inspired by the beauty of the surroundings with the backdrop of red mountains and sage. 30 minutes past this “town” we drove 13 miles down a dirt road to a Benedictine monastery – Christ in the Desert. Carl contemplated becoming a monk. I reminded him that he married me, and that lifestyle was out of the question. We pondered this as we walked past the beautifully carved crosses that led to the main chapel.

If you ever want a place to get away from it all and experience absolute silence… this is the place to go. People take silent retreats there all the time. And, Benedictine monks are known for their hospitality. We even met Brother Francis who confirmed this during our visit.

Afterwards, we walked around Ghost Ranch where Georgia O’Keefe lived and painted… but more importantly(?) where City Slickers was filmed. Of course that’s the movie we watched that night back at the B&B.

Other highlights from our trip? Yummy New Mexican food – enjoyed both the red and green chiles. Hiking Taos Mountain to a glacier lake. Oh, and the dumbest thing we did? We hiked during a break in a lightning and thunderstorm to the bottom of a gorge to some natural hot springs next to the Rio Grande.We had about 10 minutes in the hot springs before the rain and thunder started up again. I’ve never hiked so fast in my life. But I must say, watching a thunderstorm with a completely unobstructed view overlooking the desert is a quite a site to see. It also provided a wonderful sunset for our last night in Taos.

Thank goodness our trusty rental got us out of many sticky situations!

Rating: 2 enthusiastic thumbs up.

What we’d bring with us next time: Carl was the prepared one. I’d bring a rain jacket. I guess my positive thinking didn’t work to prevent a thunderstorm. (Thank goodness my chivalrous husband gave up his waterproof wear during our frantic sprint on the trail.)

August-Moon

For our August-Moon, I took Carl to one of my favorite vacation spots – Hilton Head Island, SC. I’ve been going there since I was 7-years-old, so there have been an accumulation of memories and traditions. I introduced him to all of my favorite things – hushpuppies, riding bikes on the beach, relaxing under a ceiling fan in the screened-in porch, southern rainstorms, admiring the hanging moss from the trees, and warm nights.

And to his dismay, I continue to introduce him to my favorite things about The Sound of Music. I mean, what else are you supposed to do when you find a perfectly good gazebo? Yes, I married a good sport!

We were actually there with my family, celebrating my Dad’s 70th, my birthday, plus Matt and Olivia’s birthday, and my parents’ anniversary. We’re very efficient with our celebrations.

When we were last in Hilton Head four years ago, my parents enrolled us in Baer University.

But this time around, we were at Camp Baer.

Camp Baer pretty much rocked. The big agenda each day was to head to the beach. After collecting shells, boogie boarding, playing bocce ball on the sand, and getting caught up on important reading material like People Magazine, we’d head to the pool for a dip.

During the heat of the day, we’d pile into “Papa’s Bus” to go back to the house for some A/C, and brush up on our karaoke skills.

My Dad won with best performance with his rendition of “There Ain’t Nothin’ But a Houndog.” Olivia and I perfected our dance moves to “Thriller,” and we incorporated some important costumes for added effect. (Sorry Sarah… I just had to post this one.)

And this is just another reason why I love my family.

As Camp Baer was winding down to a close, we took a day trip to Savannah just to make sure Carl really got a good experience of humidity in the middle of August and some true Southern BBQ.

Rating: 2 enthusiastic thumbs up.

What we’d bring with us next time: More vacation time so we could stay longer. (Oh.. and maybe a personal mister/fan.)

July-Moon

I don’t know if this counts for variety since water was still involved, but for our July “honeymoon” we didn’t go to the coast. We went to Tahoe. The “Keep Tahoe Blue” bumper sticker on the back of Carl’s truck reminds us of this glorious spot on a daily basis (except that Carl decided to get the one in Spanish – Mantega Tahoe Azul!). We stayed in Tahoma for a couple of days before joining the annual Hekkert camping trip in South Lake Tahoe/Fallen Leaf Lake.

We upgraded ourselves again from the tent-experience, and stayed in a cozy loft-cabin at Tahoma Lodge… the only pet-friendly place we could find. Yes, we took Sutter on one of our month-moon get-aways. I was a bit nervous leading up to the trip, unsure of what our crazy lab would do… but he defied the odds and was a complete champ! As you can see, he made himself quite cozy anywhere he went. Sutter informed us again that he thinks he’s human and has the right to lounge anywhere he pleases. Hmm. Dog Whisperer… what would you do?
We hiked, we biked, we swam… and Carl ran while I coached him to run faster while I rode behind him on my Oma-bike (Carl’s precious name for my awesome, cushy bike, complete with a kick-stand). And, Sutter was there for every adventure. The big news was that we taught Sutter how to swim. Wait.. don’t all labs just know? That’s what we thought, but Sutter could not be convinced to go any deeper than his chest-level… even with all of our prodding and pulling and negotiations. Carl eventually had to carry him into the lake and Sutter would swim with all of his terrified might back to me on the shore. He wanted nothing to do with the water, until he spotted a duck and his natural instincts finally kicked in. Before we knew it, he was 50 yards in the middle of the lake swimming after the duck!
We were like proud parents watching him from the sidelines as people cheered him on from the shore, knowing that he’d never actually get the bird (who was completely toying with him). Still… our hearts were happy and we were proud of our water-dog.
We ended the Tahoe trip with some ah-mazing monster s’mores. Hershey’s just needs to come out with a monster-size chocolate bar to complete this dessert masterpiece.

Rating: 2 thumbs up.

What we’d bring with us next time: Our sleeping bags, pillows and beach chairs. Thank goodness Carl’s parents left after us so they could grab these essentials for the real camping part of the trip!

June-Moon

In June, we made our way to the coast again. I know, I know… we just don’t tire of the California coast-line. Now let me tell you friends, this is the way to camp. Fancy tent-cabins with a real bed, electric blankets, Adirondack chairs with unobstructed views of nature, and super clean bathrooms. Aahh… welcome to Costanoa. I’m all for roughing it, but let’s be honest, wouldn’t you rather have a nice comfy bed to sleep in?
Costanoa is 25 miles north of Santa Cruz and 25 miles south of Half Moon Bay. It was an easy hour drive for us, but it felt like we had truly escaped suburbia strip-malls. Yeah! It was truly freezing on our first day (thanks to the June gloom fog), so we couldn’t pass up a hot cup of coffee to go from the restaurant near the lodge at Costanoa. Later on in the day, I learned all about newts and became familiar with my less-than-favorite creature… the banana slug.
Seeing the slugs brought back all sorts of memories about growing up on Bainbridge Island, Washington. I know this is terrible, but as a kid, Matt and I devised all kinds of slug torture mechanisms… including fireworks. I won’t go any further, but if you’ve ever slipped after stepping on a slug in bare-feet, you will have an equal dislike for these slimy things.
On our last day, the sun appeared and we decided to check out the local farms and go berry-picking… yet another past-time growing up in Washington. If I only knew now, how much a basket of blackberries cost, I would have savored each one I picked growing up. Oh well. This farm boasted the famous ollallaberries… a hybrid of sorts. Good times.

Rating: 2 thumbs up.

What we’d bring with us next time: Friends to camp with, s’mores supplies, and some salt for the sluggies (sorry).

May-Moon

The month of May was all about cycling, cycling, and more cycling. For those of you who don’t know Carl, he’s an avid cyclist. When he’s not competing or staying in shape, he’s keeping up with the pro tour on the Versus Network. I, on the other hand, am getting really good at ringing the cow-bell during the races. (It takes a certain flick of the wrist to get it just right.)

Our May-Moon took us to Sacramento where we stayed with friends over the weekend so we could catch the first stage of the Tour of California. We were able to sneak in as VIPs to the Dutch RaboBank tent right at the finish line in front of the capitol building. Carl, of course, was wearing his signature orange.

Carl also competed in a few races during the month of May, including a race in Los Gatos. It was so great to be back in our favorite town in the South Bay…we hadn’t been back since our wedding weekend.

I told Carl to make sure to look intense, so he stuck out his tongue for added effect. Carl’s parents, my godparents – Steve & Margie, and Sutter joined in on the side-lines. Go Carl!

Rating: 1.5 thumbs up

What we’d bring with us next time: A portable water dish for Sutter. It was hot!

April-Moon

I’m seeing a theme in our “Month-Moon” get-aways. They all involve the ocean. I guess one of these days we’ll need to take a trip to Bakersfield. Or, maybe not.

For our April-Moon (yes, I understand that it’s almost June….sigh), we took a Sunday drive from Healdsburg to Pt. Reyes Lighthouse. Have you ever looked at Highway 1 on a map, and estimated the driving time not taking into account that the map doesn’t show all the twists, turns, and 15-mile-an-hour tight bends? Well, if you haven’t made it out to Pt. Reyes Lighthouse, just know that it will feel like you are driving out to the end of the world. It’s a beautiful drive, but you have to suppress the 5-year-old inside of you that keeps wanting to ask, “Are we there yet?” I seriously felt like we were driving to the most western point of California, or the U.S. for the matter. And then when we were within a mile, we got stopped by a forest ranger. This isn’t a nice part of the story, but a motorcyclist didn’t judge one of those tight turns and got stuck in a barbed wire fence and was being air-lifted out. So we sat in the truck, taking in the view of the picture above, and decided to just have our picnic in the car.

Once we got to the parking lot and hiked the mile to the stairs to descend to the lighthouse, people were telling us to turn around. The lighthouse had just closed. Recall scene from National Lampoon’s Vacation at Wally World. Closed you say? Right. Carl and I leaped down the stairs, not paying attention to the rule-followers climbing back up the stairs. The forest ranger actually just laughed at us as we skipped and sprinted to touch the lighthouse first. Hey… it was a long drive and ordeal to get there. I had to at least touch the lighthouse.

This was Carl’s second time to the lighthouse, but the first time he actually got to see it. His first trip was completely surrounded by fog and he could barely see 5 feet in front of him. We lucked out with clear skies, blooming ice plant covering the hillsides, and even some whale sightings.

Rating: 1.5 thumbs up. (Next time, I’d suggest camping at Pt. Reyes to stay a bit longer.)

What we’d bring with us next time: A rubberband for my hair.

March-Moon

For our March “honeymoon” getaway we did a one-day excursion. Yes, it wasn’t the prescribed full weekend away, but even a one-day excursion can do wonders for the soul (and for a marriage)! This was also our first big excursion with Sutter, so Carl did some research on dog-friendly sites in the area.

First, we headed south to Mission San Juan Bautista. Every time we drive by it on a road trip north/south on the 101, Carl says, “Oh, we should go there.” I think he secretly wanted to relive his glory days in 3rd grade when this mission was assigned to him for the California Missions project. Our niece, who is currently in the middle of this same assignment, prepped us for what she called a “crazy” statue in the courtyard.

We arrived during the middle of mass on Palm Sunday, so we were able to see the beautiful stained glass inside. We pretended that Sutter would sit still with us while we set up a picnic on the lawn nearby. Carl is getting really good at holding Sutter’s leash and eating with one hand. We strolled through the small downtown past antique stores and a kajillion Harley Davidsons, poked our head in an art gallery, and tried to keep Sutter from his self-imposed choking while he dragged us along by his leash.

Next stop. A dog-friendly winery just outside of Carmel. Ventana Vineyards has a great outdoor patio, but it was a bit noisy with planes coming in for landing at Monterey Airport, and trucks zipping by on Highway 68. The service was excellent, and so was the wine. Sutter was a good boy too.

Sutter’s big adventure was when we took him off leash at Carmel Beach with the other happy doggies. We spent most of our time chasing after him, and hoping he’d slow down. During one of these chases, while Carl was disposing of the “yuckies” I noticed that Sutter was nosing his way into someone’s bag while the owner slept on his beach towel. As I got closer, I could see Sutter wolfing down the poor guy’s pizza! I panicked and secretly wondered if I could grab Sutter and sneak away without a confession. No such luck. I felt like I had a disobedient child. Okay.. he kind of is. Thanks to Sutter’s hint that he was hungry, we took him to a dog-friendly restaurant. Carmel is filled with them.  Forge in the Forest set us up in a private dog-friendly patio with other dog owners, and introduce us to the special “Dog Pound” menu featuring everything from kibble ($2.50) to the Good Dog New York steak ($12.95) for dogs. We opted for the free treats. Sorry Sutter.

Rating: 1.5 thumbs up. (Loved the day trip and spending the time with Sutter… but I think we need to go back to the official rules for the “Month-Moons.”)

What we’d bring with us next time: If Sutter came along, we would bring the all-important “poop-bags” and our new favorite, life-saving leash – “the Gentle Leader.”

February-Moon

For our February “honeymoon” weekend, Carl and I ventured south to the Central Coast. When Carl originally suggested that we go to Cambria, I must admit that I scrunched my nose a bit. I’m sure I was just jealous, but when I was single, I’d get so bored hearing about all my married friends going to Cambria for a romantic weekend away, and I vowed that I wouldn’t do the same. Now I understand. Oh, how I love eating my words. But it was easier to swallow when Carl said that he found a farmhouse B&B that was FIVE MILES away from Cambria. Nice.

I’ll probably say this several times during my “month-moon” posts, but California is a beautiful state. We started our drive down Highway 1 during the same time that the Mavericks surf contest was taking place in Half Moon Bay. I kept urging Carl to “pull over, pull over” so I could watch the huge waves crashing to shore. (Notice the Bixby Bridge in the background.)

When we got to San Simeon, we had to say “hi” to the elephant seals. And… lucky for us, it was mating season. I won’t go into detail, but it was not rated G.

We stayed at the McCall Farm Bed and Breakfast and were greeted by two dogs and the amazing couple who runs the B&B. They joined us for their daily (and complimentary) wine and cheese hour while giving us tips on the not-so-touristy places to eat in town. The farmhouse is surrounded by a working farm, where the owners grow oranges and avocados. Surrounded by green rolling hills, it was an idyllic spot for a restful get-away weekend. We spent our mornings devouring the gourmet breakfasts and sipping coffee and reading on the front porch.

In the afternoon, we took our bikes to tour the wine country of Paso Robles. And I thought Paso only had a huge McDonalds and Sizzler (from what I could see from the 101 freeway). I let Carl bike back to the B&B, while I drove the truck through this beautiful green landscape. Yep… the bike muscles haven’t quite gotten to the Carl endurance level yet, folks. And I am totally okay with that.

Just to prove we were in Cambria, here you go.  And you know what? I’d go back.

Rating: Two enthusiastic thumbs up. (Not even one scrunchie nose.)

What we’d bring with us next time: Some friends to enjoy the B&B with us!

January-Moon

A strong piece of marriage advice we received from our pastor was to make sure we got away for one weekend a month during our first year of marriage – just the two of us. Twist our arms… we are trying to obey. I see these getaways like an extended honeymoon… hence the “January-Moon” name was born.

Since I’ve been a little slow with the blogging lately, I figured I’d better post our January excursion before we take off for our next getaway this weekend. Perhaps these entries will be like a little travel-blog, and encourage you to go to some new places as well!

For our first excursion we headed north to Mendocino, along Highway 1. After about an hour of driving past super Wal-Marts and drive-thru Starbucks, we took a scenic route to Highway 1 past vineyards and farms and then, before our eyes, was the ocean. We could feel the frenetic pace of life just slide off our shoulders as we journeyed along Highway 1 where all we could see was ocean on one side, and beautiful green fields on the other. As we rounded a corner we came across these fine cows. I guess it is true. Happy cows do come from California. They were admiring the views just as much as we were.

After a short hike and a picnic at the Point Arena lighthouse (click on this link for the awesome sound effect). we drove through the town of Elk, and continued on our way to Mendocino. Considered California’s New England, Mendocino is a cute little town with Victorian homes, art galleries, old water towers, and lots of cozy coffee shops. It’s nestled on a coastal bluff, with a redwood forest as its backdrop. Not a bad place to stay for the weekend… even if it was rainy and cold.

The rain and cold didn’t bother us too much because we stayed at The Little River Inn which had fireplaces in each room and a covered deck with rocking chairs, overlooking the ocean. I only wish we could have stayed longer. One night was just not enough.

Rating: Two thumbs up.

What we’d bring with us next time: kayaks and bikes; wine & cheese for apps on the deck, and real half & half for my coffee (none of this powdered creamer business)