Gordon Valley Ranch

 

Napa, Ca was the first stop on our trek up to Washington.  Sure, many people would choose this as an excellent pit stop to at least have a glass of wine, but when you also have sweet friends who live on a secluded ranch in Napa Valley, it’s not just a pit stop, it’s a MUST stop.  Not to mention that they have an adorable new addition that we absolutely had to meet.  The environment is unique and whimsical and I so look forward to seeing our friends future on this beautiful ranch develop.  I typically like to tell you the story behind the photos in my blog, but with an incredible landscape such as this, the photos speak for themselves!

Mama & Baby

 

Poppin’ Bottles

Getting my fix <3

Thank you again to our friends Miles and Katie for giving us this one of a kind experience xx.

Cheers!

Traci

Continue Reading

Train to Santa Barbara (part three)

We started our last day in Santa Barbara the same way we started our first, with a walk to the beach!  From there we went to brunch at a spot above the marina, and that’s where we spotted “Lil’ Toot.”  We found out that Lil’ Toot is a water taxi that will take you from the marina to the far side of the pier, and vice versa.  Our next planned location was right off the pier, so it was perfect!  Plus after seeing this adorable little boat and hearing its little “toot” we felt we HAD to go on it! When in Rome, am I right?!

Train to Santa Barbara

Train to Santa Barbara

Train to Santa Barbara

Train to Santa Barbara

Train to Santa Barbara

Train to Santa Barbara

Train to Santa Barbara

Train to Santa Barbara

Off the pier was a bike rental spot.  It had beach cruisers, tandem bikes, four person carriages, and our choice, the “Deuce Coupe!”  It was a low riding, two person, three wheeled bike with a big basket in the back.  It was super unique and perfectly fit us AND our luggage!  We were able to ride along the boardwalk next to the beach and then continue on a large bike trail that took us up near the Santa Barbara Zoo.  It was a really fun way to see a different part of the city.

Train to Santa Barbara

Once our biking excursion was finished, it was time to get back to where it all began, the train station.  When our train arrived, there was just enough time to grab a cheese plate and juice from the train lounge, pop some bubbly, and settle into our seats before watching the sunset along the coastline.  Finally the coastal train view I’d been waiting for!  It was a tranquil ending to an exciting weekend.

Train to Santa Barbara

Train to Santa Barbara

Train to Santa Barbara

Train to Santa Barbara

Train to Santa Barbara

Train to Santa Barbara

So what are you doing this weekend?  I hope this post has inspired you to take a weekend getaway for yourself sometime.  Maybe you’ll visit somewhere you can fly to, or maybe just a friends house in the next town over.  No matter where you end up, a couple days away can be just the thing you need.  Hey, you might just end up on a train to Santa Barbara!

Cheers!

Traci

Continue Reading

Train to Santa Barbara (part two)

Since this was my first time visiting Santa Barbara I really didn’t have any expectations.  I was happy to walk out the door and experience whatever came my way.  Joel on the other hand, since this was his third time visiting and he knew a little bit more about what was going on out there, had a couple of “must do’s” on his list.

1.Wine Tasting

2. Visit City Hall/ Clock Tower

There are several tasting rooms scattered throughout the downtown and waterfront areas, so after our walk to the beach followed by a breakfast appropriately accompanied with mimosa’s, we were ready!  Joel really wanted to revisit the tasting room where his cousin and wife had their wedding reception.  It was called “Wine Cask” and since it was near City Hall we figured it was a good place to start.  It was still a bit early in the day, so we were given the privilege of having the whole tasting room to ourselves.  (We started our day with mimosa’s so it makes the rest of the day open for drinks! Right?!)  While we relaxed and chatted on the leather couch, we sipped a delicious medley of wines that kept refilling our glasses.  Once the wine stopped flowing, we happily made our way over to our next stop, Santa Barbara’s City Hall and Clock Tower.

Train To Santa Barbara

Train To Santa Barbara

We started our self guided tour by going up to the top of the clock tower where the views took our breath away.  To the left we saw vast hills, to the right we saw the ocean, and orange tiled roofs filled in everything in between.  Those views were just the beginning of beauty we would see during our time at the City Hall.  The entire building boast beautiful tile work and historical murals.  Everywhere you looked, the walls, the ceilings, the floors, and even on the stairs, amazing art work was there to be seen.  It’s so unique and captivating that it takes the whole idea of a court house wedding to a whole different level!  Joel’s cousin and wife made an awesome choice in having their wedding there, it’s just so neat!

Train To Santa Barbara

Train To Santa Barbara

DSC_0179

Train to Santa Barbara

Train To Santa Barbara

Train To Santa Barbara

Train To Santa Barbara

Train To Santa Barbara

Train To Santa Barbara

Train To Santa Barbara

Train To Santa Barbara

Train To Santa Barbara

The rest of our day was filled with more exploring, wine tasting, making new friends, and eating tasty food!  Besides City Hall, our two favorites of the day were the Riverbench Tasting Room and Seven Bar and Kitchen.  Both of these places are located in an area called “The Funk Zone.”  I highly recommend the “Bubbles Flight” at Riverbench, and don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation with your fellow tasters!  We ended up meeting a super nice couple and their pup Zeph while we were there, and spent the rest of the evening parading around town with them!  Which included dinner and drinks and Seven Bar and Kitchen.  This place had a plethora of house made yummies including a “garden menu” full of all things veggie, and some bar favorites like sliders and fries, but with a foodie lovers twist!  My go to pick was the “Peño Bites” since I’m OBSESSED with everything that is a jalapeño popper!  They were handmade in their kitchen with FRESH jalapeños and a unique bacon beer batter!  If you stop by this joint, trust me, and give these guys a try, you’ll be glad you did!

Until Part Three…

Cheers!

Traci

Continue Reading

Train to Santa Barbara (part one)

A few blog posts back I started a little “California Bucket List” of things Joel and I would like to see and do while living here in Southern California.  As soon as finishing writing that list, we decided the only decent thing to do was to start checking things OFF that list!  And why not go big and check TWO things off at once!  And if you didn’t guess it by the title, we took a train to Santa Barbara for the weekend.  CHECK CHECK!

We left on a Friday evening after work.  Unfortunately by that time the sun had set so we didn’t get much of a view on our way up, but I thought ahead and made sure our trip north would be a success no matter what with a mini cheese platter style spread!  Joel had packed a couple bottles of wine to bring along on our trip, so we popped one open and enjoyed our own personal happy hour aboard the Amtrak Pacific Surf Liner.  It was the perfect way to end a long week and start our week away…

Train To Santa Barbara

On this trip we decided we wanted to try out an Airbnb rental instead of a hotel and the one we chose was just a short walk to the beach, so our first morning began with just that!  They way to the beach included an area of preserved land that lend right up to a cliff with beautiful view of the coast line.  It also just happened to be a completely off leach dog area so we were greeted by lots of new puppy friends!  Just beyond the park is where we found the “Mesa Lane Steps” that lead us down to the beach.  The tide was high, so we weren’t able to walk on the beach this time, but we had the pleasure of watching the waves roll in, and surfers trying to catch them!

Train To Santa Barbara

Train To Santa Barbara

Train To Santa Barbara

Train To Santa Barbara

Train To Santa Barbara

Train To Santa Barbara

Train To Santa Barbara

Train To Santa Barbara

To avoid a suuuuuper long blog post, I’m dividing our trip up into a few different parts, kind of like a mini series!  So check back soon for more on our adventure!

 

Cheers!

Traci

 

Continue Reading

Laguna Stay-cation

So as you all know, I love celebrating the little things in life, but this weekend I celebrated something BIG! 6 years with my honey, yep our anniversary!  And how we celebrated was with a little “stay-cation” in Laguna Beach.  Sure it’s less then 10 miles from our house, but it’s gorgeous, fun, and our absolute favorite place in California.  So who cares right?!  We decided to do this semi last minute and thanks to hotelstonight.com  we got a KILLER deal at Hotel Laguna in the heart of downtown right on the beach!  We came to learn that it’s the oldest hotel in Laguna at over 100 years old!  Our room keys were even ACTUAL keys, when was the last time you saw that!?  When we checked in we had originally planned on just dropping off our stuff and heading out to one of the nearby rooftop bars to watch the sunset, but after seeing the view from our room we decided that it was the best place to be.  So we popped open a bottle that we brought with us from home, and enjoyed the beautiful sunset from our room at our own little private table for two.

img_1222
img_1226

img_1225

img_1139

Saturday was our full day in Laguna, so to start it out right, we headed across the street to Nick’s for breakfast and mimosas.  If you’re a fan of Chicken and Waffles, you HAVE to come to Nick’s and give their version a try!  It comes with crisp waffles, boneless fried chicken, sausage gravy, diced up nueske’s bacon, and maple syrup.  My boyfriend order it, and even though I’m not typically into Chicken and Waffles, I totally loved Nick’s take on the dish.  The mixture of textures and flavors blew me away, and something about that gravy with the maple syrup just won me over.  The combo might sound a little funky, but believe me, this one’s a winner.

img_1143

Once we were sufficiently full, we decided a walk was in order.  We stopped by the Laguna Public Library where I picked up two new books and then headed over to the Saturday Farmers Market.  You guys, the falls colors were bursting out everywhere at this market!  I mean, LOOK at the beauty!`I couldn’t get enough!

img_1144

img_1145

img_1146

There were rumors that it was going to rain, but you never know what to believe in Southern California when in comes to rain.  So many times rain will be in the forecast and then not only does it NOT rain, it ends up being 85 degrees!  So to ensure we got in some beach time we headed onto our next adventure to Victoria Beach.  Victoria Beach is one of the most private public beaches in Laguna.  It’s a little tricky to find and there is little to no parking, but if you can get there you’ll be greatly rewarded with a special sight.  It’s home to what the locals call the “Pirate Tower” which resembles a mini whimsical castle.

img_1158

fullsizerender-3

img_1169

img_1164

We explored the little tide pools and splashed around in the bubbly waves until we started feeling rain drops.  At that point we made our way back up to the street as fast as we could and found the closest bus stop. One of the many great things about Laguna is that everyday during the summer and every weekend during the rest of the year, it has a free shuttle.  And as if free wasn’t good enough, it also looks like a little trolley!

img_1209

Once we were back at the hotel we dried off, read, and napped until it was time for Happy Hour, at which point we hopped back on the little trolley and cruised over  to our #1 go-to Happy Hour spot, La Casa del Camino.  It’s a hotel that includes a restaurant and bar below, a rooftop lounge above, and the most charming little rooms in between.  We love this place so much that we’ve actually stayed here on another mini “stay-cation”.  And every time we have guests in town we make sure it’s one of our first stops.

img_1217

img_1221

Everything on the menu is served tapas style, and are quite decadent.  We went with the ” lobster meatballs” which are served over bacon lobster mashed potatoes and finished with a lobster cream sauce, as well as the “truffle risotto” which has lobster and asparagus through out.  You might be thinking ” that must have cost an arm and a leg!”  NOPE!  With their “bonus happy hour” menu we got these two luxurious dishes for $9.50….YES, nine-dollars-and-fifty-cents.  Wooooo!!!!  The down stairs area also hosts live music every weekend, so I’m sure it’s easy to see why this place is #1 in our book.  Since this was our last night in Laguna, we had planned to get all dressed up for a fancy dinner, but after happy hour we were so incredibly satisfied that we decided to spend the rest of our night snuggled up in our room listening to the rain and waves outside our window.  It was the perfect finish to our special weekend.

I hope if you’re ever in Laguna Beach,  that you visit a few of these places.  Whether you’re on vacation, celebrating an anniversary, or just out on a Saturday, these little treasured spots will make your time feel extra special.  And don’t forget the bubbly!

Cheers!

Traci

Continue Reading