My mom and I went to Kauai for a little rest and relaxation...and some adventure of course! I was so busy at work prior to the trip I had only planned one thing - the zipline tour. But on the plane ride over I sat next to a guy from Kauai, and read a little of my guide book and we managed to string together a really great weekend!
We arrived on Wednesday night, about 7:30pm and no one warned us about how dark the island is! When I say dark - I mean dark! And to add to the driving experience on these tiny winding roads, it was a torrential downpour. I said this trip was about adventure, right? We checked into our hotel - Sheraton Kauai Resorts, on the south shore - got a great room with an ocean view balcony, and called it an early evening. The guy I met on the plane told me how great (calm) the water was going to be on Friday, so we booked a Na Pali coast boat and snorkel tour online that night before everyone else realize how good the waters would be.
Thursday morning we got up early, had breakfast, and then decided to go for an easy hike along the south shore. We started at the Grand Hyatt Hotel and the trail took us about 2 miles down (heading east) with great views of the ocean and island. We came back after 2 miles, because while the hiking was easy, the heat was unbearable! Remember that calm water comment about booking the boat tour...yeah, calm water mean no winds! Very hot.
After our hike we found some lunch - a Puka Dog of course (had to try one). Then we drove over to see the Sprouting Horn blowhole. We came back to the hotel afterwards and laid by the pool until dinner. That night we ate at Keoki's Paradise.
Friday morning we had our Na Pali Catamaran Snorkel and Sail tour through Holo Holo Charters. We checked in at Port Allen and boarded the boat about 8:30. Just 30 mins in we stopped to snorkel for about 45 mins. Then we had breakfast on the boat and made our way down to the beautiful Na Pali coast. Along the way we stopped near this pod of dolphins. I've never seen so many in one area - really neat. And check out that photo I got - lucky shot! Ok - so back to this coast line - seriously, every minute just got more amazing as we went further and further north! The winds were too calm to sail, so instead we went north a little more, which was fine by me. We turned around to head back just after noon. We had lunch on the boat, and then just sat on the boat with our feet dangling over the edge watching the Kauai coastline as we headed back to port. So relaxing - I could have sat there for days!
Check out our Na Pali Coast and Snorkel Go Pro Video below
We got off the boat about 2:30pm. We knew it was too late in the day to get a good view of Waimea Canyon, but since we were pretty close to the road up there, we figured why not. We grabbed a car snack, and started our drive up. It was about 10 miles along a very winding uphill road. We stopped about half way up at a lookout and got a view, but after that as we kept driving higher the rain got worse and the clouds got lower and lower. By the time we made it to the Waimea Canyon Lookout, at 3,400 ft elevation, it was completely clouded in. We still ran up to the lookout spot, in the rain, and just had to laugh at our "wonderful view"! We continued on the road a few more miles to the Pu'u Hinahina Lookout. Again no view, but it was fun never the less. At least we can say we were there! For dinner Friday date we are at Josseline's Tapas bar & grill. Sangria was amazing and the tapas were even better!
On Saturday morning at 9:30am we were excited for our Koloa Zipline tour! The check-in spot was just a few miles from our hotel In Koloa. After getting our harnesses on and going through a brief tutorial, we hopped in the group van to drive about 10 minutes to our starting point. There were 8 ziplines along the course. On a few of them (the shorter ones) we hooked in normal and could flip upside if we wanted - which was really cool! And then on the others we hooked in at our backs to ride superman style. We highly recommend paying the extra $20 to do the superman harness - a lot of fun! The last line was 2,500 ft long and took almost a minute from start to finish. The guys who led our tour were absolutely amazing. Really did a great job and worked the lines so efficiently. My mom had a blast - and the others on the tour were so impressed that she was flipping upside down with no fear. Go mom!!
Check out our short Go Pro Zipline video as well.
We finished ziplining around noon (it helped that our group was only half full, so we went a lot faster than normal). We grabbed some lunch and then decided to drive over to the east shore in search of some waterfalls. We stopped at the Opaeka'a Lookout for a glance at those falls, and then went to search out Ho'opi'i Falls. There was a metal gate just off the road at the start of the trail, which was then just about a half mile down to the falls. We got down to the gorgeous Kapa'a Stream, and then took a right to wind along a bit further to the falls. There was a second fall further down the trail, but it was getting late in the day so we called it good at one. After making our way back up to the car, we drove to our last waterfall - Wailua Falls. Too bad we couldn't get closer to it, but it was a gorgeous view from the lookout spot. We made our way back South in time for a great sunset. For dinner we decided to try some Mexican food at Tortilla Republic. Not quite the authentic Hawaiian cuisine, but they had good fajitas that hit the spot.
On our last day in Kauai we decided to explore the North Shore. We hit the road about 7:30am and arrived at the North Shore by 9am. On the north shore we drove as far west as we could first, and were then going to work our way back southeast throughout the day. We had heard parking at Ke'e Beach was near impossible, but we thought we would try it out for kicks. Yep - parking was bad. But we got to drive by the wet and dry caves and had fun crossing several of those single lane bridges along the way. Heading back east just a few miles from Ke'e beach we found parking at Ha'ena Beach Park and spent the morning relaxing on the beach. So beautiful! For lunch we stopped at a shopping center in Hanalei - ate and did a little souvenir shopping. After lunch we drove down to Hanalei Bay and enjoyed the beach there for a while. We grabbed an obligatory shave ice afterwards and then started our drove back south. Along the way we stopped at the Hanalei Lookout for a picturesque view, and also the Kilauea Lighthouse. We didn't realize the road down to the lighthouse was closed on Sunday, but we still got a great view from the lookout spot.
The drive back south wasn't bad at all and we got to the hotel around 5pm. We relaxed on our balcony listening to the crashing waves, enjoyed one last sunset and then got ready for our last dinner in Kauai at The Dolphin Poipu.
We ended up really enjoying the south shore. Every one raves about North Shore, and yes it was beautiful and very action packed...but the south shore really had everything we could have asked for! Very quiet and calm, good mid-distance drive between almost everything we wanted to do, and great dinner choices at the Shops at Kukui'ula and the Poipu Shopping Village. Maybe next visit I'll stay on the North Shore and do a full comparison. Mahalo Kauai!
Check out some more photos from this trip here - Kauai Photos
August 29-31, 2014 - The Great Allegheny Passage Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to Cumberland, Maryland
How do I begin to write about this adventure...all that comes to mind is "so amazing, highlight of my year, can't wait to do it again!"
The best way I can describe the bike ride is through my GoPro video. While I don't think a 15 minute video can really do the 3 day, 150 miles and almost 15 hours of riding time justice, I will say it is a really good start to being able to share a glimpse into how "amazing" this adventure was! I'm new to the GoPro camera, so I'm still learning a lot - and need to buy a couple more accessories to make filming off the bike easier - but overall I'm really happy with how my first video turned out. It's long, but I promise it is worth watching. Volume up. 1080 HD setting is available in the bottom right of the video. Enjoy!!
P.S. If 15 minutes is too long, I also created an 8 minute version of the video hitting just the main highlights.
So...did I lie to you? Awesome, right?! Are you ready to plan your own adventure on the trail???
Ok, so you're probably wondering how this trip came about? 2 years ago my friend Kylee came across an article about the Great Allegheny Passage (GAP). She passed it onto me to store away in the 'vacation file', and for a couple years it has been in the back of my mind. At first it was the "oh sure- let's do that one day...haha...not". Then slowly it turned into, "well - it might be neat to think about one year". To finally in the spring this year I emailed my friend David (#1 riding partner!) and I just said "Hey...let's actually ride the GAP this year!". And because David generally trusts my crazy ideas, he said "OK!". And so the planning began...
We decided to ride over labor day, to take advantage of the Monday off of work. Then I just started reading every article, website and blog I could find about the GAP to figure out the best planning tips for the trip.
Putting the plan together
Some really helpful websites I used are:
The planning was actually much harder than I anticipated. By figuring out the best towns to stay in (i.e. most food and lodging options) I then calculated out roughly how many miles we wanted to ride each day. Paired those two together and had the start of the rough plan. Originally we were going to start in Cumberland. The first 23 miles out of Cumberland is uphill, but then the remaining 130 miles are downhill. I booked the first night's stay in Meyersdale, and then when I was trying to find a room in Connellsville for night 2 there was nothing! Advice: book your rooms early. With so few choices in each town, they definitely fill up fast. After struggling with what to do on night 2, I finally had a thought - reverse the trip. The uphill grade is rarely more than 1.75% - so while you go up for a long time, it is definitely doable. Plus I have to say the last 23 miles downhill, dropping 1,700 feet in elevation, was definitely worth all the pain of the prior two days!!
Day 1: Pittsburgh, PA to Connellsville, PA
David and I picked up our bikes in Pittsburgh on Friday morning at the Gap Outfitters bike shop and hit the trail by 10am. We rode slow, wanting to enjoy ourselves and take in all the sights around us. The first day didn't have too many specific highlights to see, but never the less it was a great day. Bridge after bridge to ride over, little towns to bike through, beautiful scenery, etc.
We stopped in West Newton for lunch, 34 miles from Pittsburgh. We ate at a place called The Trailside, literally right off the trail. Great place to sit down, relax and refuel. Plus they were over a bike shop, so you had everything you may need. After lunch we got back on the trail and continued riding the remaining 25 miles to Connellsville. We pulled into town just before dinner time. Day 1, at 59 miles, took us a total of 7 hours, with just under 6 hours of riding time. We quickly realized that while we are used to road bikes, the combination of a trek hybrid bike and luggage over the back tire definitely slowed us down. At home we average 15 mph, but on the trail we averaged 10 mph. Not bad for a leisurely ride, but keep that in mind when planning your days. In Connellsville we checked into the Connellsville Bed & Breakfast, washed up and then went out to find cold beer and dinner! Our B&B hostess had great tips for dinner and told us of a good Mexican restaurant, El Canelo, that did not serve alcohol but allowed BYOB. So on our walk over (just a few blocks away - over this gorgeous river) we stopped in a bar she recommended, The Paint Room, that oddly enough sold us a 6-pack to go and we took it over to the restaurant. After dinner we called it a night, and were excited to see what day 2 had in store.
Day 2: Connellsville, PA to Meyersdale, PA
We woke up on Day 2, had a great breakfast at the B&B and got on our bikes by 9am. We knew today would be the hardest....almost 1,400 feet of climbing at a gradual incline all day....but the river, peaceful nature surroundings and the amazing views more than made up for the pain!
While Day 3 has the best highlights (which I'll get to below), I really have to say Day 2 was my favorite. Riding along the Youghiogheny River all day, coming across the bridge in Ohiopyle with the most amazing view - I could have just ridden and been perfectly content for days and days! It was neat to see as we were riding how we started almost level with the river and then mile after mile the river got further away from us. The bridge at Ohiopyle was a definite highlight! I could have stood up there enjoying that view for hours.
We stopped for lunch in Confluence, 28 miles into our ride. When we pulled off the trail a lady was passing out vouchers for a prize at the bike shop in town. We figured why not, we would swing by there first and see what the fuss was about. David had his Kenya jersey on and the bike shop owners asked if he was from there. He was, and they got so excited. They said "you have to put a pin in our globe!" Sure enough, he stuck his pin in Nairobi and the owners took a picture of us. A nice welcome to the city. Our prizes were pretty funny - I won a postcard and David won a coupon for a free ice cream at a restaurant just across the street. The bike shop owners said the restaurant was great, so we figured we would give it a shot. It was called Sherman's Ice Cream Parlor & Kitchen. We enjoyed a really good lunch, used their free wifi (since there was no cell phone service in town), they refilled our water bottles and we were back on the trail.
The afternoon was more of the same - great scenery and a gradual uphill climb. Tip: if you need cell phone service and realize you don't have it (which I needed to text our B&B host for that evening to tell her what time we were arriving into town), look for the little information shed right along the trail in Rockwood. Thankfully he had a booster and within 15 feet of his shed I got service! The best part of the afternoon was riding over the Salisbury Viaduct - about 600 feet high and 1,908 feet long. It took about 2.5 minutes to cross. Unbelievable views of the town, corn fields and wind farms.
We finally pulled into Meyersdale around 5:30pm, after 8.5 hours with 6 hours 15 minutes of riding time. We stayed at the Yoder's Motel that night - really great place. It was fairly new...unfortunately she was not getting wifi installed until the next week - and I still had no service. bummer! One note for this town - we rode down a huge hill to get to the motel, which all we could think about is that we had to go back up the hill in the morning! lol. That night we ate at the Morguen Toole Company. The history of the building is pretty neat, so you can read about it's history if you are interested. I'll admit - we mostly enjoyed the good beer and free wifi. Needless to say, we stayed for hours. The waitress was very friendly, didn't mind at all that we hung out, and proceeded to tell us a lot of stories about the town and the building. We finally called it a night, very tired after two days of riding.
Day 3: Meyersdale, PA to Cumberland, MD
In the morning, as our motel host told us - there were a grand total of 2 places to eat breakfast! It was a Sunday and most places were closed in the tiny town of about 2,500 people. It was raining in the morning, so we picked the place right across the street - Donges Drive-In. We ran over, had a great breakfast sandwich and coffee, then headed on our way for the final day of riding. It was just barely sprinkling by the time we got on the bike and we were just hopeful the weather would hold out for us, which thankfully it did. Yes...the hill out of town was treacherous! I ended up having to walk up most of it, it was so steep. So already exhausted, we started riding the final 32 miles. This day was just really amazing - one thing after the next, it just kept getting better. The first 9 miles continued the uphill climb - just about 350 feet. And finally, before we knew it, there it was - the Eastern Continental Divide! 2,392 feet. It was a cute little tunnel, with some neat murals, but really it was just so exciting because we knew it meant the rest of the trip was downhill! We had fun taking video and photos at the divide, and then continued on our way.
Just 2 miles later, before we knew it we were at the Big Savage Tunnel. Now this is what we had been looking forward to for months - maybe even years. We put our headlamps on (though realized later they were not necessary as it was so well lit) and entered the unknown! 3,294 feet long (built in 1911) - it took us almost 4 minutes to ride through. So so cool!!! When you emerge from the tunnel, get ready for the most breathtaking view of the rolling landscape and towns far below (my photo definitely doesn't do it justice).
Just a couple miles later we came upon the Mason-Dixon line. Finally we made it to Maryland! We of course had to take pictures standing in both states at once.
3 miles later we came to the Borden Tunnel, 957 feet long - also built in 1911. Now this one got dark! And what was even more humorous - because we just kept riding and didn't stop before entering - I'm about a third of the way into the tunnel thinking - oh my gosh - I can't see anything!! Um - duh...take off your sunglasses! It helped a little, but trust me - that tunnel is dark. All you do is focus on the tiny "light at the end of the tunnel" and hope you don't hit anything!
When we got to Frostburg the trail met up with the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad - a track that runs a Steam Train from Frostburg to Cumberland. I have to say - riding downhill with amazing views on your left and the tracks on your right - pretty breathtaking. At 6 miles until the end, we went through one last tunnel - the Brush Tunnel, 914 feet long. This one was neat because the active train track also went through the tunnel. As the sign warns - do not enter the tunnel if a train is coming!
I wanted a train to pass by so badly, and finally just a few miles from Meyersdale I got my wish. We heard it coming around the corner and stopped our bikes to watch it go by. Wow! Standing about 3 feet away as the steam train sped past...very neat experience. I loved that we were taking pictures of the train while the people on the train were taking pictures of us.
At last, we finally made it into Cumberland, 3.5 hours later with about 2 hours 45 minutes riding time. We descended a total of 1,730 feet in those last 23 miles - what a great way to finish. In town we crossed the street and came to the town center. I was searching the ground all over because I knew that GAP Mile 0 marker was in the brick somewhere. Took me a bit, but I finally found it! We rode just a few tenths of a mile further and pulled right up to the bike shop - Cumberland Trail Connections. It was almost 1pm and we had a shuttle reserved for that afternoon to take us back to Pittsburgh. We changed clothes, locked up our bikes and walked just behind the bike shop to a place called the Crabby Pig. We enjoyed lunch, we celebrated the fact that we were done, and were sad at the same time realizing our adventure was over way too fast! We sat there already planning our next trip!! The shuttle to Pittsburgh took about 2 hours and then we dropped off our bikes at the bike shop and headed to our hotel.
As you can tell - I can't say enough great things about this trip. Until next time Great Allegheny Passage! We may even attempt the additional 185 miles on the C&O Towpath next time all the way to Washington D.C. David...what do you say???
You can view more of my photos from the Great Allegheny Passage here - GAP Photos
I had been wanting to get back to Portland for years - when I went back in 2010 I just fell in love with the city and surrounding areas. My parents were looking for a summer trip as well, so I got to go back to my favorite city and also had fun getting to show my parents around! On Thursday evening I met my parents at the Portland airport and we rented a car to head into the city to our hotel, the Westin Portland.
On Friday morning we walked around downtown for a bit, did a little shopping, and then grabbed a really good hamburger at the Brunch Box. That afternoon my dad and I were taking a brewery tour with Brewvana Tours. With our pretzel necklaces to munch on and our Brewvana glasses we were ready to enjoy some beer. They took us to three stops - Old Town Brewing, Ecliptic and finally Kennedy School. Each had something great - at Old Town it was the Kolsch! Ecliptic had the most amazing gourmet food to go along with our beer, and Kennedy School was actually an old school turned into a brewery and multiple bars. The brewery room use to be the women's bathroom - too funny. My dad and I had such a great time - it was really fun to do something special with him on the trip!
On Saturday morning we woke up with one thing in mind - the farmer's market! We took a nice walk over to the PSU Farmer's Market. I could have walked around for hours...especially with all of the great samples to snatch up off each table. But actually better than the samples, I had so much fun taking photos of all the fruit and veggies. The colors and sunlight were just a perfect combination. I've also been slowly learning more about my camera, so it was a great opportunity to test out some of my developing skills.
After the farmer's market my dad went back to the hotel, enjoying a lunch of our farmer's market finds, and my mom and I went walking around town - to the Powell's bookstore and a couple other shops. We grabbed lunch at one of the Mediterranean food trucks, sat outside and enjoyed our food.
That afternoon I wanted to take my parents to the International Rose Test Garden. They loved it! And I had so much fun putting those camera skills to use again - trying my hardest to zoom in and get those perfect rose pictures. I definitely had way more duds than good pics...but the few good ones I got made the whole afternoon worth it! I just love this place - I could go back every year and still not getting tired of walking around the garden.
On our way back from the Rose Garden we did our full on tourist task - stopping at Voodoo doughnuts, waiting in line for 30 minutes, and leaving with a box full of donuts!
That evening we had reservations for dinner at Caffe Mingo - the restaurant I have been craving for 4 years! I had hyped it up so much to my parents I was worried it may not live up...but boy did it! Another amazing meal - we all walked away very full and happy. However, we weren't too full for ice cream. Just 2 blocks away was Salt & Straw ice cream, which we had heard a lot about. The line was unreal...45 minutes! We got our ice cream, sat outside to enjoy it, and headed back to the hotel after a really great day.
On Sunday we got up early and hit the road for Willamette Valley. I had done a lot of research previously and had a whole day lined up for us. This day was mostly for me...I love wine tasting...but my parents enjoyed it as well. I mean look at those views - who couldn't love looking at that all day!
Our first stop was Domaine Drouhin for a mid-morning tasting. For lunch we went into Dundee and met our cousin's Carrie and Dana at Red Hills Market. We enjoyed a really great sandwich, had fun catching up with Carrie and Dana for a bit and then went on our way. Our next stop was Utopia, which was recommended by a friend. By far my favorite of the day! I love when you can sit down with the winemaker, pouring you tastes of the wine they know so much about. Everything was great - not a bad drop. We made a pit stop at Penner-Ash just for the views off their patio, and then headed onto out last winery Colene Clemens. While driving up to Colene Clemens I spotted this old barn just off the road. I knew we had to stop on the way out - it was just so perfect!
On our final day in Portland, I went on my Columbia River Gorge bike tour with Pedal Bike Tours and my parents had a mini-road trip through the Gorge to an Alpaca yarn shop. Thankfully my tour started at 9am, because it was the hottest day of our trip - at over 100 degrees. I had done this same tour 4 years ago, but those waterfalls...they just call to me! We stopped at a couple lookout spots first, and then hopped on our bikes for a couple hours of biking and hiking through the gorge. We started at Latourell Falls (I just love the rocks and vibrant greens at this one), then went on to Sheppard's Dell, Bridal Veil Falls, Wahkeena Falls (my favorite of the falls. Pictured below - the power is so great...it was hard to get a photo before the lens got soaked from the spray), Multnomah Falls and finally Horsetail Falls. At the last stop we got to relax for about 20 mins, sitting right on the rocks in the water, dipping our toes in to cool off after a great day on the bikes! In total we biked about 8 miles and hiked 2.5 miles.
After getting back into town after the bike tour, I grabbed another tasty lunch from the food trucks. That night we went to dinner at Clarklewis. Hands down - one of the most amazing meals I have had - but yeah...so we missed the memo that the place was an open warehouse setting, with a brick oven in the open kitchen and it had no A/C! And yeah...we went there on the hottest day of the year! Thankfully none of us passed out during the meal, but seriously - go to this place - just go on a cooler day. We all did the tasting menu and as I've already mentioned, it was amazing. I can't believe how much food came to our table, and I don't think there was a bad bite in any of it. Numerous salads and appetizers, 3 pasta dishes, 3 meat and fish dishes and a couple desserts that I could eat over and over again! Yum...
Overall it was a really great trip. I had so much fun exploring Portland again, getting to enjoy some time with my parents and playing the role of the tour guide! Until next time Oregon...
You can check out more of my pictures from Oregon here - Oregon Photos
My Mom, her best friend Cathy and I take a trip to Vegas almost every year. This year my mom and I stayed at the Stratosphere our first night then with Cathy at the Bellagio the next 3 nights. We went to the top of the Stratosphere and enjoyed the view, along with the crazy adventure rides up there! We didn't partake, just watched and laughed at the people. I was really tempted to do the SkyJump, but decided not to in the end.
The rest of the trip we just did our typical thing - gamble, drink, eat good food, relax by the pool, walk around the strip, etc. One of our favorite things though was sitting in Hyde bar at Bellagio. It had a great view of the Bellagio Fountains, so we sat there for a while enjoying some wine and watching a few water shows! After watching the fountains we had a very nice dinner at Prime Steakhouse in the Bellagio for our last night in Vegas.
Check out some more photos from my trip here - Las Vegas Photos
After work my friend Jessica and I grabbed a picnic dinner at Bay City Italian Deli and headed down to the Santa Monica Pier for one of the summer concerts. We couldn't really hear the music, but just hanging out on the beach, with the huge crowds was relaxing and fun!
I had a couple extra days in California this weekend, after flying back from Atlanta for 2 day work training. So I decided to rent and car and go visit San Diego for a couple days. I drove down on Saturday morning, checked into my hotel in the Gaslamp district and met up with my mom's best friend Cathy, who drove in from Murietta. We walked down to the water and had a nice lunch at San Diego Pier Cafe. We walked around some of the Seaport Village shops, and down the harbor, then decided to drive out to Coronado Island. The island was insanely crowded on a gorgeous Saturday afternoon, but after much driving around we finally found parking at the Hotel Coronado. We sat out on their huge patio and had a couple drinks and caught up with each other, which was so much fun! After that Cathy had to get back home, and I just took it easy that night.
The next day, I went back out to Coronado Island to walk along the beach. I then drove down to La Jolla on my way back to Los Angeles and saw the sea lions and explored the town for a bit. It was a short trip, but good to finally see San Diego.
Check out some more of my photos from this trip here - San Diego Photos
I work in downtown Los Angeles, and one night my company took everyone on our project to a King's game. There were about 30 of us and they rented a suite. It was a lot of fun! This picture is with my friend, Jessica, who oddly enough also loves taking feet pics!
My friend Kylee and I took another trip to Sonoma and Napa this year. It was her 40th birthday, so I had fun celebrating with her and surprising her with a couple things along the way!
We stayed in Petaluma, which was the quaintest little town - we just loved it. We got into town that night and drove into downtown for dinner. We stumbled upon Old Chicago Pizza, and had a really great dinner! On our first day we drove to Napa to stop at some of the wineries that a few friends had recommended. First stop was Silver Oak Winery for a tasting. You can never go wrong with Silver Oak! Next we stopped at a small winery - Goosecross, which was great. We had fun sipping our wine and laughing with one of the workers behind the counter. You get such a better and more personal experience at the smaller wineries. We stopped to grab a sandwich at Ranch Market Too (they really have the best sandwich shops in wine country). Next we went to Mumm for a Champagne and Cheese tasting I had made a reservation for. That was really nice - just to sit at a table overlooking the vineyard, relax and enjoy the tastings. We've made a note to do more of this on our next visit...pick just a couple places and really enjoy the experience. After Mumm we stopped at Paraduxx. Their tasting was really nice - you got your 4 tastings on a tray and could go sit at a table to enjoy them. On our drive back to Petaluma we made one more stop at Domaine Carneros for some more bubbly. We were pretty tired after our long day, so we found a Chinese restaurant in Petaluma - Lily Kai, which actually ended up being some great Chinese food.
Our next day was my big surprise for Kylee. I set up a private car through Ultimate Limo to drive us around Sonoma for a marathon of tastings. Ha! Our driver was great - he picked us up in Sonoma Square, I handed him my list of wineries and off we went. He dropped us at the door of each winery and was ready to go when we walked out. Now that's the way to do it! In about 4 hours we tasted at Ledson Winery, Chateau St. Jean, Wellington, Arrowood and Imagery Estate. After our last tasting he drove us back to Sonoma Square and we enjoyed a picnic lunch in the park with our sandwiches from Basque Cafe.
On our third day we drove into Sonoma, rented bikes from Napa Valley Bike Tours and headed out for some tastings. We started at Sebastiani - the tasting was great, but we also really enjoyed the trees around the winery - gorgeous reds and yellows. From there we biked to Buena Vista Winery, from 1857, which was pretty unique. Lastly we biked to Gundlach Bundschu. Their vineyard was huge and they had this great outdoor space near the tasting room. We made our way back to the bike store and then walked around the Sonoma square shops for a while. We had heard really good things about the restaurant Girl & the Fig, so we stopped in for an afternoon snack. That night we ate at a really good Italian restaurant in Petaluma - Cucina Paradiso.
We checked out of our hotel the next morning and drove out to the coast. For a couple years we had been hearing about Spud Point Crab Co, so we had to go check it out. We drove out to Bodega Bay Spud Point Marina. It was pretty cold and raining, but we got out to enjoy the views for a bit. Then we finally got our chance to try out the crab sandwich...and yes they completely lived up to all of the hype! When can we go back for another one?! We explored the bay a little more, stopped in at a taffy shop and then drove up the coast on Hwy 1 headed towards Muir Wood National Park. We enjoyed the scenery, the countryside, the cows, the ocean, etc along the way. As we passed by Stinson beach it looked really nice, so we stopped there to stretch our legs.
We made it to Muir Wood National Park and thankfully the rain stopped so we could enjoy our hike. The redwood trees were pretty amazing, and I just had a field day taking pictures of all the trees, moss and creeks. I was testing out my new camera on this trip, so in the darkness of the park, it made for a great learning experience to attempt to get a decent picture!
That ended our great girl's weekend trip! We drove back to San Francisco and caught our flights back home the next day. Until next time wine country...
Check out some more photos from this trip here - Sonoma & Napa Photos
October 18-23, 2012 - Oahu, Hawaii
My friend, Barb, and I were working in Los Angeles and decided to take a girl's trip to Oahu for a long weekend. We stayed in Waikiki at the Moana Surfrider hotel. On our first day we started in the morning by going to Pearl Harbor, but the wait to get on one of the boats was over 2 hours. So we decided to come back later. We set out with no real direction, just driving up the coast. We ended up at Ka'ena Point Trial, where we parked and enjoyed a walk along the coast. The views were just amazing, with the waves crashing against the rocks. In the afternoon we made our way back to Pearl Harbor and got a ticket to take the boat out to the USS Arizona Memorial, which was definitely worth the visit! We walked through a couple of the museums and then headed back to our hotel. We had heard about the Mai Tais at the Royal Hawaiian, so of course we had to go get one and watch the sunset. For dinner we found a great sushi restaurant, Doraku Sushi.
The next day we headed over to Diamond Head Crater. We took the trail to the top, which was fairly strenuous, not to mention it was really hot! But the views from the top were definitely worth the effort! We enjoyed hanging out at the lookout for a while, taking some great panoramic pictures, then made our way back down. After that we basically made a whole day out of looking through the guidebook and just working our way up the coast to the North Shore. We stopped at Lanikai Juice, Kailua Beach, Sunset Beach, a macadamia farm and had the best food ever at Giovanni's Shrimp Truck! That night back in Waikiki we ate dinner at A House Without a Key. They had live music and a hula dancer - it was very nice.
On our last day I decided I was going to try Paddle Boarding. I found an offer for a private lesson just down from our hotel and said why not! It was actually much harder than I anticipated...especially with the beach waves! But my instructor was good and very funny (and crude at the same time), so it was a fun experience. I definitely had my share of falls, but by the end I finally started to get the hang of it. I will have to try it again one day...maybe in some calm water! That afternoon we relaxed by the beach, did some souvenir shopping, had another Mai Tai at sunset, and finished our trip off with dinner at the Hula Grill.
Check out some more photos from this trip here - Oahu Photos
July 21, 2012 - Houston, Texas
I live in Houston and on this weekend I decided to take a kayaking tour with Buffalo Bayou Kayak Tours. We started at Memorial Park and paddled our way through Buffalo Bayou Park and down to Sabine Street for a total of 8 miles. It was my first time kayaking - a fun experience!