Archive for April, 2012

SoCal

April 26, 2012

Our weekends continue to be a whirlwind of adventure and this past one was no different. Mark’s obsession with owning a BMW M Coupe has been coming to a head over the past few months and when he found one in the Los Angeles area that he was interested in test driving we made a trip out of it. Now LA is about a five and a half hour drive so it was quite a trek but we knew that we wouldn’t always have a legitimate excuse to visit SoCal so we decided to spend a day in Santa Monica.

While we were inland {in Pasadena} checking out the car it was 90 degrees and sunny, perfect for an afternoon at the beach {or so we thought}. Once we made it to the coast the weather was totally different: overcast, foggy and a chilly 60 degrees. Luckily we’ve already learned our lesson about the Pacific ocean’s cooling effects on coastal cities so we came prepared with pants, shoes and jackets.

In Santa Monica we walked from our hotel down to the pier on Venice Beach which had a very similar feel to the Boardwalk up north in Santa Cruz except it was about half the size. I was a little disappointed that we didn’t see anyone rollerblading along the beach but then again it wasn’t really warm enough for that yet…maybe in July or August.

On Sunday we checked out of our hotel and headed towards Beverly Hills for some sight-seeing. We drove down Rodeo Drive and Sunset Boulevard, scoped out some huge houses and failed to find the Hollywood sign in the hills thanks to a false Google maps pin.

We had lunch in Malibu with one of Mark’s college buddies and then headed back up north on the PCH along the coast. The views were pretty amazing and just before we reached Santa Barbara we saw some whales! There were a ton of people parked on the side of the road looking out towards the ocean so we stopped too and watched the family of 3-4 whales just a few hundred yards off the coastline. It’s much more difficult to spot them in the video than it was in person; the first five seconds are the best.

Though things didn’t work out with the M Coupe, Mark still got to drive one for the first time and we can now say that we’ve been to LA. The California countryside views along our route home didn’t hurt either :)

Santa Cruz

April 18, 2012

This past Sunday the weather was absolutely gorgeous, 70 degrees and not a cloud in the sky. We started off the day by visiting a new church, then after lunch we grabbed the frisbee and headed to the park. At around 4 o’clock we were trying to figure out what to do next and we decided that we wanted to go to the beach…so we did. Since we had already checked out Monterey we thought we’d try Santa Cruz, and away we went.

During the hour long drive we Googled the city and discovered that Santa Cruz is home to California’s oldest and most popular seaside amusement park called the Boardwalk. We parked there and had so much fun walking amongst the rides and games all while enjoying a great view of the beach. They had all of the classic theme park games, bumper cars, a gondola and a huge arcade.

We even found a little bit of Texas there in the form of a giant donut, but it still wasn’t as big as the super-sized one at Round Rock Donuts.

We had dinner at a pseudo Mexican restaurant on the pier and then headed back to the car, walking back through the Boardwalk on our way out. We stopped for ice cream at The Penny Ice Creamery which is an organic, artisan ice cream shop who makes their ice cream fresh every day from locally farmed ingredients. Their available flavors are different every day, constantly changing with the seasons; Mark got cookies & cream and I got chocolate sorbet and coffee chocolate chip. We try not to go super crazy on sweets but I’m so glad that we splurged here, everything was homemade down to the cookies in Mark’s cookies & cream and the waffle cones too…totally worth it!

I’m looking forward to visiting Santa Cruz again in the summer, playing some beach volleyball in the sun and hopping on some rides at the Boardwalk.

Saturday Market

April 16, 2012

For the second Saturday in a row now we have visited the San Ramon farmer’s market to buy the majority of our fruits and vegetables. It’s a great little scene, not too big and not too small, with about 7-8 produce vendors and an equal number selling everything from tamales to homemade soap.

We’ve made friends with the apple guy and the strawberry guy, both of which pass out samples non-stop. There are some items that are noticeably more fresh and flavorful out here, namely the avocados, strawberries, lemons and oranges.

On a completely random note, there is a family of 6 turkeys that live in the hills near our condos and it’s not uncommon for us to see them walking around the parking lot at least every other day. Mark gobbled at them one day and they gobbled back, it was one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen in my whole life! I’ll have to take a video next time…

Go And Do

April 13, 2012

About four months ago while visiting our favorite South Congress junk shop in Austin we bought three vintage flashcards which read “go and do” with the idea that we wanted this phrase to be our motto once we moved to California.

After unpacking all of the picture frames I grabbed the largest one that I had, put the flashcards inside and started building a photo wall layout around it. Once I had my collage of frames just right I transferred them onto a large piece of paper and traced each one, marking exactly where the nail would need to be to hang it. Then I taped the paper to the wall and simply hammered nails in through the paper on my marks.

After removing the paper all I had to do was hang the frames and make a few little adjustments. I found this method for hanging frames on another blog and I can’t believe I didn’t think of it before, it makes the process so easy!

With our flashcards setting the stage, the surrounding frames all include pictures or mementos from our various trips. Right now most of them are from Boston and Maine but over time they will begin to fill with accounts of our California adventures as well. I kind of like the idea of always having at least one empty frame on the wall, as if it’s waiting to be filled with something new…

Monterey

April 10, 2012

Thanks {again} to Mark’s work schedule we were able to take a quick mini trip to Monterey Bay last week. We stayed in a hotel near the beach, had a wonderful dinner at Restaurant 1883 and enjoyed the breathtaking views from the sands.

My handsome hub.

We were told that on a clear day you can see all the way across to the other side of the bay; no such luck for us but the view was still beautiful.

It was strange to be on a beach and not in a swim suit but the cool 65 degree weather was enjoyable as well. This whole exploring thing is starting to become a lot of fun!

Lake Tahoe – Truckee

April 7, 2012

One of the best parts about Mark’s new job is that his sales territory includes many of California’s popular vacation destinations including the Napa/Sonoma wine country, Monterey, Carmel and, possibly the greatest of all, Lake Tahoe. Being the super-smart husband that he is, Mark conveniently scheduled his Lake Tahoe customer visit for a Friday and we made a little weekend trip out of it.

We stayed at this amazing hotel in the small town of Truckee called the Cedar House Sports Hotel {don’t ask me why it’s called a “sports hotel” because I have no idea}. The architecture of the facility was beautiful and the rooms were very contemporary and eclectic, not to mention that the hotel is located just 5 minutes from the Northstar ski slopes.

We had a great time exploring the small town of Truckee where we ate at this old school diner called Jax at the Trax {which was apparently on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives}. Truckee is also where we met our very first stereotypically laid-back Californian; I kid you not, he said dude, right-on and totally at least 3 times each during our conversation about whether or not we should buy ski gear.

On our way out of town we stopped at Northstar to do some window shopping and we came dangerously close to spending a bunch of money, grabbing a lift ticket and hitting the slopes for a day. Instead, we decided to plan out a real ski trip in the fall where we could ski for a few days consecutively…boo for being responsible adults.

We stopped at a beach on the north side of the lake to take a few pictures and I still can’t believe how beautiful it was! The lake was an incredible deep blue, fading to teal near the shores and surrounded by snow-capped mountains. I can’t wait to come back and ski here in the fall!

In the City

April 4, 2012

While in California for a week prior to the move, after having already nailed down a place to live, Mark and I spent a day in downtown San Fran…our first of many, I’m sure.

We saw and did a handful of the typical touristy things while we were there including riding the cable cars…

…visiting Union Square for a little shopping…

…we ate a crab-filled lunch on Pier 39 and then hiked our way up Lombard street to get a view of Coit Tower…

…and on our way out of the city we drove across the Golden Gate Bridge. The majority of the day was beautifully sunny but just as we began to think to ourselves that living downtown might be fun, the fog and cold mist rolled in and I immediately regretted ever having such a thought. The fog was crazy thick, so thick that we could barely make out the bridge’s towers as we were driving over it.

We’ll definitely be visiting the city again in the future, hopefully the weather will be more cooperative. I’m looking forward to the summer months because apparently there is a free concert series that takes place in the city parks, kind of like Blues on the Green in Austin. This little excursion is surely the first of many more to come as we begin to explore the state and I even created a new category entitled California Adventures in which to put them all :)