Saturday, June 20, 2015

A Brit in California: Road Trippin'

We in the Golden State!

After 5 years of being together, I'd actually never brought the Boy back with me to California until this year. I know, it seems silly that I never have, but I had multiple reasons:

  • I wanted to come for at least 2 weeks, which is tough to squeeze in during this time of friends' weddings and other work/travel commitments.
  • I knew when I brought him back I'd have to introduce him to the entire family (I wanted to, it's important, but logistically difficult).
  • I was a bit selfish and wanted to hang out with my girlfriends on my own time, go shopping and sale hunting (utter torture for the Boy).
  • Spend time with my relatives and parents without the pressure of having to ensure the Boy was also comfortable (you know how it is). 
  • I wanted to make sure it was the Best Trip Ever!
Anyways, the point being, it had been 5 years, we were getting married this year and I still hadn't shown him the great state of California, where I had grown up, along with all the lovely details that come with it. So it was time and so I made up an itinerary that was jam-packed with some of my favorite bits of California. Plus, one of my best friends was getting married, what a fantastic excuse!

Saturday, June 13 : Arrival

Arrived in SFO. Rented a convertible but they didn't have the Mustang we reserved...they only had a Mini.  Used a nifty app to a place to sleep (I know, not very prepared). Went out to see the Golden Gate Bridge, had some much-needed coffee to kick the jet lag, met friends for dinner and drinks and checked out some cool bars! We got properly tipsy and ate late night pizza; I'd say it was a successful night and only suffered mildly in the morning when I had to switch our car the next morning. #hungover >.<

Sunday, June 14 : SF and Family

Switched cars in the morning while the Boy slept it off and had the perfect girl chat with Kitty. Toured around SF for barely a bit before meeting our family for dinner in Oakland. Really wish we had more time to hang out and show him around properly; I didn't even get to show him Lombard Street or ride a cable car!

Graffiti art in Oakland

My Aunty Nicki got us these cute Disney hats!

The Family

Monday, June 15: Napa

Our basic setup in the convertible...not the most comfortable road trip vehicle but makes up for in style.
The Boy enjoys his wine, so naturally I had to take him to Napa.  Also awesomely, my cousin was free to join us since he had just graduated, woo! I have to say, Uber was a total game-changer in going from winery to winery.

Our main agenda was to eat lunch and dinner at these two restaurants: Bistro Jeanty for lunch and Bottega for dinner with wineries in between.

Bistro Jeanty and their ridiculously amazing tomato bisque.

If you ever go to Bistro Jeanty, get the tomato bisque! It's baked in this perfect, flakey, croissant-like pastry that is just scrumptious to dip in the creamy soup!

Another delicious dish at Bistro Jeanty
We stayed at this B&B called Lavender, which is in Yountville (and very near to Bistro Jeanty and Bottega) and was so, so's a shame that we barely spent any time in it.

We stayed at this cute B&B called Lavender in Yountville.
Nearing sunset and on our way to dinner
Enjoying the gardens of French Laundry

June 16-18th : Yosemite

Yosemite was a sudden change in our initial itinerary and the Boy suddenly really wanted to see it. I have to admit, I've driven through it (I think?) but never stayed in the park.

Dude, can I just say that Yosemite is flippin' WOW? The convertible was so worth getting just for the views. We stayed at Yosemite Lodge by the Falls, which had a great location and view in the park, it was definitely an experience. We saw deer in the morning from our room and went stargazing from the convertible (again, so worth it).

Where we're standing used to be a lake =/

Deer feeling suspicious

Like a Vogue model, right?
We also had breakfast at the Ahwanee Hotel which is this gorgeous, historical hotel in the middle of the woods. The dining hall itself had these huge glass windows which showed the outside lawns and trees, which we took a stroll around afterwards. A wedding here would be absolutely stunning.

Beautiful morning sunlight after breakfast

Afterwards, we did a hike up Mist Trail to see Vernal Falls. It was pretty crowded going up at first, but it thinned out later. 

Surprised we were able to capture the rainbow
We packed sandwiches and had a relaxing lunch break where we took photos and Jeanine and Jon went for a rebellious swim (apparently we did not see the signs saying "No Swimming").

Way too thexy.

That water was pretty cold!

It would have been easy to stay for a full week here. Hopefully "next time."

After Yosemite, Jon has to leave us and we made our way over to Monterey Bay where two of our other cousins live.

I just wanted to point out that this gas station on our way out from Yosemite officially had the highest price of gas I've ever seen: over $6 a gallon!!  I expected to be pay a lot since it's at the top of a mountain coming out of a national park but WOW.

June 18th : Monterey Bay Aquarium and Point Lobos

Two of my cousins live near Monterey Bay, which is awesome because I've always wanted to show Boy the amazing aquarium. It's one of my favorite places in the world and always has these great exhibits going on. You can really tell how much thought, time and passion goes into their creative exhibits to really showcase the animals and appreciate the underwater world.

Because we also wanted to check out Point Lobos, my cousin took us on a leisurely walk (avoiding the poison oak) before dinner time.  Isn't it amazing how blue the water looks? I'm always amazed that it looks like a tropical island (though definitely not as warm).

We finished up by meeting up with my other cousin all together for an Italian dinner and then stayed the night at Addy's.

June 19th : Highway 1 - PCH

My favorite breakfast in Monterey Bay
We woke up early and grabbed breakfast with my cousins again before taking off on our full day of driving. I love this breakfast place in Monterey Bay which has all kinds of great pancakes and does the American breakfast in a solid way.

The inspiration for renting a convertible in the first place was for this very drive through Big Sur and along PCH. I wanted to give us time to make as many stops as we wanted and just enjoy the gorgeous day.

Stunning views

Can you believe this is California and not some tropical island?


Why didn't this come out as thexy as I imagined?

My sister parted ways with us in Santa Barbara and we continued on our way down to LA and made remarkable time on a Friday! I was able to catch one of my best friends, Cassie, for the evening, which was awesome and such good timing as I ended up not being able to see her for the rest of my trip.

June 20th : Wedding Day!

So actually, the main reason I decided to come to California at this time was for one of my closest friends' wedding! Amazingly, they had decided to have it at our alma mater, UC San Diego, a seriously a gorgeous campus.

*I didn't post any photos of the wedding due to privacy!

We were able to walk around downtown La Jolla for a bit before I drove us around our giant campus, where I was so jealous to see how much had been built (and what I'm now missing out on, drat!).  The Boy was stunned at our facilities, which made me realize how much I did not appreciate my university when I was here. Typical. Sigh.

I'd like to mention that we finally gave the Boy his first In N Out Burger! After years of hype and every Californian bragging about our perfect burger, he was ready to be unimpressed.

Boy trying his first In N Out
I'd like to report that he gave it a seal of approval, "It's pretty good, actually."

That's British speak for, "That's really tasty and delicious."

And that's where I'm going to stop for now as this post concludes the first half of our road trip!
*This post was written October, 19, 2015 but back-dated to June.

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