To my best friend since diapers: Sending you a whole lotta birthday love from Texas! See you soon!
If we had a dollar for every person that suggested, encouraged, bribed, begged and pleaded that we go to Vegas on this trip; we’d be on a flight to Tahiti right now. For some reason, Vegas had never interested or intrigued us. When we started planning our trip, it wasn’t even in the cards. For several reasons. 1. We didn’t think we could afford it on the budget we were on and 2. We just had no interest in spending time there when we could be exploring other cities.
Cut to Sunday night (11/17). It got to the point where we had to sit down and have the “official” conversation of what is next; where are we going tomorrow? Maps askew in front of us, lists and thoughts scattered, we were analyzing different routes and ways to make it to the Grand Canyon. Everything seemed to point to us going through Vegas. Cate turned to Michelle and said “ok, fine we will have to drive through it. We can take some pictures and then be on our way.”
And then it happened. Jessie and Matt said it just like everyone else we have talked to – “you two are crazy NOT to go to Vegas. Just got for one night. Do it.”
We turned to each other, did a quick internet hotel search and there it was.
We were going to Vegas for a night. We were really really doing this.
We left California Monday morning and prepared ourselves for the pretty uneventful drive to Vegas, arriving mid afternoon. We decided that this would be a little bit of a “splurge” night for us, a treat. We found an amazingly cheap rate at Mandalay Bay hotel and we were set.
We played all our “Vegas” favorites driving into Nevada and approaching the strip. “Yeah, Yeah, Yeah” from the Hangover, “Waking up in Vegas” in honor of Katy Perry, some Frank Sinatra and Elvis thrown in. Is this really happening? It’s happening. We are in Nevada.
View from our room, waking up in Vegas…
We spent the afternoon at the pool, well, in the hot tub soaking it all in and meeting some really cool new friends. Apparently the Vegas Rock and Roll marathon was the evening before and everyone around us seemed to be recouping from the run. Loved meeting you two inspiring mama’s!
Simply put: WE LOVED VEGAS.
It was a little quiet being off season and a Monday night, but, the energy was still there and it was infectious and alluring. We had dinner at one of those crazy buffets (can we really drink all this wine and eat all this food and not pay you more money?), we walked and walked and walked, played some slots (ok, lots of slots), saw a great band, popped in and out of casino after casino, enjoyed the holiday decorations and displays at Caesars, Borgata and the Venician, met Elvis, danced in the streets and searched high and low for Barry Manilow. No success.
As we were approaching the Borgata to check out the water show, we couldn’t believe our ears. Is that, Pat Mcgee? As in THE Pat McGee Band singing over the loud speakers in Vegas. Why, yes, yes, it was. As you may remember, Michelle and I met 11 years ago thanks to PMB (and our friend Steve!). Had to send him this video….
We spent the next day walking around, taking in “day Vegas,” checking out the famous welcome sign, and of course, no trip to Vegas is complete without stopping by the little white chapel(s). We were amazed how many people were there, not to take a picture like us, but to actually get married. I think we counted 5 separate couples in the 10 minutes we were there. One even went through the drive thru line!
As we were just about to leave Mandalay Bay, Cate turned to Michelle and said “let’s just play one more slot game. Just one more before we go.” And what do you know, Michelle wins $42.40 on the penny slots. A tank of gas? We will take it! Oh, and if you were curious, yes, Cate won a whopping .20 cents and .15 cents. Golly gee.
Vegas, you were very very cool. We are sorry we doubted you and know that we will be back to see you again soon. And to all our friends and family……you were right.
Before we get started on the second part of our SoCal adventures, we have to disclose that California really stole our hearts. Really really stole our hearts. But, I digress….
San Clemente (Fri. 11/15-Mon. 11/18):
Cate’s oldest and best childhood friend, Jessie, has been living in San Clemente for about six years with her husband Matt. (Matt and Jessie and Cate all grew up together in Potomac. Jessie and Cate lived across the street from each other, went to school together, etc. Matt was a pool-rat with us every summer and then in high school Jessie and Matt started dating and have been together ever since).
Although Cate had seen Jessie and Matt on several trips to Cali over the years, it was her first time seeing their awesome cozy house. We walked in and within 2 minutes Jessie said to Cate, “We have a present for you.” Cate looking around the room, clearly confused, looks back at Jessie as she grabs Cate’s hand and does this:
A BABY!! Congrats Matt and Jess. Cannot wait to meet that sweet little burrito in your belly.
Our time in San Clemente was very relaxing and it was so nice to have a base for a few days that allowed us to take some day trips to the surrounding neighborhoods. Jessie and Matt spoiled us rotten as did their friend Wendy who was visiting. Wendy, you fed us all so graciously and simply. Can you come cook for us wherever we move? We are still craving those cookies and those tatter skins! Jessie and Matt, thank you for making us feel so at home. And, of course, for all the loads of laundry! And the laughs, oh the laughs….
How about these flowers from the cutest little flower stand we found in San Clemente?
Saturday was spent in Laguna Beach exploring and meeting our new friend Hill. About a month ago, Hill “liked” one of our photos on Instagram and had reached out to us about our trip. He sent us a kind note explaining what an inspiration we were and if we ever made it to Laguna to let him know, he would love to give us a tour. We kept in touch with Hill throughout our trip and were looking forward to meeting him and getting the insiders guide to Laguna Beach.
Hill, you really need to think about going into tour guide services! We had such a blast with you, seeing the beaches, the views, learning about the town and also your journey to Laguna from Texas via the south. We so look forward to coming back to Laguna and seeing you again very soon. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
We were meeting Cate’s college friend Katie and her husband for drinks Saturday night, and, after many location and time changes, we finally agreed on The Deck in Laguna. We arrived before Katie and Andrew, so we sat at the bar for a drink and to enjoy the sunset. As our good luck would have it, we ended up sitting across from Nick, Doug and Karen. Doug and Karen had just relocated from Arizona for work and Nick lives in LA, though frequents Laguna often. We instantaneously connected with these three and had such a blast talking life, California and more life. Thank you so much for sharing your stories with us and for continuing to follow our journey. We hope to see you again soon!
Drinks turned into dinner and we found ourselves sitting outside on the deck – of THE Deck – with Katie and Andrew for hours and hours. So much to catch up on, many laughs to be had and future plans were being shared. Katie and Andrew, where do we even begin with you two crazy rabbits? Your laughter and energy are infectious. We left dinner wanting more more more and more time with you two. And, nice work on the Vegas sales pitch….
Sunday was football day of course. But, not before a little treat to ourselves. Two months of slugging bags, in and out of cars, shlepping in Stella, our backs have been really feeling it. We decided that after two months, it was time to treat ourselves to a massage. Dreamy!
Jessie and Matt invited us to a football party at their friend Mike and Denise’s house with all their friends. Taco bar night, absolutely kick arse house, fun people, how better to close out our amazing week in California. Jessie and Matt, you are surrounded by an incredible group of friends. We so loved meeting your crew and learning more about who you hang out with when we are not around. And what a crew it is. We hope to find the same close knit fun group wherever we end up. Thank you for sharing them with us for the time being. P.s. Denise and Mike, we LOVE your house!!!
Sunday night was our last sleep in California for some time. It is hard to explain how deeply we fell for you Cali, how grateful we are for you taking us in and letting us be Cali girls for a week. As we said, we fell so deeply in love with you and you have our hearts. Still.
Oh, and did you really think we were going to leave Cali without doing this?!?!
Dear Friends and Family,
We hope you are cozy with your friends and family, wherever in this world you may be today. We hope you are surrounded by love, by joy and laughter.
There is so much to be thankful for this year. We want to take this moment to thank YOU, every single one of you. For your support, your blessings, your encouragement, your ideas, your messages, you opening your homes and hearts, your love.
We would not be where we are today on this journey without you and for that we are profoundly and deeply grateful.
I know we have been a bit out of touch and we promise to get you updated on our last two weeks through Arizona and New Mexico. We are spending this holiday with friends, new and old, here in Austin, Texas.
With so much to be thankful for this year, we made the decision to spend our Thanksgiving giving back to Austin. This morning we volunteered with Operation Turkey to prepare over 8,000 meals for the less fortunate here in Austin. 2,000 alone in just the location we were working at. The better part of our morning was spent driving through Austin delivering freshly prepared Thanksgiving meals to those that would otherwise go without.
As we drove through the streets, we met a brave man with so much positivity and light whose optimism was infectious. He introduced us to his dog Sister Soldier who guides him every day. We met a man who just wanted something to drink today; a water, a juice, a soda. We met a man who after we offered him a meal said to us “I already received one today. God bless you,” and encouraged us to give it to the next man in need. We met a mother who just wanted to provide something to her three kids.
It was not just placing these meals in their hands. It was seeing the thousands of volunteers that gathered together to make it all happen. The seven year old girl helping her dad hand out dog food to the volunteers going on delivery runs. It was the man volunteering his time and directing traffic for us to pick up our prepared meals for delivery. It was the countless volunteers we passed and waved to on the streets, who as well were making sure everyone felt a little more special today. A little more loved.
It was a community. It was a family. It was Thanksgiving.
We send you love and joy and peace and hugs on this day and every day.
Cate and Michelle
Monday, November 11th – Monday, November 18th:
We spent a week in Southern California visiting different ‘hoods, spending time with family and friends and catching the rays. Here is a run down of our SoCal week, part 1:
Venice Beach (Mon. 11/11-Wed.11/13):
A good friend of Cate’s family, Manny and his husband live in Venice Beach and they welcomed us to stay for a few days. Unfortunately, Donald was away for work, so selfishly we got Manny all to ourselves. There are few people in this world funnier than Manny. He has a way with words, with his delivery, with his expressions that just leave you curled over in laughter and tears. Manny “became” part of the family when he and Cate’s aunt Amy met years and years ago in California. It was fun to reminisce of “the good ‘ole days” and the memories we each have. One of Manny’s favorites is the time that he came to Munich, Germany when Cate was just 6 months old to stay with her family (Cate was born in Germany and lived there until she was 2). His intention was to visit for a few days, but with Oktoberfest and the Mayer way, he stayed for nearly two weeks. That’s how we do it in this family.
We shared some amazing stories, obviously some huge laughs, delicious meals and we cannot wait to come back for more. Manny, you made us feel so welcome and so loved and we are so so grateful to have spent a few days with you. Oh, and to Willis and Rita, you sassy two pooches, we love you too. We know how you need as much attention as your daddy, keep your pops in shape until we are back.
Venice Beach is, in one word, groovy! Lots of eclectic personalities and styles, lots of art and great people watching.
Also, timing was once again on our side. Cate’s friend, Gus Harper, lives in Venice and it had been a few years since she had seen him. Gus is a genius, immensely talented artist whose work we find to be very inspiring and uplifting. He was heading out of town for the week, we were just arriving, we had a three hour window of time we were going to overlap. Gus, thanks for having us over to your studio to see your recent work, to catch up and for the laughs. We loved hanging with you and look forward to coming back again soon.
Santa Monica for the day:
Santa Monica is only a few miles from Venice Beach. We decided to bike over from Venice Beach to SM for the day to explore, have some lunch and see our friend Ben. Manny and Donald had bikes that we borrowed, but keep in mind a) they had not ridden them in a long time and b) Manny and Donald are much taller than us. You know that phrase, “it’s just like getting back on the bike?”. Yah, now I (Cate), know exactly first hand what that means. It had been some time since I was behind the handlebars and peddling away, it took a little time to get used to it. Practice, three falls, and knocking another biker off the path; but who’s counting. I think Michelle’s most poignant statement of this trip was when she said 5 minutes into our ride “this is the day I am glad we both have health insurance.” Exactly.
We walked up and down the iconic Santa Monica Pier, played kids for a day and took a ride on the Ferris Wheel. Walked all around Santa Monica, past the Ivy (one of Cate’s favorite places) and stumbled upon a delicious restaurant called True Food Kitchen. The food was amazingly fresh and delicious. Would go back in a heart beat.
Lucky enough for us, our friend Ben (you know Ben by know…NYer, met in South Dakota, met up again in Oregon, on his journey across the USA…) was in Santa Monica for a few days visiting some friends. We met up with him down on the beach to see one of the most breathtaking sunsets of our trip. The sun sinking into the crimson, crisp orange sky in front of us and behind us the sky turned a mixture of teal, purple and cotton candy pink with the palm trees poking above. It was unreal. Another one of those moments you just can’t capture fully on camera.
Anaheim, California (Wednesday 11/13):
Our friend Dave’s (whom we stayed with in LA, see previous post) mom Thelma has been a big cheerleader for us on this trip and been following our whereabouts since day 1. She invited us to stay with her in Anaheim for a night when we got to California and we couldn’t wait to catch up and spend some time with her. We had so much fun seeing all their family’s local stomping grounds. A delicious dinner at Mama Cozzas. Thelma shared the history of the restaurant and that this used to be the place the boys used to come in high school. And then came the dancing. The Ranch had just opened in Anaheim within the last year and is a very traditional, very formal part restaurant part saloon. You feel like you are taken immediately to a country western saloon in Texas. The saloon features a combination of live country music and DJ playing the best country in the country (get it?). Everyone is in cowboy boots and cowboy hats, jeans and big belt buckles. We stood out slightly as we weren’t necessarily dressed like country dancers. Oh well, next time I will shine my cowboy boots for the occasion. The best part is that throughout the night there is two step, country swing, line dancing. The DJ will come on and announce what the dance of the moment is and you can find your partner and swing round and round. It was so fun watching everyone on the dance floor, some of the folks were really really good. And, then, we got our turn. Such a fun time.
Oh, and then there was the time the bouncers thought Cate’s ID was fake…
Thelma, we cannot tell you how comfortable and at home you made us feel. We felt like we were out with one of our own moms. Your energy, passion for life and joy is infectious. Just being around you makes us so so happy. We so wish we had more time to hang out and chat, go through photos, and share laughs (and dances!). We will be back soon, we promise and more fun times ahead. We love you mama Thelma!
Oh, and Dave’s letterman jacket and helmet hiding in the closet? We found it, don’t worry!
We drove to Manhattan and Hermosa beach to check out the hoods and take Cate’s friend Abbie up on a amazing lunch suggestion at North End Cafe in Manhattan Beach. Soooo yummy!
Huntington Beach (Thurs. 11/14):
Cate’s aunt Andre and Cate’s cousin Lucy have lived in California for the last 18 years. In fact, the last time Cate was in Petaluma was to see Lucy shortly after she was born! They recently moved from Newport to Huntington and invited us to stay for a night. They had just moved into their new home less than a week before our arrival. We LOVE your new home, hope you are settling in more and more as the time passes.
It’s been over 10 years since Cate had seen Andre and Lucy and so loved catching up with you amazing ladies. Lucy, a senior in high school, is in the midst of college applications and decisions. We remember that time as if it was yesterday (although for us, far far from yesterday), the excitement and anticipation. Lucy, your love for life and excitement about all that surrounds you is such an inspiration. We loved spending some time with you and hope we can do it again soon!
You know there are some people you meet and when you meet them, instantaneously you know they are going to have an impact on your life. But, you don’t know why or how or when? For us, those are our friends Dave and Brad.
A snippet of history. We met Dave and Brad about four years ago. Michelle had met them at a Dave Matthews concert (both Dave and Brad were working for the band at the time). They were in town (NYC) and were all going to be going out with some friends and had invited Michelle and I for some drinks. I (Cate) had no idea what we were getting into or who these people were. Little did we know that night was the beginning of a friendship that would evolve over the years. Dave and Brad are those friends you can see every now and then and it’s like no time has passed. You can catch up right where you left off. While we have hung out with them many many times over the last four years, we have never really had “down” time with them to really hang, REALLY chat, see what life was like off the road and to really have some enormously big laughs together.
Dave and Brad were heading out of town for a friends birthday but graciously let us crash at their house (aka the Casa de Banditos) for a few days while they were gone. We used this time to catch up on some much needed sleep, soaked up the rays from their lime tree lined yard and to make some home cooked meals. Oh, and they believe in decorative gourd season too. Heaven!
Cate shared one of her LA favorites with Michelle – Joan’s on Third; which now Michelle is a believer in as well.
Brad and Dave’s location is perfect. You can walk to anything and everything. Including, the farmers market. Note to self: must live near farmers market in next location. While at the farmers market we decided we wanted to not only cook dinner, but bake cupcakes. And, while we were at it, let’s buy these gorgeous tea roses and put them around the house. Guys, totally love that right? (ehem, DD your secret is out, we know you love flowers…)
Saturday night started as a quiet night in. Cate was thrilled to be cooking fresh fish from the market, the wine was flowing and great tunes were echoing throughout the house.
A pretty spectacular dance party followed dinner, along with a sing along session to all the worst tunes possible. Then came the cupcake making; a few glasses of wine in. The recipe called for melted butter. Great. But, wait…there is no microwave? So, being resourceful and creative, we had a genius idea to melt the butter. Check out the video:
A Sunday for the Record Books
Back from their birthday fiestas (note the spanish there boys), it was time to plan and prepare our Sunday Funday feast. Brad, a brilliant chef, decided the theme for the night would be “trashy but tasty” (or something along those lines). Cate was enlisted to help Brad at the grocery store while Michelle was in charge of being Dave’s picture hanger helper. Both challenges accepted.
Where do we even begin with you two? The meal was one of the best we have had on this trip. Not just because the menu was spectacular, the food tasty and perfectly garnished, but because of you two individuals.
You not only opened your house to us, but you really opened your home to us. You allowed us to be us. You allowed us to share stories of our trip, you listened as we shared some big life challenges and fears and joys. You listened with open ears and open hearts. You shared your stories. You fed us until we couldn’t breathe. We danced, we stretched, we played hangman, we dressed up as banditos. We FaceTimed from room to room. We opened wine bottles that would set records, we sang Frank Sinatra. We shared a night that left a lasting impression on our hearts.
We are so honored and lucky to be able to have spent this time with you and know that we treasure you two so deeply. Our abs were sore from the laughter, our bellies were so full we could barely button our pants, and our hearts were bursting at the seams.
And our eyes. Our eyes were filled with tears as we had to say goodbye. But, just for now.
There aren’t words we can find to express our gratitude to you two amazing banditos. We are very very lucky to have you in our lives and call you our friends.
Simply put, THANK YOU. We love you.
Thursday, November 7th – Monday, November 11th:
We hauled our little booties from San Fran to LA in order to see some friends that were in town for the weekend and for a very memorable and special occasion. Mariska Hargitay (Cate’s former boss) was receiving her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and we were honored and thrilled to have been there to celebrate and honor her accomplishments.
We spent several days in LA. The weather could not have been more perfect, the sun was shining down and it felt great to be in flip flops again. And, of course, to catch up with so many of our friends….
Old Friends and New Friends Come Together:
So great catching up with our friends Diana and Ali at Kings Road Cafe. Nothing like a little Sunday brunch in sundresses with the best coffee in town. And the best girls in town. Oh and Cate’s friend Matthew joined in for some java and gabs. Love this guy. We loved seeing you ladies and Matthew!
We spent some time visiting Michelle’s old co-worker from Sears and her adorable 15 month old son. We had so much fun catching up with you and watching that sweet boy pick tomatoes straight from the tree in your backyard. We’re coming back for dinner and more laughs!
What’s your dream? What’s your dream?
Pretty Woman, being one of our favorite movies of all time; how could you not get to Hollywood and just scream out “what’s your dream, what’s your dream.” Great afternoon at the Griffith Observatory and the views of this baby.
And, to top it off, the weather was so absolutely spectacular, we got to let Stella drive around with her top down!
November 5th and 6th:
We spent two days in the lovely, one and only, San Francisco. This was Michelle’s first time visiting the Bay area and Cate’s first time back in about 15 years. For Cate, it felt like the city had grown exponentially in people, things and space. Could it be that I am more aware of “life” now that I was back then? Possible.
We spent our days exploring the different neighborhoods, visiting markets, praying that Stella made it up the various gargantuan hills, listening to the sea lions roar on the bay, hoping we didn’t end up in Alcatraz and gazing at the various views of the Golden Gate bridge. And, of course, singing the Full House theme song at Alamo Square (whatever happened to predictability? The milkman, the paperboy, the evening TV…)
Thank you so much to Paul and Catharine for welcoming us into your absolutely gorgeous history filled home. Catharine and Cate’s aunt, Amy, are best friends from way back in the day. Although Cate seemed to have forgotten (until she got back into the house), she was at Catharine and Paul’s house for her aunt Amy’s wedding. She walked in and saw the staircase and exclaimed “wait, I have been here. I have my picture at that staircase!” It was much fun to catch up with Catharine and Paul after all these years and share story after story. Thank you again!
Here are some highlights from our San Fran adventure:
November 3rd and 4th:
We spent Sunday and Monday exploring Napa and Sonoma. A dream for both of us come true. We have had many friends (and family) visit these two unbelievable regions of our country, but this was a first for both of us. It is quite possible that we could have spent our three month journey alone in just Napa and Sonoma, and still probably not get to every winery, tasting room and vineyard.
We started in Napa and were overwhelmed by the beauty of the rolling vineyards, the smell of the grapes fermenting as we drove through and the sun beaming down giving the entire setting this euphoric and romantic glow. And, the weather could not have been more perfect. We could not think of a better location to drive Stella with her top down, so that is just what we did.
Thank you so much to our friends and family that sent us recommendation after recommendation and idea after idea of places to go, see and taste. It is very clear we surround ourselves with people that enjoy wine as much as we do!
In between visiting the vineyards in Napa, we stopped into the Oxbow Public Market. The minute we walked in, Cate was taken back to her days in Europe visiting the many many artisanal markets she loved so much. Oxbow is an closed (roof), yet, open market filled with restaurants, wine tastings, bars, food vendors and more. We wanted to spend all day here! Spices, teas, oysters, cheeses, wine, drink concoctions, serving dishes, cupcakes, vegetables and fresh produce and olive oils, OH MY!
Our friends Richie and Shannon are huge Napa visitors and know the ins and outs and places to go. Richie had set us up for a tasting at Ladera. The wine was divine, the setting spectacular and we loved learning about the family story of purchasing the land and creating the vineyard it is today.
We stopped at several other vineyards in Napa including Brix, Mumm’s, Stag’s Leap, Silver Oak, and the list goes on. While we didn’t taste everywhere we went, it was fun to just drive and walk through all the different wineries and vineyards.
As the sun was beginning to go down for the day, we headed over to the Sonoma Square to take a quick walk around (we would be back tomorrow!). The main square is such a fun area to walk around, shop after shop, tasting rooms, restaurants, cheese shops and of course, more wine wasting rooms.
Sunset in Napa:
As we were window shopping in town we came across Eric K James tasting room and decided to pop in. This small “micro-winery” only produces 40 barrels a year and their vineyards are located on the Sonoma Valley floor just minutes away. What makes them unique is that they only sell from their tasting room. They do not sell to restaurants and stores. Kind of a cool concept to keep the wine intimate and personal.
We loved spending some time with Robert, tasting the delicious wine, learning more about him and his journey through the wine making process. Robert even let us play a little music for the fellow guests in the room! Robert, you are a blast, we love the personal touches you have done to the room and your zest and passion for what you do.
On Monday taking the scenic drive from Petaluma up the 101 to 12 and down through Santa Rosa, Glen Ellen into Sonoma.
Cate’s friend T.J had highly suggested we stop at Benzinger Family Winery in Glen Ellen. They are all about three things: great wine, family and healthy vineyards. The minute you walk onto the vineyard, you know something is different. You are overwhelmed with this feeling of family, community and collective happiness. Everyone that works there loves their job, loves to be part of this community and it is so overwhelmingly evident.
Benzinger is also a biodynamic, organic and sustainable vineyard. After our tasting, we took some time to walk around the vineyard and learn more about the biodynamic process, very very interesting. Oh, and did we mention that they have chickens and animals galore on the farm?
As we drove through Sonoma, dare we say it, we pondered the “could we live here? life would be so amazing here…” The scenery is just breathtaking, the wine unbelievable, and there is no way you cannot be happy in Sonoma.
We had an amazingly delicious lunch at The Girl and the Fig (you must go if you are in Sonoma!), and spent some more time walking around the main plaza. Here is a fun fact: Sonoma City Hall is located in the middle of the square and looks exactly the same from all four sides. It was built this way so that no one would ever have to look at the “back” of the building. Kind of a genius concept, no?
We had a spectacularly gorgeous drive from Crater Lake back to the Oregon Coast and down the 101 into one of our favorite states – California!
Here is a video of us crossing over the boarder. We apologize, we get a little wacky after several hours in the car…
Can you feel the excitement?
We decided to stay the night in Crescent City at the edge of the Redwoods. It was starting to get dark and extremely foggy and we knew we weren’t going to see anything if we kept driving, so we called it a night. Crescent City doesn’t have too much to offer besides some delicious chicken picatta we had for dinner and a comfortable bed and great shower water pressure.
We were on the road again early Saturday (11/2) on route to Petaluma, CA. The beginning of the drive was through the Redwoods. It had rained the night before, it was raining a bit throughout our drive, the fog was coming in, the forest felt like a magical wonderland out of a story. Check out this video:
Our small little car weaving up and down the curvy roads with the enormous redwoods towering above us, every now and then the sunbeam shining down on us.
We pulled into Lady Bird Johnson Park and spent some time walking around before heading over to the Avenue of the Giants. We could not, and still cannot, get over how enormous those trees are. Absolutely stunning and breathtaking.
Down the 101 we drove through some great towns including Eureka which we drove around for a bit, and loved. Garberville was interesting, to say the least. We needed to get gas and use the potty, Garberville was the closest next stop. Driving in was like taking a step back to the 60s. Dreads everywhere, bell bottoms, smell of incense and lots and lots of backpackers. It’s as if all the backpackers on the west coast came here at the very same time and decided to sit on the corner together and just hang out. There must have been 30-40 of them. Very interesting to see.
Cate had been to Petaluma several times, this was Michelle’s first. That said, it has been a good 15 years since Cate has visited. We are staying tonight with Cate’s family friends Jane and Bill and their son Alex. Cate’s aunt Amy and Jane have been friends for over 30 years, they met while both living in San Fran as physical therapists. Jane and Amy were known as the “Gardenia Sisters.” It had been years and years since Cate had seen Jane and Bill (she saw Alex in Boston about 5 years ago) and was very excited to reconnect and catch up.
We felt right at home the minute we walked in. In fact, walking into the bathroom reminded Cate a lot of her aunt Amy’s house in San Francisco years and years ago with the black and white tiling and huge inviting bathtub. We spent our first night in Petaluma out to dinner with Alex, who is our age and back in Petaluma for a bit. A delicious Mexican meal was followed by sitting on the couch and not moving for hours and hours due to taco overload. We stayed up late into the night catching up with Jane and Bill and Alex, laughing until tears were coming down our face.
We decided to spend another night in Petaluma, using it as our base for a day trip to Sonoma and Napa (more on that later). Jane, Bill and Alex welcomed us so warmly, at several points we thought we were in our own homes with our parents. Jane reminds Cate so much of her aunt Amy and it is so apparent why they have been best friends for so many years. They are both so warm, comforting, caring, engaged and sweet.
Our second night in Petaluma was filled with more fun times with our extended California family over a delicious curry dinner. Jane and Bill’s daughter Lizzie who lives near by joined us for dinner. Such a fun night.
Jane and Bill, we really don’t know how to thank you for what you gave us during our stay. It wasn’t just the warm comfortable beds, the tea and coffee, Bill’s CDs and t-shirts (Bill’s a rock star, a real one!), the delicious meals (oh that bread!), the maps and directions, the cozy home you have built. You refilled our nearly empty tanks with your smiles, your story telling, your joke telling (Bill), your hugs and love. We felt so full leaving you, so rejuvenated and so so happy. Yet, at the same time, so sad. It was so hard to leave the fun times in Petaluma, but know we will be back (soon!).
We love you Sell’s!