Year Trip – 25 Days To Go

gorgeWe are getting ready for our year trip and for this trip my husband and I decided to use a new blogging site, which might help get more traffic and exposure. I am still learning how to use it but for now you can check out the new site here: http://www.yeartrip.net

This is the site we will chronicle all of our adventures, mishaps and tips that we feel important to share. Enjoy!

Thanks for reading!

Until next time,

kg

What do I want to be when I grow up?

This is a question my daughters ask me from time to time, and my first answer is always – ALIVE! I am just happy to be here and every day is a blessing, but what am I passionate about and what do I want to do when I am here and alive on the planet, well that is a very good question!

Lunch at the edge of nowhere.

Lunch at the edge of nowhere.

What I really, truly want to do is explore and share my experiences with people. I want to write about travel. Technically that is what I am doing, but I don’t do it enough, and I don’t get paid for it – that would be a nice little perk. But I also want to spend time with my family and watch my girls grow and learn and explore as well and really enjoy life while we can. Not just go along with the rat race that ends up being our daily lives – day in and day out, doing the same thing over and over again.

And because of that, Andrew and I are working on our “Year on the Road” plan. Also known as: The Gap Year. The Sabbatical. The “I need to take this trip or I need to move out of the country” trip. (We are still working out names). I believe it is important for everyone to leave the city that they grew up in for a little while, see new things, find some adventures and take some risks. My big trip was traveling through Europe after college graduation (that was a long time ago), this was one of the best and most memorable trips of my entire life – maybe that is because I met my husband, my soul mate, my best friend, and the person I love more than anything, on that trip! And he also loves to travel and explore and can use a little break from reality for a bit.

That’s the selfish part, we have Wanderlust and we want to see the world – or our entire country to start. We have talked about taking big trips like this a few times in our lives, but one thing or another keeps getting in our way, so this time, we are going for it! We also want to connect with our kids and give them an experience of a lifetime, we are not getting any younger and this world is going crazy, everyone is on devices all the time, connected to a screen, we have ADD, we are always trying to multi-tasking – it is craziness! We need to slow down and stop to breathe. We want to see the trees, hear the birds, smell the flowers, get out and SEE OUR WORLD. I know this will be an amazing, educational experience for our kids, we will learn so much while we are out there – more than they learn in the classroom. We will be learning in all aspects of our life on the road. And this will be something that they will always remember – and possibly the theme of their college essays or conversations with their future therapists. Either way, it will be time together as a family.

We understand that this trip is entirely possible and at the same time understand that there will be some challenges. We know that a lot of people think we are crazy (which is part of the reason we want to do it). We know there will be bumps along the road, but this is our goal: Our family of four will take 9-12 months, starting the summer of 2015 (exact dates TBD), living out of our truck camper traveling around the US & Canada, we would love to travel and explore with family and friends all over the country.  We invite anyone to come and travel with us, maybe we will come and camp in your driveway – Danny, Debbie, Houser Cousins. We would love to travel with you on your breaks – Skiing over Spring Break anyone? Let’s plan it. We are going to start mapping out our plan and we would love for Family and Friends to be part of that plan!

This is our goal and we are working towards it. This is my way of becoming a travel journalist. Starting in my 40th year (or 41st – however you look at it) I am going to start writing about it.  Please follow my blog, and keep us accountable. I will do my best to post at least once a week about what type of progress we are making towards our goal of living on the road.

Thank You Friends! I have had a wonderful birthday weekend and I am looking forward to many more amazing days ahead!

Lots of love!

Until Next Time, kg

—- https://untilnexttimekg.com/

The 3-Week Trip

Over the past few months, our family has been talking about our summer trip – which ended up being named “The 3-Week Trip”, Andrew and I had a lot of planning to do, what to bring, where exactly we would be going, what we needed for the camper, etc. Whenever we talked about it we called it “The 3-Week Trip”. After months of talking about it, the time finally came that we got to pull out of our drive way and set out on “The 3-Week Trip”! Our first stop was Bend, Oregon to visit our good friends Tom & Lisa and their dog Ruby. We parked Wolf Creek in the driveway and took the bikes off the front of the truck and got busy in Bend. We rode our bikes everywhere, to dinner, to the park, to the river and all the spots in between. We had a great time paddling and floating down the Deschutes River in the sunshine. It should be noted, this is not a simple ride down the river, you do need to have a little skill and be aware of what is going on around you, at one point on the river you need to exit at the Colorado Ave bridge, if you are not watching the signs you could get into serious trouble and head into the portage. Andrew found this out the hard way, from his paddle board, he skillfully helped a family from disaster and helped them get to safety. We also enjoyed some lovely meals in Bend. While Tom & Lisa were kind enough to make lots of snacks, dinner and breakfast for us, one night we went out and rode to an awesome food truck pavilion called The Lot.This place was great, it had something for everyone, there are about 8-10 food trucks surrounding a covered patio with a bar in the middle! Perfection! We all got what we wanted, didn’t spend too much money, it was lovely.

Walking Ruby

Walking Ruby

Camping in Bend

Camping in Bend

 

 

 

 

 

After 2 nights in Bend we were off to our next stop. We headed to South Lake Tahoe to a place called Camp Richardson, on the California side of the Lake Tahoe. One thing we did realize on this trip is that driving time in the camper is a lot different than driving times provided by Google Maps. We found out that when Google says it will take 7 hours to get somewhere it will really take us about 9-10 hours, as the trip went on we made the adjustments and determined that on our next long road trip driving times will be much shorter and staying times will be longer. When we finally got into Camp Richardson after about 9 hours on the road, we were greeted by a huge thunderstorm (which made getting the paddle board on the roof a little tricky), but we couldn’t let it keep us in, we needed dinner so we set off in our ponchos to the restaurant and had dinner in the historic Beacon Bar & Grill. The next day the sun came out, in the morning we rode our bikes into town to get groceries for dinner and in the afternoon we were able to play on the water. Andrew and the girls rented a jet ski, while I paddled around the lake.  We enjoyed dinner at the campsite that night and the girls made friends with the other kids on their bikes. It was a great sight watching the kids bike around with other girls from Nevada & California, they had fun checking out other kids campers, making plans to meet up and exchanging addresses to be pen pals. One great thing about being away from home for awhile is that the kids learn to break out of their comfort zone and explore new things and meet new people.

Fun on Lake Tahoe

Fun on Lake Tahoe

tahoe bike gang

Lake Tahoe Bike Gang

 

We spent 2 nights at Lake Tahoe and then we were off to the Grand Canyon, another super long drive — seeing a trend yet? After this long trip, we learned no more driving at night. Setting up at night, even in a camper is tricky, but we made it to the North Rim without hitting any wildlife (thank God and super driver Andrew!) and rested up for a great day at the Canyon. In the morning we got up and headed to Point Imperial, the highest point on the North Rim at 8,803 feet (2,683 meters), overlooking the Painted Desert and the eastern end of Grand Canyon. We hiked one of the rim trails for a couple hours and then had lunch in the camper, overlooking the Canyon. For me, this was one of the highlights of the trip and one of the things I love about having our camper. Being able to have all your stuff right there is so convenient and made lunch a great experience. After lunch we explored the North Rim lodge and listened to some great Ranger Talks. The next day we took a tougher hike down into the canyon. We started at the North Kaibab Trail, headed down past the Supai Tunnel into the Roaring Springs Canyon. We turned around at the bridge that was recently built and headed back up, overall we hiked about 6.5 miles – we were super proud of the girls. It took about 2 hours to get down and only 2 hours and 15 minutes to get back up. They were super hikers! After the long day of hiking we had lunch at the North Rim Lodge and then decided to get on the road so that we could break up our 10 hour drive to the cabin in New Mexico into two days of driving – instead of one long day…see we’re learning! We did a little cheat here and ended up in a hotel in Farmington, NM. We were going to find a place to camp but with the camper packed with the paddle board, bikes, a bbq and much more, we couldn’t really boondock it with all our gear. We enjoyed clean sheets, fresh showers and a free breakfast! And were able to get on the road early and were able to see family in Eagle Nest in the early afternoon.

Beautiful Grand Canyon

Beautiful Grand Canyon

The view from the camper for our lunch stop at Imperial Point

The view from the camper for our lunch stop at Point Imperial

Relaxing at the North Rim  lodge.

Relaxing at the North Rim lodge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Super hikers made it to the bridge!

Super hikers made it to the bridge!

 

 

 

We stayed in Eagle Nest for five days, this was a great time to visit with our family, do some laundry, sleep in real beds and spread out a bit. The first night we headed into Red River with cousins Jon & Monica and watched the two-steppers at the Motherlode Saloon. Andrew and I learned that we are not two-steppers and probably shouldn’t try again until we take some lessons. We spent a lot of time in Red River and Taos. The highlight of this trip was by far our hot air balloon ride with Eske’s Paradise Balloons. We started the morning by taking off in a hot air balloon at sunrise, touching down into the Rio Grande Canyon and then enjoying a champagne breakfast on the river. Absolutely amazing and breathtaking views. I love hot air balloons and in our past trips to New Mexico we have watched the balloon rallies, and always talked about going up in one, but thought the girls were too young. This trip they were old enough and it was AWESOME!

Girls in the balloon basket.

Girls in the balloon basket.

hot air balloon ride

Our balloon almost in the Rio Grande

 

 

 

 

 

 

We had a great week at the cabin but had more of the Western US to see, on this trip we ended up going through all of the Western US states (except for Texas). The next stop was Dinosaur National Monument. This ended up to be the favorite spot for both the girls on the trip. The campground near Green River was great, we were close to the river, there was huge hill for the girls to climb and run down, we played in the water, hiked and explored all the amazing fossils, dinosaur bones and Petroglyphs. The Quarry Exhibit Hall was extraordinary, it was fascinating to see all that has been discovered in this part of the country and it was fun to imagine what it must have been like millions of years ago.

Touching real dinosaur bones!

Touching real dinosaur bones!

Playing in Green River

Playing in Green River

As we started on our second half of the trip, we headed North. Our next destination was Henry’s Lake in Idaho, near the western entrance of Yellowstone. On the way there we stopped in Jackson Hole at one of our favorite spots, Snakeriver Brewery – now you know why it takes us so long to get to each spot. In addition to driving slow (or at least the speed limit) we do like to stop for lunch and try to get out stretch our legs and have something other than gas station snacks and fast food. When we got to Henry’s Lake it was super windy and cold. Which we were very sad about, it was a beautiful campground and an awesome lake, but way too chilly to paddle board. Instead of spending the day on the lake we decided to explore Yellowstone, which was great. We had camped there a few years ago but really didn’t see all the park. This trip we saw geysers, boiling mud pots, tons of bison, elk and the girls finished their third Jr. Ranger program of the trip (they also got Jr. Ranger badges in Grand Canyon & Dinosaur). At a few points we got a little too close to the wildlife. A giant bison ended up galloping in front of us while we were exploring the mud pots.This was a bit frightening as it is a

Bison ready to charge across the boardwalk we were on!

Bison ready to charge across the boardwalk we were on!

huge animal and it was moving very fast. Andrew was not pleased that our family was not all together when the bison was moving, but in my defense, I did not want to get in front of it, so I stayed put (but I may have been taking a few too many photos prior to the running of the bison). Another learning moment. From the bison experience we knew it is safest to stay together, so when we were crowded by tons of elk in Mammoth Hot Springs, we stayed together as a family and let the Park Rangers tell us where to go and how to stay out of their way. And we still got some great photos!

Elk wondering in Mammoth Hot Springs

Elk wondering in Mammoth Hot Springs

Yellowstone

Yellowstone

We left Yellowstone late in the day and headed out for a short drive to Bozeman, MT, where we planned to stay a couple nights with my brother Dan. Since he was working that night we planned on eating at Dave’s Sushi, where he is one the sushi chefs. We sat at the bar and had Dan whip up whatever he felt like for us, with a few requests from the girls. The mango cucumber roll was a favorite! The next day we headed out to the Hyalite Reservoir. This little gem is only a few miles outside of Bozeman and college kids and families come to picnic, hike and play on the water. We had super fun day paddling with Uncle Dan and hanging out on the water. We really wish we had more time to hang out in Montana, but our trip was coming to an end and we had a few more stops on the way home. After a home cooked dinner with Dan and his friends, we hit the road again the next morning.

Girls paddling with Uncle Dan.

Girls paddling with Uncle Dan.

The last leg of our road trip ended in our home state of Washington. We drove most the day and ended up at Alta Lake State Park. This one of the many areas that was devastated by the wild fires at the beginning of the summer and had been closed down for awhile. As a result, a lot of the area was burnt down, houses, camp grounds and tons of trees were all gone. It was very sad to see all the devastation that the fire caused, and also amazing to see how much in such close proximity survived. Luckily the fires have been over for awhile and the park was reopened, and we were able to enjoy it with a few less crowds.The weather was the

Fun playing at Alta Lake

Fun playing at Alta Lake

hottest at Alta Lake than it was anywhere else on our trip, the day we spent on the lake it was almost 90 degrees! Which made it great to sit on the beach, paddle, play in the water and slowly prepare for re-entry. Our last stop on the trip was Lake Chelan. We took a family vote and decided that we wanted to see another new town and park, so we took a gamble and checked to see if anyone may have checked out early at the Lake Chelan’s Lakeshore RV Park – we got lucky!

Signs of the fire in Alta Lake State Park

Signs of the fire in Alta Lake State Park

Although you generally need to book it 9 months in advance, when people go home early, we got a spot! We spent our day in Chelan biking to lunch at Campbell’s Resort and then on to Slide Waters water park – this was the girls choice and we figured they had been such super campers over the whole trip, they got to have their choice of activities that day.

The next day we got up and had to head home, we decided to make one more fun stop in the town of Leavenworth. We had a yummy lunch at Icicle Brewing Company, bought fudge, nuts and fancy olive oil to take home and then we made the super short drive (just 2.5 hours) home. Coming home was bittersweet, we had tons of laundry and gear to put away, but it was great to get back to familiar faces, sleeping in our own rooms and falling back into a normal routine.

The girls are back at school now, which is the only way I would be able to get all these thoughts down in one day. And now its on to thinking about the next big trip. I just bought my wall map of the US & Canada so we can plot out where we will go next!

Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed our adventures. We certainly have!

Until Next Time!

kg

Aloha & Mahalo

Amazing view of the coast of Maui

Amazing view of the coast of Maui

It’s been awhile since I have written for my blog, maybe that’s because we haven’t been traveling as much. Our last trip to Fort Worden was back in October and since then we have stayed put for the most part, our Fall tends to be very busy with holidays and birthdays scattered throughout most of November and December. But this year for Christmas we were blessed with an AMAZING family trip! I have written about  the wonderful family vacations with my side of the family, this year we got to go on vacation with Andrew’s side of the family. We all boarded Hawaiian Airlines after Christmas and spent the second week of Winter Break in Maui. It was a wonderful way to finish off the year and decompress from all the holiday craziness.

Waterfalls

Waterfalls

We stayed in a lovely, private home in Kaanapali that we rented through Hawaiian Beach Rentals, our house was Hawaiian Dreams and it was just that, a dream! The 5 bedroom house was big enough for our group of 10, we had a pool and a view overlooking the water. This was both Andrew and my first trip to Hawaii in over 20 years so we were ready to see the island.

The Gorohoff  helicopter crew with our pilot.

The Gorohoff helicopter crew with our pilot.

The first full day in Maui we took the girls and Andrew’s parents on a helicopter trip to see the entire island with Blue Hawaiian Helicopter Tours. Even though it was bit cloudy we still got some amazing views and photos. I was a little nervous, but our pilot was calm and cool, as were our girls. It makes it hard to be nervous and paranoid when your 10 year old and 7 year old are the ones telling YOU that everything will be okay. Although we didn’t get to see Oprah’s private ranch, we did see the road she built (or had built) for herself, we saw some humpback whales and babies, and tons

Humpback whales. One male, an escort male and a baby.

Humpback whales. One male, an escort male and a baby.

of waterfalls and rainbows. And this was just our first day!

During the trip we also took a surf lesson, our instructor from Zack Howard Surf, was great!  Although we have all surfed before it was nice to have an instructor to give us some tips for surfing in Hawaii, like staying off the bottom of the ocean. There are tons of

Gorohoff surfers and our instructor.

Gorohoff surfers and our instructor.

coral and sea urchin, so unlike some of the beaches in Washington, we had to paddle all the way out to the big waves. He was also super helpful with our girls, helping them get up on the boards (although Nadia had no trouble with that) and teaching them how to paddle out and get out to the waves.

Nadia riding the wave!

Nadia riding the wave!

The highlight of the entire surfing experience was NO WET SUIT!! The water was so warm, it was hard to get out. Our lesson was only an hour and a half, and we had other things to do that day, but if I had been on my own, I think I might have surfed the entire trip!

One thing we made sure to do everyday (a few times each day) was eat! We ate some great food. The fresh fish and fruit in Hawaii is amazing! We ate at all the different restaurants in Whalers Village, since that was just a short walk from our house, plus it was a good place to start, then head to the beach. We also hired an amazing chef to cook for us a couple nights so no one had to deal with groceries, dinner or clean up! Ann-Marie from Maui Fresh Chef was wonderful! We had lovely appetizers, main courses and desserts with plenty for leftovers to enjoy the next day. This was especially a treat for New Year’s Eve since finding a reservation for 10 on NYE is always tricky, but with 3 kids, its not as relaxing as it could be. Eating at our own home, shoes off, with our beautiful view was a perfect way to ring in the New Year.

Sunrise on Haleakala

Sunrise on Haleakala

We barely made it to the Seattle New Year since Andrew, Anna and I started our day at 3am to take sunrise photos at the top of Haleakala, The House of the Sun. We started early to beat the crowds and get some star photos. This was a great plan, and lots of other people agreed, we didn’t really beat any crowds, but luckily there was enough sunrise to go around! And the stars were amazing from up on top of the mountain. Although I didn’t get any great star photos, Anna and Andrew did. *Note to new camera owners: When you get a camera for Christmas, figure out the settings before you are standing in the dark on the top of the mountain. Overall, it was well worth the 3am wake up call.

And as you need to do in Hawaii, we carved out some quality down time. We made sure to have a few days of just relaxing on the beach or next to the pool. We snorkeled at Black Rock which was super fun. The girls enjoyed jumping off the rocks and watching the other crazy people jump from even higher.

Road to Hana

Road to Hana

We also took a crazy day trip and drive on The Road to Hana (which Andrew really enjoyed driving) to another part of Haleakala National Park. We hiked on the Pipiwai Trail & to the Waimoku Falls. We didn’t make it to the Pools of ‘Ohe’o (aka Seven Sacred Pools) because after our 4 mile hike and swim in the falls we were all pretty pooped.

The girls and daddy playing in the waterfall (before the boulder fell)

The girls and daddy playing in the waterfall (before the boulder fell)

The falls were amazing and we realized their power when a giant boulder came crashing off the rock wall, falling near a man that was posing for a photo under the falls (just steps away from where we were playing earlier – note to anyone heading there, read the signs and follow the rules, they are there for a reason). After that heart pounding experience, we were ready to get back on the windy Road to Hana and head into Lahaina for our dinner at Aloha Mixed Plate – a quick change of clothes on the side of the road and we were ready to go!

The last night of our trip was my father-in-law’s 80th birthday, and what better way to celebrate than with a luau at the Old Lahaina Luau. Everything about the Luau was wonderful, we walked in and were greeted with mai tais and fruity drinks. There was plenty of entertainment, games, photographers and pig digging up to enjoy before dinner started. Dinner was traditional Hawaiian food like Poi (which I was not a fan of), Ahi Poke, Kalua Puaʻa, Laulau and much more. After the main course, Ken got his own birthday platter of treats and a birthday song. Then we enjoyed the dancing and music of the luau. It was a perfect way to end a perfect trip.

Old Lahaina Luau

Old Lahaina Luau

Hang Loose!

Hang Loose!

Hawaii is an amazing place with beautiful areas to explore. Eighty degree weather every day, beach and surf all around you, I completely understand why people want to call it home. I will definitely be back and hopefully sooner than another 20 years, there is much more exploring, surfing and relaxing to do there! Until next time Hawaii, Aloha & Mahalo for the great trip!

Family Time In Vancouver

In years past, Andrew and I have agreed with his brother Alex & his wife Anna that we really don’t need to buy gifts for Christmas and instead we should give experiences. Last year we took a trip to Victoria, and we had a lovely time exploring the city. This year we decided to extend the gift giving to Andrew & Alex’s parents. Instead of buying a book on history or something for the kitchen we decided we would plan a train trip for the WHOLE FAMILY! This past weekend, all 10 of us loaded the Amtrak Train and headed north to Vancouver. I am  really bummed we didn’t get one photo of the whole crew, considering we were all taking photos, but this is us at a holiday brunch this past Christmas, so it all ties together. family_xmas

On Friday morning, we took advantage of the mid-winter break for Seattle schools and loaded the train around 7:45am. The train ride is a great way to travel with family and kids, you can spread out and explore the train, the girls were able to run back and forth to the lounge car, I got to have some uninterupted reading time with my nephew Ollie, I watched over him while he napped, while the grown ups got to enjoy a beverage in the lounge car with the girls.

Once we got to Vancouver, we had a tasty lunch and explored Robson Street and did a little shopping. The girls also loved the hotel pool – swimming is one of their favorite activities, so while some of the others napped we did some swimming before dinner.

The second day our adventures took us to Grandville Island, this little island has an amazing public market and a super cool kids market. And when I say kids market, I really mean: crazy, insane building with tons of stuff for kids. After walking to the ferry dock (about one mile), walking around the island, these girls still had energy to burn in the crazy ball pit and tube mazes. We made sure to fully sanitize and, of course, swim and shower after this little outing.

ball pitgrandvilleisland

We had dinner at two different Joe restaurants that probably couldn’t be more different from each other. The first night was Joey – which was in the bottom of a building what seemed like the financial district. This was a recommendation from the cocierge at the Sutton Place Hotel, it was nice because we got to eat early, but it was not the best atmosphere for chatting with each other. The dinner was tasty and the service was fairly quick, which is a nice perk with kids. The second night dinner was at a restaurant called Joe Fortes, also a recommendation from the cocierge but a different style all together, still loud so our kids didn’t stand out, but this was a bit more of an upscale seafood and chop house, dinner was fabulous, but not as speedy as the night before and for some diners its hard to sit still for too long. But our waiter took great care of us and we all had a great dinner.

Sunday morning it was time to head home, and in order to have a day to regroup, we opted to take the earlier train home, which meant leaving our cozy hotel at 5:30am. Needless to say we tried to rest and sleep on the train, but that’s easier said then done with 2 little girls looking for attention. In the end we were very happy to be on the early  train home, considering the train that left later that afternoon was cancelled due to mudslides, passengers on the second train between Everett to Seattle had to be bussed to their location. Overall, it was great trip, there was quite a bit of planning, coralling and coordinating to get everyone in the same place at the same time, but it is fun to have these types of family adventures to look back on.

So, until next time, who knows were next year’s Christmas presents will take us!

Let’s All Go To Victoria!

Over the past couple years, instead of Christmas gifts, Andrew and I exchange experiences with his brother Alex and his wife Anna. One year we went out to fancy a dinner at Canlis (and now I am drawing a blank on where we went the year before or last year – it might be my early on set Alzheimer’s – just a joke, but more on that later). In any event, this year we decided to step it up a notch and take a trip. We decided to head north and visit the beautiful Canadian City of Victoria, BC. We took the Clipper up early Saturday morning, it was windy and rainy and Anna and I took our motion sickness medicine to make sure we didn’t start the trip off getting sick. Which seemed to work, since the girl sitting next to me was a light shade of green mid-way through the trip and then had an extended visit in the loo – she should have invested the 25 cents! Once we arrived in Canada and made it through customs we were greeted with a lovely downpour of rain (likely so we wouldn’t be homesick). Luckily, we were staying at the Hotel Grand Pacific, which is almost directly across from the Clipper dock. After we dropped our bags off our first task was to eat! This was sort of how the weekend went: eat, drink, walk, museum, repeat. Literally, that is what we did all day. We did mix it up a little, we ran one morning which was lovely (making the eating a little less guilty), drank coffee or tea and we also did a little shopping. But really our main objective for the trip was to eat. Our first dinner out was amazing, The Black Olive. I highly recommend it if you are ever in Victoria. Andrew found this by googling where to find good Olive Oil in Victoria (Olive Oil is currently his latest passion – I will give him & Google credit, it was very good too). This is a little family owned Greek restaurant off the beaten track. As the Google review said it caters to a lot of older people, but we didn’t mind. We got in because some of those older folks cancelled their reservations. We enjoyed lovely wine, olive oil, I had a delicious white fish, Andrew had rack of lamb and Alex & Anna had delicious pastas. Unfortunately, the Baklava we had at the end was not the best I have had, but it did take care of my sweet tooth and since I was stuffed it was okay. We turned in early, since the day had started early. The next day Andrew and I went on a 4.5 mile run, I had an amazing massage and then we made our way over to the Fairmont Empress for Afternoon Tea. A must when visiting Victoria. These were just a few of the highlights of the trip, we also had an awesome lunch at an Irish Pub the first day, an amazing Italian Dinner the second night and visited some really cool museums – the Maritime Museum and the Royal British Columbia Museum, which was featuring an awesome Photography exhibit.

Overall, it was a great trip, it was relaxing, we ate a ton of great food and we saw some wonderful exhibits, movies and sights. Plus it was just fun to hang out with Alex & Anna for a weekend. I am happy to be able to put together a little recap of the trip. One of my secret dreams is to be a travel writer (not really a secret anymore), so here in my own little blog I can pretend that my whole trip was paid for by some great magazine that sent me away to write about the sights and culinary experiences of a new and exciting city. A girl can dream! Also, as I mentioned earlier, because (sadly) Alzheimer’s does run in my family, these little trip reports and this blog is really a way for me and my family to remember our trips and where we went. If I waited much longer to write, I am sure a lot of the details would be missing. So, until next time and the next adventure! Thanks for reading, kg

Holiday On the Road

As we settle into the new year, I wanted to jot down some of the highlights of the holidays. This year for Christmas my family hit the road and headed South to California. The idea was a fun, family vacation with my parents, my sisters, their families and my little brother. We planned to start the holidays at my aunts in Camarillo, CA and spend the rest of the trip in the quaint beach town, Huntington Beach, CA. My husband and I decided to mix up the trip (and save some money) by driving down. I think this was one of our best choices of the trip. It was very relaxing driving down the 101 through the Redwood Forest, along the Pacific Coast, seeing all the beauty that is out there. During the trip through the Red Woods we discovered another traveling company, 7cees.org (looks like a very cool organizaiton). We made a detour into San Francisco so our girls could see the Golden Gate Bridge and met a friend in Palo Alto (thanks for the cookies April!). We took our time and enjoyed the ride. And of course, as I promised my girls we made sure to drive through a tree!

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On Christmas Eve, we started our day by watching the surfers and playing at Pismo Beach. Then we arrived at our hotel to swim and freshen up before we enjoyed the Seven Fishes Dinner with my extended Sicilian Family. There was plenty to eat and drink and lots of songs sung and laughs had. It is always a treat to meet new cousins and connect with the ones we don’t see very often.

Christmas in a hotel room is an interesting adventure, with 2 little girls that still believe, the story of how Santa finds us in our hotel room, gets in and puts out presents is actually a little creepy. I am pretty sure my 8 year old knows whats going on but she doesn’t want to let on. On Christmas morning the presents appeared and we tore them apart and then enjoyed some complimentary breakfast at the hotel! Christmas in California is another interesting experience, the sun was shining, it was warm and I was able to take a walk with no coat – what a concept. I do enjoy the snow on Christmas, but if there is no snow, I will take the sun!

The next day we headed South again, on to Huntington with a stop in LA to visit with the cousins. We visited Kermit the Frog’s house (a neighbor of cousin S & H), the Hollywood walk of Stars, met Shrek and ton of other crazy characters, we took an awesome walk in the hills and had some delicious Mexican food on Hollywood Blvd. When we arrived in Huntington Beach, we were the last ones, which means we got last pick on the rooms. Of course, I don’t like to complain but unfortunately our room had 2 doors and was basically a breezeway to both sides of the house. Needless to say, not much privacy. But of course that didn’t stop us from having fun. We completely enjoyed the Beach, we took runs & walks on the beach trail, Andrew and I ran almost 7 miles barefoot on the beach. The girls had a fun day splashing in the water. I spent that afternoon paranoid they were going to get pulled into the riptide. I figure if I lived in CA near a beach, that is something I would have to get over.

Of course when in So Cal, you can’t miss Disneyland! We started by fueling up at IHOP, which included another cousin visit! Then we hit the park. My sister Chrissy took charge and we all followed. I tried to make sure all kids were accounted for and then just followed along. Even though the park reached maximum capacity (80,000 people) at 10:30am, we still got on all the great rides, we learned the 5 year old twin cousins both love roller coasters and we had a super, fun time.

During the entire trip we had tons of amazing dinners and lots of lively conversations. And still fit in plenty of downtime. We did smores on the beach with our big bon fire which is so cool in December. And we watched lots of surfers catch some amazing waves. It is such an amazing culture – the Beach Life – get up, go surfing, head to work. Or take a run on the beach, pop into the ocean, then on to real life. I definitely think I could get used to it. To finish the year and the end of our trip, we spent New Year’s Eve day exploring Marina Del Ray by sailboat, another side trip to visit cousins S&H. The evening of NYE was mellow as we had to pack up and travel home the next day.

Overall the week was great. I was happy to spend time with my family that I don’t see very often. Since my sister and her family live in Virgina and my brother is in Montana, these vacations are the only chance we get to spend time together. I am grateful we had the opportunity to have this trip. I had some great talks and walks with my family and I am happy for that. As for the romantic, quiet vacation with my husband, well, that we will have to plan another time. This was not that trip. This was about the larger family, cousins hanging out together, family dinners and tons of chaos. After this trip, I am ready for another, the trip down the coast is a fun adventure that I hope we get to try again. Maybe another trip to Disneyland or just a week to hang out on a new beach! We will just have to wait and see, until next time. — kg