By Ashley McIlwain
My husband, Steve, and I travel around quite a bit trying to visit with our families that happen to be spread across the United States. While we love visiting our families, it can be challenging to save vacation time, energy, and money to go and do things that we want to do outside of those trips. What we’ve tried to do though is combine the two when possible.
Over Christmas we did just that. It was our turn to visit with Steve’s family up in the bay area, so we managed to squeeze in a few extra little “just the two of us” moments where we could. It made for a very busy Christmas vacation, but we loved every second of it.
First on the list was to head into San Francisco for a quick day trip. It’s tough to beat a big city during Christmas time. The decorations, bustle, and overall cheer makes me giddy with excitement. We enjoyed all of our favorite spots including Union Square, Fisherman’s Wharf, and Pier 39. Of course we had to hop on the trolleys a time or two, which is always a highlight of being in San Fran.
Also on the agenda this trip was checking out the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory. It turned out to be a tiny, hole-in-the-wall, four person operation. Not only were we amazed at this spectacle, but we took advantage of devouring fresh, flat fortune cookies. All around, we loved exploring one of our favorite cities during the most wonderful time of year.
At the end of our visit with Steve’s family, we decided to take a stroll down memory lane by cruising down the 101. We took this gorgeous, California coastal drive for the first time on our engagement trip back in 2007, and we hadn’t done it since. It was so much fun exploring some new and old places along the way.
Our first stop was Santa Cruz. We decided to hit up The Mystery Spot. I’d heard of this place and certainly seen the well-known bumper stickers, so we just had to check it out. It was definitely interesting to experience the gravitational oddities and hypothesize as to what might be the cause. At the end of it all though, we were left with an unsolved mystery … spot.
After being mystified, we checked out the Santa Cruz boardwalk, which is a cool hybrid of beach meets carnival meets arcade. Candy, rollercoasters, and scenic views made for an amusing afternoon together. We followed that up by revisiting the gorgeous, breathtaking spot where Steve proposed to me. It’s tough to even describe the picturesque scene that stirs up so many wonderful memories from the second most incredible day of my life (next to our wedding day, of course). There’s nothing like revisiting somewhere that is so special to you as a couple. I highly recommend everyone doing this from time to time.
Onward we pressed to Monterey. Monterey is such an adorable place; it’s one of my favorite California locations. We started off our day at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, which was a real treat. You can’t go wrong with jellyfish, sea otters, and seahorses. Next we took a stroll along the Monterey Fisherman’s Wharf. It’s the perfect place to go for a hand-in-hand stroll and some of the freshest saltwater taffy you’ll ever gobble up.
Finally, we made a point of heading to Buellton where we gorged on the famous Anderson’s split pea soup. Yum! After a good night’s rest, we launched the final stretch home by first stopping at our favorite breakfast spot, Paula’s Pancake House in Solvang. Their pancakes are divine to say the very least.
All in all, there is nothing quite like a little fun for two with my hubs. Making memories together is priceless. I treasure our adventures together, knowing that these moments are what make life’s journey worthwhile. What a blessing it is to have my husband be my best friend that I enjoy being with and love so very much!
Anyone else have any recent fun excursions, memory-making, or stories they want to share?
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