We had an amazing, wonderful trip to California. I'd never been and it was so lovely - every note was just perfect. We arrived and stayed 5 days with our dear friends who left our home city over two years ago to live in Santa Cruz. They have an almost 5 year old dd, and a ds who is 2 years old, the same as our ds. First of all, the climate is amazing: cool in the morning and evening, clear, sunny and warm *every* day. The scenery is breathtaking - mountains on one side and beaches on the other. That this is perhaps one of the loveliest places you could ever live is obviously no secret - we saw two bedroom, 1 bath cottages for over $700K. So a VERY nice place to visit, but we *couldn't* live there.
Our days with our friends were filled with so many sweet moments - from time just being in community, cooking and eating delicious food - and every bit of produce local! - watching the kiddos play, going to the tide pools to delight in the sea life - sea stars, hermit crabs, anemones, sea urchins - all so close up, every night long "moony moon" walks (named by their dd, because she is on a first name basis with the moon, her special friend), and one my greatest dreams fulfilled, getting to walk in an ancient redwood forest. I can't possibly describe what a pleasure it was to experience even one of these moments, but suffice to say they were all magical.
The next 5 days were spent on the opposite end of the bay, in Monterey for a family centered maternity care conference. It was a great conference with many interesting and informative lectures, and then some great day trips on the side. The most spectacular was driving down the Pacific Coast Highway to Big Sur. The rocky cliffs drop precipitously right into the most beautiful blue-green waters of the ocean. You could smell the sun warmed rosemary growing wild in the craggy outposts. It was, for me, very reminiscent of the shores of the Italian Mediterranean Sea. Dh and ds spent a few hours of every day at the spectacular Monterey Aquarium (thanks to the generous gift of guest passes from our friends), where I got to go on our last day. It was my first trip to an aquarium, but I understand that I was seeing the best. They have *everything* there. Much to ds's delight there was a whole tank of "Dory and Nemo" fish, and my favorite was a 3 story high tank with millions of gallons of water highlighting the "outer bay" sea life - sharks and sea turtles, and giant yellow fin tuna, and a bizarre creature called a sun fish, and brilliant schools of sardines, and much, much more. Ds fell asleep in my arms when we took a little break and dh and I ended up sitting on some balcony seats quietly watching this amazing other worldly place for almost an hour.
Me and DF
My G and her A, BFF
My G and her I, after a moony-moon walk
One of the most magical places, an ancient redwood forest
Preparing a meal where *everything* is local, even the wine