Travel Diaries : CALIFORNIA

Big Sur

In March of 2018, we decided we needed a break, some time just the two of us to get away! We looked at the calendar & checked with Kyle’s work schedule and found a week in May that we had no shoots, nothing pressing, and could easily get away for a week of vacation! MARK. THE. CALENDAR.

We researched some different places in the US and decided on California! We had never gone on vacation to California, even though we had been through a few times in the past – most of the time we were working! We knew we wanted to see a few different places, and also wanted to relax – so our plan was to pick 3 destinations and spend a few days at each of them! We rented a car and road tripped from place to place!

It was AWESOME! The weather wasn’t as warm as we were expecting, but that’s okay! We had some amazing experiences & made some really good memories – and as us Codys do on vacation – ate a LOT of really delicious food.

Here’s the Details : 

Flights : We flew Alaska Airlines – OUR FAVORITE AIRLINE OF ALL TIME. We had some miles banked, so our tickets were cheap & flew First Class on the way down for just a few extra miles! Super fun!

Rental Car : We always rent our cars through Costco Travel! After an amazing experience when we went to Ireland, we forever will sing the praises of Costco Travel! Their rental car prices cannot be beat & their vacation packages are also incredible! We booked a standard sedan, but when we checked in – they asked us if we wanted to upgrade. The prices of upgrades are always less expensive if you do them at the counter, at least in our experience! So – Kyle got to drive a Dodge Challenger all week long…And I just hid in the passenger seat whenever he started the car, LOL.

Stop #1 : Calistoga, Napa Valley

Hotel : Calistoga Motor Lodge & Spa | http://www.calistogamotorlodgeandspa.com

We found this place online and liked the idea of staying somewhere in Napa that seemed to be a little less busy. Calistoga is a town in the North end of Napa Valley and we loved it! This place was really fun! It was like they took an old motel & completely updated it while keeping the retro vibes and vintage touches! We had fun, but since the weather was so chilly – we didn’t spend time by the pool or in the spa, and that was one of the things I was looking forward to.

Resturant Recommendations :

Ad Hoc in Yountville, CA : https://www.thomaskeller.com/adhoc

This will forever be one of my sweetest memories with Kyle. We had nothing planned, except hotel reservations – and one dinner reservation. For THIS restaurant.

If you are ever in Napa Valley – you NEED to make this a stop. Thomas Keller is probably most famous for “The French Laundry”, but this. THIS feels like coming home. Portions are served family style, and there is a new menu each night. Everyone eats the same 4 courses – and there are special dishes that you can add, called supplements.

On the way back to our hotel, I cried. It was perfect. The waiter was kind, the food was AMAZING, and the whole night felt like a deep breath. The kind where you finally realize that you don’t have to keep rushing – but that it’s okay to be 100% present.

We are already dreaming about going back. And this photo is going in a frame on my nightstand to remind me once again, that time spent around the table with people I love is the very BEST thing I can do with my life.

Sam’s Social Club in Calistoga, CAhttps://samssocialclub.com

Our first dinner in Cali was at Sam’s Social Club. It felt exactly like vacation. The decor is beautiful and feels tropical, the food was AMAZING, and we loved our experience! Kyle ordered a rib eye that made me so jealous & I ordered a whole roasted cauliflower steak. OMG. I am not a vegetarian, but if all non-meat meals tasted like this cauliflower, I would get on board! SO good.

 

Stop #2 : Monterey, CA

Hotel : Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa | Website

Whenever we check into a hotel, we ask if there are any upgrades avaliable. Sometimes, the answers will surprise you! We were able to upgrade to an oceanview suite with a balcony…Make that 3 balconies. It was INCREDIBLE. Every morning we opened all the windows & drapes to look out onto the bay. We saw otters, sea lions, and even a pod of dolphins one morning! We spent a lot of time relaxing in Monterey. Reading books on the balconies. Drinking coffee in our pajamas. We loved this experience and it was perfect location in Monterey in order to

17 Mile Drive | https://www.pebblebeach.com/17-mile-drive/

We LOVED this! The 17 Mile Drive is one of the most beautiful pieces of landscape in the country. It is a gated community that costs $10ish to get in, but if you stop at one of the resorts for a meal, they will apply the fee toward the cost of your meal! We did this drive 2 times and loved looking at all of the scenery! We even stopped one night, brought a blanket, and watched the sunset on the beach. It was easily one of my favorite moments from the trip!

Drive to Big Sur : 

This was the actual REASON why we chose Monterey. We wanted to drive to Big Sur & see all of the beautiful sights along the coast. SO gorgeous, and we pulled off multiple times to sightsee and also walk down to the ocean! We met some friends and were given a restaurant recommendation to Napenthe. So glad we took their advice. We shared a cheeseboard and had the most incredible view.

Sunset at The Inn at Spanish Hill | Website

At sunset every night, there is a bagpiper that walks the golf course at The Inn at Spanish Hill. We were told about this and didn’t want to miss it. We sat outside by the fireplaces and had some appetizers at sunset before our dinner reservation and watched him play. It was really fun, and super memorable!

Restaurant Recommendation : 

Roy’s at Pebble Beach | Website

We wanted to celebrate our anniversary one night while we were in California & had heard about this restaurant. It was SO fancy, but so delicious. Our waitress was honestly one of the kindest people we had ever been served by & made our night great with perfect recommendations, complimentary appetizers, and excellent service. We don’t know how we got so lucky on our whole trip to be sat at what seemed like the best seats at every restaurant, but we got a table in the corner surrounded by windows and we watched the sunset while we ate dinner. Also – the Key Lime Pie? BEST EVER.

Stop #3 : Santa Barbara, CA

Hotel : The Inn on Summer Hill | https://www.innonsummerhill.com

We really loved The Inn on Summer Hill! They serve breakfast daily, and you can get it delivered to your room. *Secret Secret* there is nothing I love more on vacation to have breakfast in bed. It is my VERY FAVORITE thing. The people were really nice & we had a beautiful view of the ocean from our room!

We were only in Santa Barbara for about 36 Hours – so our time here was short & I wish we could have had more of it! We got in late Friday night & our flight was early Sunday AM. But our first night, we went and bought a cheap blanket from HomeGoods & spent the evening on the beach watching the sunset together. Easily one of my favorite memories.

One thing that I have loved to do when we have been on trips, is to book a photo shoot with a local photographer to get some updated photos! If you have time on your vacation, I HIGHLY recommend it! It has allowed us to get some photos in really beautiful areas that are completely different than the scenery around our home! We booked a photo shoot with Daniel Cruz & I had been following his work for years! We spent the entire afternoon & evening with him + his wife, Sarina. We took photos, explored Santa Barbara, got some cold brew, finished shooting on the beach at sunset, and then met up with some of their friends for dinner at an AMAZING Mexican Restaurant! It was the perfect way to spend our last day on vacation! Meeting new friends and having a fun adventure!

Restaurant Recommendation : 

Los Agaves – Milapas | https://losagaves.squarespace.com/

THE BEST Mexican food I have ever eaten. Safe to say I have craved the Pollo Asado ever since we have returned home & am thinking that I need to find a way to one day fly back to Santa Barbara and eat there. Also – we went here with our photographers & a couple that they had grown up with. It was so fun to meet them & for all of us to share a meal together. It is WILD to me how food brings people together, even people we had never met. We were introduced to them at the counter when we were ordering, and by the end of the night, over bowls of chips and salsa – we left as friends. Maybe good Mexican food is magic? Either way, we loved everything about this place.

RECAP :

One of the reasons we chose California was because we know that there are so many beautiful places to visit in our own country that we’ve never been to! By using our airline miles, the flights were basically free & we just paid for the car, lodging, and meals! It was a fun adventure – and we know there are so many other Cali destinations that we have left to visit, so I’m sure in the years to come, we’ll be able to check a few more places off our travel bucket list! Kyle’s never been to Disneyland, so I KNOW we’ll have to go there sometime! And we have friends who live in Cali – so a trip to visit them is on the list of things we want to do!

Here are our photos from the trip – that we took on our camera! The pics here go from the very last day at the beginning to the very first day at the end! Secret secret – the photos uploaded backwards….and I just wasn’t going to fuss about it!

Now – onto the images!!!!

 

 

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Travel Diaries : Seabrook, WA

Sunset, Seabrook WA

Seabrook, WA is one of the most beautiful places you’ll ever visit. It feels like a world of its own with the cute town, beautiful houses, and sweetest people. Set on the Washington Coast just about 30 minutes north of Ocean Shores – we found our new favorite Washington State Getaway location!

In October of 2017 we went for 4 days with my parents, and our family returned in March because we all needed a weekend away. Tara & Darren also came with, and since it’s one of the most beautiful places ever – I told them we were going to take some engagement photos for them here also! SO glad we did – because nothing beats the ocean at sunset.

Both homes that we have rented in Seabrook have been wonderful! They are fully stocked with everything you would need, and we have been more than happy each time. Certain homes also allow you to bring your dogs, and in town there is a store called “The Salty Dog” where you can get dog stuff also! Darren even walked down and bought Darby a new leash! They truly have thought of everything!

We have eaten at both Frontager’s Pizza Co. & the Mill 109 Restaurant and both have had delicious food! We also have gotten coffees, breakfast burritos, and sandwiches at the Front Street Market. Everything we’ve tasted has been really good!

Our favorites :

Frontager’s Pizza : The Pizza with the Fresh Cracked Egg on it. YUM.

Mill 109 : The BURGERS are SO GOOD!

Front Street Market : The Beef & Blue Sandwich. YUM! Roast beef and some sort of blue cheese spread that is not overwhelming but full of flavor.

In October, my mom and I went to the Spa, Spa Elizabeth for an afternoon to get pampered. We each got a facial, a massage, and a foot soak. I am not joking when I say it was the best massage I have ever had. If you are going to Seabrook, I highly recommend taking a little bit out of your day to relax and enjoy it!

Bring your walking shoes as the actual town of Seabrook is small enough so that you can walk mostly anywhere. It’s beautiful rain or shine, and I’ve loved when it was raining the excuse to curl up by the fireplace and read a book and fall asleep for a nap.

On the way to Seabrook, we’ve stopped in Aberdeen for some groceries and use it also as an excuse to get a Starbucks – because I’ll always say “yes” to Starbucks! The Market in Seabrook has a lot of stuff, but if you are planning on cooking your meals, I would recommend bringing groceries from home or stopping in Aberdeen at Safeway!

A few times we drove down to Pacific Beach, parked our vehicles and walked down the beach for a while. While you are able to walk down from the town onto the beach – we just did it this way!

Also! For a nice dinner – we have gone to Ocean Crest Dining – a restaurant about 7 minutes away in Moclips, WA. They serve amazing seafood and the servers are so kind. GET THE RAZOR CLAMS if you go! Fresh and delish.

To Book a trip there for YOURSELF, Visit Their Website & Check out the adorable homes that you can rent! Great for families, friends, or couples! It truly is a hidden gem!

https://www.seabrookwa.com

Here are some photos from our two trips to Seabrook, WA! 

Red Velvet Bakery in Seabrook, WA Seagull

 

 

PostHotel Leavenworth

We had one weekend off in the middle of summer wedding season. I had been following PostHotel Leavenworth for a while waiting for them to be open and watching their social media like a hawk. When they posted about some preview weekends available & one happened to be on our one weekend off – I got my best negotiating skills and sat down to show Kyle. It didn’t take much convincing, because this place is AMAZING. We stayed for 2 nights, and loved every moment of our stay.

The property and rooms are immaculate. Everything has been designed and put together to feel like a slice of Europe right in the middle of Washington. From the marble bathtub in every room, to the wellness area complete with multiple steam rooms and pools, we were in Heaven.

Breakfast and lunch are provided, along with the coziest bathrobes and slippers to make sure you feel 1,000% comfortable. Anyone who knows us knows how much we love a good cheeseboard – and each meal was complete with fresh breads, fruits, meats, and cheeses for us to sample. YUM. The lattes were fabulous. Every evening at 8:00 they invite you for desserts and coffee as well.

We rested, read, relaxed, and soaked in the sun. The pools. YOU GUYS, the pool had underwater music. I kid you not. Our room had a fireplace. The bed was so comfortable, I slept like a rock the whole weekend.

All that to say. HIGHLY RECOMMEND. HIGHLY.

We didn’t do any spa treatments, but some friends we made on our trip did – and said the massage was the best she’s had in her life. I believe it.

Everything was excellent and the staff were warm, welcoming, and incredibly lovely.

I brought my camera and snapped a few photos. 🙂 Just for you to see! 

 

And, of course, some iPhone photos! 

 

To check out PostHotel Leavenworth, Visit their Website : https://posthotelleavenworth.com 

To stay updated on their openings & availability, follow them on Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/posthotelleavenworth/

Kyle & Kels : Ireland Adventure Photo Shoot

This past October, Kyle & I took a 12 day adventure to Ireland. It was on both of our bucket list’s before we got married, and so when it came up one night at home – we decided that we needed to get there.

One of the things that was on my dream list was to get some photos taken of us while we were there. Ireland is a BEAUTIFUL country and I wanted to remember not only the things we saw, but this season of our lives. The first 3 years of marriage have been so sweet. I never want to forget our “firsts”. And this was our first major adventure together. It was the farthest we have ever traveled, and the first time to Europe.

After looking online for photographers in Ireland, I came across Claire’s work. Then – I realized we both were a part of a photography group on Facebook and I knew she was the one I wanted to work with! With her schedule & our trip itinerary, the only day that worked out to shoot, was our first day in Ireland! We landed on a Thursday night at 6PM, and scheduled our shoot for Friday at 3:00PM.

To be honest – I was worried I was maybe making us do too much the first day there. But I could not have been more wrong. We barely slept on the plane, so it was easy for us to fall right asleep after we checked into our hotel and had dinner. We ordered Irish Breakfast Room Service and both about fell over when a feast was rolled into our room. (TAKE ME BACK TO IRELAND). Then, after grabbing a Starbucks (DUH), Claire picked us up and drove us to the Howth Cliffs.

I cannot tell you how much we loved our shoot with Claire. She was the kindest person, and acted as a tour guide for the afternoon. She showed us some beautiful areas around Dublin & then after our shoot – we sat in Starbucks and warmed up over some coffee and pastries.

These images will forever be some of my very favorites. I cannot believe I had not blogged them already!

Thank you Claire, you made all of my wishes a reality.

View Claire’s Work :

http://www.studiobrown.ie

IRELAND.

Last summer, we were sitting on our couch watching movies on Netflix. Bowls of salty popcorn & ice cold Diet Cokes in hand. The movie we chose was based in Ireland, and after watching I said the words, ” I’ve always dreamed of going to Ireland.” to which Kyle’s jaw dropped & he admitted the very same thing.

We grabbed the laptop & started dreaming. Looking for different places we wanted to visit, average cost of a trip, airfare, etc. We knew that we wanted to spend 2 weeks there, and we knew it needed to be after wedding season. We decided on October & started an Ireland savings account. It was happening.

The dates were set. October 5 – October 17th. 12 whole days of pure adventure.

We fell in love with the country, with the people, with the food, with the scenery. It truly was a fabulous 12 days & we already want to go back!

I don’t think we realized HOW much we needed a vacation. Does that make sense? In a pattern of hustling & working, we had become accustomed to a fast moving, full schedule, busy week lifestyle. But having 12 days with almost no plans, except for adventuring, really did wonders for our stress level, for our relationship, & for our outlook on life.

I’ve been asked SO many details about our trip, so I thought I would put a few things down here that we did, and highly recommend! Along with sharing my favorite images!

The Details :

Costco Travel Vacation Package – We have had multiple clients of ours who booked their honeymoons through Costco & had nothing but good things to say. When researching, we checked out a lot of options, but are so glad that we booked our Hotels + Car through Costco. One, we got a GREAT deal, and we also got to stay at 3 different places around Ireland in order to make the most of our time there. Breakfast was included every day at all of our hotels, we were able to upgrade our vehicle to an automatic, & we were able to upgrade one of our rooms when we arrived at the hotel. Completely happy with all parts of the package that we booked.

Hotels :

The Westin – Dublin, Ireland

Right in the middle of downtown Dublin. Across the street from Trinity College. Walking distance from St. Steven’s Green, Grafton Street, The Temple Bar, & all of the shopping we could have ever wanted. We walked everywhere in Dublin & the people could not be kinder. We even found a cute hipster donut shop called “The Rolling Donut” to get some snacks for our road trip to the other side of the country. We stayed at the Westin in Cabo for our honeymoon & have stayed at many other Starwood properties over the years. One thing remains the same. They are the best smelling hotels in the entire world. And their beds TRULY are Heavenly. I loved starting our trip here – because it felt a little bit like home. The smell when you walk in is familiar, the beds are amazing, and they truly have the best customer service.

The Lodge at Ashford Castle – Cong, County Mayo, Ireland

Hands down our favorite part of our trip. Kyle surprised me with an upgade to their most beautiful room. Complete with a copper bathtub, fireplace, balcony overlooking the water, and of course  – an Espresso Machine. Praise. We fell in love with a restaurant called Cullen’s at the Cottage. So much so, that after our first dinner there – we made reservations for another dinner. The best part of the lodge was that it was so mellow. The pace of life was slow and easy. We met such wonderful people. The Lodge is on the same property as The Ashford Castle – one of the most beautiful castles in all of Ireland. We were able to walk the grounds, go on a boat tour of the Lough Corrib (one of the largest lakes in Ireland, we thought we were on the ocean), and have dinner in the Dungeon of the Castle for my birthday. Highly recommend. Plus, it’s walking distance from Cong Village. The CUTEST village with an Abbey from 1200. We loved wandering around Cong, definitely one of my favorite memories.

The Malton  – Killarney, County Kerry, Ireland

This hotel is MASSIVE. Walking distance from downtown Killarney. Which is basically like a smaller version of Dublin. Pubs galore which means the BEST food. Holy smokes. Killarney, you did not leave us hungry. We loved driving through the Killarney National Park, so much beauty. One of our days here – we took a road trip to Cork & Middleton. Super fun to explore & we even stopped in Cobh – the last stop the Titanic made & also one of the most colorful cities in the world. SO MUCH BEAUTY. We also met Mary Mac – the concierge at the Malton. She was our favorite. She got us connected with Ted – a jaunting cart owner, who took us on a horse & buggy ride through the Gap of Dunloe. Highlight for sure. She also sent us to her favorite restaurant Bricin, for our final dinner in Killarney, and the owner took such wonderful care of us. Afternoon tea was basically like Thanksgiving, because we drank so much tea & ate so many sweets we definitely needed an afternoon nap.

Car – Enterprise – We upgraded to an automatic, because most vehicles are manual. Being on the opposite side of the car & the opposite side of the road took a little adjusting, but Kyle did GREAT. Highly satisfied with our decision to purchase a Garmin GPS. We were going to rent one – but for the extent of our trip, it was actually cheaper to buy one with Ireland Maps already loaded on. We never got lost. However, our Garmin loved to take us the scenic route once in a while. We ended up on some super remote one lane roads through the middle of the country side & it was where some of the best views were. Loved getting off the main roads and experiencing the beauty of Ireland.

Flights – British Airways : We booked Premium Economy seats & are SO glad that we spent the extra $$. 10 hours on a plane is a long time & with a 6’2″ husband, extra legroom is a MUST. The meals were the best airplane food we’ve ever had, the seats were comfortable, & we had substantially more legroom than regular economy. We flew from Seattle direct to London (LHR) & then had a 1 hour flight to Dublin.

We posted a lot of Instagram photos throughout our trip & I had multiple people ask me what our secret was to having SUCH an amazing time. You know? I think the best part is that we went in without an agenda. Besides our hotels – which were in 3 different places across Ireland – we didn’t have a set itinerary. We of course had some bucket list items, but woke up each day & decided on things as we went! It was so nice to not be rushed & to be able to work with the weather. I am not naturally a spontaneous person, but I loved being spontaneous in a completely new place.

Restaurants : WE HAD THE BEST FOOD. We relied a lot on Trip Advisor for recommendations which we were very happy with! Along with some recommendations from our concierges, TripAdvisor was our guide. We had breakfast included with our room rates every morning & all 3 hotels did not disappoint. A traditional full Irish Breakfast is a LOT of food, but they allowed us to customize to make sure we had what we needed without needing an immediate nap. What did we eat in Ireland? Well, just about everything. Okay. That’s a lie. But we had a LOT of pub food, which was code for sandwiches, soup, stew, lots of French fries, and I ordered every Beet Salad I could get my hands on. Kyle LOVES lamb, so he ordered it multiple times. We had lots of fish & chips, perfectly cooked steak, curry, fried chicken, burgers, etc. We are total foodies, so we wanted to make sure to try lots of different things. One thing is for sure. IRISH BUTTER WINS EVERY AWARD EVER. We are not 100% addicted to Kerrygold butter, straight from Ireland. It comes from Grass Fed Cows & it is so rich & delicious. You would think it’s worse for you than traditional butter, but news flash, IT’S NOT! Just one more reason we love all things Irish.

Favorite Restaurants : Cullen’s At the Cottage, Crackbird, Bricin Restaurant, The Hungry Monk Café.

We absolutely loved our time. The people we met. Laura & Sinead from Cullen’s at the Cottage. Ashley & her husband who own The Hungry Monk Café, Mary Mac from The Malton, Brian from the Lodge at Ashford Castle, Claire – the photographer who took photos of us on the cliffs, we met some friends who are thoroughly missed now that we are back on this side of the world. So grateful to social media which can keep us connected – even from afar.

Now, for the images.

The first set is what we took on our Cameras. The second set is from our phones! 🙂

TRINITY COLLEGE, DUBLIN.

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GALWAY.

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THE CONG ABBEY.

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CONG VILLAGE.

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THE CLIFFS OF MOHER. 

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COBH, IRELAND.

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THE GAP OF DUNLOE – KILLARNEY NATIONAL PARK.

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NOW, FOR SOME iPHONE PHOTOS! 

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