This Beautiful, Magical Place They Call Yosemite …

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Happy Monday, friends. I’m on to the last leg of our California trip, Yosemite National Park. We stayed in the most amazing cabin called the Birdhouse, which was part of the Scenic Wonders properties. It was right next to a babbling creek and had an awesome wrap-around porch with a grill and hot tub, plus a fully stocked kitchen, huge dining and living room area and a loft space with a King-size bed and two smaller beds, plus plenty of room for Lotte’s Pack and Play. It was perfect for our two-night stay, even if we did arrive a bit later than we expected to on Sunday night because things got confusing with closed roads due to a fire :/ Still, we arrived! And it was awesome! And we had a full day in Yosemite on Monday to explore, which included taking in the scene at Tunnel View, catching the Yosemite Valley Floor Tour (which takes place on a tractor!), seeing the Bridalveil Falls, having a picnic and checking out the Yosemite Falls, as well. Unfortunately two things we wanted to see — Glacier Point Road and Mariposa Grove with sequoias and Redwoods — were closed because of the ongoing fire.

Guess that just means we’ll have to come back 😉

The views:

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^^ Our cute little Birdhouse, tucked away and secluded in the Yosemite woods.

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^^ Our little fam at Bridalveil Fall. I was nervous about the trail leading up to the falls because it was marked as steep and dangerous, but really it was so short, it was no bother at all.

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^^ Ridin’ along on our tractor tour strapped to dad in an Ergo — that’s the way to go! Lotte was pretty good on the tour, which lasted two hours. She fussed a bit but I think she really enjoyed the motion of the tractor and being outside, and she eventually fell asleep in the Ergo, which was awesome. It also helped that our tour guide was seriously amazing. You could really tell that she loves her job — she even sang to us at one point — and she made the whole experience that much more enjoyable.
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^^ Checking out the scenery at Tunnel View. You can see the whole valley from here, and it’s so spectacular.

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^^ The only family shot at Tunnel View that we were able to get 😉

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^^ Ergo napping baby!

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^^ It lightly drizzled on-and-off during our picnic (that’s Yosemite Falls in the background), but that turned out to be great, because no one else was around!

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^^ This blurry photo of my babe and my hubs in front of the falls is one of my faves 😉 We didn’t do the actual Yosemite Falls hike, but you can take a short path up to the base, which was really beautiful.

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^^ Oh hi there, tiny humans of mine!

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Tuesday we had to head back to San Francisco to catch our flight home, but we took some time in the morning to head back to some of our favorite sites and snap some photos before leaving. Yosemite was so wonderful and majestic, and I’m so glad we got to take Lotte there. Even at her young age, you can still tell she’s noticing everything, and her favorite thing in the world to do right now is point and babble. She did that a lot along our California journey, and it felt great to be able to tell her exactly what she was looking at … just beautiful ole’ America, which is here for her to enjoy.

Bis bald, friends!

Amongst the Towering Sequoia Trees

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Happy Friday, friends! So last Saturday we hopped in the car to drive from San Francisco to a place I’ve been dreaming about for a while now — Sequoia National Park. Why exactly have I been dreaming about sequoias since I was a young girl, you might ask? Funnily enough, sequoia was actually one of the first words I ever learned to spell in my elementary school in Albany (I also took French there … super fancy, fancy), and I’ll always remember that because it was so hard to spell. Ever since then, I’ve wanted to go and visit.

Funny the things we remember from when we’re little, isn’t it?

Anyway, we hopped in the Jag around 7:30 a.m. on Saturday and drove about 4.5 hours to Sequoia, all with our little muffin in the back seat. We stayed at the Wuksachi Lodge, which was nice since it was right there inside the park. (This was much preferred to our lodging in Yellowstone which, although nice, was about an hours drive to and from the park each day. Definitely not recommended.) We originally thought we had a kitchen in our room and we had bought food to cook for the rest of the trip, but we didn’t, so we ate at the hotel restaurant. It turned out to be really nice, though, because the restaurant was in a separate lodge, which allowed us to explore a bit, and it was surrounded by windows which were surrounded by … you guessed it … trees!

So the sequoias are … absolutely everything I imagined they would be and more. We didn’t even have one full day to spend in the park, but we made darn sure to check out all the main attractions: The General Sherman Tree (the largest tree in the world by mass), The Congress Trail, the Moro Rock Trail (well I didn’t do this — too steep for my preggers self — but Chris did, and the views were spectacular), Crescent Meadow, and so much more. Chris even went for a run in the morning and came across a bear (he was trying to), so that made his trip!

Really, though, just to be there, walking among those beautiful, tall trees, that was all I needed to feel more relaxed than I’ve felt in … ummm… years?! It’s an amazing experience that I think everyone should make a priority at some point.

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^^ Here we are, just the 3.5 of us, in front of a big ole’, ginorous tree 😉

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^^ The bump was really out and about on this trip! Oh hey there, Baby Connor No. 2!

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^^ That’s General Sherman I’m pointing to in the background there. Perspective is a funny, funny thing …

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And that was Sequoia and King’s Canyon, in a nutshell. It was fast and furious through the park, but I really feel like we got to see a lot of it, and what we did see was glorious. Love you, sequoia trees. Thanks for being so amazing.

On Monday I’ll bring you the final leg of our trip — Yosemite National Park. Until then, bis bald, friends, and have a great weekend!

One Day in San Francisco

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Happy Thursday, friends! Chris and Lotte and I are back from our trip to California, and can I just say that we really do have the most amazing little traveler ever. Lotte was so chill on this trip, which included staying in multiple different places overnight and driving for hours between destinations. She barely complained at all … except for the flight home. Luckily that was only two hours, and by then she more than deserved to complain.

Anyway, our kid is totally awesome, but back to the trip 😉 We flew into San Francisco around 8 p.m. on Thursday of last week and stayed with one of my oldest friends in her sweet apartment in Nob Hill. Seriously though, we couldn’t have asked for a better location to stay for our two night, one day visit, because we were within walking distance to pretty much everything, and the cable car (which I do believe was Lotte’s favorite part of the entire trip) runs right past her place.

With only one full day to see everything we wanted to see, we couldn’t waste a ton of time, but even with our jam packed schedule I didn’t feel like we did too much or pushed Lotte too hard. Needless to say, however, we would love to go back and see more!

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^^ Chris got fancy on this trip and rented us a Jaguar to drive around California. I actually didn’t drive it at all — because Chris was nice enough to take on that burden for the entirety of  the trip — but it sure was fun to ride shotgun in!

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^^ Look at these two — could they be any cuter?! This is right outside of Mina’s apartment before we started our day on Friday. I snapped this shot before Lotte became fascinated with the cable car going by, a fascination that lasted through the trip.

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^^ Our first stop was a walk to Lombard Street (which we returned to later with the Jag to drive down!), which was so beautiful. There’s a great view of the water and Alcatraz from here, and the blooms all the way up the road are gorgeous.

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^^ From Lombard Street we walked over to Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39 to check out the sea lions.

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^^ After lunch at The Buena Vista Cafe (well-known for their Irish coffees, which of course I couldn’t have, but Chris and Mina did) we bought tickets for a ride on the cable car which, as I mentioned earlier, was definitely Lotte’s favorite part of our entire trip. We sat in a seat looking out onto the street and she just smiled and kicked her legs and squealed the whole time. It was absolutely the cutest thing.

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^^ Look at this happy little cable car rider!

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^^ After a short rest and change back at Mina’s place, we headed back out to check out the Golden Gate Bridge (or so we thought) and to grab dinner. (We ended up at the newly opened MAC’D, where you build your own macaroni and cheese dinner by picking from different menu options. I put shrimp on mine, and Lotte was a big fan.)  On the way we passed by the Palace of Fine Arts and hopped out for a quick photo, because how gorgeous is it here?

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^^ Sadly, Karl the Fog was in full force Friday night when we stopped down by the bridge, so we couldn’t get a complete view. Still, what we did get to see was pretty!

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After a full day of touring we headed back to Mina’s to get ready to leave early the next morning for Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park. While I was looking forward to seeing the sequoias (more on exactly why in my next post), I was really sad to leave Mina. We had a great time visiting San Francisco, even for the short time we were there, and it was even better to have had Mina there to be our tour guide. I can’t wait to get back and do some more exploring (and maybe, just maybe, get a better shot of that bridge?!).

And that was our San Francisco trip in a nutshell, friends. Tomorrow, I’ll be back with Sequoia!

Bis bald!

Sunday Hikes at Clear Creek Trail

Happy Monday, friends! Our weekend was filled with lots of house stuff (we haven’t been home together in four weekends … it’s amazing how things pile up), tons of Lotte time and a bit of finalizing stuff for our basement, which should, hopefully, be done by the time my sister and stepdad arrive on Tuesday – finally.

Amidst the mayhem, though, we managed to fit in a little hike at Clear Creek Trail near Golden. The Arvada hike entrance is only about 10 minutes from our home, and the loop that we took was totally flat and only about 2.5 miles roundtrip. (Although apparently this trail loops through many different towns and is more than 20 miles, all told.)

It was a really fun little trail to do on a Sunday afternoon, perfect for families. We passed tons of gorgeous lakes, two parks and a lot of picnic areas. Although we did see THREE snakes! If you’re not a snake person — which I am NOT — I might recommend sticking to the paved path above the river.

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^^ I told Chris that this meant the trail we were on was closed and that we needed to go up to the paved part (you could pick between the rocky area near the river, where we were, and a paved path that you would share with cyclers), but he swore it was for the area below.

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^^ As it turned out, I was right. Naturally 😉

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^^ This girl loves a good hike, all snuggled up against dad.

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I hope you guys all had a wonderful weekend. Bis bald!

Sun Valley Joins the Mountain Collective for 2015-16 Season

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Hi friends!

So I know you’re all: “Hey man, it’s May. And you’re over here talking about snow and ski passes and stuff. What’s up with that?”

Or some form of the above.

As any die-hard skier/snowboarder will know, season passes for places go on sale wicked early (as in I’ve been getting emails regarding my Epic Local Pass for over a month now, and I’ve already missed the deadline to sign up and receive 6 buddy passes along with it. Oops.) Anyway, the point is, the early bird catches the worm when it comes to ski passes, and this season there’s a whole lot more to love with the Mountain Collective 2015/16 pass, now that Sun Valley, Idaho and Thredbo, Australia have joined the fray.

If you live in the Mountain West — or even just plan to be in any of their six awesome locations for more than 3 or 4 days — this pass is absolutely worth it. Included with the $379 purchase are access to nine leading ski destinations, including Sun Valley, Idaho, Thredbo, Australia, Banff, Alberta, Whistler, BC, Aspen, Colorado, Jackson Hole, Wyoming, AltaSnowbird, Utah, Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows, California and Mammoth Mountain in California.

That’s a whole lotta great places to ski or snowboard, my friends.

Included in this deal are two days of skiing or riding at each of the nine destinations, plus a 50 percent discount on all additional days with no blackout dates. Pricing for the kids’ pass (ages 12 and under) is just $99 for the 2015-16 season.

Get your passes here before it’s too late! Hope to see you on the mountains ….

Bis bald, friends!

A Slight Change in Plans …

Hi friends,

So it’s been a while–how are ya?! Things here have been moving along at a crazy pace this year–jobs and wedding planning and pets and travel … you know how it goes.

Speaking of wedding planning, there’s been a slight change in ours. And now that we’ve updated all of our friends and family, I can go ahead and share here, as well. So the deal is this–Chris and I have decided to get married, just the two of us, by ourselves. Most likely here in New York City, the place where it all began.

Then, we’ll go ahead and have some parties with our individual families. The way we see it, it just gives us more chances to celebrate. (And more chances for me to wear my dress. And less stress. So basically good things all around.)

Now that our plans have changed, though, I feel the need to share the information I have about the place we visited back in Palm Springs. The cancellation of this wedding had absolutely nothing to do with our visit to this place because, let me tell you, we adored this place. We loved this place. If we were going to have a fancy, full-on wedding, this would have been the place.

So here’s the deal. The place that I found was called The O’Donnell House (even looking at this site brings a pang to my heart…how beautiful!).

There are so many reasons that I loved this place. Let me see: It’s on the smaller side, so our guest list would have had to have been capped at 125 (which, as amazing as a smaller wedding sounded to us, it turned out to be stressful when it came to actually planning the guest list); it’s outdoors, surrounded by mountains and cacti and natural beauty; The O’Donnell House itself is this old, quaint hotel, with tons of charm and old-world feel; Laurie, the event planner for The O’Donnell House, is an angel. Honestly. When I wrote her to tell her that we actually would not be signing the contract, on the day it was due, after I had asked her to keep that date open for me (yup, I was that nightmare bride), she was nothing but professional. And when I told her that I was so sorry, and that I felt so conflicted about it, she proceeded to share a very personal, very lovely story with me about her daughter, which really did make me feel better.

I thought I’d share a few more photos of our weekend here now, in case they might be inspirational for any of you brides (or soon-to-be-brides!) looking for a destination wedding location. Check it out:

These are the adorable golf carts that our guests would have ridden up to the venue in. Too fun.
Wrought iron gates lead to the area where the tables and dance floor would be set up.
Imagine this area filled with friends, family, food and dancing. Love it.
Another view
Little touches like these cute lanterns really help make the venue shine.
This porch off the bride’s prep rooms on the top floor provides an amazing view of the valley. I envisioned me and my maids drinking coffee out here in the morning before getting ready, talking about how my whole life was about to change …

Chris and I would have been getting married right at that teeny, tiny tip of the grass area.

The stairs I would be walking down to get married.

We were thinking Mexican food for our rehearsal dinner…I mean who doesn’t want to eat that, right now?
Oh yeah, and this was going to be our wedding cake. Yummmmmm
Tasting different wedding cake options is, I believe, one of the best things in life.

The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway rises 8,500 feet above the desert floor. A ride on it was going to be our gift to our guests as a thanks for celebrating in Palm Springs with us.

Oh, and we ended the trip with Mexican food and margaritas. Not too shabby!

So that, my friends, was our trip (and our wedding!) in a nutshell. Like I said, if you’re looking for a place for a potential destination wedding, I’d highly suggest checking out Palm Springs and the O’Donnell House. It’s the stuff that wedding dreams are made of.

On another travel note, I have some very exciting trips coming up. Something came up last minute for the end of August and, despite the expense of it!, I just had to do it. Now I can’t share all the details of that here just yet, because part of it is a surprise, but let’s just say it’s a trip of a lifetime, and I am so, so blessed to be able to be a part of it. I can’t wait to share more about it here!

Then, Chris and I have finally finalized everything for our Europe trip in September. While we originally thought we’d have time to head to Cinque Terra, unfortunately that just wasn’t in the cards, so instead we’ll be doing Berlin (for the marathon), Munich (for Oktoberfest), renting a car and dropping Chris’s parents off in Salzburg before heading to Venice for a night, then it’s off to Rome for three days.

I can’t wait!! Having travel to look forward to really does make everything in life worth it, doesn’t it?

Bis bald, friends! Hope your summer’s are going swimmingly!

Mission Accomplished

Well friends, I’m wary of sharing too much information here, or too many photos, but I just have to say–Chris and I both LOVED Palm Springs. It was absolutely everything I had hoped it would be, and I am beyond excited to get married there!

It’s beautiful. The people are so nice. There is so much to do.

It’s exactly the type of place we were looking for. Here’s a little bit of what we saw this past weekend:

Well folks–what do you think? It’s pretty … pretty, right?!

By the way, I’d be remiss if I didn’t at least mention the havoc that was our trip on Thursday. After barely making it back to the apartment by 1 to meet Chris at our appointed time (this, my friends, is because it took me AN HOUR to arrive by bus to my apartment, all of 80 blocks from my point of origin), we made it to LaGuardia. After loading our plane to Dallas for our connecting flight (and being placed in AWESOME seats in the first row behind first class), we were quickly de-planed after it was announced to us that the air conditioning wasn’t working on the plane, and they needed to fix it with us off the plane.

Once back in the terminal, we realized that, with the delay, we would never catch our connecting flight in Dallas to Palm Springs, and that flight turned out to be the last out of Dallas to Palm Springs for the night.

Also, the earliest flight on Friday morning would not allow us to get in with enough time to make our first two appointments–meeting the wedding planner, seeing the destination venue and meeting the DJ.

All very important things.

To make a long story short (sort of), we ended up getting a car service (thank you American Airlines) from LaGuardia to JFK, where a flight was leaving at 7 directly to Los Angeles. Then, in LA, we had to rent a car and drive the 2 1/2 hours to Palm Springs.

Needless to say, we arrived–tired and starving and not a little cranky–at our hotel in Palm Springs at around 3 a.m. on Friday morning.

At least our stewardess has been amazing. She loved the fact that Chris and I were engaged, and gave us champagne before the flight took off, then a full bottle before we got off the plane.

That nearly made it all worth it 😉

Bis bald, friends!