My Parent’s First Blog: California Adventures

I was all set to write a blog on my parent’s visit to California, but when I got the email with their “notes”… it ended up being a full travel journal from the trip! It was so much fun reading about the trip from their perspective and so I decided to share that perspective with you! So here it is, my parent’s debut blog post.

Wednesday

Arrived at San Jose airport. Great to see Paula! Paula took us to lunch at San Pedro Square in San Jose. Delicious food, coffee, and the best chocolate peanut butter cookie from Chocotoo.

We spent the afternoon and evening catching up with Paula, Mo and Sydney at their apartment. Grilled salmon and made a kale salad (Paula’s trademark) for dinner. Happy to see Mo and Sydney again!

Thursday

We ate breakfast at Prolific Oven in Sunnyvale, featuring Aidell’s chicken sausage, before making the trip to Carmel-by-the- Sea.

On our way into Carmel, we did the 17-Mile Drive just off of Highway 1, along Monterey Peninsula Coast. It’s an amazing scenic view with stops and look-outs along the way, including Point Joe, Bird Rock, the Lone Cypress landmark, and the historic Lodge at Pebble Beach (built in 1919).
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We then checked in at our cottage suite – Horizon Inn and Ocean View Lodge. That evening, we explored the quaint, picturesque and hilly town of Carmel on foot. The lush landscaping and fragrant scents, including rosemary bushes and lavender plants, were especially impressive!

Throughout the day, we tasted the local culinary delights of Carmel: a courtyard lunch of Irish fare at Mulligan Public House, coffee from Carmel Coffee Roasters and happy hour on the roof top of Vesuvio for a great view and drinks. Topped the evening off with a sampling of raw oysters, prawns, “rosé clam chowder” (half Manhattan style, half New England style), salads and key lime pie at A.W. Shucks Cocktail and Oyster Bar.

Friday

Our breakfast basket arrived on our doorstep!

We walked down the hill to the white sands of Carmel Beach, then back up the steps to walk along Scenic Drive, viewing picturesque rocks and turquoise water on one side and premier architectural estates on the other side. Enjoyed the mix of architectural styles throughout Carmel; charming bungalows, picture perfect gardens, secret walkways and secluded courtyards.

Second breakfast after our scenic walk was at La Bicyclette… we had worked up quite an appetite! Amazing wood fired eggs, avocado toast, mixed berry scones, and lattes in a authentic French cafe setting.

We then drove into Monterey and ate a delicious seafood lunch at the Old Fisherman’s Grotto on Fisherman’s Wharf. We had a spectacular view of the Monterey Bay for lunch, with even a few sea lions sightings! Monterey Bay Aquarium was our next stop. The aquarium is famous and not understandable so! There was a 180º window “Open Sea” exhibit, Octopus, Jellyfish, Baja California exhibits, Sea Otter feeding and a walk-through aviary. We then walked along the Cannery Row and the Warehouses that once housed the major sardine industry of the 1920’s.

After exploring Monterey, we drove back to Carmel and ate dinner at The Forge in the Forest Restaurant. We enjoyed appetizers, fondue, charcuterie board and mediterranean pizza in a quaint courtyard. Broke a record for FitBit steps this day!

Saturday

Breakfast basket arrived on our doorstep again! After a quick bite, we headed to San Francisco via a stop at Sunnyvale to give Sydney the day off. First stop in San Francisco was the Ferry Building Marketplace, to browse the specialty shops, vendor booths, a stop at Blue Bottle Coffee, and lunch at the outside market.

The rest of the afternoon was spent at Muir Woods National Park to hike the trails among the coastal redwoods, many over 600 years old. In Muir Woods, the tallest redwood is over 258 feet, about the height of a 23-story building.
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We made a brief stop at The Depot Bookstore & Cafe in Mill Valley on our way back to San Francisco and were amazed at the hills that this community was built on. Once we arrived back in the city, we checked in at the Argonaut Hotel, a uniquely renovated cannery building on Fisherman’s Wharf. We had a seafood dinner at Alioto’s Restaurant #8 on Fisherman’s Wharf, complete with a great sunset view. Topped the day off with a roller coaster cable car ride from the Fisherman’s Wharf, to the center of San Francisco, and back.

Sunday

Paula and Mo joined us for breakfast at the Blue Mermaid Chowder House inside the Argonaut Hotel. Afterwards, we joined a National Park Ranger walking tour of the maritime national historic park and museum, complete with great views of Alcatraz. Next, we jumped on a on a double decker City-tour of San Francisco which wove through the neighborhoods and gave a live commentary of sightseeing highlights. Before leaving San Francisco we had to stop at the Buena Vista, home of the world-famous Irish coffee.

We made our way back to Sunnyvale where Scott and I checked into the historic Wittle Inn (established 1938 and preserved as an original motor court motel). Dinner was on historic Murphy Street at The Oxford, where we sampled English specialties– Pimm’s, fish and chips, beef pasties, chicken pot pie and shrimp gnocchi.

Monday

While Paula and Mo headed back to work, we explored some of the Sunnyvale area on foot, including Peet’s Coffee and the Sprouts (ie Fresh Thyme by us) with artichokes bigger than a grapefruit! We walked to the LinkedIn Campus where Paula and Mo both joined us for lunch at their cafeteria that features an incredible assortment of food options. Paula gave us a tour of her facility and the LinkedIn Campus.

We had a leisurely afternoon walking Sid and relaxing on their apartment patio. Once Mo was home, we decided to go to Mountain View to check out their downtown area and have dinner at Eureka!

Tuesday

No trip to Sunnyvale would be complete without a stop at the Lace Museum. Well worth the visit, this inconspicuous storefront houses an comprehensive collection of lace, lace tools and other related lace items. It is one of only two lace specific museums in the country. We met Paula at LinkedIn for lunch and after picking Sydney up, we headed to a private wine-tasting at the Big Dog Vineyards, about 30 minutes from Sunnyvale. It was spectacular. A family-owned vineyard, with a great dane as their greeter, not only did we get to taste their assortment of wines, but we were able to grill our hostess on questions regarding grape types, process, facility and then walk the vineyard that rose up the hill behind their home. Confirming that I did not prune our own grapes too severely.

Our last dinner together was at Dishdash on Murphy Street, Paula and Mo’s favorite Mediterranean restaurant, and we can certainly understand why. Our final stop of the trip was at Hardy’s Bavaria, a German restaurant and bar. The owners are 2 German elderly sisters that made us feel at home and shared their interesting family story with us.

Wednesday

In addition to trying a Golden (turmeric) Latte at Peet’s, we walked to the icon In-and -Out Burgers to say we were there and taste their legacy. Mo picked us up at the Wittle Inn and we headed to the San Jose Airport. What a memorable week!!

Best parts of the trip:

Mom: spending time with Paula, Mo and Sydney. Touring primarily by foot so we could see the sights up-close. Sampling a wide variety of culinary delights, ethnic cuisines and local seafood. Sitting outside at almost every place we visited; enjoyed the patios, courtyards and lush landscaping (including the great patio at Paula and Mo’s apartment). Dad also enjoyed seeing the 40+ year old Volkswagens.

Dad: reconnecting with my past from when I was here last 40 years ago. Family experiences in Carmel, coastal walks, Monterey and Aquarium, the San Francisco wharfs, dining at Grotto and Aliottos, the cable cars, and combining the new experiences with the past. Muir Woods hike and Big Dog Winery were fun, enjoyed the walks to LinkedIn for lunch, and the fine eateries and people. Edith and Anne Marie at Hardy’s German Restaurant were a real kick! Fun at the Ocean View Lodge in Carmel. The Argonaut, Whittle Inn and Paula and Mo’s place are forever in my memory.  Every moment was truly a treasure of past, present and future enjoyment! We thank both of you for such indelibly special times, experiences and remembrances. Sharing these experiences together make it s trip of a lifetime!

And there you have it! A week full of fun, good food and sight-seeing from my parent’s perspective. The best part for me was getting to show them the life and community we’ve built here in the past year. The time together might have come and gone, but the memories we made will truly last a lifetime!

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