The second half of my trip back to the homeland had me renting a car, navigating the freeways to SFO (did you know those things have like, six lanes down there? I'm pretty sure Oregon is just being a pansy with its whopping three laners and 55 mph speed limits... I already miss going 70...), squealing-jumping-hugging Jenn when she got off the plane, then completely neglecting the country music mixes I'd made for the trip as we chatted the whole two hours it took to get to Kate's house in Seaside.
And then the fun began.
(after we confirmed none of us were internet serial killers)
Sure, we joke a lot about the amount of wine and cheese we're capable of consuming (Jenn, am I still in your phone as "Lauren Wine & Cheese"? Because if so, I'm totally good with that), but truly, nothing brings bloggers together like that match made in heaven. So for day one in Monterey, Kate took us to a beautiful tasting room overlooking Monterey Bay.
Friends, wine, ocean... This would be the trend for the whole weekend.
I wish I'd taken more pictures as we traversed Cannery Row, or in our fancy hotel room that night (girl's night out! I may have been the only non-mama in the bunch but I think I was almost as due for a proper mini-break/night on the town as Kate and Jenn) (not really because those two are my heroes for raising two babies and I can't even pretend to know what multi-tasking/the need for a night out really is, but I had a blast nonetheless).
Another blogger-fail was not documenting our dinner at 1833... But I'm sorry, we were too busy eating bacon cheddar biscuits with maple chili butter and drinking more wine in the Governor's Room.
This was one of those places I would have liked to pack into my suitcase and bring back to Portland with me because it would do gangbuster business with the food/beverage/spooky obsessed people in this town. My goodness, the food, the drinks, the food... I die.
But what was more fun was getting to spend such a sweet little staycation with these two amazing women I feel like I've known forever. We'd joked over the last year that we were kind of like each other's best friends we'd never met, but really, it's true. Our conversations just flowed and I feel like we could just be so entirely ourselves with one another. Yes, I do believe these were friendships predestined from a world much higher than our own.
Sunday morning we were up bright with the sun and headed back to Fort Larrabee to grab the boys (Kev was in charge of both boys overnight, by himself and while no one was expecting the worst - except I think Kev himself because, as he said many times, Kate is such an incredible parent he was worried he might not be as good at it on his own (Worry not, Kev! I think you're basically Super Dad... Or Major Dad, as it were) - I can only imagine how hard it was to leave two such amazing little men, even if for only a night)!
Another "coulda-woulda-shoulda" was not getting photos inside the Carmel Mission where we went to Mass. It was so crazy because here I am, the native Californian, and it was my first time actually at a mission for anything more than a quick tour or fourth grade class field trip!
As we pulled up it didn't even dawn on me that that's where they went to church. I looked over and saw a sign reading "Father Junipero Serra"and still it wasn't until we walked into the walls of the mission that I had a resounding "duh!" moment.
I mean it's not like I spent my whole childhood learning about those places or anything.
Now I've only been to Catholic Mass two other times in my life and while the churches were pretty, they had nothing on the Carmel Mission.
It was stunning. The colors, the gilding, the history, the humble majesty of it all - I was just awestruck.
And being protestant, I was also completely lost. Which is why Jenn coached me through the service so I knew what to do and didn't look like a total heathen! Mostly though I was just loving the experience and wanted to learn about it as I went along.
And what I learned most of all came from Cullen and Bennett... And that was the promise of donuts.
Suffice it to say the boys took off running as soon as they got the green light.
Back at the house it was time for a lazy Sunday afternoon of giggles, cuddles, cool-guy glasses and more treats.
Oh, and Frankie. Oh, Frankie, my little bedtime cuddle buddy. I adore this dog.
And of course we would have been remiss had we not spent a little time wine tasting in Carmel Valley... So off to Talbott it was!
(sidenote: excellent pinot and chardonnay for about $20 - get on that!)
The boys, while unable to comment on the quality of the wines, had only raving reviews for the breadstick selection.
And in an effort to aid in the digestion of said breadsticks, the boys got a little runaround time at a nearby park.
"Just wear yourselves out, boys."
It's really just a shame they aren't happy children, right?
Monday morning with Cullen off to school and Kev off to general Army badassery, we three girls and our spokesbaby Bennett took to breakfast at a little French bakery where B fell in with a crowd of old men drinking coffee and I continued to take a thousand pictures an hour.
And eat two giant pastries the size of my head.
And finally, to round out our time on the coast, we played at the beach before picking C up from school. We wandered the streets of Carmel (looking for Clint Eastwood - alas...) and finally deciding on a dip into the pacific for those willing to brave the freeze.
Bennett, little water baby that he is, didn't seem to mind much.
My heart is still smiling.
Thank you girls so much for such an incredible weekend and for being two of the best friends I've FINALLY met!
Here's to the next Great Blate!