Well guys, it’s been a year. A truly crazy, unforeseen, hot (hot) mess of a year. An unprecedented year (cringe). Honestly, 2020, WTF?
It’s been the slowest, yet fastest year of all time. It’s like, time stood still but went by in a blink of an eye all at once, if that even makes any sense at all.
I think we can all agree — 2020 was absolute madness. Millions infected with COVID-19, resulting in lockdowns and curfews and ICU bed capacity below threshold. Election insanity (I mean, we had not one, not two, but 4 election days!). Police brutality and riots and so much racism (honestly, America, WTF).
The innocent killings of Breanna Taylor and George Floyd. Dry lightning fire storms in California resulting in apocalyptic orange skies and unhealthy air. Small businesses being forced to close resulting in tons of lost jobs (due to both COVID and the CA fires). Killer bees? And of course canceled trips, decreased business revenue, and a million other things.
Hands up if you’re ready for 2020 to be over (many months ago).
Instead of focusing on all the negatives, let’s focus on the positives, shall we? Puppy cuddles and peaceful BLM protests. Lots of zoom calls and FaceTimes with family/students. Exploring more of California and our immediate area with a bunch of day trips from San Francisco.
Outdoor dining date nights and picnics by the lake. Banana bread and puzzles (two quarantine musts). Supportive WFH workplaces and frontline/healthcare workers. And finally, a much-needed Democratic presidential win (!!!) AND the first (BIPOC) female in office.
Well, unsurprisingly, the year didn’t go as planned. Was it my best year yet? No, not even close. But I am thankful for what it’s taught me — to be present and slow down a bit, tell my friends/family how much I adore and appreciate them, prioritize myself and my needs, and that sometimes puppy snuggles are just the right medicine.
2020 was also the first time I slurped an oyster, hiked an 11-mile trail, ate a McDonalds breakfast (not a fan), and whitened my teeth. I took a lot of time off from social media (especially Instagram) and watching the news — as they were doing nothing but negative things for my mental health.
This gave me extra time to read a whole lotta books — something I realized I really miss!
OH. And I got up to level 1500 in Candy Crush (one of my most important 101 in 1001 goals crushed right there 😂). No one said this year in review would be all of actual importance! I’m not the most eloquent writer when it comes to serious stuff, so gotta include some silly accomplishments every now and then.
PSST — I tried something new this year and wrote notes for the monthly summaries as the months progressed, instead of the full 12 months in December. I kinda like reliving my past visited destinations all at once towards the end of the year, but I get wildly overwhelmed trying to remember everything and finding the photos to go along. I kinda liked this new way of documenting my annual recaps, despite the ~7k word essay that resulted from documenting EVERYTHING.
So, let’s get started!
We rang in the New Year (and new decade!) in Miami, by eating arepas and watching the most epic fireworks show we’ve ever experienced. Pitbull was expected in the park we were at, but after waiting a few hours we came to the conclusion that he was either a no-show or we were waiting in the wrong spot (totally my fault – whoops!).
The following few days were spent marveling in that South Floridian sunshine on the famous Miami South Beach (of course photographing the colorful lifeguard stands the beach is famous for), watching the sunset on Key Biscayne, having a delicious seafood meal at our new favorite Miami restaurant (Rusty Pelican), and indulging in donuts and over-the-top paletas amongst the murals in Wynwood.
We visited the Design District (oh so hip and fun), had our fair share of tacos and fancy toasts, and got to spend a bit more time with Noah’s parents in southern Florida.
But by far the best part of our trip was coming home though, something I never thought I’d ever say! If you don’t remember from last year’s 2019 annual review recap, we had juuuust adopted the cutest puppy from a local shelter 3 days before our trip. To say we were missing him like crazy is an absolute understatement.
When I found a $200 round trip ticket to JFK for the long MLK weekend, I booked that baby right up. Sure, it was bitter cold (and even snowed a few inches one day), but I got to see a bunch of extended family members and there was lots of quality time with my parents and sister <3.
Little did I know those were the last hugs I would give my family for far too long.
In my few short days in New York, I visited both my grandmas, had lunch with my aunt, and visited a friend who was about to give birth to her first baby boy!
Whenever I’m in town, we always attempt to have a family day in NYC. This time, we checked out the Bryant Park Winter Village (complete with super-sweet chimney cakes from The Stackery), admired the architecture at both the NY Public Library and Grand Central Station, and paid our respects at the 9/11 Memorial and Museum (something I’ve been wanting to do for years, despite holding back tears numerous times throughout the exhibits).
I also got chosen from the crowd for a street performance stunt in Times Square, and had a crazy dancer literally jump over me while standing up. The videos beyond wild, y’all.
It’s always a whirlwind of a few days, but I love the time I get to spend with loved ones.
BAJA CALIFORNIA, MÉXICO
A few days later, I was off again; this time down to warm, sunny Mexico to celebrate my birthday in La Paz and Todos Santos with the husband. Although it wasn’t as toasty as we originally planned for (we ended up wearing our plane clothes a bit too much, with me whining like a baby of course), we still made the most of it.
Fear not though, the birthday trip was a success. In La Paz, we watched idyllic sunsets from the Malecón, ate our weight in fish tacos and mexican street snacks (mmm gimme some gorditas and esquina), witnessed dozens of gray whales soooo close to our boat in Magdalena Bay/Puerto Chale, and even attempted snorkeling with whale sharks.
The seas were a bit too rough, so swimming along them was a major workout in and of itself! BUT I did swim next to a few whale sharks, so the day was a success after all (although I think I’d like to go again when the waves are not so strong).
In Todos Santos, we released baby sea turtles into the ocean (a complete dream come true of mine), watched the last quarter of the Super Bowl in a local Mexican bar complete with fruity margaritas and hot chicken wings, wandered around the colorful town taking oh so many photos of the fluttering flags and pastel-laden buildings, and admired all the local handicrafts and chic beachwear.
Our last night was spent at the desert-chic Hotel San Cristobal, where we lazed in the sun by the pool, relaxed in our colorful, woven bathrobes, and exclaimed a few too many times just how perfect the space was. Our stay was on par with The Pink Coco in Gili Air, which we 1000% fell in love with last summer.
SAN LUIS OBISPO
We also managed to make it down to SLO for a quick weekend to visit some friends (hi Charlotte and Zach!). Although we never did quite make it back to Bubblegum Alley (thankfully we did last year), we wandered town, ate our weight in BBQ from Firestone Grill, took Kona to the beach at Spooner’s Cove, indulged in donuts from SloDoCo (a must), and ended the night with late-night drinks at the iconic (albeit kitschy) Madonna Inn.
We also spent another day at Morro Bay (after the most delicious brunch at Sally Loo’s), and completely lucked out with absolutely perfect weather. The beach was filled with more sand dollars than I had ever seen, we watched sea otters swim and cuddle and hold hands (gahhh), and just admired that big ole’ monolith that is Morro Rock.
February was also the first month in I-can’t-even-remember-how-long, that I didn’t fully use a vacation day for travel (President’s Day). Blame baby Kona (the puppy we rescued in late 2019), but we were preoccupied with the little man’s puppy shots and training and all that jazz, that the thought of going away didn’t even cross our minds. It was nice to just fully relax for a few days, although I was kinda going stir crazy after a day and a half!
CALIFORNIA COAST OUTING
We had zero clue this would be our last little outing before the world got turned upside down. And I’m so glad we fit it in.
In early March, we took our cute nephew out for a day on the coast. We hit up Bean Hollow State Park (free and dog-friendly!) for a morning of pebble and shell collecting, grabbed sandwiches and famous artichoke bread in Pescadero, and stopped by Harley Farms to see the baby goats (and a llama, too!).
The rest of the day was spent admiring pies at Pie Ranch (despite all the minis being sold out) and wandering around Pigeon Point Lighthouse. We saw a whole slew of harbor seals wiggling around on the nearby rocks, as well as a bunch of blowholes from whales out at sea. Love adventuring with this little guy — he’s just so curious about everything, and isn’t scared to get dirty!
I spent some time during quarantine writing a post about all our favorite stops between San Francisco and Santa Cruz – psst, lots of good stuff in there.
My good friend Lia and I had planned this trip to Jordan for months! Strategizing and rehashing our itinerary a million times before it was perfect. We booked everything and couldn’t wait to eat all the hummus and shawarma and falafel.
But, ahhhh, the world had other plans. The Coronavirus was all everyone was talking about, and with crazy quarantines and flight restrictions, we weren’t sure if our trip to Jordan was actually going to happen. And spoiler alert – it didn’t (surprise, surprise).
I had been dreaming about Petra and Wadi Rum and the Dead Sea for quite a long time, so understandably I was pretty bummed. With international travel out of the question, we toyed with the idea of road tripping to Palm Springs/Joshua Tree, but the shelter in place took over before the idea actually came into fruition.
I was thankfully able to get a full refund quite easily – after going to the airport itself (their phone lines were shut down…). We were only out about $200 each from our trip expenses, which, when all things considered, isn’t bad at all. SO glad I convinced myself to pay the parking fee at the airport and actually ask for a REFUND not a ticket change (which I didn’t think was initially possible).
People hoarded toilet paper, people stockpiled groceries (hi, us too), and COVID-19 was spreading around the globe like rapid fire. First China, then major outbreaks in Italy, South Korea, Iran, Spain, etc. All travel was essentially put on hold – planes were grounded, borders were closed — we weren’t going anywhere.
And yup, this lack of travel abilities means no one’s researching trips or booking hotels or activities, meaning — no one was on my website. My blog readership declined quite rapidly (almost overnight), bringing the income I was making from it to less than 20%. Sad to see the business I’ve poured my heart and soul into for the past 5 years or so crumble to itty bitty pieces.
What a time to be alive.
SHELTER IN PLACE
Shelter in Place officially began on March 17 in San Francisco (the day before we were supposed to leave for Jordan), but we had been using precaution and distancing since around the 7/8th (after getting some mac n cheese from our favorite place in the East Bay).
I started working from home around March 10th or so, with the hopes that school would open up again a week after spring break, on April 6 (haha…). Welp, it got extended, and then extended again.
With no restaurants, bars, shops, anything non-essential opened, and absolutely no possibility of travel, here’s what I got up to in March instead:
- Finished a book (hadn’t read for pleasure in a while)!
- Had a Parisian-inspired picnic in our living room (complete with views of the eiffel tower on TV)
- Lots of family and friend facetimes and virtual “House Party” games
- Went on lots of walks around the neighborhood with Kona and oh so much cuddle time!
- Cleaned and organized a bit!
- Started and finished Love is Blind, then obsessed over Schitt’s Creek
- Booked super cheap tix to Maui and Oahu for early June (although it was unclear as to whether we’d actually be going or not → more spoilers, we didn’t go)
SITE REDESIGN WENT LIVE!
I had been toying with the idea of changing my theme for over a year. Why? I just hated how it looked. After searching for what felt like forever (and a day), I finally found Laura from PixelMeDesigns, and instantly signed up for her services.
After a few long and hard months of basically getting every single image and content blurb for my new site, it went live in mid-March! I’m excited to say the finished product came out better than I could have ever imagined! Laura took all my visions and went with them, while incorporating her own unique style ideas and website finesse.
We fully redesigned my entire site, from the logo and branding to individual pages. Be sure to check out my completely redesigned homepage, about me page, destinations page, USA page, travel resources, shop, and work with me page. I’m in love with them all! If you’re reading this on mobile, go to desktop (as they’re even more impressive over there).
It was a scary process as I had never undergone such a massive redesign since starting my blog in 2012, but thankfully Laura helped ease my mind and answered every single ridiculous question I had. HIGHLY recommend her if you’re looking to get some design work done.
April was another full month of Shelter in Place, and I have to say, I honestly got pretty used to it. I think having my husband working from home as well (and Kona, too!) really helped, as I never really felt lonely and such.
On that note, I’m SO glad we have Kona now. Having a sweet little pup around really does make each and every day just that much better, and I’m so thankful we got him back in December (2019). So crazy how the timing of everything worked out.
While I don’t have tons to report for April (honestly, we didn’t do tons), here’s a few highlights:
- Finished three 1,000 piece puzzles!
- Lots of Zoom dates and facetimes, including celebrating my sister’s bday, an impromptu virtual Passover seder with my in-laws, and facetime dates with my sweet grandma!
- Tried my hand at baking and cooking: mini apple pies, bacon wrapped mini quiches, cast-iron skillet crispy chicken
- Walked around Mori Point in Pacifica (took Kona!) — our first outing in a few weeks (!!!)
- Watched all the pandemic movies including Outbreak (oh so good, watched it twice), Pandemic (shut it off after 30 minutes, hated it!), and Contagion (the BEST)
- Finished all 6 seasons (!!!) of Schitt’s Creek (THE BEST) and Tiger King (in a mere 3 days), as well as The Morning Show (loveeeed)
- Learned too much about racoons after seeing them on our sidewalk (and then while walking Kona) one night (royally freaked me the F out)
- Drove around looking for boba… a few times (the obsession is real)
- Kona got neutered and I was a royal mess the whole morning
May was, well, the opposite of heaven. A lot of shit went down.
Just when the slightest glimmer of normalcy flashed before our eyes (CA moved into stage 2 of SIP), the riots began. It was a good year of learning — I’ll give 2020 that. First of all, all the unfathomable riots and protests all over the country about the unforgivable racist events (with spots super close to us boarded up). And then the quarantine extended until the end of the month. Annnnd killer hornets came to North America (which honestly, WTF ever happened with those?)
Honestly, May was a rough month for me. I went from totally chill and feeling fine mentally one day, to not wanting to get off the couch other days. I’ve never felt my moods shift so fast, so it was definitely a new experience for me. To say May was mentally draining was a complete understatement.
Here’s how I attempted to pass the time:
- Read a few books and listened to a few audiobooks while attempting an insanely difficult puzzle
- Boba guys reopened with a (super) limited menu, but we went the second we found out (again — the obsession is real)
- My favorite froyo place opened back up, so back to Menchie’s it was (we were all about the little joys in May)!
- Was late to the quaran-trend but finally made chocolate chip banana bread
- Had a Harry Potter marathon of sorts: Watched and finished all 8 Harry Potter movies
We tried desperately to get outta the house a bit:
- Hung in Berkeley stuffing our faces with potato puffs and fried chicken po boys. Sat on the greens at UC Berkeley and had a picnic! Also walked around the campus which we love!
- Took Kona to the city for the first time! Wandered around the Presidio and the Marina, and had a picnic in Dolores with some Cuban food.
- Went on a few socially distanced boba dates and hikes with friends (and finallllly got Noah to go hiking with me – probably because Kona came along in the little backpack we got for him)
- Saw ET at the drive-in movie theatre! Our friends parked in the spot next to us so it was kiiiinda like a double date, if shouting from our car windows count (haha)
- Finally made it to Taco Bell Cantina in Pacifica, known as the fanciest Taco Bell in the world (it’s right on the beach and serves alcoholic slushies). We indulged in crunch wrap supremes and shared a Mountain Dew margarita.
In terms of travel, we started thinking about our summer plans. We officially cancelled our June trip to Hawaii (was able to reschedule to September with no rebooking fees or fare difference), and booked an Airbnb in SoCal for late June. I also started thinking about some road trips from San Francisco we could do.
Since no one was traveling this month, my page views and income took a drastic hit. And when I say drastic, I mean drastic. My page views dropped 85%, along with any promises of secure blog-related income. It’s heart wrenching when the usual number of visitors to your site was 70 is now reduced to 7. I cringed whenever I looked at Google Analytics, and let’s just say, despite the PPP loan I was granted on behalf of the SBA, I’m so thankful I never quit my day job.
This month was another doozy, although we started leaving the Bay Area a bit which was so refreshing. Just a change of scenery at this point was as welcomed as ever!
The Bay had a curfew for a few days (the world was getting more intense every single day), we had BLM and muteweek (learned so much in such a short period of time), went out for our first restaurant meal (outdoor dining of course), and once the shelter in place lifted mid June, we went on a few hikes with friends and dogs.
One positive of 2020: we were both finally home for our anniversary (this never happens)! We celebrated year 8 with a mini hike in Pacifica with pretty ocean views, then rewarded ourselves with Mountain Dew margaritas from Taco Bell. Noah gave me a sweet choose-your-own-adventure day (which we have yet to actually do – haha). And we feasted on bbq and banana pudding and tropical alcoholic slushies for dinner.
Our first official “trip” since February, albeit it was semi-spontaneous. It was soooo nice to get outta the bay for a bit with my SIL and niece/nephew. Nevada City felt a bit more like “real life”: some dine in restaurants (although we stayed away), cute downtown area, little shops open (with masks!), and a bustling farmers market.
The fact that we got a huge house all to ourselves for just the 6 of us was mind-blowing: lots of balconies, a waterfall, and a bubbling brook. We spent the days playing corn hole and going on suspension bridge hikes, with nights spent around the campfire roasting marshmallows and making s’mores. It could’ve been worse. We loved feeling so far removed from the wild year thus far, spending time with family and appreciating the little moments.
CAMBRIA and Noah’s Birthday
I had originally wanted to whisk Noah away for his 35th b-day to some tropical oasis, but that obviously didn’t happen.
Instead, we stayed (way) closer to home, having a low-key pancake breakfast and grilling up some steak and lobster for dinner on his actual birthday.
We drove down the coast for another family weekend, this time in Cambria, with highlights including watching the weird and wacky elephant seals, indulging in olallieberry pie from Linns, and walking along the Moonstone Beach boardwalk.
On the way we stopped in Big Sur (one of my favorite places on the planet), checking out a few new-to-us spots. We hung out at Garrapata State Park Bluff Trail, Monastery Beach, and Big Creek Bridge (that turquoise water, OMG!). Of course we fed our gluttonous selves almond croissants from Big Sur Bakery (by far the most expensive pastry I’ve ever gotten but so worth it).
We also stopped in Paso Robles on the way home for a relaxing afternoon of chilled red wine and burgers. And after living in Northern California for over 5 years, we finally tried garlic ice cream in Gilroy!
WEEK IN Orange County
We had contemplated spending a month down in SoCal, but ultimately decided to cap it at a little over a week (since Noah was gonna have to work anyways). We cozied up at an Airbnb in San Clemente for the week, and checked out different areas of OC every day.
To say we LOVED San Clemente oh so much is a complete understatement, and I feel like we could see ourselves living here (…in the future possibly?). I was utterly obsessed with everything about it. The chilled out atmosphere, small town feeling, watching surfers on the breaks, etc etc etc.
Our days were spent hanging out in Huntington Beach (we took Kona to the dog beach!), Laguna Beach, Corona Del Mar, Newport Beach, and Balboa Island (where we of course got chocolate covered bananas). We saw a bunch of friends for picnics and outdoor dining (heya Car and Lena <3), and walked on the beach during the most amazing sunset ever in Dana Point (still can’t believe how stunning it was).
Honestly, even though we weren’t too far from home, it felt great to explore again and we loved all the beach time.
We had never been to San Diego (together) before, so down we went (it was pretty close to our home base in SC). The day consisted of a delicious Italian lunch, sea lions in La Jolla (Kona was super scared), and walking around the stunning Coronado Island.
SANTA BARBARA + PASO ROBLES
On our way home from San Clemente, we snuck in a day/night at both Santa Barbara and Paso Robles (again). It was all about exploring CA this summer and sticking closer to home. We saw more friends for a socially-distanced picnic, ate at some of our fave restaurants in Santa Barbara, and walked along Butterfly Beach for sunset.
A last-minute glass of wine was calling our names, so we hung out amongst the lavender and hills at the gorgeous Calcareous Winery in Paso.
LAKE TAHOE and NEW YORK – CANCELLED
Our trips to Lake Tahoe and New York both got cancelled because of COVID. Such is 2020. The tri-state area put a mandatory 14-day quarantine in place for states doing poorly (I don’t blame them), and California got added to the list pretty much as soon as the list was announced.
And in terms of Tahoe, we personally felt it wasn’t right to go since the locals weren’t pleased with all the tourists coming in.
Since we cancelled our Tahoe trip pretty much last minute, we booked a few nights at The Glendeven in Mendocino instead (the county was welcoming visitors at this time). And what a relaxing few days it was! We ended up splurging a bit, staying on a gorgeous farm with a chicken coop and llama pasture.
Mendocino had verrrrry limited outdoor dining so we had to do take-out only and eat in our hotel room. Honestly, we didn’t mind because our room was so cute and we ate in front of the fireplace every night — kinda romantic if you ask me!
Breakfast got delivered to our door each morning (which was absolutely delicious; think Mediterranean quiches and berry crumbles) and since our windows faced the chicken coop and llama pasture we watched them as we ate!
We obviously stuck to outdoor activities (what Mendocino is known for afterall), and took a whole bunch of nature walks around some state parks we missed last time. We loved Russian Gulch, Jug Handle, and most of all, the Mendocino Headlands. OH, and of course we got my favorite ice cream in Fort Bragg.
OTHER JULY HAPPENINGS:
I went on a whole bunch of hikes in Pacifica with friends, and we had a ton of outdoor-dining dinner dates in the city (find my favorite restaurants in San Francisco here).
August was kinda busy, and I somehow found myself with lots of plans every weekend. And lots of eating.
We continued our weekly dinner date nights in the city, and tried out a bunch of new-to-us restaurants that were still on my list of San Francisco restaurants to try! Faves were Original Joes’ butter cake, Farmhouse Thai’s (HUGE) Little Lao platter, a Mano’s fresh pasta, Suppenkuche’s wiener schnitzel, and Foreign Cinema’s everything plus a James Bond movie!
We also spent lots of time with family as my SIL, BIL, and niece/nephew moved to Nevada City in early/mid August.
OH — and I also started working again, which was full distance-learning. The whole concept felt so weird and different and I was stressed beyond belief figuring out schedules, doing so much new paperwork, and getting back into the swings of things (which finally became the new normal).
We hadn’t been to Carmel or Monterey in quite a while, so I figured, why not! 2020’s the year! :p
The super touristy areas were a little too crowded for our liking, so we quickly walked through Fisherman’s Wharf and Cannery Row, escaping soon thereafter. Next time I kinda wanna go to the aquarium → we haven’t been in probably 10 years or longer!
Here’s what we got up to:
- Walked around Lover’s Point Park → the color of the water, whoa!
- Drove around the 17 Mile Drive, and it was so much more enjoyable than last time (we went in the winter and had to wear jackets and I was freezing, so yeah). Noah LOVED hanging around Pebble Beach and we even got to walk right up to the green!
- Walked around the super-charming storybook town of Carmel-by-the-Sea, taking probably over 100 photos in less than an hour (although I was drenched in sweat by the end of it).
We decided to stay in quiet Pacific Grove with all the impressive historic Victorian homes instead of busy Monterey. And lucky us, Pavel’s Backerei was within walking distance. Of course we stood on (the very long socially-distanced) line and got a HUGE kalamata olive branch and too many pastries.
It was nice to revisit the area again and check out some new spots. Although I think next time we wanna leave little Kona at home and go hiking in Point Lobos, stand-up paddling, and whale watching.
Overnight to Fern Canyon
And right when the fires were at their worst, I drove up to Eureka for Fern Canyon with a few friends (smart, right?!). It was the farthest north I’d gone in California!
We had ourselves a redwood-filled few days, stopping at the Drive Thru Tree Park In Leggett, Avenue of the Giants in Humboldt Redwoods, The Founders Tree, and finally — what we drove all the way for — Fern Canyon!
Although we cut our trip short due to the fires, we also hiked Trillium Falls (and felt like we were in the middle of a lush rainforest, because we were!) and admired the historic Victorians in Eureka.
We almost didn’t go because of the crazy fires all over California, which had us seriously questioning whether we should cancel our mini trip. Ultimately, we decided to go for it, and got super lucky both ways, although we had plans B, C, D, and E ready just in case. We were all pretty stressed and just wanted to get home, but we made the most of it and stopped in Petaluma for some snacks along the way! Wicked slushies and apple pie!
Nevada City for Emily’s 4th Bday
We were supposed to go to Sequoia National Park, but canceled our trip because of the fires.
It was a blessing in disguise, because back to Nevada City it was, this time for sassy little Emily’s fourth birthday! I love this little girl so much — being there made me realize just how much I miss them all now that they don’t live 5 minutes away anymore.
We got to visit their new house for the first time, roasted marshmallows by the fire and made s’mores, decorated for her backyard outdoor (small) party, and watched her face light up when she realized Elsa was chatting with her on Zoom.
Of course we had a bowl at Heartwood and an almond croissant from Three Forks Bakery (my favorite). The Jelly Belly Factory was right on the way home, so naturally, we stopped, and I bought way too much candy (sounds like me).
Besides all those weekend trips, I also took a few day trips with some friends. One to Big Basin State Park (where I went on my first-ever 11 mile hike — and didn’t die), and two, to Point Reyes (where I slurped my first oyster from Hog Island!). I also managed to stuff about 38512 desserts into my gluttonous mouth on what Caroline and I dubbed “dessert day” (all my favorite desserts in SF here).
September brought along more smoke, and even felt like we’re living in a horror movie one day. The sky was bright ORANGE; it truly felt apocalyptic. We refreshed Purple Sky about a million times, running outside the minute our area turned “green” and got some fresh, healthy air.
We tried to get out, taking a day trip to the East Bay for a hot chicken picnic in Oakland and a sweaty afternoon gallivanting around the Ruth Bancroft Garden in Walnut Creek.
Eureka and Trinidad for Labor Day
Since my friends and I seriously cut our NorCal road trip short, Noah and I decided to go back for a long weekend. We drove along The Avenue of the Giants and walked to the Founders Tree (second time for me in 2 weeks!), and made it to Eureka for a walk along the waterfront and sunset.
My favorite part of the trip? Exploring the seaside area of Trinidad — it’s absolutely GORGEOUS! We hiked above College Cove beach, found a secret swing, walked along the Trinidad Fishing Pier and chilled at Trinidad State Beach.
Before leaving, we walked along the tall trees at Sequoia Park, got brunch with my old intern/now friend, and checked out some more cool Victorian architecture.
And of course there was more drama with the wildfires. We alllllmost got stuck in the middle of nowhere (quite literally), because a fire broke out along our way home. If we had left an hour later, we wouldn’t have made it back to The Bay because they closed the highway soon after we were on it! Talk about timing!
Lake Tahoe (and Half Moon Bay/Apple Hill)
I had wanted to go to Tahoe SO badly over the summer, so when we cancelled our Yosemite trip at the last minute (due to wildfires), we quickly booked a hotel in Tahoe instead.
Since we were both off for the day, we stopped in Half Moon Bay (before heading to Tahoe) for some fall fun! I finally got to cross frolicking through a sunflower field off my list — and I was extra excited about that! We continued the fall festivities in Apple Hill (on the way to Tahoe), where we indulged in caramel pecan apple pie a la mode, hot apple cider donuts, and apple cider shakes. I’m drooling as I write this.
Once in Tahoe, we walked on the East Shore Trail, gawked at views of Sand Harbor (and then again at Hidden Beach), took an unexpected (and hot) 4+ mile walk to/from the beach at D.L. Bliss, and admired the water from a bunch of Emerald Bay lookout points. We love driving around Lake Tahoe and discovering new stuff each time. Oh — and we saw a BEAR one night walking to the beach to watch the sunset (ack!!!).
I actually woke up early to snag a ticket to Yosemite National Park for the following weekend, but a trip obviously wasn’t in the cards because we cancelled AGAIN due to smoke. And yup, we cancelled and rescheduled Hawaii AGAIN! 😢
In October we took our first flight since February, which definitely felt a little weird! We made sure to book an airline that blocked off middle seats, masked up, and definitely over-sanitized. Something we’ve done hundreds of times somehow felt so foreign and normal all at once.
During our short trip, we experienced all kinds of weather — crazy strong winds, crazy heat (85 in October?!), SNOW in the mountains, and plenty of sunshine!
I had friends in Colorado Springs (and Noah REALLY wanted to go to Rudy’s), so we day tripped down for the day. We wandered around the Garden of the Gods (twice!), drove up Pikes Peak (and of course had the famous donut), and ate our weight at Rudy’s BBQ for dinner.
Our day trip to Rocky Mountain National Park didn’t go as planned as a random snowstorm closed the main road. We tried to make the most of our day by walking to Bear Lake, enjoying the crisp air, and absolutely loving the snow!
We spent the rest of the time in Denver, with a morning at Red Rocks Amphitheatre, drinks and art in the RiNo district, marveling at Union Station’s architecture, looking for fall foliage at City Park (complete fail), indulging in ice cream at Little Man’s, and walking over the pedestrian bridges.
As soon as California got off the 14-day mandatory quarantine list, we booked tickets right away to see my family (I hadn’t seen them in over 10 months!). Kona took his first-ever flight (and was the cutest little thing on the plane — he did great)! We worked from NY for the week which worked out so perfectly.
That week consisted of window and patio visits with my grandmas, beach boardwalk walks, soft serve from Marvel, pizza and bagels and Italian food, lots of quality time with my sister and Kevin (finally met him IRL — and not on FaceTime!), and Kona turning one (and finally warming up to Hank the German Shepherd).
We also tried to soak up all the fall vibes out East on Long Island with blueberry and apple crisp pies from Biermeier Farm, visits to wineries, and lots of pumpkins and sunflowers.
NYC was calling our name, so we spent a day in the city seeing friends, hanging in Riverside Park, chasing fall colors in Central Park (too crowded for us), getting the best cookies from Levain (iykyk), and scarfing down some rugelach from Lee Lee’s.
It was a low-key visit and we only saw a handful of people, but I’m so glad for all the quality time with the people I love. <3 And as soon as we left, CA was added back to the NY state quarantine list 🤦🏻♀️, meaning we timed our visit perfectly.
We officially CANCELLED our Hawaii trip (womp, womp). The state couldn’t decide on openings and Covid tests, so we figured we’ll go once it all straightened out.
And then there was the election.
I don’t even know where to begin — this was by far the craziest election in US history. I was glued to the TV for 4 days straight; which is more MSNBC I’ve watched in my entire life combined. There was stress baking, stress eating, and stress pacing, all the memes, and candidates claiming victory when they in fact did NOT win (and then pointing fingers that the election was being stolen by large-scale fraud).
Ultimately, it was down to Nevada, Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Arizona (I think we all finally learned how to pronounce Nevada correctly). We all sighed a breath of relief when it was all over and done with. DEMOCRATS WON, and they’ll be a BIPOC WOMAN in the White House now (!!!). 2020 carved the path for all future elections, and I don’t think we’ll be seeing two white men run together anytime soon. 🙂
DEATH VALLEY NATIONAL PARK
More California exploration (haha). We ran around Death Valley for a full two days; climbed up sand dunes (way harder than it looks), walked on salt flats at the lowest spot in North America, gazed out at some pretty impressive view points, saw the MILKY WAY (and Saturn and Jupiter and Mars!) one night while stargazing, watched the sunset behind crazy rock formations, and took a few short hikes.
I’m so glad we finally got to put our National Parks Pass to good use (after cancelled trips to both Yosemite and Sequoia, and a snowstorm in Rocky Mountain).
Before heading home, we made a short pit stop in Las Vegas for a night. The two-day affair was spent at the Seven Magic Mountains art installation in the middle of the desert, stuffing our faces with crazy milkshakes at midnight, devouring Buchon for breakfast in bed at the Bellagio, and just taking in all the crazy Vegas vibes. It was honestly a bit too crowded for my liking (especially nowadays during the pandemic and all), but overall a good time.
Thanksgiving 2020 was really special, especially considering the year we’ve all had, and oh, all the food!
We had a mini Friendsgiving with our next-door neighbors (who we’ve become really good friends with this year), full of multiple homemade pies, chicken, veggies, the whole deal — and ohhh, those mashed potatoes.
My in-laws flew in from Florida (we all got Covid tested – the accurate, PCR type), and all went to Nevada City to see Noah’s sister and fam. Besides the actual Thanksgiving festivities, we cuddled on the couch, watched old movies and a new series, and took a short nature walk in the forest. Felt nice to just relax with family after this insane year.
Noah and I also stayed a night at a historic hotel, complete with a crowfoot tub, old-school telephone and radio, pour-over coffee, and tons of mid-century modern touches. We also bundled up and went to Tahoe for Kona’s first time in the snow — and he loved it! On the way home we stopped in Sac for a quick walk along the waterfront; I wanna start exploring more of that city soon!
Ohhh the last month of 2020 — what a weird feeling.
The Bay Area went into lockdown again, so it was back to hanging at home and only taking necessary trips out. We indulged in all the Trader Joe’s holiday treats, sipped over-the-top spiked hot cocoas and bourbon balls (who knew I actually enjoy bourbon?!), met some friends in the city for a masked-up evening of xmas lights and light installations, watched a few Christmas movies, ate too many christmas cookies (thanks Lia!), listened to lots of Christmas music, and marveled at all the holiday lights on our annual hot bevy and Xmas walk date near us.
Oh, and our bathroom redos FINALLY got finished, a project that was started in September and took way longer than expected.
The COVID-19 vaccine started getting administered in mid-December (!!!), and a bunch of friends plus my (hospital-working) SISTER got it! Couldn’t be more thrilled and gracious to them for leading the way.
SAN JOSE DEL CABO, MEXICO
Wait, what? International travel? Yeah… we kinda kept things hush hush in fear of travel shaming. We were as careful as we could be, masked up and kept our distance (obviously), only ate outdoors, etc, etc etc. And honestly? We felt safer in Mexico than we did at home in California. It was so quiet and we even had the adult pool all to ourselves a few mornings! I’m so glad we didn’t let anyone talk us out of going.
Psst → We didn’t venture over to Cabo San Lucas at all (where the spring breakers hang out) — we stayed in San Jose del Cabo which is known to be much quieter.
It was our first time outta the country since early February, with our last international trip being to Mexico as well (La Paz/Todos Santos for my birthday). We stayed at an all-inclusive resort on the beach for a few nights, spent our days laying by the pool, and eating our weight in tacos and guacamole. Many mojitos and margaritas were consumed… I mean, it was all-inclusive — had to take advantage!
We took an ATV ride on unspoilt beach and through the cacti ridden desert which was thrilling yet beautiful at the same time. We explored the (unexpected!) colorful town of San Jose del Cabo, cooled off with a paleta, and ate at a bunch of farm-to-table restaurants (Flora Farms — yes!). It felt great supporting some smaller companies and restaurants in a country we love.
For our last few nights, we moved over to a treehouse in the palm-tree jungle at Acre, which has been on our Mexico bucket list for quite some time! We got to play with the rescued puppies, see the resident donkeys (one named Burrito!), and hang at the pool. It was the perfect few days before a soft quarantine at home.
New Year’s Eve
We had a super low key New Years Eve at home with our next-door-neighbors (now good friends) with some chinese take-out, bourbon hot chocolate, and silly YouTube videos. While it wasn’t like our usual festivities outta the country, it felt perfect for 2020.