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Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Cali 1: Monterey Bay

Zach and I were SO EXCITED for our trip to Italy (and now Zach says it's the #1 place he wants to visit b/c he's dying to get there!) but were able to quickly switch gears and get excited for our trip out to Cali! You can read this post to get fully up to speed on why the switch from Europe to the West Coast :) 

On Thursday, April 7th, we took the kids to Mrs. Charlotte and Mr. Rusty's house and tucked them into bed for the night then hit the road to Atlanta. Our plan was to stay the night there so we could avoid the drive the next day!

Time was against us for planning this trip. We were able to get deals on plane tickets but it meant flying out of and into Atlanta (3 ½ hour drive) and flying into and out of LAX (6 hour drive to our first destination of the trip...yikes). Not ideal but we took what we could get and went for it!

Night one we went to bed early to be ready for a LONG day the next day!


We booked a hotel room in Atlanta on our return day as well and with that hotel we had a package to park the car. We headed over there and were able to ride their shuttle to the airport. We had a pretty easy experience getting through security and everything and NO hiccups on the flights! Which isn't always something we're lucky enough to have happen ;) We got lunch at the airport to take with us on the flight. Usually we fly Delta but to save money this time we were American Airlines. Comparing the two: seats were MUCH more comfortable with American Airlines, but movie selection was FAR superior with Delta. You had to PAY to get recent movies so we watched free stuff (I watched Beetlejuice and Groundhog Day!). 


Everything with the flight was smooth but omg the rental car situation. I had a reservation in advance and we still stood in line for TWO HOURS waiting for our car! It was ridiculous! We kept saying we were so glad not to have the kids with us b/c that would have been a nightmare. We did end up chatting with ladies in line with us (don't we always?) and they were there for a Christian Conference. Pretty cool to meet some fellow Christians! 

As I mentioned earlier....we had a SIX HOUR DRIVE when we arrived in LA. Yes. We flew for 6 hours then had another 6 hours of driving. In LA traffic. On a Friday afternoon. We both made the vow that even though we were tired we were not going to bicker or get frustrated with each other. We were going to ENJOY the ride! 

We stopped to get some dinner at El Pollo Loco. It's like a chain chicken Mexican place? It was a little too healthy for my liking haha! No queso which for me is a MUST with Mexican food! I had been excited for Mexican food in Cali but was SO disappointed b/c there was no queso EVER. 



 A must have for an Emily road trip!


Right of the bat we were BLOWN AWAY by the landscape in California. It was my third time visiting the state and Zach's second and neither of us had ever seen the beautiful elements on our trips before. It's seriously SO gorgeous! We kept saying how we couldn't believe we were just driving along the high way seeing all of this! We were so glad we had a good bit of the trip during daylight hours!








The drive was beautiful but SO LONG. We stopped for a snack break and I had a personal goal to stay awake the whole drive. Y'all. I was delirious. Zach and I talked about everything you could possible talk about with another human being. I got so desperate for ways to keep myself awake I even asked him at one point if he's ever picked his nose and eaten his boogers hahahaha (answer btw was no!). But I DID achieve my goal of staying awake and I think my silly sleepy state helped keep him from getting too tired too :)



Our plan for the trip was to start "further north" and work our way back down to end at LAX. I wanted to fly into San Fran and then out of LAX but it saved us around $500 to drive it so we did that route. We also decided not to go as far north as San Fran as we feel like Aflac may take us there at some point and we'd rather spend our time exploring places we are less likely to visit again. So our first two nights were spent at Monterey Bay! I found an ADORABLE bed and breakfast! We didn't get in until very late but it was sweet to be welcomed with some homemade cookies!


How awesome is this bed?



The tub was beautiful (and even though it was late I had to take a bath!) but there was NO SHOWER haha! It made bathing a tad awkward!




Our official first day of the trip (Saturday April 9th) kicked off with this phenomenal view. It was so cool to wake up and see where we actually were since it had been so dark the night prior!




I also woke up with a HUGE swollen upper lip. Hello trip buzzkill. It was very painful too! I started wearing a retainer recently (I had some minor shifting I wanted to adjust) and I think I just slept on my tummy and rested my head in a weird way that made the retainer cut into my lip or something? 


In the living room of the main house



Breakfast!


Our trip was 10 days long. 10 days y'all is a LONG time to leave babies behind! Mrs. Charlotte is an angel truly for wanting to keep them all. I had a lot of anxiety about it but she LIKES to keep our kids and would be really offended if we didn't let her do it. I did want to split up the older two though whenever possible. Tess is pretty easy with Kye or with Britt but it's Britt and Kye together that make things harder at this stage in the game. The first weekend we were away Britt stayed with Casey and Jordan. She had THE BEST time! And I loved getting updates that my sweet girl was having a little vacation of her own too :) 







Our goal for our trip was a blend of experiences and relaxation. Really that's my favorite kind of trip. I know Zach would enjoy just a week at an all inclusive but I like doing stuff and seeing things and having experiences! This trip really ended up being the perfect blend for us! 

Our only plans for the day was a whale watching tour in the morning (10:30). We headed over for it and couldn't get over the vibe of the area. It felt like we should have been in Maine! Not what I had expected in California at ALL. It had a very New England feel to it and we really loved it! It was a good chance of rain all day but we lucked out and just had overcast, cooler, weather for our boat ride. 





As we left the harbor we got to see a TON of seals. They are quite the nuisance to the locals as they are big, heavy, and LAZY. They don't move out of the way and people have different tricks they use to get them to move. Pretty funny as a tourist anyway ;) They are so heavy that all the docks start to sink over time!   




First sighting! An eating otter :)






I get motion sickness pretty easily but I wasn't overly nervous about the boat ride. I did take some dramamine just in case and followed tips regarding staying outside, sitting down as much as I could, and focusing on looking out at the water rather than on the boat. It was pretty easy to do all of those things since we were just looking for whales the whole time!



Within a few minutes of leaving the harbor we had a HUGE group of dolphins swim up near us! They were a nursery group and we learned seeing double fins close together in the water meant it was a mother and her baby. So cool! There were so, so many dolphins and the guide we had said it was something they very rarely see. Here's a video and another!

If you watch the videos you will hear kids in the background. A family was on the boat with us and it was pretty hilarious to listen to the kids and see their reactions. It was one of those feelings where we wished our kids could see and experience it but were also relieved not to be "the family" on the boat ;) It was nice to relax and enjoy each other without feeling responsible for anyone or worried about our children disrupting someone else's experience! Of course I'm pretty sure I spent majority of my time talking to the kids though...always in mom mode I guess ;)





Don't they look so much different than the dolphins we see East Coast?



We had low expectations going into the tour. I mean whale sightings can't be all that common right? Um. WRONG. Either we got lucky or whales just LOVE the area because we not only saw a whale we saw probably close to 10??? It was AWESOME!!! Such a cool experience and something I'm so thankful to have had the opportunity to do! If you are in the area we used Sanctuary Cruises and had a FABULOUS experience!

The only part that really comes out of the water is the blow hole area, some of their back when they are going under and then the tail fluke. We learned that they usually rise up 2-3 times before descending and once we saw the tail fluke it meant they were gone! Here's a video of one and another and another!







The closest whale was about 10 feet from our boat. It was awesome but FREAKED ME OUT. I mean if that thing wanted to it could totally capsize us! 










Seeing the blow hole was really cool too, Zach said it smelled AWFUL which makes sense b/c it's kinda like their snot right? You can hear it really well in this video (along with the children again haha).




On our way back in we saw a family of whales together which was super neat! The boat stopped and we just all sat and waited and listened for them. It was super exciting to see the tail flukes but kinda disappointing too b/c it meant the whale was gone. That was the last group of whales we saw on the excursion and probably one of our favorite moments of the trip was when one of the whales showed their tail fluke and returned back under the water and one of the little kids yelled out super loud "FLUKE. I HATE WHEN THAT HAPPENS" You probably had to be there but Z and I were dying!



Showing us what the whales we saw look like! 




Getting greeted back at the harbor!





The bay where we went on the whale watching trip was SUPER close to our bed and breakfast. We went across the street to get some pics of the view of our room! We were staying in the top left window :) 

It was funny b/c two photographer guys from our whale trip followed us over there thinking we'd seen something. Um nope just taking pics of our room b/c we're cool like that ;)


We were STARVING at the end of the boat ride! We headed over to a famous fish market for lunch and it did NOT disappoint! The food was FABULOUS! If you travel to Monterey Bay you MUST eat at Phil's Fish Market at Moss Landing!




Famous for it's claim chowder so, duh, I had to have some!








We headed back to the room for part 2 of our day: RELAXATION! :) Our little bed and breakfast was seriously adorable and the owners were SUPER sweet in helping us book our stay!





Robe mode, chill mode LOTS of How I Met Your Mother watching (we are finally starting to like it...still not a favorite for us but we will finish it out!)


We took our time getting ready for dinner and went out on the deck on property to look at the views at sunset...so beautiful!



Main house on property



Moss Landing is a MEGA small community outside of Monterey Bay. BEAUTIFUL and quaint, which we loved...but lacking in the food options. Our first try for dinner was the place everyone recommended for a "fancy night out." We  walked around to check out the art pieces before getting a seat but once we saw the menu we left. I feel so awkward doing that but it just was NOT our vibe at ALL. 






How adorable is this building across from our bed and breakfast?



We tried out another place hoping for some yummy Mexican. It was good but not amazing! We had a FABULOUS time though which is what matters most :)




I love this man SO much and starting off our trip with such an incredible first day was only a sign of the awesomeness to come! Anytime away together is so special to me and always deepens our bond. 


And, yes, we went all out on this trip and rented a convertible Mustang for the week. One cool feature was that at night it cast a light of a mustang on the ground! Yolo right? ;)



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