Too Much Fun, Too Little Time

In lieu of a party with friends Averi chose to go to Great Wolf Lodge for her birthday. The two older girls have gone before but Averi whom just recently learned to swim was finally brave enough and tall enough to join in on the fun.

But first…more cake and wishes.

The girls were so excited to pack for our getaway! They wanted to bring toys, stuffies, pillows and their own blankets. Basically everything in their room. And then we witnessed pigs flying when Averi asked to go to bed early so departure time would come sooner. Ah, we never grow out of that excitement do we?

Listen, we are not a fan of car rides. Three girls in the backseat for longer than a quick jaunt is torture for most anyone. Until we are ready to hunker down on a long drive or a flight, we will commit to a quick drive up Interstate 5. One hour in the car and we were there by noon. Luckily we were able to get into the water park long before our room was ready. Not being our first rodeo, we took in just what we needed (aka swimsuits, money and whatever the kids must have) and left the rest of our shit in the car.

Equipped with their Paw Passes and wolf ears, we dove in to what would be a great two days of fun!

Once we found a spot to call “home base”, we dropped our towels and shoes and went over the rules. Then the older girls went off and we took Averi on her first real waterslide.

Nope, not fun at all. SO FUN!

Canyon River Run was the one ride ALL five of us could go on together and we did, many times.

This was the first time in my life as a mom that I felt comfortable giving the girls their freedom without worrying every other second. They were so independent and it made it that much more fun.

We did it all and they didn’t complain and they didn’t tire.

The ten year olds even went on Wolf’s Tail, on their own. This ride is where the the bottom drops out from under you sending you straight down the slide.

Of course I had to follow them back up to record the bravery.

We almost closed the park down and by 7:30 pm we had to tell the girls if they wanted to do anything else, we had to move on.

After a quick change up in the room, we went on a hunt for magic and pizza.
While we waited for our food, the girls hopped around the hotel doing whatever magic game is so popular amongst the kids.

The magic quest wand even moved objects in the girl’s kid cabin.

Around 10:30, it was quiet and then I heard a small voice that said “I have a night light for you”. I thought to myself what? Who said that? And then Kaili came out and asked the same thing. F sakes. I climbed up and unplugged whatever I could see in the dark not to wake the others. It turned out that one of the wands must have summoned the critters of the lodge, sigh.

I prefer my rooms not to talk thank you. And I am pretty sure, nope I am positive that I would have NOT liked that as a child.

It was a late night but luckily they let us sleep until 7:00 in the morning (big deal you guys!). Then we were up and ready to go do it again.

{One tip I can give you; if you have a trip to GWL on your radar It’s this, bring food, there is a fridge in the room. And, pre-order on their app or walk out of the hotel and find something to your liking. Because the lines are ridiculous and it’s terribly overpriced.}

The next morning we were at the waterpark as it opened and we knocked out all of the best rides as many times as we could before the crowd grew bigger.

Shawna and I went out into the sun for a bit and then before we knew it, lunch came and went.

The girls Paw Pass came with: a magic quest wand, a glitter tattoo, goggles, candy from the candy shop and a build a bear stuffy. So we had to get them out of the water if they wanted to claim the rest of their goodies. We did, they did.

Two hours later and full of candy, we headed home.

Nothing like the comedown from a high, am I right or am I right?

It affects everyone differently!

Plenty of Fun

The hours seem to go by slow but the years, they fly by.

Now we found ourselves at the end of the school year.

So long first and fourth grade.

We jumped right into summer break by visiting the trampoline park.

And then….no and then.

We went to the beach.

Which, let me tell you is so disappointing after Mexico, sigh. The water here is cold, I couldn’t find one person offering adult beverages, you guys, we are doing it wrong!

At least the pool water temp was better.

My baby K bear.

She may catch up to my tan soon.

We also went to the movie theaters for the first time in ages. We saw Spirit Untamed. It was good, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Popcorn, candy and some tears!

Last but not least, we put out a slippin’ slide.

Jess and I used to spend the majority of our summers making up dance routines on these things. However we never took it to the next level and used soap. (why Jess, why?)

Probably because we were too busy using tanning oil and Sun-In and working on our dance moves, ha ha.

If someone can provide video of us, I dare you!

It’s nice to gather with friends and family that we have missed so much. Almost as good as getting my hands on some great local wine. If you haven’t been to Edwards Vineyards in Ramona, you need to make it a priority.

It’s officially summer.

The mornings are overcast but the days are warm and sunny. Plenty of fun to come!

Puerto Vallarta: Secrets vs. Grand Fiesta

Once we decided that we would just go back to Puerto Vallarta instead of somewhere farther, I hit the ground running on our options. There was a checklist with our wants…All-inclusive, adults only, swim up bar with a swimmable beach. I went on all the travel sites comparing the only two resorts that checked off our lists and those two were Secrets Vallarta Bay and Grand Fiesta Americana. Since we had already been to Secrets, I really wanted to see a pros-cons list comparing the two, but never found one. So I am going to make one for future me and for anyone who wants a rundown on the differences between the two. Price wise they can be close to the same and other times it seems that Secrets is much pricier. I will say that both places had very low prices at one point but I hesitated to book, sigh…I wanted to wait until I knew that we were going to be vaccinated in time. Once I booked, the prices did climb a bit, what can you do? Better healthy than quarantined.

Secrets Vallarta Bay

PROS ( I have to preface this, we went during Covid and they weren’t at full capacity, things may not be the same anymore)

  • Free Covid testing upon departure. If you test positive they will PAY for you to quarantine and provide you with all your food and non-alcoholic beverages (you have to buy your own booze).
  • Close to town, walkable even.
  • Staff throughout the entire resort was exceptional. Bartenders especially!
  • No wristbands and no class/booking distinctions.
  • No problem getting chairs by the pool, again maybe because it wasn’t full capacity.
  • Drinks were good and what you wanted, no potential of being watered down.
  • Grounds were kept immaculate.
  • Plenty of pool games without silly “must-do’s” to win.
  • Clientele was more our age, maybe a little older and there was just a classy vibe, even when things were getting a bit crazy.
  • Had a more elegant and romantic vibe.
  • Horse back riding and tours available on the beach.
  • Beautiful rooms with large tubs and an ever bigger shower.

CONS

  • Beach not swimmable, rocky and strong undertow. The no swimming flag stayed up all week.
  • No nightly dancing or DJ/music by the pool (again maybe just because of Covid)
  • The resort grounds were split in half, one side was adults only and the other was for families aka kids. However the restaurants are spread out among the entire place. So some restaurants you might want to eat at will have children. On the plus side, the kids couldn’t come to the adults only side.
  • The food was just average.
  • Casino was closed (probably Covid)
  • Had a handful of suggestions of swinging and/or obnoxious advances.
  • A lot of vendors on the beach.

Grand Fiesta Americana

PROS

  • Views from anywhere were amazing.
  • Pool DJ daily.
  • Plenty of different restaurants and bars, no kids at all.
  • Food was pretty good.
  • Man made enclave in the ocean/bay. Perfect for floating and swimming. Free kayaks available.
  • Dance club/bar with DJ every night.
  • Free Covid Testing upon departure.

CONS

  • Rooms weren’t great. No bathtubs and the shower got the bathroom floor wet.
  • Outside room hallways weren’t cleaned very well, smelled like rotten food sometimes.
  • Color coded wrist bands were given out at check-in. We were told it was just to identify who bought what package through what company, ie. Costco, Expedia etc. But I don’t believe that was the truth. I think it has to do with how much you paid, or something along those lines.
  • Staff was good, but not exceptional and the service was not consistent.
  • Mojito and Martini bars weren’t open every night AND the bartender didn’t even know how to make a true mojito, so there’s that.
  • Pool chairs were taken super early in the morning. The sun didn’t hit the entire pool until 11:00am.
  • Alcohol seemed watered down and sometimes we didn’t get what we ordered.
  • More of a younger crowd that came with more of a “no f*cks given” vibe.
  • Farther from town, about 15 minutes in cab.
  • Drugs were offered, ha, maybe not a negative for some.
  • Pool games came with consequences ie. lap dances etc. No thank you.
  • Didn’t offer free quarantine if tested positive for Covid.

Now that I wrote it all out, it seems like there is a clear winner. We agreed that if we were to go back, we would go to Secrets. Secrets was just a bit more upscale, had a tad less of a party vibe, We brought up the Target vs. Walmart comparison while we were there, Secrets was Target and Grand Fiesta was Walmart.In the end, Secrets ended up having more of what we want in an all-inclusive resort.

Now the hard question…”are all-inclusive resorts worth it?” Who knows? I am an all-inclusive resort novice. I have been on my share of cruises and I have heard other peoples stories about how great these resorts are but I ask myself, is there something better for the same price?

The problem, if there was one, is that we live in an area that is home of the California burrito and the fish taco. We have Michelin star restaurants, craft cocktail bars, breweries and some amazing wine. So, when we go to these resorts are we actually downgrading from our norm? The answer is yes, sounds snobby perhaps but I don’t mean it to be. It’s just a realization that we have it good in San Diego and if we want the warm ocean water, amazing views AND great food and drink, it doesn’t come in an affordable all-inclusive package. But I am also not on board with paying a ridiculous amount of money for multiple meals daily and adult beverages hour by hour, day by day. So we get what we get.

I think if you are a simple person, and don’t spend much thought on food and are fine with domestic beers, then this is probably an amazing vacation. Me, I am a food snob and self appointed wine drinker, so I will go on these trips and appreciate the simple things on the vacation, sun, love and free flowing wine.

With that, a friend of ours that we actually met at Secrets PV, is a travel agent. He highly recommended the Hyatt Ziva in Puerto Vallarta if you aren’t as picky as we are.

In the end, no matter where you go and stay, it will be amazing.

Secrets Vallarta Bay

Grand Fiesta Americana

The Devil made me do it.

Isn’t it great when you stumble upon a great place by accident?

I knew nothing of this bar aside from some good reviews that I saw on Trip Advisor. I had some notes saved for days like these when we were going to be wandering around. It was an open air bar on the Malecón with around 12 bar stools, we soon found out that this was in fact a Sun Devil’s bar, yeah that college football team from Arizona. That took the illusiveness out of it but we stayed and we were happy with that choice. The owner of the bar graduated from ASU back in the day and then moved to PV and opened this place. It’s prime real estate so I imagine he is riding high on the hog. The bar menu was written on the walls in chalk, I ordered a passion fruit margarita, Shawna ordered a mango colada and we also threw in two flaming Dr. Peppers because somehow, she has managed to go through life without ever having one, truthfully she still hasn’t. Her amaretto never left the shot glass and she just chugged Modelo, ha!

Once we finished our drinks we decided that it was time to get some food. I don’t know why we chose the place we did but it was a good decision.

We sat to this view while chatting with an American man who just recently moved from Washington state to Puerto Vallarta with his wife. He went on about how good the food was and how great it was to live there. Then my molé enchiladas arrived and it went silent.

Happy and full we hopped back into a cab to our hotel and I bet you can guess what we did next.

That’s right, back to pool and this view.

Teleport me back!

Before dinner we popped into the Mojito bar where the service was slow, the drinks were worse but the spectacular view helped us swallow the poorly made drinks.

One drink at the Mojito bar and then we made our way to Gulietta, the Italian restaurant. The porcini risotto was the highlight, so good in fact, we would go back for more.

The next morning (day 3) we had coffee and breakfast delivered to the room and then….headed down to the pool. The fun pool, not the boring pool. The fun entertainment took place in the pool with the booze, the pool without the bar was for the boring people and the boring fun, well that’s what Emilio (see below) said daily .

We played Bingo and water volleyball and then we met new friends. Toby and Lord were from our neck of the woods aka California. We became fast friends and after dinner, which I am sure we had, we met them at their hotel room for some tequila. Sounds shady right? It wasn’t, they are really great people and they even convinced us to try this tequila that was….sippable. gasp! Still seems shady huh? Ha, we sipped and talked and talked and sipped and then went up to the sky bar. The people watching was on point, I am sure drinks were spilled but the laughing and dancing never stopped. I am sorry to say that we didn’t take a picture with them, but we will someday.

Wash, rinse and repeat. Same routine, different day. Day 4 and we had found our groove, we knew what activities we wanted to participate in and which ones we did not. For instance, I played Texas Hold Em’ and Lord was part of the Juego Loco.

I mean, what even was that? Ha, ha. After that brilliant and brave performance by Lord, we took a moment to salute the Mexican Air Force.

Mexican Air Force

We met another couple in the pool that day and they were self appointed avid Karaoke singers. They told us about a bar called Kooky’s in town that had Karaoke on Thursday’s and it just so happened to be….Thursday. We tossed the idea of leaving the resort around and decided to make a decision after dinner.

Dinner.

We ate well at the Japanese restaurant and committed to a night out, we called an Uber into town for some Karaoke.

We ordered some drinks, said hello to the ladies that invited us and took this all in.

AMAZING!

Fun times. It was a fun time to sit back and watch magic happen…. from a safe distance away.

Sadly, it happened. We woke up to our last full day of our trip. The people we had met and spent our days with were starting to disperse and new guests were arriving. We took advantage of one more day. We floated in the warm ocean water, enjoyed the slight chill of the pool and watched a pretty remarkable belly flop contest.

We had a really good lunch at the Cevicheria and an even better dessert.

The coconut ice cream was incredible.

We decided we needed to have the mushroom risotto one more time before we left, so off we went to the the Italian restaurant again. Finally, I ordered a really good drink.

The one and only, espresso martini.

We went up to the Sky bar thinking that since it was a Friday night and new people had rolled in that it would be a busy, great music situation. That was not the case. Turns out that most everyone went into town for their Friday night and we watched some musicians play instrumentals that lullabied us down to our room.

That’s it, that’s how it ends. We slept in, packed, ate one last meal, said our goodbyes and hit the road to the airport.

We had a great time. Cheers Puerto Vallarta, thanks for the fun!

Now…. Since we have been to both Secrets and Grand Fiesta, which resort would we revisit?

T.B.C.

Grand Fiesta, Fiesta Fiesta

Oops, we did it again (insert Britney voice). We went back to Puerto Vallarta and stayed at a different resort this time so that counts as trying something new, right? When striving to pick a warm destination for an affordable getaway we have a couple of things to consider. First, we don’t want to be away from the girls any longer than we have to. So, with that in mind, we don’t want to spend two days of the trip on trains, planes or in automobiles. Second, we want an all inclusive and preferably adults only because duh. Cabo didn’t have what we were looking for exactly so we were hemming and hawing between Cozumel and PV…. again. The travel to get to Cancun along with the travel to get from there to Cozumel sucked so much time that we committed ourselves to a different all-inclusive in Puerto Vallarta.

This was the view from our room at the Grand Fiesta Americana. It’s located south of the Malecón opposed to Secrets, (where we stayed last year). That resort was just near the heart of the town. We decided against any excursions this time, setting aside just one day to head into town to see whatever we missed the last time.

It’s such an easy flight down there and we were on the tarmac by 3:15. However, travel had seemed to return to normal and the line for customs was longer than the most popular ride at Disneyland, probably. Finally we were in a cab with a very watered down margarita by 4:45 and at the hotel just after 5:00. Everything else went smoothly and the weather was incredible so we set everything aside, put on our bathing suits and went straight to the pool.

One of the reasons we picked this place was because every room, restaurant and bar had this view. For dinner we ate at the Mexican restaurant. To start we had the guac and a squash blossom quesadilla, both delish. I also had the pollo en molé, Shawna ordered something that she liked but we don’t remember exactly what…chefs kiss!

The sky bar was a big deck with hot tubs, a dance floor, a bar and restrooms. This is where the nightly entertainment took place and the DJ set up after to close out the night. You guys, this was a people watching haven. Much different than the PV Secrets, also this crowd range was a tad younger. The other thing we realized while driving to our hotel was that it was Pride week in PV, how fun! We people watched, laughed and cringed until the early hours before falling into our bed.

The next morning we went downstairs to have breakfast, it looked like it was originally a buffet but now was an order and wait situation. Different lines for different stations. We had chilaquiles, mimosas and croissants. We weren’t terribly impressed, but it did it’s job of filling our bellies before our day of endless drinks at the pool bar. Then we found a spot at the pool, which we would learn, a task that needs to happen early in the morning if you want a good spot (aka next to the pool bar). I am pretty sure you can pay a staff member to save you a spot, just a tip, a good one in my opinion.

Once settled, we sat, sipped and sunned. Can we just note the water and sunscreen in the picture? Gotta hydrate and protect our skin from ALL the sun-kissing.

The entertainment staff was fantastic and they provided plenty of things to participate in or just watch from a safe distance away. I will divulge more into this in due time.

We spent the entire day in the pool, eventually the DJ packed up, the bar closed and that was our queue to get ready for dinner.

Dinner wasn’t great. We ate at the tapas bar and ordered generically which resulted in tough octopus and stale bread. We heard that some of the options were indeed delicious, but I can’t confirm that. Afterwards we sat in the lobby and listened to a hispanic Jake Gyllenhaal play the saxophone.

Tuesday was our in town day. We woke up, ate room service and then had the concierge call us a cab. It was a whopping seven dollars for our cab driver to take us to Playa de los muertos. Which is also known as gay beach, another fun fact.

Looking south from the pier.
Looking north from the Pier.

We knew if we just walked north along the water that we would eventually hit the Malecón and also where we had lunch on our last trip. (That post is here.)

I wanted to peek at the shops on the River Cuale but when we got there, it was a “Donde esta el baño” situation. So we sat in the closest air conditioned place we could find, ordered drinks and relaxed for a few. I had a Cadillac marg and she had a mango marg and let me tell you, those were the two best drinks we had since we left San Diego, sigh.

We shopped, walked and happened upon a place called the Devil’s bar. I remembered reading about this place in all of my pre trip browsing. So we popped in and order some drinks.

TO BE CONTINUED!

Dos mas Dias

It was my brother’s first full day in PV and we had big big plans…. stay in the pool ALL day. We started with breakfast downstairs. In the old days it would have been a buffet but now it’s more like a virtual menu. Choose what you want and they will serve it to you. Their pastries were much better than the ones we had in Cancún, actually I think all the food was better. I started the days with croissants and mimosa’s, my babe had french toast, a very strange cold muesli/yogurt mess and strawberry mimosas. The guys ate normal breakfast foods, however Casey’s friend ate like there wasn’t going to be anymore food for the rest of the day.

Once at the pool, blowjobs and donkey semen started flowing. You never knew where the shots were coming from, there was alway someone ordering something for everyone. We all took turns playing ping pong, volleyball and black jack.

The food that came out of the pool cafe was some of the best. Carne Asada street tacos with fresh spicy salsa, a Gyro that was really good and their burgers were also solid. I did order the Aguachile one day and it was quite good but I was too full to really enjoy it.

I swear we aren’t horrible at ping pong.

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This was the evening of our fancy wine dinner. We made reservations in the wine room of the French Restaurant. If you purchase a bottle of wine it comes with a special chef’s menu. We had fresh french bread, there is nothing better than warm fresh bread with cold salted butter. Casey pretty much took down two baskets himself. The beef tartare was especially delicious, surf and turf for the main was cooked perfectly and we ended with a chocolate soufflé. It was delicious and worth it if you ever decide to visit.

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The evening ended in the lobby as usual with good company and music.

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We woke to our last day in PV, we planned on spending the first half of the day in town. After a quick breakfast we called an Uber to pick us up.

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Once in town we did a little window shopping and then chose a place for lunch. We picked a place that had outside seating with a view. The weather however was ridiculous. It was so humid that my sundress felt like a wool blanket. We were the only ones in the entire restaurant which was nice but we were melting. Finally we moved inside and our waiter/chef turned on a huge fan and we could finally relax.

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I had fish tacos and they were incredible. When I asked the guy for some hot sauce he brought me out a tray of different bottles. I chose the habanero one and it was so good that I bought it. As you can see, I haven’t used it at all since we have been home.

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Since we were so hot and sticky all we wanted to do was go back to the resort and jump in the pool. One more round of drinks and pool games to end our stay. We gathered our new friends and planned on a group dinner together as a farewell meal.

Casey was staying in the preferred club part of the resort. I think the perks with the preferred club were that you got a quick and solo check-in, they also had their own hot tub and a private lounge/bar that only preferred guests (plus invites) could access. We planned to meet him in his lounge for a drink before dinner. Let me preface this next part of the evening with this; Before we hit the pool that day we had to meet someone at the concierge to arrange our ride to the airport. As we were walking away I noticed two men that I hadn’t seen before. I commented to Shawna and Casey on the taller mans legs. They were long, lean and nicer than most of the people there. Strange thing to point out but seriously they stood out to me. Fast forward to Casey’s preferred lounge. As we were waiting for our adult beverages, those same, very flamboyant men walked in. The one we will call “legs” walked right up to Shawna and professed things to her that shouldn’t be said in front of other people in a public place in the daylight. He said that he was watching her at the pool and although he was clearly not into women that she made him question his sexuality, barf. It was annoying the way he went about it but they seemed like nice guys. We said adios and carried our drinks up to Casey’s room to check out his digs. His room was nicer than ours in a few ways, his tub was on the patio and his room seemed to get a bit more sunlight. We put on some music and attempted to salsa on the patio.

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Six of us had a nice dinner at the Seafood restaurant, the sun was just starting to set making for a perfect backdrop. Since it was our last evening everyone we had become friends with planned to meet in the lobby for farewell drinks and music.

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I should probably give you some more background on the people we hung out with so the following stories flow better. We met the couple from New Jersey on our first day, they were our faves, just two really nice people. They were meant to be married in Hawaii in September but since that was canceled or postponed for the time being, they took a trip to Puerto Vallarta. {We can forget about the Idahoans}. Then there was a threesome, two girls both married to men in open relationships and a gay guy, we will call him Ken. The three of them traveled together and if I remember correctly they all worked together. Next we have Weldon, he was there solo, sober and also gay. (Not that any of that matters aside from the sober part. I don’t know why anyone would choose to go to an all inclusive if you aren’t getting free booze. That’s the most expensive part, am I right?)  Lastly we have Chris and Kory, happily married and fun. Then there was Legs and his husband Johan.

Earlier in the week when we all had dinner at the Mexican (I think that’s in the last post) we were with the threesome, Weldon and the New Jersey couple. That night was when I decided I didn’t really like Ken. He came off very narcissistic, I don’t know, I just didn’t like the guy. There is a reason I am telling you all of this. 

Back to our final evening. Since everything basically shuts down at 11:00 we had planned ahead. We pre-ordered drinks and had a couple of bottles of wine for everyone to share. We also brought down a bluetooth speaker so we could keep our own entertainment going. Ken sat down next to me on the couch and I just kept telling myself, be nice. Then he said, “so I have a funny story.” I was intrigued. Apparently after our dinner the other night at the Mexican restaurant, Weldon invited Ken back to his room for a casual connection. I don’t know what or how it came about but Weldon ended up kicking Ken out of his bed and his room after Ken divulged that he was a Trump supporter. I am pretty sure I spit out my wine, that was the best thing I had heard all week. #FUCKTRUMP

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The evening was so fun, everyone was playing music and we were all swapping stories (not Covid) and then….Legs walks in, without his man, apparently Johan was napping the day off. You guys, I don’t even know how to explain him but I will try. He struts up to our group as we are all sitting and chatting, addressing everyone he dramatically points to Shawna and isn’t shy about letting us all know his sexual feeling towards her. He gets graphic and this is where I start to get a little fucking upset, bring it down dude, not appropriate. We all look at each other like, “who is this guy”? He then goes outside and I follow him, this is when he apologized, saying that he’s sorry, he didn’t mean to come off offensive and then I got a sob story about his childhood and yada yada yada. Still chatting, Johan, his husband, wakes from his slumber and comes down to join us. Legs then goes inside to greet him. I am caught in conversation outside when I missed it. I feel like I always miss the good stuff. {side note, almost every time Shawna and I go out, if it’s near or far, shit like this happens. I know she is amazing and has a magnetic personality but seriously, every.time}. When Legs walked back inside he didn’t sit next to his husband he sat next to Shawna all while dropping his drink all over his pink pants and the couch.

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That is how our last night ended. A lot of OMG, WTF’s and so much laughter and dancing. We called it a night, exchanged numbers and headed to bed.

We had one last breakfast before heading to the airport.

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We really enjoyed our time down there. If or when we go back, there are a lot more things that I want to explore but I tell you what, it’s hard to get out of the pool.

Now it’s back to all things hard, but “we can do hard things (Glennon Doyle).”

Welcome to the Jungle

Back when I was researching places in Puerto Vallarta to stay, I also was looking into horseback rides in the Sierra Madre mountains. My mom and I took a ride there while in port on a cruise years ago, it was a great time. I was in contact with Pam from rancho el charro for months, sporadically checking in on how things were going down there. She moved down there from Ventura 50 years ago and never left. She has a ranch with a couple of handlers at the very end of civilization at the bottom of the mountains. I booked a five hour ride up to a waterfall on the Wednesday of our trip.

My brother had planned to meet us down in PV, arriving Wednesday afternoon. My hope was that we would all arrive back at the hotel around the same time. Shawna and I had coffee sent up to the room and then called an Uber at 9 in the morning,  we were ready for our day. Pam was meeting us at a library in town, not far from the hotel zone to take us to the ranch. It took a good 25 minutes or so to get to the ranch, it’s literally out there. Pretty sure a lot of the little huts and stores didn’t have electricity or running water, very rural. We joked about why she has to pick her customers up, no one would ever find the place, there was also no cell service.

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Pam’s horses were healthy and happy. After we signed our life away, we hopped on (much harder as I age, sigh) and we were off. Tomás, our wonderful wrangler led us out of town and up to the top of the mountain to a waterfall. He had his machete out making way for us to trail blaze, he would often get off of his horse to pick up fresh mangos and he also had a little snack for us to enjoy at the waterfall. My horse Lobo was sweet. His canter was a little uncomfortable and he wasn’t as sure footed on the way down. I thought for sure one time we were both going down when he slipped. Shawna’s horse, Frijolito was a pig and wanted to eat everything in his sight, but he was also hell bent on making sure he was the leader. So I took up the caboose taking in all the sights and OMG all of the big flying insects.

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The ride was long and very serene. It was just us, the horses and the jungle. fun fact, this is wear they filmed Predator.

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My ass (not that one up there) was so sore, probably would have paid off to have taken a few short rides before jumping into a half day excursion. We were hot and sweaty and ready to get back to the hotel to jump into the pool. Pam was kind enough to take us all the way back there.

My brother and his friend were already there, sitting in the lobby bar watching a soccer match. We said our hellos, went to change and met at the pool. There we had meet and greets, played some pool games and all sorts of shots were being ordered from our favorite bartender Jaime. We had Blowjobs, Donkey Semen, Sex with the Bartender and a few others that I have never heard of in my life. People would come closer and whisper “what was that you just had? It looked so good”. It was fun to yell the name and watch them either cringe or laugh.

We closed out the day with nine of us having dinner at the Mexican restaurant. I don’t want to talk down on the food but living in San Diego, it’s hard to beat what we have here. We ate, drank and talked for a couple of hours before dancing to music in the lobby.

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If you are ever in Puerto Vallarta and looking for a horseback ride tour, I would recommend you check out Rancho el Charro. You really can’t ask for anything more if you want a real ride in the jungle. I will most definitely go back.

 

 

 

Our Calm Before the Storm

I want to preface this post so I don’t get pushback. With months of Covid in action we now know that there isn’t one activity that is safe or risky, it’s all a calculated risk. We do know that wearing masks, social distancing, washing our hands and being outdoors as much as possible are things that we can do to help keep us all safe.

Since SDUSD hasn’t yet opened the doors to on-campus learning, we decided to take a tropical getaway before shit gets real. With that said, I put a lot of time in researching a place to go that was warm but most importantly a place that had all of the above precautions in place. I joined social media groups to ask questions and followed people who were already at the destination or had just came back. I also didn’t want to be in an airport any longer than necessary, so a direct flight was a priority. 

We decided on heading down to Puerto Vallarta, the weather and ocean temps were great, the resort was on top of all their safety protocols and the flight was quick and easy. The flight left San Diego early one morning and it was the emptiest flight I have ever been on, I think there were about 15 of us on the entire plane. The airport in PV was also empty and it was a breeze to get through. Our luggage was sanitized before we got in our private vehicle to take us to our hotel.

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When we arrived at the resort we were greeted with hand sanitizer and a glass of sparkling wine. Once checked in, we headed straight to the room, dropped the suitcases, put our bathing suits on and went straight to the water.

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This is where we stayed 90% of the trip.

If you are already judging me, thinking that I am irresponsible or some other adjectives that I can’t think of right now, then you should probably stop reading these posts. There were some OMG moments on the trip,  things that are crazier (in retrospect) than being on an airplane. I won’t go into explicit details because 1. I don’t know the age of all the readers and 2. my parents read my blog.

The first couple of days that we were at the resort it was pretty much empty. We stayed in the pool, drinking, chatting and meeting new people. There were beach vendors down on the sand but they were very respectful and kept to themselves if you didn’t want to purchase anything. We did however almost die (sort of kidding) with our first dip in the ocean, apparently there was a red flag waving (cringe face) but that was news to us until later. The water was warm like a bath so we swam out. Long story short, the ocean was more aggressive than it lead on. I was able to get under the waves and get to shore but Shawna got caught in it and lost her brand new sunnies, that was the most devastating part. But she will claim to this day that mother nature was playing dirty. So we made our way back to the pool where we stayed all week; The red flag suddenly appeared out of nowhere and stayed put the entire week.

Doesn’t look so threatening does it?

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Our room was your typical room but we had an amazing view. We were never in it aside from sleeping and showering. We fell asleep with the doors open but since their hours of operation have changed due to Covid, certain younger folks would take the party outside. The door then had to be closed to block out the sound of their drunk chatter and music. Yes, this trip made us realize that we are now “those” old people.

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The Resort had two sides, adults only and family. All together there are about 7 restaurants but they rotated the nights that they were open. Two of those restaurants required fancy attire and since it was hot and very humid we decided early on that we would only dress up one night. Shorts and flips were where it was at. The first night we ate at the Japanese place on the family side of the resort. Food was fine, service was great, that was that.

Every night there was some sort of live entertainment in the lobby. The lobby or lobbies were all open air.

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Day two we woke up, ordered breakfast and coffee and ate on our balcony. The only plans we had were to pool. Lay by the pool, play in the pool and drink in the pool. We ended up meeting a really nice couple from New Jersey and a couple from Idaho. We had a fun time visiting with them and decided to all have dinner together at the Seafood restaurant. Everything was going fine until the Idaho husband started getting flirtatious with me. {Let me mention that he was a police officer in Idaho who spent a lot of the afternoon talking about respect.} While we were sitting down after dinner he put his hand on my leg while asking “is this okay?”. “No, it’s not” I said and I moved away. Looking back, earlier in the day at the pool, his wife was making some adulterous comments which meant nothing to any of us at the time. Now we think it was all a plan in action to swing.  Different strokes for different folks, not our jam.  I also want to say that reading this you may think, so what if he put his hand on your leg, that’s not a big deal. But it is, it made me feel uncomfortable. Especially since we spent the day with each other as couples and had to listen about how A. he was a police officer and B. how he doesn’t deal with disrespectful people. He is the problem.

Moving on, we spent the rest of the evening with our new New Jersey friends listening to people butcher songs at Karaoke in the Lobby bar, and we could not wait for it to happen again later in the week.

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Next up we test our luck in the jungle.

The Good Wine Ending

We woke up rested, refreshed and ready to explore Sonoma. I made reservations for tastings at four different wineries. We started strong at Anaba, the weather was absolutely perfect. We sat outside and really enjoyed everything we tried, it was a fantastic start to the day.

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Next up was Buena Vista Winery. This place has history which was interesting to learn about.

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We were charmed by the look of the grounds but our like quickly dissipated. The man pouring our just OK wines took his sweet time coming back for each taste. What should have been an hour tasting, for 5 wines turned out to be 5,000 hours. Allowing too much time for us to worry about the possibility of ticks falling out of the trees and burying themselves into our skin. Our window for lunch came and went and we couldn’t get out of their fast enough. We made it back into town with just enough time to drive thru a place and grab some fries before our next reservation.

Our next tasting was in an old Sears catalog home which was intriguing in itself. I didn’t know one could purchase a house from a catalog, that is how it works right?

We had a private reservation and it was a really fun experience. The lady pouring {I wish I remembered her name} was a close friend of the wine maker and she made it very personable. fullsizeoutput_df4

Here we tasted three chards and four pinot noirs, not exactly a horizontal tasting but the same varietal from three separate vineyards, does that make sense?

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The chardonnays were delicious and I think our favorite haled from Mendocino, that needs to be a wine trip in the future.

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Our last tasting for the day was held in a cute outside patio and was founded by three former football players. Three Fat Guys have a laid back approach with some pretty decent wine.

{I may have finished a bottle of their rose before we left Sonoma.}

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Dinner reservations were made at LaSalette a recommendation that I would most definitely pass on. qiKnqxcpR5+LfWsrWkc3Lw7uO3q64SQ9qANGAWL9gi%A

Sorry for the blurry photo, we had been wine tasting all day.

I ordered the Feijoada which I haven’t had since I was in Brazil and it was delish, not as good as my moms though.

{Hint, hint mom, next time we are up there maybe I can help you make it}

We finished with a dessert wine tasting and then walked back to our hotel room for a good nights sleep.

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The next day we planned on checking out Napa for lunch and hopefully a tasting somewhere. Every winery we wanted to visit had no availability but as luck would have it, we found a place right in town that had an opening for us.
We picked a restaurant that had open outdoor dining. We ordered wine and the most amazing peach and prosciutto salad that may have caused inappropriate food moaning.

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After a wonderful lunch and fantastic people watching, we headed for our tasting.

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Roots Run Deep tasting room was in an old house in downtown Napa. We were seated on a couch on the front patio.

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The one upside to the new winery protocols is that we get special one on one attention and this place ended up being my favorite of them all.

They are the ones behind the wines Educated Guess. You’ve probably seen the bottle at BevMo or even the grocery store, I know I have but never actually tried it. Their chardonnay was phenomenal and so were all the other wines. I liked everything they poured for us and if we lived up there would easily consider becoming wine members. It was such a fantastic ending in wine country.

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Once our last sip was gone we hit the road heading down to San Ramon for the night. We enjoyed a nice evening catching up with old friends. Unfortunately our plans for the next day were halted once the governor shut down certain counties again and we were all so disappointed. We were really looking forward to seeing a friends band play and to catching up with people that I haven’t seen in years. Alas, there is always next time right?

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We enjoyed a nice lunch outside before we chose to drive south for another night on the coast. But before we hit the highway we took a swing by my old house. So many memories held there.

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Our last night of a great Cali road trip we chose to spend one more evening in Morro Bay.

We had a really nice meal, perfect weather with sea lion company and relished in what a fantastic trip we had as the sun sank low.

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Side note- This martini had anchovy stuffed olives which sounded so good but in reality tasted like something the sea lion would like a lot more than I did.

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The rest of our drive was uneventful and we couldn’t wait to get home to our girls, human and furry.

It was such a great break from the mundane and even though everything was held outside {who complains about that?} we had amazing weather, pretty darn good food and wine.

Oh, and the clam chowder award goes to Moonlight Beach Bar and Grill in Cambria

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I will be back for another cup on another day.

 

Car Tripping

Our motel in San Simeon was right off of highway 1 which was most important. Unfortunately we were met with loud upstairs neighbors. I am not sure if it was children, dogs or grown men but they weren’t sleeping when the rest of us were hoping to. When the noise finally calmed down we were able to get some sleep. The next morning we grabbed a to-go bag of breakfast items from the front desk and then we hit the black tar, not that kind, jeez.

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While this guy pondered his next to-go meal, we headed ten miles north to the vista point to see some elephant seals.

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We planned on being in the car for most of the day so we hoped for the best {open restrooms and photo ops} when we did pull off of the highway.

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We crossed the famous Big Little Lies bridge however the photo cred goes to my brother, I just stole it for the blog.

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Once we hit Carmel by the Sea, we parked for some browsing and wine tasting. We lucked out with Manzoni Cellars. Winery tasting rooms were told minutes before we arrived that they were closing all indoor operations again. This place had two tables outside, luckily. The wine was good and we left with a bottle of Syrah.

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Ready for lunch aka clam chowder, we continued north to Monterey.

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The place we really wanted to eat at had a long wait so we stumbled into the nearest place and ate a mediocre lunch. The weather wasn’t quite warm enough to stay and walk around outside so we decided to continue our drive up the coast heading for the Golden Gate Bridge.

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We left the cooler weather behind and drove into Sonoma. I called a local pizza place at the square and we picked up our dinner before hitting the hotel. It was a long day in the car so we were ready for a good nights sleep, we had wine tasting to do the next day.