Another great post by my husband Mike. A geologist by day, adventure writer by night.
Do you ever go on a trip or an adventure and afterward think “wow, I can’t wait to do that again” but then never do? Yeah, we do that at least once a month. When we moved back to California earlier this year we put together a list of places and things that we have done once and have been dying to experience it again.
Whether you have lived in California for years or are just visiting Southern California and are looking for a few untraditional things to do; this list is sure to please all types of adventurers.
Malibu Winery, Malibu, CA
For Heather’s 25th birthday we went with friends up to Malibu Wines, a winery and tasting room in the hills between Malibu and Thousand Oaks in Southern California. The wines are from the Saddle Rock Winery, just next to the tasting room at Malibu Wines. The views in and around the tasting room are excellent, the wine is also pretty great. They have some add-ons now including a wine safari that we really need to adventure back to enjoy.
Sycamore Mineral Springs Resort and Spa, San Luis Obispo, CA
This resort sits on top of the Avila Hot Springs, in a quiet, hidden, woodsy area. Out the back of every room is a hot tub that is piped into the hot springs. You turn a valve and 100+ degree spring water flows directly to you. Luckily the Sycamore Resort is located conveniently to the Edna Valley, a low key wine region in Central California. The Edna is a cooler wine region and produces lovely Pinot Noirs and Syrahs. After a day of wine tasting, there is nothing better than unwinding with a bottle of wine, soaking up the ocean breeze, and hanging out in your own private hot tub.
Skiing/ snowboarding in the mountains and golfing in shorts the same weekend
Bear Mountain in Big Bear Lake, California
Golf in Southern California
California is one of the few places I know where you can legitimately accomplish this. for the overachievers, you can technically, do both in one day. I played golf on Friday in LA and snowboarded in Big Bear on Saturday. Pick your favorite summer and winter activity, come to southern California, and accomplish both in the same weekend! (Best to plan in January or February).
Take a random Las Vegas road trip
Mostly a rite of passage (at least in my opinion), Las Vegas is so close but yet so far from the cities in Southern California. Although we have been to Vegas dozens of times (literally dozens) this trip was one of my favorites. Heather and I planned the trip with another couple on a Friday night, left on a Saturday morning, and came home on a Sunday. Next time you got a free weekend, head to Vegas for a spontaneous weekend of fun.
San Diego Zoo Safari Park – Behind the Scenes Safari
Heather likes zoos, has a serious affinity for large, wild animals. This safari park has special excursions that take you right up to the animals and give you a much different experience than a traditional zoo. The Safari Park is experienced via tram so its a great activity for all ages and all abilities.
What are some adventures that we need to add to our Southern California list?
My ideal summer day at home is sitting in the hot sun with a cold drink while lounging by the pool. I like a beer in summer but I really love a nice, light, refreshing cocktail to help me through extreme heat that is Palm Springs in the summer.
What better way to celebrate the 4th of July then with a few nice, new summer cocktails? We are leaving for a Mexican vacation this week so for the first time we are having a quiet day at home for the forth and I can’t wait to drink a few of these cocktails!
Here are a few of my tried and true favorite summer cocktails.
Skinny Grapefruit Margarita
There is a restaurant in Birmingham, Alabama, El Bario that serves THE BEST grapefruit margaritas. To be honest, I had no idea that I liked grapefruit margaritas until I had one there.
1 oz freshly squeezed grapefruit, about 1/4 grapefruit
1/2 oz freshly squeezed lime, about 1 lime
1.5 oz triple sec
2 oz tequila
lime sparkling water to top
1 lime cut in wedges
For salt-rimmed glass, begin by running a lime wedge around the top rim of a glass. Fill a shallow bowl with salt, and dip the rim in the salt until it is salt covered. Set aside.
Add grapefruit juice, tequila, lime juice and Triple Sec to a cocktail shaker, and shake until combined.
Fill glass with ice. Pour in the margarita mixture over the rocks add lime sparkling water until glass is full. Serve immediately, garnished with an extra lime or grapefruit wedge if desired.
I mean lemon and cucumber together? Hello, summer!
1 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 ounce simple syrup
2 ounces gin
4 or 5 slices cucumber
sparkling water, to top.
In the bottom of a mixing glass, muddle cucumber slices, lemon juice and simple syrup.
Add gin, along with ice, and shake. Strain over fresh ice into a Collins glass, then top with sparkling water.
Watermelon Vodka Punch
Who doesn’t have great memories sitting by the pool as a kid eating watermelon? This drink is the adult version of that.
3 pounds watermelon, rind, and seeds discarded and the flesh cut into pieces, plus thin slices of watermelon for garnish
1/2 cup vodka
1/4 cup Triple Sec
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
In a blender purée the watermelon pieces and ice cubes and strain the purée over a pitcher, discarding the solids.
Stir in the vodka, the Triple Sec, and the lime juice, pour the drink into a glass filled with ice cubes, and garnish each drink with a watermelon slice.
Raspberry Lime Champagne Punch
This drink is the perfect summer mimosa substitute for a brunch with your boozy pals.
¾ cup lime juice, approximately 4 freshly squeezed
1/2 cup vodka
2 cups raspberries
1 lime, sliced
1 bottle Champagne or sparkling white wine
1 can lime sparkling water
1. In a large pitcher, stir the lime juice, vodka and soda water to combine. Stir in the raspberries and lime slices.
2. Just before you’re ready to serve, add the Champagne. Serve chilled.
Mint Cucumber Sparkler
1-inch piece of seedless cucumber, finely chopped
½ ounce fresh lime juice (that’s the juice from about half a lime)
1½ ounces vodka
2 teaspoons mint simple syrup (recipe below)
3 ounces Prosecco or champagne
For the Mint Simple Syrup:
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup water
½ cup fresh mint leaves
3-4 slices cucumber
1 sprig fresh mint
First, you’ll need to make the simple syrup. In a small saucepan, bring the sugar, water and mint leaves to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, swirling the saucepan occasionally, until the sugar dissolves, 1-2 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool completely before using.
In a cocktail shaker, muddle the chopped cucumber with the lime juice. Add the vodka, simple syrup and a few ice cubes, and shake vigorously until the outside of the shaker becomes frosty. Strain into a glass filled with ice, and top with Prosecco. Garnish with a lime.
Time for another post from my sweet hubs. I’ve said it once, I will say it a million times, my husband is the greatest adventure planner. When it is time to explore a new city he puts in work to find everything great about that city, including restaurants, this post is not about those restaurants. Today we are talking about the restaurants or meals that were discovered by accident but left an everlasting impression on both of us.
We have all had amazing meals in our lives. Whether they are homemade, at a Michelin rated restaurant, or a hole in the wall you walked by on your latest trip. Great food can be found anywhere. What makes a meal memorable though? I have thought about this a lot lately. There are these meals I just can’t get out of my mind and they always make me smile. That’s because all of these meals are associated with good times, good friends, and usually a funny anecdote. Although the food has always been great, the memory is what makes it, well, memorable. Almost all of these places I have only been to once and may be closed or in fact not great. Remember these are memorable meals and not strictly food based. On to the list.
Kentmorr Restaurant, Stevensville, MD
July of 2016 Heather and I met some friends from Zurich, Switzerland in Washington, DC. They were doing a small tour of America and meeting some of their old friends from Europe, who happened to be DC locals. For dinner one night we took a road trip to a restaurant our new DC friends love, but don’t get out much too because of its location. After renting some cars we traveled the hour or so out to Stevensville, MD and arrived at Kentmorrs, a small restaurant, and bar located on the east side of the Chesapeake Bay. Our new local friends asked if they could order for the table, a move I will never turn down, so I never even looked at the menu. I was not disappointed. Appetizers of crab dip and crab pretzel (crab dip on top of a soft pretzel) were amazing. The main dish? A large bucket of whole crabs, caked in old bay and other spices, was dumped directly on to the table. Hammers were passed out, pitchers of beer were ordered, and the next few hours were spent devouring crab, drinking beer and watching the sunset over the Chesapeake.
Dario Cecchini, Panzano in Chianti, Italy
In March of 2016, we took a trip to Europe and started off in Italy. We wanted to be off the beaten track a little bit and decided to stay in Tuscany and ended up staying at a small winery in Greve. Our host recommended we head down to Panzano, to a small restaurant for dinner one night. So we did, and we were not disappointed. Butcher shop by day, Dario Cecchini is a reservation only restaurant by night. The one-room restaurant located above the butcher shop had family style seating at 3 tables. We were the only non-Italian speakers, so we ended up at our own table. This place was a carnivore’s dream. Think 10-15 different cuts (all meat) served with wine and minimal vegetables. Every cut was brought out, shown to the tables, and then grilled over an open fire on one side of the room. All of the meat was cooked to perfection and just melted in your mouth. The finale involved the apprentice butcher (or chef, not really sure), holding up two hunks of beautifully marbled, gigantic steaks and screaming at the crowd in Italian. We had no idea what he said but cheered right along with the other Italians as if we understood every word. Fast Forward, a few months later we were back at home watching Phil Rosenthal’s PBS show “I’ll have what Phils Having.” During his Italy episode, he went to a dinner with Dario Cecchini who cooked up some of the giant steaks we enjoyed the night we were at his namesake butcher shop. Although he only speaks Italian in the show we had a wonderful conversation with him (in English) during our meal. Check out minute 41 for a peek at those steaks. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K199bfh6pEw
Charlies Pub and Grill, Ridgecrest, CA
My first job out of college took me to Ridgecrest, a small desert town in Southern California. I lived there for just over 3 years and hated it. After growing up along the beaches of Florida and attending college in the Front Range of Colorado, the small desert town of Ridgecrest wasn’t for me. I worked long shifts and as soon as my days off came I was off to LA to see Heather, always trying to escape Ridgecrest. Rarely did I eat out in town. Actually, for the first two years, I only ate at Charlie’s. About every 6 weeks my boss, who was located in Denver, would visit. As part of his trip, he would always take me out for dinner. Every single one of these meals was at Charlie’s. Overall the restaurant was fine. They made a good burger, they had a decent beer selection, and I never had to pay. The second or third time I was there the special was Thai Peanut Chicken. This isn’t something you would usually order at a pub and grill but I went for it. I loved it. To this day I haven’t had Thai peanut chicken as good as the one at Charlie’s. I went to Charlies probably 25 more times after that and they never had Thai peanut chicken as a special ever again. Knowing the Ridgecrest crowd I was probably the only person who ordered it that night.
The Martin Hotel, Winnemucca, NV
Two hours from Reno, Winnemucca is part of a string of small mining towns that dot northern Nevada. Over a century ago, Basque immigrants came to northern Nevada as part of the booming gold industry in the area. The Martin Hotel originally housed and fed these immigrants as well as the local ranchers and miners. Although the Martin is no longer a hotel, it still serves Basque food in their dining room. Basque food is delicious. A traditional meal consists of an entrée of steak, pork, or lamb with multiple sides served family style. These multiple sides include, but are not limited to soup, salad, bread, house wine, beans, French fries, bread pudding, mashed potatoes, spaghetti, seasonal vegetables, and whatever else they have in the back. The first time I went to dine at The Marin Hotel, one side option was sweet bread; fried cow pancreas and throat. All the sides are excellent, but the entrees are what you come for. My personal favorite is the lamb. If you can swing it, come with a group, drink a picon punch or an Ichthyosaur pale ale, and eat until you can’t eat anymore. The best part? Meals range from $17 to $32.
Ramiro’s Taco Shop Pacific Beach, San Diego, CA
One of our favorite weekend trips is to Pacific Beach, a small surf neighborhood in San Diego. We come to PB for the beach, the bars, and the Mexican food. Most of the Mexican Food in PB reflects the style of Baja California, but San Diego also has something strictly American; the California Burrito. Carne Asada, sour cream, French fries, guacamole, and cheese all rolled up in a flour tortilla; great after a day spent on the beach and in the ocean, or great at 2 in the morning after trying to drink Pacific Beach dry. After one of these nights, we were stumbling back to our hotel when we ran across Ramiro’s. Heather ordered up a California burrito and we walked to the beach, sat on a bench, and enjoyed the burrito as we overlooked the Pacific. Definitely not the best California burrito I have had but it was my first, and most memorable.
Next week we are heading to Cabo (for both of our first time) and need some recommendations! We are staying at a resort but always love to get out into the city and eat the local cuisine. Help a sister out! Any wonderful places that we need to see? any amazing restaurants that we need to eat at.
Let’s talk about skincare! Often when traveling the priorities of items packed often change but my skincare routine is one thing I keep consistent.
I have very dry, sensitive skin so I am very cautious with what items I put on my skin. I am also very cognisant to maintain the same skin care routine whether I am home in Southern California or traveling elsewhere.
Now let’s get to the best skin care products for traveling with dry skin.
Gentle face wash; Traditionally I stick to Aveeno face wash but received the BRTC foaming cleanser in an IPSY bag and am very happy with the results. This past trip I wanted a travel size cleanser so this time around it replaced my normal, gentle face wash.
Daily moisturizer with sunscreen; post shower I immediately put face lotion and body lotion on. Again, my skin is DRY so if I don’t get the added moisture from the shower absorbed into my skin, then I’m going to have a horribly EXTRA dry day. My daily face lotion changes on the time of year but usually the line up consists of Aveeno, CeraVe, and Neutrogena.
Face Serum; I have read many varying opinions on when to put face serum BUT I always put face serum on after my daily moisturizer and before my primer. It really helps my skin absorb both the moisturizer and the serum. I switch off between an argan-based skin serum and thisrosehip oil.
Hydrocortisone cream; once more, my skin is sensitive!! I constantly get small rashes on my face, these rashes are normally around the eyes and mouth, and this Aveeno cream immediately tackles the issue.
Moisturizing face mask; anything and everything Peter Thomas Roth does is amazing but I am really living for this gentle face mask. I use this mask 2 – 3 times a week and it really helps with fine lines and dehydrated skin. My skin goes a little crazy when I travel to new climates and constantly using this helps avoid that craziness.
Sheet Mask; I like to do a sheet mask once a week, it’s the best way for my skin to really soak up some deep moisture. To be honest, I have absolutely no alliance to one brand when it comes to sheet masks but I always look for a product that contains hyaluronic acid.
On top of these essentials, my favorite and my most recommended skin care product is sunscreen. Never forget the anti-aging power of sun protection!
I am always looking for new skin care routines and products, my current regiment is working great but as weather changes so do skin care priorities. I would love to know everyone’s skincare essentials, what products should I add to my travel essentials?