Weekend Trip: Napa Valley and Marin, California

When it comes to weekends, I’m either stressed to the max with papers or exams that are coming up. Those days are usually spent half procrastinating (because what kind of college student would I be if I didn’t procrastinate) and half actually getting my work done. Man alive, I was pumped when a long weekend came up at the end of midterms that let me get on a plane headed to California without a stitch of schoolwork in my bag. Sunshine was the only thing on my mind – well that and the fact that I’d probably return to Seattle with a bit of a sunburn. I landed after an hour delay on the runway and was welcomed by huge smiles on the faces of my mom and grandparents as they sneakily surprised me!

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A traffic-filled drive back through downtown Sacramento was accompanied by a phone interview for one of the summer internships I’ve applied for – crossing my fingers that summer plans will be full of excitement and adventure, because I’m too addicted to travel after my time in London. Finally home, the squealing duo of Ella and Lady (my two pups) attacked me and got me in the right mood for a fun weekend home. After an obligatory Mexican food dinner, I ran off for a fun evening of shenanigans with my Sacramento girls (Joce, Courtney and Cat) – nights with those girls end up in stitches of laughter and too many smiles that your cheeks hurt the next day.

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Valentine’s morning woke me up with some dogs barking, so I was off to go on a walk with my mom before we headed out for a Napa weekend. I don’t think there is anything better than a weekend spent in the place that brings you the most joy – Napa is just that for me. I’ve basically been raised up there … riding the ATV’s through the meadows and jumping on the trampoline until the sun goes down. Now that I’m a bit older, getting a few days up there a year is the best form of relaxation (and soon I’ll be able to enjoy Napa’s wine reputation – yay birthdays!)! The night couldn’t have worked out better… we headed down to Main Street to see if there was any wait at our favorite restaurant, Cook, and were delightfully surprised that they could fit us in for a quick dinner despite having a full night of reservations! Yippee!! That creamy parmesan polenta and brown butter brussel sprouts are perhaps some of the best bites I’ve had.

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I’ve got to say – waking up to a breathtaking view of Napa Valley and the sunshine already warming up your skin might just be the best way to start a day. The sunburn I was anticipating was already starting to form (thank you Seattle clouds). We grabbed a tasty veggie bagel at Model Bakery before we ventured into my mom’s hometown of Novato. The best pit stop was at the Marin French Cheese Company – brie and sweet pepper jam tasters paired with sunshine and the dogs being able to get out for a little walk. Is there anything better?

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On our way back home, we took the back roads through Lucas Valley and were absolutely stunned by the amount of twists and turns the road had. The two lane highway made it all worth it when we came across a random redwood forest that spanned the length of the road until we got onto 101. If there’s any reason to live on the West Coast, you’ve got to visit the Bay Area during those ‘winter’ months. Highs of 75 degrees Fahrenheit and endless sunshine – what is winter again? The 18 years I lived in California growing up has clearly affected me more than I thought – true winters will probably be the end of me if I ever end up on the East Coast.

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Being back in Sacramento for a short while before I boarded my plane back to my home away from home in Seattle lifted my spirits enough to get me through the next few weeks of research papers and finals. Only one month until birthday celebrations (yay, finally 21!) and spring break! I had a hard goodbye to my little valley town with the sun glowing a bright pink and orange on our way to the airport, but the amazing welcome back party that picked me up at the airport was enough to bring a smile back to my face. Thanks for the spirit lifting Tay, Julia and Emily – couldn’t be happier to have you as a part of my college family.

IMG_5914What spring adventures are you hoping for? How are you surviving your winter? Get talking in the comments below!

Until next time, catch me on instagram.

The Swing of Things

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New years bring about new resolutions, new ideas, new cities and schedules. Getting home from London meant a few weeks of getting over my travel exhaustion all while secretly planning the next trip – alright, maybe not so secret based on the amount of time I spent talking about it.  The thing with the new year is that all of the new things you begin to experience inherently mean change. I’ve never been that great with feeling comfortable in a changing area (just ask my parents, they’ve definitely experienced a few of my freak outs).  This year, I’m resolving to accept change like I did in the past year. Moving forward with the things that come my way and taking them thankfully. After 3 months of constant change and traveling, the three weeks I spent at home were warmly welcomed because they offered comfort and relaxation.  There’s really nothing better than some quiet family time to get you back on your feet.

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I’ve been back in Seattle for a week now & I’m struggling with the idea of getting back into the swing of things. The funny thing is, you really have no choice when it comes to ‘the swing of things’  – you’re either with it or you’re completely uncomfortable. This week has consisted of a lot of effort to get back to the level of comfort I felt in this beautiful and often rainy city just 7 months ago; there’s no doubt in my mind that the adventures I had in the last semester have changed me and I just have to learn how to re-adapt to my city.  There is definitely some anxiousness to come back into a life that continued on for the time you were gone, but also immense comfort that the people you know will always have your back when you’re feeling that way. With these lessons in mind, my sista (from another mista) and I journeyed the 12 hours up Interstate 5 to Seattle. Meg and I have been friends since before birth, so the long road trip was nothing but fun and a few wrong turns – whoopsie daisies!

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Ask anyone who has driven up or down the west coast – when you go south of Sacramento, Interstate 5 is not the most pleasant drive (thank you cattle farms). But when you drive north, the road is full of stunning mountain-scapes and endless trees.  Thankfully, Megan endured listening to the podcast Serial again while we drove, and I was quickly obsessed. If you haven’t jumped on the bandwagon for this podcast, it’s a must – definitely creepy, but so so addicting. We chased a huge fog bank all the way through Oregon until we stopped to fuel up on some Chipotle in Eugene.  Shortly after 6 PM, we pulled into my home away from home and began the effort of unloading all the boxes I felt were absolutely necessary to bring with me back up north.  A day full of driving had us exhausted, so the unpacking was left for the next few days as we took an early night.  I’ve got to say – after traveling around, I was amazed at the beauty of the Pacific Northwest & the entire West Coast in general.  Adventures in this area are definitely coming soon, because I can’t just stop all the fun of exploring, now can I?!

IMG_4906Walking back on the UW campus made me realize that there are very few sights that are greater than Mount Rainier showing itself early on a winter morning. I felt stunned into silence, even though I was rushing to my class (I might have forgotten just how big UW’s campus is). Regardless of the anxiety that sits in the back of my mind, I’m glad to be back with some of my dearest friends and catch up on all that I’ve missed out on. For the new year, I’ll be working on pursuing dreams of continued travel, education, and health. Soon, I’ll be back with some recipe ideas that will impress your friends and give your taste buds a burst of flavor, so keep an eye out!

What are your resolutions this year? What do you do to conquer anxiety and change? I’d love to hear what you have to say in the comments below!

Until next time, catch me here on instagram or become a part of The Rambling Reed community on Facebook.