Friday, September 10, 2010

Welcome back, Kotter!

Time for a little journey home to good ole Wisconsin. It was amazing to drive back through Madison, especially during one of the best times of the year--late summer.

This shot, atop Observatory drive, is thisclose to my dorm.

Beautiful city.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Vacation Part Five: Chicago

The last leg of the whirlwind vacation brought us back to our Midwest roots. We received a warm welcome in Chicago from Luke's sister and her boyfriend.

Speaking of warm..the late summer weather was so beautiful, we could have easily mistaken it for Cali weather. Sunny, slight breeze and not a cloud in the sky.

We enjoyed a relaxing weekend with our Chicago counterparts, which is just what we needed after a week of traveling and sight-seeing.
So where to next summer??

Vacation Part Four: The City of Angels

What trip to California would be complete without a stop in Los Angeles? We arrived in the City of Angels on Wednesday and made our way through traffic from LAX to our friends' apartment in West Hollywood. They so generously let us crash in their extra bedroom.

Sunny LA is beautiful year round, but the weather was particularly cooperative during our stay. First stop: Santa Monica. Luke had never been, and it's truly one of my favorite places on earth. So relaxed, peaceful...and clean. Basically the polar opposite of New York.

We went to the newly opened Santa Monica Place for lunch and were pleasantly surprised by the food court which even boasted ocean views!
Ahh, hello, vacay.

After soaking in some rays in Santa Moncia, we ventured out to Malibu. It's a hike, for sure, but definitely worth it. A huge class/summer camp was at the beach on a field trip. (Side note: when I went to summer camp, I'm pretty sure we collected sticks, leaves and rocks and made 'nature collages' with glitter glue.)

On our way back to West Hollywood, we stopped in Beverly Hills for Sprinkles cupcakes. Hooray! I certainly wasn't surprised by the line, but it moved much slower than any NYC cupcake line. I'll attribute it to the laaaid-back Cali lifestyle. With my mind on my cupcakes and my cupcakes on my mind.

The cupcakes were every bit worth the wait!

Next stop: The Griffith Observatory. It was a quiet afternoon and the views were beautiful.

Downtown. Pretty clear day for LA, yes?

Someday, I hope to hike these trails! They would make for a griller of a workout.

Sun sets on yet another beautiful day in California.

Vacation Part Three: Highway 1 and San Simeon

On Tuesday, we woke up early to drive to Hearst Castle in San Simeon. It's only about 90 miles from Monterey, but we knew the trip would definitely take longer than expected. For one, the road winds up and down cliffs, around twists and turns. Thankfully, Luke is a skilled driver, and we had a trusty Prius for the trip.

We also took several pit stops along the way.

The air was intoxicating. The salty, fresh smell of the ocean combined with the strong pine scent from the hillside trees. We had our windows rolled down almost the entire time.

We eventually made it to San Simeon. We hopped on a bus that slowly made its way up the mountain, and we arrived at Hearst Castle.

We thoroughly enjoyed the tour and made our way back down the mountainside. It was time to drive back, this time up the coast.

We stayed in Carmel and explored Pebble Beach for several hours. We watched the sun set slowly over the ocean.

It was truly one of the best days of my life.

Vacation Part Two: Monterey

After a glorious weekend in San Francisco, we kicked off part two of the vacation on Monday with a beautiful drive along Highway 1 from San Francisco to Monterey.

Finally arrived in Monterey!

After arriving in Monterey and checking into the B&B, we walked to the Monterey Bay aquarium, which is at the end of Cannery Row.

After dinner, we walked to the bay to catch the sunset. We came across a man and a very happy dog.

Day is done, gone the sun. 

Vacation Part One: San Francisco

The time for our annual vacation finally arrived! This year, we decided to visit friends and family throughout the country (hello, free lodging). Our first leg was San Francisco. Neither of us had ever been there, and one of our good friends from college lives there. Needless to say, we fell in love with this beautiful city.

We spent a few days seeing the sights. First stop: Chinatown.

Riding the trolley
One of the most popular spots at Fisherman's Wharf

High atop the city

Overlooking zig-zagging Lombard St.

Catching some more city sights

Heading over to Marin County

Brunching at Sam's Anchor Cafe, the famous waterfront restaurant on San Francisco Bay

Talk about a picturesque day.