California Dreaming

Travels: Jun 3 – Jun 7, 2015


This trip was conceived as I rode my bike back from an overnight stay in Williamsburg, VA. As I was making my way home I stopped at a WAWA to grab a quick lunch. As I sat and thought I wondered if there was any way I could ever entice my older two daughters to go away with me on an adventure.

Just then my many business trips to San Francisco flashed in my head and the idea hit me. I messaged the girls and asked that if they had the opportunity to go to California would they? I also gave two extended weekend dates that could work for me. The message I got back from each was a resounding YES and, much to my surprise, they even chose the weekend.

Now I have to admit that I may not have been totally serious in all this but as I rode back home it dawned on me that there could be no backing out now and this could be a rare opportunity to go away with the girls. Thus the incredible California Dreaming trip was born.

Wednesday, June 3

So much to do in San Francisco

Today is our flight day on our Cali adventure. We have a list of cool things to do in the short time we’ll be in California. The flight was uneventful and long but full of anticipation.

With some pre-planning we know the key things we want to see. Once we had our rental car and visited our hotel, we headed through downtown San Francisco looking for the “very” steep streets. As we made or way through SF we decided to head to the Golden Gate bridge.

Once there we walked all around and under it taking time for photo ops. It was a clear, albeit chilly, day so we could see everything out in the Bay. We stopped at a nice cafe somewhat under the bridge for lunch and were able to grab some souvenirs there as well. it was a nice first-stop for our trip.

After this we headed north across the GG Bridge to Muir Monument Park and the Giant Redwoods. The park was awesome and the trees huge and very, very old. Some I believe over 2,000 years old! This was certainly a highlight for me and I think the girls enjoyed themselves as well. After an awesome self-guided tour of the park, and grabbing some more souvenirs, we headed for our hotel to relax before heading out on our Sunset Cruise on the SF Bay.

Once we found the dock at the Embarcadero we parked and were off on our bay tour orchestrated by daughter Sarah. It was very windy and cool but an awesome time on the water. The food was good and we were able to shoot some good photos and video of our journey. The time went fast and before we knew it we were back at our first and last night in our San Francisco hotel. The plan was to get on the road the next day after breakfast, head through Napa Valley to see the wineries, then make the long trek down to Santa Cruz for daughter Alexandra’s surfing lesson.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Napa Valley Tour

After what seemed like endless driving (my tactical mistake), and a tasty stop off for lunch, the three of us eventually made Napa Valley. Unfortunately it was after the Valley’s all-to-early closing time of 5:00PM. Fortunately though we were able to stop at the Robert Mondavi Winery for a bathroom break and see a few wineries as we rode down the main drag Rt 29. At this stage though we decided it would be best to head the approximate 3 hour drive to our hotel, and dinner, in Santa Cruz.

After another long drive we arrived at our hotel near the beach. Feeling worn and tattered it was nice to grab a quick bite and call it a day. The next morning after an early breakfast would be Alexandra’s surfing lesson at the Richard Schmidt Surf School.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Surf’s Up!

While Sarah did some shopping Alex and I headed to the surf shop to get her board and surf-suit. After a little time the 20+ students headed walking, with board on their heads, towards the beach. Once there I laid back taking pictures and watching closely to learn all I could about surfing. it was interesting and I could see Alex was enjoying herself.

Before I knew it all the students headed out into the water with their instructors. I walked out about knee-high as I managed both the camera alternating between stills and video. I had been warned that the tide would be coming in and to keep an eye open for it.

I had great fun trying to get shots of Alex as she practice quite diligently catching waves. It was quite interesting to see as I quietly, and sometimes not so quietly, coaxed her on. it was fun and I’m sure very tiring for Alex. After some time i saw that they were starting to head back to shore. As I turned to head to the shore I noticed that the prominent beach that had existed was no longer there. The tide had come in and the land was gone. I realized now was the time for me to leave too.

As Alex got close to me I could see she was tired but has an enormous smile on her face. She had accomplished her goal and learned to surf. I could tell she had an awesome time of it and was happy. Daddy was happy too. After the short but tiring walk back to the surf shop we met up with Sarah and headed back to the hotel for a break. It was a good day.

After getting ourselves together we decided to drive down the famous Rt 1 to check out Big Sur. It turned out to be an incredible experience seeing the awesome views as I’ve never before seen. So striking were they I decided not to text them back home realizing the cell phone would do no justice to the awe-inspiring views. Instead i decided I’d show them on the big screen of the TV after we got back home. Once in Big Sur we looked around and wrangled with where to eat lunch. After some to-do about it I decided to head back north. Great idea as it turned out.

On our way back we found an awesome high-end restaurant, Rocky Point, in Carmel built into the cliffs. The view while eating was staggering and made for a great time. And oh yeah, the food was magnificent as well. After indulging ourselves we decided to hike down to the cliffs and do some”climbing” around. I have to say that while I would have been comfortable by myself i was a big nervous with my two daughters with me. All went well but a nervous dad I was, lol.

After this great time we headed a bit further north and made a stop in Monterey. The view of the bay in this area was breathtaking. We walked the pier, did some shopping and relaxed a bit trying to take in as much of the beauty as we could. As it got late we knew we’d have to leave but i think we were all secretly thinking that we’d be back some day. This drive is a MUST-DO for anyone looking for an out-of-body experience.

Awesome restaurant:  Rocky Point Restaurant

Richard Schmidt Surf School

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Sarah & Alex’s art work

On our hit list for this final day of our journey was a little body artwork for the girls. While Sarah wanted to get a tattoo of some meaningful verse, Alex opted for a belly piercing. This is the California appeal. After some time both girls received what they wanted and seemed happy with the art. Happy Girls = Happy Dad.

After some time to eat and do some people-watching it was time to pack, hit the San Jose airport and drop off the rental car. After a smooth red-eye flight back we reached home Sunday morning no worse for wear but with great memories that will last a lifetime. The trip for me was a huge success. I had corralled my older girls together for a meaningful once-in-a-lifetime trip. Now, where to go for the next once-in-a-lifetime excursion…

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