Friday, December 30, 2016

Holiday Travels...road eats - Day 5

Headed back -

We had the morning with family and then hit the road about lunch time.
Lunch was a series of drive-thru windows - as we each apparently felt like different food.
But some of the highlights fell into the criteria of the trip -

This guy has nothing to do with this post... but wow! riding a unicycle down the street with a drink in each hand.WOW!

We drove a few hours north and then popped back into Marie Calendar's for some pie to go... cause who knows when well will be back in Cali?

Sunset from Marie Calendar's
The last hour in the state provided us with some less than ideal weather. Hubby sat up straight and adjusted his hands to 10 and 2 at one point, that's when I knew the weather was causing issues ;)

We had some snow and very cold temps. The snow was only sticking in a few places, but the roads were mountain roads and being careful can never hurt. We made it over the pass and into Oregon without issue. But I didn't really get a picture of the sign - sorry about that.

It's an Oregon shaped blur... "Welcome to Oregon"
Back at the same hotel from Monday night we checked in and asked the front desk for a pizza recommendation. She suggested Bobbio's and they deliver - sounds great.
Pizza we can get at home.. but not Bobbio's pizza ;)
45 minutes later, our pizzas arrived, including my taco pizza... yumm.

I think we were hungry. Good pizza, thanks Bobbio's!

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Holiday Travels....road eats - Day 3 & 4

Day 3 and 4 were mainly family time in one general location, but as we are focusing on food - I am posting them as one post. And then back to separate posts when we hit the road again. 

Day 3
Breakfast is at our hotel, with a stop at Starbucks as we drive to the family for the day.

Christmas is over people. The red cups are gone. (so is the caramel burlee latte)

For lunch we all ventured out to shop and go to Rubio's where we enjoyed some tasty Mexican food and I took absolutely no pictures :( Even though it crossed my mind more than once as I ate my burrito. Go figure.

For dinner we cooked, which was fun and its always nice to get a break from all the eating out.

Day 4
More breaking our own rules today....
We start with all breakfasting at Starbucks.
And then after we got into a fun craft, we took a break to let some paint dry and hit Togo's for lunch.
Ah, Togo's. My favorite sandwich place. Its been YEARS since I have had a Togo's sandwich and it was exactly as I remembered.

Her first Togo's sandwich....ever!
Not sure its all I have told him it would be ;)

A side note about our craft for the day. Our dear daughter and her dad found a cool painted rock in a park on Christmas Day. It had a label on it from the group that did it (Look up your city name and "Rocks" on Facebook to see if you have a group near you). They found out it's a community project. People paint rocks and hide them around town. When you find one you can re-hide it, or keep it and replace it with your own painted rock. So today we painted rocks, so we could keep the Christmas one she found.

For dinner we broke our rule again. The family suggested Panera and the kids jumped at the idea. It was a place we can find at home, but it worked :)

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Holiday travels.... road eats - Day 2

Rise and Shine - day 2

We mostly missed the complementary breakfast at our hotel, but were able to grab things as they were packing it away.

Then we hit the road with a stop on our way out of Medford at the Rogue Creamery.
Cause nothing sounds better at 9 am than stinky blue cheese, am I right?

Well, this place makes CRAZY GOOD stinky blue cheese and other amazing cheeses.
We hadn't realized it was on our route for the trip until we saw the sign at the same exit as our hotel the evening before. [Editor's note: I've decided that if someone told me that for the rest of my life, I could only ever eat cheese from Beecher's in Seattle, Tillamook in Northern Oregon or Rogue Creamery in Southern Oregon, I would be content... With only one exception: Parmigiano Reggiano from Italy)]

So it was a required detour... its not a chain restaurant but we can't go to a Rogue Creamery store at home.
The brave and (awake) among us sampled cheese. Others of us just explored and some found the viewing window into the factory and watched a cheesemaker, make some cheddar.
Our young man, who knows a lot about a lot, told me what the guy was doing, was called "Cheddaring".
So now you know ;)

And then we bought cheese :)

Back to the road.
I-5 South to Cali, roads were clear with lots of white on the sides to make it all feel like winter.

After the snow passed, and we had entered California - the landscape has changed a lot.
Lunch was in Redding. Marie Calendar's was the pick.
We haven't eaten in a Marie Calendar's in 5 years, when they closed the one in our general vicinity.
It was probably a bit longer ago than that, as only one of our kids remembered it.
And once inside the doors, it was EXACTLY the same.
Why is the cornbread so much fluffier at the restaurant than when we make the mix at home? You've wondered this yourself, right?

And we had to have pie to wrap up the visit. Chocolate Satin, Lemon Meringue and Coconut Cream if you were wondering. All were good and brought back memories.

Soo many pies to choose from! 
After a few more hours of driving we made it to the California family. And once we said our hello's and hugs, it was dinner.
(See, I am really mainly dealing with the food here)
For dinner, Strings Italian Cafe. I think this is a Sacramento area chain - I don't recall it from other parts of the state.
We had a leisurely dinner here with our family. The food was good and plentiful. We all brought home doggy bags. But my gut says they won't be eaten.
When we are at hotels we always think that we will get to leftovers and it never happens. But maybe this time.....?

Monday, December 26, 2016

Holiday Travels... road eats - Day 1

Day 1

What, Where and why:
We are on the road for the Christmas holiday and decided to blog part of the fun.
Mainly because the theme of this trip is "only eating at places we don't have access to at home". Well, that and the joy of Christmas and seeing our loved ones, but you knew that part.

So, here on the blog we are going to focus on the food. Now don't go thinking we are going for refined sophistication here... the only criteria for restaurants is a chain we don't have at home. We are allowing one exception - Starbucks. (Hey you don't judge us, and we won't judge you... deal?)

The rough route is from the Vancouver/Portland area, south to Northern Cali and the area between Sacramento and Grass Valley. Then back.

We left our northwest family and started our journey south.
First stop lunch at Noodles and Co.

We love Noodles and Co.
We discovered them a few years ago (actually, I think it was the last time we drove down to California in 2012) and now look for them when we are out of town. Lucky for us they are getting closer, but still not something we have easy access to at home.

And now we drive.
and drive.
and.... drive, yup, you know the drill.

We landed in Medford, Oregon for the night.
Our plan was to check into our hotel and then head to dinner.
But as we unloaded the car, we realized we left a bag back up at our previous destination.
Luckily (or unluckily depending on your outlook) we had left the toiletry bag... the large tote we filled with everything from shampoo, tooth brushes, makeup, brushes, vitamins, medications, etc.
So, a chunk of our evening was spent trying to decide what HAD to be repurchased to survive the next week ;) HAD TO!

But some of this was done over dinner. We dined at Elmer's. We actually had breakfast for dinner and it was delicious.

And with full tummies we hit the Vitamin Shoppe, Ulta and Fred Meyer for the bare necessities.

This is what the bare necessities look like for us apparently.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

A Visit to "Enchant"ing Vancouver

When I heard about the new Christmas Light Maze "Enchant" coming to Vancouver BC this holiday season, I wanted more information.
Sadly, I couldn't really find the info I wanted - pictures, maps, etc. But we went forth in faith and made plans to buzz up for the weekend and check it out.
Our first plan was to go last weekend, but we had a slight miscommunication at home: Hubby thought I bought the tickets, I thought he did - Oops. Luckily we realized it before we headed up. It was sold out for last week and we decided to bump our plans out a week so we could get tickets.

So, with all our ducks in a row this weekend we headed north to the (insert deep booming voice from the Epcot Canada Pavilion opening) GREAT WHITE NORTH, Where it snows all the time.... Well not really, but between the weather in Vancouver and here at home, we had our share of cold and snow this week.
Peace Arch in the Snow

Lined up at the border

Fields and fields of snow in BC
We were not completely sure this whole trip was going to work. I wanted more information about the weather in Vancouver and it was a bit harder to track down than our local weather. We had read that the crowds last weekend at Enchant were bad. And with the snow/rain we had no idea what to expect and if our delicate NW constitutions ;) were going to enjoy this adventure.

We stopped at the hotel long enough to all put on base layers, scarves and gloves. I also grabbed a umbrella, just in case. Then we headed over to Enchant, hoping to get there early enough for onsite parking, which apparently was closed last week because it was full.

Parking worked out well. They had 5 spots left when they let us in. We were glad we went early. The event opened at 4, and we pulled in at 4:20.  The parking lot was all slush and puddles, and we splashed our way to the entrance.

A small crowd at the front, but not really a line. We pretty much walked right in. 
The Maze is located in back half of the event area, and we made a beeline for the maze and picked up our scavenger hunt forms. Hidden in the maze are all 9 reindeer (Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, etc) you are tasked with finding them all.. and we were up for the challenge.
The maze had people in it to be sure, but the crowds were tolerable.
We really focused on finding those pesky reindeer, and Cupid was the elusive deer that gave us the most trouble. We retraced most of our steps to find that love-struck guy, but found him we did!
And we took a few pictures along the way :)

Being silly in the lights


Finally, Cupid!
After the fun of the scavenger hunt in the maze, we went out to walk through the marketplace area and find some food. With more food trucks than you can count, we had lots to choose from. But by this point, the crowds have joined us. A line to get into the maze has formed and was a couple hundred people long!
We found a table in the seating area - not chairs... just a table.. all the chairs were being used. And it was soo loud in the tent that the girl on the stage trying to perform Christmas Carols was completely drowned out.
We enjoyed our food truck dinners and decided it was time to go get warm in the hotel.

A note on footwear... BOOTS, people, wear big rubber boots, or be prepared to have wet feet, not damp feet... WET feet, soaked socks, that swish with each step. Cause with 4 inch deep puddles that cover the width of the walkway... you can't avoid the puddles.

I did have a moment when we got back to the car, before I shed my wet soaked through layers, that I wasn't appreciating the enchantment of the event... but luckily it faded as my feet warmed up and in the end, we all thought it was fun.

Sunday we woke up and lazily got ready to head home. We stopped at a new Canadian breakfast favorite of mine, Cora.
Such a fun presentation of fruit! 
Then back to the US... where the snow has melted!

It was a fun adventure!

Friday, June 17, 2016

Hawaiian Adventure day 13

Coming Home - trip wrap up

Why is it that just when we are finally all sleeping until 8 on a daily basis, it's time to go home?
It's going to be hard to get back to our usual time zone.

This morning was mainly about packing up, but the kids and hubby hit the pools one last time. Which gave me the chance to organize a bit and get myself ready.
We left Aulani around 10:40 and headed out to the airport. Other than the realization that we forgot to get gas, just after we pulled into the rental car lot... you know after you drive over the tire slasher things - bummer. The transfer to the airport was easy. Our gate was a long walk away, but we had plenty of time.
Our flight was on time and really an easy flight. I don't know if we are just getting better at this or the kids being older makes it that much easier. But these flights have been nice.
And any flight where I can have POG juice is a good flight ;)

We landed just after 10 pm. And with a short stop for gas, we were home and in bed before midnight. Lucky for us it only felt like 9 pm :)

We had a wonderful trip. It's hard to believe it's over. Each island was very different.
For our family, we made the right choice of Island order - going from the Big Island, the most laid back and least developed, to Maui, then to Oahu, with Waikiki and traffic and the staying at Aulani.
We could have easily spent all our time on Oahu at the resort. If/when we return, we think a few nights in Waikiki to see the sights and explore, then a few nights at Aulani to enjoy the resort may be our plan.

On the Big Island we used VRBO for our condo at the Waikoloa Beach Villas and it was perfect. A ton of room, beautiful grounds, close to shops and restaurants. It was about a 20 minute drive into the Kona area. Overall we really liked the location.
On Maui, we stated at Honua Kai resort. This we picked because of the pools and price (construction rate was good). Maui is a funny island, It's a trek to most parts of the island, so I am  not sure if there is a perfect location to stay in to easily see it all. To be fair, we weren't trying to see it all :) This was the only place we stayed that we didn't have 3 beds. It was fine, but not ideal.
And clearly we LOVED Aulani. Our lady is already plotting to return ;)

A panoramic view from our balcony.
We expect to someday give that submarine tour another try.
Every place we stayed we enjoyed having a kitchen and laundry in the room.
I think we are more organized on vacation than at home... hmmm? Maybe, more vacations??

Aloha! Mahalo, we had a wonderful time! 

And for the sake of being silly.....
Hawaii crumbs?
On our last evening, eating dinner in the room, I noticed these crumbs on the table. I asked hubby... "do these crumbs look like Hawaii?" We decided it was amusing enough to document. And I promise I didn't arrange them like this :) 

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Hawaiian Adventure Day 12

Oahu day 4

It's our last full day on the islands :(
And it did not go as planned.....
I was told to use the black and white picture to signify that things didn't go as planned.
We planned to go on a submarine ride today off the coast of Waikiki. We left the resort and drove the 45 minutes into Honolulu. We found the Hilton Hawaiian Village resort (huge) and found a parking spot. We navigated the ground to find the Atlantis submarine booth and then the dock where we had our boarding picture taken. We waited patiently for the boat that takes guests to the submarine to come back and unload the last group and get ready for our group. Then, when it seemed to be time to board, a crew member came out with a microphone and started talking. The mic didn't work at all and he was just talking away. So we all assumed we were missing boarding instructions etc. Then another crew member handed him a mic that worked and we were told in a casual nonchalant manner that due to poor visibility our sub ride was cancelled.

What? Huh? Say that again.
He said they don't like to cancel [Editor's note: Well, yeah, canceling costs them a literal boatload of money...], but the conditions at the diving site are so bad right now, that the sub can't see... the passengers can't see etc. Making the trip out both boring and dangerous (some of this is my interpretation of what little he said).
Please see the desk to reschedule or refund your tickets.

Ok. Well, that's the pits.
This was a very hard transition for us. It wasn't an outcome we had ever talked about with our oldest and it came at him out of the blue. He really struggled with it.
The kids and I left the dock area immediately and hubby stayed back to deal with the refund.
We found a place to sit and some cold drinks and were able to recover.  From what we over heard, this wasn't the first tour they had cancelled this week. Bummer.

Waiting on the pier before we got the bad news... someone forgot sunglasses?
Waikiki Beach and Diamond Head in the distance
Watching some outrigger canoes... still before we got the news.
So, now we have some time and hey, some extra funds :) Whatcha wanna do?

We found a familiar lunch place and settled into lunch.
We decided to use some of our extra time and funds on beach time and rentals.
Once back at the resort we hit the beach.
Hubby and our little lady rented a paddle board to try out. While we waited for that, she and I played with some boogie boards in the waves.
This was a blast. I had forgotten how much I enjoyed a nice beach.
I haven't done this in forever and this location was just about perfect.

Awesome beach. 
Plenty of chairs and umbrellas for all :)
Eventually she had to go off and ride a paddle board, so the young man and I enjoyed some time on the shore. He apparently isn't into the beach. This was news to me, but he had a rough morning and if he wanted to sit and watch... that's ok today.

After paddle boarding and a few more minutes playing in the waves, we moved back up to the pool area. It felt like the right time for a cool treat - shave ice and Mickey bars!

Then the adventurous ones decided to try a go at the snorkel lagoon. Our little lady was unsure about this, but wanted to try. It went ok for them. Something to try again next time, but not a huge hit.
Alright, everyone back in the pools. We found the infinity pool... how had we not tried this one yet? This is my new second favorite pool.
We decided to wrap up the pool time with the lazy river and a last run at the water slides.
The line was a little too long on the tube slide, so the slide-goers hit the body slide instead. We all got to float a bit and then it was time to go. Dinner was calling and I am always amazed at how you feel after 3 hours of water activity, later on.. once its over.

We made some pasta in the room and then the little lady went to the kids club one last time. I was able to walk around a bit with my camera... so we have some resort shots.

This resort is beautiful. Lush and green, very well thought out. Nice job Disney :)