Anniversary Paradise - part 1

I want to get back to blogging like a scrapbook for myself and my family, telling our stories. This trip was over a month ago, and I have had so many other adventures this summer, but I have to start somewhere, so here goes!

The story is just like before, last year's anniversary trip and so many others.  We take off early, except we're never actually that early, and we drive through the hot hot valley until we reach the cool cool coast. 

In Davis we stopped at In-n-Out for a bathroom break and fries for the road. I only list it here because I want to remember the sweet family I talked to there. The middle aged parents were enchanted with my girls, as their own beautiful daughter had just graduated high school, their son right on her heels. They watched our chaos through the gentle haze of time passed, with a nostalgic fond gaze that took in the girls' excitement over strawberry lemonade, opening their own straws, waiting for our number and asking for ketchup packets, climbing on the booths. The things that can harry a mom enchanted strangers. As we left, the dad said softly and earnestly, "Enjoy." I could tell he truly meant it with all his heart and the word settled into me; I herded my wild little creatures out the door with a little more enjoyment than usual. Sometimes those well meaning comments from strangers come at the right moment. I felt like it set a tone of gratitude in my heart for the whole trip.

It's becoming tradition to stop at Anderson Valley Brewery on our way to the coast. We love the foresty drive out there; we love the tiny town of Boonville where we stop to buy a baguette to have with lunch, and most of all, we love the beer! It's a tough choice when you're just having one. I had a hoppy saison and Darin had the Holy Gose. Both were delicious and the girls were thrilled to have snacks, run around, and try their hand at cornhole. 

I probably wrote almost that exact same paragraph last year.

We arrived at our Airbnb rental around 5 p.m. Our kind host, John, met us there to show us around. He told us that nothing was off limits in the eight acres of gardens that he has carefully and lovingly cultivated these last nineteen years. We stayed in a studio on the property that became truly like home. The girls loved cozying up in the windowseat as a reading nook, and they loved adjusting the dimmers on all the lighting. But most of all, we all loved wandering the breathtaking gardens! 

Inside the greenhouse.

Being "Tefiti" 

Ripe berries for the pickin!

 It's good for the soul to be surrounded by pathways instead of roads. 

The hunt for banana slugs became the girls' favorite pastime.

John told us there was a shy turtle named Ibiza living in the pond, so we tried (unsuccessfully, except for Darin) to catch a glimpse of her the whole time.

first visit to the magical hot tub, through the rhododendrons and into the Redwood forest! 

On our first night, we walked out along the Noyo Coastal trail where the old lumber mill used to be. It's part of an initiative to build a public, interconnected trail system along the California coast that stays as close to the ocean as possible! How rad will that be? Anyway, it was delightfully windy and cold, so we bundled up and ran forth through the meadowed bluffs to catch the sunset.

Next morning we awoke to greet the occasion of our 10-year-anniversary. We had a playlist going of some of our favorites over the years including Tom Waits, Bonnie Prince Billy, Neil Young, Lucinda Williams, Cat Power, and Songs Ohia. We had cozy coffee in the morning and then I took off on a run down Pudding Creek Road all the way to the ocean. I wasn't planning on running quite that long, but once I caught a glimpse of the ocean and the bridge, I had to go all the way. I was even going to call Darin and the girls and have them come meet me, but my phone battery died before I could even snap a photo. So I begrudgingly ran back. ;) The girls played in the garden and I relaxed in the hammock and even took the time to look at a magazine! Quite the life.

We decided to get in some beach time while the sun was shining! We headed north to an area we had never yet explored, MacKerricher State Park. It was a welcoming place, with a big sign that said "Day Use Free," a whale skeleton at their visitor center, and lots of recommendations for walks and tidepools. There are six miles of sandy beaches and dunes, and a wooden boardwalk around the southern headlands where the seals live, with paths down to the rocks. We had a wonderful time exploring. Tootie and I got addicted to tidepooling and could barely look up from the lively little creatures down amongst the seaweeds and crevices. We loved the hermit crabs most. Polly got addicted to filling her skirt pockets with shells and rocks, and later carefully laid out all her treasures on a bench for Lucy to admire.

Back at our studio, we got ready to go out to dinner and took a walk around the gardens and groves with a plan to get in our traditional "anniversary" photo shoot. I always wear my white eyelet dancing dress that my mom made me for my wedding party. It's been worn exactly eleven times now. :)

Fairies live here.

Toot snapped some pictures.

Here in the redwood temple, even the children peace out.

We walked around downtown a little bit before dinner. The girls loved Windsong books, where there is a great kids section and play area. They played so contently, it was hard to ever leave. They created a whole world with the stuffed animals, building them homes and cooking them "salmon feasts" and making important telephone calls for them to meet up with friends.
Polly fell in love with this "baby bear." "Look at his face, isn't it sooo cute?!" She'd exclaim.

Darin in his element.

Eventually we arrived for dinner at North Coast Brewery, the same place we had our anniversary dinner the year before. (Again, there are probably matching photos from last year's post.) We love their beers, particularly the La Merle, we never get tired of their nachos, there's a new kids' menu, and the girls were a lot easier to handle this year! 

After dinner, we waited in line at Cowlick's (a name that both confounded and delighted the girls) for homemade ice cream. SO good.

Back at "home," our evening dip was becoming a ritual. 

We even had matching bathrobes provided for us.

A peek at the koi. 
Then we got dressed warmly and headed back out to wander the gardens again. Darin and I each had a beer and brought a book; the girls played a rousing game of Simon Says. 

Drawing in journals.
There were still two days left, which I hope to document in another post. It was a peaceful and joyful time, the perfect anniversary trip: we felt like kings in rich celebration of love and the little family we've created.

Flowers from my morning run


Tina Dawn said…
I feel as though I just spent several days with you relaxing at the coast, the scent of the moist redwood needles covering the ground, the musty banana slug odor tickling my nostrils, and memories of young Tina scouring the tide pools and pretending (but knowing it was indeed true) that Neptune was her natural father. I am going to return to review this post, whenever this hot summer and my unfortunate mostly sedentary life (not forever, please!) get to be too much. I can't believe you hadn't been to MacKerricher before, or did I read that wrong? It is one of my favorites along the coast, Van Damme is the other. Anyway (sorry, I didn't mean to write a blog myself) great post, and I love the way it started, and as the gentleman in In and Out said, Enjoy! Love T
Alice said…
What a lovely trip and what a lovely post. We celebrate ten years of marriage this year too and you've inspired me to try and plan a similar trip of our own 🌻
Angie said…
What a lovely anniversary post! Congratulations! I'm so glad you are going to start blogging again. :) I've followed you for ages, although I rarely comment, and have missed your journal blogging. :)
Lena said…
Heather! I miss your posts. They are pure splendor of love and life and cozy young family time. Life goes so fast--I feel the nostalgia of reading your anniversary posts every year (since I lived in Woodland 7 years ago!) and the fleetingness held in the words and gaze of the older couple watching at In n Out. So much love to you and your little family. Please keep writing, documenting--it brings such hope and healing.

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