Pop, Fizz, Clink! 24 Hours in Napa

Ok, I admit it: I love to plan. But there’s also something so wonderful about a spontaneous trip!

After a few packed days in Houston, I was headed home to San Diego. En route to the airport my husband texted me and asked me if I wanted to go to Napa the next day. I didn’t hesitate, I just squealed and said of course! So goes our 24 hour Napa mission.

Adventure Appeal x 24 Hours in Napa // June 2017

Packing in a hurry, I tried to just bring the important things, an outfit for the night, an outfit for wine tasting and a bikini for any pool time, and not overthink it. Also, we grabbed a bottle of bubbly for the plane – pretty essential, right? 😉

Let’s be Jet Setters, Darling! // Adventure Appeal x 24 Hours in Napa, June 2017

With my first private plane experience, the trip was definitely off to a great start.

🍾 Packed the essentials 🍾 now off to Napa! // June 2017

We stayed at the gorgeous Carneros Resort & Spa, which also happens to be the place we got married a couple of years ago. It brings back all the warm fuzzies every single time.

Throwback to the Carneros Resort on our wedding day! // November 2014

For dinner, we opted to try someplace new, and booked a sushi dinner at Kenzo. This Japanese spot is owned by the couple behind Kenzo winery and includes a Kaiseki tasting menu at the sushi bar, a few tables in the dining room and a back room with a separate sushi bar for private parties. We were blown away by the artistry of the meal, and how well the courses paired with the estate wine. It was such an intimate and unique dinner, I highly recommend it for a splurge meal.

Menu signed by our sushi chefs — such a delicious and authentic experience // Kenzo, Napa June 2017

The next morning, after taking full use of breakfast in bed and the outdoor showers in our casita, we headed to garden tastings at Caymus and Frog’s Leap.

Beautiful gardens at Caymus, the perfect place for a summer tasting // Napa, June 2017
Find be between the vines // Caymus Winery, Napa June 2017
Serious wine cellar goals // Caymus Winery, Napa, June 2017

We are big fans already, and it was neat to try all of the wines you can only get in Napa (like Caymus’ Zin!). Insider tip: these wineries are within walking distance and you can pre-book appointments (recommended) online. Too easy!

Enjoy the garden, grounds, barn and sneak into production while Frog’s Leap // Napa, June 2017
Frog’s Leap Garden Tasting // Napa, June 2017
Wine and pretty gardens, I’m in heaven! // Frog’s Leap Winery, Napa, June 2017

Following the tastings, we had a wonderful lunch at Mustard’s Grill and couldn’t believe our luck that we were there on the 35th birthday celebration. From there it was straight to the pool and relaxing on property before our evening flight.

It was a fun whirlwind adventure where we relished in good meals, tasted wines in beautiful gardens and were still able to to soak in some sun and slower paced wine country vibes. I can’t wait to come back later this year!

Have you taken spontaneous quick trips in the past? What have been some of your favorite quick getaways?

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Trailblaze Challenge Finisher!!!

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED! On May 20th I was the 3rd to cross the finish line at San Diego’s inaugural TRAILBLAZE CHALLENGE, a one-day, 26+ mile hike to raise awareness and funds for Make-A-Wish San Diego.  It was an incredible journey following the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) via the Cougar Crest Trail and ending at Onyx Summit near Big Bear, California.

Mission Accomplished! 3rd to the Finish Line // Trailblaze Challenge, May 20th 2017

I had so much fun with my girlfriends and loved meeting the other participants; we really created a little family, encouraging each other and drawing from each other’s strength and positive energy.  It was inspiring to hear the participants’ pasts and stories. Hikers varied in age and hiking experience — 21 to 75 and Mt Whitney veterans to brand new hikers, and most special of all was meeting fellow hikers who were parents to Wish-kids and learning how the organization has brought such happiness to their lives.

Get all the race day feel-goods with this video captured by the event’s photographer and see my race-day recap below. Stay tuned later this week for my Top 7 Tips for a Hiking Race if you’re ready to sign up for this challenge or a similar one soon.

San Diego Make-A-Wish Trailblaze Challenge from Travis Rieth on Vimeo   (catch me at 40 seconds and 1:30 🙂 )

RACE RECAP: TEAM ADVENTURE APPEAL TAKES ON THE TRAILBLAZE CHALLENGE

We started this long but glorious day at 3:15am when the 80 hikers, event staff and medics met for roll call and breakfast. We were soon out the door for the starting line with our headlamps on. My girlfriends and I started in wave 7 at 4:15am, and in the pitch black night it was so much fun to see the string of lights below and above us on the trail. Before long, the light was breaking and we watched the sun rise over Big Bear Lake, a truly beautiful sight.

Starting at 4:15am, 80 Hikers took on San Diego’s first Trailblaze Challenge // May 20th 2017
Team Adventure Appeal ready to start this epic journey! // Big Bear California, May 20th 2017

The race course included 3 aid stations and they were the perfect markers for recapping later with our fellow hikers and friends. Before the 1st aid station we acclimated to elevation, navigated the trail in the dark and were moving quickly, high on coffee and race-day adrenaline. Next, we hit our stride for a 7-8 miles, going long stretches of slight incline and steady downhill. These provided gorgeous viewpoints of the valley and lots of Mojave yucca spotting.

Mojave yucca and valley views // Trailblaze Challenge, May 20th, 2017

At the 2nd aid station there were Make-a-Wish cheerleaders, friends and family with signs and cowbells and a feast of snacks. Everyone partook in some much needed restoration here and I shed a lot of layers as the sun become stronger.

The next stretch was long and solo. I hit my stride and saw few race-day or PCT through hikers for the next 9 miles. Following the race map, PCT markers and taking countless pictures and funny videos I kept on track and in high spirits. The terrain was a mix of narrow dirt paths and wide loose rocks with seemingly endless views of the Johnson Valley.

All about that view from above // Trailblaze Challenge, May 20th 2017

Clocking in at the 3rd aid station, I was mindful not to spend as long as I did at the 2nd, since there were just 5 miles left of the race. These 5 miles were the toughest yet, a steady climb uphill precisely when your body and mind start to break down. I kept repeating positive mantras in my head and seeing the friendly face of a fellow race-day hiker at mile 27 really motivated me to keep going.

5 Miles left, repeating my silly, playful mantra “PCT ain’t got nothing on me” 😉 // Trailblaze Challenge, May 20th 2017

1 mile from the finish line, the extra adrenaline and excitement of finishing was taking over and views of Onyx Summit were starting to form. We even passed the famous couch rest stop (next time ;)). Because this was a hiking race, the finish line wasn’t as clear, and myself and a fellow hiker wound up passing it, increasing our mileage and our excuses for lots of delicious treats later.

Fancy a seat or a snack? PCT Trail Angels fill this dumpster with water, snacks and inspiration for through hikers // Onyx Summit, May 20, 2017

Happy, hungry and in awe of the process, I ended the race at 10 hours and 15 minutes, clocking in 29.15 miles and finishing 3rd. It was exhilarating, humbling and altogether such a push mentally and physically. Thank  you for this incredible opportunity, Make-A-Wish and to all those that provided encouragement and support!

29.15 miles later, happy sweaty and ready for to celebrate // Trailblaze Challenge, May 20th 2017

 

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Trailblaze Challenge: Climb for a Cause

I’ve been training and fundraising all spring and race weekend is finally HERE!!! On May 20th I’m taking on San Diego’s first TRAILBLAZE CHALLENGE.

Team Adventure Appeal is hiking 26 miles in one day to raise money for Make-a-Wish San Diego

The TRAILBLAZE CHALLENGE is a one-day, 26 mile hike to raise awareness and much needed funds for Make-a-Wish San Diego. The route follows the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) via the Cougar Crest Trail and ends at Onyx Summit near Big Bear, California.

I’m so excited to tackle this hike and raise money for such a worthy cause. Make-A-Wish San Diego grants the wishes of children in San Diego and Imperial counties with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich the human experience with hope, strength and joy. This non-profit organization has a special place in my heart because I love to travel and experience life, and it breaks my heart that some kids won’t have the time /  years to do the same. Learn more about the hike and make a donation here.

peace, love and hiking

Huge thanks to my friends and family for all their encouragement and donations over the past few months, and special thanks to Yoga Six and wash. for their donation based events in support of my campaign — y’all are the best. ♥

Hoping to post lots from the trail, so be sure to follow along on Instagram: @adventureappeal. Let’s do this, Team Adventure Appeal!

 

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Exploring Secret Supper Clubs in San Diego

This weekend was all about local eats and treats, ending with a bang on Sunday night.  Friday, we snacked on Phil’s BBQ at the Padres Game. Saturday, we ate our way through the Junior League of San Diego’s Food & Wine Festival in La Jolla. Wrapping up our feast of a weekend, on Sunday we joined Cellar Door’s supper club for their Cinco De Mayo dinner series.

Table set for ten at Cellar Door’s exclusive supper club // Picture from Cellar Door’s FB page before all the guests arrived

Cellar Door is a supper club in Normal Heights, San Diego that hosts exclusive dinner parties about once a month.  The duo behind the club, Logan and Gary, create a unique theme for each event that inspires the menu and drink pairings. Themes, times and location are announced via their email lists, and you must sign up in advance. Typically the meal is 4-6 courses and is posted via Facebook a few hours before meal service. Competitive to say the least, this dinner club sells out lightening fast, and I was beyond pumped to snag spots for me and my husband.

This experience did not disappoint! Located in a funky hip dining room, with treats for the eyes everywhere you look (polar bear head, funny book titles, picture frames and more), we were two of ten guests at the last of four dinners occurring over the weekend. From this Cinco de Mayo themed dinner, our favorite courses were the pozole verde, a tangy spicy soup with chicken and hominy and the juiciest prawn taco I’ve ever had for the third course. We also loved their refreshing paloma and the dessert cocktail, Oporto Real, a blend of Mezcal, Tawny Port and Amaro Montenegro topped with a Luxardo Cherry.

Spicy fruit salad paired with tequila and sangrita, such a light and fun way to start the meal // Picture from Cellar Door’s FB page
Juicy prawn tacos featured on Cellar Door’s Cinco de Mayo supper club menu // May, 2017
Cellar Door’s Dessert Cocktail, a mix of Mezcal, Amaro Montenegro and Tawny Port // this pic is from Cellar Door’s FB Page, as mine was sipped away too soon!

We’ll definitely be back and are looking forward to more dinners this summer! Join Cellar Door’s email list here to be in the know — just promise not to take our spots! 🙂

Here are some insider tips for the best experience:

CELLAR DOOR SUPPER CLUB: KNOW BEFORE YOU GO

  • Cellar Door is hip, tasty and in demand; so spots at the table go fast! Be sure to respond ASAP after receiving their newsletter in order to secure your spot.
  • Bring your appetite and take a ride sharing service if you plan on drinking — our menu was 5 courses, each with a drink pairing.
  • This is a donation based dinner club, and $$ cash is king $$.
  • Chat with your fellow dinner guests! Meeting new people and chatting about food, travel and unique experiences is part of the fun.
  • Come with an open mind. Cellar Door often uses unique ingredients. Goat meat was featured this weekend and a friend mentioned she tried an exotic meat pâté in the past.
  • At this time, gluten free and vegetarian options don’t exist. But, if you have allergies notify them ASAP!
  • Couldn’t make the dinner? Check their Facebook page to drool over all the deliciousness from afar.

WANT MORE BUT DON’T LIVE IN SAN DIEGO?

Supper clubs range in menu focus, format and price. Google and Yelp will be your best resource in finding a supper club near you, otherwise you can try joining a Foodie group on Facebook or Meetup and ask around, because everyone knows foodies loooooove giving recommendations. 😉

Hope your weekend was just as delectable! Be sure to comment below if you love Cellar Door or have any other dinner club recommendations, as this is only our second in San Diego (we’ve been to Cow by Bear a few times for steak and shenanigans).

*Note: I was too busy enjoying myself to be on my phone taking pictures during the meal! Given that, some of the pictures in this post are from Cellar Door’s Facebook Page and have been marked accordingly in the captions.

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Whale of a good time

This week I caught the tail end (pun intended!) of gray whale season in San Diego by hopping on one of Flagship San Diego’s whale watching tours.

Ready to board and see some whales! // Flagship Whale Watching Tour, March 2017
Taking off from Broadway Pier // San Diego, California, March 2017

Flagship has a fleet of ships for whale watching and offers weekday and weekend tours. A naturalist and handful of volunteers from the Birch Aquarium are on board to answer any questions and provide lots of fun facts on the San Diego Bay itself, wildlife that exists there and even had samples of baleen from the whales to pass around.

On our tour, we pulled out of the dock, we toured the San Diego Bay and then headed out to open waters for prime dolphin and whale watching. It was a pretty neat view of the city, with views of the downtown skyline, Coronado and Cabrillo National Monument on Point Loma.

Soaking in the view of America’s Finest City // San Diego, California, March 2017

Once we left the Bay, there were tons of playful dolphins escorting us to deeper waters to find the whales.  This is called bow riding and essentially the dolphins are catching a ride as the waves from the boat push them forward.

Take us to the whales! Loved having our dolphin escort while whale watching // March 2017
Naturalists from Birch Aquarium help you spot the whales, dolphins, seals and other wildlife on the tour // San Diego, March 2017

Next we went searching for gray whales! Gray whales migrate annually from the Baja Peninsula to Arctic waters. There are 3 lagoons they hang out in Baja to breed and mate, and scientists estimate that there are 22-23,000 individuals comprising the eastern Pacific gray whale population.

Although gray whales are 45 ft in length fully grown, they can be hard to spot! We were very lucky to see two gray whales, lots of blow hole spotting, a few fins and one playful whale sticking it’s head out of the water. Our naturalist explained that usually this occurs when whales want to get a better view of their surroundings. I see you, gray whale! 😉

Blues on blues // Flagship Whale Watching Tour, San Diego, March 2017

Here are some insider tips for the best experience:

WHALE WATCHING TOURS IN SAN DIEGO: KNOW BEFORE YOU GO

  • Each whale watching trip is different. Try to schedule yours during peak season for the most opportunities to view the whales.
  • Keep your eyes on the horizon — you can see blowholes from 1 mile or more away!
  • Grab a seat on the sides of the boat or in the front for the best views.
  • Whales are hard to photograph from afar. So don’t get down, just focus on the experience!
  • There is a snack bar on board or you can bring on coffee, drinks and lunch (at the dock, the Green Rose Cart has coffee, smoothies and breakfast breads).
  • It’s breezy and can be quite sunny so wear layers, sunscreen, a hat.
  • To help with seasickness, keep ginger chews and menthol throat lozenges on hand and take Dramamine® 1 hr before leaving the dock (disclaimer: always check with a doctor first).
  • Don’t stress, there’s easy parking next to the dock at the USS Midway, $10 for 12 hours.
  • Flagship takes your picture at the beginning and you can purchase the glossy photos later for $10 – $20.

Have you been whale watching in San Diego before? I’d love to hear about your experience and any suggestions you have below!

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Gals Getaway: Palm Springs

I’ll let you in on a secret…. I love celebrating and I love traveling. So when one of my best friends decided to have her birthday celebration be a weekend in Palm Springs, I was all for it.

Gals Getaway // Palm Springs 2017

The timing was a little crazy, but honestly jumping right into a girls weekend after Bali was amazing because I missed them when I was away, and it made the post vacation blues nonexistent.

We took over one of the gals’ vacation home and clocked countless hours by the pool and outdoor fireplace catching up.  Scheduling this downtime sounds a little odd, but it was perfection.

I could get used to this // Palm Springs, California 2017

During the day, our group hiked Garstin Loop Trail and Palm Canyon Trail at Indian Canyon Reserve. These two trails were a great combination since the first provided a steep ascent to grab that view from above and the second had us frolicking through giant palms, reminding us we were in a beautiful dessert oasis.

Garstin Loop Trail, Palm Springs // Hike 4 of the 2017 52 Hike Challenge
Palm Canyon Trail, Indian Canyons Reserve // Hike 5 of the 2017 52 Hike Challenge
Stay flexible // Indian Canyons Reserve

Shopping was also a must for our group. I love mid-century modern decor and design so all the boutiques were a feast for my eyes. In between all the furniture, pillows, books and fancy knick knacks, we caffeinated at two charming places, Earnest Coffee and Koffi.

At night, we started at the Parker for fab cocktails and all the Instagramable moments we could take, followed by tasty meals at Trio and Dish Creative Cuisine. Both restaurants were delicious and accommodated large groups with ease.  Be sure to get the Russian Standard cocktail at Dish — that cocktail is part art and part science experiment!

#thepinkdoor // Palm Springs, California 2017
Small arms, big bite // Cabazon Dinosaurs on the Road Trip Back from Palm Springs, 2017

It was such a great weekend and I can’t wait to get back… and convince my husband we need to buy a house there! Where are your favorite Palm Springs spots? Comment below with all your suggestions and recommendations. Thank you!

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Travel Guide: Big Sur Getaway

Travel is my ultimate adventure, keeping my adrenaline pumping and eyes wide open trying to soak in as much as possible.  Last month I visited my 34th country and am dreaming about the day I move from 6 to 7 continents visited.

One of my favorite recent getaways has been Big Sur — nothing quite compares to the beauty of this place!  We had the most incredible visit, taking in this California escape along Route 1. Our days were filled with hiking and relaxing at the pool, and our nights with cocktails and star gazing. Below are some of my favorite memories and travel tips for your next adventure.

NOT TO MISS

McWay Falls at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park
Seemingly endless coastline of cliffs at Big Sur

Spectacular views from McWay Falls Trail at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park.  This is the quintessential viewpoint for Big Sur and it certainly doesn’t disappoint. The trails were very easily marked and you can’t miss the entrance due to the small crowds and parked cars. If you’re lucky there will even be some seals splashing around below.

VIEW FROM ABOVE

Besides our hiking views, we couldn’t get enough of the infinity pool at the Post Ranch Inn, where the pool met the Pacific in the most relaxing atmosphere.

Infinity pool relaxation at the Post Ranch Inn

GET ACTIVE

There are so many trails to explore when visiting Big Sur. Our two favorites were the McWay Falls and Ewoldsen Trail.  Ewoldsen Trail was a great recommendation from a friend because we pretty much had the trail to ourselves and there were heaps of great views of the mountains and ocean. Insider tip: If you come to a fork in the trail with one path leading to your right (and seemingly straight up) – definitely follow it – as incredible views away just 200 yards up.

Looking through the tree tops on Ewoldsen Trail in Big Sur
Catching those Pacific blues on the Ewoldsen Trail

Don’t forget to stretch those sore muscles from hiking with a yoga class in a yurt. This was a bucket list item for me, and a great way to start the day.

SAVOR

  • Coffee at Big Sur Bakery with delicious cinnamon buns.
  • Grab a glass of wine with lunch at the Nepenthe for the best view in town.
  • If you don’t stay at the Post Ranch Inn, consider joining for breakfast or a sunset dinner, as the edge of the restaurant is all windows and gives the appearance of floating over the ocean.

LODGING

Post-Ranch Inn at Big Sur

We couldn’t recommend the Post Ranch Inn more! Every detail was considered and it was truly a memorable splurge. The outdoor tub was one of my favorite parts of our room where you could relax and look at all the stars.  The Post Ranch Inn books up quickly and several other places in town come highly recommended by my friends including: Ventana for luxury, Adobe Motor Lodge at Glen Oaks Big Sur where you can rent your own mini cabin and Deetjen’s Big Sur Inn for the romantics.

OTHER HOT SPOTS

If you have extra time be sure to indulge in a spa treatment, check out the Bixby Bridge and visit the Esalen Hot Springs.

MORE INSPIRATION

Comment below with your Big Sur favorite memories and not to miss adventures!

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Cedar Creek Falls to Devil’s Punchbowl

We all hike for something, be it for strength building, gorgeous viewpoints, to clear our minds or burn calories. But what about hiking for floaties? That’s right, FLOATIES!

Devils Punchbowl at Cedar Creek Falls in Ramona, California

One of my favorite hikes of the year has been Cedar Creek Falls Trail to Devil’s Punchbowl. Located in Ramona, California, this 5.2 mile out and back trail has a fantastic midpoint complete with 75 foot cliffs and an active waterfall.

My friend and I quickly made our way down to the waterfall and were so excited for shade and the cool water.  Be sure to go in the springtime when water is flowing and plentiful and bring (or wear) your bikini. Other hikers were so sad not to partake in the fun!

Ta-da! 5.2 mile reward

After our relaxation in the falls we headed back up to our cars. The return is straight up, so be sure to keep extra water on hand and take breaks as needed. Ramona is about 40 miles from San Diego and the temperature reflects this more dessert-like climate. That’s when we spotted the rattlesnake.  A good reminder to keep your wits about you and stay on the path — they’re there for a reason.

It was a such a fun adventure and a wonderful day exploring a new trail. Check out my quick and dirty review below:


CEDAR CREEK FALLS TO DEVIL’S PUNCHBOWL

Best Time of Year To Go: Springtime when there’s plenty of water in the basin and it’s not too hot

Hiking Distance: 5.2 miles out and back

Difficulty Level: Easy to Moderate

Insider tips:

  • 75 Permits are allotted per a day and easily acquired online for $6 here.
  • Be sure to bring or wear your bikini and an extra quick dry towel.
  • If you bring your dog in the summer you will be turned away — it’s just too hot for the pooches.
  • Be sure to pack plenty of water and sunscreen as the hike down and back from the Falls is shade-free.
  • Watch out for rattlesnakes along the path. We spotted one!

Rating: Loved it! (4.5/5 stars)

Maps & additional reviews: All Trails, Modern Hiker, San Diego Magazine


Let’s connect…What was your experience like at Devil’s Punchbowl? Any waterfall hikes in your town I should add to my wish list?

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