Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Camping Date Night in Big Sur

I mentioned last week that Mr. Howard and I had not been away by ourselves since the twins were born - mostly because we didn't have anyone who could really watch them for multiple days. I always feel like I'm burdening my mom because she already watches them one day a week for us (every week) and my sister works so much and so hard. But my brother and soon-to-be sister-in-law kept offering when they lived with us, so we finally took them up on the offer.

Can I just start by saying it was UHHHHH-MAAAZZZZING! I literally could not list enough adjectives to describe how truly spectacular it was. In some ways, it was even better than our honeymoon - because THIS time we actually appreciated how SPECIAL  it is. When we were married and didn't have kids together, we took our time together for granted. We didn't appreciate or savor the silence (I remember being irritated with the long flights and layovers- now I dream about long flights with nothing but a book and my husband!) and the flexibility we had to just pick up and do anything we wanted.

I wanted this trip to be really romantic and special and it really was. I seriously felt like a honeymooner (although I did want to tell every person with a baby near us that we, too, had kids at home. It's sort of an illness I have. Does anyone else do this?!?). We packed SOOO much into three days that I won't be able to blog it all in one post; I'll need to break it apart.

Friday, we woke up early, sent the kids to school, packed our car, and got on the road. We stopped at Starbucks first and then spent the car ride up talking, laughing, and sharing all sorts of stories we've been stocking up on until we could have the time to do them justice. We also mapped out some things we wanted to do in Carmel and Big Sur and read our guide book!

We stopped in Carmel at the Rio Grill for lunch. It was recommended in our guide book and goodness gracious was it worth getting off Highway 1 for! We split the artichoke (marinated and fire-roasted with sun-dried tomato aioli) and then split two entrees - smoked tri tip sandwich and Salmon BLT - so that we could get to taste a lot of stuff. Oh my goodness. Everything was amazing, but the salmon BLT was like nothing I had ever tasted before. The salmon literally melted in your mouth.
Afterwards we got back on the road, but stopped frequently to take in the beautiful views. It took us a LONG time to get up the coast, because we kept stopping to just sit and breath in the views.  
We were usually by ourselves on a lot of our stops and when that would happen, we'd take a seat and just sit and whale watch. We saw several whales on our stops!
 Finally in the early afternoon we arrived to our campsite, Kirk Creek Campgrounds. This was our site. Can you see the ocean in the background?!? I wish I could make it be a little bluer so you could see it better in the photos. It was BREATHTAKING in person!
I think I mentioned this before, but we decided to make our trip a little more cozy and romantic and a little less "just camping," so we substituted a few of our more normal camping things, for comfort and - let me tell you - I'm never going back on the inflatable mattress. I slept beautifully both nights and did not feel like I was camping one tiny bit. (We have a car power adapter for our car - so that we can inflate our mattress, use our coffee maker, etc.):
These photos don't do our site justice because the sky was so white. But that is the Pacific Ocean right there! So perfect!
We looked a little silly with only two of us camping in our three room tent - but, hey, we're a family of five and I was not going to go buy a tent for one trip. We joked that we could set up a sitting room, our bedroom, and then a changing room. Ha!
This was the view from our bed:
And a look at our set up:
When I told people we were going camping, a few people looked at me like I was nuts. "Camping? Really?" When I told them we wanted to do something totally romantic, their faces grew serious. "But CAMPING? Why not a hotel?" We've done that. We do it all the time. We wanted something super special. Something a little more adventurous. And certainly, sleeping under the stars with the Pacific Ocean at your doorstep ranks up there on my top 10 list of things I've done with my husband. This was the first time I've ever fallen asleep to the sound of the waves crashing and woken up to them. In the middle of the night, I forgot where I was and was completely lulled by the waves.
When we arrived at our site and got everything ready to go, we set up our chairs facing the ocean and just talked! You could hear the waves of the ocean crashing on the rocks and smell the fresh air. It was magical.
In the evening, hubby and I went for a drive down the coast and stopped at this magical spot:
We stayed for about 30 minutes and we could have stayed for another two hours. I wanted to watch the sun set right there, but we had dinner to get to!
Have you ever tried to take a selfie with a huge DSLR. Ha! Pretty comedic.
My handsome hubby. Can I confess something to you? Get ready for some SUPER sappiness. He still makes my heart go pitter patter. 13 years, four babies, lots of heartache, ups and downs in our marriage, compromise, vacations, losing a child, pain, stomach flu's, laughter, dances, weddings, birthdays, fights, sadness, silliness and so much more - and he is still the one I'd choose to spend the rest of my life with if I could choose all over again. We don't have the perfect marriage; but there's no one I'd rather work at it with. He gets me: he understands my sarcasm; he laughs at my silliness; and he appreciates that I love HARD. I give my heart freely in everything I do (my work, my family, my friends) and he protects, nurtures, and soothes my heart when I get hurt.  He supports me when I feel like I might fall; and he defends me when he feels like I'm being wronged. He adores me. He tells me I'm beautiful even when I've just had a baby and feel the opposite of beautiful.  He is my equal and I want to do anything I can to honor him and love him and make him happy.
After our drive down the coast, we went to Nepenthe in Big Sur. My best friend had recommended it and there are two pages devoted to it in our guide book. Rita Hayworth and Orson Welles were the original owners of this restaurant before it was a restaurant and it is rich in history! The views are spectacular and the food was amazing! Here's the view from the restaurant:
And the view from the other side of the restaurant:
Here's what our table looked like. It was super romantic, candle lit, and just spectacular:
This is a dark photo, but I was trying to show you the sunset through our tables. Gorgeous:
We had such amazing food. We split a bowl of clam chowder with delicious bread. Hubby had their famous Ambrosia Burger (ground steak sandwich, served on a French roll with swiss cheese, and their famous Ambrosia Sauce)
And I had their Pan-Seared Albacore Tuna (served on green tea soba noodles and Asian veggies with sesame-chili vinaigrette garnished with wasabi tobiko caviar). Can you see my fork shadow in the photo? It smelled so amazing, I could hardly wait to take the picture - so I could dive in. Ha!
After dinner, we got a little bit of cell phone reception, so we called the kids, while we sat on the patio. 

And then went on a little walk to the Nepenthe Store:
When we got back, we set up our tent with a few games and our lantern:
I googled some fun "Date Night" games to play that had racier twists and we played those when it got dark. But, before-hand, we played Banana Grams. Hubby kept making fun of me because I literally lost every game (until the last night when I started kicking some bootie!) and I'm an English Teacher. I told him if we had played a game of interpreting literature and poems, writing essays, and deep critical thinking about text - I'd rock it. But building words with 22 letters isn't easy for me. I have a great vocabulary, but all I can think of once those letters get dumped in front of me are words like "at", "is", "of", and short one syllable words. Ha!
For some other game ideas, google "couples' date night games" and you'll find all sorts of variations on simple games to make them more romantic. That's what I did beforehand. I brought a deck of cards and then printed a few games too. We also brought a few adult-only card games to play that I picked up at Spencer's. We brought plastic champagne glasses and had champagne in bed while being silly with games! Such fun.

Funny story. I am a LIGHT sleeper. I wake up at the drop of a hat at the slightest noise. So at about midnight, I was woken up by some rustling and what sounded like an animal nearby. I woke my husband up (because I'm a frady cat) and he told me it was nothing and to go to sleep. (He's used to my frady cat ways by now). At 1:30am, I shot straight up because the animal I had heard rustling around earlier was now climbing on our tent. Let that sink it for a second. IT WAS CLIMBING ON OUR TENT. I literally screamed. Can you imagine waking up to THAT? Oops. Well...guess what? It wasn't an animal. I know, I'm a dork. It was the wind. We hadn't tied down our tent cover straps and the wind was rippling across our tent. So at 1:30 in the morning, we got out of our tent and started tying down all the straps. Well, Mr. Howard tied down the straps, while I took pictures. You know, for documenting purposes. 
To read parts 2 and three of our journey, follow the links below:


J Howard said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Sounds amazing!! :)

J Howard said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Wow that looks like south fun! Oh and so romantic! We loved Big Sur when we visited last summer:) It's pawesome that you got this special time together!

J Howard said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Thanks Tesha! Aren't we so blessed to have family to watch the kids? I don't take it for granted for one minute!!

J Howard said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Thanks Mandy!!!

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