Saturday, April 16, 2016

Christmas on the other side of the pond!

Happy spring.... As is typical for the past year, I figure the change of seasons is a friendly reminder that I need to blog about Christmas, my delay is pathetic I know. 

What can I say about my Christmas vacation, other than it was absolutely and completely perfect. I was soooo excited about my journey to England for the holidays, and couldn't believe how long it had been since I was in Woolley prior. Time is such a powerful force that I'm humbled by constantly. 

My flight was on the Saturday before Christmas, and I was prepped for my long journey to Cornwall. Bags packed, snacks at the ready, and music queued to go. The journey was easy, and I was so excited to be greeted by Dave's face in Exeter on Sunday evening. We made the drive back to Woolley for a drink before my jet lag hit me pretty hard, and I was ready for bed. 

Monday began the days upon days of festivities and relaxing and they flew by far too quickly! So many walks and trips to the beach, and I forget how pretty it is there when I'm away for so long, but I'm convinced it might be the most beautiful place on the planet. 
Day 1 romps in the woods!
Pretty great to be back in this beautiful place!
There was a Christmas party already on Tuesday evening at Katie's house, and that was a lot of fun, drinking plenty of mulled wine because tis the season! The next day was followed with my first of a couple trips to the beach to watch the sunset. I could sit on those cliffs for days if I were allowed, they're so magical. 
My favorite fields, ever.
Hi Duckpool and Hi Dave!
Then like that it was already Christmas Eve. During the evening Pete, Mark, Dave and I went to Clovelly to see the Christmas lights. Clovelly is always so fun to go wander about, as if you'll recall from prior posts, this is the village that doesn't allow cars and has cobbled streets making it very quaint. Clovelly is also filled with cats who roam the streets, and they are so adorable. We had a nice evening looking about and having a drink in the pub before heading home. 
The cats of Clovelly!
Then came Christmas! It was really good fun having Christmas with all of the kids, and that was my first time experiencing Christmas with children, and it definitely adds quite the different dynamic to the festivities. The kids all just get so excited about their presents, it's hilarious, while the adults patiently let it all unfold. The remainder of the day was spent eating and drinking and watching a film in the evening by the fire. This was definitely a great Christmas, and I was so happy to be a part of it all :-)
He's been!
Christmas mustaches!
Boxing Day started out with a nice breakfast, and then a trip to the beach. We also played with our new Christmas things and eventually made our way for a walk to the pub. The nearest pub happens to be one of the most beautiful walks in the area, so Dave and I did that and Pete and Mark met us for a round of Pictionary, which I'm abysmal at, before calling it a day. The 27th was filled with a trip around Marsland beach and seeing Barry gig in Bude, and then packing my bags for a getaway that was to come on the 28th!
Walks at Duckpool.
Pictionary is NOT my forte
Have I mentioned before how absurdly good Dave is at gift giving? After I'd booked my flight to England for the holidays he started planning us a little trip as my Christmas present, and I was so excited about our Magical Mystery Tour. I was told to throw a few things in my bag, and he took care of the rest, and off we went on Monday morning. 
Magical Mystery Tour!
Before I knew it, after drives on the windy Cornish roads, we wound up at the Eden Project! I had heard all about the Eden Project before, and always wanted to check it out, and was so excited that Dave took us here :-) There are two biomes, filled with plants of all kinds, one emulating a rainforest and the other a Mediterranean ecosystem. We had such a nice day wandering about the biomes and the gardens, and it was a day I'll never forget. 
Eden Project
Inside the rainforest.
The Brits and their tea
Mediterranean biome statues.
After the Eden Project, Dave drove me to the most beautiful little coastal village Fowey! He had arranged us a cottage for two nights, and it was absolutely perfect!!!!! I was so excited with how perfect of a day and cottage Dave had arranged for us, I was beaming :-) After getting settled in our cottage we headed into town for a nice meal at the pub and a walkabout the town's quiet streets. It was a perfect evening that ended with a film back at the cottage. 
Our cottage!!!
The kitchen!
Pub dinner at the Ship Inn
When we'd arrived to our cottage it was dark and kind of rainy and we couldn't see the view of our cottage, but we awoke to bright sunshine, and the view was magic! 
View from the bedroom patio!
It was a perfect, sunshiney day for a trip to the Lost Gardens of Heligan. Dave had planned out this other journey around the Lost Gardens and it was spectacular! These botanical gardens are "typical of the 19th century Gardenesque style with areas of different character and in different design styles." There was a jungle, the woodlands, a vegetable garden, and many others! We wandered about for a few hours and my favorite things were the famous sculptures - the Giant's Head, the Mud Maid and the Grey Lady! 
The Mud Maid!
The Giant's Head
Suspension bridge through the jungle.
After the trip through the gardens, we headed back to our cottage for a few before deciding that we would take a nice long walk. So if you take a look at Fowey on a map, you'll see that it's surrounded by water. Dave had found that the National Trust has made a great hike that starts with taking the Bodinnick ferry across the River Fowey, then walk the length of the tributary to the Parish where you cross over the bridge and walk back along the other side winding up in Polruan. It was a great couple of miles, and then we got to wander about Polruan, having some mulled cider before ultimately taking the ferry back to Fowey. 
Ferry smirks.
Bodinnick ferry :-)
Tributary views.

River walks.
The halfway point!
We got into Polruan at dusk.
And saw the waves!!!!
Wandering the streets of Polruan.
Nighttime ferry back to Fowey.
When we got back to Fowey we had a great Indian meal, and ended it with a nightcap at a really kitchy loft bar. The Irish coffees sealed the night just swell and so concluded the second night of our little trip.
Irish coffees at Sams!
The last day of our trip was equally as fun as well. We sadly had to leave our cottage, but we made a stop in St. Austell to see the new Star Wars! The film had been all of the hype, and it was definitely worth seeing in a theatre so you could see it all on a big screen! After the film we made our way home for a relaxed evening with jacket potatoes and working on the puzzle.
Diligently working away at the Bude Harbor puzzle
Then we were already at New Years Eve! Pete and Mark's good friend Ian came round for the evening, and we all visited for a little bit before Dave and I headed round to Mary's for a great dinner. After dinner we went to the Bradworthy Social Club for a while before then departing again for a trip to The Smithy. The Smithy had a Hollywood themed party, and it was really good fun! I just went as a movie star type and Dave was my drugged out partner!
New Years Eve feast!!!
Happy New Year!
Anthony, Dave and Gareth
Winning games of air hockey!
On New Years Day we took it easy in the morning and visited some more with Ian before he headed back home. We then summoned the energy to go on a great walk around the cliffs to feel some fresh air in our faces. We did one of my favorite loops I've been shown in Morwenstow starting at the Tea Room, going down to Hawkers Hut, and then back up to the Bush for a pint. Then post trek we ventured to go get Chinese carry out and stopped off in Stratton along the way for the last of the mulled cider. It was a great start to 2016 :-)
Pete, Ian and Mark working on the New Years Day mega crossword!
Jumping with joy!
Cozied up by the fire in Stratton :-)
Then before we knew it, it was already my last day :-( Time really does go so fast, doesn't it? Between my bouts of pouting about having to leave, and packing, we found time for one final run on the cliffs with Katie, and it was truly the most beautiful run I have ever been on in my entire life. Cornwall is truly a magical place that I hope everyone gets to see some day because the natural beauty of this place is truly special. I was so glad to end my time with this run and a chance to marvel in the cliffs one last time. 
Going down towards Marsland
Storm clouds looking quite ominous.

Looping back down to the beach.
And a final sunset at Marsland Beach to end a beautiful day.
I feel so lucky to have Cornwall (and the people in Cornwall) in my heart. I can't say enough about how great my trip there was. It's never enough time when I'm there, but I always know I'll be back. Thanks Pete, Mark, Mary, and Katie for always making me feel the most welcome when I'm in town :-) And thank you all for such a lovely Christmas holiday and showing me how Boxing Day is spent once and for all! 
Cornwall in Cornish :)

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Fall trips!

I was pretty spoiled with a plethora of trips in the fall. I know I rounded out my last post by telling you about my trip to Nashville for the weekend, but I had two other trips during the autumn as well! I was pretty psyched to get to go visit Casey in Florida, and then to California to see Caitlin, Mel and Matt, and then finally to Arizona to see my family. Let's go chronologically through these trips, shall we?

Florida, Florida, Florida.. what a time I had on this whirlwind of a trip. Casey is a near and dear pal, and I was so excited to get to spend time with her for a weekend down in Fort Lauderdale. I hadn't been to Florida since I was a kid, and naturally I was eager to check out the unique microcosm that is Florida through my adult eyes. Plus, I was just excited to visit Casey, who's been ever so kind to visit me in Portland and Spain already!

I left early on a Friday and arrived around 2:00 in the afternoon to Florida. Casey picked me up, we had some lunch, I put down my things at her place, and we pretty quickly headed to the beach to catch some vitamin D and waves before the sun was to set. What a novelty it is to be in warm ocean water, as I typically have found myself at the Pacific, or northern Atlantic in recent times! After playing in the waves we headed back to her place, and I got to meet Casey's boyfriend J! The three of us jived so well, so quickly, and then we headed out for the evening to meet up with their friends to go to a really fun gay bar for a night of dancing! Day 1 went by faaaar too quickly! 
Greetings Atlantic!
Gal pals!
Casey and J giving me the evil eyes!
Drag shows are always fun!
Then came Saturday. We all slept in, which was much needed after being out til very late. We honestly had quite the lazy morning, before finally venturing to the beach. En route to the beach we made a pit stop at a fancy resort to have a drink seaside, and we all felt very classy! Then we headed to meet one of J's and Casey's friends to attempt some kite surfing. Their friend is a bit of an adrenaline junkie, and he invited us to join him for an afternoon of kite surfing, and god was I horrible at it! I mostly just lounged on the beach with Casey and their friend's pups. Kevin instructed us to try out the kite surfing on the beach first, which now that I know makes total sense! If you're rubbish at kite surfing you don't want to be out in the ocean flailing around right away. Turns out I have no upper body strength, and the kite just drug me across the sand, all in good fun though. The afternoon concluded with a swim in the ocean and god was it fun! There's definitely a reason that people live near the sea, and when it's warm I definitely don't want to leave! We headed home, made some spaghetti and just spent the night doing a whole lot of relaxing, it was splendid!

Morning views from the balcony of Case, the pups, and the palm trees!
 Nugget and Falcore and Case and the beach!
Trying our hand at kite surfing..
Oh and we met a pretty bird too?
Friday we vowed to wake up early to make the most of sleeping our way through Saturday night. I was meant to get in a long run in preparation for my half marathon, so Casey took me to the beach for a jog. I got in my long run, and then we got breakfast and showered. Post showers, we headed to the Everglades for an air boar ride!! I was so excited about the air boat, and we snagged a groupon deal for it and everything! We headed to Sawgrass Recreation Park, and took our hour long boat tour through the swamp lands and we spotted SO many alligators, it was so neat! The park was also coupled with an exotic wildlife exhibit, so we wandered through that at the conclusion of our boat ride. The takeaway is that I highly recommend an air boat ride to all, and alligators are pretty sweet!

A decent view for a run.
Eye spy an alligator!
Then we headed into Miami, which I was eager to check out! I had a lot of preconceived notions in my head of what south Florida would be like, and to be honest, some were accurate, whereas others not. We headed to the artsy district, Wynwood, and checked out the insanely cool street art. The art, however, was coupled with a plethora of street cameras, but daytime is fine for wandering. We stumbled into an art fair, and found another place for a drink before we were to head out. We headed back to Fort Lauderdale and rounded out my last night in town at Casey and J's friends house. We had a really fun night hanging out by the pool listening to music and dancing all while enjoying the warm breeze! I had to head back early on Monday morning, and I didn't want to leave. Casey surely showed me up in being a good hostess, and I can't wait to hopefully go back sometime soon!

We have fun
A month later was already Thanksgiving week, time flies! I was really excited to be able to visit California for a few days prior to heading to Arizona for the holiday. I headed out to California on the Friday before Thanksgiving, arriving around midnight. Caitlin picked me up from LAX and we headed down to Long Beach. Matt and Mel were at Zion for the weekend, but they graciously let Caitlin and I stay at their place while they were gone. After staying up chatting til late, we finally called it a night. 

Saturday we woke up to sunshine and the smell of the sea! We headed to a fun breakfast spot near Matt and Mel's and we filled up on eggs and coffee. After our leisurely breakfast we decided to wander off to town to indulge in shopping and getting our nails done. After spending a few dollars on ourselves, we ventured back to make some food and get ready to go out. Caitlin recommended we go to this speakeasy type of bar called the Edison. The bar is aptly named, as it is "crafted from the architectural artifacts of LA's first private power plant." It was a lot of fun, as there was a burlesque show, fairies walking around with drinks, and a good dance atmosphere. 
Burlesque babes
Then Sunday was a lazy morning of having breakfast in the backyard and soaking up more Vitamin D! Matt and Mel had boarded their new pup, Oscar, but asked if we could pick him up on Sunday before they got home. I was so excited to meet their fur ball, and Oscar was as handsome and well behaved as Matt and Mel had assured me. Caitlin and I were smitten with the pup, and spent some time with him in the yard. Eventually we wandered our way down to the beach for an afternoon of laying on the sand. After getting our fair share of sunshine, we headed back so that I could go on my long run. Post run Caitlin and I went shopping so that we could make dinner for Matt and Mel upon their return. Friends meeting friends is always so fun, and I was so pleased for these three to get to know each other. 
Hi Oscar!
Left coast running views!
Then on Monday morning everybody headed off in their different directions. Caitlin headed back to Pomona (where is in med school), and Matt and Mel off to work. I was not upset about having an afternoon with the pup and sun. I got some stuff done that had been lingering on my to-do list, and enjoyed some alone time. Matt and Mel got home and we naturally went out for tacos at Hole Mole, the infamous quarter taco shop! The night was followed with more chatting til bed time and playing with the pup. 
Mondays aren't for working, they're for sitting in the sun with Oscar!
Tuesday went much like Monday, with a run added in the mix. Upon Matt and Mel's return they generously made me dinner, and they also took me to the Vans store to get my fix! Eventually Mel and I headed into LA so that I could catch my night Greyhound bus. But first, Mel and I checked out a cool bar nearby. LA is such an odd city is always my takeaway, patchy with randomly dispersed fun things. All the same, I had SUCH a good time visiting these gal pals (and Matt and Oscar), as seeing friends really does recharge the soul! Oh and I suppose seeing the ocean doesn't hurt either.
And Tuesdays are for putting your feet in the sea with the pups!
A gal and her pup!
I took a night bus from LA to Phoenix on Tuesday night, waking up in Phoenix on Wednesday morning. The bus experience was fine, and thankfully I spent my sleeping hours on the bus. I woke up to a great sunrise over the desert mountains. There is something soothing every time I enter back into the southwest. 
Sunrise over the valley
The time in Arizona was good and relaxing. It's always nice to go home, especially after having not been in almost a year. There was lots of good food, plenty of time with the pups, and a handful of good movies thrown in the mix. Thanksgiving Day was pretty low key, with our typical Mexican themed meal, as is seeming to become a holiday favorite. Thanksgiving night was a fire in the chimenea, and the pups are never sure what to make of the glowing embers haha! We also saw the movie Legend in the theatre on Saturday night, and that comes highly recommended! We had a lively family discussion about the movie afterwards, but then again we can have lively discussions about most topics if given the opportunity :-) Saturday was rounded out with some good Indian food, a swell Saturday night!
I'm thankful for these dinguses!
Thanksgiving fire.
Then it was already time to fly home on Sunday morning. My trip was just what I needed, and I was so grateful for the sunshine, friends and family. It had already gotten quite cold and bleak in Indiana before the trip, so this really was just what the doctor ordered. I can't wait to head back west soon enough! 
It's back thataway!
So there are my autumn trips rolled into a post. I am so lucky to be able to do the traveling I do, this I know. As it is already 2016 when I'm writing this, I hope this year is equally as filled with fun adventures, and it didn't start out too shabby with my travels to England, that blog post to come soon!