A Bay Area bear hug (part two).

I wasn’t done with California just yet.

By the time Nancy pulled up in front of the lovely apartment on Mallorca Way, I’d already had four days of San Francisco fun. But I couldn’t come to the Bay Area without spending time in Nancy’s ‘hood! While my friends, Holly and Mandy, returned to their families in Colorado and Maui, I had two bonus vacation days to enjoy with one of my closest friends!

You might remember reading about Nancy, her hilarious husband, Spencer, and their daughter, Sydney, in my multiple posts about our trips to Bozeman, Montana. (I love Montana.) We also rang in the New Year with them this year in Southern California (yay, Rose Bowl)! They’ve been dear friends for years. Nancy’s stood by me through some rough times and clinked glasses with me on my best days. She’s a beautiful woman, inside and out, and even though they haven’t lived in Utah for a few years now, our friendship has continued to grow. Bonus: John and Spencer are super close friends, too!

Monday was the hottest day yet in the Bay Area. With Syd in school and Spencer working away at Stanford, we had a few hours to fill with fun. We drove through Golden Gate Park and stopped for lunch at the Park Chalet in the beautiful visitor’s center.  The cocktail list was impressive- I opted for a basil ginger dream- and the food was super yummy!

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We had a few more stops to make before landing in Nancy’s neck of the woods in Redwood City. We stopped at the Moss Beach Distillery near Half Moon Bay to check out the view. Built in 1927, it boasts a gorgeous patio overlooking the cove that’s dog-friendly (to say the least). There are water bowls around for canine friends, blankets and beds for them on chilly days, and even a dogs-only menu. I love it! Oh, and the distillery is also haunted, which simultaneously intrigued me and completely freaked me out. It was while we were reading the history of the ghost that a couple of whales swam by, blowing air into the sky as they passed. So cool!

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Our fun day continued with a birthday celebration for one of Nancy’s girlfriends at La Nebbia Winery. John and I had driven past it once, on one of our Betty adventures. The winery has colorful gardens, a bocci court, a 13-year old resident cat, and tasty vino. I met a handful of Nancy’s friends, one of whom had picked up Sydney with her own kids. We spent the afternoon sipping wine, playing bocci ball, and playing games in the sunshine while the kids ran around the gardens. It was a night for take-out pizza and catching up with Spencer before snuggling in with Leo (Nancy’s furry little beast).

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Tuesday was my last full day in California. I awoke with the little Ewok still curled up in my bed. I sipped my coffee in Nancy’s little courtyard, marveling at the overloaded orange tree. Spring was still struggling to actually SPRING in Utah!

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After fueling up with a tasty breakfast, Nancy and I headed to the next town, Woodside, to hike around the Wunderlich Trails. The trailhead was near a beautifully restored stable and some horse corrals. There are no dogs or bikes allowed on these trails, but horses are welcome. Nancy and I trekked about three miles total, gazing up at the huge redwoods and eucalyptus trees and trying not to step on banana slugs. We peered into a pond full of salamanders and scooted out of the way of a squiggly snake. We ran from a giant spider and tried not to disturb a squirrel that was almost as big as Cholula. Wildflowers were blooming everywhere, including perfect purple irises. What a way to start the day!

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We had a chunk of time before Syd would be done with school, so Nancy drove me through Redwood City’s adorable little downtown area before we headed into Milagros for a snack and a sip. Milagro means “miracle” in Spanish- and my jalapeno-cucumber margarita was, indeed, miraculous. We shared a vat of pineapple-habanero guacamole and chatted away before picking up Sydney and heading for the coast.

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That morning, we’d packed up the car with chairs, a cooler, magazines, and blankets. We bee-lined it to Santa Cruz, to a quiet beach just left of the famous boardwalk (and its crowds). We kicked off our flip flops and settled in on the sand with a magazine and a cup of wine, watching Syd scamper around the beach. A few sailboats glided past the old lighthouse and out to sea, raising their sails in the breeze. Syd and I poked our toes into the frigid Pacific Ocean, squealing and retreating with each new wave. We stared in amazement as a man walked down the beach, took off his shirt and hat, and dove into the icy water without hesitation.

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We packed up and joined the rush hour traffic back home, just in time to meet up with Spencer. My hosts put together a delicious meal of roasted marinated pork loin, chicken, and a scrumptious barley-feta-pea-herb concoction that Nancy came up with. After laughing at some late-night comedy shows over bowls of brownies and ice cream, I snuzzled in with BOTH dogs for my last sleep on the West Coast.

On Wednesday, I woke up early to the smell of fresh plumeria by my bed. Syd had requested that we ride bikes to school today, and I didn’t want to miss it. I hopped on Nancy’s cute little beach cruiser, the one she got on her birthday in Utah, the one I’d ridden multiple times in Bozeman. We rode the mile through the neighborhood to Sydney’s school. I was so mesmerized by all of the gardens and flowers that I’m surprised I didn’t crash the bike!

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On the way to the airport, Nancy and I stopped into Buck’s, a famous little diner in Woodside that’s chock-full of random collectibles. We snuck our last bit of chatting in over breakfast and took in the sights of the crazy restaurant/museum before heading to SFO.

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I felt sad to say goodbye to my friend, goodbye to the sunny California weather, but it was time to go home. With my last hug to Nancy behind me, I boarded the plane and anticipated the bear hug from John upon my arrival in Utah. The Wasatch Mountains had a fresh layer of powdered-sugar snow on their peaks, but there was enough green to reassure me that we were out of the wintertime WOODS. I was covered in puppy kisses from Cholula, who really DID miss her Mama.

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It was a week full of fun- laughing with old friends, exploring new places, seeing incredible sights, eating amazing food. It was one of those vacations that meant more than just time away from home. I feel lucky to have had the chance to go on my California Adventure, and lucky to have that blissful feeling of being back where I belong- with my family.

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My wanderlust is satiated.

(For now.) 

**Find more of my wanderings on the Travel Bug link above!**

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