South of the Border.

Last September, Hurricane Odile hit the Cabo area of Mexico. Unsure of the damage to the area or how difficult it would be to travel, we made the choice to cancel a family trip to Baja we had booked for October. John and I flew to San Jose del Cabo without them to check on our property there, see the aftermath firsthand, and initiate repairs. It turned out to be a lovely and inspiring trip (read about it here), but we were heartbroken to have pulled the plug on our family get-away. We vowed to plan a “do-over” trip this year, and a couple of weeks ago, it finally happened!

Fall was in full swing in Utah, so I was surprised to see that the temps in Mexico mid-October would be in the 90s. I packed every summer-appropriate item of clothing that still fit my growing baby bump (plus a couple of tankini bathing suits that I hoped would fit!). We were welcomed at Los Cabos International Airport with a hot Baja breeze and ran into my parents in the customs line. My brother would arrive the next day. After what felt like 10 hours in long lines, we finally got our luggage, took the shuttle to the storage area to get our car, and headed for Casa Vida…and more importantly, the refreshing swimming pool and intoxicating view!

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For the next week, John and I got to share our favorite parts of San Jose del Cabo with my family. We took them to Guacamaya’s for a legit Mexican dining experience alongside local families. We spent hours upon hours lounging in the pool or on the patio, beating the heat by floating around on surprisingly buoyant Styrofoam noodles. We made fresh homemade salsa and Matt made a few batches of tasty guacamole. We soaked in the fiery sunsets, counted the desert flowers, stalked giant lizards, and savored time together as a family. There were many, many cocktails (fresh mandarin orange juice for me!). My mom named every animal she saw (chipmunks, lizards, even a random “wild” cow in the Estuary).

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We rooted for John’s Mets as they beat the Dodgers. We opened the game table and played The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, a fun version of 7 card stud poker. We carved up a whole pineapple (which I believe I ate 90% of…blame the baby). We spent an afternoon in the town of San Jose, bartering with shop-owners. My folks did a little tequila tasting and my dad got a ball cap for a steal. We had lunch at the Tropicana and were serenaded by two guitarists (both named Carlito). I learned that a virgin Pina Colada is just dumb. Oh, and more POOL TIME.

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One morning, we packed up the Yukon with every beachy item we could fit, filled a cooler with plenty of food and drink, and headed toward the East Cape. I’d been talking about a day at the beach to my family for weeks, envisioning beach-combing, boogie boards, and bobbing around in the ocean together. We ended up at Shipwrecks, a surf break about a half-hour from the house. It was gorgeous, but after we’d trekked everything from the truck and set up camp, I realized the waves were intense and breaking over lots of rocks- not safe for swimming. There would be no ocean time. I admit I had a bit of a pregnancy meltdown- I couldn’t shift my expectations and my hormones took over from there! Despite that, the day turned out to be quite lovely. The view was simply beautiful and there was a pleasant breeze. We spied a mama horse with her baby on the bluff. We had plenty of shade under our umbrellas, tasty sandwiches, cold beer, ice water. The boys tossed a line into the ocean a few times and John even caught a jack from shore. A couple of burros- the one animal my mom had wanted to see on the trip- stopped in to see if we had any snacks. Even though it wasn’t what I’d pictured in my head, everyone enjoyed themselves. Expectations reduce joy. The afternoon was a lesson in going with the flow, and we were laughing in the pool by happy hour.

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Mid-week, John arranged for a half-day guided fishing excursion on a boat with my dad and Matt. They left the house before the sun (or the ladies of the house) had risen, catching the sunrise over the marina. They met up with a guy named Efron who spoke very little English but knew where to take them for fish. Over the next four hours, all of the boys caught fish- a few skip jack and a big bonito. Look at the smiles on their faces! The guide fileted the bonito and it came home with the boys, turning into a sashimi appetizer (I miss sushi) and a scrumptious Asian-flavored grilled fish dinner for the family. From the excitement in their voices as they told their fish tales to us that night, I know some good memories were made.

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On our last evening together in Mexico, we took everyone to our very favorite place: Flora Farm. We arrived before sundown and strolled the impeccable grounds before dinner, peeking at the turtles swimming in the pond and enjoying the various displays around the garden for El Dia de los Muertos. There’s something wonderful about dining in the garden where all of the food you’re eating was grown. We clicked our glasses to a fun week of new family memories!

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The next day, we took my family to the airport and said our goodbyes. We all had a few more freckles, a little more color to our skin, and more than a couple of mosquito bites. We also had plenty of things to laugh about from the week, another successful family trip in the books. John and I weren’t heading home for another day, so we headed for our favorite remote beach so John could do a little more fishing before our trip was over.

The Cabo Riviera is an hour and a half from the house, through the Baja countryside which was unexpectedly lush and green. Some road work had us bouncing down a dirt road for much of the trip with me clutching my baby bump. We turned off of the main dirt road onto a smaller one and arrived at the familiar beach, where John has been taunted by rooster fish more than once. It was beautifully deserted.

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We set up shop under the pockets of shade from the thatched palapas and John took off down the beach, armed with his fly rod. I settled in with a giant bowl of pineapple and a few magazines, listening to the waves roll into shore and feeling the wind pick up. I meandered up and down the sand to find sea treasures- it’s a fabulous beach for hunting seashells! Occasionally a fishing boat would cruise by, bouncing around over growing white caps. I kept an eye on John, camera at the ready in case he landed a fish, but he wandered too far down shore for me to see him well.

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After an hour or so, I took a walk down the beach toward John and he came back with me to our little shade island to tell the day’s fish tales. He’d had a yellowfin tuna on the line and brought him to the reel before the fish outsmarted him and released himself somehow. He’d caught a jack or two. He’d chased the elusive rooster, as well. After a sandwich and a beer, he went off for more fish stalking. It’s hard not to smile when the man you love is doing his very favorite thing; his joy was contagious. When he finally called it a day, we packed up the car and took a dip together in the sea. What a strange feeling to bob around in the waves with a baby bobbing around inside me! The water felt incredible and I was relieved to have finally swum in the ocean on this trip.

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The sky put on quite a show for our last night in town. We headed to a restaurant very close to the house in the marina called The Container, where I wished my pineapple mojito had rum in it. Everything had a pink hue from the sunset. Back at the house, sunkissed and drained from the day, we watched baseball in bed until our eyelids grew too heavy to keep open.

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On the morning of our departure, we packed quickly and headed out to the pool to soak in as much sunshine as possible before heading back to an imminent winter in Utah. I sipped decaf and tanned my 21-week baby bump in the morning light. On our way to the airport, we made time to have one final meal at Flora Farms, which was utterly scrumptious.

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We’d be home before the end of the day, our faces covered in kisses as we reunited with our squealing fur-baby. We’d celebrate three years of marriage in three days (and what a three years it has been). We’d be thrust into real life again, a hectic November including multiple house guests, business trips, and more travel- only 7 days of the month would find us both home together. And then the holidays would arrive. This time south of the border, with nothing significant on the schedule other than relaxation and reconnecting with family, had come at the perfect time. We linked our glasses to a fun trip and to each other.


Life is muy bien.

Bit by the travel bug? See more of our adventures here.

Stay at Casa Vida!


  1. I always get lost in your travel posts. Your pictures and words always make me feel like I am there! Looks like a beautiful trip. Dying over the cuteness of the bump in a bikini. 🙂

    1. Thanks, Kate! I try to balance wanting to capture the beautiful moments on camera with actually enjoying the beautiful moments as they happen! Um, that was also three weeks ago… the bump would be SO much bigger now in a bikini!

  2. A couple months ago I came upon your blog and your adventures remind me of me!!! You and your loved ones, recipes, and travel warm my heart. Being a mother myself with 3 children in their 30’s now I identify with you back when I had my babies. I love your writings. ‘Dear Baby’ brought tears to my eyes. Those years were the very BEST time of my life. Motherhood is a blessed gift. Wishing you all the good things in life…your “Usual Bliss” says it so well.

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