As me and the mister celebrate 9 years of marriage, we decided to get outside of Texas on an adventure I have been wanting to take for the last 2 years. Prior to Covid, I had been eager to visit the Giant Redwoods out in California. There’s something about just being small and seeing Gods work in creation that attracted me to the whole idea behind this particular trip.
My husband (as I well know by now) is quite skeptical of my vacation antics lol! “Trees?”, he questioned in raising the most unenthusiastic eyebrow ever 😂. I had been trying to convince him for months that the Redwoods would be totally worth it.
Still unconvinced, we moved forward with our plans to get to San Fran and have a great time.
First thing we needed to do once we arrived in Cali was get the whip! Since we were staying at a cottage in Stinson Beach, we decided it would be better to grab a vehicle to drive at our leisure. Usually I go with a rental car service like Enterprise, but I decided instead to wing it with a peer to peer renting service called Turo (basically an Airbnb for cars).
We were able to get this little number for our entire trip! The great thing about Turo is it’s completely contactless AND in our case less expensive than a standard car with a traditional car rental service. Our host set everything up real nice. Our Lyft dropped us right off in front of it. In no time we got the keys, loaded up, and were on the way.
Our Airbnb in Stinson was completely immaculate! It was cozy and just enough room for 2 people comfortably. It came with a stocked kitchen and nice comfy bed. It even had a gorgeous rock garden and plenty of beautiful plants, trees, and flowers.
Since Stinson was about a 40 minute winding road drive from downtown, we decided to sit back and chill in the room for the evening. Our host had welcomed us to the cottage with a nice bottle of Rosé so it was nice to wind down with that and some poké.
The next morning we were up and ready to get to those trees (well at least I was, mister was still not convinced 😂). First we stopped by the Parkside Cafe in Stinson for a quick bite.
Then we stopped by the beach for a quickie look see.
After the beach we drove through winding paths deeper into the mountains to get to Muir Woods. The Redwoods are in an area where there is zero wifi so we were temporarily off grid.
Once we got to the woods, we were greeted by a huge tree standing guard at the front. There was some information about how thick around the trees can get as well. We walked a little further in and saw the welcome sign. This was it!
Redwoods can reach up to 300+ feet and the tallest at Muir Woods is around 289ft. RJ couldn’t believe how the trees completely surrounded and dwarfed us both. We were like teeny tiny ants!
One tree in particular was my favorite. It had bark that spiraled upwards endlessly towards the sky.
The air is so fresh and clean walking through the woods. We got to taste delicious creek water, saw a Banana slug (we thought it was animal poop 💩) and enjoyed a 2 mile walk taking everything in.
Another interesting part is that the forest is eerily noiseless and you see zero animals or birds. I’m guessing they’re sleeping…I would be too if I lived out there.
Most of the day out here our heads were pointed up in awe of all this wonderful nature. The mister was thoroughly surprised and happy I stuck to my guns raving about needing to visit these trees. Just gave us something new to appreciate.
All the morning hiking left us hungry and ready for a foodie stop. We traveled back into downtown to grab a bite to eat before heading back to Stinson.
We found a nice little Thai spot called Ben Thai Cafe. We only grabbed a snack since we were saving our stomachs for that nights anniversary dinner, but the curry wings were a very nice bite! They come smothered in sauce and topped with a crispy bit of fried basil 😋
With slightly filled tummies and some time to spare, we headed back to the Airbnb to relax before getting ready for our big anniversary date night.
This year we decided to go to a place called RH or Restoration Hardware for short. It’s a super fancy furniture store that just so happens to house their very own rooftop restaurant. It’s a really ingenious concept if you think of it.
That night we dined in front of their huge fountain centerpiece surrounded by trees and glittery chandeliers. We enjoyed a meal of surf ‘n turf. I especially enjoyed the potato purée. It’s like butter melting in your mouth. Then we topped it off with some delicious homemade cookies and lattes 😋
At the end of the evening we treated ourselves to a stroll in the RH furniture galleries. They have fully furnished concepts from bedrooms to outdoor patios. One particular convo of note was centered around a certain dining table I liked. After I saw the price tag, I quickly unliked it 😭 $18k 😭😭😭😭😭. What a way to end the evening lol.
The next day was another full on adventure. We did a day trip to Napa Valley to visit the towns only black family owned winery called Brown. We had time before our wine tasting so we decided to hit up Hog Island Oyster Co in Oxbow market.
The oysters were delicious, but of course that’s just a snack so we also hit up this place RJ found called Dutch Door. They locally source their ingredients and care about giving guests information on their dishes.
With stomachs full and prepped for a proper wine tasting, we strolled more around downtown Napa. They had some great murals and we happened across a guy with some pretty sweet sneaks.
We were so blessed to be able to experience a wine tasting at Brown. Sine Covid, they had stopped allowing walk ins and the only way to do a tasting was by booking an appointment. They have 3 appointments a day and because I didn’t know this ahead of time, 2 weeks before our trip I got our name added to a waitlist.
Furthermore, on the particular day we would be visiting, they were only offering 2 wine tasting slots. I pretty much thought chances would be slim we would even get in. 2 days before our arrival I got the call that a slot opened up and PROMPTLY took it 🙌🏾
Our server Gina was super attending and knowledgeable about the wine. She walked us through our tasting. We had such an enjoyable experience. I even learned that Brown specializes in Zinfandels and that they can be red in color (I previously thought they were only light or white in color). The taste of the day for us was the 2018 Eastside Zinfandel which wasn’t even on our flight list.
After our tasting we hopped in the car for more adventures to await in Calistoga…MUDBATHS!!
Neither of us has ever had a mud bath. Curiosity had struck me when the famous fictional character Louis Litt from Suits would constantly talk about them. I’d been on the hunt for some in Dallas only to fail, so when I found out they had them near Napa, I jumped at the opportunity to try it out.
The mud is thick and roughly 100 degrees when you step in. We stayed in for 15 mins before showering off with mineral water and then a 15 minute mineral bath jacuzzi. The final cherry on top is relaxing in a dim lit room to further detox.
I felt pretty much like a weakling after the bath. The body is soooooo relaxed, all we wanted to do was sleep. I highly recommend a mud bath here for the leisurely experience.
The next day was a more open schedule. No appointments, no plans, so we grabbed breakfast in Sausalito at a spot called Freds. They’re famous for their Deep Fried French Toast which did not disappoint!
We decided to walk off breakfast with a quick trip to see the famous floating homes of Sausalito. They’re cutesy little homes and we got a nice picture of the whole neighborhood from the centrally located pier.
Following our walk, we got back to the car and headed into downtown to ride the historic cable cars! We took the California F line ride straight to Chinatown.
We had already worked up yet another appetite so it was time to find a classic dim sum. The great thing about Chinatown is that they have dim sum available all day as opposed to locations in Texas that will only hold it at certain days and times.
The place I chose is called Osmanthus Dim Sum Lounge moving towards the edge of Chinatown. I got the steamed Shanghai dumplings, eggplant with string beans, and curry fish samosa. RJ got a half Peking duck lol! This whole spread was pretty much gone by the time we were done 🤣
The last thing we decided to eat before calling it a day was some dessert. We decided on this place called Magical Ice Cream which does a different take on the classic frozen dessert.
First they dump the ice cream on a cold griddle. Then they mix, spread, and flatten it across the griddle to make a thin frozen layer. Then they take what looks similar to a putty knife and pre cut lines into the layer and then use the knife to curl the strips upward into rolled frozen ice cream. Lastly they top it with whip cream and in our case edible 24k gold and voilà, enjoy!
Gotta say, the gold tasted like nothing *shrugs* but it was a fun experience.
Our final day in San Francisco was met with a tug of sadness. We were excited to get back to see the girls, but this by far being our most fun Cali experience, we already knew we would likely have to come back.
We started off trying to take pics of the Golden Gate Bridge at the Battery Godfrey location, but not only was is super foggy (thanks Karl), it was also kind of crowded. Instead of waiting around for things to clear, we headed to the Fishermans Wharf area to pick up some souvenirs.
All that souvenir shopping of course, made us hungry, so we stopped at a local ramen restaurant to grab a bowl.
By the time lunch had ended, the skies were clearing and we decided to give The Golden Gate Bridge another go.
I’m glad we tried the photos again. I was able to capture some really great shots thanks to my handy tripod.
Overall this trip was just phenomenal! We had been trying to get to Cali for a couple years now and finally getting to experience it has just reignited that drive for adventure and fun.
Now to readjust to Texas life: straight flat roads, 2 kinds of trash cans, and regular ole trees. It might take me a while, I’m still on Cali time 🤪