Friday, November 21, 2008

Weekend Getaway and Two Giveaways

Do you ever wish you could just leave everything behind and take off for a week...or two week...long vacation to a tropical island? Have you ever found yourself dreaming of lying on a quiet beach in Hawaii on a big soft blanket with nothing to do by relax? As this lovely excursion through Dreamland continues, can you feel the balmy breeze leisurely caress your skin as the warmth of the sun on your body and the rhythmic sounds of the gentle waves lull you to sleep?

(My apologies, but I must interrupt this lovely daydream for a trip back to reality.)

I'm so sorry that I had to do that to you, but doesn't that sound like a pretty amazing vacation? I'm sure it would be, but you know what I've discovered? I've discovered that some of the best vacations are the short one or two day trips where the destination is no more than an hour or two from home. Last December, I had just such an experience when my parents, sister, and I had a great overnight trip to Monterey, California. to celebrate my birthday.

For those of you that don't know, Monterey, California is a gorgeous coastal community in Northern California, about 115 miles south of San Francisco and 350 miles north of Los Angeles. "The City features a dazzling waterfront along the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, a lush urban forest, a rich array of historic and cultural resources, museums, gardens, recreational activities, and a wide variety of special events scheduled throughout the year. Monterey is the home of the world-class Monterey Bay Aquarium, located on the street immortalized in John Steinbeck's novel Cannery Row."

Since my birthday is in December (December 4, to be exact), it was very cold in Monterey, but we did not let the cold dampen our spirits. We knew it would be cold, as it was, but we had such a great time anyway! It was so relaxing just to have no place we had to be, no phones that had to be answered, and no commitments, other than what we decided we felt like doing at that moment.

So, what did we decide to do on that trip? First of all, we stayed at a great motel that was tucked back in a huge grouping of trees so that we felt like we were in the forest. I can't remember the name of the motel right now, but I'll look it up and let you know later. One of the things we liked about it was that all four of us were able to stay in the same room, thus saving money and getting to spend time together in the room to play board games, watch our favorite TV shows, and chit chat at night. We weren't all crammed into a tiny room though, as this room was more like a sort of suite. It was basically like two bedrooms in one with a shared bathroom.

After checking into the motel, we spent time walking along Fisherman's Wharf where we took our the binoculars to search the water for sea lions and sea otters. Most of them seemed to be hiding out that day, some underneath part of the pier that was on the far side from where we were. We did get to see some, but we would have been happier if we had been able to see more of them and get closer to them. I think we've been spoiled by how accessible they are in San Francisco.

While on the Wharf, we looked in some of the shops, looked at all the yummy food being sold, tried a sample of the clam chowder that was being handed out, and just enjoyed the sites, sounds, and smells of being on the water. Eventually, one of the sounds you could hear was our stomachs rumbling from hunger so we left the Wharf and drove downtown where we happened upon a restaurant called Rosine's Restaurant.

We didn't know this before going in, but we found out that Rosine's is a family-owned restaurant, and all the family shares in the work, from cooking and baking to serving and greeting. Rosine's has delicious homemade soups, offers large portions, homemade fresh pies, and a yummy selection of delicious, homemade, award-winning cakes. I won't go into detail here as I'm sure your mouth is already watering, but suffice it to say that we loved it so much that we went back later that night for dinner and again the next day for breakfast!!! How's that for a review?! It's no wonder that Rosine's has been around for over 28 years and has been voted 'Best Family Restaurant' and 'Best Desserts' for over 11 years!

After dinner that first night, we took a short drive into Carmel which is absolutely stunning, and is famous for many reasons, one of which is that Clint Eastwood is the former mayor. It's also the place where many movies were filmed, including “East of Eden," “Play Misty for Me," “National Velvet” and hundreds of others. "Celebrities are frequent visitors to the quiet, understated and beautiful town of Carmel-by-the-Sea. Many have second homes here. You never know who will sit down at the table next to you in one of our gourmet restaurants, or who you will meet while taking a relaxing walk along the white sands of Carmel Beach."

The whole reason we had driven into Carmel was because my mom had read an article that talked about a shopping center that was supposed to have shops that sold the shabby chic style of decor, my favorite. We arrived at The Barnyard Shopping Village just as the sun was getting ready to set and the wind was picking up....and unfortunately, just as all the stores were closing. We took a quick look around to see if we could find any shops of interest to me, the shabby chic girl, but alas, there were none.

We were all pretty tired and cold by then anyway, so we drove back to our motel, played games, went back to Rosine's for dinner, and went back to the motel where we each climbed into our own bed, snuggled under our covers, and watched a little bit of TV. After the lights went out, I remember us all getting the giggles and talking and laughing late into the night. It was a lot of fun.

The next day, we went back to Rosine's for breakfast where we were now recognized as frequent diners, LOL, had a yummy breakfast, strolled around some more shops in downtown Monterey, and then went home. As I said at the beginning of this blog post, sometimes short trips to places close to home are the best trips of all, and this one was one of those times.....which is why we're going back later today!! This time it's not to celebrate my birthday but just to get away.

I'll be home on Sunday night, but what kind of bloggie friend would I be if I didn't let you know about a couple of giveaways?! I hope you all have a great weekend! Until later...

Giveaway for a Campbell's Holiday Gift Basket

For more information and to enter, click here.

Ends on November 22, 2008 at 10 am

Giveaway for a pair of Flex Flops from the Holiday 2008 line
For more information and to enter, click here.
Ends on November 29, 2008 at 11:59 pm CST

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