kristen reNae

travel

Willamette Valley, Part 2

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This past August was our third time attending the World Domination Summit in Portland, Oregon. Last year we made it a point to go an extra day earlier to experience the wine region, Willamette Valley. We had such a good time; we decided to do it again this year.

Now if you have not been to the Portland area, the locals are a little particular in how it is pronounced… Say it with me… Wil-ahh-mit Valley.

As with any trip that involves wine, I started planning a few weeks in advance. Although we fell in love with a couple vineyards last year, I decided to start with new vineyards with the option of visiting a couple of our favorites. I mean, wine not?!

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Also, this year was expected to be a bit different in a couple additions to our wine tour. So, that always makes for a good time!

Here is how our Wine Wednesday trip went down:

Wednesday, August 10th:

Breakfast: Prasad. Recommended by our Airbnb hosts last year, Sarah and Patrick. The must try: Cashew Parfait. It was so light and refreshing after a day of travels and before a day of vino.

Drive: Approximately one hour from Portland.

Wineries:

Bergstrom

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With Bergstrom opening up at 10 am, this was of course our first stop. We were the second group to enter that morning, and after we received our first pour, we headed to thedeck. Their patio had a lovely view over the vineyards and an old barn. Since the morning started out slow for them, Felicia was able to bring our tastings out to the patio – her one-on-one service was excellent and descriptions were very thorough. Would highly recommend this winery.

Adelsheim

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This winery was literally a mile down the road and opened at 11, so this was stop number two. The tasting room had a great view of the patio, leading out to the vineyard, which we later explored. Overall, wine was great but the patio and vineyard took the cake.

Penner + Ash

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Not too far from Adelsheim was a favorite from last year, so we couldn’t pass it up. I have to say, that this winery still stands as my favorite. We were able to bring our tasting out to their grounds and enjoy the view. Seriously, one of the best views. Highly recommend!

Last year we didn’t stop for food, not always the best idea, however, this year with friends in tow, we decided to stop for food at a recommended mart in the town of Dundee. The Red Hills Market offered local ingredients to all menu items including pizza, soups, sandwiches and salads. Fun setting and very easy to order and get in and out in a timely manner.

Next up…

Vidon

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Last year we managed to get lost trying to find our last winery, and google maps unfortunately put us in the same situation this year. Once we found our way to the gate, we quickly knew this was a ma and pa winery. The reviews had stated this, but as a recommendation from Chelsea Dinsmore, that was a positive to this place. Sure enough, the owner was in the middle of washing some barrels out and stopped to give us a few tastings. You always get the best stories and history from the owner.

Stoller

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And yet again, we managed to squeeze in one more… This place was recommended last year by Sean Ogle and did not disappoint. They offer plenty of outside seating to enjoy the view. Along with the awesome tire swing, they also offer frisbee golf! So you could naturally spend all day there!

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Last year we decided to stay in the area and grab food, however, this year we wanted to head back to the Portland area to try some recommended restaurants. We decided on Oven & Shaker as this was recommended to us by Chelsea Dinsmore last year, and her review at the time was that if she could have this as her last meal, she would. I would also recommend this place! Nice ambiance and great food.

All wineries were in the $15-20 range per tasting.

If you have been there and have any recommendations, please comment below, I would love to add them to my list for next year!

Palm Springs

 

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My thirtieth birthday celebration had been on my mind for about six months. Originally, I had planned on making it a destination birthday with a few close friends, but decided that it wouldn’t work for everyone; and with our travel plans approaching, it was probably best that we settle for something closer to home.

Runner up: Palm Springs. It had been on my radar for a while and I finally settled on that as my destination. It appealed to me for all of the right reasons; however, I didn’t know much about it.

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The initial thought was to celebrate on my actual birthday weekend, however, I had a half marathon the following day, and that didn’t make sense. And the more we talked about it; we thought that after Labor Day made more since, as it would be less busy.

Well, come to find out, that is actually the beginning of their “busy season”… the summer apparently gets way too hot, that a lot of places close down in July and reopen late August. So, thankfully, we were booked at the right time.

A house large enough to fit 10 adults, with a pool… I really couldn’t ask for more.

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I of course immediately started working on an itinerary. However, I decided the intimacy of the house was best suited for everyone. A large house, pool, and patio area, really everything we needed. Plus we were close to downtown, so we had the option of skipping over to a restaurant if we wanted.

With family flying in, we decided to head up there on Thursday to explore a day early. So after fighting through traffic we managed to make our way to the hotel and head out to the local Village Fest they have every Thursday.

A warm summer night welcomed tourists and locals alike. Music, fresh produce, art, and many food vendor options filled the downtown Palm Canyon Drive. We roamed the many vendors for food and whatever else we could find before calling it a night.

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The following day (with a small hiccup) we were able to get into our Airbnb house. And then the adventures began: music, cocktails, friends and family.

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We spent those two days basking in the sun, by the pool; football on in the background; conversations that lasted into the wee hours of the morning; watched a beautiful video created by my mother; and of course birthday cake & cupcakes.

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So thankful for all of my friends and family who were able to join for my belated birthday celebration. Definitely one to remember.

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Cinco de Mayo Cruise

My first experience on a cruise could not have been on a better weekend: Cinco de Mayo. Not only was it on one of my favorite “holidays”, but it was also going to Ensenada, Mexico.

The cruise was out of Long Beach, which was about a two hour drive from San Diego. So we decided to head up there on Wednesday and stay the night for an easy departure the next day.

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Thursday flew by and we were soon boarding our Carnival Imagination Cruise. The setup was about the same as a plane (as far as boarding) – you went through security, getting your “pass”, and then finding your room. 2016-05-05 14.16.20 2016-05-05 14.16.30 IMG_7031

After receiving your pass, you are immediately bombarded with photographers wanting to take your picture at every station. This was fun for the first couple of days, but a little uncomfortable. We found our rooms fairly quickly and then decided to explore the ship.

We found the main stage, dining rooms, multiple bars, casino, and clubs. It seemed to never end and I knew I would indefinitely get lost.DCIM100GOPROGOPR0619. DCIM100GOPROGOPR0621. DCIM100GOPROGOPR0623. DCIM100GOPROGOPR0624. 2016-05-05 15.36.41 2016-05-05 15.38.04

 

The ship finally departed around 530 and we had to do the mandatory safety briefing, which seemed disorganized and was extremely boring, but understandable.

After the briefing was over we decided to have a couple adult beverages and head up to the main deck where there was a DJ and Cinco de Mayo festivities. They were giving out sombreros, fake mustaches, and chili necklaces. I scored a small plastic sombrero headband which accompanied my poncho perfectly.

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The first night, we had a taste of everything – we enjoyed the main deck, casino, main dining room for dinner, and the piano bar – such a fun night.

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Saturday quickly approached and our day was off to a running start, literally. Since Mike and I are training for a Marathon, we had to get in a “long” run. We knew we would be on the ship so we managed to get ten miles in on a treadmill. Although it was extremely boring, I am so glad we got it done. (Also, the gym was really nice)

This also happened to be the day we were at the Ensenada port of call. So, after our run we attempted to get breakfast quickly. However, there really isn’t any way to get food “quickly” on this cruise. I was amazed at how many people were constantly in line for food. The food was always there, but people seemed like they would never eat again. Anyways, we finally grabbed some food and headed off the ship to explore.

We walked from the port into the main Ensenada strip for a little over an hour. The streets were filled with small businesses mainly for tourists. Some items were very beautiful, most were souvenir trinkets.2016-05-06 07.19.27 2016-05-06 11.20.03 2016-05-06 12.02.54 2016-05-06 12.03.02 2016-05-06 12.03.30

Next time I would probably sign up on an excursion – they had offered tours in their main strip (which was either a bar crawl or shopping), wine tours, and other miscellaneous tours – all seemed like they would have been a good time.

Mike had taken this cruise before and had an acquaintance at this small tequila hut. His station was right next to the ship, so we felt safe having a “couple” drinks with him. However, the “couple” quickly turned into a couple more. We finally called it quits and headed back to the ship with enough time to rest up and then get ready for our dinner.2016-05-06 12.52.26 2016-05-06 14.29.39 2016-05-06 14.31.30

We missed our initial dinner setting and ended up at the later dinner, sitting with a group from the L.A. area who had a great energy/vibe about them. Although the dinner was great, it had been a long day and the motion sickness (maybe tequila) was getting to us. Needless to say, it was an early night.

Saturday was our “day at sea” and we decided to get our breakfast on and then spend the day next to the pool. By the time we made our way up to the pool deck, the majority of seats were taken, so we ended up on the upper deck, which actually ended up being the best seats in the house (mainly for people watching).cruise1

The Carnival Crew put on a show right in front of our seats for the “hairiest chest contest” – I know it sounds totally sick, but it was hilarious. It turned into a Magic Mike show and it was great.

We spent the day laying out, eating food, jumping in the pool and just relaxing until it was time to get ready for dinner.

Saturday evening was our formal night (not sure if it corresponded with everyone else lol) and we headed to dinner. After dinner, we decided to try out a “show” called “Divas” – not quite what I expected, but definitely worth a try. After that, we headed to the piano bar, and this time we stayed for the “adult” version – needless to say – we all had a great time.2016-05-07 23.09.45

Sunday we were docked at Long Beach in the early hours and were ready to jump off the boat to head back to San Diego. Hands down I would do another cruise; however, I might stick with another short day cruise.

If you have any recommendations of cruise lines or destinations, would love to hear them!

 

cruise3The turn-down service always left a cute little towel animal – I was so excited to see each one. Aren’t they just adorable?!