I think I might be a closet adrenaline junky.  By looking at my life, you would probably think the opposite. . .I'm very much a homebody most days and I usually like things to stay pretty mellow and safe in my life.  But some days I wake up with an itch to do something a little crazy.  And I think driving with a toddler all the way across the country might just qualify for that.  (Shouldn't I get some kind of a cool bumper sticker with a toddler silhouette and a 4,000 on it showing that I went that many miles with a toddler and managed not to lose my mind?!)  My mom reminded me today that she took me, my sister, and my brother (who was 6 months at the time!) on a week long bus tour of Italy when we were stationed in Germany.  I do remember some nights where we all slept on the bus as it drove.  So I think I come by it honest?!  But I can't imagine sleeping on a bus with a 6 month old. . .shudder.  She's amazing.  

All that to say, this trip was absolutely incredible.  I try to make it back to California at least once a year, because I get so homesick for it!  And this time I really wanted my husband to come with me.  For some selfish reasons (like helping me with a toddler), but also because I knew he would love it!  Which he absolutely did!  

Ok, before I get to the photos, I'll share a few things I learned about road tripping (especially with a toddler) . . .and if you're a bride, I have a sweet offer at the end of this blog post so make sure you pay attention at the end!!! 

1.  An 8 hour drive will be closer to 12 hours with a toddler.  

2.  You might have a whole heck of a lot of principles that go out the window for the sake of sanity when you're driving 12 hours a day ("Only 30 minutes of screen time a day", "Don't let your child eat an entire container of puffs in one sitting," etc.)

3.  Road tripping with a toddler will grow and strengthen your marriage.  Well.........as long as you are willing to apologize for things you said when you were hungry/tired/frustrated. 

4.  I have a whole new appreciation for vacationing.  I used to think it was a nice luxury, but I've realized it's more essential to our health/wellbeing than I ever realized!  We have to get out of our normal routine and make intentional time to just enjoy one another and life.  

5.  In N Out needs to come east.  Like yesterday.

Get ready for photo overload!  

Las Cruces, New Mexico

If you ever take the 1-10 route across the US, Las Cruces is a place you really should stop in.  My friend Juliana told me about it and I'm incredibly grateful because I don't think I had ever heard about this magical city before!

San Francisco  (Golden Gate Park, China Town) & Muir Woods

Ricky was especially excited about San Francisco.  I was excited, but also exhausted, as we had just got in from a 3 day, 40 hour trek, the evening before.  But I couldn't deny him experiencing the city! We started our day at "Tartine Bakery" after I read a VRBO blog that said it was one of the best bakeries in the world.  Not going to lie, the inside is really, really small (ie not toddler friendly) and having your toddler melt down in a teensy tiny cafe filled wall to wall with sophisticated urbanites and bearded hipsters was pretty awful.  The stink eye was strong with these ones.  However, their morning bun was literally out of this world good (and worth robbing a little peace from the city dwellers!).  After that, we took a (misty) walk through part of the Golden Gate park and Will enjoyed watching dogs and jumping in every puddle he could find.  Our day was concluded by crossing the Golden Gate Bridge and visiting Muir Woods.

Truckee, Lake Tahoe, Lake Donner

This is actually the reason we came out to California!  To spend a sweet summer weekend with some of my college friends.  Well our sweet summer weekend turned into a cozy winter weekend as the temps stayed mostly in the 40s and 50s.  And on our second day there, we got to experience a little snowfall!  Oh yeah, if you go to Tahoe in June, you can expect snow from time to time.  Something else I learned.  

I have so missed these friends of mine.  I think the friendships forged in college are ones that really do last a lifetime.  It was fun to revisit college joys, pains, and awkwardness (most of it mine!) with them.  

PS Oh yeah, I did stop a group of Renaissance festival goers and asked them to hold my kid for a fun photo (and the awkwardness continues. . .) 

On our drive back near the San Bernadino mountains.  

You know you scored a keeper when you tell your husband you "saw the tree of your dreams 2 miles back and you can't stop thinking about it and you need to find a way to turn around on a busy 2 lane highway going 70 miles per hour both ways with hardly any shoulder because you'll always regret not taking a photo of this ONE tree!!!!" and he just smiles and lets you do your thing.  

Ok, to my sweet and wonderful brides (past and present). . .I'm not a landscape photographer by any means, but if you see a photo on here that inspires you, just shoot me a quick message (text, email, whatever) describing the photo and I'll print it and mail it to you!  You guys really are the best and inspire me everyday!!!!

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