Travel Southern California

This may be the next place I buy a home...if I can convince the hubby! I conveniently signed him up for a conference in San Diego then proceeded to tag along, baby in tow. It was a win win for both of us. It really is sunny and 70 degrees every single day. Our trip started out way too early for the baby (3:45am) followed by absolutely no layover in Denver for our next connection, which led to a few more gray hairs and never agains. It really doesn't help much when the flight attendants are extremely rude on every single flight for that matter (same airline....Frontier) and nosy people turn around to show you their disgust for your baby who has been crying and crabby. Listen up. If you are one of the people who turn around to see the little punk who is crying behind you, don't turn your snotty self around unless you are going to help. Whew! I feel slightly better :) So my baby may have thrown a small fit about 5 minutes immediately after boarding the first flight. It was the first time it has happened to me and thank God it was the only time during our trip. She immediately fell asleep as soon as we took off but give the kid a break. No, I did not teach my 1-year-old how to run on minimal sleep, and sit quietly in her seat. I will work on it for the next time, because I am not going to quit flying because everyone made me feel like a bad mom. And no I will not apologize. The more she does it, the more she will get used to it. So if you are or were one of THOSE people....just think about me next time you want to turn around :) I used to live in Encinitas, California so for me this was kind of like going back "home". I did a short travel job for a great company and met some great people along the way. I like to think that San Diego is the touristy area and as you head North it becomes more of a beach community feel, more relaxed and chill. Just the way I like my vacations. But we only had a week to get everything I missed doing done and that was not enough time, so I guess we will have to go back...bummer! Haha

Start in San Diego. We stayed at the Manchester Grand Hyatt for the conference. Grand, elegant, and really convenient to the pier, Coronado Island, and Balboa Park. This was our view from our room...terrible I know!

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/7ca/63143329/files/2014/12/img_68441.jpg I am not too familiar with what there is to do downtown as I spend my time either shopping or up in North County. Our local mall is great but compared to Fashion is nothing! We ate at this place in Fashion Valley called Stacked. So neat. You do all of your ordering on this iPad like device (even your waters) and pay on it too. We found it to be really efficient. Stepping outside of the box we ordered a Pastrami pizza. Amazing! Dill pickles, spicy brown mustard, mozz cheese, swiss cheese, garlic sauce, and of course pastrami!


/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/7ca/63143329/files/2014/12/img_68991.jpg Westfield UTC is an outdoor mall that is perfect for strolling along, grabbing some lunch and relaxing. Plus it has a great play area for the kids to burn off some energy. A trip to San Diego is not complete without a trip to the Zoo. One of the best if not the best I have been to. Even if you are not traveling with kids, you can grab a brew and guide your way through this amazing place. I would not recommend taking the free tour bus inside the zoo, rather just walk around and see it for yourself. We missed a lot of animals because the bus was too high or we were sitting on the "wrong" side.


She likes snakes. Not my kid.

Next stop up the interstate is La Jolla. Well there are maybe a few other towns but skip them and come here. One of the best hikes I have ever done is Torrey Pines. It is beautiful, easy to get to and has a great beach to hang out on when you are done and want to rest. Of course there is always shopping to be done and if you want to see the stinky sea lions, head over to the Cove. This one trip could consume your entire day if you wanted it to. Kayaking, swimming, beach, and plenty of green space for whatever else you want to do. Lots of souvenir shops, coffee and cocktail places for everyone.

Sea Lions at the Cove


Next stop for me is Del Mar. If you are visiting during racing season it is a must that you go to the Del Mar racetrack. Even if you don't gamble...just do it this once. $5 will do the trick and it really is a lot of fun! It is like a mini Kentucky Derby :) My favorite spot to stay is the L'Auberge. It may be a little pricey but it is totally worth it. Centrally located in this quaint fun town. Check out the Brigantine restaurant for some of my favorite fish tacos.

Last stop for me puts the cherry on top. Encinitas. This time was a little different because we were traveling with a 1-year-old. Boy how things change when you get....ahem....older. If you read my blog you know that I love lists :) So of course I made one before we left of all the things I wanted to accomplish before we came home. Top of my list was Swamis.

View of Swami's from the opposite side of the street

It is a breakfast, brunch, and lunch place right on main street in Encinitas ( the 101). They have this little bowl of heaven called the Acai bowl. Granola, fresh fruit, with this cold acai puree that hits the spot. I have tried and tried to re-create this but constantly fail.

Acai bowl

Plus if you are a coffee drinker, try their locally roasted brew Vanilla Nut. I love it so much I brought 2 bags home with me. There are a few little local shops up and down the street that are fun, but when I get here I want to relax. So I head across the street to the Swamis lookout/surf spot, grab a bench and watch all of the "sitting ducks" as I like to call them. I swear either no one works in this town or they all work for themselves.

Next on my list was the Sweet and Savory salad from St. Tropez restaurant just down the street from Swamis. I am telling you, this is a very quaint town with lots to discover. St Tropez serves up great food and has a patio to accompany it. One of my favorite things about California is that people are so dog friendly here, they will set bowls of water out, allow dogs on patios, and you even see them shopping along side their owners!

Sweet and Savory salad

St. Tropez patio

If you haven't already noticed I like to eat :) Again, it is hard to hit all of the places when you have a small child but here is a list of local spots you must try!

1.) Besta-wan. Get it? It is a pizza place with a menu of items for everyone. Google it.

2.) Trattoria I Trulli. Small place that you may miss if you aren't looking, but this Italian place is not small on flavor!

3.) Zenbu/Rimel's Rotisserie. They are connected and Zenbu is the sushi side and Rimel's is a rotisserie. It sounds like an old folks eating joint but it is super hip and relaxed vibe, with great food. Just get the wok seared bowl with filet mignon, you won't be disappointed.

4.) 3rd Corner. Cozy and inviting. Great place to get a glass of wine and a cheese plate. Go during happy hour for crazy deals and then hit up any of the above later for dinner.



I could go on and on about this place and all of the great places to see and eat but really you should be planning your trip right now after you are done reading this. Just a few short minutes up from Encinitas is Carlsbad that is home to Lego Land. So from San Diego to Carlsbad you have: Zoo, Sea World, Safari Park, Balboa Park, La Jolla Cove, Hike Torrey Pines, Race Track, Beach, Golf, Shopping, and Lego Land. I am probably missing a TON of things so if you go and find another hidden gem, let me know so when I make my many trips back I can try out the places you loved! Until next time, or as a true Californian would say...Cheers!

Travel Belize

I can't help but to dream I am on a flight to someplace warm with these crazy Iowa temperatures lately. One of my favorite vacations is...Belize! It's okay if you just Googled where Belize is :) If you are looking for someplace warm with sand, beach, and sun? Ding ding ding, Belize it is! Aside from a snorklers and scuba divers paradise, their laid back lifestyle and friendly people make this place a real gem. No hasseling or begging from the locals, English is their primary language, and they take the dollar! It all started for me too with a google search for "great place to vacation." I love to try new places, while my husband would go back to the same place everytime, so when I suggested Belize, he wasn't sold. After all, it was a trip to celebrate his birthday. I did my research, scowered my go-to travel sites and ended up finding a ridiculous deal with an even better flight. For those who hate wasting a day traveling, this may be your next vacation! A normal connection is typically from Des Moines to Houston onto Belize. Now please don't stay in Belize City, not so good. Once you land in Belize City, you catch a puddle jumper (don't freak out) to Ambergris Caye which takes about 15 minutes and flights run all day. If you are a chicken, you can take the water taxi which takes anywhere from 45 minutes to 2 was the worse thing ever and at the end of this post I will do my best to explain why. Book your mini flight through Maya Air or Tropic Air, which is what we used. Make sure to get a roundtrip ticket.

20140211-121142.jpg After you land, pick up your bags at the very confusing and huge baggage claim. Haha kidding. Another reason I love this place.

20140211-121440.jpg You can take a land taxi to the water taxi station which is totally unnecessary because it is less than 2 blocks away from baggage claim. I consider myself the carry-on queen, so it's easy for us to walk the 2 blocks. Yes, this princess seriously packs everything, everytime into a carry-on. Once you are at the water taxi place, it is best to buy a week long pass for the water taxi, which allows you roundtrip rides all week. It's worth it.

20140211-122343.jpg After a 5 minute water taxi ride, you are at your home away from home. Everytime we go, we stay at the same hotel, Coco Beach Resort. We will probably never stay anywhere else. Although it has no all inclusive options, there are plenty of other options available. You can have them stock your room with food you have choosen from a list, to be in your room when you arrive. Room service and poolside service are another option as well. Last year they added a brand new restaurant onto the property which is stunning, and they also have another more relaxed restaurant next door on their sister property. Drinks are pricey at the swim up bar but here is a tip: buy your booze at the duty free shop in the airport. Problem solved. Two different pools to choose from, one has a slide and the other is for wading or cooling off. The rooms are stocked with everything you need to make meals and free coffee as a perk! They know the way to my heart :) This will not be your typical over crowded beach resort. <



20140211-123854.jpg Things to do: These are my suggestions! 1.) Day trip to Belize City for cave tubing and climbing the Mayan Ruins. This is a long day but a lot of fun. Ask for George!

20140211-130051.jpg 2.) The Chicken Drop at Wahoo's Lounge. Yep. Just like bingo but you win if the chicken poops on your number.

20140211-130312.jpg 3.) Snorkel (because I don't scuba) Hol Chan Marine Reserve. A half day was plenty for me. 4.) Eat at Wild Mango's. Get their fish tacos and a local brew. br />
20140211-130644.jpg 5.) Try a Johnny Cake at Ruby's cafe. If you go on the day trip, one of these are included. It's your breakfast. Ham and cheese is best :) br />
20140211-130536.jpg 6.) Rent a golf cart and drive into town instead of taking the boat. Hilarious. Walk the streets and explore. There are 3 streets, Front, Middle, and Back street. You can't get lost. 7.) Enjoy The Palapa. Aka the bar. Write your name in marker on the deck ( you may find mine), float in an inner tube in the ocean water, and watch your drinks be lowered to you in a bucket. Heaven.

20140211-130823.jpg 8.) Try the local cocktail, Rum Punch. Watch out, they pack a mean punch! 9.) Feed the Tarpon at Sunset Grill. WARNING: throw the fish in, do not hold it! That dumb Tarpon ate my whole hand and left me bleeding for lunch. Not cool but we still get a good laugh when we talk about it. 10.) Finish off your vacation with a romantic dinner in the property's restaurant. Delicious food and wine.


Needless to say, at the end of our trip my husband said hands down, it was his favorite vacation. Score! Pack your hat, sunnies, and some flip flops. This is what you will live in 90% of the time while in Belize. Safe travels! P.s. This picture is the best explanation of why you should choose the flight over the boat ride. It was this scene for almost 2 hours. Never again!