#GregAndMollieGoWest2017

Once again Greg and I were lucky enough to make the trek out to Idaho with On River Time (the nonprofit Greg works for). This was our third year together (Greg went one year by himself). Yet again, we parlayed it into a mini/cheap vacation. Check out last year’s post here and 2015 here.

We had a great time with the kids. I even got to go out and fish this year. I was not excited about it at first because tbh I knew I was going to have to wear a hat but then I caught one! And then I caught more! Despite the hat, I had fun fishing. Oh and in that first picture I didn’t know how to hold a fish for the camera… no one told me! All fingers with a little bit of fish *eye roll*.

Usually the kids get to visit Yellowstone but this year we switched it up and went to the Grand Tetons. We had an awesome guide named Sarah who picked up a lot of random animal poop all in the name of nature and learning. She took us on a hike and to see a beaver dam. She was awesome. She was totally nerding out on nature and that’s exactly the type of guide you want.

After our Idaho adventure we hopped on a plane to San Jose where we spent a few days with Greg’s college buddy, Jack. He and his girlfriend, Char were our gracious hosts. Really, they were great and it’s awesome to have friends in appealing locales (anyone live in Hawaii? Costa Rica? France?).

Our first day in California we drove down to Big Sur. They had a massive landslide earlier this year so a portion of it was closed. I was kind of bummed but we still managed some incredible views.

There aren’t words to accurately describe this place but it gave me some feelings. We stopped at a beachy area where we climbed the rocks and watched the waves.

As we were leaving a couple came to take their wedding pictures and I cannot think of a better place. There are so many colors in cliffs and then the water and then the beach, oh my. I would love to see their photos.

On our way back to San Jose, we stopped in Monterey (Big Little Lies!) for lunch and picked up local sea bass to cook for dinner. It was pretty much the idyllic day with perfect weather and good company.

The next day we went on a five mile hike in the San Jose valley. As we were hiking the view continually changed. The terrain is just so different than Alabama. It felt other worldly at times. And at times it felt like we were in Italy. Everything is golden and green and so much texture.

When we got back from our hike we had the ultimate Silicon Valley experience… we went to LinkedIn. Jack has been working there for the past year as a coder (whatever that means, idk). He gave us a little tour around the building he works in (because LinkedIn has multiple buildings). Everything was Marvel themed. They have espresso machines, sparkling juice machines, snacks, and fridges packed on every level. Like, no wonder everyone wants to work in tech. It was really neat to see and despite what you might think they don’t have cubicles per se and there is a lot of natural light.

We went to a near by town where popped into a local bookstore and then to a beer garden. We had a low key dinner back in San Jose. The next morning we left for San Francisco!… Stay tuned for that post.

 

#GregAndMollieGoWest2016

airplane viewOn June 1st, Greg and I set out west again for 14 days (read about why we go and last year’s trip here). It was tiring, surreal, and mostly fun. We spent ten days this year in Idaho with two consecutive groups of 12 kids. It was pretty similar experience to last year and we even went back to Yellowstone.

Since we had two groups of kids it kind of felt like Groundhog Day. We ate the same things, did the same activities, everything the same like it was the first time. Except when the second group of kids left for Yellowstone, Greg and I headed to Las Vegas!

olives

It was a nine hour drive from Idaho and I didn’t drive a mile. I did read a whole book though. We stayed only one night with Greg’s childhood friend before heading to California for our final destination. Neither of us really had any desire to “do Vegas” but I wanted to experience it a little bit. My friend Claire recommended eating on the patio at Todd English’s Olives restaurant in the Bellagio. We saw fountains, the strip, casinos, and had great food. I feel like we got enough of the Vegas experience in one night.

bellagio

On our way out we did get to see the famous Dale Chihuly glass installation in the lobby so that was neat.

Because I’m really into jamming a trip full of activities, the next morning before we headed to Cali, I planned for us to visit the Neon Museum. It was pretty hot out even at 9:30 in the morning but it was so worth it! If you ever go to Las Vegas I think this is a must do and see. I took a lot of pictures so feast your eyes…

greg neon museum

I don’t make Greg do ridiculous poses. I encourage him and he’s always willing, God love him.

neon museum3

The museum is all outdoors and tours are an hour long. There are certain historical/popular signs they tell you about but I don’t remember anything because I was too busy taking pictures and trying not to melt.

neone museum4

The arrangement of the signs were so thoughtful. Some look like they were put there haphazardly but that’s part of the subtle intention. It’s a photographer’s dream!

neon museum2

I have a thing for rust and patina and these signs are so perfectly worn. It’s almost like it was manufactured BUT IT’S NOT!

neon museum1

AND LOOK AT THOSE COLORS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

neon musuem gr

Oh look, I found mine and Greg’s initials. How sweet.

neon musuem mb

After the tour we walked around “Old Vegas” for a while, got some coffee and breakfast. And here’s one last shot of me being a tourist… Giant flamingo!

vegas flamingo

You still here? Good! Next stop is SEVEN MAGIC MOUNTAINS! And it’s just as magical as it sounds.

seven magic mountains 4

Out in the desert about 15 miles from Las Vegas is a new art installation by Swiss artist, Ugo Rondinone, that went up in May. I don’t remember how I found out about it but I’m going to say Instagram.

seven magic mountains 3

It’s really in the desert. There are signs telling you to not leave the path because you will be bitten by a poisonous snake and die if you do. So it really has that “wow factor” you know?

seven magic mountains 2

It will be up until May 2018. It really is super cool seeing these giant neon boulder statues in the middle of the desert (and risking your life to see them). I like your style, Ugo! I didn’t want to leave but it was kind of hot.

seven magic mountins 1

Back in the car we go and our next stop is Orange County, California. We left the blow dryer air for cool ocean breeze. We stayed with a buddy in Costa Mesa. He took us out for superbly delicious tapas that night and the next day we met two of my college homies in Venice for brunch. We ended up parking right near the Gold’s Gym Arnold Schwarzenegger made famous.

golds gym

We ate at a really pretty place called Rose Cafe. It was so picturesque. If I’m being 100% real, that’s why I picked it.

rose cafe

I ordered avocado toast and took this picture…

rose cafe floor

Sometimes “basic” just feels so right.

Venice seemed really very California. I wish we could have spent more time there but I guess I’ll have to go back!

After brunch we headed to The Getty. I love museums so much. I didn’t take any pictures because I WAS ENJOYING THE ART LIKE ONE SHOULD so you’ll just have to take my word on it.

We didn’t want the day to end with Max and Amanda so we headed to Hermosa Beach for more tapas and pitchers of sangria.

hermosa

The only picture of the four of us is this screen shot of a snapchat. It’s perfect though. (We did miss you Liz!) After we left Hermosa Beach, Greg and I headed to Laguna Beach for gelato and watched the sunset… can’t stop, won’t stop!

sunset in laguna

I really wanted to do some hiking where I could see the ocean so the next day we hoped on the Pacific Coast Highway and went down to Crystal Cove. We were supposed to do a 5 mile hike but it turned into a 6.5 mile hike because we hiked in the wrong direction to a parking lot instead of taking the trail. Whoopsies!

crystal cove

Once we got on the actual trail, the hike did not disappoint. We started by hiking in the canyon and then it wrapped down toward the ocean. It was an incredible view. You could see all the beaches from Newport to Huntington. It was the most ocean I’ve ever seen.

crystal cove cacti

I was slightly obsessed with seeing cacti “in the wild.”

huntington beach

After lunch in Laguna we hit the road again. I don’t know if we were delirious or addicted to seeing things but we decided to head down Huntington Beach Pier to watch the surfers. Do as the Californian tourists do.

huntington beach 2

Congratulations, you made it to the end!

We left the next morning out of LAX and made it to Birmingham around 9 pm. Don’t worry because we already have next year’s trip planned!

Next month we’re driving up to NYC and then I’m heading to Houston for a a couple of days. If you want to follow along, you can find me on Instagram and Snapchat under the user name: @molliejoydesign

Do you have any trips planned? I’d love to hear!

 

 

 
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