California – The Golden State – Part 1 of 3

– – – – – I Left My Heart In California – – – – –

What is there not to love about California?!!? 

Both visits out there I have literally been dragged to the airport kicking and screaming the whole way because I didn’t want to leave!  The state is so huge that for a visitor you would need a whole two months to do everything…if you did it all in one visit.  Personally, I like breaking up my “to do list” that way it creates more opportunities for me to visit.  
Because of the states size and the different “regions” I am going to refer to them as “north, central, and south”.  It just makes it easier for me 🙂 
I could go on and on and make this post ten pages long but for time sake I am going to highlight my favorite memories in each “region” starting in the north.  
And please, keep in mind that I need to visit a billion more times to do everything I want to do…. or just suck it up and move out there!

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First things first: How we got there…
United Military Travel booked the travel loan for our airfare and car rental all at once and in one phone call and about a month in advance.  Our car was literally $24 a day…and so we booked it for the entire week and it will stay that cheap if you do not upgrade ANYTHING at the pick up counter.  
***Also, you have to be 25 years of age to rent a car and have to a credit card with a balance to cover the rental even if you are paying some other way. NO EXCEPTIONS!

Now the fun stuff…
Oh and by the way, we camped everywhere we went…

Napa Valley
You know when I said that I left my heart in California…it is in Napa Valley to be exact.  But I have to let you know that Josh and I did not have the most “normal” Wine Country experience.  For starters my best friend was living there at the time and was staying on about an acre of land that I consider a mini “hippie commune”. It was nestled in between two vineyards that were a part of Winery (cannot disclose the specific name).  The family that owned that small parcel of land refused to sell and is now occupied by the two daughters and a few other artist who they “ok” to live there in tents.  What they made out of the property was unbelievable…something out of a dream almost.  The main area was built under a huge tree that provided shelter and shade from the hot California sun and the only other “structures” was a studio for creating art, two houses for each of the daughters, and a gypsy wagon that my bestie lived in.  
I am about to get real annoying with pictures…
Our rental car at a winery
The following photos are of the “hippie commune”

Taking a break from the sun 🙂 
Bar Decor…

Lindsey’s home and our home for the night

The peaceful feeling this photo evokes is exactly how you feel when you are there

Their studio
The art table under the tree 🙂
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Now onto Bennet Lane Winery for the best cabernet sauvignon we have ever had!  

*Tip – Bennet Lane is actually in Calistoga which is right outside of Napa Valley.
Would Josh and I have chosen Bennet Lane on our own?  Probably not.  But one of the guys Lindsey lived with on the property worked there and she swore up and down that we would fall in LOVE with the cabernet and have the best time.  Well, she was right.  We spent the entire afternoon nestled between vineyards, colorful flowers, and rolling mountains watching hummingbirds dance and treating our taste buds to more alcohol than probably should have been permitted.  We received the royal treatment – a free tasting, heavy pours, a free tour of the facility, and half price bottles.  Needless to say Josh and I left with six 🙂 

This is our experience…

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Back at the property we grilled steaks and bacon wrapped scallops underneath the safety of the beloved tree and drank wine under the stars; we told stories, made art, danced, and sang.  This one night trip to Napa Valley was one of the most memorable and life inspiring trips we have taken yet! The following photos conclude our stay in Napa and then we are onto Big Sur!

My handsome hubby!
Inside the gypsy wagon

That concludes part 1 of 3 – check back in tomorrow for Big Sur and Yosemite!  

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