Oh no, it’s time to pack…

Packing, it can be easy!

I don’t know about you, but once I have a trip booked, I cannot wait to start packing. I’m like a kid going to Disney. Like the action of packing will make the trip happen that much quicker!

On any trip longer than a weekend, I tend to “stage” my items before I pack; normally several weeks in advance. (I sensed you rolling your eyes!) I start coordinating outfits, shoes and accessories, and all the miscellaneous items needed for said trip. Make a list of items I don’t have, must buy, really can’t live without, and so on. Nothing I hate more than packing for a trip and realize last minute that I forgot something important and have to run to buy it or worse, I don’t have time to order it online and now I’ll have to go without. The horror!!! Ok, just being a bit over dramatic here.

I’ve been reading a lot about the packing cubes, so I decided to purchase some and give it a try. My feelings so far, not bad. I used 3 of the medium size ones and one small for an upcoming week-long trip. I opted for having each cube hold a particular item; one for T Shirts, another for swimwear, etc. Everything fit nicely in my 22″ suitcase. Note that I was only able to add 2 pairs of shoes along with the clothes. I can see advantages: everything is nicely separated. Hoping for less wrinkles. Should TSA open the bag, I hope they don’t pull everything from the individual cubes.

Initially I had purchased the cubes to use on our travel-trailer adventures. Since clothes tend to shift while in transit, I thought this would be a great solution; have everything in place inside the trailer closet. Plus it will be easier to look for things. At the end of some of our longer camping trips, our tiny closet is a mess. Can’t wait to try it out. The smaller the space, the better organize you need to be.

So, here we are about a month or less from our next adventure and yes, I’m pretty much done packing. Just need to add the last minute toiletries to the suitcase, get some cash and we are set to go and have ourselves a wonderful time.

Are you a last minute packer? Or do you prefer to plan things out? Drop a line, share your thoughts.

No matter how long the winter, spring is sure to follow.

The backyard view

Like most Coloradans that live in the mountains, we have seen more snow days than the customary bluebird days this year. While this much snow is welcomed, we can still be sick of moving it, plowing it, snowblowing, etc.

At this point, most of us had our fun in the snow and are starting to countdown to our ski hill closing; 27 days to be exact!

I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for a change of scenery. Still too early for camping season, so I’m dreaming of tropical vacations. Yes, warm caribbean waters, hot sun and a cabana boy with umbrella drinks!

Sunset Happy Hour

Where are you going this spring? Have you been there before?

Southern California: Golf, Wine & Dine

Discovering Southern California one winery at a time! I know this is hard work, but we are totally up to the task. Recently, we were introduced to the Temecula Valley Wine Country. Who knew there were fabulous wines in California outside of Sonoma/Napa region?! Well, we kinda did already (Paso Robles, Lodi, Grass Valley), but Temecula was a surprise and added bonus to our trip!

While visiting family in Southern California, we had the opportunity to explore Ramona and Temecula areas. Our home-base was the San Vicente Golf Resort. A golf resort just a few miles outside Ramona. We got to play a couple of rounds of golf; probably the earliest golf season start for us. The course was decent, but could benefit from some maintenance, which we heard they will be doing spring/summer of 2019. But, still can’t beat the fact that you run out of your guest room and get on a golf cart in less than 5 minutes. The weather was cold, for California standards, but for us, 60 degrees felt amazing. The resort had a great restaurant/bar; it’s a happening spot on Friday nights! Staff were friendly and food was very good; loved their fish tacos. In case you are considering a stay, the rooms are large, clean and comfortable with a balcony facing the course. It’s an older property, but nice.

San Vicente Number Nine
San Vicente Golf Course – Ramona, California

Temecula Valley is Southern California’s Wine Country. I’m told there are over 30 wineries in the region’s rolling hills and sprawling valleys. They produce a variety of wines, including award-winning and artisan Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir. On this trip we visited three wineries; Vitagliano, South Coast and Miramonte; 27+ more to go!!

My favorite wine tasting was at South Coast. I was surprised to find wines with some of my favorite portuguese grapes: Touriga National, Tinto Cao, and Alicante Bouschet. Loved the Boulder Red 2.0. A wonderful, rich and balanced red blend. Another one of my favorites was their 2015 Petit Verdot; smooth and easy to drink.

Looking out at Miramonte

Further down the road, our next stop was Miramonte Winery. A lovely property with a great outside patio overlooking the vineyards. As you walk up to the patio you are greeted with the most amazing smells of garlic and bread that make your mouth water before you even hit the tasting room. The staff were welcoming and accommodating. You can choose to enjoy your wine in the tasting room or take it outside to the patio and enjoy the views while complementing their wines with the fabulous small plates on the menu. What a great spot to spend a couple of hours with friends or family while enjoying wine tasting and delicious food. Is there anything better? Good food and wine are among my favorite experiences to share. If you are in the area, stop by. Definitely worth it. Favorite dish: Tomato Fromage / Favorite wine: Touriga National

Our last full day was to be spent in San Diego with a trip to the beach. Unfortunately the weather didn’t cooperate and we had to adjust. We checked in to the Hilton Harbor Island for the night, since we wanted to be closer to the airport for our return flight the following morning. This property fit the bill; modern, bright, very clean and just a couple of miles from the car rental terminal. Check-in was a breeze and staff were awesome. We got a nice higher floor, with a view overlooking the marina and city skyline. Due to inclement weather, our only choice was to check out the bar, so, being the troopers that we are, to the bar we went. They had a nice, cozy bar facing the marina. We enjoyed the views, while enjoying our cocktails. The afternoon did not suck!

Marina View San Diego
Marina View – Downtown San Diego

Dinner was at a great mexican restaurant in Old Town San Diego. We had a wonderful spread at Miguel’s Cocina. Great margaritas, I’ll start with that; not super sweet, and with the right amount of liquor. The food was wonderful also, as was the service; attentive, pleasant and quick. We asked for the queso recipe since everyone enjoyed it so much. Waiter actually did share the ingredients with us, but a little google search later and found the complete recipe online. Will be making it for the next gathering. This was a great dinner choice for us on our last night in San Diego.

Overall, a wonderful trip. Hoping we will come back soon so we can actually visit the beaches in the area. But then, you do have to leave something to do the “next time”… Until we meet again!!

What do you want for Valentine’s Day? ~ A plane ticket.

Happy New Year everyone. As we put away our respective holiday decorations, retailers across the country have already moved on and are now focusing on Valentine’s Day. Telling us we have to buy more stuff for our significant others, and our pets. Do we really need more stuff? Be honest with yourself, do you?

I love gifts as much as anyone, but a dozen roses at Valentine’s Day equates to a one night stay at a 3-star hotel somewhere. So, I’ve advised my husband that I don’t expect gifts or flowers; save the money for traveling. Of course that also means we skip buying for birthday, anniversaries, etc… (for each other; we aren’t total scrooges) That’s personal decision; it doesn’t work for all. At this time in our lives we both want more travel and less “stuff”.

So, here we are… where to in 2019?! Are you making your lists?

Rpod
Our maiden voyage with Lily Pad @ Grand Mesa, CO (July 2017)

In 2018 we recorded 40 camping days. We decided not to travel abroad in 2018 and focused on road trips. We hiked, camped, fished and golf. Now, on to 2019 travels. Where to go? How to miss the crowds? Decisions, decisions!

Our first trip of the year takes us to Southern California. We haven’t been there since our honeymoon in 2013. That’s like forever in doggy years!

Wild Horse Winery– Templeton, CA

Trip will be a special one; more than a getaway. Will be reacquainting trip for some and introduction for others. Looking forward to trying some good wine and eating great food while finally getting to meet some family members. A perfect combination for a great trip. And, should the California weather cooperate, we might be able to sneak in a game of golf.

Where are you traveling to this year? Any good camping ideas that you want to keep between us? I promise not to share with the world.

In the end, what’s really important…

Thanksgiving Table

Thanksgiving is this coming Thursday. Like many american families, it’s a day for us to gather with family and friends, enjoy the tradition of turkey, too many side dishes and football. I forgot the pie; must have pie, or three!! On this day we slow down our busy lives, and give thanks for all that we hold dear and remember those no longer with us.

Since the holiday is not celebrated in Portugal, the first few years of being in America its meaning was not apparent to me. But like any good portuguese, any holiday that revolves around food, is my kind of holiday. I soon found myself researching its history, the why, the when and how.  As shocking as it may be to some, my first turkey was not memorable. Or maybe it was! I still recall it being semi-frozen the morning of since I didn’t realize it takes a week to defrost the dang thing; I might of forgotten the “bag” in the cavity too. I’ve since evolved! Fast forward to current times, I now take the holiday serious. I spend weeks planning the menu, table arrangements and the wine… Always the wine!

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The wine takes center stage at our house, since it’s an opportunity to blend american traditions with my portuguese ones. This year, Rocim Amphora is my choice for the big day. Rocim is among the fine wine producers in Alentejo. We have visited the estate twice in past visits to Portugal and love all their wines. The red Amphora blend includes AragonezTrincadeiraMoreto and Tinta Grossa varieties. Everytime I open a bottle, it brings back memories of Alentejo. I’m very partial to Alentejo wines; not that I say no to any wine, but wines from the Alentejo region are my favorite!

So, in the end the important thing about Thanksgiving is being Thankful. Thankful for what we have. Thankful for our health, for the friends and family around us.  I’m thankful for all the opportunities I’ve been given. Mostly I’m thankful for my wonderful husband, for our sons and their significant others, for our wonderful family, and the amazing friends we call family!

Wishing you all the happiest of Thanksgivings. Cheers! Or as we say in the old country, Saude!

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