Saturday, June 05, 2010


I feel like I should warn you that this post is going to be long.

I mentioned the other day that John and I decided there is a big difference between a trip and a vacation. For us, a trip is when you visit some place and spend your time making sure you see and do everything there is to see and do. It's not necessarily frantic, but it's not necessarily relaxing either. Usually, when we take a trip, we return home in need of a vacation. For us, a vacation is when you visit some place and you spend your time relaxing. A vacation is therapeutic to your soul.

Last week we took a short vacation to Big Sur, California.

Wanna know what the number one thing to do in Big Sur is? Absolutely nothing. I read that before we left Colorado and I knew I was going to love Big Sur.

And what's not to love? It's gorgeous.
There are miles and miles of coastline like this. It is stunning.

You guys know that I live in a place of spectacular beauty, but this scenic coastline took my breath away. I think the combination of mountains and sea is so unique. If you ever have the chance to drive this stretch of the Pacific Coast Highway, don't miss it!

[It's hard for me not to chuckle a little when I use the word mountains to describe this coastline. The altimeter on John's watch said our elevation was 500-800 feet above sea level. That's not what I'd describe as a mountain, but I guess it's all relative.]

John did all the research and made all of our plans for this vacation for which I was grateful. I remember him telling me about this place called Deetjen's that he was considering for our stay. He said, "Mer, it's sorta quaint and rustic. Are you okay with that?" I like quaint. I like rustic. He chose well. 
We stayed in the bottom part of this cabin--in the Champagne Room. It is nestled deep in the heart of a redwood forest, and is quaint and rustic, just like John said. We loved it. Our room had a wood stove and John made a fire each evening (we needed it!) and it was cozy and romantic.

This place has some rich history too, and John enjoyed reading all the old guestbooks. There were stacks and stacks of them, and I think he read every single one. Deetjen's has special, magical memories for lots and lots of folks. And now we're some of them!
Deetjen's also has a wonderful restaturant. We ate breakfast there twice, and dinner there on Friday evening. Their food was delicious, and the restaurant has so much charm and character. We loved it.

One funny story about the restaurant. We were eating breakfast one morning and I happened to glance up and notice Fabio, Deetjen's resident cat, outside. He walked right past the big picture window we were seated by with a mouse in his mouth. It was sorta funny. Sorta not. And thankfully I didn't lose my appetite.

We spent our days doing much of nothing. Driving the coastline, finding beautiful spots to hang out and stare at the ocean, reading, napping, and of course eating! That's what you're supposed to do on vacation, right?

One day we found Pfeiffer Beach and walked around. And when I say we "found" the beach, we didn't just stumble upon it, we actually had to work to find it. Rumor is that every time the state of CA puts a sign directing tourists to the beach, the locals take it down. The road that leads you there snakes through some private property and I'm sure those who live along that road work hard to keep the beach a well kept secret. Ha!

Once we finally got there it was FREEZING and the sand was blowing sideways which doesn't feel so good when it hits your bare skin. Needless to say we didn't stay too long. It was beautiful though.

I had really hoped to see whales (humpback whales were the ones we had the best chance of seeing) but we didn't. One day we heard there was a sea otter playing in a lagoon nearby but it was raining pretty hard so we didn't walk down there. We also tried to spot some California condors. John thinks he saw some, but I think they were just big birds. Not sure... hmmmm.

We left Big Sur on Saturday, which was my 40th birthday, and drove up to Carmel-by-the-Sea. A truly gorgeous place. We spent most of the day walking around/shopping and we hung out on the beach for awhile.
Woo Pig Sooie! This Arkansas girl loved having her picture made by the razorback sign! The Hog's Breath Inn is Clint Eastwood's restaurant.

That night we drove up toward Santa Cruz and stayed in a Bed & Breakfast just east of there, so we'd be closer to San Francisco and the airport. We had originally planned to spend some time in San Francisco, but John worried that the transition from remote/secluded to big city might sorta "break the spell" and I agreed. He's a wise man, that husband of mine. We're often disappointed after being in the mountains and driving back into Denver. You go from amazing natural beauty to bright lights, big city, and it often makes us both a bit heartsick. I'm glad we had a chance to ease back into things...

Oh, and we also got to eat our first In-N-Out burger. Yummmmmmm. Will was jealous. I guess we're going to have to take that boy to California sometime.
I feel like I'm leaving out a ton of stuff, but this post is already too long!

This trip vacation was to celebrate 20 years of marriage. Our actual anniversary is later this month but John's parents had time in May to help us with the kids so we got to celebrate early. Thanks so much Mimi and Papa for coming to stay with Will, Sarah, and Abbey. And thanks for spoiling them rotten!


Melissa Stover said...

i did this vacation twice, once pregnant with claire and once with emma. you're exactly right. it is a vacation. we didn't DO anything except drive and look. we did go into san francisco and i found it not hurried or city-like. we walked the pier and drove the streets. everything there was so beautiful. i loved carmel by the sea and that's where we stayed. i wish i'd found that beach you did. it looks fabulous. it was shocking to me how cold it is there. i can't imagine anyone ever enjoying the water on the beach. it's always windy and freezing.

Carpool Queen said...

I love Carmel - I spent a day hiking the trails near there with my uncle back in the mid-90s. The scenery was stunning.

So glad you had a great time.

Emily said...

I'm heartsick over these pictures. We lived there and MOVED TO KANSAS. Right at this moment I can't remember why.

So glad you had a great time. Did you drive down far enough to see Hurst Castle or the Elephant Seals?

Nina Diane said...

first...the pics are beautiful! And second...sounds like such a wonderful vacaation and that ya'll had some relaxing time. Which I'm like you, vacation is for relaxing! happy anniversary and glad ya'll were able to get away

Robin said...

So glad you guys had a great vacation and celebration of your 20th anniversary! The pictures are beautiful.

Elizabeth said...

Your trip looks amazing! I am so happy you got to go and enjoy yourselves in that beautiful place for a few days. It is exactly the kind of vacation I would choose. My hubby has very different taste:) But we agree on one thing-it's not a vacation unless you can relax, and that is so hard to accomplish on most of the trips we take.

In-n-out is on my list of restaurants to try. Adrion has about 20 t-shirts from there and loves it.

elaine@bloginmyeye said...

John looks very happy w/ his lodging choice. Looks like the kind of place we'd love. Thanks for the pics. Love the one of you two at the bottom. ;)

Betsy said...

That looks like such a WONDERFUL "vacation"! California is so unique. I love it, too!

Speaking of funny animal stories, we were in Telluride one summer in a restaurant and a dog came walking by with a cat on it's back and a mouse on the cat's back! I'm soooo serious!! Isn't that crazy???

Have a great week, Meredith!

His Girl said...

Ahhhh, I LOVE that portion of our great state. While I missed seeing you, we just can't show you anything like that here in SoCal.
Glad you had a great vacation, that you enjoyed your company, and that you shared it with us. Wonderful!

The Bowden's said...

Absolutely GORGEOUS pictures. Glad you had a great vacation. Well deserved!!

Stephanie said...

How beautiful! These pictures remind me of our honeymoon at Yellowstone Nat'l Park. Remote, beautiful ... remote. I may have to add Big Sur to our list for 20th. :)

O Mom said...

The Inn where you stayed looks so cute and perfect.
We stayed in Santa Cruz on our honeymoon, 17 years ago....

Kendra said...

What a beautiful trip for two special people. I can't believe it's been 20 years! I remember your wedding day. We were spending the night at Sara Dudley's house and we all overslept and missed your wedding. And here you are 20 years later! I hope one day we can visit that beautiful part of Wayne's home state.

Gretchen said...

Even though I have family ties in CA, i've never done Big Sur or Carmel.

Need to.

What a spell, indeed. I feel relaxed, just reading about your vacay.

Moriah @ Please Pass the Salt said...

Beautiful! I love the ocean.

Hey, they have In & Outs all over the west - we used to eat there in junior high in Las Vegas all the time. SO GOOD.

Unknown said...

Oh it all looks so wonderful!

I love to look at what others say in guest books too! It like PERMISSION to read someone's diary!

I have never eaten and an In n Out...but i think I need to try it.

*carrie* said...


I totally get your distinction between "trip" and "vacation." Because we live so far from family, all of our travels are spent driving long distances to see our loved ones!

Breathtaking scenery. I've not been to Big Sur, but I have been to SC and Carmel. So glad you had a wonderful time together!

And Il Vicino . . . yum!

Cathy said...

Your vacation looks HEAVENLY! Seriously need to get ourselves down there.

In-N-Out is yum, but I have to say I liked Five Guys fries WAY more. I actually don't care for In-N-Outs fries at all. Hopefully I don't get attacked by any devout In-N-Out fans...

mel @ the larson lingo said...

Happy (belated) birthday & happy Anniversary! So glad you had a wonderful vacation! You were in my neck of the woods...we are just an hour from Carmel & San Fran! :)

sanjeet said...

Glad you had a great vacation. Well deserved!!
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Michelle said...

Meredith -
You had commented on my blog regarding the Foamerater! :-) I commented back on my blog, but wasn't sure if you'd see it, so I came to your blog, and enjoyed the pictures of Big Sur! I live in Santa Cruz (Scotts Valley), but grew up in Boulder, CO. And when you commented on my blog, I recognized your name from Angie's blog (Flibbertigibberish). She and I are great friends (in person). How did you guys connect? Anyways, thanks for your comment, I hope you get to try the foamerators, they were fun. :-) Happy Summer!!

whimzie said...

That's definitely my kind of vacation. I'm a beach kind of girl for sure. BEAUTIFUL pictures. And In-N-Out is one of my very favorite places to eat in the whole world!!