I've been lucky enough to have been surrounded by strong women my whole life. I know I have mentioned this through several blogs before, but when I was younger I wasn't sure I really realized it. Probably because those women were protecting me from what exactly they needed to be determined of....
Regardless, my Aunt Eileen was definitely one of those women. She is the only living sister of my grandfather (the only living Great relative I have left) and is a mere 95 years old. After a very unpleasant first marriage my Aunt and her friend packed up a convertible and headed out west. Santa Monica is stopped, renting an apartment and securing a job at Santa Monica High School as an Art Teacher. It was there she met the real love of her life, Tom. They bought a remodeled a house just eight blocks from the Pacific Ocean. They traveled the world together, as apparent through her home's decor - and photography she took that adorns several walls and photo albums (she was a photographer for the US Navy's WAVES).
It wasn't until I was in high school that my relationship with her had started to blossom. When she heard of my interest in journalism and photography, she insisted I come live with her and work for the L.A. Times. Because in her mind I was just that good to land a job working at one of the best newspapers in the country. She would send me sections of the newspapers, or clippings of their photo stories. She would help a little each semester with $50 check to put toward books and cards of inspiration.
I didn't make my first visit to her house until 2009, but I've been incredibly fortunate to experience her spark, her stories, her love of life and generous hospitality several times since. She is remarkable in so many ways. Some days she recognizes who we are, but others we're just a pretty face that she'll constantly remind you of over and over. Either way, she hasn't lost that flair and quick wit that has always made her Aunt Eileen.
Thursday, August 18, 2016
Wednesday, August 10, 2016
Monday, August 8, 2016
Before we had made our way down to Santa Monica, my West Coast True Love, Mike and I had both decided we would prefer to live in Monterey out of all the cities we had visited. For me, it would take a little getting used to the chilly weather, but the location on the water, the quant shops, proximity to all the parks, hiking and beaches AND the cutest of cutest houses I may have ever seen stole my heart.
We stayed at a small hotel in Pacific Grove, called Lover's Point Inn. Spacious rooms and views of The Point made it a great stopping point for a few days. We were in Big Sur within an hour, and (a surprise to Mike) at Pebble Beach Golf Course within 20 minutes. We stumbled upon the 17-mile drive, a gorgeous - and pretty - drive through Del Monte Forest.
For eats we hit up Hula's in Monterey, which I was convinced was too gimmicky for my taste. However, it ended up Happy Hour all night and we scored big with strong drinks and lots of appetizers to share.
Even though it was just by chance I picked this charming sea town to stop at, I will definitely be putting it back on the must-stop places in the future.
Wednesday, August 3, 2016
There was a birthday card my sister sent me more than a decade ago. On it was a photograph she had taken from one of her excursions out west, with these adorable yet bizarre-looking seals. The message inside said:
Have a wonderful day of your celebration of birth in your 19th year! Leave all your worries behind and eat lots of pie, but do not set any fires! ... Do not fret any longer, fretting only uses up time and produces only doubt. That is unproductive, and you are the most productive person I know. I want you to know that you are the sweetest, most beautiful person in my life. You've kept me going ofr 19 years! Keep confident and stay honest to yourself and you will always be brilliant, I can promise you that.
Obviously, my sister is pretty awesome. And of course the photo and message stuck with me. I immediately added Elephant Seal Rookery and Big Sur to my Bucket List and tucked the card away.
Now, twelve years later, I am checking those boxes and realizing the card couldn't be more true. For starters, we ran into an impressive forest fire that shut down several of the hikes and view points. I was, of course, bummed as the overlooks were covered with a dusty-orange plum of smoke and the entrance path to infamous McWay Waterfall was draped in closed caution tape.
But what could we do? Not fret. We powered through the thick haze and made our way to a gorgeous hike in Lime Kiln where we met several larger-than-life Redwood trees. We took in these eerie, once-in-a-lifetime views of the Pacific Coast Highway sprinkled with firefighters. Mike confidently drove us up, down and around, pausing at every chance to get just one more photo. And yes, we finally met our Elephant Seals, just like the ones on my sister's card.
The whole trip was nothing short of brilliant. We didn't over plan or exhaust ourselves trying to see every site. We embraced every moment, even the ones in a gum-filled alley.