Monday Stuff: Vacation Recap!

I am back from my little vacation and feeling better than ever! I am totally revved up, feeling refreshed, relaxed, and incredibly motivated! Since a few people asked, I figured I would bring back my Monday stuff check-in, to give some updates and discuss my wonderful vacation.

We started off the week by driving three hours north to a town called Big Bear. You guys. This place is GORGEOUS. It was a complete 180 from San Diego. Which I always find so unique about Southern California, you believe everything is palm trees, ocean, sand, or desert. But Big Bear is home to lush pines, mountains speckled green, a sparkling blue lake, and lots of wildlife. Including bears. Hence, the name. Thankfully for us, we did not encounter a bear on our hike. While I am definitely not afraid of animals by any means, meeting a bear in his or her natural habitat unprepared doesn’t seem exactly relaxing. I won’t lie to you, half of the hike I was picturing an exit strategy in case we did meet mister bear on our strenuous stroll.

The cabin we rented was exactly what we were looking for to enjoy the “cabin life”. There was a large, stone covered fireplace, a pool table, a gigantic kitchen, a hot tub, two patios, a Jacuzzi bath tub, and king-sized beds. Really, it was a cozy oasis in every single aspect. I spent most of my days recipe testing (yes even on vacation, but lucky for me, I adore it), dancing to 80’s music with a glass of wine, and playing pool with Jake. We took advantage of every amenity there. Even though, I can tell you when we went into the hot tub at night, I was NOT prepared for it to be THAT dark out. I forgot when you are away from a city how dark it truly is in the “country”. You literally could not see a foot in front of you. It was unnerving for a city girl like me but welcomed for a short time. I was half expecting for Michael Myers to pop out.

Despite my fear of woody darkness, the entire area is breathtaking. Exploring the downtown area is highly recommended, as it was so quaint, and very heavy on the “western” motif, which I delighted in. I was even tempted to walk into the leather store, threatening Jake that I was going to exit with one of those fringy leather jackets that hung in every other store front.

Being bundled up on the couch with Jake and a VERY relaxed Frankie, we spent the nights having movie marathons, and practically completely unplugged. I think I went on my phone/laptop for about 30 minutes total for the full three days. Which was heavenly, seriously. We forget how much we need time away from everything online. The amount of content we consume, we desperately need to just break and BE. And that is what we had at the cabin. It was a little slice of tranquility you can’t quite achieve in a city.

To be clear though, three days was my limit. I was ready to GO that third day. The silence was just getting to me, and I was desperate to get home the sounds of the city and my one-bedroom apartment. The first night we were back, there was a car alarm going off for three minutes and someone shouting expletives down by the bay (which echoed into our apartment), and I thought to myself “ahhhh, I am home”.

I know, I am a freak, but I am truly a city girl through and through.

NOW for what everyone and their mother has been waiting for (at least what I have been dying to discuss).

HARRY POTTER WORLD!

Hogsmeade and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios was something I was dying to visit since we moved to California and we finally made it on Halloween! Both Jake and I wore festive Harry Potter shirts (even though he isn’t a fan, he is a great boyfriend that played along). The day started off immediately in Potter world. I was incredible impressed at the attention to detail (would Rowling have it any other way?) and honestly, the high number of fellow millennials wandering around the park. I cannot tell you how many 30 somethings I saw dressed from head to toe in Potter gear. Which I thought was charming, and Jake thought was hilarious. The buildings, shops, and music bring you right into a fantasy world, and for a moment you believe it could be real. Universal did a beautiful job, and as a fan, I can tell you it was wonderful. I think the very best part had to be the ride, “The Forbidden Journey”. While you are in line, the sorting hat gives you instructions, which made my heart race a little. I mean really, I must pause here and tell you how much I love Harry Potter. Yes, even at 29. Do I think I am a little old? Probably. Do I care? NO.

So, this ride straps you in and you soar through the “castle” which is basically like a winding 3D screen. I am not even sure how they did it, but it mimics you on a broom following Harry and the gang. Whizzing through the grounds, over the lake, through the castle, and at one point getting hot steam blown on you from a dragon that pops out at you. There were even dementors and giant spiders…which, I am not ashamed to say, spooked me a tad.

It was one of the most entertaining rides I had been on in a long time. For everyone that doesn’t “get” Harry Potter, my boyfriend who is not particularly a fan, loved the ride and the park, so there is something for everyone.

Even though I spent most of the time in Potter World in all of my Ravenclaw glory, the park in its entirety was amazing. We did the studio tour, where we got to visit some of the active sets (including the Good Place!) and had a few other 3D rides while on the tour. We also saw some of the cars from Back to the Future, one of Jake’s very favorite films, so that was a treat.

In between, we visited a film special effects show (they literally set someone on fire which was cool) and strolled through the Simpson’s world, which honestly was way better than I thought it was (hence my giant smile at Moe’s Tavern). We blew through the entire park (skipping the kid areas) in about five hours. Then we had to rush back to Frankie, but got stuck in LA traffic for four hours per usual. I swear every time we go to LA we end up having the worst luck getting back. This time, google told us to take a back route and we were stuck on one street for 45 minutes.

That is not a joke, or exaggeration it took us 45 minutes to get through one. single. light. LA traffic is no joke. It is everything you hear about.

After that we spent the next few days just enjoying our time together around town. Beach walks, some of our favorite long hikes, and more couch time with my boys. It truly was a perfect week. Sure, we could have gone more places, or gotten more done. We didn’t check off some of our “to-dos”, but we talked for hours. We were able to just sit and watch movies without feeling guilty. I spent one full day in pajamas. We slept all the way until 7:30 one of the days…which is a record for us. It was fulfilling and necessary.

I think the part I enjoyed the most (other than the spectacular trips) was that neither one of us spent time on our phones. We just enjoyed our time together!

But, I am not sure Harry Potter can be topped. 11-year-old dream come true!