Monday, July 30, 2012

Goodbye SB

Just a quick shout out to our awesome friends in SB, Amy and Andrew for letting us crash at your place less than two weeks before you move. You guys rock! So great to see you guys and so awesome to see our kids having so much fun together. Miss you already and can't wait to see you in SD next summer!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Santa Barbara Fun

Nothing like coming back to a place you used to live to realize how much you miss it. Santa Barbara is gorgeous... There is simply nothing comparable to the beauty of the mountains rolling into the sea. That, combined with the positive energy of people here makes it a truly special place.

We've been spending lots of time catching up with old friends, eating our way through town, hiking, and hitting the beach. I even managed to sneak in a beach run and I have to say it a the best run I've had since leaving CA. The weather here is my perfect running companion.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Rankin Ranch

Rankin Ranch... truly one of my favorite places on earth. If you haven't been here, it's hard to explain how being a guest at a working catttle ranch can truly revive your spirit. It's all about family here... yours and the Rankins. The Rankin family is hard working, yet always have the time to make you feel at home. When you are here, you become one of the family. My parents have been coming here for 34 years. Yes, they love it THAT much. So do I!

 There are no tvs here, no phones, no easy internet access... You become totally unconnected from the outside world. And that in itself makes the ranch remarkable. Dean had a moment of panic when he realized he wouldn't be instantly able to check in with work. But after a few days, he fully relaxed and when we were leaving said he could really use a few more days being off the grid.

 A typical day at the ranch starts off with a huge cowboy breakfast... Eggs, bacon or sausage, hash browns and toast. Unless its pancake day (the BEST I've ever had). It is virtually impossible to be hungry here. Then you go on a morning horseback trail ride. One for the kids and one for the adults. The kids then go with the kids club and do cowboy art projects, nature hikes, swimming and taking care of the animals on the ranch. Which means lots of time for the adults to relax!

 After lunch on the terrace, it's more horseback riding and swimming. Maybe some ping pong or shooting pool. Then while the adults enjoy happy hour, the kids play games in the lodge with the counselors. Everyone meets up for another huge cowboy dinner in the dining room (Mexican night is my fav). Unless its hayride night... Then we take a hayride out to the huge BBQ area for tritip and a horseshoe competition. After dinner you can go feed the ranch animals and then there is always a family activity in the lodge. Then you wake up and do it all over again!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Rankin Ranch, here we come!

We are off to Rankin Ranch today... and I cannot wait! There are no tv's, computers or any electronics there, you are free to totally relax. Something I highly value these days. We'll be playing in the pool tournament, relaxing by the pool and enjoying hayrides. Yeehaw!! Stay tuned for pix of Natalie horseback riding.

Yesterday we got to see my Aunt Joanie and Uncle Denny. So great to see them... they always seem so happy and relaxed. My aunt especially enjoyed seeing the girls. And of course they loved having a captive audience. A fun afternoon indeed!

Later, while I drank a beer with my dad, Dean ran on the treadmill and Katherine decided to get in on the action too.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Dixon Summer Extravaganza - Day 3

Did some swimming today and general relaxing. Ahh... This was required due to the fact that it was 108 degrees today. I'm not kidding!

Drove out to Rosedale to go to my cousin Gary's Sequoia Sandwich shop. Some of the best sandwiches in town. And if you've not tried it, you simply must have Gary's Chocolate Cake. Sinfully good. Luckily, being in the know, my Aunt told my mom the secret ingredient so Janet, if you are reading this, my fellow chocoholic, you will be receiving your own birthday version of Gary's Chocolate Cake this October! Yes, it's good to have family in high places.

Enjoyed some bbq'd burgers with a bottle of our friend Craig Stoller's wine... Sextant Winery Night Watch. If you've not tried it, go get yourself a bottle immediately. It will not disapoint. mmm... vacation is good.

Dean and the girls enjoying some pool time.

Dixon Summer Extravaganza - Day 2

To the bug museum with grandpa!

We drove to Shafter today to check out Insect Lore, a cool bug museum and the girls loved it. The guy who worked there took out some of the insects for the kids to see, including a hissing cockroach, it was pretty cool, ick factor and all! I'd never actually heard one hiss, not nearly as menacing as I'd imagined from the B movie scenes playing in my head. More like a quiet snake hiss. The girls were mesmerized. Nothing like watching your two cute girls get into bugs. Grandpa rocks!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Dixon Summer Extravagaza - Day 1

We have arrived in California! So happy to be back...

And of course, we began our journey with an adventurous, but not so fun morning. Apparently my skill set at setting the alarm clock has plummeted. Instead of waking to the alarm at 4:15, I woke up to glance at the clock at 4:48, yelled to Dean the time and we raced out of bed. Flying out of Orlando, we weren't sure exactly if we would make it, which meant a super stressful drive, followed by a super stressful car check in, where we couldn't risk stopping for gas. Which meant our $60 car rental, was topped by an $88 gas fee. Ouch. Needless to say, I was saying my mea culpa's to Dean all morning.

After a lovely 4 hour delay in Houston (yeah, THAT was fun) our delayed flight has us arriving just in time to hit rush hour traffic on the 405. Joy! A 2 hour drive was ahead of us and then we finally arrived my parents house.

And after a very long day of travel, there is nothing like arriving to the warm hugs and smiles of your parents. And seeing how excited they are to see the grandkids. Made the long day just fade away... and helped all the more by a delicious shared bottle of Silver Oak. Ah... so good to come home again. I'm glad our vacation is here, and glad the 1st leg of travel is behind us. On to the good times!