Our spontaneous trip to Monterey and Carmel

Trip-with-Lexus-headerWe had some of our Canadian friends come down to visit us a few weekends ago. I gotta tell you. I love it when visitors come to stay at our place — I enjoy hosting friends and family, plus our home looks really awesome for a few weeks there after — dusting is completed, the floors freshly washed, it’s all around a nice feeling.


OlympiansOlympians lined up. Who can spot Kara Goucher?

While I had the Lexus NX200t to review for the week, we decided to join our Canadian friends as they drove south to Carmel + Monterey for the weekend. Their plan was to run a half marathon, and then finish their drive back down to SoCal to visit more friends.

Walk-to-LexusMy husband and I loaded up the Lexus Nx200t, with Alfie in tow (including his crate for him to sleep in at night) and made the drive down to Carmel-By-The-Sea, where we hunkered down at our favourite place, Hofsas House — you guys know that place all too well by now I’m sure, as this was my third visit to warm and welcoming Hofsas (see our 2 day honeymoon + girls weekend trip!).Hofsas-roof



Alfie-in-CarmelOur room at Hofsas House this time, ended up having its own private balcony. It was excellent to have breakfast out there, overlooking the ocean in the distance, and it wasn’t too chilly either. A perfect time of year to pop down for a visit.

Can you tell Alfie was demanding satisfaction here in this photo? He’s getting a bit more bold lately, scratching your arm for attention or belly rubs and won’t stop until you give in. Mr. Bossy Boots is his new nick name you guys…I think it fits :) Hofsas-balcony

Minutes before registration to sign up for the the Big Sur Half Marathon closed, my husband casually decided he too was going to run the race with our 2 Canadian buddies. WHAT? I mean, how can you just do that without even training? Although, his everyday workout routine pretty much consists of hours and hours of exercise (whether it be biking or running) so I suppose that means he’s always in tip-top running shape for a half marathon the very next day.

However, I had made plans for us to have supper at The Grill (where we had our supper on our 2 day honeymoon just the previous year!), and I wasn’t about to cancel because he decided to sign up for a half marathon (many people prefer to have a bland carb loading meal before a race like that). But we dined at the busy Grill and had a delicious warm meal with dessert to boot.The-Grill

BigSur-HalfHe doesn’t like me posting many photos of him, so unfortunately no photos of him running the race were captured by me. But let me tell you how fast his lil’ legs can go. He not only bet his half marathon time (sub 1:20), but he came in with the Olympians. I literally screamed when I saw him, it was unexpected especially with our large supper the previous night.

After the half marathon was over, the runners all went back to their hotels, showered and got ready for checking out of the hotel + lunch. Monterey-walkHi Jenny!

Since we had Alfie, we needed a dog-friendly place (which isn’t difficult to find because I feel like Monterey and Carmel (basically all of California) is the epitome of dog-friendly places, including restaurants).Carmel-Monterey

The 6 of us ate at this cute hipster spot called Wild Plum. A few of us got sandwiches, the rest got big ol’ yummy breakfasts. I always choose a sandwich over breakfast. How about you?Lunch-in-Monterey

After we said our good-bye’s to our Canadian buddies, we wanted to take advantage of having the rest of the afternoon free, and not drive back up to South Bay just yet. So we ended up aimlessly driving the renowned, beautiful Highway 1 coast until I think we got to Big Sur. I haven’t got a clue because the bridges all looked the same. I’m sure we were close to it. Right? :)Alfie-me-lookout






I’m pleasantly surprised with the fuel efficiency of the luxury Lexus Nx200t, eats up about the same amount of gas as my little Mazda 3 hatch. Not to mention the Lexus’ gorgeous red interior. I made sure to drive the vehicle every single day the week I had it. Even took it to San Francisco on my last day, just to visit a new-to-me coffee shop. One thing that stuck out to me with the Lexus, is that when it’s in reverse, it of course has the rear back up camera — BUT — the camera shows you the wheel rotation. I don’t usually like to use back-up cameras (because I only have the car a week and don’t want to get used to it), but you bectcha bottom dollar I used it this time, it was too cool.

Lexus-NX200tFsportI even convinced a dude on Twitter to get the Nx20ot over another vehicle he was looking at, which I thought was kinda neat. I mentioned to him a few key things I thought were pretty spiffy looking. The front of the Lexus has a mean-lookin’ grill on the front of it, so it isn’t too “girly” looking. The cargo space in the back is limiting, so if you’re looking for a family car to store a bunch of kids hockey gear or suitcases, perhaps it’s not for you. Though, a fun and fast lil’ vehicle to drive with hip hugging seats. It’s not even that outrageous in pricing, considering it is luxury. This model is $43.3k. I definitely thought the MRSP would be higher.


Many thanks to Lexus for the car to review for the week, Hofsas House for providing a warm welcomed stay, and to The Grill for the wonderful grub. 

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Surfers, Blue Bottle Coffee and Pacific Ocean Views

My friend Jenna lucked out during her week long trip to California. I had a completely blocked itinerary for her as soon as she arrived at the San Jose airport. I’m not saying it was so cholker-blocked that she couldn’t relax, it was the epitome of relaxation if I do say so myself. Hotel stays, wine tours and spa treatments — I’m tellin’ ya, not everyone is going to get that type of treatment. I’ve known Jenna since we were three years old, and it’s been close to 4 years since we’ve seen each other in person. It was long overdue for a girls trip, so I invited her down to Sunny California. Except, it happened to be really chilly and only kinda sunny the entire time she was here. Whoops. Can’t change Mother Nature.


HanaHaus-Blue-BottleAfter our overnight trip to San Francisco came to an end, we woke up at a reasonable hour, packed up our belongings and started the drive down to Carmel. To break up our 2 hour commute I swung by the city of Palo Alto and stopped at the new Hana Haus Blue Bottle coffee shop. More on that place later, but it’s a beautiful spot to relax and/or work if you so choose. I had to show her all the cool spots, you know.

Lunch-at-BumbleThen we stopped for lunch  at one of favourite brunch spots in Los Altos: Bumble (see what I did my first visit to Bumble)! We had a nice little lunch on their adult patio away from any children, and had a grand ol’ chat, catching up. After we were done there, we took our time driving down the scenic Highway 1 to Carmel.

I always love to stay at the warm and welcoming Hofsas House when visiting Carmel. I surprised my husband for his birthday last year for a trip down to Carmel as a late honeymoon gift for the both of us, so I knew Hofsas House was the place to go once again. I love going there!



Hofsas-House-2-double-bedsOur room was so spacious, quite large really! Such an airy, and sweet feeling room. Perfect for our little getaway for just the two of us.

Red-wine-and-chocolatesTalk about being spoiled. A bottle of red plus some chocolates and wine walk tour tickets were waiting for us in the room as we arrived. We definitely hit up the Wine Walk tour right away but not before showing Jenna the little town of Carmel and taking her to the serene Carmel beach, hoowee!




Carmel-BeachThe sand here is the softest I have ever felt underneath my feet. Surfers galore. Dogs frolicking on the beach and couples holding hands. My heart was swooing! Can you now see why I love this place so much that I need to take every visitor here?








After a quick visit to the beach, since it was windy and chilly, we walked around the downtown core, and did the self-guided Wine Walk Tour and sampled wines at three different wine tasting rooms before heading off to supper.



Wine-in-a-TubThis one being my favourite. Because, how fun is it to pretend you’re taking a bath drinking wine? It’d be better if the tub was filled up and in my own bathroom. Hehe! Cheers to that!

Hofsas-House-roomAfter our wine tastings were over with, we walked back to our room at Hofsas House, grabbed some warmer clothes and got ready for supper.

Prius-in-Pacific-GroveWe headed out for a quick 15 minute drive up north to Lovers Point in Pacific Grove to have a meal at The Beach House in our trusty 2015 Prius Five that took us everywhere on our week long excursion. I never thought about buying a red car, and not for any real reason to be honest. But doesn’t this red just pop out at you?


View-from-The-Beach-HouseI don’t know what place is prettier, Pacific Grove or Carmel. Both places are absolutely breathtaking. This was our balcony-type view from The Beach House, in Pacific Grove. I mean. Come on! Watching the sunset while eating supper with this view… unreal, and nothing like I’ve ever experienced in my life. We couldn’t stop raving about it.





Beach-House-ice-cream-cakeOur meals at The Beach House hit the spot, but the winners of the entire meal was most definitely the home made ice cream cakes. I’m still thinking of how good they both were.



Sunset-in-Pacific-GroveAfter we finished our delicious meals, we drove around Pacific Grove for a little bit just as the sun was setting. Perfect timing for that golden hour photo op, am I right? I think I have a thing for taking photos of trees. Especially the ones around this area, they’re really cool looking.

Once we were back in our room at Hofsas House, we lit a fire and hung out for the rest of the evening, watching a bit of TV before falling asleep. The next morning, we woke up super early because I wanted to take Jenna back to Carmel Beach for some more photos then off to Point Lobos (you can see more photos here from when my Husband and I went). I’ll let the photos do the talking for themselves…Carmel-Beach-CA





Pt-Lobos-NancySecluded beaches = everything dreams are made of.


Pt-Lobos-JNHooray for my camera balancing on the edge of a fence, and me racing down to beat the self-timer count down. Oof!

Standing-on-Prius-FiveThat next day when we went to Point Lobos, we were heading back to San Jose — but not before doing a bit of outlet shopping in Gilroy. Such a fun way to end this leg of the trip! Stay tuned for the San Jose staycation in Santana Row which will be up next week sometime.

Hofsas House
San Carlos St, Carmel, CA 93921
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The Beach House at Lovers Point
620 Ocean View Boulevard, Pacific Grove, CA 93950

Disclaimer: Thank you to Hofsas House in Carmel, and The Beach House in Pacific Grove for hosting our stay and feeding us yummy supper!

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Explore Carmel, California

My best friend is coming to visit! That means it’s going to be a fun girls trip all week long, I’m not sure I can hold in my excitement. Jenna and I have been BFF’s since we were 3 years old, and it’s been far too long since I have seen her. Three years!

Even though her flight isn’t for a few months, I still can’t help myself from creating an itinerary for her to see all the best things California has to offer. As soon as she said she booked her flight, I compiled a list of my favourite towns/cities, hiking spots, restaurants, wineries and of course shopping areas. I mean, hello outlet shopping, we are in the USA after all. The top of that must-see list? Carmel, California. She’s going to have a jam-packed week full of sightseeing, that’s for sure. I can’t wait to take her to Carmel, the same spot that I surprised my Husband for a weekend getaway.Trees-and-a-Carmel-Castle







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