California: I'm baaaaaack!

The worst part about going to California is leaving California. It always leaves me in funk for several days when I get home. It takes me awhile to accept that the beach isn't ten minutes from the front door, my neighborhood isn't lined with palm trees, there are no mountains in Ohio, and I don't get to eat breakfast with my extended family every morning. I was actually somewhat ready to come home by the end of the week, but actually getting home was a nightmare. I'll get to that in a day or so. And reality really smacked me in the face as soon as the plane hit the ground in Ohio. Somehow several things went wrong with my engine while my car was sitting all week, so it's in the shop now. And I got back to work to find the girl I work with went on maternity leave a month early, leaving me to work quite closely with miss passion for fashion. So hang in there while I relive an incredible week for the next few days.

Oh, and if you're wondering, I did not puke. Yay! Dramamine is a miracle drug, you guys. I may have been so loopy I kept calling my dad by my husband's name, but I made it through some turbulent flights with zero nausea. And by turbulent, I mean we flew through tropical storm Isaac. Yeah. Before take off on each flight James handed me a barf bag, and my dad made sure he was nowhere near me.

Ok, so where do I begin? California was amazing. Good for the soul and exactly what I needed. I swear, that fresh, peppery scented coastal air has the power to wipe all the stress away. I spent the week just soaking in time with my family and basking in the California sun. I forgot about everything back home. I didn't respond to emails. I left all my stress and anxiety in Ohio. I had no idea just how much I needed that week with my family. I prayed for the past three years for an opportunity to see my grandparents just one more time. They've battled cancer, and it's truly a miracle they are still alive. I'm so thankful to spend time with them and introduce them to James.

The day after we arrived was going to be a family reunion. I knew none of my cousins would make it, and it would be mostly my dad's cousins and relatives and people I had never met, other than my aunt and uncle. I was especially disappointed that my aunt, uncle, and two younger cousins weren't coming. We lived near them in Reno for years and grew up spending so much time with them. When we moved to Ohio I was devastated. I was there for both their births, I babysat them, and I spent holidays and birthdays with them. They were the little brother and sister I never had. Suddenly I was lucky to see them every couple years. 

When we got to my grandparents house, I flopped on the couch. I was excited to be there but loopy from all the Dramamine and exhausted from an early morning flight. We were all gathered in the living room when I heard the back door open and my dad gasp. I turned around to see my aunt and cousins standing there. It took a good five seconds for my brain to register what was happening, but I screamed and ran up to hug them. They told us they wouldn't be able to come but had been planning on surprising us for months. And let me tell you, it was the best surprise. I spent the next few days soaking up as much time with them as possible. I hadn't seen them since I spent my spring break in Reno with them 3 1/2 years ago. I just adore them.

Ignore my soaking wet hair.
Our family reunion was so much fun. I met a lot of people I've heard stories about my whole life. I saw people I haven't seen since I was a kid. I listened to stories of my dad when he grew up on the ranch and when my grandpa built the railroad on Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch. We looked at family pictures from the late 1800s and played cards on the patio.

The next day was awesome. We drove up the coast to San Luis Obispo, where my parents went to college and met each other. We stopped for lunch at the Apple Farm. I remember going here as a tiny little kid during road trips to my grandparent's house. I probably haven't been since I was four or five, but it was fun to go back. My mom even used to go here when she was in college.

After exploring the Cal Poly campus, we stopped at The Madonna Inn. It was built in 1958 and nothing about it has changed since. It's become a famous landmark. I've heard about it for years and finally got to see it for myself.

If you know me, you know I kind of hate pink. But this? This is amazing. It looks like the set of a Marilyn Monroe movie. I was drooling. It's gaudy and kitschy in the best possible way.

I'm moving in tomorrow.

I'll give you more exciting beach pictures tomorrow. Thanks for indulging me on these horrendously long recap posts.

Man, it feels good to blog again.


  1. What an awesome trip! My grandfather taught at Cal Poly, way back in the day =).

  2. aw! looks like an amazing, refreshing trip away.. so needed, I KNOW! miss you!

  3. 1. I missed you. SO glad you're back!
    2. You took some amazing pictures. I loved seeing new ones pop up on Instagram.
    3. Awesome surprise :)

  4. I MISSED YOU, MICHELLE! I'm glad you had a great time (although I should probably hold my tongue until I hear the return travel story). How wonderful that your relatives surprised you too! Well done on taking pictures too. I loved seeing everything pop up on Instagram!

  5. Well it's so good to hear that you made it to California and back safely and without any puking! Yay for that!

  6. I am dying to stay at the Madonna Inn! The bf may take me for my 30th. Gorgeous pictures!

  7. I love living in L.A. I'm glad you got to visit. My husband grew up in Grover Beach, super close to SLO and although we've driven past the Madonna Inn several times when we go back to visit his parents, I've never been inside. So cool that you got to go.

  8. So glad you didn't puke!!! My grandma was from SLO, so I have been there tons when I was little, but never to the Madonna Inn, so jealous!

  9. OMG I love that pink hotel in the gaudy and kitschy kinda way too!
    So glad you had such an amazing time with your family and your sweet surprise too!

  10. you got it exactly right. the worst thing about CA is leaving CA!!

    But what a trip you had girl, your pictures have been so amazing to follow
    and it sounds like it was a packed trip--i so love family reunions. And I can not can NOT get over that Madonna Inn, wow.

    xo welcome home!

  11. Ugh, I am so jealous! I'm dying to go to Cali, and you're right– it's good for your soul! I went a few years ago, but would absolutely love to go back. My biggest/most favorite dream is someday moving there, even if just for a few years!

  12. I'm still upset that you didn't invite me.

    Dramamine makes me absolutely insane. It's why I love it.

    Glad you didn't puke. my co-worker puked on the way to vegas last weekend. I was plugging my ears and closing my eyes.


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