Tag Archives: travel

Rosarito Beach in Baja: a food excursion

Have you ever had a vacation where you just eat the whole time?

I didn’t know that’s what our trip to Rosarito would be when I planned it as a surprise for Brian’s birthday one year. At first, I didn’t want to tell him my plans in case I couldn’t make it work. I had heard about amazingly affordable resort deals in northern Baja, and it just seemed to good to be true. But once I nailed down the details (it really is value-priced!), it had become this big secret, and I decided to keep it going.

A few days before the trip, he said, “I just need to know when we are leaving.” I told him we had to be at the airport at 9 a.m., and he looked shocked. “The AIRPORT?” That’s when I knew my surprise was going to work. I packed for both of us, hid his passport with mine, and off we went!

I had a driver meeting us at the airport in San Diego, and once we got in the car, I showed him a brochure for Rosarito Beach Hotel and he was so excited!

courtesy of Rosarito Beach Hotel

We spent a wonderful four days eating, relaxing, eating, exploring, eating, and enjoying each other. We would have huevos chilequiles for breakfast, then walk around, go swimming, then around lunchtime we’d see a taco stand.

“We should have some tacos, those smell amazing!”
“Yes, but I’m still full from breakfast…. but TACOS!” So we’d eat the tacos. Then walk, swim, relax, explore.

Courtesy of Rosarito Beach HotelThen at dinner… “That lobster looks so good!”
“Ugh, I’m still full from lunch.”
“But it’s LOBSTER!”

Puerto Nuevo Lobster has it's own website, it's that good & famous! You can see the lobster is split and grilled – that is what makes it "Puerto Nuevo Style"

A highlight was a cab ride down to Puerto Nuevo, a hotspot for the “Puerto Nuevo style lobster.” We had the best dinner perhaps of our lives.  $11 a person bought us each a margarita, tortilla soup, salad, rice & beans, tortillas, chips & salsa, and a lobster. EACH! Everything was amazing, but the tortilla soup haunted me. I spent several months trying different recipes and perfecting my version until it took us back to Puerto Nuevo and that fun long weekend we spent at Rosarito Beach.

I hope to surprise Brian with a trip again sometime (or better yet – be surprised by Brian with a trip!), but we’ll always have fond memories of our mini vacation. And every time I make tortilla soup, we get to relive it!

It’s easy to get to Rosarito Beach from San Diego. We hired a car to drive us down, but  once we were there we saw how easy and economical it was to use the buses, so we did that on our way back to San Diego.

Bus from San Diego Airport to American Plaza (transfer to Trolley Blue Line). There is only one bus, so don’t sweat it too much. ($5)

Trolley Blue Line south to San Ysidro Transit Center. (same fare)

Mexicoach from San Ysidro Transit Center to Rosarito Beach Hotel. ($4)

Next up: My tortilla soup recipe!

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Food, Travel

A Dam Good Day

I used to enjoy a good Super Bowl Commercial Party – my friends and I would mute the tv during all the cumbersome football, and watch the commercials and half time with glee. That’s “glee,” not “Glee,” BTW.  Brian is always occupied with his annual poker game during the super bowl, so I’m left to my own devices.

But once I had kids, the old Champagne-drinking commercial-watching party just wouldn’t do anymore.

Blessed with gorgeous weather today (seriously – is it really February in Oregon?), we headed eastward to meet up with Dayl and Zephyr for some outdoor play. Other than the snacks we brought and the fuel to get there, it was all FREE family fun!

We stopped first at Bonneville Dam. The visitor center was fairly empty, so the kids could run around a bit.

We didn’t want to be inside too much with the sun shining, but thought the fish ladders would be pretty cool to check out.

Now that is a giant turbine! I was surprised at how interested they were in this thing. They made me read the whole sign, and they had a lot of questions about how it worked.

This video was way over their heads, but they liked being able to push the buttons! Interactive = popular.

Fortunately nobody minded that they were running...

Unfortunately, the ladders were empty. I mean really empty. The guy manning the visitor center informed us that since the ladders were empty, we could see some baby fish in an aquarium, so we headed down to check it out.

No water, and certainly no fish!

Eric thinks he saw a fish in here. I'm not convinced!

After the visitor center, we made our way to the fish hatchery to feed some fish and visit with Herman the Sturgeon, the famous 70+ year-old sturgeon. The Fish Hatchery has beautiful grounds, with pretty ponds and old stone paths. I was a bit paranoid about one of the kids falling in to a pond, but it didn’t happen, and everyone had a great time.

The viewing house at Herman's pond

Herman, in the flesh

Dayl made a new friend, and named him Fred

We stopped for a snack, always a good idea with little ones. Herman's House was a great place for this, with built in benches and awesome fish to watch.

Bring quarters! Several fish-food dispensers are placed around the grounds, and the proceeds go to park maintenance. The fish get all jumpy and active when you feed them, which is fun for the kidlets. We won't talk about the accidental graham cracker feeding.

We had a great time at Bonneville Dam and the Fish Hatchery with Dayl and Zephyr. We had some great discussions about the fur trade, and carnivorous animals, got to play in nature, and spend time with our good friends.

We followed it up with a short hike on the Pacific Crest Trail from Cascade Locks, and then a late lunch at Charburger. Perfect for our non-Super Bowl Day!

~Krista

1 Comment

Filed under Family, Nature, Oregon, Travel

Birthday Bliss

“I come to the sea to breathe.”

I once received a notebook from then-Cannon Beach artist and poet Mary Anne Radmacher with those words written on the front. I think of them every time I visit the Oregon Coast. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll take just about any ocean beach, but the Oregon Coast is where my compass gets reset, my inner tides get aligned, and where I find myself.

It’s no wonder, then, that I long for the beach on my birthday.

Eric’s school auction was Saturday, preventing us from spending even one night, so a day trip would have to do. And it did!  We were blessed with an amazingly fantastic day. While I missed out on sitting in a cabin drinking wine watching the ocean planning out my goals for the year (I’ll take a raincheck on that activity), I’ll still call it a success.

We went to Gearhart, where a 10-mile stretch of beach is car-friendly. The only reason this is important is because it’s so much easier to deal with kids and sand at the beach at sunset when we can drive right out there and then not have to hike back out to the car after dark. We love Smuggler’s Cove and Manzanita for daytime beach play, but for sunset – we drive out past Gearhart.

Here are a few pics from the day. We were fortunate enough to have my brother Jeff join us, so we put him to work as staff photographer. Thanks, Brother!

Image

pink light makes me happy

Image

Eric and Brian enjoying a snuggle on the top of our climbing structure.

Image

as silly as we want to be

Image

horses heading south at dusk...

Image

We stay off the higher dunes so as to not disturb the grasses, but a little bit of duney sand play is usually in order.

Image

I just can't get enough of silver sunlight on water. It brings me peace like nothing else.

Image

We parked near this big old tree, I think it must have washed up in the recent storms. Can you imagine this big thing bobbing around the ocean?

Image

The view south, toward Gearhart and Seaside.

Image

...and horses heading north at sunset!

1 Comment

Filed under Family, Nature, Oregon, Travel

ID bracelets add a level of security to traveling with kiddos

When Brian suggested we get oldschool-style metal ID bracelets for the kids when we went to Disney World, I thought, “Duh! Why didn’t I think of that?”

Simple and functional, and only about $10 each.

We both still have our identification bracelets from when we were kids, engraved with our names, addresses and phone numbers. Mine has a sunshine on the front. Of course.

We ordered bracelets for the kids from MakeMeThis.com. The fronts have their first name, the backs have Brian’s name and mobile number and my name and mobile number. We got both bracelets for about $22 including shipping.

We made the kids wear their bracelets every day on our trip. We talked about what to do if they got separated from us: hold still, remain calm. Our names and phone numbers are on the back of your bracelet.

We never had to use them in the parks themselves – Eric got lost one day at Magic Kingdom, but he was lost, not us. He didn’t seem to think anything was wrong with him wandering around on his own. We were frantically searching for him for hours minutes, and thanks to the awesome and professional cast members, were able to find him fairly quickly.

We did get to test the bracelets on our last day. Brian and I were busy packing up the room at All Star Movies, and since we were so close to the giant Toy Story structures, we let the kids play outside unsupervised. I know, you can judge us if you want. Our scariest moments as parents have happened when we’re in a hurry and not paying close enough attention to the parasites.

Brian got a call on his phone, some guy asked him if he was missing an Eric. “No…” Brian says, “He’s right here…”

Shit, he’s not right here. And he’s not right out there….

Eric had gotten turned around trying to come back to our room from the giant toys (50′ away, btw), and *crying* was looking all around for us. This man asked him if he was lost, and Eric nodded yes, and held up his wrist to show the guy his bracelet. Kid and parents reunited. We didn’t even know he was missing – how scary is that?? But the bracelet worked, dammit – it worked!

Anna doesn’t think her bracelet is very comfortable, but asked us recently what she should do if she’s lost and doesn’t have her bracelet on. So I may look into a girlier version that she’s willing to wear all the time. Not that the bracelet should replace her knowing our phone number, but it can’t hurt.

Here is a prettier version available, it just didn’t seem necessary for our trip, but I will probably get one for Anna before too long:

Prettier version, available via Amazon for about $30

Have you used identification bracelets when traveling with your kids to Disney World or anywhere else? Frankly, I feel safer at Disney World than most places – the staff there really is amazing – but I never want to be complacent about my childrens’ safety.

Safe travels,
~Krista

4 Comments

Filed under Family, Travel

La Mariposa Hotel in Quepos, Costa Rica

You know those unexpected and magical discoveries you make? The ones that just can’t be planned, but that change your view of the world?

La Mariposa Hotel was one such discovery for Brian and I while we were on our honeymoon in Costa Rica. We were sitting in a hot tub watching the lava run down Volcano Arenal, chatting with an older couple. We were on Night 2 of our honeymoon, they were on the last legs of a two-week vacation. They told us about the most beautiful hotel, La Mariposa, and encouraged us to find a way to stay there.

Brian and I like to build our travel with some flexibility. Our  honeymoon was in fact all flexibility: no actual plans, just a list of things we wanted to see and do. So we added La Mariposa to our list (nearby Manuel Antonio State Park was already on the list, so no trouble there).

The hotel is remarkably priced considering it’s beauty and luxury. 10 years ago, we paid $100/night, and they upgraded us to a premium suite. The prices are only double that now, which is still a steal. Check it out:

We stayed on the second floor, on that very corner

They've updated the furnishings since we stayed there, but we loved the airy rooms and tile floors, and everywhere we turned we saw gorgeous views of the ocean and forest.

You can see Manuel Antonio State Park if you look south from any of the many terraces.

You know I'm a sucker for a good pool. This is the view from the upper terraces on our (north) end of the hotel.

La Mariposa Hotel in Costa Rica at night. That's our room, on the 2nd floor terrace corner. So romantic! Lifestyles of the rich and famous? Yes, please!

If you’re ever traveling to Costa Rica, it’s simply required that you visit Manuel Antonio State Park. It boasts tremendous wildlife viewing, gorgeous beaches, and nearby cute towns. And since you’ll be in the area anyway, you may as well stay at La Mariposa. It was worth every penny, and we’d stay there again in a heartbeat.

Happy travels!
~Krista

Leave a comment

Filed under Nature, Travel

Disney’s Art of Animation Resort opening Summer 2012 at WDW

It’s all about the swimming pool for this family. When booking any hotel or resort or vacation of any kind, I have to look first at the pool situation. My kids are water babies, and we all four love some play time in the water.

When we visited Walt Disney World in March of 2011, I knew the Parks would take precedence over the pools, but it was still important to have good pools for our downtime. Considering the possibility that this trip may very well be our only chance to visit Disney World, we chose to spend a few days at all three levels of resort at Disney World: Value, Moderate and Delux.

Obviously, I prefer the Delux! We were fortunate enough to get to stay at The Grand Floridian during the Disney Social Media Moms celebration, and it was amazingly wonderful. Just stunning, and lovely. Truly luxurious.

We arrived for the conference a few days early so we could get our sea legs, so to speak, and chose the Port Orleans Riverside for this leg of our trip. We chose a Moderate level resort for these few days for a couple reasons: we didn’t have park passes yet, and we wanted a fun pool experience. Plus it was a short boat ride to Downtown Disney, for which you also don’t need park passes. This resort was great for us: nice pools and amenities. In fact, the pool at Port Orleans French Quarter was our favorite pool at any of the resorts we stayed at. We did in fact spend a lot of time in the awesome pools there, so I know we made the right decision.

I highly recommend the Riverside. The food court was great, the pools were awesome, the rooms were nice, there was a nice running trail that I used each morning, and I liked being able to stroll or boat down to French Quarter to use that pool and grab some beignets. I’d totally stay there again, especially now that they are adding “Royal Guest Rooms” as part of the new Disney Story Rooms experience available at some resorts.

After the conference, we moved to All Star Movies, a Value level resort. The kids really like the giant statues from Toy Story, and the room was perfectly adequate (and a great price), but it was hard not to be disappointed in the amenities after spending a few days at The Grand Floridian. Particularly, the pool left a lot to be desired. It really just felt like a giant bland pool – no slides, no extra features. It’s too bad, because the Value price level certainly is appealing – but I know we couldn’t stay there again.

So I was delighted to see that Disney is adding a new level to their Value resorts! The new Art of Animation resort seems like a good solution to some of the issues we had with ASM.

Courtesy of Disney1. Three pools, with the Finding Nemo pool being the largest pool outside of a Disney Water Park. Awesome.

2. Family suites, for families with more than 2 kids, or if you’re traveling with grandparents or other family members.

Courtesy of Disney

3. More diverse dining areas. Though we had a fantastic breakfast at ASM, the food offerings really felt limited in comparison with the other resorts. Art of Animation will have more healthy options as well as specialty restaurants, such as a Mongolian Grill. My brothers would be thrilled. Maybe it’s time for a whole family vacay?

There will be four different themes at this resort, Finding Nemo opens first, on May 31, 2012. Cars, Lion King and The Little Mermaid will all follow throughout the year. The first three theme areas will be all family suites, and the Little Mermaid will have conventional hotel rooms (opening by the end of 2012).

This resort looks great, and I love that guests can feel like they’re part of the movies. Brian and I had so much fun at Toon Town in Disneyland when we got engaged, and we were looking forward to introducing the kids to that at Disney World. It no longer exists, but I think this Art of Animation experience will make up for that.

Happy Travels!
~Krista

I attended the 2011 Disney Social Media Moms Celebration at Walt Disney World. Although we paid for our own trip to Disney World, the conference fee included 3 nights at the Grand Floridian, the conference and meals for me, several amazing meals for our entire family, park hopper passes for each of us, and some other fun perks. Disney did not ask me to write about this, and all opinions are my own.

2 Comments

Filed under Family, Travel

Learning to Save

This post was underwritten by BMO Harris Bank, which offers a matching $25 on a new savings account opened for your child through their Helpful Steps for Parents program. Learn more at bmoharris.com/parents.

I am not a good saver of money. I have money, I want to spend it. It’s terrible. For this reason, I have set up all kinds of automatic savings processes thereby eliminating my ability to spend my money before it goes in to savings. Some comes out of my paycheck into retirement savings, some automatically goes from checking account to savings. So how does a non-saver teach her children how to save?

Fortunately for me, my husband is much more fiscally frugal/wise/conservative than I am – so that helps.

But here’s how we are helping our kids to understand the value of money:

• Piggy banks, everywhere • The kids have several piggy banks spread throughout the house. Whenever loose change shows up, we say, “Quick! Put it in the piggy bank!” Anna is saving up for our next trip to Disney World. I’m pretty sure Eric thinks his is going towards a robot.

Make comparisons and prioritize • When we’re out shopping and the kids ask for this or that, I ask them to read the price to me. We’ve even gone over to look at the prices of milk and fruit to compare.  Getting through a grocery store with kids is hard enough, so I don’t take this much time a lot, but it does help stop the constant refrain of, “Can we buy this?”  If I’m letting them choose something to buy, we talk about the expense and how long each item might last. Anna in particular is really impressive in her ability to put off an instant gain (small toy now) for something better (Disney World) down the road.

• Counting games with coins • The kids are really in to counting things!  We like to play counting games with change, and they’re starting to get the monetary value of each one. Not that coins will be terribly important in the future – don’t you worry sometimes that coins will go away? I’m not sure why I’m nostalgic about pennies, but I am.

One of our favorite stops at the Hollywood Farmers Market

• Let them pay for some things • Especially at the Farmers Market, where we are interacting directly with the producers. There is something powerful about exchanging dollars for honey with the person who produces the honey.

Why do I go to work? • At least once a week, little Eric asks me, “Why do you have to go to work?” {my heart breaks every time!} I used to just say, “Because I have to!” But for the last several months, I’ve been answering, “So we have money for our house and for food and to go on trips!” We’ve had a couple of lengthier conversations about it, because I think it’s good to normalize the concept that we need money to do the things we have to and want to do, and that we have to work to get that money.

I never say we can’t afford something • We are not poor. We are not rich, but we are not poor. We live in a wonderful house with the most amazing neighbors, in a city we love full of trees and access to nature. We have enough food and clothes. So no, we are not poor. If the kids want to buy something and I don’t, I don’t say, “We can’t afford it.” Instead, I say, “We’re not choosing to spend our money on that right now.” I just think it’s good to manifest abundance instead of manifesting need or want!

So what do you do to help your children save and teach them the value of money? This non-saver could use some additional tips!

~Krista

UPDATE: My mother-in-law wrote a guest post on this topic!
UPDATE: We made our own “piggy” banks
I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective. To learn more about BMO Harris Bank, visit their website http://bmoharris.com/parents.

10 Comments

Filed under Family, Travel, Work