Wine Tasting with Kids in Sonoma’s Dry Creek Valley

While visiting family in Sonoma during our Spring Break road trip, we spend an afternoon exploring wineries of the Dry Creek Valley.  The area, specifically known for their zinfandel grapes, is located on the west side of US 101 in Northern Sonoma County close to the towns of Geyserville (tiny) and Healdsburg (small).  The landscape, as one would expect, is absolutely gorgeous, void of a lot of development,  and lucky for us, free from crowds.  Whether that was due to the weather (rain off and on), time of year (early April), or just the fact that this particular region has remained undisturbed from a lot of other retail, I can’t be completely sure, but I certainly appreciated it!

Wine Tasting with Kids in Sonoma’s Dry Creek Valley |

Wine Tasting with Kids in Sonoma’s Dry Creek Valley | Continue reading


Oregon-California Family Road Trip: 11-Day Itinerary

We recently embarked (and returned all in one piece) on our first {family of four} multi-day road trip.  The journey was eventful to say the least, and to my surprise, a whole lot more enjoyable than I anticipated.  I’ll admit that I expected wild tantrums occurring in the backseat along with piercing baby cries that would be impossible to quiet.

And while there was some of unpleasantness, it certainly wasn’t the norm.  More often, we found ourselves enjoying the scenery, having the luxury of researching possible lunch and rest stops, and actually engaging in grown-up conversation! The one thing that did cut into our travel time (and sometimes sanity) was the amount of bathroom stops required for a 3.5 year old!

We’ll dive into more specifics of each of our destinations (and even pit stops) in the coming weeks and months (we covered a lot of ground!), but first we want you to see the bigger picture, and a few statistics for fun.

Day 1: Salem, Oregon

A good distance away (but not too ambitious) from our home in Seattle for the first leg of our trip, and also the home of my husband Slaed’s aunt, uncle and cousin.  Here we visited with family and took some time to explore the capitol.

Salem, Oregon | Continue reading

Dawn Day in the Wildlife: Sea Lion Release

  • Over 18,000 animals rescued and treated since 1975…

  • Over 30,000 adults and children educated each year…

  • Over 1,100 volunteers from Medocino County in Northern California to San Luis Obispo County on the Central Coast…

Why do the animal rescue professionals and volunteers work so hard in the research and rehabilitation of the animals that come into the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, California?

For these moments of glory: The opportunity to return sea lions, seals and other marine wildlife to their natural habitats knowing that they have the strength and skills to stay alive and thrive.

Dawn Day in the Wildlife: Sea Lion Release |

Photo Courtesy of Susan Goldman

Continue reading

Hike Henry W. Coe State Park: A Hoppin’ Good Time!

I know lakes and other natural formations can be named for obvious reasons.  The Great Salt Lake is salty.  Crater lake exists thanks to…well, a crater.  And many lakes are named after the nearby town, state or region.

These names make complete sense, but for some reason, when our visit to Henry W. Coe State Park near San Jose, California involved a hike to Frog Lake, I didn’t believe there would actually be real, live frogs involved.

Henry W. Coe State Park: Near San Jose, California |

Coe State Park is huge.  With over 87,000 acres it’s the largest state park in northern California (and the 2nd largest in the state), so we barely scratched the surface with our morning visit here.  We did spend enough time though to realize that the area is incredibly beautiful.  What a treat to exit the suburbs and sprawling towns of the bay area and enter a land of stately oak trees, rolling hills, and mountains in the distance.

Henry W. Coe State Park: Near San Jose, California |

We started off improvising a bit meandering around  to see the monument dedicated to Henry W. Coe by his daughter in his memory.  We also found pine cones that were literally the size of Bergen’s head! Soon we got down to business though.  We were so curious. Was Frog Lake shaped like a frog? Would there be enormous bull frogs there greeting us? Would we hear the telltale “ribbit”?

Henry W. Coe State Park: Near San Jose, California |

The answer wasn’t clear when we first arrived, but as we made our way around the perimeter of the small lake, Slaed started to notice something.  Looking ahead at the water’s edge every time we stepped a little closer, hundreds of tiny frogs would hop back into the water! Yup, there really are little hoppers at Frog Lake.  Likely thousands of them.  You can bet we had lots of fun with this; testing out how the frogs would react to different approaches and speeds.  We unfortunately couldn’t get too close to the shore since the mud acted much like quicksand.

Henry W. Coe State Park: Near San Jose, California |

Look carefully. Can you see the little popping out of the water?

It was here where Bergen got to ditch the backpack carrier and do some hiking on his own.  He gathered sticks and rocks, threw leaves, and made sure to point out any deposits he noticed on the trail.  It might be time to get him a tracking book!

Henry W. Coe State Park: Near San Jose, California |

Henry W. Coe State Park: Near San Jose, California |

Though we were visiting on a weekday, we were surprised at the lack of people at the park.  We only ran into one set of fellow hikers, and it makes me wonder why this amazing resource isn’t used more?

Info To Know: 

  • Henry W. Coe State Park is located in Morgan Hill, California (near San Jose):
    • 9000 East Dunne Avenue Morgan Hill, CA 95037
    • 408-779-2728
  • Features include plenty of hiking trails, campgrounds, hot springs, mountain biking trails, and fishing.
  • Visit in spring for amazing wildflower viewing.
  • Day Use Fees vary between $6-8 depending on the entrance used. Annual passes for all California State Parks are also available.
  • Strollers not recommended.

Do you visit state parks in your home state or when you travel? Tell us about your favorite spots!

Come join the conversation! You can keep up to date with each and every post by subscribing to the blog via email. We’d also love to have you join us on all of our adventures by “liking” our facebook page and following us on twitter

Henry W. Coe State Park: Near San Jose, California |

Celebrating National Park Week with Pinnacles

It’s National Park Week here in the United States! 

Admission to all parks (including historic sites, recreation areas, monuments, memorials, and more) is free this week (April 22-26, 2013) making this a great opportunity to check out a park near you.  According to the National Parks website, every state has at least one national park, and no american is further than 100 miles from a national park! What are you waiting for? Time to get out and explore.

Pinnacles National Park:

The United States’ newest park to bear the official National Park title is Pinnacles National Park.  In January of this year, it was upgraded from a National Monument to a National Park.  Pinnacles is located in central California between Highway 101 and Interstate 5, about 60 miles East of the Monterey Bay Peninsula.  Pinnacles is special to us.  We visited the park during our Central California coast road trip in 2011, which was dubbed one of our two babymoons.

Here we took in the views of distant mountains that seemed to go on forever, marveled at the wild rock formations (called pinnacles), and went on what seemed like the longest wildflower guided-hike in history.  The hike went on so long, in fact that we were the only two souls left at the end, accompanied by our most knowledgeable ranger of course! I also have great memories of Slaed and I calling out and playing around with possible baby names for our future little adventurer.

Pinnacles National Park:

Pinnacles National Park:

Wildflowers in Pinnacles National Park:

What was the last National Park you visited? (Us: San Juan Island National Historic Park)

Which National Park will you visit next? (Us: Most likely Yellowstone!)

Info to Know: 

  • All National Park Free Entrance Days for 2013:
    • 1/21 (MLK)
    • 4/22-4/26 (National Park Week)
    • 8/25 (National Park Service Birthday),
    • 9/28 (Public Lands Day)
    • 11/9-11/11 (Veteran’s Day Weekend)
  • Visit the Find a Park site to find a park near your home or travel destination.
  • If you think you and your family will visit a few National Parks this year, consider purchasing an Annual Pass for $80.

Come join the conversation! Join us on all of our adventures by “liking” our facebook page and following us on twitter

Pinnacles National Park: