The day after our wedding Jess and I headed to Warm Springs Virginia for a short honeymoon. We had grand plans to leave the country for a beach on an island that would some day be underwater but with COVID we didn’t want to leave the state. That lead us to a few days at the Omni Homestead. It is a beautiful property in the mountains and were upgraded to a corner suite in the tower on the 20th floor (10 floors above ground) that had great some great views. On the way out there we stopped in Staunton to visit friends Mark and Melissa who weren’t able to attend the wedding. The suggested a cool pizza join in Staunton for dinner. Staunton had closed one of the main roads downtown and all of the restaurants had seating in the streets. It almost had a European vibe to it.
We spent the first day exploring the grounds, relaxing at the socially distanced pool and having dinner at the restaurant. I went for a late morning trail run and startled a baby bear along the path.
The next day we left the property to do a hike about 10 miles away at Douthat State Park. To get there by car we had to go over/around a mountain and it took over an hour on some pretty rural roads. Early in the hike we both spotted 3 baby bears and a mother crossing our path. We were on high alert the rest of the hike. We made our way up to the top of a mountain, past a waterfall, along the ridgeline and then back down. There were a few beautiful views and some great terrain. Much of the trail looked to be seldom used and we had to do some bushwacking in parts.
That evening we got takeout from a restaurant in town and ate in our room.
The next morning we ate breakfast on the porch in the rocking chairs and started making our way home. We stopped at Pollock winery for a bit and then to Bold Rock to resupply some of the ciders we can’t get in Richmond and tried some others while sitting in chairs down by the creek.
Jess and I made a weekend trip to the Biltmore in western part of North Carolina. We’ve wanted to make a trip for a while and there was a Downton Abbey exhibit going on. When we got to town we noticed a tour bus at one of the hotels and while I was touring the Moog Music factory I asked about it and someone else on the tour knew that the Lumineer’s were playing. We had planned on a quiet dinner out and evening, so instead we quickly bought tickets and went. It was a great concert and we’re glad we went.
The next day we went early to the Downton Abbey exhibit, walked around and ate lunch at one of the restaurants near the main house. In the afternoon we toured the main house and some of the grounds. We followed that with dinner and headed home the next day.
While the Coronavirus hadn’t shown up in the US other than in a few places, we knew it was inevitable that it would come and change the way we travel, so it was a little bittersweet being on a trip knowing it might be our last for a while.
This year my family rented a house in Buffalo and my sister and her family flew in so we could celebrate Christmas together and visit with extended family. Jess and I took a side trip to visit Chautauqua where I grew up. During the weekend we visited some favorite buffalo restaurants, ice skated, visited the falls and did a variety of other touring.
I got to join Jess for a trip to DC for a long weekend. She has a tradition of taking a Friday off every year and visiting a museum with Farley and this year we visited the Museum of Natural History and saw the exhibits for fossils and diamonds.
In the afternoon we visited the National Gallery of art and focused on the 17-18 century Italian, 18-19th century French tour, Dutch and Flemish galleries and 17th centuries sculptures. Jess had some pieces that she had read about so we all played scavenger hunt to find them.
We tied to go to Jazz in the garden, but a few minutes after it started a thundercloud rolled south of us and so the event was cancelled. Nevertheless we improvised and ended up having dinner on the roof at Neil’s. We followed that by an improv comedy show that Celeste was in.
Saturday was brunch, shopping in Mount Vernon, lunch and going to Neil and Sonya’s engagement party. And Sunday Jess and I went running around the tidal basin and visited a market and a bookstore before making our way home.
The second leg of our trip took us to Sacramento to visit my sister and her husband to meet my new nephew. Monday afternoon we arrived in Sacramento and intended on checking out the art museum there only to realize it wasn’t open on Mondays. We explored old town Sacramento before meeting up with Cheryl, Dean and Calvin to visit a neighborhood sports bar to watch UVA win the NCAA Basketball Championship.
Tuesday we all piled in the car and headed towards Sonoma and dropped Calvin off at his grandparents house for the day. Calvin’s grandfather was a sailor and has a huge train layout in his basement that was fascinating. Our next stop was Iron Horse Vineyards for a sparkling wine tasting.
We got lunch in Boone and then went to Porter-Bass winery for another tasting and met back up with Calvin. Next we drove out to the coast to see the ocean and walk on the beach which was made a bit treacherous with the high winds blowing the sand around. It was still pretty.
Wednesday we took the dog hiking in the Auburn State Recreation area. We hiked about 6 miles around the North Fork American River across the No Hands Bridge and under the Foresthill Bridge – one of the highest bridges in the country. The views were amazing and the trails were very nice. The whole park was just under an hour away from Sacramento and an easy drive.
Jess and I returned to Dallas for a long weekend of seeing friends, revisiting favorite places and attending a wedding. We started out by visiting her old neighborhood and a taco joint we both loved to frequent. We did some shopping and got dinner with Sydni, Andrew and Doug.
Friday, we met max for lunch, visited Deep Ellum for an art festival, rode our first electric scooters, and went for an evening sail on White Rock Lake with with Tim & Griffin. Friday night was dinner in the Greenville neighborhood.
Saturday we slept in and relaxed before heading to Grapevine to check into our hotel – the Gaylord Texan which was nearby the wedding. The wedding of Ashley and Zach was held in a beautiful winery event space and we got to meet many more of Ashley & Zach’s family and friends as we celebrated. We also kept our eye on the score of the UVA/Auburn basketball game and stopped looking after the 3 pointer at the buzzer was missed only to find out later there was a foul that led to 3 foul shots to win.
Sunday we visited the Dallas Art Museum and went for dinner at another favorite Mexican restaurant with Andrew before checking into our airport hotel for the night.
In the middle of winter Jess and I got to escape the cold weather for a thaw out trip to Cancun Mexico. We stayed at the Grand Palladium in the Rivera Maya about 1h 15m south of Cancun in their all-inclusive adults-only TRS Yucatan property. It is a gorgeous property with some good restaurants, cool pools and an expansive beach. Over the course of 5 days and 4 nights we spent time all over the resort. We especially liked the Bali beds at the far end of the beach where it was nice and quiet.
Our room was a bungalow on the lagoon with a patio, canoe and an outdoor shower that was nice except the night it rained.
On our last full day there we visited the spa and all of the gardens, pools and hydrotherapy areas. We wished we had discovered this sooner and spent more time there.
We had the most amazing week at the beach with Jess and her parents. Beautiful weather all week and only a few storms that skirted by or hit in the evening when we were already off the beach. We had a lot of fun with Flow the Flamingo in the Pool, walking on the large newly replenished beaches, going for runs, cooking hot dogs, eating outside, golfing, and otherwise relaxing and hanging out.