Sunday, April 12, 2020

A Covid Spring Break in the GA Mountains (2020)

We were hoping that this Spring Break we would meet my brother Bill's family somewhere halfway between GA and OH like we did last year.  But, yep you guessed it. Covid.
Covid, Covid, Covid.  
Well, we were not staying home for a week, thank you very much.  We can quarantine in someone else's house, in a different location with just our immediate family.  

Ernesto found this beautiful cabin in Elijay, GA.  About 90 minutes north of Atlanta in the mountains. 
The above picture is the back of the house and, let me tell you....or better yet, show you ...the fabulous view from this deck. 
Not another person in sight. I think that meets CDC guidelines. 
The back deck was big too.  It had a fire pit, a grill, a table, rocking chairs.....and the #1 requested item...
What is a mountain get-a-way without a hot tub?!?
I think that this was the only time I actually got in the hot tub, because truth be told, that water got NASTY.  They didn't keep the jets going, which means there were no bubbles, which meant you could see the water.  Maybe it was just dirty feet water, but it also had a weird sulphur smell that I wasn't crazy about.  
Here is my little supermodel always ready to strike a pose for the camera.  That adorable bikini! 
Ernesto and I were amazed at how much relaxing we were able to do and we were convinced that the hot tub is the key to a parents' sanity while in closed quarters with high energy kids.  It was basically a pool and they passed many hours in it!  Needless to say, the deck is where we spent most of our time. 
Good thing too because this is what the boys packed (and unpacked) for themselves to wear for five days. LOL
Hey! Yes, I could've packed for them but they said they wanted to do it and I was happy to have one less item on my list.  I was sure they could handle it. Plus, in all actuality, it didn't matter what they brought on this trip.....so you know, choose your battles.   (turns out they did pack a couple pairs of shorts too, but I laughed when I saw what they hung up in the closet)

The boys headed out the first afternoon to explore the trail right behind the cabin. The roads are very hilly, so Im glad there was at least one area they could ride. 
Hanging out on the deck qualified as "outdoors" in my book. I didn't bring a lot, but I was sure to pack all of my painting and art supplies.  I have been painting so much lately and I find it so relaxing.  I'm not any good at it (yet!) but I'm trying.
Paloma loves to paint with me and I love our creative together time!
Occasionally the boys will paint too but it's mostly a girls activity.  I am on a bit of a hot air balloon kick lately, so I had everyone make there own version. 
 https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1GdqsHGfEYh1qbreY-UuIFF8Ig-4qLsXe
Even this guy.  #isolationcreation (🀷 it's trending)
 We packed all of our food, so we wouldn't need to go shopping during our stay.  
We grilled, rolled burritos, made bacon and eggs...and of course pizza!
Everyone created their own and that was a big hit.
We DID NOT bring iPads, but we watched a lot of movies and TV together....
Such is life 'IN THE TIME OF COVID.'πŸ˜‚


Just down the trail from the house was a little field and pond. We trekked around and stopped whenever something looked interesting. 
While exploring the perimeter of the water (notice the muddy shoes) we discovered a baby turtle. 

Oh my gosh! So cute.  
It was pretty exciting.  That little guy may have come back to the cabin and lived in the bathtub for 24 hours. 😱  He was released unharmed though! 



One afternoon we loaded up our bikes and ventured out to Carter Lake. There we hiked a popular trail called Tumbling Waters.  The waters were actually tumbling! 
The kids climbed and jumped from rock to rock getting wet as the water splashed them.  
Also please notice Paloma's outfit.  What? You don't wear a tutu when you are hiking? Another battle not fought πŸ˜‚

The trail winds around the lake and over a tall bridge above a river.
If only the clear blue-green water at Carters Lake was liiiittle warmer, Im sure we would've had some swimmers. 
https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1w9iD3_-gXarM0DLEF9TNYQEBAokEA0Sc
My little muscle men! 
Mateo also attempted his first single track mountain bike trail (ever!) with Ernesto.  
He made it but seemed very happy it was over and never mentioned wanting to go again. LOL  

WE WORE THEM OUT!!!! 


This was a great last minute trip.  So relaxing and a beautiful place to "quarantine."
We had our first negative experience renting from VRBO though.  Nothing to do with VRBO, just the owner of the cabin.  After we checked out, he left a perturbed voicemail saying that we "left the house a wreck, please call me back". Whaaaaaaat?!?  We spent the whole morning cleaning and followed the check out list to a tee. 

When I spoke to him, he said that the cleaner found a bunch of grease spots dripped from the kitchen to the living room.  She was not able to clean them up and apparently they stained his hardwoods.  Ok, Im not saying that we didn't eat on the couch in the living room. BUT! Nothing greasy.  As a matter of fact the only thing they we ate that had "grease" is bacon and I baked it in the oven and served it at the table. When he said there were also spots in the 2 bedrooms, I knew he was full of it.  #1 Ernesto and I didn't eat AT ALL in our bedroom and the kids only ate dry cereal in their bedroom while watching tv on the bed. 

In the end, he was able to keep our $300 deposit.  This was a bargain compared to the $2000 he wanted us to pay because he was going to have to have the floors totally redone due to these spots.  
OMG!  Seriously???  Yes the house was new, but the wood was knotted wood and it looked like it had spots all over it anyway. 
Booooo!

Saturday, March 07, 2020

Espinoza Meet-Up in Punta Mita Mexico


Well, Tavo did it again! He organized another Espinoza get together...this time in Punta Mita Mexico!

Paloma and her cousin Zacky were the lucky kids that got to tag along on this "adults only" trip. They are both only in preschool, so we decided it was fine for them to miss. 
Because Leandro is currently staying with us, we took advantage of the free babysitter and slipped away with Paloma for 6 days. Mateo and Marcelo love Leandro and I know they had a good time with him. He took them back and forth to school and out to eat Brazilian steak.  He updated us with pictures...
We flew Delta direct to Puerto Vallarta and we bought confirmed tickets ! OUCH...but also, NICE. Punta de Mita is about one hour north of Puerto Vallarta.   We were excited to hit a new spot in Mexico.  The last time we flew into Puerto Vallarta?  Our Honeymoon almost 19 years ago!

A week before we left Ernesto asked me if I wanted to do a 3 day fast with him before our trip.  He has been listening to Nike's "Trained" podcasts and is constantly inspired to live healthier and get stronger.  I love that idea too, and I also love an eating challenge, so I agreed! 

Because we have been doing intermittent fasting for a long while now, the first day was quite easy. Coffee and water. Period. 

By day three though I was feeling weird.  I would not say I was sluggish as you might assume after not eating.  I was alert and ....giddy. Almost like a high kind of giddy.  Heightened senses maybe?!  Whatever it was, I did want to end it with eating something!  I don’t think we had ever been sooooooo eager to land and eat airport food. The fact that the prize of FOOD in Mexico after THREE DAYS of nothing was even  better.  OK.... 68 HOURS.  We were 4 hours shy of the full 72, but we weren't going to fast once in Mexico! Duh.

Crazy experience, but do a little research if you are interested.  There are some interesting-amazing things that happen in your body when you deprive it of food.  We thought....what a perfect way to “break the fast” ...landing in Mexico!

Ernesto's parents and brothers were arriving an hour or so after us, so we parked ourselves right outside of customs and scarfed down some of the best food.  Now I have had great food at Mexican airports, but this time Im not 100% sure that it was great food, but it tasted 100% delicious!!  For the first time in my life, I felt what it's like to be really hungry.  (something this grazer never experiences) 

Paloma kept watch for the familia at the customs exit. 

Once the whole fam arrived we piled into a big suburban and headed up the road. 

We pulled up to THIS....and I thought I had died and gone to heaven. 

Hello St. Regis Punta de Mita!!

Talk about going first class!!  This place was UNBELIEVABLE!!  I think I can safely say this is the nicest hotel I have ever experienced. 

It’s a gorgeous property on the ocean with beautiful landscaping at every twist and turn.  The most impressive part of this hotel though was the service.  Truly FIVE stars. https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1Y42lV1ZgvkO9B4hfldBmstIdxH7Dc6hb

Ahhhh breakfast served on the private patio by your butler?! SΓ­ seΕ„or!

https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=15bHFdSHKRKgZ8kwg26guz4BxS9mRHNUB

Look at these two lucky ducks.  Being in preschool has its benefits!  

https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1g3FwS3R-aEbX-Ep8Ym5zXyt5ubL5-T-X
https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1TZkPkD6ap8M4cyfbj88o7GNv2--KWhTN
Exploring the rocks and building a sandcastle fortress!https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1DIJeECVRrhnKyPS8GR3GizAZX7wCqOrw
The adults got in many games of Pegs and Jokers. 
https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1aBDCBGEhNALUKtpHspmTCKj5aFZC3Kph
The St. Regis was so beautiful and relaxing. The epitome of hospitality. You feel special here.   
https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1nKtYroOeED4hXUhPo3c_ka-dBQwbIiyU
Daytime lounging by the pool turned into evening drinks on the beach.
One night we enjoyed dinner at this beachside table....it did not suck.
https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=110tmaltuMSVIokgpnHy1FXHnVa99r_81
And the sunsets?  Yep, equally un-sucky.
https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1STZkx69swMAzwOu1NiW01dVrdzHVgJyJ
The crazy thing is that we had rooms booked at TWO different hotels.  Two rooms at the St. Regis (for Ernesto's padres and Tavo & Erin) and then two rooms at the all-inclusive Grand Palladium Vallarta Resort & Spa.  (one for us and one for Jerry & Shelly) 
We bounced back and forth.  
As you can imagine, the all-inclusive Grand Palladium was a different vibe vs the St Regis.  Beachfront, as well, but just a little louder with more action. ha!  The pool area was wonderful - complete with slides for the kids.  

Paloma and Zacky got all the attention and picked where they wanted to hang. 
Beach - pool - beach - pool.  I love this picture of the kids with abuela.

The beaches at both resorts were rocky, so most swimming was done in the pools but we still got our feet wet and played in the sand. 
The beach swings were a hit!
I especially loved how this hotel lit up at night.  
Of course, the luxury at the St. Regis had us spending time there ...even though our other hotel was all-inclusive 😫.
The rooms were right on the beach and very secluded...private beach anyone???

After a few nights, we all ended up at the Palladium all inclusive and had just as much fun.  Its about who you are with, right?!

One day we explored the quaint beach town of Sayulita.  The banners and "gods eyes" hanging across the streets welcomed us and it was truly love at first sight for me!  
So much character!  The shops were boutiquey, the open air markets rustic, the dirt/sand roads charming...


The backdrops for great photos were endless!! I love these two of mis suegras.


Side note:  When we got back to Atlanta I immediately started looking for a house to buy in Sayulita.  I could definitely see us living in a house in the hills above this beach.  A girl has to dream!! 


Don't mind me with my mini-me in our Marimekko dresses. This is the first time we have donned matching outfits and we both loved it! 

One of my absolute favorite things about Mexico is the abundance of fruit stands. 
If you are at the beach, there will be a fruit cart nearby.  Mango with chile and lime on a stick please!!


You can also count on women offering to braid your hair.  I have done this many times over the years.  Beach hair tends to get tangled and unruly, so braiding keeps it tidy! Paloma sat patiently and loved the results.  (although she wanted more beads.  One at the end just wasn't enough) 


We sat outside at one of the sand floor restaurants on the beach and proceeded to order a feast.  Whole Snappers with the essentials: beans, tortillas, salsas and guac.  You can't skip the fresh and spicy seafood cocktails either.  Wash it all down with a michelada.  Oh my!
Love this sweet picture of Ernesto carrying Paloma.  This little mexicana was worn out!

All-in-all a smooth trip! I would love to come back with the boys and maybe rent a house above the ocean.   (You know, test it out before buying....verbalizing your dreams makes the possibility real right??)
Speaking of .... were ready to see my two balls of energy.  Although I relished the ease of traveling with one child, I really missed them so much.  πŸ’•πŸ’•

Adios Mexico......until we meet again!! 

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