Pacific Coast Highway

8:28 PM Marcie Parson 0 Comments

WARNING: Super long post ahead!
We knew we wanted to go on a little trip to celebrate Craig's graduation, so we decided to go to San Francisco and make a road trip out of it! We were already planning on going to Anaheim for a Parson reunion, so it worked out just perfectly to go out there the week before and drive up the PCH before we headed back to SoCal.

Immediately after Craig graduated, we loaded up the car and drove straight to San Diego. We arrived late and stayed at Anna's aunt's empty beach house near La Jolla.

On DAY 1 we spent the whole day in San Diego. We ate breakfast at Richard Walker's Pancake house (a recommendation from Anna's aunt), and we ended up deciding it was the BEST meal we had all week. We split a massive German pancake that was so divine. Then we went to Balboa Park where Craig stalked Hilary Clinton doing some press conference, we went to the free art museum, and we walked around the gardens. We went to lunch at The Taco Stand in La Jolla, which Craig claims had the best tacos ever (even though they were cold by the time we ate them at home). We went to the beach at La Jolla Shores, which was the best part of the day. It was Max's first time at the beach, and he LOVED it! He just kept laughing and squealing at the waves crashing -- it was adorable. It was kind of a chilly day, so we didn't do too much swimming. But seriously Max's face was so lit up, and it was magical to see. We finished our day by having ice cream sandwiches from the Baked Bear for dinner (oops).

On DAY 2 we drove from San Diego to Morro Bay. It was the longest/least enjoyable day of our trip, in my opinion. That morning we walked the Pacific Beach Boardwalk and then drove to Palos Verdes to see Lynette's childhood home. We had lunch at the Happy Diner in San Pedro. We drove through Malibu but skipped LA and the nearby beaches because we knew we'd be back down for Craig's family reunion the following week. We finally made it to Santa Barbara, where we got out of the car and just relaxed for a while. We went to the beach by Stearn's Wharf and then walked down their main street. We ate dinner at Persona Pizza and got a Pressed Juicery freeze. I was so in love with Santa Barbara. It was so adorable and much prettier than the rest of SoCal. I loved how green it was and how close the mountains were to the beach. I would totally live there if I could figure out an easy way to fly there and back. From there we drove through the GORGEOUS countryside and stayed the night at an airbnb in Morro Bay. It was our first experience with airbnb, and it was pretty good! Our host let us in, showed us around, and then let us be. We didn't even see her the next morning.

On DAY 3 we drove from Morro Bay to Santa Cruz. We drove through Montana de Oro State Park and saw Morro Rock in the morning, and then we went to San Simeon where we saw elephant seals at Piedras Blancas, saw ZEBRAS on the side of the road, and took a tour of the Hearst Castle. I thought it was much prettier on the outside than inside. Neither of us were blown away by the gothic art, but it was still a pretty cool tour. The pools and the grounds were by far the best part. We had lunch at Sebastian's and headed for the Big Sur.

THIS was the highlight of our trip. It was absolutely breathtaking. The best part about the Big Sur is that it is SO BIG! and you get to just keep on enjoying it for hours. We would have loved to stay overnight there and spend a day or two hiking. Our highlights were the McWay Waterfall (onto the beach!) and the Bixby bridge. Once we got past the Big Sur, we drove through Carmel, which is also a place I could live in (so cute!), and made a quick stop at the Dennis the Menace Park in Monterey. We tried to see Cannery Row but chickened out after seeing the rush-hour traffic. We finally got to Santa Cruz around 7, and we walked the boardwalk and ate dinner at the Picnic Basket. We stayed at Makena's house, which was so fun!

We didn't get to see Makena until DAY 4, Sunday, when we went to church with her family. After church we drove through the Big Basin Redwoods State Park and walked a little trail there. It was so incredibly beautiful. I was falling for NorCal, HARD. It was SO green! I really loved the Redwoods and all of the rolling hills. We drove all the way to San Francisco that day, and because it was Sunday, we tried to take it easy and spend as little money as possible. First we went to the Golden Gate Park, which reminds me of Central Park but more natural/older and less manicured. The trees were fantastic and there were all these cute ponds. After a long walk, we drove to the Golden Gate Bridge. It was SUPER foggy and you could hardly see it, but we walked along it for a while. I'm grateful we didn't rent bikes because I kind of got freaked out once we were up there. I guess my fear of bridges is no joke. We grabbed dinner at Trader Joe's and stocked up on some breakfast/snacks for the following day. We spent the next two nights at an airbnb in Daly City. I think the owner doesn't live there and just rents out all 5 bedrooms, but I'm not sure. It was a nice place, and we were happy we didn't run into any other guests.

On DAY 5 we spent the whole day in SF. We started the day at the Palace of Fine Arts, a monument left from the 1915 world fair! It's crazy because it looks like ancient European architecture on this serene pond in the middle of the city. Then we went to Fisherman's Wharf where we checked out Pier 39 (& its sea lions), ate lunch at Boudin Bakery, and walked around Ghiradelli Square. Then we went to Octavia Street for "Smitten" ice cream (strawberry white balsamic!). We met up with Sarah at the Painted Ladies, but Alamo Square Park was closed, so we drove to Dolores Park, where we took a break and just hung out for a while (and enjoyed secondhand weed). It was a much needed break from all of our driving and walking! We all went for round two of ice cream (yep) at Bi-Rite Creamery, which TOTALLY lived up to the hype with its SNICKERDOODLE flavor. Hands down best ice cream I've had in my life. That's saying something. We met Robbie for dinner in Little Italy where we had Golden Boy pizza and explored the neighborhood for a while. It was super fun hanging out with them and I wish we had had more time together! We said our goodbyes and drove down Lombard Street before we headed back to Daly City.

The world's worst picture of Lombard Street -- I was taking a video and quickly snapped this picture before we were too far away
I really loved San Francisco. It has such a unique charm to it that is hard to pinpoint. I loved the architecture of all of the houses (so ornate!), and I loved the rolling hills. It has a way of feeling like a smaller city than it really is. Maybe its just that there aren't as many high rises as I expected. I seriously just loved the Bay area. Beaches, trees, rolling hills. What more could you ask for? ... okay maybe lower cost of living.

On DAY 6 we headed back to Orange County. We left Daly City in the morning and drove by Stanford. Then we drove to Santa Maria to see the Hansens' new home that they moved into over the weekend. We were on our way to Newport when our tire blew out (UGH), so we stopped in Ventura to replace our tire. We just barely made it to Newport in time to meet Erin and Kyle for dinner. It was super fun to see them. I am so glad that we've been able to make it out to southern California a few times while living in Phoenix and that we've always been able to meet up with Erin for a few hours each time!

That night we stayed in Glendora with Nils and Loraine, which is when our little road trip came to its end and our time with the Parson family began. It was such a fun trip and I'm SO glad we did it. I'm not a huge fan of long drives, so if I did it again or recommend it to anyone, I'd suggest spending maybe twice as long as we did so you can really enjoy each stop. I particularly wish we had another day or two in Santa Barbara, the Big Sur, and San Francisco. However, I think we truly made the most of our time table and our small budget, and I'm so glad we made it happen before we left Phoenix while the drive to CA was reasonable.



11:50 AM Marcie Parson 1 Comments

The days leading up to Craig's medical school graduation, it felt neither real nor significant. It was hard to appreciate the milestone because he had had the past month off, not to mention that the pressure had gone down remarkably after he matched. On Memorial Day we spent time reminiscing with Craig's med school buddies and their wives, but even then it didn't feel real. Del and Lynette came into town the night before and took us to Cibo for dinner. The morning of graduation, June 1, Craig left early and the rest of us followed about an hour later. Still, on the drive there, I thought to myself how funny it was to be celebrating Craig graduating med school while he still had 4+ years of training left.

Once we got to the ceremony however, I was overcome with pride! This was a big deal! We searched for Craig as the graduating class walked in, got totally out of order, and utterly failed to be sorted out -- which was hilarious. But the speakers made it real. Those darn administrators, the same ones who made us poor for the rest of our lives, talked about what it meant to be a doctor and the path that they had taken to get there, and I was so proud of my Craig. He was "hooded" on stage, and when they called his name, he was called "doctor" for the very first time. CUE BEAMING WIFE. (No-nap-Max was out screaming with Grandma, so a big thanks to Lynette for letting me see Craig walk across the stage!)

I often give him a hard time about taking the easy way out, but medical school is not easy. I'm so proud of him for finishing four long years, especially because during the first two years -- the hardest ones -- we were dating long distance/getting married, which made the process a LOT more complicated and difficult for him! We still have quite the journey left to go, including a busy intern year and a nerve-wracking application process for a dermatology residency (prayers appreciated), but if we can get through these 4 years, we can certainly get through 4 more, right?




2:49 PM Marcie Parson 0 Comments

Most of May was basically a break for Craig. He had one last two-week rotation in pain management, but the doctor only had him come in like 3 days since it was right before graduation. The rest of the month he spent time working on a derm paper to be published and hopefully beef up his resume. It was fun to be able to spend more time with him and take advantage of our last month in AZ! We celebrated my first Mother's Day with dinner by Craig and lounging at Granada park. 

We tried to spend as much time with friends as we could so we went hiking several times with the Jacksons, once to Sunrise Peak and once Templeton/Cathedral Rock in Sedona. We also hiked Fossil Creek waterfall, which was this gorgeous natural spring literally in the middle of nowhere. We drove up to Camp Verde and on a dirt road for an hour before we got to the trail. It was super cool and the water was crystal clear, but we're definitely not doing something like that again in our small Prius!
Backside of Cathedral Rock, Sedona, AZ

We ate out probably more than we should have and tried to hit all of our favorite "Phoenix" places like The Stand, gay bar tacos (Taqueria los Yaquis), Defalcos, La Grande Orange, and Cibo. We had BBQs with the Hoffmans before they moved to Gilbert, the Wedams to celebrate Abe's 2nd birthday, and the Walls to see them before we left. 

We spent a few days hanging out with Craig's med school buddies before graduation and before they all split up for residency. We went to Aaron and Kelly's wedding, which was super fun. We had to get babysitters for both the temple and the reception, and although parts of it were a little traumatic for Max (and probably the sitters! and therefore us!), we all survived. I think 5 of the 6 guys came out of med school with wives, 3 of us with babies, and it was super fun getting to know them a little more and celebrating the fact that our guys are officially done with med school! I really hope that once we're all done with residency in 5ish years, we'll be able to have a huge reunion with these guys because it is so much fun to be around them. Plus we will totally deserve it having put up with 8 years of post-grad training. 

At the end of the month, Max turned 10 months! I can't believe it. I must say that he is at such a fun stage. It really does keep getting better. He has one tooth on the bottom and another just about to cut through. He eats SO MUCH and would eat all day if I kept putting food in front of him (but usually I get sick of sitting there feeding him forever and ever). In the morning he will nurse and then eat a bowl of cereal/applesauce, a whole banana, two eggs, and a slice of bread!!! He crawls fast and is getting so playful that he loves when we crawl after him and chase him. He'll crawl away squealing/panting like a little pup. He cruises along furniture and pulls everything off the shelves. He talks all day and says "AH!" super loudly. That is probably his favorite sound along with "bub bub." 

His favorite places to be are the bathroom and kitchen because he thinks he is so sneaky when he opens the cupboards. He finds the most bizarre things on the floor, and it is a miracle that he hasn't choked on anything yet. I sometimes think he understands the meaning of mama because its what he says when he's sad or tired. He squeals when we walk in the door and will crawl up to us. His best new tricks are waving, which is adorable, and his surprised face, when he raises his eyebrows and makes that cute "O" with his lips. His surprised face is especially perfect because he makes it ALL the time and everything is so surprising to him!  I also love when I go outside to do laundry and he stands against the sliding glass door and smooshes his face against it.

He seriously is at the best age because he is starting to play with us and explore his world. His personality has really blossomed. He hasn't been sleeping as well this month, and we can't figure out why. I think it's because he's teething, but it's hard to know. He wakes up in the middle of the night but is SO tired he falls right back asleep -- IF you hold him. We often bring him into bed with us, and it's hard not to love those snuggles. He is the most fun baby in the world, and I LOVE being his mom. I feel so incredibly blessed.