One morning, my dear friend Ellen, called me with an idea.She wanted us to fly out to California to surprise her husband Jeff who was graduating dental school from USC. These two were some of our dearest friends we'd made since living in Birmingham. We met them when they somehow decided to ask us to go on a ski trip with them about 6 years ago. Pre-baby for both of us. We said yes. We had never even rode in a car with them, but one night they picked us up at our apartment and 24 hours later, we (or should I say the guys, Ellen and I just slept and snacked :) had driven to Colorado and in the meantime had formed a life-long friendship with this family. Fast-forward to a few weeks ago. So after Ellen called, within a couple of hours our flights were booked, we planned a trip within the trip to Pebble Beach, and my mom had booked a ticket to fly up here to keep the littles. Yes, we left the kids! It was the first time I'd been away from Will and had only been away from Ellie for two nights. They made it through though and I'm sure Lolly could write a book of her adventures that week :) Well, the flight was long, and seemed even longer because we were so excited to surprise Jeff. But we made it. As if things weren't good enough, our other dear friends Bryant and Stacy were out there too!
When we arrived B and S picked us up and we went knocking on the Flannery's door at almost midnight. Needless to say, Jeff was super shocked and we were all so excited to be together!
The next day was full of seeing USC's campus, graduation, and a party. It was also fun to finally get some time with the Flannery's clan! When they left, they had little Caroline who was only about 4 months. Since then, they've added Harris and sweet little Hannah to their family and it was so fun to be around them, too!
Heading to graduation!
Eric's job was to entertain Harris during the ceremony.
All of us with the graduate!
That night, we celebrated Jeff. Things got a little crazy, or maybe just this guy...
(Yes, Jeff did have a bounce house at his graduation party :) And, then the night ended with a dance party.
The next morning, Eric and I wandered around Pasadena and had a wonderful breakfast at a quaint little place, with no mouths to feed except our own. It's amazing how you learn to appreciate the little things, two kids later :)
Then we all loaded up in the mini van, and with Bryant as our captain, we headed to Carmel to spend three days in one of the most beautiful places that God created. We got there just in time to watch the sunset along the rocky beach.
It was so good to hear these guys laugh non-stop along the way!
I'll go ahead and get it out there. I love nature. The beauty of it just makes me feel so refreshed and alive inside. So, on this trip, I was on sensory overload. California is so beautiful because the beauty is everywhere, so diverse, and the varying lighting changes the look of the same place completely within a couple of minutes.
Us with the water-colored sky and the rocky, restless sea.
And, of course there was never a dull moment... And I hadn't laughed so much in a longtime.
The beaches there were so different than anywhere I had been. The rugged rocks, the water crashing, the huge strands of kelp, sea glass and pebbles, and the wildflowers, they were amazing!
Me and the ladies.
The next day, we got up and had breakfast at the Little Swiss Cafe. Best pancakes ever! Then we loaded up in the mini and headed south on the Pacific Coast Highway. We spent the whole day on the road and probably only drove about 30 miles. There were so many beautiful places to stop. And we took advantage of them all!
In this picture, you can see the road we took in the way distance. It was an amazing drive.
After winding along the ocean, we drove into a forest into a place called Big Sur. We pulled in at a little restaurant to get something to eat, and when we walked around back, there were huge Redwoods and a mountain creek running through. It was unexpected and so beautiful!
Then, we drove on, looking for an obscure, unmarked road, that led to this place, Pfeiffer Beach.
One person out of the group got into the freezing water.
Stacy said that she felt like we were on a big adventure all day. It truly was that! We had no agenda really and just kept stumbling on beautiful places. It was so fun to explore these places with some of our best friends. We got back in time to watch the sunset along the 17 Mile Drive in Pebble Beach and then had dinner on Cannery Row, where we could watch sea lions from where we ate!
On our last day there, the guys and Stacy got to play golf at the Montery Peninsula Country Club. It looked amazing as many of the holes ran along the Pacific Coast.
I know that this was one of the highlights for the golfers on the trip.
Playing where the pros play.
Ellen, baby Hannah, and I had a leisurely breakfast (think like 3 hours) and then shopped around Carmel. We met the golfers and that night headed out for one last sunset and a campfire on the beach.
We also saw more of Pebble Beach including the Lone Cyprus, the town's trademark. This tree has been growing out on that rock for 250 years.
So thankful for this crew and the wonderful memories made together.
Meanwhile, back at home, Mom was a champ :) The days start at 6 and go long. Little Ellie is 100% all the time and always rearing to go. Together with Kelly, they put in many trips to the pool, Cinderella marathons, camel riding, a patient with strep throat, and many more adventures I'm sure I haven't heard about ;) Thanks mom and Kel for making this trip possible! I know it was so tiring and that now y'all both need a vacation to recover from the Littles. We really didn't worry about them at all while we were gone and it was a much needed vacation for the two of us. Here are some pictures I got while away.
Watching Bubba play basketball.
Early mornings are a way of life in the Ness house :)
We got home around 11:30 pm and who should come walking down the hall but Ellie herself. She just kept telling us, "I sure missed you on your trip." "Well, how's Caroline?" and has been super affectionate all week. Sure makes coming home from such an adventure a whole lot easier :)