Appreciating Earth – Today and Everyday (especially on Earth Day)

We live in the beautiful state of California – where we have gorgeous beaches, spectacular mountains, rolling hills and more outdoor adventures than you can count.

But none of that actually counts, unless you take advantage of it!

It’s hard to find time to be adventurous and take time to disconnect – but it’s not impossible with strategic planning and sticking to tight schedules.

In honor of Earth Day (and the needed mental break), this past weekend we loaded up Black Beauty (our all black Ford Explorer Sport) and rented an AirBNB in the mountain range north of Santa Barbara. It was remote, not “that” easy to get too and a total change of pace and vibe from our lives in Silicon Valley. An afternoon drive (and a few Starbucks stops) is all it took to make our way down the 101 along the amazing coast and we were there.

We have become pretty good at the whole “road trip” thing this year. We’ve got the perfect car cooler that keeps all of our drinks and snacks chilled (and was perfect to keep grocery’s cold with our AirBnB being a healthy trip up the mountain). We know exactly how to set up the dog bed, harness and supplies needed to bring our dog (aka most important member of the family) along with us.

Side Note: If you travel with your dog, you need to purchase an AutoDogMug! It’s a water bottle with a small bowl attached to the top that allows you to squeeze water into the bowl and releasing the bottle sucks the additional water back into the bottle so you can easily offer your four legged friend some H2O by reaching over into the back seat and not have to worry about spilling or splashing!

Speaking of coolers and supplies- we have built a solid arsenal of supplies that you can’t Road Trip without…

  • Folding Chairs
  • Beach/Picnic Blanket
  • Collapsible Tent
  • First Aid Kit (and lots of sunscreen)
  • Cooler (mentioned above)
  • Charging accessories
  • Beach Towels
  • Dog Gate

And while that list sounds like a lot, it really doesn’t take up much in the car – and if you shop around you can find items that stack really well or fold flat to maximize trunk space. Anyone have any Road Trip “must haves” that we are missing?!?!

Our beach blanket lives in the car year round. It has hosted many picnics (in random parks and parking lots – especially when traveling with pets who aren’t allowed in most dining establishments), provided a cool surface when the street was too hot for puppy feet and has been more than clutch when changing tires or covering items we didn’t want see by passerby’s.

But back to our much needed “disconnect” and #ED18 (Earth Day, duh) – our AirBNB exceeded our expectations. Yeah, it was 30+ minutes from the closest grocery store and you need a 4-wheel drive vehicle to get to it but it was 100% worth the extra haul – I could explain to you in detail why, but I’m confident the pictures below paint a pretty convincing case…

After the climb up the steep and single lane mountain road, we turned into a long gravel packed driveway that led to the coolest little cottage nestled at the top of a succulent rich landscape surrounded by lush trees and greenery. *Spotted Caesar (@Caesar_Johnson_JRT)The grounds had so many trails and paths, each one made you feel like you were exploring corners of the property never seen before – but small terra-cotta pots or clay creatures were hidden in the landscape to remind you that every inch was a part of the master plan. And if the views weren’t spectacular enough, there were about half a dozen wind-chimes scattered around the property which let you hear the ocean breeze as it climbed up the mountain, added to the soundtrack nature played and set the mood for exploring and adventuring. I’m mad that I didn’t get any pictures of the ceramic fish that I kept finding along the property – I want to find a similar one to hide in our backyard to remind me of this weekend and this property!The entire landscapes flowed naturally as if Mother Nature went above and beyond to spoil this area – but the level of detail was due to Mother Nature, one absolutely killer landscape architect and very detailed oriented gardener. We have a decent yard at home, but being able to let our dog run free around the property and take in the sights and smells made this trip extra special knowing every member (fur not not) enjoyed the retreat!

The vibrant blues and greens throughout the property echoed the clear blue skies and teal green ocean views in the distance.

This mountain retreat was so high and had such clear views that you could literally see the “line where the sky meets the sea…” (any Moana fans out there?!?!)

Does anyone know what this dinosaur of a plant is called? There were hundreds of them everywhere in Santa Barbara and along the coast and I really want them incorporated into our backyard landscape (that is – when we figure out what it is we plan on doing back there).

While the plan was to sleep in and enjoy the mini-vacation, the sun greeted us bright and early and the birds seemed to sing extra loud and extra early this weekend – and we didn’t mind the change of schedule one bit. Watching the sun rise from the east and seeing the rays of light Peak through this large tree was amazing… we went a little outside of the property line (whoops) to capture this picture. Totally worth the risk of tetanus climbing through the rusty barbed wire to get here, but I wish the photo was able to capture the soothing movement of the tall blades of grass as the wind swept through.While Caesar enjoyed chasing ground squirrels, scaring lizards from under plants and “watering” everything and anything under the sun we enjoyed finding different species of succulents and plants we can only dream of growing in our yard.

Some of the plants were the largest we had ever seen, giving us very Jurassic Park vibes.

I wish we had more time to explore all of the paths and trails carved out on the property, but the few we found were plenty enough for the weekend and beautiful reminders of Mother Nature’s beauty.

You can see some of the paths in the photo below with large stairways blocked out by large pieces of stone.

The view below is from the trail that took us just above the property our cottage sat on. It’s views like these that make you start planning what monumental life occasion could be staged here?!?! A friends wedding, a renewal of vows… OR yet another millennial photo pretending to be deep in thought so I can post it later with a meaningless quote (we all know that is coming).I have zero guilt in shameless selfies when there were so many picture perfect moments to take advantage of. But even Caesar was over taking photos after our first day exploring the property…

He was originally sitting on the bottom rock in the picture below – a picture that would have surely made him Instafamous – but he saw a lizard and took off and his endorsement deal from Petsmart remains a dream (a parent can dream…)

Being so close to Santa Barbara, we had to explore the city known for its Mediterranean climate, wine country and beautiful beach culture.

Caesar had zero complaints about our little day trip into SB. He absolutely loved running along the beach and attacking every piece of seaweed that washed on to shore. But if you are traveling with your pets make sure you plan in advance which beaches you plan on visiting as not all beaches are dog friendly. We had to make a few stops till we found a beach that was pet friendly.

Doing your homework as to where you can and can’t take your pets might help you find hidden gems in the area like hikes that lead to waterfalls (like these!).

We stumbled onto this waterfall while googling the area after we had lunch at a small park off the freeway (again, a big blanket always comes in handy).Pictures can’t do the nights sky justice….

Joshua Tree is one of the only places I have ever been with so little light pollution that the stars and moon fully illuminate the earth below.

But this cottage was so remote that the stars and moon were enough to light up the sky and cover everything in sight with a blue tint that seemed to magically enchant everything in sight (no Instagram filter can do that…. yet). We already miss the sounds of frogs croaking, creatures shuffling in the leaves under the trees, that long and winding dirt mountain road and the whimsical sound of wind-chimes dancing as the ocean breeze sweeps the mountainside.

We are grateful for the amazing AirBNB Cottage Rental, Black Beauty for a comfortable and safe trip and the ability to make the time to reset and disconnect ourselves. Sometimes you have to disconnect and hit the reset button so you can bring your best self to the table.

It’s not even Monday, and I already feel refueled and rejuvenated for the week ahead – but don’t think for one second I’m not missing relaxing on the patio of the cottage.

And we are mostly grateful for beautiful, stunning, surprising and all inspiring Mother Nature! Thank you for keeping this giant spinning ball looking so good for the past 4.54 billion years! You continue to amaze us, entertain us and reward us! We hope that we leave a minimal footprint behind (and sorry about that whole road tripping in a large SUV thing – we use recyclable bags and avoid one time use plastic bottles – so they cancel each other out, right?)

Happy Earth Day! Let me know how you celebrated Earth Day 2018 and if you know of any road trip worthy destinations please let me know!

I’m excited to report back after our next adventure (it will be our longest and farthest road trip to date)!

As always, thanks for reading and stay tuned for more pictures and videos to come!!!