Courtney Sidonia (@courtneywanderlust) — Luxury is in the experience, not the price tag: showing my kids the world with a hint of glam and a whole lot of heart.
Admittedly, I was behind when it came to the food truck phenomenon; a bit of a germ phone with a hyper sensitive stomach , I was terrified to eat anything prepared in a vehicle... and then we went to Vieques, an island whose food scene was as spectacular as its beaches, and I thought- it’s time I just did it. The food truck behind us was my first, it was delicious, and I never looked back... so when we went to Oahu’s North Shore, I couldn’t wait to eat out of a vehicle...
One of the only couple retreats we’ve ever enjoyed - to our happy place, Napa Valley- after watching Bottle Shock, we had to go, and our dear friends in San Clemente helped make arrangements - the amazing Hall Winery, where we tasted ridiculous 90+ points reds and whites, soaked in views, and stared at the most amazing light fixture on the planet - in my humble opinion...
The turn off for one of Hvar’s most recognized beaches is really just a spot on the shoulder of the road leading to a steep walk down the hill and amazing views. Luckily, Croatia has mastered water front clubs and bars at the best swimming bays with cold beers, kid-ready ice cream, and great coffee to reward the weary beach-seeking hiker. On this particular day, my husband carried the gear while I had Bambi strapped to me in a Bjorn, and the elder child of course spotted the spot for frozen treats the second we made the descent. It’s no challenge to convince the kids to manage the hike when there are snacks at the bottom... the way back up? Different conversation.
I should’ve known that when I took a swig from my water bottle during a workout tonight - and tasted what I can only describe as luke warm jolly rancher, to discover a mostly disintegrated lollipop that I had used to bribe my 4 years old earlier today during an errand, that the evening was destined to go sideways... which of course it did: a German Shepherd and a Hazmat cleanup and an hour later ... but I’ve been a human mom for 11 years, dog mom for 16, I’m used to spills and sh-t storms... I try to remind myself, not to panic- although I’m actually quite adept at panicking. I had to follow my own advice on this day in the water- where I am my most uncomfortable, terrified of things that swim, waves that mock me, and tangled knots of plants that love to reach out like gnarled fingers to make me squirm... I needed to suck it up and take Bambi for a dip, and I did my best, to handle the spill and sh-t storm inside my head, without panicking, that thing I do so well...
On a rainy and cold Sunday morning I can’t help but research remote beaches and holidays that require little more than a bathing suit, flip flops, and a bottle of sunscreen... growing up on the East Coast, we’d flee to the Caribbean or Florida or Mexico to warm up; from California, the easy choice was Hawaii; now, lacking direct flights to anywhere, we might as well accept a complicated travel day and explore the South Pacific...
When I was pregnant with my first, I had never heard of a baby moon; with our second, we took a family moon to the same resort at which we had honeymooned years earlier ... the beginning of this particular trip was a comedy of errors, a series of such ridiculous resort mistakes (I took one look at the pool and forbade any family member from entering due to the noxious grey-green color of the water- and being pregnant, there was no way I was setting foot in suspicious water- and wouldn’t you know, the hotel yellow taped it off, and closed it to “shock it”) that for the first and luckily last so far, I packed up the troops and made arrangements for an entirely different stay starting day 2. Needless to say, the trip was salvaged and we got some needed R&R. And don’t worry, it’s not coffee in my cup...
I don’t like waves. My kids don’t particularly like waves- which was unusual for our town- they were born and raised at one of the world’s best surf breaks. I’m also nervous in water I can’t see through- I have an unreasonable fear of sharks, sea creatures, and seaweed... probably mostly seaweed, and am convinced that anything in the water wants to eat me... welcome to Inside my Head. Luckily, the world is full of beaches with clear water and minimal waves - and a favorite spot to find them was on our trip to the extraordinary island of Vieques.
Whenever we’d return to my husband’s childhood hometown, we’d stay at the former Ritz Carlton now Langham Huntington in Pasadena; we never stayed in the same room- we never wanted to - each time we discovered something unique and wonderful - ground floor rooms with billowing curtains and French doors with a terrace near the Japanese Garden; rooms with an easy proximity to the pool, or higher floors with balconies that made al fresco room service a pleasant and casual affair in lieu of wrestling a toddler under tablecloths downstairs. The grounds are replete with manicured lawns and gardens to explore, plenty of open space to release the energy of little boys, and the hotel’s residential setting completes the ambiance. If we ever head back in that direction, I’ll be sure not to break tradition of accommodations...