Friday, July 27, 2012

Road Trip-Behind the Redwood Curtain-Part 1

Lady Bird Johnson Grove. I think the fog makes my photo look like a painting.

The redwood curtain is what they call the redwood thick highways that lead up to and border the very Northern part of California and separate it from the rest of the state. This area is a true dichotomy, a mix a liberal hippies and loggers. We just returned from our yearly trek up to the top of California, to Humboldt County about 300 miles north of San Francisco. My husband Max grew up in Trinidad, a beautiful small beach town up there. His step-mom Marguerite, lives in the college town Arcata and his mother in the Victorian lined and hilly Eureka, both in Humboldt. We stayed there and met up with his sister Amara, from Washington. It's a long 7 hour drive above the Bay Area, but so gorgeous. Each time I go, I appreciate even more the beauty of this very unique area. Funny though, how most Californians have not been up to Humboldt. Ask anyone and they know where it is, but it's the rare person who has actually been up here.

Since the drive is a bit of a haul, I try to find unique spots to stop at on the way up. Heading out you know it's going to be a nice day when you cross the bridge and the fog's burning off.

My latest find is the town of Ukiah. It's about at the half-way point of the drive. They have a bakery I am in love with. Schat's is a treasure! It's been run by a Dutch family that has been in the bread business a long time. They have the most fresh and amazing sandwiches. I had a caesar salad wrap- yum. Also they make artisanal breads (amazing!), baked goods and Peet's coffee. Get off at the Perkins Street exit in Ukiah off 101 and follow the signs to downtown. If you head up that way on a Saturday check out the darling farmer's market, The Mendocino Bookstore and a cool shop called Habitat.

Driving up 101 you pass through wine country (that's a whole post itself), and hit the rolling foothills covered in oak trees. That's the beginning of the North Coast Redwoods and the towns of Willits, Laytonville, Garberville and others. It gets a little funkier and you start seeing lots of shops like this...

All your tie dye needs can be met up this way :)   In Laytonville.

  This is also where you start to see lots of, "indoor gardening," and solar stores and the beginning of hitchhikers! Yep, they are still around all over up here. One scruffy group of hitchers had a heart on their cardboard sign that read, "We don't bite!" OMG! I just wish I had the camera for that. My boys were like,"What??"

 The whole thing brings me back to my childhood days driving to Santa Cruz with hitchhikers all over highway 17.  I am here to report the 1970s are still alive and thriving up in the North Coast! That is not an exaggeration. Folks are still embracing peace, love and the braless look up there big time too. Not that I was looking, but you know sometimes it's like you just can't help noticing how umm, natural everyone is up here. It's a bit different....People we have left the bubble!

Trinidad, Max's hometown, is an historic whaling port. We always make a trek and hike around the village, it's beach and port and the trails off the ocean. This visit I was keen to check out this organic cafe that opened across the street from my husband's old grammar school, The Beachcomber Cafe

It's a groovy spot opened by three gals that serves organic and all local produce. Lovely scones, muffins and homemade granola and so much more are served here! No paper cups to go here for their fantastic coffee, but you can buy a jam jar for $1 that you can return later. I love that! Locals also have a wall for their running tabs. Live music was happening on Sunday morning. It's a very unique and fun stop. Don't miss this in Trinidad. You can wander around this village, it's trails, the beaches and the seaport. Some snaps below.

A trail along Trinidad State Beach above. 

Can you believe my husband grew up across the street from this beach? This was his view out the living room window. He says he didn't appreciate how cool it was to watch whales from his windows all the time!

Walking toward the port -and below the port and it's sailboats. Below the port.

 Last summer my boys went to surf camp at Moonstone Beach. It is also in Trinidad and a great beach to learn at because of it's shallow entry. The only thing is you'll need to wear a full wet suit. Even in summer!

Past Trinidad, about a half hour North is Fern Canyon, part of Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. On this trail, you follow a stream for about a mile over footbridges and logs. The walls all around you are up to 80 feet high with ferns and waterfalls. This is where Jurassic Park 2 was filmed. It's truly one of the gems of Northern Cal and possibly the world. I don't know of anyplace remotely like this. These pictures just don't do it justice. It's hard to see the waterfalls in them.

Following the creek...and crossing the footbridges they put out in summer.

Guess I should have packed more snacks... I don't think redwood sorrel counts as a vegetable!

It's so wet here people do their graffiti on moss!
Do you know that redwood is so resistant to rot that a downed redwood tree can survive hundreds of years on the forest floor and may even sprout new trees? Really!

About ten minutes away from Fern Canyon is Lady Bird Johnson Grove, an old growth redwood forest. It undoubtedly has some of the oldest trees on earth here. Redwoods shoot up and do most of their growth in the first 100-200 years. Then they drop their lower branches. After 1000 years they begin to expand their width. You can see from the sizes of these trees they are VERY old.

The hike here is about a mile total flat, but you are at 1200 feet up. You literally feel like you are in the clouds. These trees are awe-inspiring. You cannot see the tops of them. When they get high enough they form a canopy or some call it a cathedral sort of grove. Lady Bird Grove has one of these. Unfortunately my Nikon battery was dead! All my photos are from the iPhone. Not too bad though..

You can see the massive size of these trees standing next to them...

And looking up! Can you believe this was a phone camera? Very foggy that day.

Some hijinks with Max's sister Amara and her husband Brian!

We found hobbits too!

My husband could not resist!

Our crew..

And Max's step-mom Marguerite and her son Patrick.

The forest here is filled with wild roses and rhododendrons!

Next up, I'll show you the rest of the trip! 

I just love sharing this very undiscovered part of Northern California!


All photos Northern California Style. 

Sunday, July 15, 2012

A Della Dress

Kate wearing A Della Dress shirtdress in her own style with tights. Love this.

Here's a post I've been meaning to write forever and it seems something always comes up and I don't get to. Now that summer is here I finally have had a few moments to look around and take stock of the home and my wardrobe. One thing I am really noticing lately is that the quality things I have purchased in the last decade or so are still with me, still stylish and give me more joy than ever to wear and use. The things I fling willy nilly into my home and wardrobe from some mindless shopping are just taking up space. What was so coveted in the dressing room is greatly disappointing me once home and I end up reaching for the older and quality pieces that always look great. I'm rambling a bit here, but it brings me to one sound investment I made this year,  A Della Dress.

Bonnie in the sheath with sleeves in a gorgeous red at the holidays.

Last Fall, my friend Bonnie, a mother at our school, invited me to a trunk show at her house. I really had no idea what to expect. Turns out Bonnie has a dear friend Andrea who lives in Pacific Palisades and recently started her own design business. Her friend, Andrea Dyke realized there was a real need for the super flattering A-line dresses of the 1960s that were worn by Jackie Kennedy and so many. She had a vintage Marimekko shift dress that she had worn out and could not replace. Andrea decided there was a niche to be filled and has done it brilliantly, setting up her own atelier and design team in Los Angeles. A Della Dress is based on 3 versatile A-line shapes. They are a shift, a sheath and a shirt-dress.  Andrea travels all over doing trunk shows in California, and even up in Canada where she hails from.

Andrea wearing one of her dresses with a jean jacket. Doesn't she look chic?

I was intrigued that I could have a custom dress that was very affordable (they start at $70) and unique. I tried several dresses at Bonnie's home and finally settled on a shirt dress in a pale blue grey with a light plaid print. I also chose my buttons and decided I'd like tabs on the back too. When my dress came, I felt like a princess. I had never had a dress made so beautifully, except for the frocks my grandmother made me as a little girl. The quality of my dress, the seams, the shape, all of it were amazing. I have enjoyed wearing this shirt dress a ton and have had so many compliments on it. I have worn it with boots, a scarf and a coat in Winter and with sandals and chunky necklaces in Spring and Summer.  It just hit me this week in my closet purge that I need to order a shift dress. The one I am thinking of will be sleeveless in her Malibu fabric or maybe the Hollywood aqua with on seam pockets. Now this is something worth spending your hard earned money on! What am I thinking with another mindless trip to the mall? It's lovely to have something made just for you, that you had a hand in customizing and is made so beautifully. I also love that it's made right here in California! Check out the photos below to see some of Andrea's fans in their dresses...

Jenna Bunnell is an event coordinator for Hermes. Here she is at one of the events wearing the sheath dress in boardroom brown, I love her hair and accessories.

One of the shifts on Kathleen in a lovely fabric at the Prado in Spain.

The shirtdress on Holly in navy pique with a belt and she's holding the shift in Malibu fabric.

Helene, sent Andrea Marimekko fabric from the Manhattan store so she could make a shift dress. Here she wears it after yoga with boots and a leather jacket. You too can send them a fabric you love to  be made into a dress.
Deborah below is wearing an African Safarai Khaki Shirtdress on her bike!

These ladies, Andee and Pam are wearing shirt dresses with seersucker linings and double wrap belts.
Diane looks fabulous in the sheath in the Hollywood fabric! Below she's in the same with another fabric.

Some of the printed shifts.
A sheath on Alicia with a wrapping belt.

The fabric of my beloved dress. Isn't it pretty?
How I was wearing my shirtdress on Easter.

Another customer in the style and fabric I bought. She wears a belt and boots with it.

Some of the fabric choices for Summer.

You can check out Andrea's great website here. Make sure you click on A Della Dress in Action to see all the lovely ladies who already own her dresses. I have gotten to know Andrea better over email and I just love her. She's so smart and funny and really a cool lady. If you live near Los Angeles, you can even visit her Atelier, in Pacific Palisades, where she lives. She also does custom made to fit orders.

The view from Andrea's Atelier! Who wouldn't love to bring a friend and shop here?

Kim :)

Monday, July 9, 2012

Grand Tetons, Jackson Hole, Wyoming and a Utah Wedding!

I'm back and just had to get a post out about my trip. I've missed you all and blogging. I was in pretty remote places while on my trip and had no access to the web. The same this weekend when we did a short weekend camping trip. Now I'm just in laundry hell!

View flying into Jackson Hole, Wyoming airport.

Anyway, first of all I have to say I've got a little crush on Wyoming and the Grand Tetons. Loved the whole darn area. It's amazingly beautiful. It's charming in the old west fashion. I just was blown away by the landscape. The lakes, mountains, flowers and waterfalls, and even the clouds enchanted me. Truly. I could just stare all day at the changing views. The town of Jackson is very cute with wooden walkways, flowers everywhere, and handsome cowboys scattered all about. Shopping was first rate too. Yes, I squeezed some torture in there for the men. I found a darling store, Belle Cose, that I am crazy about. They carry beautiful home decor, jewelry and kitchen wares. LOVE!

All the stores have flower pots too.

Huckleberry Soda, a Jackson Hole treat.  This at another wonderful spot in Jackson Hole- e.leaven bakery. Don't miss the wonderful breads, sandwiches and homemade chips! The chicken tarragon sandwiches on poppy bread are fantastic.

Stagecoach ride in Jackson Hole.

Our view at Jackson Lake Lodge. 

Lots to do in this area too. We stayed at Jackson Lake Lodge, which is a national park hotel. The rooms are pretty basic, but the location is unbeatable. You look directly onto the Tetons and it has a enormous lobby to relax in and play games and just hang with the view. Two restaurants are on site and a fun bar too. Speaking of the bar, huckleberry is the fruit in those parts and I had a few huckleberry mojitos while there. One night, with cocktails in hand of course, we got to experience a moose up close and personal when he came to the back of the lodge right in front of the windows to get a bite. What an amazing creature he was! Enormous too. It was one of the highlights of the trip. Some really bright people tried to get within a 2 foot radius of the 7 foot creature with their iPhones, until hotel security warned them they might be dead in a second if the moose charged their way...

The moose. The best picture I could get.  (Actually my son Jackson got it with his iPhone.) Below on the deck of the bar at the lodge.

Hiking at Jenny Lake above and below to Cascade Canyon.

So many fun things we did. We rented canoes on Jackson Lake and paddled among the little islands. Unforgettable views and wildlife. Another day we took a boat across the smaller Jenny Lake and hiked up to Cascade Canyon, between the Tetons. It was made by a glacier and is still covered in snow on top with wildflowers below. The day we left Wyoming we took a trail ride on horses through a river. My youngest son Griffin really wanted to do this and so we drove a bit to get to the ranch where they do this. I was seriously scared when I got on my horse. I hadn't been on one in about 35 years! However, I have to say, it was so fun once I relaxed. My horse Peanut Butter, was very sweet. Going through rivers was a little nerve-wracking. The cowboys who run this operation Horseback Adventures were so knowledgeable and really loved all their horses. Again girls, cowboys...Need I say more? I am directing my single girl friends to take their next vacations here!

Jackson Lake.

I almost forgot, we spent a day at Yellowstone too. It's about and hour and a half from the Tetons. We couldn't be so close and not see Old Faithful at least. We spent some time on the geyser trail and that was pretty fantastic. The sulfur pools are gorgeous. We then checked out the Old Faithful Lodge which was recently restored and resembles a huge arts and crafts style treehouse. We had lunch there and they have a general store which is decorated in gnarled wood. The store and the soda fountain are all from the 1890s and are original. Pretty neat. After seeing that whole area, we headed back and stopped at the west thumb area of Yellowstone, which has even more sulfur pools, but these are deeper and some are in Lake Yellowstone, which is huge. This area was really beautiful. Yellowstone is so big it deserves another trip and hopefully, we will also do that one day.

Yellowstone above and below.

Old Faithful.

The original soda fountain counter from 1890s and outside. Both at Yellowstone general store.

Inside the treehouse like Old Faithful Lodge.


The deeper sulfur pools at Yellowstone's west thumb.
After 5 days in Wyoming we headed to the wedding in Utah! Our friends Justin and Laurie held their wedding at Beaver Mountain. They rented an entire ski resort for a weekend! It was covered in grass and flowers now and so lovely. What a great spot for families and kids to run amok! We stayed about 15 minutes away at Bear Lake, which is a big vacation spot for Utah families. It was surrounded by restaurants and stands hawking raspberry shakes. They were everywhere and so of course we had to try one! :)  They made great onion rings too. Ahh, the fat intake on this holiday!

This is as small as these shakes come!

A covered bridge in Idaho on the way to Utah from Wyoming.

A derelict church in Idaho.

The closest I'm getting to Paris this summer- Paris, Idaho. A very quaint little town we passed through.

I digress, back to the wedding! It was an unforgettable day. Justin and Laurie really made this all about their guests and did so much to make it fun. The ceremony was sweet. Justin, whose Kiwi mom is of Scottish descent, wore the full kilt and all. He looked like he just stepped out of Braveheart. So dashing! Laurie, whose mother is Japanese, also chose to honor her heritage by wearing a red kimono and traditional geisha hair. Together it was darling and they just were so cute. After the informal ceremony, Justin handed all the children a scavenger guide for the hunt he set up on the mountain. Each child also was given a compass to keep. When they finished, they got a pocketknife! The kids loved it of course.

Love this! Now they are off to Iceland for a honeymoon. So them!

Justin and Laurie with friend Gabe, who officiated.

Boys admiring their pocketknives! Our pals Trevor and MJ with my Jackson.

Griffin and pal Trevor having a blast on the ski hill.

 We had a huge feast served in the lodge and cooked by aunts of the bride and pals of the groom. Later, stargazing with guidebooks and green laser pointers provided for the kids again. The night finished with a bonfire complete with s'mores and loads of glow sticks, wands and necklaces. What a night and day my kids will never forget. We loved catching up with old friends, some we hadn't seen in 17 years or more, in this relaxed and fun atmosphere. Unbelievably, the next day breakfast was provided for those who slept in the lodge or could come back. There were heaping platters of fresh eggs, hash browns, fruit,  juices and bloody marys along with gourmet coffee from our friend Greg's Squid Ink Coffee (the best!) and local bacon...Favors were gourmet salted caramels from Montana! Did I mention my fat intake last week? 

Greg and his to die for coffee!
Erin my friend snapping pics and others enjoying the wedding ceremony.

Our friend Erin took our picture. I ended up wearing a maxi dress with my  flip-flops. The boys did shorts and nice shirts.

Griffin with his glow sticks and Jack below roasting huge marshmallows.

Thanks to Justin and Laurie for the wonderful and memorable day and I hope it inspires another person to think out of the box with weddings. The thing is, I think my boys want wedding like this now! My oldest's words were, "Justin's wedding was all pros mom, plus lasers!"

I guess that says it all!