Small is the gate and narrow is the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.


Ferry Building Farmer's Market

Friday evening was a tough one in the Lewis house. Landon didn't listen at school and then threw a fit over his punishment when he got home. Adam didn't get home until late and by then I was frustrated and had to check out while he took over the parenting duties for the night. I had been wanting to check out the farmer's market at the Ferry Building for sometime and when I mentioned I wanted to go Saturday morning, Adam suggested I take a break and go alone while he watched Landon. I never like going out on my own, but I needed a break. Walking around for hours and trying to get Landon not to touch everything wouldn't have been fun for either of us, but it was a great place for me to go and check out alone. I spent my entire morning soaking it all in wondering why it took me so long to check it out.

I took Bart from our back yard (literally) to the Embarcadero station and when I came out of the subway, I was immediately greeted with tents and people selling all kinds of stuff.

The farmer's market surrounds the ferry building, but all around the area people set up tents selling artwork, crafts, and just about everything else. I walked up and down a few aisles looking mainly at the artwork, but tried not to waste too much time outside of the main event. I crossed the streets of cable cars and headed into the ferry building. 

Inside the ferry building are more permanent shops and eateries and outside is the market. I made my way inside first to have a look around. It's a popular place to hang out on a Saturday morning for locals and tourist alike.

Oddly enough, except for waiting in line for the bathroom, it never felt overly crowded inside. I think it was because I was so engrossed with all the stores. Inside were all kinds of specialty stores, many with local items, and all with things a little more unique. One of my favorites was the mushroom store, Far West Fungi.

I've developed a taste for mushrooms but I don't cook them at home. I made a note that this is my go to place when I start to venture into them more. They sold assorted baskets and even mini-farms to grow your own.

Another favorite shop of mine was the Cowgirl Creamery cheese shop. Cheese is my favorite food next to chocolate.

There were so many different types of cheeses and I haven't mentioned the best part can sample just about anything! Samples are either laid out or you just simply ask. Everyone was so helpful and nice.

The Cowgirl also has an eatery where you can indulge in a number of cheese rich dishes. They even melted the cheese right over your dish. Drool! And if you want some meat to go with that cheese there are a number of meat shops including Boccalone which sells "tasty salted pig parts"

They had a deli that was obviously a crowd pleaser. And if you are wanting some tasty pig parts for later, they have plenty on the racks waiting to be taken home.

I decided after looking around at the all the food and non-food items, that this is the perfect place to do some holiday shopping. They have a little something for everyone from flavored olive oils, sampleable of course.

To jams, honeys, and preseves. This store jam with and without alcohol. I sampled the wine jams and loved them all. The peach was probably my favorite and I already have one person in mind for the apricot flavor.

If jam is up your alley, then the perfect compliment is the cutest little biscuit stand near the front door. She had all kinds of biscuits laid out, freshly made and enticing everyone. It took a lot of will power to exit past her stand without stopping. Next time, I doubt I will be able to.

I loved the ultra fancy s'mores kit at the gourmet chocolate shop. I might just have to pick one of these up for our next camping trip. 

I dared not go any further into that shop though. I resisted a lot of temptation while I was there, but not everything. When I saw people walking around eating these yummy looking donuts, I knew I was doomed. Sure enough, it wasn't long before I noticed this little table selling fresh Italian donuts and cannolis. 

Nothing fancy, but oh my!!!! So delicious!!! I just had to try the raspberry donut. I wished someone else had been with me so I could have justified the lemon cannoli too. And they were not the only tempting deserts. From bakery shops selling pastries that made my mouth water, to homemade ice cream stores (one with a line all the way out of the building!), to specialty sweet shops selling things I had never heard of, but would love to try; The options were never ending.

From getting too caught up in the sweets, I grabbed a burger at the American Eatery which was amazing! I toiled over which eatery to try and although I kept it simple, I think I made a good decision. I even tried their Boylan's old fashion soda made with cane sugar, but I wasn't all that impressed. It didn't taste anything like a Mexican coke which was what I was expecting. With this trip, I was able to cross this off my San Francisco Bucket list, but I think instead of doing that, I'm going to alter it to trying every eatery within the ferry building. There are so many and so much variety that I'd love to try each of them eventually. Next time I'm going to bring a friend and we can drink our lunch at the wine market. They have a bar where you can sample many of their selections and some food to that pairs well with it. I seriously contemplated doing a flight solo, but some things are just not meant to do by yourself.

After, lunch I headed outside to see what I could find. This is the true farmer's market and only runs on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Saturday is by far the biggest day with the most variety. They have everything from fruits, vegetables, herbs, flowers, eggs, honey, and on and on. Most of the places were fully organic and all were local. I'm not one of those people who only eats local, organic, free range, gluten free stuff, but I was smitten with it all none the less.

And there is no denying the fresher, the better. This was some of the freshest food I had ever tasted. Peaches were the most popular item and some were so sweet I would have sworn they coated them in sugar. There were more varieties and kinds than I ever knew existed too. Samples were not only available outside, but encouraged by most of the vendors. I think they knew if you tried it, you'd buy it. 

If you are visiting San Francisco on a budget, come down here on a Saturday and eat yourself a days worth of food just by sampling. I eventually had to stop, since I had already indulged. It was hard though. The fruits and veggies were so big, colorful, and nicely displayed. It was a feast for the stomach and the eyes.

I took out $40 in cash and made myself stick to the budget. I'm glad I did too, because the presentation was so good on something that I might have bought it all if I could. All the fresh herbs were particular tempting for me.

I've decided to start my family on seeded grapes too. These grapes were better than any candy you can find and I'm hoping my boys can get past a crunchy little seed so we can start keeping these in the fridge.

I managed to walk around and see most of the tents before they started to close up shop at 2pm. A part of me kept kicking myself for not coming here sooner and a part of me was happy I didn't know how amazing it was when we lived only a block away. There is no doubt, I will always have to come with a budget, because the amount of money I could blow here is worse than any mall. I am however already planning another trip and am excited to share it with visitors in the future. I can see us stopping here on a Saturday morning, getting lots of goodies for a picnic then heading down to the park to enjoy some yummy foods and sunshine. This is a happening place no doubt, but in this instance it is definitely for a good reason!  It's supposed to be the best farmer's market in the country and I don't see anything could be any better. I think it is also reasonable to say, there's no better place to be on a Saturday morning in San Francisco than right down here.


Monterey Bay Aquarium

A few weeks ago, we finally made our way to Monterey to check out the famous Monterey Bay Aquarium. I could go on and on about how awesome an aquarium it was (by far the best one I've been to). We've been wanting to take Landon for some time and when his best buddy's parents suggested a trip (and had some deeply discounted tickets), we jumped on the opportunity to go with them. The only thing more enjoyable than watching your kid in awe, is watching two kids in awe together.

One of the largest tanks is the Kelp Forest tank which mimics exactly how the ocean looks just outside the doors of the aquarium in the waters below. Kelp here grows over 70 feet long and going for a dive at nearby Point Lobos is on my to-do list. Until then, it was really cool to get a view of what it looks like in our own backyard.

And this aquarium has not just one, but two huge tanks. The kids could have stayed at the second tank (called "The Open Sea") all day long. Every time a shark swam by they got SOOOO excited. All the schools of swimming fish would part and they would oohh and ahhh.

I got excited every time an animal would swim by too, but it wasn't the sharks. My favorite under water animal is the sea turtle. I had an amazing experience diving in Cozumel and getting to see one up close. It's always stuck with me and I've loved them ever since.  Four year old boys on the other hand, couldn't have cared less. The hammerhead was Landon's favorite he said.

The big tanks were pretty spectacular, but the Jellies might have won out as everyone's favorite. The jelly area was really cool. A large tank near the beginning worked to set the mood. It was perfectly lit to show the contrasting color of the floating jellies inside. It was beautiful and memorizing.

Having been stung by a jellyfish before, I was happy to be seeing them behind lots of glass, but the boys couldn't help but touch the glass trying to get just a tiny bit closer. Beautiful, but dangerous I warned them. They had a large variety of jellies too including the egg yolk jelly as seen below. No idea where it got that name...

They loved the color, the movement, and the mass of jellies in some of the tanks. They would each pick out one and decide they were that one. Until a better one came by, of course.

And if the regular jelly exhibit wasn't enough, they have a special exhibit called the Jelly Experience until September 7th. There, they had a many more jellies, like these cool neon ones.

It had some interactive features too which really helped keep the kids involved and keep their attention on the right thing. One of their favorites was an exhibit where you push up and down on the podiums to move the jellies across the screen. Fortunately for these two, Wendy and Wayne pushed them on the podiums so they moved to make the jelly fish move.

And the interactive areas didn't end there. The tidepools were another favorite and allowed all of us to touch some of the ocean critters. We got to touch a starfish for the first time, which was pretty cool. Although we've seen starfish in the tidepools we've visited, they've always been the one animal that can't be touched.

Kids are so tactile. They have to touch and feel everything so the tide pools are a perfect place for kids to learn and get involved. There were a large variety of animals including some that were new to even me, like this Gumboot Chilton which I realized I had seen at the local tidepools, but just never knew what it was.

They also got to feel on the kelp which they said felt "yucky", but had no problem touching all over.

The aquarium also had interactive exhibits that allowed the children simulate currents and build reefs to try and protect the animals from them. Of course, explaining what was going on was up to the parents, but it was a nice change from looking at animals through a tank. After a little bit of that and some time on the indoor playground the boys were able to get out a little energy that had built up.

After playing, we sat outside and had some lunch. Our friends were prepared with a picnic lunch and and we watched people kayaking while we had a bite to eat. I'm always a little jealous when I see other people outside in the water. I love being on or in the water in any way and form. It doesn't help what a beautiful location it was.

One thing I loved about the aquarium was their underwater explorers program that introduces children to scuba diving. Landon likes to look at our photo book from Cozumel with underwater pictures and talk about how he wants to scuba dive too. He's still too young for their introduction program, but as soon as he turns eight we will sign up for it. They take the kids into the ocean right off the deck of the aquarium, It's very shallow and blocked off by rocks, but it would be a great little taste into the world of scuba diving for any kid. Even I would do it if the cap were not thirteen years old.

After lunch, we headed to the rest of the exhibits which included the Tentacles and Vanishing Wildlife. It was disappointing to see all the octopuses, curled up and sleeping, because the boys would have loved to see them moving around. The squid on the other hand, were out swimming around. Adam loves squid! He made a friend with one on a night dive that wouldn't leave him alone. Ever since then, they've held a special place in his heart.

The vanishing wildlife exhibit was a little too mature to keep the kids interested. Except for the interactive parts where you got to make yourself into animals and see your picture of the big screen.

We managed to see every inch of the aquarium and were exhausted by the end of the day. It was a great place, a great experience, and a great day! The best part? We still have a gift certificate that we didn't use for the three of us from my brother and sister-in-law. (They are the best!) Since the temporary exhibits will be changing soon and the tourist season is starting to die down, we plan to go back soon. If you have kids and are ever around Monterrey, this is a must stop. The learning, the fun, and the awe won't just be from the kids either. I know the four adults enjoyed the aquarium just as much as the two boys. Well, almost.


Oregon Trip- Our final day!

I'm a little sad that this the last post about our wonderful trip to Oregon, but I'm so excited to share this AMAZING day!

After, being woken up by the crazy family next to us, we packed it up and high tailed it out of the KOA. We arrived to our first stop of the day, Yaquina Head Lighthouse just in time for low tide.

Tide pools are something we really enjoy and I had heard the Oregon coast had some great ones. Landon loves tide pools and I love that it is an interactive classroom of sorts. We knew this was something we wanted to share with Taylor during our trip.

Not only can they explore areas normally only accessible by snorkeling or diving, but you can actually touch so many of the animals which kids love. These tide pools were so colorful, with lots of urchins.

And more starfish than we've ever seen.

And a great view of the lighthouse up above the shore.

Certain areas were off limits due to seals, but it was neat for Taylor to get to see so many up close. There were also a number of cormorants nesting, but the boys were not nearly as impressed with that as we were. We couldn't have asked for a better morning to be splashing around and exploring the shallow waters. The bright sunny skies made it easier to find the animals who like to play hide and seek. Like this crab in the below picture trying to blend in with the landscape.

We explored the tide pools until low tide hit. Once low tide reaches it's peak the water immediately starts coming back in and it does so quickly. As the water started making its way back in, we made our way back to the beach. This beach was unlike any other, it was made entirely of black stones. Big ones too. It was just like someone dumped a huge jar of black marbles all over the beach and walking up it was quiet the feat.

After we made our way up from the beach, we explored the lighthouse. Yaquina Head lighthouse is the tallest lighthouse in Oregon. Lighthouses never get old, they are all a little different and never fail to be part of an amazing scenery.

When we were finished, we headed back on the road and onto Cape Perpetua about an hour and a half South. No surprise, it was stunning too!

If Cape Perpetua is known for one thing, it is Thor's Well. Once you arrive, you can see a large hole in the coastal rock the waves bring water into the bottom of the well for it to be forced out with spectacular effect. It is pretty neat to see and super photogenic.

While Adam risked his life at the edge of this hole, Katherine and I took the boys to explore a few less dangerous parts of this area. As the waves crash against the rocks and into coves, large sprouts of water coming shooting up and out. We stood and watched this phenomenon for a long time, all of us memorized and excited to see it again and again.

And once that novelty wore off a bit, the boys kept themselves busy exploring the little pools of water left behind from the waves.

About this time we were all getting hungry so we headed to this little town which we had passed just a mile before Cape Perpetua. From the car, I had seen this roadside restaurant and something about it just screamed out good seafood.

I just had to take a picture of Luna Sea Fish House so I would never forget it. They had the FRESHEST seafood I have ever tasted. I got a salad and a bowl of their Slumgulliom along with the best lemonade I have ever tasted. I wasn't exactly sure what Slumgullion was, or why a bowl of soup would be $11.75 until I tasted it. It's a clam chowder with bay shrimp and cheese and it was the most amazing clam chowder/soup/food I've ever tasted.

It may not look like much, but believe me when I say I would get back in the car right now and head all the way back there just for another bowl. And it wasn't just my food that was amazing, but everyone's dishes were. The amazingness of our lunch also extended to the candy store at the other end of the shopping complex where we all treated ourselves to our most beloved deserts. Katherine got huckleberry ice cream, I got homemade fudge, and the boys ate pure sugar in the form of rock candy and jelly beans.

This was, hands down, the best meal of our trip, and we happened across it so haphazardly. Stuffed, we got back into the car and headed to our campsite. For some, these long car rides were starting to wear thin.

Yes, they really slept that way. We drove a few hours down the coast enjoying stunning scenery the entire time.

We arrived to our campsite at Bullard Beach state park in the late afternoon and setup our tent. Bullard Beach campground, was really nice and if we had more time there it would have been fun to explore the surrounding area a little more. Park rangers rode around on bicycles announcing the upcoming events and activites and it seemed like a scene from the 1960's. It was obviously a great, family campground and park. We hung at our site for a bit, made some dinner, then headed to nearby Bandon beach to play for a bit and hopefully catch a good beach sunset. As we pulled up to the parking area and over to a set of stairs, this massive beach came into view sprawling out below us with the largest rock formations I had ever seen.

It wasn't the shape of the rocks that impressed me. It was the shear size. We played around on the beach for a while. The boys raced around and Adam snapped some pictures.

As the sun started to set, we all stopped and stared out in amazement.

But before it reached the horizon, it sank into some clouds that were hanging just above the water. I was sure that was it some sunsets just arnt all that great. The boys were running in and out of the water, not too disappointed, and as they played, the real magic started to happen. At first the blue sky started to become more orange.

And then it was mostly orange. At this point, the sand became a perfect reflection of the sky picking up every color and hue exactly as appeared in the mirror image above it.

Then a little bit of pink started to appear.

And within a few minutes the orange was completely gone and purple and blue cotton candy sky lit up our eyes.

And then, as if it wasn't enough already, much to our surprise, the sun made a little more light and some yellow came back into play as the colors became darker and more rich versions by the minute.

It was so long, so beautiful, so peaceful and even more amazing than I ever could have imagined or even dreamed. We all watched in amazement and every time we thought it couldn't get more spectacular, it just kept proving us wrong over and over again. I've spent a lot of time watching sunsets in the year we've been our here, but nothing has ever come close to comparing to this one.

I'm not sure it ever will. It was unexpected, magical, and such an amazing end to this wonderful journey. When not an ounce of light was left in the sky we headed back to our campsite and Adam made everyone some hot chocolate to warm up.

We had our last batch of s'mores and campfire and stayed up late savoring every last second of our last seconds together.

Eventually, we all called it a night and just like that the trip was over. We woke up the next morning, happy to have a had such a wonderful time, but a little sad to know the only place we were heading that day was home. Along the way, we drove through the redwoods and enjoyed more amazing coastal views, but the fact was, the trip was over and the mood was a tad bit different that day. 

As Taylor had so justly put it the night before on the beach, "I'm going to remember this for a long, long time." That is the case for all of us and as we drove home we couldn't help but already feel nostalgic. I really hope Landon, at 4.5 years old, will have memories of bits and pieces of this trip for the rest of his life. I hope as we go through life we continue to have more amazing trips like this one. Although none of them will ever be quite like it, there is no doubt that Oregon stole our hearts. We will be back to enjoy it many more times. To make new memories, enjoy new places, and relive a few of our favorites.