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Anniversary Adventures

By Tuesday, September 11, 2018 (MDT) 18 Comments

In this post, I’m sharing photos from our Anniversary Adventures in Northern California last week.

Anniversary Adventures

The Story

Eric and I will have been married 20 years in November.

It’s a BIG deal for us as we’ve overcome multiple separations and hardships over the years which probably would have broken most relationships.

We met Christmas 1995 in Ramstein Air Force Base, Germany, and shortly thereafter Eric was moved back to the United States.

3 years passed with a few visits in between, amounting to 6 weeks of good old-fashioned ‘face time.’

We married in November 1998.

Eric drove from Maryland to Denver and arrived 2 days before our wedding –ย We hadn’t seen each other in 11 months.

Since then we have lived in Maryland, Japan, Alaska and Denver with multiple deployments in between.

2 children and 3 dogs, one of which we sadly had to re-home.

We have built an ordinary life together which is nothing but extraordinary to us.

2 very different people from different cultures, backgrounds and countries.

We are blessed to be raising also 2 very different but amazing human beings.

The odds have always been stacked against us, but if I had to do it all over again, I would still choose him.

We wanted to do something a bit special.

Initially I wanted to visit my top destination, Iceland, but Eric wasn’t as excited.

Then we though Peru might be good idea, until we realized that it’s an 11 hour flight and required multiple shots.

We are busier than ever with Ella and Luke and so chose something a little closer to home.

We have always talked about visiting wine country and I have always wanted to see the Golden Gate Bridge in San Franciso.

And so this was the foundation of our anniversary adventures.

The Plan

Our first ever trip without our children (for more than 2 nights) began in San Francisco.

Day 1 – We flw into the city, picked up a car and drove to Monterey for our first night stopping in at Los Gatos for a bite to eat.

Day 2 – Did the 17 mile scenic drive around Pebble Beach so that Eric could get his gold fix, before heading down the Pacific Coastal Highway, through Carmel-By-The-Sea and as far as Big Sur to witness some stunning scenery, before ending our day in San Francisco.

Day 3 – We walked 11.5 miles up and down the hills of the city checking off the Fillmore Arts District, China Town, Financial District, Artisan Foods in the Ferry Building, Fisherman’s Wharf and a Tram ride, before hitting the old Fort for great views of the Golden Gate Bridge, before heading over this amazing structure Sonoma Bound.

Day 4 – Yoga class for me and lie-in for Eric before touring some of the wineries in Russian River Valley.

Day 5 – Early Hot Air Balloon ride, then off to Napa for a Segway tour.

Day 6 – Visiting the wineries in Napa with dinner at Morimoto’s.

The Traveling

Eric and I are complete opposites.

He’s very left brained, and I am right, which is probably why we complement each other.

Traveling is one of the things we both like to do.

We’re also big foodies.

In between, we give and take a little to make each other happy.

The City

The Golden Gate Bridge from Fort Point.

Fisherman’s Wharf

Varied architecture, color, hills and exposed power lines.

The seals in the Harbour – I’m always happy to see the local wildlife.

China Town where my Mother-In-Law used to bring Eric about 40 years ago when they lived just outside the city.

Lombard Street which we just happened upon after following some crazy traffic and banter in the street.

San Francisco was exactly how I imagined only larger and more foggy.

We always travel with an open mind and ignore the ‘nay-sayers’ so we can decide about a place for ourselves.

Our plan is always to wander and try to experience a place as the locals do.

I took SO many photos, some of which you’ll likely see in upcoming BrushSets ๐Ÿ™‚

The Art

Always a highlight for me, and Eric is always happy to follow along.

Old, new and in a variety of styles. I love it all.

The Scenery

It inspires, provides good photography opportunities and just makes you thankful to be alive.

A variety of scenic snapshots from our anniversary adventures.

Big Sur, Pacific Coastal Highway

Lone Cypress Tree, Pebble Beach

Pebble Beach


The Food

We like to eat.

Eric is allergic to seafood (crustaceans) and soy. I am intolerant to gluten and dairy.

But we are avid foodies and spend a lot of time in the kitchen at home, trying different recipes and making some up of our own.

When out and about, we seek out farm-to-table style restaurants, with locally sourced ingredients and allergy friendly menus.

Often we visit restaurants to discover flavor combinations that we can play with at home.

Breakfast and eggs are a favorite of mine, especially when served with avocado. I could and and often eat them every day. I have even been known to eat this combination at every meal.

Portuguese Tapas, with snails and crispy fried pigs ears ๐Ÿ™‚

We both LOVE oysters.

Eric is a Food Network and Chef Morimoto from Iron Chef fan, so this was for him.

Eric did the ‘obligatory’ sour dough clam chowder bowl for team Aspnes (seeing as I could not.)

A little picnic.

And we did our fair share of eating grapes too.

The Wineries

There are SO many.

I really had no idea how many until I saw a map (and then we discovered that probably 2 thirds of the wineries are not even on the map.)

The hotel recommended Rochioli but we neither liked the wine, nor the experience.

Graciannaย we passed, did an abrupt u-turn, and was a much better fit.

These people know how to tell stories and their reds were delicious.

We also tasted with Stonestreet and Hawley in Healdsburg, Sonoma – Both excellent.

We also visited the Inglenook Estate and had a little tour of the wine caves as well as tasting at Miner Family Winery and Domaine Chandon (We’re not really champagne people but it had to be done.)

The Magic

The surprise or special moments that make a trip special.

A bucket list balloon ride and we were lucky to have the basket all to our selves

General Manager for all Morimoto restaurants was in town from London and provided some food guidance.

Eric got to see Pebble Beach Gold Course – He now wants to play it off course.

Selfie with the seals.

Lucky ride – This almost didn’t happen. I’m not one to stand in lines and a 1 1/2 hour wait was just too long, so we decided to walk the hill instead, only to find out we could jump on a few stops up.

Took a little getting used to but highly recommend the Napa Segway Tour – Who knew there are so many interesting and fun Napa stories?

We also lucked out and found ourselves in the perfect spot to witness a San Francisco sunset over the Golden Gate bridge.

The Memories

A trip of a lifetime.

Proof that you don’t always have to travel far for the moments to be memorable and stories to be told.

We are so grateful to have had this time together.

We will both remember these anniversary adventures for the rest of our lives.

In fact we are now wondering how we will top this at 30 years.

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Anna Aspnes

Author Anna Aspnes

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