Ah, where to begin?… Well, it was a dark and stormy night (haha, but it kinda was, so we'll go with it), the arrival of the Millas expedited by an unfortunate camping mishap involving Charlie’s finger, his woodcarving knife, and seven stitches….dun dun dun…
Released from the Crescent City ER, to a mounting storm and a car packed with camping gear, not to mention, strict orders from the doctor to keep that finger dry for the next few days, they decided to high-tail it straight down the 101 to us, postponing their California coastal camping for the journey home to their wee island off the coast of Northern Washington.
Now, aside from the evening of their arrival being stormy, it also happened to be Valentine’s Day, and while neither the Millas nor the Missas are much for celebrating said holiday, it did seem somewhat fitting that this day be capped off with the arrival of the girl who stole my heart (coming up on 3 years ago!) straight through the computer screen, armed with nothin’ but a cute red dress and a coordinating teacup ;)
With Charlie’s finger on the mend (he healed up like a champ, btw) and the weather forecast showing nothing but rain, rain, and more rain for the next five days they would be spending with us, many of the adventures that I had optimistically planned during the beautiful spring-like weeks leading up to their arrival, were not to be.
However, the Millas and I did venture out late one morning, during a lull in the downpours, and embark upon a drizzly hike up to the marshy little pond I hiked to with Clover recently.
Stopping at the pond to take it all in, just the three of us in our beautiful foggy surroundings, we noticed the storm clouds quickly approaching. The sound of croaking frogs was soon joined by the quiet tapping of hail. At this point, I decided to take out my camera and video document this lovely scene:
As I completed my little turnabout, it suddenly began DUMPING HAIL, at the end that’s Milla saying: “I think we may need to take cover, huh?” Followed by my reply of: “Yikes!” at which point we ran giggling gleefully up to the surrounding trees and, while looking out from under the cover of their branches, witnessed the most magical hailstorm I’ve ever seen.
The timing and setting so perfect, it was one of those experiences in nature that feels really special as it’s happening and I was so happy to be sharing it with these two wonderful people.
Haha, we do alright with our self-timers, but the sad reality is we both suffer from an affliction where we get extremely awkward and uncomfortable when having our picture taken by an actual human.
Often aggravated when said human also happens to be a husband ;)
We followed up our hike with yummy gluten-free cupcakes from the amazing Bliss Bakery, where Milla was especially delighted to discover that they served Kombucha on tap!
We took our goodies around the corner to Atlas, one of Santa Rosa’s finest lil’ coffee houses, for some warm caffeinated goodness to take the chill off. Then it was off to pick up Clover at the farm, where Milla and Charlie got to witness the aftermath of Pirate Day.
With all the rainy days, lots of time was spent just staying cozy at home. On this particular afternoon, Milla taught a very eager-to-help Clover how to make Finnish flatbread. I took this adorable opportunity to practice using the fancy flash my brother-in-law lent me on the new camera.
Clover, wielding her big rolling pin like a pro, quickly became quite the expert at cranking out flat circles of bread dough, faster than Milla could fry them up. As you can see, she got a bit overzealous with the flour too.
Made with love :)
Clover had so much fun being around Milla and Charlie. I thought she might be shy at first, but she was putting on a show from the moment they walked through the door. Charlie had to work a little harder to get on her good side, though she did get very excited about waking him up from his naps and enjoyed helping him pick lemons in the back yard :)
I think Clover was pretty taken with Milla from the get-go (she has a wonderful way with the little ones), though the bread-making really seemed to seal the deal. It was utterly precious to watch them bond so sweetly over it. I think Clover may have seriously considered trading me in at that point ;)
Exchanging belated birthday gifts (thrifted treasures and handmade goodies), crafting gifts for others, home cooked meals and chatting around the dinner table, movie nights on the couch, eating out at our favorite local Mexican restaurant and an epic Thai dinner downtown (the kind where you take your shoes off and sit on the floor with pillows. Needless to say, Clover was all about the barefoot pillow dining!), visiting thrift, vintage, and antique shops in Railroad Square, and LOTS of time spent being entertained by the small and often hilarious force of nature that is Clover in all her various states… these were some of our rainy day activities.
Really, the best part was just having Milla around in my real life, doing real life sorts of things, and having it all feel very natural and normal.
On Friday, the day before we were to head off on our much anticipated weekend of sisterly goodness, the rain finally let up and while the day was still a bit chilly and gray, it was for the most part dry. So, Lucas quit work early, and we all piled into our car to head out for one big day of West Sonoma County adventuring.
We followed the Russian River out to Armstrong Redwoods State Reserve in the small town of Guerneville, where majestic old-growth redwoods tower over a lush understory of moss, ferns, clover, and mushrooms. We set off on a lovely hike through the forest, letting the cool damp air cleanse our lungs while watching Clover hobble around in her pink fuzzy jacket with little ears on the hood. Like a wayward ewok trying to find her way back to the village.
I forgot to put the battery back in my little point-and-shoot which does better in low light situations without flash (not a fan of built-in flash). I didn’t bring the fancy flash for my other camera either, so for this part of the adventure I mostly left the picture taking to Milla, which is probably why I went a little picture crazy once we were out of the dark forest.
Armstrong has an outdoor amphitheater tucked away in the woods and there was just enough light coming in there to get a shot of Milla in front of the stage and the water-filled orchestra pit.
Hollowed out trees make for good photo-ops :)
From the forest to the sea by way of the enchanting drive from Occidental to Bodega Bay along Coleman Valley Road. Preceded by a short detour into Freestone to gorge ourselves on fresh baked bread and scones at Wild Flour, home to the most delicious breads in all the land.
From the spectacular views along the vistas of Coleman Valley, where you feel as though you are literally on top of the world, we descended onto California's coastal Hwy 1 and headed north to Goat Rock, one of the most scenic beaches along the Sonoma Coast, to get out and frolic in the fog for a bit.
Some Milla and Charlie moments :)
In addition to the arching rock formation just off the coast, Goat Rock Beach is also known for the abundance of lovely beach stones that can be found along the water’s edge.
We were bent over for quite some time sifting through these gems of the sea.
Milla insisted that we pose for a family portrait ala the one she took of us back in September of 2009 during our visit on the island. I'm glad she did.
Um, just in case you didn’t notice, CLOVER LOVES THE BEACH.
Have I mentioned how much I love this girl? It was so fun to get to spend an entire week together and tough to say goodbye, but the good news is, we don’t have to go there yet because there’s still so much more to come...
Next stop… the foothills! Where the sisterly love continues to grow and expand and encompass as beautiful kindred spirit’s abound! All by way of the dreamiest little vintage shop you ever did see… so stay tuned ;)