Labor Day Weekend in San Diego

I have to preface this post by telling you I am a Serial Vacation Overplanner.  It all happens very fast.  One moment, I am dreaming of all the fun we’ll have and the next, I am picking the exact restaurant we’ll go to after checking into our Airbnb at an exact time and scrutinizing the menu to pick the exact meal I’ll eat.  Before I know it, my brain has wrapped itself around this plan so tight and any delineation from that plan sends me into a complete tail spin.  It ain’t pretty.  And it’s also a lot of work making and sticking to this plan, so often times vacations can leave me feeling more exhausted than refreshed.

When we started dreaming up this vacation, I decided I wasn’t doing any of that planning.  The thought of waking up in the morning and just then deciding what we’d do that day sounded thrilling.  So that’s what we did!  We had a few things decided — Rockies game, meeting up with Fletcher and Josh, maaaaybe driving to Disneyland — but that was it and now that I’m on the other side of that more-spontaneous-than-usual vacation, I feel GREAT.

Ran into Food Network Star alum Matthew Grunwald not once, not twice but THREE times, including once at Whole Foods after we grabbed lunchtime tacos at Blue Water Seafood Market & Grill.  He was incredibly nice and those tacos were incredibly good.  Posted up at the beach while we waited to be able to check into our Ocean Beach Airbnb.

Got checked in and semi-unpacked before walking just a couple of blocks up to the Ocean Beach Farmers’ Market which was HOPPIN’ and even though we bought the prettiest bouquet from the friendliest vendor and the teensy squash were too cute for words, it was all a little much for me.

My girl Jessie lived in SD for four years so she hit us with her best food/coffee recommendations and we picked One Door North for dinner.  It is totally decked out in camping/adventuring/outdoorsy stuff — think tents, lanterns, wooden tables and antler chandeliers — and we couldn’t figure out why it wasn’t busy inside.  What a VIBE.

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Woke up the next morning and had toast and coffee before hitting the road for Disneyland!  Because the first thing you do when you get to San Diego is drive two hours to Anaheim, right??  We debated going for many months then rented that car the night before we left and I don’t regret it for a single second because we had the best time!  Joey does not even love rides but he rode them all for me and Disneyland has not lost a single bit of magic since the first time I went as a kid.

Slept in the next day and did some casual beach strolling and deck reading before grabbing lunch at Wonderland Ocean Pub, which was just at the end of our street.  It had an upper deck with giant windows opening out to the beach and probably a spectacular sunset view, but we got a good view of a homeless man dancing in the grass instead 🙂

Met Fletcher and Josh and Josh’s sister Mia and her fiancé James at the Del Mar racetrack for a thrilling afternoon of horse betting, or just losing all our money.  I did learn some betting lingo though.  Headed back to Encinitas (where Fletcher grew up) for burritos at Rico’s Taco Shop.  I ordered a HEFTY “Justin Burrito” that I sadly did not even come close to finishing, followed by an epic game of Jenga at Beachside Bar & Grill.

Saturday morning, we took those public scooters (so fast, but so fun!) up to Sunset Cliffs for a run overlooking the ocean.  Not our fastest but the view was lovely.  Afterward, we headed to Better Buzz and abuzz it was!  Took so so long to get Joey’s iced coffee (a drink that requires very little work) and it was far too loud in there but this avocado toast was divine.

Took the trolley downtown for the game that night but stopped first at Duck Foot Brewing where we attempted to order off their Grand Opening menu before learning they were only serving a portion of it??  Still makes no sense to me.  Then secondly to Harvest by The Patio, which was so-so, but after Joey ate those wings, I proceeded to eat all the fried bits and herbs that had fallen off and that turned out to be a very good decision.  All smiles at the game because we had front row seats, Charlie Blackmon threw Joey a ball and WE WON!

Sunday was my favorite day!  We woke up and scootered over to Jake & Eggs, which was the cutest breakfast pop-up with the biggest mugs of coffee and then we found a rental place in Mission Beach so we could get chairs, an umbrella and boogie board for Joey.  Spent a few hours at the beach before walking over to O.B. Smoothie Bar & Subs and grabbing lunch to go, then read on the deck for the rest of the afternoon.  Cleaned ourselves up and made our way to Belmont Park to see the sunset and experience sensory overload in the arcade before a late dinner at BO-beau kitchen + bar.  It was all the very best ♥

On our very last day, we finally had açai bowls a couple blocks over at The Lazy Hummingbird and look, I’m all for eating it, but can we stop pretending a smoothie topped with granola and more peanut butter than even I can condone is healthy?  Anyway, after we packed up and checked out, we drove over to Coronado Island.  The beach looked nice, the Hotel del Coronado was cool to see and the houses there are BREATHTAKING but there’s only so many shops you can walk into before all the stationary, candles and beach decor start to blur together.  One last meal at Liberty Public Market and even though it was crowded and loud, I LOVED it there!  Specifically the Mess Hall, where you could get different size pours of beers on tap.  Sitting outside with a lobster roll, fries and a brut IPA, I felt like my happiest self.

And thus ended a most perfectly spontaneous or spontaneously perfect vacation to San Diego.

Family Vacation to Oregon: Portland

The Great Dorsey Vacation 2017 all started with a cute little weekend stay in Portland.  Joey and I didn’t plan on going there for the third summer in a row but A) we were already flying into PDX and B) my sister and Wayne had never seen our favorite little city, so we felt it 100% necessary to spend a few days there.

I thought this might be the trip where I grew a little bit tired of Portland and instead, I just loved it a whole lot more.  Even without a stop at Pip’s, it still managed to be the very best, because: warmth and blue skies that made for walk everywhere weather, getting to try new restaurants/coffee shops but also show off our favorites, a bike share program that meant seeing Portland from different angles and being with two people who were equally up for ice cream every night.

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We checked into our rental house, quickly realized it did not have air-conditioning (THE HORROR!), then walked up the street for dinner.  Por Que No?  That is the question!  We walked past this place last time we were here and where there’s a long line, there must be good food.  Usually, at least.  Turns out, the line moves really fast and we didn’t even have a hard time snagging a street-side table after ordering at the counter.  The carnitas taco is what dreams are made of.  Afterwards, Ruby Jewel for dessert because it was just a block away and after seeing Peanut Butter Cookie Dough on the menu, I was sold.

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The best way to start a Saturday in Portland is to take a morning walk and stumble across a “Before I die…” chalk wall then stumble across the sidewalk and skin your hand and the corner of your phone at the same time then breakfast and a trip to the Farmers’ Market, so we did just that.  We hit Bijou Café then walked up to the market and man, was it bustling!  The joy of watching someone experience that barrage of perfect produce is just the best.  And we bought a half flat of berries that were some of the best I’ve ever tasted.  Afternoon activities involved coffee at Heart, Powell’s City of Books and lunch at Pine Street Market.

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But my favorite part of the day was renting bikes and riding along the river!  It was hot and I was the slowest but it was so perfect and ended with a quick (and scenic) ride on the aerial tram.  When we were done being hot and sweaty we headed back to our place to rest before heading out to dinner at Podnah’s Pit.  I liked my pulled pork but I LOVED Joey’s ribs.  We hit up that Salt & Straw line after dinner and get this, I got a carrot cake-flavored ice cream that was one of the best (and most creative) scoops I’ve ever eaten.  Unanimous opinion: Salt & Straw > Ruby Jewel.  And now you know.

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Sunday morning, we packed up and headed to one final Portland breakfast at Besaw’s and look, the area it was in was very nice and trendy and there was free coffee while we waited, but the service was just so-so.  The food was GREAT though!  Do you even see that butter swirl?  We met up with my parents afterwards to do a big old grocery haul for the rest of the week on the coast and then I just had to grab one last coffee at Case Study.  Ciao for now, Portland!

Where We Stayed: Beautiful Detached Cottage in Mississippi Neighborhood 

Where We Ate/Drank: 

Por Que No? // Don’t let the line scare you off.  It moves quickly and the reward at the end is creamy guac, crispy chips and strong margaritas.  Please please order a carnitas taco.  You won’t regret it!

Ruby Jewel //  If you’re visiting Portland and can only visit one ice cream shop, make it Salt & Straw but if you’re visiting for the third summer in a row and you’ve been to Salt & Straw twice already, try Ruby Jewel!  The small scoop is the perfect post-taco treat.

Bijou Café // This place has a diner feel in that slightly grungy but you don’t notice because the service is so good and the food is so unpretentious kind of way that I totally dug.  We sat at the counter, drank coffee and people watched.  I really loved my cauliflower-kale hash and Joey was SO into his fried chicken and pancakes.

Heart Coffee Roasters // I am head over heels for their coffee beans and their minimalist café aesthetic.  Nuff said.

Pine Street Market // I got a so-so slice of pizza and salad at Trifecta Annex but everyone else had what looked like a really good burger from Bless Your Heart Burgers and I wonder if I’ll ever learn to just order whatever Joey orders because he always wins.

Podnah’s Pit Barbecue // They were out of brisket when we got there and I think we were all a little bit sad but everything on my plate was good (though not great) and I really really liked the rib Joey graciously gifted me.

Salt & Straw // The most unique flavors, that are all spot on and served with a smile.  Just do it, okay?

Besaw’s // Free coffee while you wait and maybe service was just off on the day we went?  But the food was really really good.  Get the Farmer’s Hash because: bacon, cheddar and that big old fluffy biscuit!

Case Study Coffee // I really dig that light fixture over the coffee bar and the barista who rang me up was very nice, but what can I say?  My heart belongs to Heart.

What We Did:

Portland Farmers’ Market // If you’re not impressed by this FM, you’re not human!  I am completely BLOWN AWAY by the sheer abundance and quality of the things that grow so beautifully in the Pacific Northwest.

Powell’s City of Books // If you’re a book nerd, how can you go to Portland and not go to Powell’s?  Heck, even if you aren’t a book nerd, how can you go to Portland and not go to Powell’s?  Get lost on an aisle in the section that calls to you most and peruse all the books there.

BIKETOWN // Sign up for this BEFOREHAND, so you’re not standing in the straight sun, waiting for the app to download at a snail’s pace.  Ride the Waterfront Park Trail to the Portland Aerial Tram then ride it up to see the city from above.