(Yes, this post needs a prologue):
To be as transparent as possible – this post was very hard to write. We both got hit really hard with the “vacation blues” after arriving home: A common disease marked by feelings of extreme crappiness after leaving a serene surrounding to come back to your everyday life.
Josh and I were on a real high when we came down from the mountain, we were relaxed. We were happy. We were excited to redecorate our home with all the thrifted goodies we had found on our trip!
But when we opened the door to our house we were greeted with…flies.
H U N D R E D S of flies
‘We had been gone 4 days! How could this have happened?’ we asked ourselves (and truthfully we still can’t figure it out since we haven’t been accosted since). So the first few hours of our arrival home which we hoped to spend in the euphoria of vacation bliss, were instead spent with Josh vaccuming up flies in 101 deg heat while Courtney tried desperately to find the source. Vents? Screens? Trash? Plants? Sinks? Nothing!!!
After compressing all of the flies into one tiny dirt devil (thank G for Amazon Prime day), we headed to Target to get some cleaning supplies to “finish the job”. As we were driving home we noticed that the sky was a hazy shade of…grey? But not the normal grey, it was the kind of orange-grey that sinks any true Californian’s heart. The kind of hot-grey that is mixed with ash and stands out against the normally pristine white clouds.
A wildfire. A wildfire in one of our favorite hiking spots that is alive with wildlife, plants, and man made wooden beehives (We think they are called Apiaries).
Our hearts sank as the reality hit. Courtney grew up in California but was lucky enough to never live this close to a fire. And Josh, being from New Jersey, definitely had never been this close to a wild fire. Only an hour old at the time, the La Tuna Canyon fire ended up being the largest in Los Angeles history, and close enough to our home that we could see it on the mountains at night.
La Tuna Canyon was one of our favorite hiking spots, the place where we brought out-of-town visitors for an easy Californian hike. This definitely put a second damper on our vacation bliss.
After all the flies and the stress of the fire, Josh had a work trip to Armenia and Courtney was left to outline and attempt to write this blog.
She wrote 4 versions. She deleted 3 of them. She couldn’t focus. She couldn’t remember that relaxed feeling of vacation. The warmth of our Air B’n’B home. The joy of watching Crumpet swim for the first time. The annoyance at the ungodly amount of gnats that would accost us as we tried to hike to a waterfall. She started to realize how easy it is for us to let a few hiccups in life outweigh the beautiful times. How trained we are to cling to a few bad hours and forgo an entire week of happiness. It was very disheartening, how we could let a few flies make us forget how hard we laughed when crumpet tried to follow us through the creek while avoiding every droplet of water. Or allow us to disregard the utter joy on Josh’s face to just be in the presence of all that nature, taking so many pictures we can’t even wade through them all. We decided that we would not be a victim of vacation blues any longer, we would forge ahead and write this blog…
virtual guns ablaze!!
Not Quite a Staycation!
This post is supposed to be ALL about V-A-C-A-T-I-O-N! Our absolute favorite word!
Nothing is better than taking a few days to recharge, especially when those few days are spent with your favorite human and furry companion!
We knew we were going to have a pretty tight budget, but we also knew that we really needed some quality time away from our normal routine with each other. Even though we live together, we sometimes get lost in our every day schedules and it’s important to remember to make time for ourselves and each other.
We wanted to share a few things we found helpful for traveling on a small budget:
(known to some as a stay-cation)
Josh and I read an article in a travel vacation all about this fun new phenomenon called “micro vacations” and our minds were made up that we’d have one. The big difference between a micro vacation and a stay cation is that you do travel somewhere, you just make that somewhere a little closer to home. There were a few strong reasons for staying close to home, the two biggest being finances and not wanting to waste two full days of our vacation in transit.
After perusing Air B’n’B for a few days – we settled on an adorable house in Mountain Home Village, a quiet little woodsy neighborhood nestled at the foot of Big Bear, about an hour and a half east of our home.
The B’n’B had everything we were looking for – tranquility, a big open kitchen, lots of candles, wind chimes and an adorable pup that goes by Vivian, and it even came with a creek and swimming hole!!!
The homeowner, Heather, and Courtney realized very quickly after our arrival that they were actually old friends from Courtney’s home town. It made for quite the lovely and comforting surprise. We felt right at place in Heather’s home!! She is a wonderful host – she gave us space but when she was there she felt like a sweet addition to our little family. We even took Vivian with us down to the creek, we really loved every moment of our time there!
We couldn’t have been happier with our location, it was a short 45 minute drive from Big Bear, surrounded by hiking and beautiful scenery, and filled to the brim with privacy and calmness.
and if you can, book a stay with her! You will not regret it!
Bring Your Own Groceries
After creating a food budget, we knew that we could afford to go out to eat twice, but everything else we had to bring with us. So we pulled out our beloved Whole30 recipe book (thank you Melissa Hartwig!), and decided on a few easy to make, yet delicious meals. Plus a few bottles of affordable wine, to have in the evening while cooking and relaxing.
We did a major Trader Joe’s haul the morning of our trip, and also raided our own kitchen for spices and whatever ingredients we already had on hand. We are still trying to teach ourselves to cook on a budget, so for the trip we set some major food boundaries (i.e.: Don’t let Courtney put every single new thing she see’s at Trader Joe’s in the cart). We are consummate over-preparers, we tend to bring as many things with us as we can. With the amount of stuff we filled the car with, we looked like we were moving in!
If you decide to bring your own food, remember to pack tupper-ware and zip-loc bags, Courtney ran back into our home at the last moment to grab some and it was a lifesaver.
Make an PLAN
We love to make a plan and Courtney loves and we mean LOVES to make lists! So making a list of fun things to do on a vacation was pure heaven for her!
We did a ton of research about all the big towns we were going to be near, and even sent direct messages on Instagram to friends and bloggers who lived in those towns for recommendations (Courtney has zero shame and will talk to all strangers, even on the internet).
We tried to make a daily itinerary but keep it loose as the weather wasn’t on our side (raining in Big Bear, and in the triple digits at the bottom of the mountain).
But we managed to get to do all of the things we wanted!
Make a BUDGET
As stated above, we set ourselves food boundaries. Along with having a strict food budget, we believe it is really important to give yourselves a ‘have fun’ budget. Since there was SO much free stuff to do, we knew that we didn’t need to spend tons on outings. We had a few places in mind that we knew we wanted to visit – Hangar 24 Brewery, Alpine Slide, Big Bear Mountain Brewery, not to mention we really did want to hit EVERY thrift/vintage store in the area, and mind you, there were a LOT (and also, we DID manage to hit every one!)
Despite the few speed bumps and mishaps after the trip, this was a vacation to remember! We spent less than we ever have on a big trip, we got some well needed rest, some much deserved time together and we practically redesigned our entire house with new vintage finds!
JUST LOOK AT ALL OF THESE POODLE PHOTOS COURTNEY FOUND!!!
SEE YA NEXT TIME!
-Josh and Courtney