cabo san lucas.

It was a typical, frigid, wintery day in January in DC. I was dog-sitting and had just returned home after taking my charge, Karl, for a walk around the block. I was desperately trying to defrost my fingers when my mom called. The opportunity for Matt and me to visit our favorite place in Mexico was presenting itself with a bow on top.

But this was not the year for travel. I was about to move to Norfolk and had yet to find a new job. We had plans to move into a new apartment and lacked any necessary furniture. Oh, and we’re planning a pretty big party for the end of the year. As much as I was dying to go, I told my mom I wasn’t sure we could pull it off.

Needing to do my due diligence, I called Matt anyway. He’d also just gotten off a brutal day fighting the elements. I barely got the sentence out before he said (well, screamed), “Yes. Absolutely. We’ll make it work. Yes.”

They say planning a trip, just the notion of having a vacation to look forward to, promotes happiness. This was definitely the case for us. Every time we were smacked in the face by an icy gust, or misplaced a foot in a slushy puddle, we’d remind ourselves that in only a couple more months, or a few weeks, or 5 days, we’d be on that dreamy beach, margarita in hand.

Cabo San Lucas is a very special place for me. I’ve been visiting with my family for over 25 years (!!). Nana loved it there, and it loved her right back. This was my first visit since she passed away last year.

Our week was exactly as we hoped. Good books. Better food. Salty air. Time together free of packing and boxes, grocery shopping, work stress, alarm clocks. It was a truly luxurious, indulgent trip. We know how lucky we were to have it.

Here’s a peek at our beautiful trip. Mix of 5D and iPhone.Cabo01

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pedicabs and damn good grits: three days in charleston.

The first time I met Taylor, daughter #1 of my parents’ oldest and dearest friends, I told my mom that I felt like I’d known her forever.  She went home and said the same to hers. We felt like we were fraternal twins, separated at birth.  Fast forward some 13 years later, and it still rings true:  I am lucky to call this sensational person my sister-from-another-mister and one of the closest relationships I’ve ever had.

The voice behind ginger+salt, Taylor is a talented writer with an impressively refined gastronomical palate.  When I get that little ping! in my inbox, indicating that she’s posted another eating experience on her fantastic blog, I drop whatever I’m doing so I can vicariously devour every bite through her words.  Since she started documenting her love for all things culinary nearly two years ago, I’ve been dying to join her in the flesh for one of her targeted outings. Needless to say, when the opportunity to spend some gluttonous time with her in Charleston, South Carolina arose, my normal routine kicked in: I dropped everything and booked a flight.  I’m so glad I did.

I was struck by sensory overload, in the very best way, upon arriving in The Holy City. Everything is vibrant and bright, from the colors of the buildings, to the friendly faces of strangers, to the flavors of the local fare. And it was hot, temperatures averaging 90 degrees each day. But if the heat wasn’t slowing down the locals, we were determined not to let it get the best of us, either. When in Rome…

My lens was immediately drawn to its usual, favorite subject: the architecture. Since moving to the East Coast, I’ve fallen head over heels for the ways these historic cities use color, repetition, detailed molding, and symmetry in their neighborhoods. Charleston felt like a city constantly dressed up for Easter Sunday in its delicate, pastel best. Each individual street seemed to have its own personality, and a strong one at that. When I someday return to my beloved Seattle, I think it will be the thing I miss most.

As expected, Taylor led the charge when it came to planning our meals, and the rest of the itinerary built itself around that (as it should). I learn so much about the food I’m eating from her – there’s rarely a word on the menu or a flavor on the tongue that she can’t explain – and it makes me pay much more attention. Dining with her requires heavy use of all five of the senses. What a dream.

We say that someday, we’ll make our livings by eating our way around the world — she’ll write the reviews; I’ll take the pictures.  Talk about something to look forward to!

Highlights of the trip: welcome lunch at Hominy Grill (don’t miss Taylor’s post here; the first of many future collaborations!). Strolls on Rainbow Row.  Beef tartare at McGrady’s.  A quality FaceTime chat with beloved daughter #2, Taylor’s sister Holland (belly laughs abounded).  A lengthy tour of Boone Hall Plantation.  Bucatini at Two Boroughs Larder.  A sunny afternoon on the porch of Palmer Home Bed & Breakfast. Three-tiered seafood feasts at The Ordinary.  And many a sweaty pedicab ride!

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One of the best meals of my life.

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Boiled peanuts, hey-o!

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Did you know buttermilk pie is a thing?  It is, and it is magic.

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Amen.

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The window planters, clearly a source of pride for those that have them, charmed the heck out of me.

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Rainbow Row: this photographer’s dream.

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Waterfront Park provided a wonderfully shady respite from the sweltering heat.

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Boone Hall Plantation: Hello, dream house.

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The mesmerizing oak lined avenue.

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(Yes, this is Allie’s summer home in “The Notebook”).

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The most delicious South Carolina-made ginger ale.

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Tay, taking it all in.

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The Cotton Dock.

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Lunch, day two:  Two Boroughs Larder.

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Taylor and Vanessa, pre-chow down.

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All about the details.

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#eastcoastrows, Charleston-style.

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Our charming sister hotel, the Palmer Home Bed & Breakfast.

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Don’t mind if I do.

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The sweet spot.

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I’m such a sucker for colorful architecture.

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‘Til next time, Tay Tay!

summer getaway: (abandoned) waterfall action park.

on our way south to hatteras through rodanthe, we passed a dilapidated, deserted amusement park on the side of highway 12.  i made matt vow to stop on our way back so that i could take some photographs, and he made good on that promise (though admittedly, i initially came down with a case of cold feet when we returned — this place is cree-py).

some extensive googling informed us that this was a family-owned and much loved park until very recently, and once the familial patriarch passed away, his widow was unable to care for it and his children wanted nothing to do with it.  strangely enough, it is still listed as an active tourist attraction on many outer banks travel sites.  

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summer getaway: ocracoke island.

we spent most of day three on the beach collecting seashells before hopping on the ferry to ocracoke, another barrier island on the outer banks.  as a ferry boat veteran, i was rather impressed by the 30-car, 45-minute free ride to the island.  once you make land, it is about a 13-mile drive, sandy coasts on both sides, before you arrive at a string of little restaurants and shops.  we settled on dajio, a little seafood spot where we sat outside under strings of lights, drank local beers, and i enjoyed my first (ever!) oysters and clams before a delicious greek salad.

we obviously had to squeeze in a last sunset, too.  unbeatable ’round those parts.

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