You Es Aye // California & Hawaii > click photo below for full story <

When we left last October we planned on being gone for about a year, its just so good out there that we have decided we are not moving back stateside any time soon.  So after 10 months + 12 countries on the road, we packed up our suitcases and set off for the shortest route back to California to see our people!  August and September seemed the perfect time to visit with family & friends, as those are the coldest months in South America.

As the plane ascended over the Panama canal, Colette tore her way to the window, where she squealed, “I need to see the world!”  Looking longer, her little brows furrowed “Wheeeeyare is my veyannn?”  We are continually delighted by her insights, but that is the fun of parenting- right?
Giddy and a little nervous, we were back in California.  The thing about going home, is that everything so quickly falls into place.  You know when your favorite farmers market is and where the best grocery store is, you eat at the tastiest restaurants where you order your favorite things you have craved on the road.  The fair-trade coffee is still as good as you remember, and the line to get it is still as long.  And all of these things are good.  It is nice, after so many months of navigating endless new places to simply know where you are and how to get where you want to go.   It is a drastic departure from our life on the road.  But Trader Joes and the Saturday Silverlake Farmers Market and so on is just stuff, just things… we came for the real good stuff.  Our Tribe.

This newest addition to the tribe is Violet Grace Guillory (and her mama, Michelle).  We are SO in love.
Our first night home we headed to our local Mexican restaurant with a small handful of friends and family.  It is in the faces of our nieces that those 10 months show the clearest, and everyone remarks the same about Colette.  We are slowly warming to the reality that there is 100 people we want to see while back!

Saturday the swell was tiny, but the guys didn’t care and headed out for a day at San Onofre.  What a difference- 150 guys in the water for 1 to 2 foot waves VS. 10 foot waves and Adam can hardly find anyone to paddle out with him.  But with company such as this, he gladly took the ankle-slappers. 

Our good friends and proprietors of Pizzanista!, Price & Salman, spoiled us with the best welcome home presents- tickets to see Willy Nelson at the Hollywood Bowl!  What better way to get welcomed back to the “You Es of Aye” than that?!  It was an awesome night that led us to a party at the hillside perch of the fabulous Tennessee Hamilton.  Did we mention that Ellen, Adam’s mom was babysitting Colette?!  Yes- a real adult night out!  Meme, as Ellen is known by her 3 granddaughters, & Coco were snuggled up when we returned late (or shall we say early?)- smiling in their sleep, entwined like two peas in a pod.

Michelle, Colby & baby Violet hosted a delicious little welcome back brunch at their place.  

Phoenix, Archie & George are totally outnumbered by the little girl gang of Ava, Lea, Audrey, Colette, Sophia and Violet. 
Looking a little rough around the edges from the fun late night, sisters Laura & Emily are nevertheless happy to be toghether.  
San O was so much fun, we piled in the rides a few days later for a caravan back down.  Bacci ball, surfing ladies, good buds, pups and one really happy little girl made for a beautiful day soaking up time with some of our favorite people. 
After 6 days in Los Angeles, it was time to go again- this time to the Big island of Hawaii with Adam’s mom Ellen, brother Keith, Keith’s wife Jane & our two nieces, their girls Ava & Lea.  There we met Emily’s parents Warren & Suzie at their townhouse in Keauhou, just south of Kona.  The 10 of us had an amazing 2 and a half weeks lined up together…
Mornings start with fresh made tropical juice, Kona coffee and a view of the preserve that leads down to the shoreline.
Saturday mornings, like an eager kid waiting to unwrap Christmas presents, Warren is ready to head up to the Keauhou farmers market.  First stop, before the market officially opens, is getting in line for the fresh caught fish from Brad (which is then made into the freshest poki).  From the 15 assorted vendors we gather lilikoi, Cuban red bananas, white pineapple, luscious mangoes, tart lulo for juicing, dragonfruit, Okinawa spinach, farm fresh eggs, 100% Kona coffee, 3 varieties of avocado, piles of fresh veggies, tropical flowers and an assortment of fresh made hippy deserts that would make a French pastry chef convert immediately.  Raw fig bars that melt in your mouth, local made chocolate chunk cookies with whole macadamia nuts, lilikoi cheesecake, and ginger whoopee pies are just a few. 
Aloha is not just hello and goodbye, but the all encompassing way of life; it is affection, peace, compassion & mercy.  The aloha spirit is how others are welcomed and treated, aloha is love.  Hawai’i IS ‘the Aloha State’ and this big hearted energy is alive.
The incomparable dragon fruit, which in South America is ca!  With a dynamic, scaled exterior and speckled fuchsia interior, this delicious sweet fruit makes a great makeup too. 
Before we got to Hawaii, Colette already had it in her head that she wanted to be “naked in Fah-why-eeh!”  So, as promised, she got to be naked in Hawaii… a lot.  Ava and Lea, not to be short changed, also joined suit (or shall we say lack thereof suit).  The first words out of Colettes mouth every morning was “I want to play with my cousins!”  There was a fair share of ‘mine’ and squabbling, but they soon worked it out and would go back to their hugging and jumping and swimming.   
Just a short walk from the house is a heiau (hey-yow) that is under renovation.  Adam and his Mama carved out some time for just the two of them to take a hike over to check it out. 
Scoping the jump at “End of the World” right down the street from the hale.  Keith, who always goes hard, threw a big 1 and a half then a gainer into the cerulean waters.  Emily took a few steps down before she jumped, while Adam leapt from the highest spot.
The hike back was magical, the soft clouds providing a dramatic contrast to the swirled colors of the sherbet sky.  As the sun set behind the lowest layer of clouds, the sky above illuminated to the color of molten lava… ah yes, goddess Pele is alive and well on the Big Island.  We honor her and respect this magic place.
There is no dining table inside the hale, it resides out on the lanai, where the ocean view is met with a cool breeze.  Emily, happy to cook for the family, sent out three island fresh, healthy and decadent meals a day.  She was just stoked to have a fully loaded kitchen with plenty of room to cook in!  We pile around the table to enjoy food and family- what is better than that.
Ellen’s birthday was a day before we arrived, so we celebrated in style with a coconut cake, just as she requested (in the shape of a dolphin no less.)
Adventure was calling, so we all answered, piled into the jeeps and set off to Waipio Valley on the north-east side of the island.  Kona is located on the dry side of the island- Waipio is not.  A wet and verdant valley, lush with plants of every variety, smells of oxygen rich fresh fallen rain.  It is only accessible by 4×4, the extremely steep, wet and winding road down covered in patches of green moss.  You can hike in, take a tour, or take your own ride in- just don’t get stuck- the tow trucks love to charge a haole for their mistakes.  Haole literally means ‘no breath’, because the first white men to visit did not know the Polynesian tradition of greeting where foreheads are pressed together and a slow deep breath is taken, breathing in the other persons essence.  Nowadays it just means ‘whitey, tourist or foreigner.’
The horseshoe shaped valley is a stronghold of tradition, where respect is demanded. 
Waterfalls leap from the high peaks, providing the rich soil the perfect compliment to grow all variety of food.  Taro, a starchy root vegetable, which is a staple of Hawaiian cuisine, will be mashed and pounded into poi, a gelatinous grayish pudding high in complex carbohydrates, vitamin A and is easy for all to digest.    
If it’s a rental, drive it like a rental- right?

Through many a wild stream we drove, looping to the back of the valley then to the front, where they have joined to become a river which meets the sea on a coarse black sand beach.  It is a sacred area, and a light dusting of rain started to fall as we arrived. 

“Well,” we thought, “no use trying to stay dry at the beach anyhow” so we unpacked the kids, pulled out the coolers and had a rainy picnic, employing our large beach umbrellas only momentarily before realizing the raindrops were light as air and were carried by a breeze in every direction making the umbrella futile. 
The high pine trees form a cathedral, the ocean- wild and mighty- sends a few roughhewn waves that Adam & Keith boogie boarded with the girls, their joyous wails unruly and bright.

The wood-nymphs were at home in the forest, dancing on the carpet of plush pine needles and moss.  Branches became  ponies, walking sticks and  magic wands.
In the east-facing valley, dark comes quick.  With soaring hearts, damp everything and covered in black sand,  we departed for the other side of the island. 
At Place of Refuge, an ancient Hawaiian heiau, is the fabulous spot “Two Step” which is named so because  the lava rocks make two natural steps that lead into natures aquarium.  Snorkelers, scuba divers and dolphin enthusiasts come to enjoy the natural beauty both above and below the waterline.

When we arrived in the early afternoon, a pod of dolphins were swimming in the bay!   We swam out twice before locating the pod.  There were about 15 or so dolphins, a few pairs of which were mating!  The eager boy would swim along the underside of his lady, and give it his best go- all just a couple feet or so feet away from our snorkeling fam.
Important lessons, learning to throw the shaka sign.
When the Papas came in, they set to teaching the girls how to snorkel.  Ava had learned to swim just for Hawaii and quickly took to snorkeling.  In no time at all, the other two were going underwater and breathing thru the tube, kicking their feet and screaming in excitement when they spotted tiny reef fish darting from one hiding place to another.

These two love birds have been together for 38 years!   LOVE you two! 
One of our favorite beaches on the island (and having visited 10+ times, it is confirmed) is Makalawena.  Located down a rough 4×4 road to one side or a long walk over lava with no shade on the other, the beach is well worth it… but first you have to get there…

No 4×4 story is complete without a challenge, right?  Well, thankfully Warren was behind the wheel, or perhaps we wouldn’t have gotten stuck.  After he lodged the rental jeeps axel on a precarious lava rock, it was apparent he was not the first to do so as there was a pile of clean nail-free 2”x4” planks right near the site.  Keith and Adam got out the jack, pumped up the car, shoved said planks under the wheels, & reversed to safety. 

No better place to wait than in Oma’s arms the shade.  
(Makalewena from the airplane)

Arriving at the pristine beach was that much sweeter for the trouble.  A few semi-circle bays dot the majestic shores.  Buttery white sand transforms the warm waters into an ombre of pale green, turquoise, and deep royal kona blue.  Plants create little dunes above the slanted shores.  We lounged below the filtered light of a beautiful pine, picnicked, and relished in the pristine perfection of the day.  YES, this is paradise.
The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree!  Harteau beach acrobatics at their finest.
Just a short walk behind the beach is the “Queens bath”, an oasis of freshwater in this barren lava covered stretch of west Hawaii.  Coconut palms surround the cool, refreshing, sweet water.  Many wild animals use this as their freshwater outpost.

The girls found & quickly claimed this beachfront lean-to.  We like to think their instincts + this formative training will fare them well down the road.  
Postcard perfect, this is a real place- we swear!   In all of our travels, there is no place quite like Hawaii.  If you have been, you know its charms;  if you haven’t- set it on the bucket list and explore the last & 50th state added to the union.
Sometimes a day is so perfect, as the sun bids her final goodbye, one must pause to capture the final moments, to breath the warm salt air deeply and give thanks for things as they are.
Another glorious day, another glorious beach.  This keiki friendly beach just happened to be next to The Four Seasons, so we headed over for our first meal out, then home for an afternoon of working in the garden and helping with a few chores around the house.  
Jane, who among her other talents, has a major green thumb, helped revitalize the outdoor gardens. 

Why, yes, the sunsets in Kona ARE gorgeous every day!
A loaf of Hawaiian sweetbread made its way into French toast.  Emily made a lime and lilikoi (passionfruit) sweetcream syrup and topped it with banana, macadamia nuts, and lilikoi.  Dessert for breakfast?  Yes, yes we will, we’re on vacation!
A wild mongoose on the loose.
Jane sewed some fragrant plumeria flowers into beautiful leis. Unfortunately, we couldn’t organize all three girls for the shoot we imagined, but Lea was up for the job, and as she was made on the Big Island, it only makes sense!
Keith, Jane, Adam & Emily headed out for a late afternoon escape from the kiddos, leaving them in the willing watch of the Meme, Oma & Granpere. 
We meandered down the highway, ending up at Ma’s Kava Bar in South Kona.  Kava is a traditional Polynesian drink of ceremonial origin that gives a slight numb-mouth feel & a relaxed attitude.  It is not so much to get a buzz as it is to just slow down. 

Ma, the proprietress, insisted on mixing us up a large, fresh bowl of the earthy brew, which we sipped out of coconut shells.  A few of Ma’s friends stopped in, and soon the ukulele’s were brought out.    After a few songs, they even convinced us four to join in the singing!  Jimmy Buffet’s “Margaritaville” was the tune, and we sang it slowly as the ukes played along.  THIS, a tiny room filled with song and laughter, is the real Hawaii.  Ma, insisting on giving us all big hugs and promises to return, is the real Hawaii. 
This on-sale $18.99 blow-up pool was the best investment of the trip (thanks Meme!).  It was amazing that Ava, Lea & Colette didn’t sprout gils by the end of the trip! 
In great family tradition, no trip to the Big Island is complete without a visit to the Puna district.  We miraculously got 10 humans out of the house early (well at least 9:30 is early for us), as we were all eager to enjoy the numerous stops along the way to the other side.

I mean- have you EVER seen an animal with horns such as these?!  These magnificent creatures are Ankole-Watusi, a breed of cattle native to Africa whose horns can have a span of up to 8 feet!  So be careful… you see that move right there? As Keith is leaning over, this guy is dipping his horn low to rip him a new one…  
Inside the same pen were two adult buffalo, and these sweet baby buffalo.  Pretty much the cutest things ever. 
The Big Island is the largest of the Hawaiian chain, at the south-east end of the archipelago that stretches over 1,500 miles.  As the tectonic plate moves north-west, the older islands eventually sink back into the ocean as the ocean hotspot pours new land from Earths mantle , creating new islands- thus- the Big Island.  At the southernmost point of the Big I, is the aptly named South Point, where two ocean currents converge.
There is no gentle sea shelf, here the water drops steeply, making this a wonderful place to catch deep sea fish right off shore.  It is also a favorite place to do some cliff jumping.  Ka Lae, literally ‘the point’ in Hawaiian, is about 40 feet at low tide- a no joke jump.  Keith’s pulls a wicked gainer.
Adam’s swan dive. On the 12 mile road back to the highway, we stopped at a new outpost in this remote area.  The Kau district is quickly making waves in the coffee world as producing some of the finest beans around.    
Behind the coffee shop, a humid green room housed over 30 variety of these tropical beauties.  Orchids are designed by nature to look like the bugs that pollinate them.  Thankfully we didn’t see any insane bugs looking like these dramatic flowers.  
Back on the road, at about 4,000 foot elevation, is the 3 acre plot of pristine rain forest Adam, Keith & Ellen bought in 2007 and named “Harteau Chateau”.  A few years later the guys came back & built this simple platform between three trees.  Just big enough to pitch a couple tents on, it overlooks fragrant kahili ginger, ohia trees, ferns galore and wild orchids.

This area has been called ‘growers paradise’ since the 60’s because the rich soil is great for growing, ahem, all sorts of stuff.  Perhaps one day we will plant and harvest bamboo to build a small house with.  Did you know the average US home takes an acre of trees to build it?  A bamboo home takes about the square footage of the house to build it, and once cut, it grows right back. 
Over there past the plume is Puna- the beating heart of many hippy and new age enclaves, where trees kiss over the narrow roads.  It is a place of transformative energy…the newest land on earth oozes out in both land and sea just a few miles away at the Pu’o’o vent.  With a mind of her own, Madame Pele sends her flows down long tubes that create fumaroles as they hit the ocean water, in spectacular waterfalls of molten orange and in slow bubbling swaths, so slow the thin top layer has cooled to black and just a few millimeters below the oozing earth center moves at a snails pace. 
On a thin road paralleling the coast in Puna, treasures such as the warm ponds of Ahalanui, still exist.  Geothermically heated by a stable flow of warm air, this community pond is a family favorite.  The saltwater is heated to about 90 degrees, which at the twice daily high tides, is rinsed with fresh ocean water.  Unfortunately, this treasure is at risk, the power companies have purchased the rights to harvest the geothermal energy and send it to power Honolulu.  Check out PunaPono for info and sign the petition at MoveOn
Emily had three very eager little helpers to gather ingredients for meals from the organic garden at the rental house in Kapoho: Okinawa spinach, kale, mega-spicy Thai chilis, Japanese eggplant, and one phenomenal white pineapple. We spent lazy afternoons playing bacci ball in the yard sipping blended cocktails.

Further down the narrow, winding road is one of the only beaches in the area- Kehena black sand beach.  Being Puna, it is clothing optional.  Right at the narrow coves shoreline there used to be a tree where yogis would hang upside down, or nude bodybuilders would do pull-ups… since our last visit, it has tipped over and the root structure has been lovingly crocheted.Pohiki, aka Isaac Hale, has a couple of great waves that are easily accessed.  Unfortunately, there was a shark attack a week prior to our visit; the local teen surfer survived, but the waves were eerily empty although not totally abandoned.  Right behind it all is this natural warm pond, hidden in the lush swath of jungle.We took individual time, couple time, family time and every variation therein.  The blessing was- we had time.  Time to be together, time to soak it all in, time to go slow; in a world going so fast, these times together & watching the girls grow up before our eyes are the times that count! 
Sometimes, what you find at the end of the rainbow is not what you expect.
A huge lava flow came thru Kalapana in 80’s .  Apparently there was a great beach there that got reclaimed by Madame Pele.  We heard about a cancer survivor that made it her mission to replant palm trees where this magic beach used to be, and over the years we have watched the coconut palms grow & the beach start to re-emerge.  On the back roads to Hilo, the visuals can’t be beat.  Green and blue in every direction, backlit leaves form natures most delightful lace; we sit on the windowsills and scream for joy into the jungle.  Fare-thee-well Puna– until next time!  After fueling up on both gas and food in Hilo, Warren insists on a quick stop at the Hilo Farmers market.  It is impossible for him to resist tropical flowers, and he takes every opportunity to fill and arrange every room in the house in Kona with his stunning arrangements.  This farmers market/ roadside stand obsession has been inherited by Emily… after 13 years of road tripping together, Adam is now used to her screams to pull over for honey, mangos or olive oil.  Rainbow falls, just a mile behind downtown Hilo, is 80 feet tall. Meaning “rainbow water” in the Hawaiian language- Waiānuenue flows over a natural lava cave, proverbial home to the ancient Hawaiian moon goddess Hina. 
Native to India, most banyans on the Big Island were planted in the 1930’s by celebrities such as baseballer Babe Ruth, pilot Amelia Earhart, director Cecil B. DeMille & author Mark Twain.  We once saw a troupe of circus performers swinging like squirrel monkeys from this very grand Banyan tree.  It is so majestic, the primal urge to play is almost universal. 
At the highest point in the islands is mighty Mauna Kea, elevation 13,803 feet.  As there is so little light pollution in the Pacific, scientists from around the world flock to these frigid peaks to observe the marvels of the night sky- there are 13 observatories from 11 nations.  The Keck Observatory is largest among them, opening like a creature from Star Wars to reveal the sophisticated telescope.  Sacred to the Hawaiians, the presence of and traffic they bring is debated and opposed by some natives.  Numerous endemic species exist in this rare and fragile alpine environment in the tropics.  
All over the island, avian life abounds.  
The endemic and endangered Nene
Adam and Keith rented a couple duel sport enduro motorcycles for a 2 day expedition around the island looking for an off-road adventure.  
Half way into the first day Keith popped  his front tire on a sharp lava rock section of the road.  They were 30 miles up the side of Mauna Kea with no one around.  The rental company  didn’t supply any proper tools to remove the tire or supply an extra tube.  Adam ended up round tripping 60 miles off-road  back to Waimea to grab two cans of Fix-A-Flat, 4 tall cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon, a packet of M&M’s and 2 sandwiches for dinner.  Half way back up the dormant volcano 2 of the big beers exploded all over his sleeping bag and tent.  By the time he made it back to his brother it was dark and cold at around 11,000 feet elevation and the Fix-A-Flat didn’t work.  They pitched their tents and decided to wait until morning but then decided they wanted to get the hell off the mountain.  
When Adam was a kid he got caught way out on a mountain bike with too many holes in his inner-tube to fix with the limited tire patches.  He stuffed the tire with leaves and t-shirts and rode out.  That experience always stayed in his mind, so they stuffed the motorcycle tire with hardy mountain grass and slowly  but surely got off the mountain, making it to town at about 1:30 in the morning.  Not what they had expected, but an adventure never the less!  In tradition with how we find many of our favorite places on the road, we followed local advice.  Ma, of Ma’s Kava Bar, said Manini Beach near Kealekekua Bay was great.  So the ten of us made it on one our final days.  Wild dragon-fruit grow nearby, a wide lawn is shaded by beautiful old trees with picnic tables, a small sandy cove has easy access for the kids to swim, just a short kick away is untouched coral gardens to snorkel, and an organic community garden grows behind it all.  Seriously- it was so local, relaxed and welcoming, it will be a place we return to for years to come! 
Oma opened up Pandora’s box when she broke out the makeup kit. 
It is heartbreaking to realize Fukushima Daiichi in Japan has been continuously leaking radioactive water into the ocean every day since the 9.0 earthquake triggered tsunami set it off 944 days ago. That is a LOT of days.  When will the world get our brightest minds together and find a real solution for this!  This is not a problem of another nation, it is a world crisis that is contaminating our oceans right now.  As we depart our second home, we hope for its safe future.

Mahalo Hawaii, you have been a gift to us as always. 
Back in California, we met a bunch of friends at Pizzanista!, which was high on our list of ‘places to eat at while home’.  From vegan to the meat laden ‘meat jesus’ pizzas,  broccoli rabe & fresh made salads – it is a place that has something for everyone.  If you are in or around LA, do your stomach a favor and head over for the best pizza on the west coast (the prestigious September issue of Vogue agrees).  
It was New York Fashion Week and our pals Shirley & Charlie had to leave town to do business.  Why yes, we would love to watch your beautiful house and kitties.  Staying at their hilltop abode was like vacation in LA.  Thanks again buddies! 
Whilst in Los Angeles, we had many meetings and one of them led us to South Central, renamed South Los Angeles a few years back.  Exciting stuff happening on that front, but we will let you know more about that soon!  Anyhow, it remains a place lost in time, and has the awesome signage to prove it. 
In downtown LA, we spotted this radical minivan… no not a Dodge Caravan minivan like Emily grew up with, but the baddest little slice of modified VW sunshine on four wheels.  The driver was grinning from ear to ear just cruising his ride with his lady by his side. 
Us gypsy Harteau three had been in one place for at least a week, so the time to go had come…  We loaded up the rental car, and set off with our sights on Northern California.  Emily, so thrilled to have access to her boxed up closet in the attic, brought the same suitcase for 5 days as she had been using for 10 months on the road.  Adam shook his head in disbelief & loaded it in anyhow.

Up the coast, past Santa Barbara, as the 101 turns inland, is the perfect spot to stop, stretch your legs and pick some organic produce.  Classic Organic has a PYO (pick your own) area of the farm that features strawberries, raspberries and cherry tomatoes.  We value showing Colette how and where food is grown, her connection to and understanding of the magical life cycle widens with each of these opportunities.
California just had a heat wave, so most of the delicate raspberries had been sun-dried on the vine.  The strawberries, hidden beneath dense green leaves, remained sweet and juicy. 
Inside the cavernous barn, the farm store is based on the honor system, so we tallied our take.
Surfing at the southern end of Big Sur is one of Adam’s favorite spots. Arriving just in time for a sunset session, he paddled out right as the three guys in the lineup paddled in.  The waves were consistent, so he had his pick for fun ones. 
 As the sun dipped lower on the horizon, the waves became illuminated, their glowing arches tumbling into the cold kelp filled waters.  That night we camped just off a cattle road where we usually park the van.  Paying $50 to sleep in our own tent for a few hours, or $350 for a posh room in Big Sur is not how we would like to spend our limited funds.   Early in the morning we awoke to this expansive view of the coastline, broke down camp in 5 minutes and headed north.
This is the iconic Bixby bridge, built in 1932, one of the most photographed bridges along the Pacific coast.  For nearly 100 miles, Highway 1 is the main artery through this stunning area of central coast. 
Santa Cruz is a place close to both Adam & Emily’s hearts… Emily, was born at home on campus of UCSC, when her parents were grad students; Adam, at the same period of time, was living with his family in a converted white school bus at the KOA campground.  We are sure we were both taken for hikes in the same towering redwood forests and to play on the beautiful beaches.

At Steamers Lane, the wave breaks right off the point, where viewers can score a rare birds-eye view of the surfers below.

So now things get fun, or shall we say funny.  Are you on Instagram? Do you follow us there? If not, download the app on your smartphone, install Instagram and add us, we are @ouropenroad.  Instagram just celebrated its 3rd birthday and 1 year ago it was bought by Facebook.  Relocated to the Silicon Valley, the formerly San Francisco based company joined the tech-monolith on the aptly named Hacker Way.  We asked Instagram if we could stop by for a visit while in the area and they said yes.  So here we were, sitting in the lobby of one of America’s largest companies.

There are no cubicles here, it is all about working together.  Desks can be easily raised or lowered depending on mood and coupled with ergonomic chair or standing on a balancing ball-thingle.  Everyone we met was interesting and cool, the type of people we would be friends with beyond the screen.

We came at lunch time, so headed into the ‘campus’ as it is called , which feels something like ‘The Americana’ or ‘The Grove’ mall in Los Angeles with a collegiate air: inside the ring of multi-story buildings is green space with cute restaurants and bike paths leading to modern bike racks filled with expensive fixies.  Colette found a miniature playhouse where the wicked witches feet were sticking out.  It did seem like we were in Oz a bit… this seemingly surreal place, with so many bright minds working to keep the world connected, and we were just taking a friendly tour, heading to lunch.  Whoa.  There are 10 or so restaurants including a pizza place, burger spot, and the organic salad joint we ate at that are FREE to employees.  There was also a fancy SF coffee shop and Palo Alto based sushi bar that were deeply subsidized.  Can you imagine how much money, time and energy is saved by not leaving for lunch?  Apparently Mark Zuckerberg did, and did something about it.

Speaking of… we saw the man behind the myth.  He was in a glass corner office, where a small sign was taped “Please, no taking photographs of the animals.”  There was no big desk, just a circle of chairs.   As the world’s youngest self-made billionaire, he doesn’t seem to value the wealth so much as the company he has created.  Apparently the man is a workaholic; I can imagine with an empire such as Facebook (and now Instagram) to direct, it would require continuous oversight and insight.

We owe many thanks to the awesome folks there, who one day early last year featured a photo of Adams.  This is Bailey and Jeffrey, who’s job it is to explore the Instagram community and find inspiring and unique stories to share.  Somehow we made their list!  We are continually amazed at the breadth of beautiful work being produced and shared on this very unique platform.
We hurried over to the small island of Alameda to meet James’ (Emily’s brother) 4th grade class.  Colette snoozed in Adams arms, as we two sat at in front of a world map and spoke to the 33 mostly interested kids for half an hour.   It was a lesson on following your dreams- we still pinch ourselves sometimes that we are doing so.

It is totally amazing work that James & Alyson, his girlfriend do.  To not only ‘handle’ that many children every day, but to keep them interested and learning is a dedication to our future.  Cheers to them, and cheers to all you teachers out there! Saturday we slept in, James spoiled us making vegetarian biscuits and gravy for brunch; Colette got to go swimming.  In a city where there is so much ‘to do,’ sometimes the best thing to do is simply spend time together.

In the afternoon, we headed into San Francisco- over the new portion of the Bay Bridge!  There were tons of cyclists out enjoying the ride from the east bay to Treasure Island.  At Pier 39, a hilariously touristed area near Fisherman’s Wharf, where Coco loved the carousel ride, but not as much as time with Auntie Aly & Uncle James!
Next stop was Burma Superstar, the insanely delicious Burmese restaurant that requires an hour + wait every time.  We had a pitcher of lychee martini and their famous tea leaf salad among other tasty delights.

Stomachs full, we set off to the Tenderloin district for opening night of our old friend Augustine Kofie’s art show, titled “ Structurally Sound” at White Walls Gallery.   He is one of the most dedicated, prolific artists we know- always working on a new body, new project, new idea.  The show was almost sold out opening night, tiny red stickers placed on the wall near the lower right corner of the piece.  Ahh, what a great sight !
Augie had a special area underneath this center piece where he gathered remnants from his mixed media assemblage.  As Colette located the ‘blocks’ he remarked “Oh, good! I brought those for her.”  Thanks Uncle Kof!  She occupied herself center stage with the yard stick remnants, oblivious to all the ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ directed at her. 
It was also a great evening because we got to catch up with our old pals Joey & Dom!  Joey lives in LA and came up for the show, having just returned from a summer trip to his native France for the first time in 18 years.  Dom, moved from LA to SF around 8 years ago, thriving in the NorCal spirit.  Man, the trouble these guys used to get into together… 
The next day, we set off from Alameda to go back into the city by ferry.  A day on the water and eating tasty things sounded just about right.  Colette was as thrilled as we were to enjoy the bright sunny day, a view of the new bridge from below and the crisp air on our cheeks.
Inside the ferry building is ‘foodie’ Mecca!  Organic & local or fancy specialty imports from all corners of the globe,  they have it all;  seafood sellers, gluten free bakeries, pasta proprietors, wine bars, stalls of jams & sauces, corner nooks of dried nuts & fruits, and fancy restaurants with only locally sourced everything filled the cavernous halls of the re-appropriated historic building.  Stands selling fresh made Italian donuts (yes please: one nutella, one raspberry & one chocolate mouse) were across from the mushroom mongers- 22 types plus truffles, dried mushrooms, fungi in oil and specialized cookbooks all geared towards the fungi fanatic.  At Cowgirl Creamery, we couldn’t resist the raclette cheese made molten under a specialized broiler, served with crispy buttered bread spears and house made pickles.  At Blue Bottle Coffee, we waited the line because the coffee is worth the wait- we had the heavenly New Orleans iced coffee, which you can make by following their recipe.   We settled in at Market Bar for some cocktails, oysters & more snacky-things.
Armand Vaillancourt , a French-Canadian artist, created this fountain in 1971.  This is also a legendary skate spot, Embarcadero where our pal Salman spent much time skating. 
That evening we said our goodbyes to James & Alyson and headed back to Big Sur, arriving late.  We slept beneath the tranquil redwoods, the damp air filling the tent and were quickly lulled to sleep by the gently rustling of leaves overhead.

Waking up to this is always a treat.  

Loaded up, we hiked down to check out a surf break, but the ripples didn’t warrant suiting up.  Even a ‘failed’ mission with views such as these are a success.  
Flitting about in the early morning mist, this Anna’s hummingbird is one of the 390 varieties of birds in the area. 
Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park is a gorgeous slice of heaven.  The McWay Falls drop over 80 feet onto the off limits beach below; behind, ancient 300 foot tall redwoods grow peacefully.  

Seeing not one, but two Westies really pulls at the heartstrings!  We miss our van and our life on the road.  Central California has a concentration of our favored adventure mobile like no other place we have seen yet.  There is an understanding and appreciation of them with likeminded folks who thrive on the simple rewards of life outside.
Solitary in the lineup, Adam had fun even though it wasn’t picture perfect conditions and was enthusiastically welcomed back to shore by his most adoring fan.  There is a tranquility that radiates when these two are snuggled in each others arms.  LOVE moments like these. 
The magic of the scenery still astounds us.  California, you will always be home and have our hearts.
Further down the coast, while searching for a place to camp, with our well trained eyes we spotted a break in the fencing with a some barbed wire on a post draped across it.   We pulled back the wire and drove down the old dirt road, which led us here.

Stoked on our good fortune, we had two gorgeous bays to choose from.  We chose the wind-blocked cove, where a small ring of rocks confirmed we were not the first to discover or enjoy this treasure.
The full moon illuminated the beach in a soft glow.  Colette, going primal, insisted on being naked even though there was an early autumn chill in the air. 
The sun crept over the rolling hills, calling to wake the birds, the bees and us.   Warm rays send the fog, which clings to the dewey foliage, rushing out to sea. 

The Northern Elephant Seals are not nearly as lazy as they appear.  For 8-10 months a year, they live in the open ocean, where they dive from 1,000 to 5,000 feet down, spending up to 2 hours underwater!  While onshore for the fall months at the rookery, these beasts are fasting- no food, no water.  Juveniles make up 80% of the population, and only one in six survive to age 4.  We hope to see some Southern Elephant Seals in Patagonia in the coming months!
Descended from a bygone era, zebra were originally brought to San Simeon in the 1930’s for the private zoo at the decadent outpost of newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst, at Hearst Castle.  

Laid back Los Osos, near the magnificent Montaña de Oro State Park, is the home of GoWesty!  We stopped in to visit our friends who have kept our van running for the past 10 years.  Jad, the awesome general manager, showing us where our beloved van got the once over before we departed the states last October.  They have transitioned their top-notch facilities from maintenance to focus on complete, insane overhauls.  If you are in the market for a cherry adventure van, this is where to go.  
This synchro is the test-wagon where at their yearly GoWesty Syncrofest, drivers can give an off-road course a go and the kids are given markers to decorate the van. These guys are so much fun!
In a magical corner of Carpinteria, on a 100 acre cherimoya orchard is this cabin made from railroad ties.  Inside resides our dear friend Nancy and her awesome boys Ohle, 4, and Otto, 1.5.  Nancy took us up to this secret spot overlooking the famed surf spot Rincon as she wanted to take some pix of our little familia.  You can see more of Nancy Neil’s beautiful and emotionally rich work on her tumblr or website.  On the porch, trying to snap a picture of the three munchkins was like wrangling cats! 
Green Valley, east of Valencia up the narrow canyons of horse country, is where Keith, Jane & the girls live.  They have transformed the house from a fixer-upper to a seriously hooked-up show-house.

The trio, back at it again, found the nearest water source- this time the front fountain- and went for a dip!  These little water babies know how to have a good time.

Keith got this gorgeous Harley Davidson Fatboy Lo a few months ago… and even let Adam take it for a spin!

We grilled up some classic Cali bbq to grub.

“Auntie!” Coco exclaimed desperately, “Do mine like yours!”  Auntie Lolo could not refuse such a plea, she would do almost anything for her CocoNova.
Just a mile from our place in Los Angeles (that Laura, Emily’s sis lives in and we stayed at for most of our LA time) is Griffith Park.  We loved living in such close proximity to one of Los Angeles’ natural treasures- the stunning classic Observatory,  endless miles of hiking trails that lead to sweeping vistas, and kid-friendly delights like the pony rides & train ride all make this place great .  There is a picture of Adam, around Colette’s same age making the bumpy ride around the track.
At the abode, we gathered the family for an afternoon of revelry and even managed to get a group picture!   James & Alyson were missed, but were in Carmel for her annual family gathering, so it was a family weekend for all.  We had family from Big Bear, Palm Springs, Lancaster, and Green Valley all make the trek.  Thank you ALL for coming & spending time with us, we love you!
Adam, Maddie, Ava, Colette & Lea had a blast playing with Penny the kitty, climbing the backyard hill, playing dress-up and being together.  Cousin time at its finest.
We spent as much time as possible soaking it up with these three.
We got the crew together for dinner & drinks.  The waiters wanted to know who’s wedding it was, haha!  Nobodys wedding we remarked, just a farewell dinner with 30 of our closest friends.  

Our last weekend in LA, we headed to north Malibu for a day at the beach with friends & fam.  However, if you came to hang with Adam, you had better get in the water- because thats where he was nearly all day.  On the shores, we chased the munchkins, lolled about, snacked and basked in the simplicity of time together.  
Our hearts are ever richer for having been able to come back to visit.  Thank you California.  Thank you, our tribe, for your kindness and generosity, for having us in your homes & feeding us with your tasty home cooking.  Thank you all for filling our souls with your laughter, letting us fill up on kisses from your sweet little ones, shaking it on the dance floor and waking up early for dawn patrols.  We return to our life on the road, our hearts filled to the brim with the goodness you have bestowed us.

Now it’s your turn to come and visit… we will have the downstairs bunk waiting.