Palm Springs Weekend

It’s been a hectic summer for the Herlache/Chebuske clan with travel, new jobs, moving, a surgery and the usual festivities. Trying to coordinate five different schedules took a bit of time and it wasn’t until the second weekend in August that we were finally able to come together to celebrate my belated 29th birthday!

I love presents (who doesn’t?!), but even more than presents I love traveling to new locales. Though I’ve driven through it a few times in past two decades, the only time I’ve ever spent in Palm Springs was a weekend in early elementary school. My girl scout troop was rewarded with an overnight trip to Palm Springs for our cookie selling efforts. I recall the trip being a success, but beyond the pool and the swanky jungle gym gear at a nearby park, my memories of the desert town are pretty hazy. Luckily my dad is a huge fan of California’s Gold host, Huell Howser, and when we saw a rerun of a trip he took to San Jacinto earlier this summer the idea blossomed of making a return trip to the popular vacation destination.

We met my family at the foot of the Palm Spring Aerial Tramway early on Saturday morning. We travelled from 2,643 feet up to Mountain Station, which sits at an elevation 8,516 feet. From there we trekked across San Jacinto State Park completing an almost 9 mile hike before making our way back to the station for lunch at Peaks Restaurant.

The trail was challenging at times, but with plenty of flat stretches along the way. An awesome feature of San Jacinto State Park is the fact that the weather atop the mountain is generally close to 30° cooler than the weather at the base of the mountain. With the average temperature in Palm Springs that weekend coming in a 102° the mountain-top weather was absolute perfection!

After our hike, lunch (and getting in plenty of family photos) we made our way back down the mountain and a little further south to the city of La Quinta. We found a great 2 bedroom condo available on AirBnB at a complex with 9 different pools and a hammock garden. We got in a quick swim and were actually able to catch some of the Dodger game (Dodger fans without Time Warner know our pain)  before heading out to dinner.

We had an amazing meal at Cork and Fork for dinner. Cork and Fork’s food philosophy is “Mix and Match. Share and Enjoy”. We shared a variety of small plates ranging from grilled cheese with braised short ribs to seared scallops to blistered shishito peppers. Cork and Fork has a great wine list and some local rotating drafts. Plus they offer happy hour prices on select starters and their beer, white and red wines of the night. I have the hardest time picking between menu items and always want to try what everyone else has ordered- the small sharable plates proved to be the perfect dining approach. Too bad there aren’t more restaurants like Cork and Fork out there!

After dinner we indulged in homemade ice cream at Infusions. Every scoop is handmade in KitchenAid mixers with liquid nitrogen. Steam spills out over the counter as employees mix up orders. Between the five of us we split strawberry cheesecake, mint chip and the most delicious- chocolate espresso with fresh ground espresso beans on top. To top all the ice cream off I was also presented with my favorite cake- our family’s classic carrot cake. It was a decadent, food-filled evening that we absolutely deserved after our active day!

The next morning brought hours of a rotation between the pool and the air-conditioned condo. Because it’s so hot in Palm Springs summer is actually the off-season! Because of this we had the pools mostly to ourselves. The mountain backdrops weren’t too shabby either. It was a wonderful way to spend the early part of the day.

Post relaxation time we all headed back west, relived to leave the 109° temperature for something a little more bearable– whoohoo 90s! On the way home Dave and I made one last pit stop for dinner at the original In-N-Out burger in Baldwin Park. In-N-Out University was closed and we weren’t able to buy a t-shirt, but we indulged in some always delicious burgers and fries. The perfect California ending to a California-filled weekend!

 

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Joyful June

Again it’s another month and we haven’t had a minute to breath and gather our thoughts for a post. It’s been an exciting few weeks since our last update. We took a weekend trip to San Francisco, Adrian celebrated her 29th birthday, we began the process of apartment hunting in LA, Dave got a short-term position at a really cool company in Marina del Rey AND we finally began the process of apartment hunting and signed a lease on our new home last week! So lots to report on:)

Adrian’s birthday was on a Monday and she had a professional development conference beginning that day so we flew up to Oakland early the Saturday before and spent that night with our friend Nick. He took us to an El Salvadorian place for lunch and then we took the BART to the Embarcadero where we walked around a bit before hitting up a bar and drinking a few brews before the Giants game. We had great seats in the upper right field corner that offered views of the city skyline as well as McCovey Cove. The Giants came back in the bottom of the 9th to beat the Mets making it an exciting game.

The next day we got up and took Nick’s dog Willy for a little hike before picking up some picnic supplies and making our way to the harbor for a 12:30 boat trip over to Alcatraz. We lucked out with the weather and it was a beautifully sunny, clear, warm day in the Bay. The boat ride over to Alcatraz Island is only about 10 minutes, but provides nice views of the bay. Once you arrive and disembark you’re herded up to the main prison block, where you pick up the audio tour and begin to explore the island. The audio guide is voiced by former prisoners and guards and eerie noises like the clanking of keys and muddled voices can be heard in the background. The tour takes about 2 hours to complete and then visitors have the option of staying on the island for additional touring or to eat lunch. The seagulls are particularly aggressive and we noticed that many were nesting- which probably didn’t help the aggressive behavior. We caught the boat back to the city and downed some beers and hung out in a nearby park until it was time to meet Duven and Michael for dinner at Pier 23. It was great to catch up with them and the seafood was delicious. That night we stayed at Le Meridian downtown- which we got a great deal on through Hot Wire. It’s the second time we’ve booked through the site and both experiences have been great…we definitely recommend it for any last minute hotel needs.

Monday morning brought Adrian’s birthday and three days of admissions professionals workshops and events. She learned a lot at the conference and enjoyed getting to see some old colleagues from Northeastern. When she got back on Wednesday we celebrated her birthday with dinner in Old Town and Godiva chocolate cheesecake for dessert.

Just a few days after her return we celebrated father’s day weekend with breakfast at the Santa Anita Racetrack, a Dodger game and a Sunday BBQ. Then just a few days after that Adrian’s parents took off for Wisconsin and 10 days of family fun. While they were gone we enjoyed having the house to ourselves and spent most of our free time lounging in the backyard and watching the World Cup. If you haven’t guessed we’re pulling big time for Deutschland with Old Glory out of the picture. Being in Berlin this weekend would be INSANE!!  So jealous of all our friends still in Germany. I also hosted another Bachelorette night and we enjoyed a rousing game night with Alexis and Peter, complete with donuts, ice cream, beer and pizza.

We also began that stressful process of apartment hunting in Los Angeles. The way the market works in this city is that you see a place on craigslist or padmapper, contact the location manager immediately, visit the place in the evening, apply that night and sign the official lease the next day. It’s fast and it’s stressful and for people like us (who don’t know the lay of the land all that well) it’s impossible to know if you’ve found a place you’re going to love or loathe. Also for people like us it was impossible to find a place that aligned with our “wants” lists because we were looking for a place easily found in a city like Berlin or Boston, not fully understanding that LA is a completely different type of city. So we talked about what it is that we love about Southern California and the big standout was the most obviously positive for anyone who has ever spent a winter out east- the weather. We needed to find a home that afforded us the opportunity to capitalize on the weather. And luckily we found just that. The process was the same. Last Monday I saw the place online. The owner responded to my message mid-afternoon. We stopped by to see the place after work and lo and behold the next evening the papers were signed and the keys in our hands! We started moving some of our gear this past weekend and will be hauling over the big stuff this upcoming Saturday. We’re so grateful to my family for letting us stay with them these past 7 months or so and will miss the proximity to Sierra Madre’s charming downtown, but are so excited to be back in our own place and to get to know our new neighborhood, Mount Washington in Northeast L.A.

Our place is the lower unit

New Mt. Washington Home

View from our new home

And though we began (and titled) this post back at the end of June it’s already the second week of July and has yet to be published. So I’ll include a couple quick updates about the 4th. We had a great, long weekend that was kicked off by drinks in the Sierra Madre Biergarten Thursday night, followed by the lovely Sierra Madre 4th of July parade Friday morning. That afternoon we cooked up a BBQ feast and then all fell into food comas and took long afternoon naps. We thought about venturing out to see fireworks, but instead opted for seconds and some hammock lounging in the backyard…where we had a brush with some wildlife when we caught a raccoon peering down at us from a tree! I swear it peed on me, but Dave claims it just shook water off the high branches/leaves. We moved the hammock and I grabbed a bat in case it was rabid and attacked, but it just mosied around the tree before climbing down and out of the yard about 20 minutes later. The next day we participated in some domestic adventures making our way to Costco and Walmart for new home supplies and then attended a “Kitten Warming Party” at Kathleen and Brian’s home that night. We met their sweet kitty Moze and had a great time hanging out. Sunday we hung out, read and relaxed all day. We agreed every weekend should be a three day event. One day for social activities, one day for productive ones and one day to recoup and refresh. Let’s try to catch it on, okay?!

Up next we have the official move into our new place, Alexis and Peter’s July 19th wedding and then I’m finally getting my wisdom teeth removed. Should be a mix of good times and swollen times. Hopefully all is well with our friends all over the globe. We miss you all immensely and hope fabulous summers are being had all around!

xoxo- Daverian

Welcome 2014

Happy New Year! To start the new year we’ll write a quick wrap up of the past year. 2013 was hands down the best year. We started the year off in Berlin with the promise of lots of travel, lots of wedding activity and lots of fun. 2013 delivered on all accounts.

We were incredibly grateful to have been able to visit 13 different countries, with Greece being the major highlight. We also had the opportunity to travel throughout Germany, visiting a number of cities in Bavaria and finally making it down the Romantic Road. In the US we were able to spend a lot of time on both coasts- staying with Dave’s family in Maine for a few weeks in September and then again in December and my family in California in between. Definitely the most extended family time we’ve been able to enjoy in many a year.

We spent a good deal of the year immersed in plans for our October wedding. Planning a wedding is a HUGE undertaking and wouldn’t have been possible without the help of so many of our family and friends, but everything came together perfectly for the big day. October 12, 2013 was absolutely the highlight of the year and without question one of the highlights of our lives. We both really took the time to savor the day and couldn’t be happier about how everything turned out. And now we’re married!!

All in all 2013 was quintessentially a year of fun.  Every year right after January 1st we make a date and share our “top lists” of the year. We have a bunch of different categories: top songs, top trips, top books etc…and then top overall moments/memories. January 2nd we dined at an awesome new-ish restaurant in Portland called Outliers. Bo and Kristie gave us a gift card for Christmas and it was the perfect spot for our first date of 2014. We had delicious pork jowel to start, short ribs and lobster pasta for our mains and a yummy of Malbec while we shared our lists. It may be the last year in a long time in which we both have extended time off and no real financial obligations tying us down. We picnicked, and read and traveled and hung out with friends, and drank in biergartens and swam in incredible oceans and generally just savored life. It was a carefree, adventure-filled year and difficult to whittle down a few highlights- which we took for a pretty good sign. It doesn’t escape our knowledge that we were incredibly fortunate in 2013.

2013 in Review
Year in Review 2013

And now it’s time for 2014! We rang in the new year with family and good friends. We had a delicious dinner of lobster mac n’ cheese prepared by Melissa and started the night with fun family games before heading over for drinks with some friends at Sam and Cliff’s apartment and ended the night at Bubba’s Sulky Lounge– touted as Portland #1 dance club. They had two light up dance floors and a DJ spinning some 90’s and modern hits. It was a lot of fun to dance the night away and a great way to start off the new year.

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2014 should also be a big year though probably not in such a dramatic, wedding and travel-filled fashion as its predecessor. The big adventure will be figuring out where we in this great big world we’ll be able to find fulfilling jobs and a new community to build a home. We’re still open to all corners of the globe, but are focusing our current search in the States. Hopefully we’ll be able to provide more interesting updates in the near future once we actually make some forward progress on this whole job/home thing. In the meantime we’ll keep seeking out free thrills as unemployed nomads. Hope you all had a festive New Year and a positive start to 2014!

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Thankful in the Fall

We’ve been back in “real world mode” for a few weeks now and most of our time has been spent job hunting, trying not to spend money and lounging around with the family. The silver lining to being (f)unemployed is that you have lots of time to do all the things you wish you were doing when you’re working. We’ve been trying to explore some of the cheap/cost-free options in and around LA and our wonderful family has treated us to a few things along the way as well.

The last stop of our mini-moon was at the Hangar 24 and when we told my dad about it he mentioned that a new brewery had opened up in Monrovia called Pacific Plate Brewery. The weekend after our return the whole family piled into the car and drove down to split a couple a samplers. The brewery is small, but the beer was delicious! Later that week we met up with my old friends Jessie and Travis at another local brewery called Eagle Rock Brewery. They were having their 4 year anniversary party the night we met up and were offering special flights of their Solidarity beer and passing out delicious chocolate cake. We had a great time catching up and laughing about old times while downing some more delicious beer.

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In our efforts to save our dough (and work off that beer) we’ve been taking advantage of the ridiculously warm So Cal weather by doing a lot of hiking and getting out to the local ball fields to throw and hit the softball around. Last weekend Dave and I hiked up into Bailey Canyon and got some amazing views of the south land. It had rained a little bit the day before and we could see for miles- all the way out to the ocean.

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In November Dave and I celebrated our 7 year anniversary by partaking in happy hour at DogHaus in Pasadena. We also celebrated my dad’s birthday with a family trip to Huntington Gardens and a sushi dinner at Kabuki in Hastings.

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Later in the month we headed into downtown LA to check out the LA Auto Show. I don’t know much about cars, but it was really fun to check out some of the fancy models and pretend to drive a Porsche around. After the Auto Show we took Dave to eat at the Pantry, a famous LA establishment that’s been open continuously since 1924. Fotor1206171025 IMG_1500 IMG_1509

We had a great time celebrating Thanksgiving with two massive feasts. On the actual day we drove down to my uncle and aunt’s house in Temecula. They prepared a great dinner and we had fun visiting with them and my cousins, Emilie and Leah. The next day we whipped up the whole meal all over again. Dave and I hadn’t been in the States for Thanksgiving in three years and were keen to do all our favorites and have leftovers galore. We cooked all day and then shared a second amazing feast that Friday. It definitely beat battling Black Friday shoppers.IMG_4043

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In the past few weeks we’ve also been able to make it down to Costa Mesa to visit with our friend Sachi, who moved to Orange County from Berlin, grab dinner with friends Alexis and Peter, catch a taping of the Jay Leno Show out in Burbank and I was able to have a girls’ day with Robyn, Katie and Kathleen checking out Kathleen’s cute, new apartment. Last weekend we saw Catching Fire with the family. And then just this week we trekked out to the LA Zoo with Maddie’s friend Sarah who is down in LA for a quick visit.IMG_1438

IMG_1526IMG_1447 IMG_1670I guess looking back over the past month we’ve actually been able to keep pretty busy. It’s finally starting to cool down in California and we’re looking forward to getting a Christmas tree and pulling out all the decorations this weekend. We’re leaving for Maine in just about 10 days now so we have lots of Christmas gift crafting to do in the next week, plus job searching of course… Merry (early) Christmas to everyone and hope you have much to be thankful for this holiday season!

 

Visitors!

We had the pleasure of hosting a few members of Dave’s family the past several weeks: First his cousin Catherine and second his sister Cara and her Husband Will. We had a great time during both visits and thought we would share a few photos and write up the experiences (maybe to inspire some future visits???)

Catherine showed up a few weeks ago in the beginning of November .. just in time for the cold weather! We warned her to bring some warm clothes and she was lucky she did, because once she arrived the temperature in Berlin dropped at least 10 degrees. Pretty depressing!

We should mention that Catherine is spending the semester studying abroad in the UK in a small town just outside of London. She was loving her time there and was really looking forward to checking out Germany and trying some German food and beer. We did our best to show her a good time!

Once she showed up, Dave met her at the subway station and they headed down to the center of Berlin for a free walking tour. It was the same tour that we had been on before: a three hour stroll through the center of Berlin tourist district that gives a great overview of the city’s intriguing history, including the Nazi period and the Berlin wall among other cool things. The tour was really fun, but got cold very fast. Dave and Catherine were both looking forward to the break inside a cafe that came halfway through tour!

Next, Dave and Catherine met up with Adrian back at our apartment in Prenzlauer Berg and then the whole group headed to HB for dinner and drinks. We had been to HB before but it’s a great place to bring tourists because they have very traditional southern German food and, of course, Mass Beers which everyone loves. We have a great time at HB and Catherine seemed to enjoy her German food!

The next couple days we spent with Catherine traveling around the CIty, seeing sites and sampling some local fare. She loved the CHristmas markets, but wasn’t so sure about the Currywurst. Overall it was a great time!

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Next, about a week later Cara and Will came for Thanksgiving! We worked hard to find all of the necessary ingredients for a real American thanksgiving, including a (small) turkey but were missing a few things and Cara and WIll came up big and brought it over from the states. We were very excited to have them here and to show them around Berlin and our neighborhood of Prenzlauer Berg.

Thanksgiving dinner turned out great! We had two additional friend come over, Maxime from France and Sachi from Japan. The food was great and we had quite a few bottles of wine, but since Cara and Will had flown over that morning and were feeling quite tired at that point and decided to head back to their hotel.

The next day we took the two of them on a tour of downtown Berlin. We went to the top of the Reichstag building, but unfortunately it was a little to cloudy to get a real good view of the city. From there we walked to the Holocaust Memorial then to Potsdamer Platz for some lunch: Wurst with mustard and a beer. Will said he finally felt like he was really in Germany.

After some more touristing, we split up for an hour before meeting for dinner. We took them to a traditional German Brewpub right on the river down the street from the Berlin Cathedral. We sat down at a big table only to notice that we were completely surrounded by Chinese people. Cara and Will both speak Mandarin Chinese and the tempation to surprise the Chinese tourists with their skills was too much so they struck up a conversation. It was pretty fun to see the reaction from the 30 or so Chinese people to hear Cara and Will speaking with them. The brewpub food was just okay, but the beer was delicious so we made sure to drink plenty of it.

The next day we headed to a German history to take in some culture and then went to checkpoint charlie to look at some of the Berlin Wall and learn a bit more about the cold war. Then we headed back to Prenzlauer Berg to try some street food at the local market. That night we went to an Italian restaurant that is right downstair from our apartment. We had been their a few times before and they treated like regulars (as Italians like to do). It was pretty fun and Will and Cara were pretty impressed!

The next day, they had to fly away in the morning. It was a quick trip but we were so glad to have some family here for Thanksgiving. Will, Cara and Catherine, Thanks so much for coming!!