For Aaron’s 30th birthday, I wanted to do something that would resonate with him deeply, something that he would remember forever. I thought & thought about what the perfect gift could be. . . I thought back on the favorite gifts I have ever received. The one link between them all? They were an experience.
For me, an experience is worth so much more than just a material gift. It may not be tangible, but it’s a memory, a valuable piece of your life–& how could you forget something like that?
So, there it was! My gift idea. Now, to find the experience–I combined a few of his favorite things; the ocean, surfing, exploring–and me of course! ;)
After a month of stressful planning–planning a road trip in an area you’ve never been to, without your partner to affirm your decisions is hard y’all–it was finally time to go! I packed Aaron’s bag (complete with a new wetsuit thanks to Vertex Sports! Thank you, Augie!) and told him to trust that he was in for a fun weekend! It was so exhilarating & fun to have surprise weekend planned without him knowing!
Obviously, he was going to find out where we were headed once we boarded the plane! But coincidentally, and lucky for me, San Diego + San Francisco were boarding at the same time at side-by-side gates! It kept him on his toes until the very last second, guessing where we were headed!
On the plane headed for SD, the anticipation was high & he was so excited! We decided not to let all of the surprise go at once–instead, he wanted me to tell him the next days plans over dinner each night!
After landing in SD, we hopped in the rental car and drove about 30 mins north to Encinitas, CA! This is where we spent the first two days of our trip.
First stop, Le Papagayo for brunch! What an awesome kick off to his birthday! We sat down, the sun already beating down on our shoulders, and reminisced in the last ten years of our lives–comparing the differences between them and appreciating how much we have grown. We enjoyed coffee (of course), chilaquiles + a breakfast burrito to fuel our afternoon adventures & we were on our way!
We fell in love with the quaint town of Leucadia (where Le Papagayo is located)! We decided to pop into the local shops (including Bing Surfboards) around the area. Then, we headed to the downtown strip of Encinitas. Aaron & I seriously loved this town–probably the favorite of our road trip. (Like, let’s pack our house up & move!)
After browsing around town, we needed a serious dose of vitamin s e a.
TO THE BEACH!
We headed to Cardiff Beach. What a gorgeous, open, soft sand beach! We loved it. Not many were around us, but a few were on their afternoon run (with or without pups) & I remember being a bit envious that this was their every day workout spot. It was a glorious day, not a cloud in the sky. We ate it up & stayed as long as we could.
We got the call around four that Christian was ready to take us surfing. We (Aaron in particular) has surfed before but I feel like it’s always good to have a refresher from a pro. Christian, from Progressive Surf Academy, was the perfect guy to do just that! The former pro-surfer in Hawaii, who just recently started a surf school, was a delight–gifting us with a brand new take on our approach to surfing. He took us out to his favorite surf spot–Solana Beach.
The view from the top was incredible. It’s a public beach, although you would never know it. The surf continued to kiss the almost naked shores, with only a few people and their (adorable) pups passing by.
One of the things that I love most about Aaron is his extremely supportive nature. Truly, in anything I do, he is the one that is right there cheering me on! Granted, this was his birthday. & this surf session was about him. But, as usual, he took a couple pointers from Christian (that were super helpful) & then hit the waves on his own!
I stood up about 7-10 times (whaaat!? yea!!) with Aaron cheering me on each time. But, what I was focused on & what I was SO proud of (as I am every time) was to see Aaron doing his own thing, catching waves, riding them in good form–straight killin’ it! I can’t wait until the day we move to the coast so that watching him surf is an everyday thing.
This trip put a lot of pressure on me. Not from the birthday boy, but from me. I tend to do this to myself–packing expectations in unnecessary places. But, alas, this was very important to me to make his big 3-0 important! At every corner, I was so thrilled to see a smile, or to have him say ‘I can’t believe you planned this all, babe!’–what a joy! That night for dinner, I chose Pacific Coast Grill–a local eatery with an awesome menu. The food was impeccable & we enjoyed the ocean view (of Cardiff Beach) just as much. We toasted (him–blue cheese-stuffed olive martini, I–spicy margarita) to his thirty years of life!
We spent the night in the area & before we headed up the coast, we couldn’t miss brunch at Biergarden! We were able to meet Jess, my dear friend + the founder of Social Studio, her awesome husband & their friend for some damn good bloody mary’s and great conversation! It was a wonderful way to break up the trip & we wish we could head to this bustling, trendy joint every weekend!
Before we hit the road completely, we wanted to check out a few of the beaches we were told that we couldn’t miss! We scoped out Ponto + Beacon’s, and since both were hard to find a spot, we went to Grandview–a lovely little tucked away spot with grand stairs leading down to a mellow surf.
Before we knew it, it was time to head up the coast!