Pairing up with Airbnb this year was one of the major highlights of our summer season. As for travel options, we long gave up the notion of standard hotels after Hayes came along, and a pleasant hotel stay with four kids seemed almost impossible. And switched to booking houses With Ab&b instead. So the opportunity to work as a family ambassador for the company felt a little like a dream gig in that it allows me to delve into one of the things I love most: taking road trips as a family. Visiting new areas to photograph, write and share about. Exploring, sleeping in new towns. And everything else that goes along with road tripping on the whole. In pairing with them we also get to experience some of the incredible houses I've kept on my checklist for ages now. The Blue Baie Cottage, hunkered on a stunning chunk of Tomales Bay, being one of them.
This particular house was a property I stumbled upon early last year, while trying to coordinate a coastal vacation up north with friends that fell through, but my obsession with the cottage stuck. Naturally it was one of the first listings I submitted as option for our second point of of destination on the heels of our annual lake stay in Nacimeinto (seeing that we were half way there anyway and breaking up an 8 hour drive with a car full of kids is always a wise choice whenever possible) Which is exactly what we did. Woke early and headed out of Paso Robles to arrive in Tomales late afternoon. After a series of pit stops along the way, naturally, because this is how it goes traveling with a crew of 8.
Marin county exceed every expectation right upon arrival. It was my first time there and while I expected it to be breath taking, in the way all coastal towns are breath taking, I didn't expect the kind of majestic awe it awakened in me. I've seen the glory of the California coastline countless times before, but driving into Marin was something special, something mesmerizing. The twists and turns of a lush hillside that dropped us into wide open plains colored by wheat landscapes peppered with blooming flowers, roaming cows and wild horses greeting us en route. The salt tinged scent of brisk sea breeze out our windows, thin wood fences carving ragged dividers between house and water, wind on our face and handsome old oak trees scattered everywhere we looked. Boats docked all along the harbor like a gleaming vision of the California that makes it onto the old postcards we don't send anymore - but probably should - to evoke envy in all the people we left behind. To ensure that we are having a wonderful time away. Because it's more romantic than Facebook.
The cottage was exactly what I was hoping it would be too. Better even (because with Airbnb, in my experience, most times they are) The house, anchored on the edge of the bay, surrounded by other equally quaint houses and densely beautiful wild succulent landscape. With a cozy, lived in interior and well stocked kitchen. Two couches that folded out into beds and one gorgeous loft space up top where the water hangs like a curtain of blue out every window. Not to mention the kindest host who went out of her way to ensure our stay in the house was nothing short of perfect.
Our first day we spent in the good company of friends. Jessica's cousin and his girlfriend arrived in the evening to prepare the kind of feast that best belongs in the pages of fancy foodie magazines. Steak, caviar, tiny pancakes, exotic watermelon salad, lobster and mashed potatoes. Washed down with red wine and old jazz (with a healthy dose of Justin Bieber thanks to the 13 year old girl in our company just as the Despicito fever started to spread) as the sun dipped below the bay shoreline. But the ultimate perk, if I had to choose - is the little hot tub on deck. Where I spent the bulk of my morning hours relaxing. Discovering just how invigorating it is for the soul to stew in heated water on slow foggy mornings overlooking the endless bay with champagne in hand. Hayes bobbing alongside me for a good long hour, naked save for his little turquoise floaty, equally delighted by the slow situation of the morning. The kind of day I'll remember as one of our best. That hot tub, probably biggest reason we didn't get out and see as much as I had planned for. Because in all honesty, it's hard to compete with a spa sitting atop a view like this. Even when your better intentions stockpiled a list of "35 things to do in Tomales Bay" prior to booking the place.
A few things we did manage being:
An obligatory stop for snacks at Cow Girl Creamery
Cocktails at sunset over at Nick's Cove
A mid day visit to The Lighthouse
Oysters To Go from The Tomales Bay Oyster Company
A day trip to Saulsilito (dining at Poggio / Shopping at Heath)
All the stuff Northern California dreams are made of. Leaving you forever craving of another northern road trip. Until next time, Marin County.
With many thanks to Airbnb for putting us up.
If you're considering a trip up to Marin country in the near future, here's a list of the other properties I bookmarked as some of my favorites.