On our way back from camping, I knew we had to stop somewhere to sightsee. The drive is, like, four hours! Soon after we left Rogers Rock and had lunch at Bolton Landing, we decided to explore and stumbled upon this beautiful outdoor conservancy. It was called a farm but it was mostly a few close and easy hikes with an indoor butterfly garden. I was mostly excited about the butterfly garden because I wanted Petra to see these Monarch beauties up close. They did not disappoint. Even though I believe Spring is the time butterflies are abundant, on this summer day, we had a fun with a few gorgeous butterflies. Łukasz managed to catch one on his hands and after Petra saw how it was done, she had to grab one for herself too! We held her back though and taught her hold to gently hold them so as not to squash these delicate creatures. Petra learns so quickly by watching us. It's constantly reminding me to watch what I say and do to set the right example for her. Kids really do learn by example!
The hikes in the surrounding areas provides some of the most beautiful views of the lake that I had ever seen. While I got Petra ready to go hiking by slathering her with sunscreen, Łukasz checked in and found out that the property belonged to a rich family who donated it sometime around the 1920's and they turned it into a conservancy to help preserve the natural forest that surrounds it. It's gorgeous! So many lovely wildflowers. I will admit, I wasn't properly dressed for this and I showed up wearing Saltwater Sandals but luckily the forest floors weren't too thick and the hike didn't require any crazy climbing. Petra loved the view as she was strapped to Łukasz' back. It got a little hot so we let her walk around a little at the top of the hill but she was more than content walking on grass and playing with her water bottle.
Such a beautiful day! I'm really glad we got to stop by this space. We had come to Rogers's Rock so much, who knew that this beautiful space was only a few miles away! Adventuring with these two is my favorite!
On our first week, we also visited Venice Beach close to Los Angeles County. For some reason, I always get super nostalgic for Venice Beach when I’m in New York. I watch Californication and begin to idealize what California and LA are to me even though, it’s really nothing like that. It also reminds me of the Doors because, Jim Morrison and all of that fun stuff. It really just takes me back to my teenage years when I fell in love with Classic Rock and thought I would be a hippie forever, haha.
Things definitely didn’t turn out the way I thought they would, they turned out better! We happened to make our way to Venice on one of the few gloomy days that happened during our trip. It was also a random suggestion in the middle of the day but when someone says they want to go, we gotta go. Lukasz had only visited Venice once about a year before we met. It was one of the few places in California he happened to make a pit stop and one of the few places he found actually interesting during his travels out West. Venice is like a mini New York in that people just aren’t afraid to be themselves. It was really nice to get to come here with our daughter (although the weather could have been better). It did make for some interestingly gloomy pictures, despite our high spirits.
On our way back to the car, as the real rain began, we stopped at this little Peruvian restaurant that was as literally a hole on the wall. I can be a little picky about Peruvian food. My parents always seem to know the spots when we’re in California and I get my fair share of it when we go visit. I’m always wary of trying new Peruvian restaurants in New York because they always make the food so kitschy. The true mark of a good semi-authentic place is always the portion of their ceviche. It has to be a nice hearty bowl of fish. Otherwise, what’s the point? This place in Venice, whose name escapes me, really hit the spot. It was all weirdly served in “to-go” containers despite us eating in but everything was great from the ceviche to the Lomo Saltado.
It was one of those days that left you tired at the end, with all the driving, Petra fell asleep in the car after eating so many French fries. My favorite thing ever is showing her these new places and getting even more excited to come back when she’s older as well. It’s so amazing to show everything to a new little human being. I feel like, with Petra and Lukasz, I have travel partners for life.