The Cachos all have strong ties to the Bay Area. Debbie and John lived here while he was in graduate school and Laura and Justin met while in school at Berkeley. We were also lucky to have the Cacho side of the family, including sweet little Madeline, here for Thanksgiving. They know what to expect when they come, and will probably have a clear idea of their favorite things to do and places to visit.
The Faulkner side of the family, however, hasn’t spent much time here at all. So as a birthday / mothers day gift, were so happy to bring Mama Faulkner out for a visit at the end of May. We wanted to show her around and give her a lay of the land here and in Sonoma and pick her brain on how to make things come together in a way that will be simple and enjoyable for everyone. I tend to get overly excited about showing people everything and it can sometimes feel like forced fun, and Joanne provides that voice of keep it simple reason.
She flew into Oakland late Thursday afternoon and got a taste of Bay Area rush hour traffic. We decided to go the back way through the windy, narrow roads of Oakland Hills and though she enjoyed the sweeping views of the bay from the ridge, Joanne was not too thrilled to imagine us cycling in those hills and was definitely ready for a glass of Chardonnay (cha-cha) and a simple pizza night by the time we made it to Lafayette.
Friday we visited the reservoir and Matt entertained us as he physically mapped out referred to as “The Sacred Space of Marriage”! We all agreed it was a lovely setting for the ceremony, but after talking through some logistics and challenges with timing, she suggested moving the reception to the back yard. This will allow us to set up the day before, and not have to rush to be out of the park by 8:30pm. Though I loved the idea of the party at the reservoir, it did feel a bit hectic, and moving it to the house allows us two more hours to enjoy and connect. She also gave us some ideas to dress up the back yard and things to consider when thinking about the flow of the evening. Eager to introduce Mama Faulkner to some of our friends, that evening we had a little BBQ with Kacey and Randy, Lise and Ben, and David and Cindy, and though it was warm and comfortable during the day, she got to experience the 20 degree evening temperature drop which drove home the point of the need to bring layers.
Saturday, we had a ladies day and did some dress shopping. Mom and I went out to Walnut Creek in the morning and had fun trying on bridal and mother of the bride dresses. We stopped at the Lafayette Park Hotel for a lovely lunch on the way back through town and were delighted by the pool and the restaurant think this will be a great spot for family to stay for the first night or two. Recharged, we headed to San Francisco to meet up with Sarah to try on more dresses. Though I felt a little silly and self-indulgent making them watch me parade around, I have to admit it was fun. They were kind, attentive, honest, and supportive as I tried on some hits and some misses, and ultimately got more specific as to what I was looking for. We celebrated the day with a glass of sparkling rose at a little wine bar in the Dog Patch, and headed home for some leftovers and to get ready for our adventures in Sonoma County the next day.
Sunday morning we drove north, taking in the golden hills, twisted oaks, and purple and orange wildflowers. When we hit Sonoma, we decided to pop out and explore downtown. Matt and I had never been, and we were all taken with the charm and rich history of city center. Joanne was a trouper. Despite the fact that she was just still recovering from foot surgery, she joined us on a slow stroll around the square and a guided tour of the Sonoma Mission. From there we passed through Glen Ellen and took some picturesque back roads to Santa Rosa and made our way to a couple of vineyards in Dry Creek, where we enjoyed tasting wines on farmhouse porches and estate lawns. Feeling blissed out, we cruised into Healdsburg and did a quick spin around town before an amazing dinner at Spoonbar. In addition to enjoying the day, we were thinking through our time with family at Black Mountain, and if we should caravan out together and coordinate group activities or let everyone choose their own adventure as they travel up through Sonoma and the Russian River. We decided to let Thursday be unstructured and provide some guides / recommendations for the journey up, but let people do their own thing and meet us at the mountain in the late afternoon / early evening for check-in.
After being on the go all weekend, we decided Monday should be a day for relaxing around the house. We spent some time in the hammocks, reading, laughing hysterically as we did a photo-shoot with our Donald Trump pinata, and elevating those feet. Matt cooked up an amazing dinner for her last night with us, and we were off to bed early so we could be up by 4am to catch a 6am flight back to Baltimore.
While we had a great visit with Mama Faulkner, we were sad that Papa Faulkner, aka Jimbo, couldn’t be here as it’s difficult for him to take too much time away from work. One of the challenges of living so far away from family is the time and cost of cross country travel. However, we make it a priority to do as much as we can, and it makes us really appreciate the time we spend together and do our best to be thoughtful and make it special for everyone. We are so excited to have the Cachos and the Faulkners here with us to celebrate, connect, and create some long-lasting good memories.