I am totally off schedule this week coming off a week of vacation and today being a holiday and it’s great. I hope you had a great Valentine’s Day. Hubby arranged for the Valentine’s Day dinner pickup from Nectar Cafe that included a delicious salad, stuffed acorn squash, roasted Brussels sprouts, and an amazing red velvet layered chocolate mousse dessert.
It was such a nice treat since my sister and I got back into town Saturday from a week at a resort in Newport Beach! It was a crazy story how we ended up going, basically my sister had planned to go with her family months ago, well before things got crazy in Southern California with Covid-19. Then with changing school schedules and work schedules, it looked like her family would not be able to go and the points would be lost. Since she already had the time off work and after agonizing over the pros and cons of going, carefully reviewing work and state travel guidelines, I was able to get the week off and go with her!
We arrived last Saturday to beautiful sunny weather and ocean views from the resort.
Typically it is not easy to get into this resort, but things are different this year and most of the amenities and activities are closed down due to Covid safety, not a problem for us with the beach in walking distance and great hiking trails nearby. And the sterilized villa had a kitchen, washer, and dryer to do more cooking and cleaning while staying socially distanced.
We started with lunch at the outdoor poolside cafe where the vegan black bean burger was not bad and came with way too many fries. Then went grocery shopping to stock up for the week, explored the huge resort, and took in the sunset over the ocean from our balcony.
The next morning, I started with a simple breakfast of fruit and vegan yogurt before heading out on a run to the beach. It was such a gorgeous overcast and peaceful morning, but I discovered quickly that I was not prepared to handle the crazy hills in the area!
The walkway down the cliff to get the beach alone was crazy steep, but beautiful and a great workout.
Then the clouds left and we enjoyed a huge salad for lunch before heading out and exploring the beaches more on foot. We found Crystal Cove, a beautiful beach and state park with a cute community of cottages being restored, restaurants, and shops.
Then headed back to the villa for more salad and tofu stir fries while watching the Super Bowl.
The next day we headed to Fashion Island, a massive mostly outdoor high-end mall in Newport Beach. I was not interested in buying a Rolex or Tesla, but we had a blast looking at the shops since I have not been to a mall since the start of the pandemic. I was more interested in locating True Food Kitchen since a lot of their menu is vegan and they have a lovely heated socially distanced patio to enjoy it on. And a slick system that allows you to scan a QR code on the table to order and pay for your food through your phone for less interaction. We started with refreshing drinks and edamame guacamole paired with nicely seasoned pita chips. Then the Korean Noodle Bowl and Butternut Squash Pizza with almond ricotta and warming winter flavors.
Then to Corona Del Mar to explore the beaches, views, and interesting homes in the area.
The next day we hiked the Crystal Cove El Morro Canyon Trails and the weather was perfect for it all day – overcast, but still great ocean views.
We hiked about 4.5 miles on very hilly trails, so hilly we had to take breaks. But the views we climbed to were worth it!
Then headed to Gracias Madre, a plant based Mexican restaurant. Years ago I went to the location is San Francisco. But I was excited to find a new location to try with another socially distanced heated patio.
We started with the Al Pastor Nachos, then onto Enchiladas Verde, and the Taco Flight with three different tacos – chef’s choice.
The food was delicious and very prompt, it was such a great evening on the patio with live music and scenery.
Vegan oatmeal in the villa for breakfast, then back to exploring the beach on foot. We were determined to get as much beach and ocean views as possible on this trip.
We ended up at The Beachcomber Cafe for lunch were a huge watermelon mojito and Beyond Burger was a perfect combo while taking in the ocean views.
Then more time on the beach before heading back to the resort to watch the sunset.
The next day it was to Balboa Island to explore the beaches, nice homes, and shops. We had a great time walking the perimeter of the island looking at the different houses, beaches, and views. Then into the shops to pick up souvenirs before heading inland to find Nice Guys, a 100% vegan burger place. The menu is full of delicious options, but since I had a Beyond Burger the day before, I opted for the Premium Spicy “Chicken” because it reminded me of a certain spicy sandwich back in the day and it was a treat paired with crispy sweet potato fries!
After that splurge, it was back to the villa for simple tofu veggie stir fry for dinner and oatmeal and fruit for breakfast the next day.
Then back to the beach where it was sunny and perfect. And not crowded at all.
After a day in the sun and getting plenty of time on the beach taking in the warm weather, smells, and sounds, we headed back to the resort to wrap up the final day at the pool with cocktails to watch another sunset over the ocean.
It was such a great week that it was a little tough to go home and prepare for the grind again. But it was amazing to get away, the area felt very safe with Covid precautions – everyone seemed good about wearing masks, there was a really nice Trader Joe’s near the resort that was larger than our local Whole Foods, had ocean views from the parking lot, and was never crowded for getting groceries.
Nothing was crowded, literally nothing, which made it more amazing. We got so much outdoor time and a perfect and much needed change of scenery that I am already thinking about our next isolated resort getaway.