Hidden Falls Family Hike

Just in time for Father’s Day comes a Mother’s Day story to inspire your weekend as you plan for the dads in your life. A day trip to Hidden Falls Regional Park in Auburn.

I have an 8 year old. Wait, he’s 8 and a half. That half is very important. He’s in training to become a Beastie Boy. All ragers, pranks, loud music and fighting for one’s right to party. I have no idea where he gets this from.

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So for my 9th year as a mother, I requested a pretty simple itinerary to celebrate. I wanted to start the day with a little breakfast, a bloody mary (or two), a nature walk with my little family and dogs, then finish the day with an afternoon nap. No biggie right? Well everything was going to go as planned, but the week leading up to Mother’s Day, sickness struck our household like lightening! My son came down with a very vague illness whose primary symptoms were a low-grade fever, cough and the intense need to play hours of Minecraft. Then my husband got a stomach bug where all he could do was lay in bed and read the entire internet on his phone. It was a dire time in our house and our Mother’s Day plans were touch and go there for a bit. Fortunately by Sunday, the fog of sickness lifted just enough for my guys to pull themselves together and treat me to a lovely day.

On Mother’s Day morning, my son gifted me with flowers and a decoupaged plate with an adorable poem on it. It was enough to swell the heart with love. If this is what he thinks of when he thinks of mom, I’m very happy.

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Then we had the aforementioned breakfast at home and then hit the road for our nature walk. One of our favorite spots to wander around on nicely groomed trails is Hidden Falls Regional Park in Auburn. I think it’s maybe everyone’s favorite spot now because weekends draw out Disneyland sized crowds on the trails there.

It’s California-beautiful with rolling yellow hills and green, green oaks and fluffy Ponderosa pines.

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Golden poppies for days.

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And they allow leashed dogs. Even cute little hellions like this one. I’m joking, this dog is very well behaved. She is the only living thing in our home that actually does what I tell her to. [There may or may not have been random animal droppings under that pink paw icon.]

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There’s a newly refurbished overlook deck for the Hidden Falls waterfall. It’s very pretty.There are a ton of different trail loops of varying length and difficulty. Our 8 year old with his boundless energy and enthusiasm for nature can do about 4 or 5 miles so long as we keep him topped off with the right balance of snacks, water and distraction. Otherwise I’m carrying a kid 10 inches shorter than me on my back which looks about as ridiculous (and kind of precious) as you can imagine. Lol. I’m kidding! Dad carries him. It’s still precious. Thanks babe.

After the hike I was feeling positively parched! So my loves took me to Knee Deep Brewing Company just down the highway.  Knee Deep allows dogs in their tasting room, so we brought in our two, snorty old Boston Terriers who lazed about the cool concrete floors. I just looked at that snoozy heap of Bostons and suddenly a nap seemed like the greatest idea ever, so we headed home. Falling asleep is the best feeling in the world and my Mother’s Day nap was just glorious.

I’m a lucky lady to have this husband and son! They did a great job in making it a fun and mellow Mother’s Day for me. Good job guys. This effort will be duly noted with Father’s Day and somebody’s 9th birthday approaching in the coming months.

Written by Niki Ortiz Levy. She has some pretty funny stories and thoughts on her life as a parent, which you can find on her blog (CLICK HERE).

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Day Tripping to Napa With a Kid. It Can Be Done!

I had one last three-day weekend before summer started and I wanted (needed) to get out of dodge for one day. My mission? To plan and execute a day trip to Napa, CA with a 1 yr old and a husband who likes wine, food, and fun.

People in Sacramento don’t really think about it, but Napa is only about an hour away. If there is traffic, it’s still only a couple of hours away at the most. We should really go there more often.

We planned our driving around naps, because we don’t hate ourselves that much.

8AM – Hit the road

9AM – Breakfast in Napa

We chose to go to the Boon Fly Cafe. Besides being popular with both locals and visitors, this place is very kid-friendly. Yes, there will be a wait. Yes, they offer free coffee while you wait or you can order a Mimosa or Bloody Mary. In addition, they have porch swings to sit in while you wait on the porch too. My kid loved this. I loved the kids’ menu, their attitude towards my kid, and the free crayons. You probably won’t even be the only one with kids; which is saying a lot for Napa.

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10:30AM – Walk and Shop

Go to the Oxbow Public Market, you will thank me later. There are lots of families there and it gets crowded. I personally love that about this place. It is a treasure trove of goodies, specialty items, and more food. Nothing says “Napa,” quite like this place. Locals love it.

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After about 30 minutes you will be asking, “What now?” Well, since you are already parked at the market, take a walk up 1st Street to downtown Napa. Across the river bridge you will see a little park, but it’s not much. From here, you have the opportunity to take yourselves on a walking tour of the city and scout out where you might want to have dinner.

12:00PM – My kid needs to play and eat before his nap

Grab your car and head to Fuller Park. It’s just your standard park and jungle gym, but it gets the job done.

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1:00PM – Nap Time/ Scenic Drive

Go to Google Maps. If you find the Best Western at The Vines, you will also find the start of Silverado Trail Road (on the corner of Soscol Avenue and Silverado Trail Road). Take Silverado Trail Road all the way to St. Helena! It’s a beautiful drive and is the path less taken, so you won’t deal with bumper to bumper traffic.

P.S. I love stopping at Mumm

1:45PM – Pit Stop for Napa Valley Olive Oil Mfg Company in St. Helena

From Silverado Trail Road, turn left on Pope Street. Then left on Allison Avenue. Park in the shade. Leave one adult in the car if the kids are still sleeping. No need to wake them up for this. The owners will let you sample the oil, vinegar and cheese. Over 100 years in this location and they still only accept cash and personal checks. If you bring your kids into the shop, just know the owners love kids and will talk very sweetly to them in Italian accents. Adorable!

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2:30PM – Picnic at a Park

After a nap, your kid(s) will need some snacks and some play time. Very close to the Olive Oil place is Jacob Meily Park. Here is the cool description from their website:
Located on Pope Street, the four-acre park is named after General Jacob Meily who, in 1880, established his vineyards on the park site and winery in the adjacent barn across Sulphur Creek from the park. The park amenities include parking, restrooms, turf area, picnic tables, playground, and a paved walking trail along Sulphur Creek.

3:30PM – Drive down Main Street back to Napa

Endless wineries, eateries and shops to stop along the way. If you are having a hard time finding Main Street, put Dean & DeLuca into your GPS and you will be on your way. I love stopping there on my way out of town. Their food is scrumptious and there is an outside fountain and grassy area for additional romping.

6:00PM – Drive on home!

Written by Mariah Cook. She and little family live in Sacramento, obviously.