Saturday, August 2, 2014


Last weekend I turned 24. 
If you'd asked me 5 years ago what I thought my life would look like at 24, this isn't quite what I pictured. It's better than what I pictured. 

I told Seth that I didn't want to plan for my own birthday. I do lots of planning all the time. Birthdays, trips, bridal showers -- I enjoy it for sure, but I kind of wanted to take a back seat for my own birthday.

Seth got to work on planning something I've wanted to do forever; go riding in a hot air balloon. 
He wouldn't tell me what we were doing, but I knew it was special because in the week prior he was clearly stressing out about it. He kept the whole thing a surprise, even when I had a hunch that we were going in a hot air balloon he didn't even crack! 

We started out the day before, leaving to go "somewhere a couple of hours away". I was told to bring clothing for hot and cold weather. I realized quickly that we were driving north, and our first stop was at our friend Kenny's house in Rohnert Park. I noticed that Kenny's car wasn't outside and the garage wasn't open as usual so I asked, "is Kenny even home?" -- Seth replied, "that doesn't matter". It was then that I realized this is where we were staying. Good thing Kenny was home. He was preparing to leave for his cabin that night which is a few hours away, but we were able to hang with him for a while and have dinner. 

We went to Russian River Brewing in Santa Rosa for their famous (and delicious) Pliny the Elder. We then went to a different brewery for dinner because the wait at Russian River was a staggering 1.5 hours. 

I was told that we had to get up SUPER early the next day. So after dinner Seth and I made our way back to Kenny's and hit the hay around 9:30. At 4:30 our alarm went off. Seth told me that we were driving somewhere that was 45 minutes away -- and that we had to be there RIGHT ON TIME. I begged for coffee so we stopped at a gas station on the way out. 

Seth went back and forth on if/when he was going to tell me what we were doing. He didn't say anything. I only figured things out when we pulled up to the pick up spot, coincidentally the hotel that we stayed at on our honeymoon in Napa, that I saw the white vans with hot air balloon signs on them. I was so excited!!

We left the hotel around 6:15am after being briefed on the plan for the morning and assigned a balloon. 
We met our balloon driver, Russ, and loaded into the balloon. Seth and I were the last to load in out of the other 15 or so people in the balloon. We ended up having to be separated by a large barrier that split the middle of the balloon, which was dissappointing. We tried not to let it bug us though. 

Sidenote: the "hot" part of hot air balloon is seriously HOT. Like burn your head hot. I should have worn a hat like Seth suggested, but I didn't want a baseball cap to cramp my birthday style. 

Seeing the valley from that high up -- in open air, was incredible. 
I loved seeing the other balloons, and I loved seeing the sunrise. 

The ride was supposed to be between 1 and 1.5 hours. 
The winds were also supposed to move us.
But they didn't. 

Our balloon pretty much got stuck in mid air. 
And it took us 3 whole hours to get back on the ground.
We ended up landing in the middle of Hess vineyards in a tall, grassy field where no car could even find us. 
It took the balloon team almost 45 minutes to find us once we had landed, and then we had to hike out to the vans through a vineyard!

Finally landed. 

Hiking out. 

When we got back, there was a champagne brunch waiting for us.
Emphasis on the champagne. 
I made sure to load up on the mimosas, in case you were wondering. 

After a nap back at Kenny's house, Seth and I headed back down south -- but we first stopped at Lagunitas brewing, a family favorite. 

Our last stop was at Hawk Hill on the north side of the Golden Gate Bridge. We had never seen the bridge from that angle before. It was quite the site!

Seth and I headed home and had a delicious birthday dinner with his parents at a yummy Creole southern restaraunt. 

I headed home to my parents house that night since Felix was with my mom. I missed him so much that I couldn't bare another night without him. 
He greeted me like this the next morning. 

This birthday had me feeling like the luckiest girl in the world. 
Seth planned a fantastic day for us, and I felt so blessed to have two sets of parents to love on our boy and let us have a night away. 

Cheers to 24. 

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