Come on, 2021. Like everyone else, I’m more excited about this new year than any I can remember. 2020 has been rough. Compounding things for me is the fact that the end of 2019 was awful for me. I was really looking forward to 2020, so the joke’s on me. Still, there’s so much to be grateful for. I feel fortunate to have my health, my family and great friends.

2020 wasn’t all bad. I have to say that one of the silver linings of this horrific pandemic has been our lack of mobility. Of course I miss hopping on planes and immersing myself in different cultures, but I don’t think I’d have seen as much of California as we did in a short time under normal circumstances. I love my state. California has been home (minus our two years abroad) for almost a decade. While we’ve made plenty of trips to Palm Springs and Santa Barbara, we’d never explored the Golden State from top to bottom. One of the things I’ll remember about this year was our road trips.

We did not leave our house until mid-June. Our first foray into pandemic travel was a little trip to Palm Springs, with our good friends and their two kids. It was the perfect way to dip our toe into the COVID trip waters. We managed to socially distance our way through a comfortable, very relaxing stay.

Our next trip was more ambitious. In July, we went to Napa with different dear friends, also with two kids. Our amazing babysitter came with us, so we were able to enjoy the wineries. We made some great new discoveries, and I’m hoping to go back in the spring when things are a bit calmer.

From Napa, we said goodbye to the rest of the group and visited San Francisco and Carmel-by-the-Sea. The drive back down the California coast was breathtakingly beautiful.

A few weeks later, we headed to Ojai for a perfect stay at the Ojai Valley Inn. The service was impeccable, and the staff was hyper-cautious about the COVID risk (which made me really happy and relaxed). In between pool time, we ate everything and squeezed in some time for crafts. We even roasted s’mores on the property’s beautiful lawn.

In August, we went to Big Bear for the first time. It was a special trip, because my brother and sister-in-law joined us with my adorable nephew. Lily loved getting so much cousin time in. One of the highlights was our boat outing. My husband Brandon made a great captain, and we had a blast even though rain poured down a few minutes after we got on the water.

We next spent a few days at the beautiful Monarch Beach Club in Orange County. There was more pool time and lots of delicious seafood.

After the (virtual) start of kindergarten for Lily, we were able to squeeze in a few more trips. First, three wonderful days at the Fairmont Grand del Mar. The pool was quiet and had a fantastic bar. Lily and I had a ladies tea that went surprisingly well.

For the next school break, we finally decided to check out Idyllwild. We rented a charming Airbnb and soaked in all the nature and culture in this little gem of a town.

In October, we did the unthinkable. Brandon and I snuck away for a few Lily-free days…for the first time ever. We had a great time eating and drinking around Santa Barbara.

Finally, we made our annual trip to see snow this month. Instead of Europe, we went to Deer Valley. We drove–I’m still not comfortable flying during a pandemic. The Deer Valley/Park City area is visually stunning and fantastic for skiing. We got lots of fresh snow, and Lily got to ice skate in addition to skiing. She also had the most fun making snowpeople and roasting marshmallows in the freezing cold. It was definitely one of my 2020 highlights.

We can only hope that 2021 brings better times. While we wait, I’m going to hold on to my more pleasant memories of 2020. Happy New Year!