December is one of my favorite months! Why? Because Christmas. Most people find this season to be incredibly stressful. I can totally relate to stressing over finances and finding the perfect gifts and balancing all the events you’re invited to. But I find the season to be magical (yes, I’m one of those people). There’s cheery music, people are in a giving mood, they volunteer more and think of others more — plus there’s all the holiday food and Christmas lights!
One of my favorite things to do this month in Sacramento is attend one of the world’s largest lights shows, Global Winter Wonderland. Each year is a different theme of huge lights displays, statues, etc. It was even more special this year because my family all flew into California to visit me! Keep reading to find out what we got up to during their visit!
Sacramento, CA — 26 nights
Point Reyes, CA — 1 day
San Francisco, CA — 1 day
Melbourne, Australia — 1 night
My family came to visit this month! My parents flew in from their new home in South Carolina, my sister flew in from NYC, and her boyfriend flew in from Cleveland. It had been a while since I last saw everyone, and it meant a lot to have them all here in Cali. I took them out to eat at some of my favorite places and we daytripped out to Napa and the Point Reyes National Seashore! We took my dad to the Cali Automobile Museum and my mom to Global Winter Wonderland. It was a fun time (despite all the rain which you can read about in the Lows!) and I can’t wait for our next get-together! Missing my family something fierce.
As a seasonal youth staff on cruise ships, I already had a contract to go to Mexico for 10 days next month. However, I sent a cheeky email and was able to magically get my contract changed for the better! I’m now going to Australia/New Zealand instead, and for a whole lot longer than 10 days! I had been asking for a contract to this part of the world for a while, in hopes of getting “local leave” at the end. Local leave means (if approved) I could stay in Australia for a few days after my contract is over and my flight back home would still be covered by the company. My plan is to be able to use that time to go visit a university I’ve been considering for grad school in Brisbane!
This year, I decided to stay home for Christmas instead of working a ship. My boyfriend and I went to Old Sacramento for a Theatre of the Lights show on Christmas Eve, visited with friends, and drove around the “Fab Forties” to see all the lights displays in people’s front yards there.
I boarded the ship at the end of this month and found out that I’m the only seasonal for the first cruise. That meant I got my own cabin for 2 weeks! This is totally unheard of and I plan to take full advantage of it until the new seasonals come next cruise!
It rained the entire time my family was visiting. I brought them to Point Reyes in the rain and it was so foggy that we couldn’t see the lighthouse until we were 100 feet away from it. So much for the scenic views in the area! Ha! And of course, as soon as they all flew home it was sunny again.
I had so many travel frustrations trying to get to my ship. It started with catching a bad cold out of nowhere the day before leaving. I had a 4:30am wakeup to catch a 6am bus into San Francisco, even though my flight was until 6pm. So I had the entire day to spend in the city until my flight. Which would normally be exciting, but not when you’re fighting a cold and your suitcase wheels decide to completely warp. I was dragging my suitcase up and down the steep streets of SF in the rain while carrying my heavy backpack full of electronics on my back (it’s time I invest in new luggage). I finally found a hotel that would store my suitcase while I visited the SFMOMA for the day, but I wound up not being that impressed with the museum. I then went on the wrong BART train trying to get to the airport, coughed through my entire 15 hour flight, and had my ears painfully clog while landing in Melbourne. Add to the fact that I almost couldn’t get on the ship due to confusion about my medical paperwork and then despite the jet lag, it was an hour forward onboard and I had to work the 8pm-1am shift! I just couldn’t catch a break!
If you’re ever in Sacramento, you need to go to the German bierhalle called LowBrau and get their duck fat fries with the green goddess dressing. Also the Lavender Heights cocktail. SUURIOUSLY!
We also hit up one of Sacramento’s best brunch spots, the Tower Cafe, for internationally inspired food and decor. I ordered a Brazilian Chicken Salad and a Berried Mezcal. Everything that came to our outdoor garden table was so freaking beautiful!
I also brought my family to a restaurant I’d never been to but had heard great things about — Cafeteria 15L. It definitely didn’t disappoint! The interior design had me dreaming up Pinterest-worthy DIY’s for my own future home and the farm to table comfort foods were so good!
Best Wildlife Shot
Sadly, I didn’t really see a whole lot of wildlife this month. I blame the weather. My family and I heard elephant seals in Point Reyes, but we could barely make them out from the viewpoint with all the fog. On our walk to the lighthouse, we saw these deer straight chillin in the rain, totally unfazed by our presence.
Most Popular Instagram Shot
This photo was taken with my tripod while on a solo day hike in Olympic National Park. My caption started with a quote I found that perfectly summed up this past year. “I’m on the hunt for who I’ve not yet become.” I then went into some “real talk” about my struggles and reflections of 2016, and it seems you all liked my openness!
10 Gifts That Give Back To Wildlife And The Environment — This holiday season, give a gift that you can feel good about. Here are 10 gifts that give back to wildlife and the environment!
Reviewing The Best Weather App For Travelers And Outdoor Adventurers — The WeatherBug App is ideal for travelers and outdoor adventurers. Get forecasts for weather locally or abroad. Also, pollen levels, ski resort data, etc!
Retrospects : November 2016 — Read on for an overview of my November 2016 destinations and adventures. Also included are my highs, lows, goals accomplished, and more!
I published my first sponsored post this month and got paid for it! I also earned a few small commissions from a brand I’m a rep for. Hooray for blogging wins!
Goals For Next Month
I’d love to get my local leave approved so that I can spend my birthday in Australia at the end of my cruise contract, and be able to visit my possible future grad school!
Honestly, I just really can’t wait for 2016 to be over with. It was a pretty rough year, especially financially. I know most people keep quiet about their income and their money, but it’s important to me to be transparent and to never sell you a dream, so to speak.
I have incredibly positive and exciting feelings about 2017 though! I’ll be ringing in the new year on a cruise ship to Australia and New Zealand! Bring. It. ON!
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