Last week, we packed up the van and headed up the mountain to Montecito Sequoia Lodge, a family friendly lodge in Sequoia National Forest. A group of our friends have been going to this spot every year for the past few years but this was the first time we made it. I have to admit, I’ve been in Hawaii for the past couple of years around this time, and for me, there was no question which option I liked better. But this year, I asked my twins, who are now 6 years old, which option they preferred and of course, they wanted to go to a lodge with a bunch of their friends, so that’s how we ended up there. Honestly, even though all of our friends who had been there before just raved about the place, I didn’t have very high expectations. I even read the reviews on Google, which weren’t so good and made me second guess my decision, but I couldn’t change my mind at the last minute because I knew my girls would be so disappointed. Anyway, we knew not to expect snow because this year has been so dry so we just figured we’d go, hang out with friends, and enjoy some time in Nature with the giant trees.
Gorgeous View from the lodge at dusk.
I’ve never photographed fire like this before! It was so much fun! The sparks were amazing to capture with my 50mm 1.4 lens!
When we arrived, the girls immediately went off with their friends and a ‘kids camp leader’ and within an hour, we were hiking with friends (adults only) to an incredible, gushing, icy waterfall! It was amazing and I started to feel excited about being there! Don’t get me wrong, I totally love the friends who we went with, sometimes I just have a hard time letting go of my Hawaii time, because Hawaii is truly my place. It’s where I feel most at home (in the states). I’d say Costa Rica is truly ‘my place’ if I count everywhere I’ve been thus far, but that’s another story. Anyway, we got back to the lodge and the girls were sooo stoked and having so much fun and the self-serve hot chocolate with marshmellows all day long was an added bonus. The dinners were amazing – actually all of the meals were amazing and all included in the very affordable price! My favorite was the self-serve tea all day long! Sooo nice! Some of our sweet friends!
Some things were definitely unexpected – no phone service and very very little internet service – it look about 15 minutes to send an email and another 30 minutes to download the received emails! I quickly had to scrabble to add an out-of-office reply email – which actually didn’t happen ‘quickly’ since it look about 2 hours to complete the task with the slow connection and all! But, in the end, it was such a blessing to be unplugged for 5 days! I NEVER stop working so being forced to take a break was soooo nice!!! And, the most exciting and unexpected thing that happened – it snowed!!! It snowed 10 inches and we woke up to the most beautiful winter wonderland! They are so set up there – with sleds, skis, snow shoes, etc. It’s awesome! The girls had a blast playing with their friends in the snow and it was so magical to experience all of it with some of our dearest friends! Truly a treat! At night, we would put the kiddos to bed upstairs and then slip downstairs to the fireplace with baby monitors listening in on our kids and play awesome adult games – “Things” and “Cards Against Humanity” drinking wine and laughing by the fireplace till 1am or later! Sooo fun!!!
It started to snow!!!
So after all of my hesitation and internal resistance to this trip, I now want to make it a yearly adventure with our friends! It’s so set up for kids and with ‘kids camp’ everyday for 5 hours included, there’s time for everything that adults might want to do without the kiddos (like extensive hikes, etc) but there’s also so much time to spend as a family and together enjoying each other’s company! Every night had a different kid-friendly activity and the camp leaders were so cool making it so fun for everyone! One night was a disco party dance with balloons and awesome music, another night was movie night with popcorn, it truly was such an awesome experience for all of us!
The only thing I’d say, is if you don’t have kids, this place might be too loud to handle! There are some really nice cabins that you can rent that are separate from the main lodge, but as soon as you enter the main lodge to eat or hang out, you’re definitely inundated with kids everywhere! So, it’s perfect for families because they totally embrace kids and it’s super set up for the littles 🙂