Michelle and Heather

Visit to the States: Part II

Visits to the States, especially my home town always put a lot of pressure on me as there are so many people I want to see in between all things I have to do.  Squeezed into a very short amount of time.  I only have 2.5 days to get everything done and its not enough time!

After I arrived in Austin, I met Sharon Popp at Hula Hut for happy hour.  She drove all the way from Houston (3 hour drive one-way) to meet with me.  Which makes me incredibly honored.  But I am disappointed that we didn’t get a photo.  We were too involved in catching up to whip out the phones.

Afterwards, I met my friend Michelle so we could pick up Jamie who was flying in from Arizona for a short visit during my stay.  We took advantage of some quiet time and enjoyed a fabulous dinner at Bartlet’s.  Again, forgot to whip out the camera.  Its been years since the three of us have been together, so there was a lot of catching up to do.

The next day, I met the renter of our house, visited with my neighbor, and saw my oncologist.  Dr. Patt at Texas Oncology gave me great news: labs showed me to be “perfectly average”.  In fact, she was so happy with me that she changed my appointments to annually.

That night, Heather Newbby planned a happy hour where I was able to see a large group of friends at one time.  Thank you everyone for showing up!

Image:  Jamie, Missy, Heather, Michael, Michelle, Aimee, Kim, Selma, Oscar

Austin Friends

Austin Friends

The next day, more errands and had a fabulous lunch with my sweet friend Diana at Nordstrom Cafe. I was hankering for their tasty saladsand it did not disappoint!  Then our really good friends, Shawn and Sharon drove in from San Antonio (over 90-minute one way drive) to have dinner with me at Maudie’s.

Managed to run all my errands too:

  • Pharmacy
  • Market
  • PO Box
  • FedEx
  • Norstrom
  • Sephora
  • LuLu Lemon
  • Walgreens
  • Bank

Quick 2 weeks in and out of the States, but managed to get everything done that I came for – blessings.

Dad, Kimberly and I at Hermosa Fresh Market

Visit to the States: Part I

What? 6 months since my last visit to the States.  My journey to the States was a lot easier than in January.  A 3.5 hour public bus ride, 30-minute taxi, 5-hour flight to MIA, 5-hour flight to LA.  Easy Peasy – 20 hours later.

We had a jammed packed schedule with lots of activities and errands.  I saw my good friends Ed and Wendy, Kathryn and Gene, and got to see my sister show off her jumping skills.

Sis jumping her horse and Ed, Wendy and I

Sis jumping her horse and Ed, Wendy and I

Cole performed in a high school “Spring Sing” and was the only kid with a solo – he’s so amazing!  As a matter of fact, he made a select men’s singing group for next year.

Cole singing solo at Spring Sing

Cole singing solo at Spring Sing

Kimberly had a fundraiser at the Spring Sing concert and raised over $250 for the Mira Costa Choir.  Equally important, we had fun working side by side.

The family at Cole's Spring Sing

The family at Cole’s Spring Sing

Kimberly put together a last minute girls happy hour where my friend Deborah joined us.  Always good to see a fellow Texan enjoying the California lifestyle.

Girls Happy Hour

Girls Happy Hour

We see lots of weird fruits and veggies that we cannot identify in other countries, but this is a first for me. I could  not identify this huge jack fruit in California.  Evidently it’s  a huge source of protein for vegetarians.  It was heavy!

What the heck? It is a vegan source of protein.

What the heck? It is a vegan source of protein.

One of the main reasons I went to LA (besides seeing my family) was to see Cameron, my youngest nephew graduate from middle school.  Notably, graduating with all “A’s.”

The cast below:  Cameron, my dad, Troy, Kimberly, Vicki, Uncle Matt, Diana and Mark. Bottom row: Reese’s PB Cup/Chocolate Chip cookies

Family celebrating Cameron's graduation

Family celebrating Cameron’s graduation

Cameron rocked the front row of his 2018 graduating class.  Under these circumstances, it was no surprise as he did a jig exited the stage, cracking everyone up!

Cameron's Middle School Graduation

Cameron’s Middle School Graduation

It’s always good to get the family together, but even better when it is a celebration.

Family at Cameron's Graduation in the States

Family at Cameron’s Graduation in the States

In addition to being a rock star student, Cameron also rocks the volleyball court!  We got to see him play in a tournament.  He is a power house on the court like his mom and dad!

Cameron at Volleyball Tournament

Cameron at Volleyball Tournament

We celebrated Father’s day early as I was traveling to ATX on the actual day.  We took my dad to brunch then walked the Hermosa Beach Fresh Market.  As can be seen, it was a beautiful day.

Dad, Kimberly and I at Hermosa Fresh Market

Dad, Kimberly and I at Hermosa Fresh Market

Had a fabulous time, even though we packed a lot in a short amount of time during my visit to the States:

  • Cameron’s graduation
  • Cole’s Spring Sing
  • Kimberly’s Horseback Riding Lessons
  • Visit with a few friends (Ed & Wendy, Kathryn & Gene, and Deborah)
  • Father’s Day
  • Errands, errands, and more errands
View from Unit 7 at Manuel Antonio Estates

Manuel Antonio Estates: Short-Term Rental

How did we end up living with the monkeys at Manuel Antonio Estates?  Well, Sugar Shack was struck by lighting (a story we will share once the boat is repaired) and had to be hauled out. Once she was hauled out, we became homeless because Marina Pez Vela does not allow live aboards on the yard.

The marina arranged a room for us at the Best Western Kamuk at a discounted rate for the first couple of nights.  This was great for the weekend, as they were close to the marina.  But at $68 per night , for 3 months, it would break the already broken bank.

The first three nights we stayed in a small room over a crowded street, but the last night we moved to the top floor which notably had a great view of the beach.

View from Best Western Kamuk Hotel

View from Best Western Kamuk Hotel

The marina connected us with real estate guru, Alvin who showed us a few short term rental properties.  We ended up at Manuel Antonio Estates which offered  AC, wifi, a pool, and a full kitchen. Remarkably, most apartments don’t have ovens.  I have grand plans of baking for our boat workers so an oven was a must have.

We negotiated a lower rate which included all of the utilities, maid service twice a week, and moved in the next day.

Nestled in the trees are 9 apartments overlooking a pool and the dense foliage below.  Once you pass the guard gate, you walk up a hill, past the Rain Drop Spa (top left), to the main reception area (top right).

Then you climb up another hill to the apartment units (2nd row, left) which overlooks the pool.  We have lots of wildlife, including iguanas, geckos, monkeys, toucans, and tons of birds.

Manuel Antonio Estates

Manuel Antonio Estates

The hike up the hill in the heat often requires a dip in the pool to cool off.  With this in mind, it is not a hardship to get home.

Crazy Neighbors

The apartments are located near the Manuel Antonio Park and are nestled in the trees.  So, we have lots of wildlife around.  We’ve seen scarlet macaws fly by and one toucan sighting.  Tons of other birds, lizards, geckos, iguanas, Capuchin monkey family, squirrel monkey family, and even a few dogs and cats.

We get visitors around sunset – they are a playful bunch of monkeys.  Crawling, leaping, jumping all over the place.  The monkeys are so curious, they kept peeking over the roof and hanging from the rain gutters to look at us.  Generally speaking, they are more afraid of us then we are of them.  These are Capuchin monkeys but we also get squirrel monkey family as well.

White Faced Capuchin Monkeys

White Faced Capuchin Monkeys

Waterfall Hike on Property

There is a pretty challenging hike to a small waterfall on the property. The first 1.5 miles is up and down many hills on a paved road.  At the end of the road, make a left at the dirt pile, then right past the tree onto a “water runoff.”  The little, muddy trail down only takes about 30 minutes and you are rewarded with beautiful views, a waterfall, and a refreshing body of water.

Manuel Antonio Estates Cascadas

Manuel Antonio Estates Cascadas

Movers and Shakers

We have moved around a lot at Manuel Antonio Estates.  We started in unit 8 which is on the top floor.  After about 5 weeks we had to move to unit 5.  The top units have a better view, more ventilation and direct sun so they can rent them easier than the other units.  However, we found unit 5 to be just as fabulous.  We stayed in this 2nd unit for about a month when we decided we wanted to move to unit 2.  We had some “unusual” neighbors who smoked a lot on their patio and we wanted to move further away (plus unit 2 had a bigger couch).  As Manuel Antonio Estates busy season came to an end more units opened up.  So, after about a month we were offered unit 7 which is back on the top floor.  Sweet.  Great views from here with a cool breeze.

View from Unit 7 at Manuel Antonio Estates

View from Unit 7 at Manuel Antonio Estates

They were doing maintenance on the pool which is why it is only 1/2 full but normally it is a fabulous place to cool off.

We love our team at Manuel Antonio Estates!  Dorit is an amazing property manager handling everything from repairs, rental cars, tours, and local advice.  Giselle and Reina keep all the apartments clean and comfortable and Tariq runs a smooth operation.  Thank all for making us feel welcome and at home!