Category Archives: Vacations

Summer Bucket Lists… but THIS is Summer.

For several years the Great Griffins have been all about the Summer Bucket List!!! Because really they are only the best ever. It’s a fun list of all the things you want to do over Summer vacation while the kids are out of school. At the heart of every list was simply the goal of being intentional with our time. That way when school starts in the Fall we wouldn’t feel like where did Summer go?

Each year has been different. Our first bucket list had 100 items to check off. Our second only had 25 (five for each person in our family- at the time). Our third had only one item and that was “to have a baby.” Probably the easiest and hardest so far. The lists have changed every year, just like our family.

So when it came to talk about the Summer Bucket List for this year, I asked the kids what do we really want to make sure we do this Summer. And overall this is what I heard:

Have fun as a family. 

Play with our friends. 

Play in the water (a lot). 


I can manage that.

That is really what it came down to… what could our family manage to do while being intentional with our time. So this year, that is what we planned on doing. And you know what? We’ve done all these things before.

The only difference is that this year we didn’t need a hundred items to check off… or twenty five… or one. If I am being honest, I just can’t. I can’t have another list… not right now anyway. I need the path of least resistance- not a mountain of checklists to climb.

Although we’ve been a family of four for a year, we are still in transition. And that is okay. It is okay to say no to the lists we once loved. To just breathe and enjoy. We’re only just starting to count on sleeping through the night for crying out loud… not to mention any names- Lolo!

So that is what we embraced for this Summer making sure we made time for family, friends and the pool. And I love my pictures this year. They aren’t all staged near signs of what we’ve done or where we’ve been (not that there is anything wrong with those… I live for those too), but they are mostly just of our life. So…

…THIS is Summer 2015!

 Traditional  “Welcome to Summer” last day of school banner. IMG_5561

But really this is who would be home for Summer. Love my noodles.


Blessed to witness the Baby Dedication of so many of our friends.


Dropped off Eliann for her Night at the Museum Girl Scout Award for Cookie Sales.

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Checked out the San Diego Fair with good friends and ate everything!

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Happy Fathers Day to Brian.


Eliann attended Indian Hills Camp.

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Played at the Gonzales Ranch- the boys learned to drive and Eliann collected eggs.


Celebrated Marghee’s 2nd Annual 27th Birthday.


Then celebrated her birthday again with a party that of course involved 23 teams.


We hosted the Boom Boom Ballards for Fourth of July.

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Marghee spent some of her birthday gift with friends.

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We played and laughed a lot… I think someone farted here.


We cried too. Something about Old Maid and not wanting to eat the one pea.


We went out on a literally “hot” date.

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We had the best sleepover EVER.


We celebrated and danced around the kitchen with friends.

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We survived attending and volunteering at Summer Blast.

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We celebrated Lorelei’s First Birthday.

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We played at home… a lot.


We dress up like cows for Cow Appreciation Day at Chick Fil A.


Lorelei was up to all kinds of shenanigans.


We ran errands.

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We did things regular things we love to do… library, movies and the gym.

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We had friends over to play.

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We played soccer.


Eliann went to Girls Scout Resident Camp- CSI Winnaka with her friend Ella.


We caught up with good friends.


We hosted a Marriage Workshop with the Pellicane’s.


Pierce did swim lessons.

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Eliann’s Girl Scout troop went to Surf Camp.


We got sick and missed the Marriage Getaway. #fail Thank God Brian’s parents took the kids.


Marghee’s parents came down to help us get better too.

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Lita stayed to play.

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We celebrated a silly anniversary.


We camped at the San Diego Metro KOA with Brian’s parents.

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We went to the Colorado River in Arizona.

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That’s a wrap! Goodbye Summer 2015… hello Fall!

Camping in San Luis Obispo

Back in July of 2014, Brian’s parents purchased a truck and trailer for the family. We were beyond excited to have these vehicles available to use as a way our family could enjoy vacationing. We immediately began planning our first trip in the trailer… and what better place to begin our fun than in San Luis Obispo, where Brian and I first met, went to college and got married.

We lucked out that on the weekend we wanted to travel in October Brian’s parents had planned to be returning from their own vacation. They were able to meet us in San Luis Obispo with the gear on their way down from the Bay Area. We switched cars and they helped hook us up and get us going in the trailer.


Our friends Austin and Sarah Duncklee, who also met at Cal Poly and went to school with us, joined us for our camping adventure in San Luis Obispo. They had their two beautiful daughters in tow, Avila (3yrs) and Nora (4mo).


We’ve actually visited twice before during family vacations with the Dunklee’s. The first time in 2011 during our Great Griffin California Adventure (when we drove up and down California)…

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… and in 2013 during our Nor Cal Family Vacation (Bay Area Wedding and Lake Tahoe).


They have also visited us twice while in San Diego, but this would be the first time we would meet and vacation together outside of either our homes. Here is a photo account of our family vacation with the Duncklee’s to San Luis Obispo using the truck and trailer for the first time!


The drive to San Luis Obispo from San Diego is 6 hours long. When traveling with kids, we’ve learned it’s best to break that up if you can. Thankfully we were able to leave Wednesday after the kids got out of school and our goal was to get to Santa Barbara to visit with Max and Mollie Moore (Mollie was Marghee’s roommate in college).

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The Moore’s are awesome! We had a blast with them even though we only got to visit for a couple of hours. They fed us, housed us over night and wore out our kids. It was great!

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We continued our trek to San Luis Obispo after a lazy morning in Santa Barbara. If you are familiar with the area to know there is a spot between Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo that you cannot pass up for lunch on the drive! Here is your hint…


ANDERSEN’S PEA SOUP! We love that place… can anyone say Monte Cristo Sandwich?


Best $0.25 we spent all trip!

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This was an excellent pit stop and we were on our way. Only about an hour left in our drive. We were excited when we drove into PISMO BEACH… it’s the next time you get to see the ocean on the drive and we actually lived there for a quarter while we were at Cal Poly.

Brian and I were both Business Marketing students and one of our favorite Marketing Professors was Gordon Snider. He traveled abroad for a quarter in 2007 and Brian had the wild idea to offer to house sit for him! Well he and his wife actually went for it and we got to live at his awesome house on the cliffs of Pismo Beach as a newlywed couple with our baby girl Eliann. We’ve told Eliann that she used to live at a beach house with us when she was younger which she thinks is really cool. So we were excited to show her where we lived!

We exited and drove up the hill to the house planning to just drive by and show her where it was. When we pulled up Brian noticed that there were cars in the driveway and he decided to get down and knock. Snider was home! He let us in so the kids could see the view.  It was awesome to get to stop there and visit with Snider for a bit.


If you can believe it, these are some photo’s of us while we lived at Snider’s house in 2007. Eliann is about 7 months old in these pictures.


Once you pass Pismo Beach the drive into San Luis Obispo is only about 15 minutes… we could hardly wait to pull up to the camp site, stretch our legs and get ready for some fun!


The Duncklee’s and Brian’s parents arrived shortly after we did. After setting up the trailer and tent we got ready to head into town. It was a Thursday night and there is one place you have to head to on a Thursday nights in SLO- FARMERS MARKET!


We walked around the market, ate tri-tip sandwiches for dinner, visited the Cal Poly booth, enjoyed assorted treats from vendors and David begged us to rock climb. We then went to California Pizza Kitchen for dessert and a chance to catch the end of the Chargers v. Broncos game.


After our first night in the trailer Bob made us all a hot breakfast! He and Ann would be heading home this morning. Thanks Bob and Ann!


After breakfast we wanted to cross off one of our top things we wanted to do while in SLO- TOUR CAL POLY! Lot’s of changes around campus (new University Union, Rec Center and Science Bldg) so it was fun to see it all again.

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Of course touring with six kids in tow wasn’t exactly how we used to stroll around campus… so that proved to be interesting… I am sure we scared some college kids.

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We bowled at Mustang Lanes on campus for old times sake. Brian, Austin and Marghee took a bowling class together one quarter while they were at Cal Poly.

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We went back to the trailer for naps, playtime around the campground, crockpot dinner and songs with S’mores around a campfire to call it a night.

Who wouldn’t want to nap like this with their friend?!


Park at the campground.

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S’mores and silly songs around the campfire.

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Today was the perfect morning to head out and eat at our favorite breakfast spot in town – LOUISAS PLACE. Brian and I love breakfast dates… and they first started here! It was a busy morning/weekend in town because it was Family Weekend at Cal Poly… which means lots of families visiting their college kids and  treating them out on the town. This wasn’t going to stop us from enjoying Louisa’s… Brian had been savoring their loaded Avocado and Bacon Omelette since we decided we’d be visiting SLO.


When we stopped at Andersens’s Pea Soup on the way up, the kids had begged to get candy, and we told them there was an even better place to get candy in San Luis Obispo so they would have to wait. Now was the chance to walk right around the corner from Louisa’s to Powell’s Sweet Shoppe. They were each allowed to choose one candy in the store… David chose a giant bag of cotton candy, Eliann chose Pop Rock Dips and Pierce chose a tiny chocolate football.


After stuffing ourselves with breakfast and treats it was time to visit a place dear to the Duncklee’s- AVILA BEACH. There oldest daughter, Avila, is named after the location. We stopped at Avila Valley Barn which was teaming with locals enjoying an awesome pumpkin patch with live music, fresh produce and farm animals to feed. Sarah had worked here at the Ice Cream and Sweet Shop while she was in college.


Fair warning to the kids… don’t fall asleep on the quick drive to the barn or your parents may just do this… bwahaha… naughty Mommy and Daddy.


While at the barn we enjoyed the live music, feeding the animals, navigating the hay maze and checking out the tractor and sunflower fields.


After the trip to the barn the Duncklee’s headed out to Avila Beach and we headed to the trailer for naps. We would be heading up to visit Tim and Caitlin Frampton in Paso Robles that night (Caitlin was Marghee’s roommate in college).

Tim and Caitlin are expecting their first baby in about three weeks. It was so great to get to see beautiful Caitlin before baby arrived. We toured their new home and discussed baby names for their little boy. Pizza and salad was on the dinner menu and we watched the end of the World Series game with them while we visited.



When we started planning for the trip in SLO with the Duncklee’s we knew we wanted to have a little down time without the kids. The way we decided to make this work was to plan for one of the days to be a guy/girl day. The guys were given a three hour window to head out and have fun while the girls stayed with the kids. Then we switched and they took the kids while the girls went out for three hours.

Unfortunately the guys didn’t take the camera for their guy time, but they enjoyed an early morning game of Frisbee Golf at both of the courses in town (Austin schooled Brian) and then had lunch at Firestone Grill while they watched a football game (these guys have played in a fantasy football league together every year since college).


Next we ladies got the chance to head out for some fun and we chose something a little more quaint-a trip to the Apple Farm! 


We had lunch at the restaurant, enjoyed a quick massage (Apple Cider and Shea Butter Massage… when at the Apple Farm) and shopped at the awesome gift shop. We were there at the perfect time to enjoy complimentary coffee and a chocolate chip cookie at the inn too.


While we were out the kids enjoyed beating the Daddy’s at a game of Mille Bornes.


Although we had planned to stay until Monday, the Duncklee’s wanted to head back home Sunday night and when it came down to it we thought that wasn’t a bad idea ourselves. No traffic and sleeping kids for the drive?! Yes, please! So we packed up and headed back home too. It made for a really late night as we didn’t pull into our house until 2:30am… but it was worth it to not have the added stress of the kids and the road while driving the long distance for the first time in the truck pulling the trailer.


We asked the kids what their favorite thing to do while camping was and they responded, “climbing the awesome trees and sleeping in the trailer.”


I think we can manage to do those activities again just about anywhere we take the trailer next. We really enjoyed our first time using the trailer and the visit to San Luis Obispo with our family and friends. We can’t wait until we get to go out again! Who’s with us?