WaGON North

APRIL 28, 2016 || In honor of last year's 1st Annual Sponsored Spring Break Road Trip, Corey and I packed up the kids and did it again. . . albeit with one boy fewer. A QUICK SOAP BOX NOTE TO ALL PARENTS: Don't let your teenagers opt of road trips. Every step along our journey, I hated Isaac not being there, and his absence in these photos, to me of course, is startling. I guess the bright side is I learned a valuable lesson that's two-fold. One: he's not old enough to call the shots on things like this. I mean, my mom never let us skip out on family vacations. And two, particularly for Francesca: that even Mommy makes mistakes. Also he's just a sophomore. . . so he'll be back next year.

Anyhow, the Tuesday after Easter, my sister, daughter, nephews and I piled into Corey's new-to-her '95 Volvo wagon and took off for wine country. As has become custom, we made pit stops along the way, from the historic {Chumash Painted Caves} to the random {Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch, where we were promptly turned away}, to those that had us waylaid for hours {Figueroa Mountain}. Night one landed us in a two-bedroom suite at Mondo Cellars, our favorite Paso Robles wine destination. We explored the grounds at sunset, played two-on-three soccer on a grass yard lined along one side with wine barrels, then capped the night in front of the wood-burning stove with a bottle of white.

From there we drove to Fresno, stopping at the most beautifully curated garden and gift shop in Tulare before touring the jaw-dropping Forestiere Underground Gardens {You HAVE to go!} and then meeting up with one of my best friends from college for a family session at her home. Probably our longest day on the road, we didn't arrive at our dream home in Sonora til well past midnight, perhaps the best part being opening our eyes to such beauty the following morning. Kathleen, our Airbnb host, welcomed us into the cabin where she raised her children and what her grandchildren now call Grandma's House. We explored nearby Columbia and Twain Harte Lake before finding the most delicious Chinese place in an old strip mall that fed all five of us for $35. Including wine.

In San Francisco, Suzy, our next Airbnb host, presented us with the most generous welcome basket full of fresh bread, fig jam, cheese and salami, popcorn for the kids and yes, more wine. We tucked into her home after half a day visiting the Pink Ladies and having happy hour at the Top of the Mark in the same room our grandparents, now long gone, used to sit and sip probably martinis with 365 degree views of the city. Before heading home the following day, we ran back and forth over the Golden Gate Bridge under a veil of fog, then wandered around Ghirardelli Square.

There were Mad Libs, a AAA issue, bridge tolls, a couple random fevers, hours of shows on a phone, ice cream stops, parking lot picnics, wanderings around cemeteries and all else that comes with a road trip half planned half left to spontaneity. A road trip that would not have been the awesomeness it was without the generosity of our sponsors, who hopped on board this year, donating their goods and services for photos, social media call-outs and video footage of the trip. All our thanks to all of them: Airbnb hosts Kathleen and Suzy, Artifact Uprising, Bowie X James, The Beach People, Duchess and Lion, ELNM Design, Freshly Picked, M. Special Brewing Company, Mondo Cellars, Mr. B's Necessities, Ollie + Me.

If you haven't yet, you can browse our hash tag on Instagram for iPhone snaps of the trip as it unfolded in real time: #kellyandcoreys_springbreakroadtrip