|Map of California's Gold Country.|
|Big comfy bed, with my maternity pillow.|
With a little research, we found a deal on Expedia for mini suite the Hyatt House in Rancho Cordova. The location of the hotel was nothing special, but the room was very nice. The staff was great and the room was well-cleaned. And it was nice so spread out on a plushy king bed!
|The couch was really comfy, I did not want to share it with Michael.|
|So much fun to get all dressed up for once! Dress from Old Navy.|
|Aren't we cute? Michael was very happy because|
he just ordered his steak dinner.
|I don't know why Michael didn't zoom |
in more, but that's me and my bump.
|Inside the Fort, the building in the center |
is one of Sutter's original structures.
We also stopped by the Capital Building for a little bit, very lovely building and gardens. After that, we had lunch with Michael's sister who lives just outside Sacramento and ended up hanging out with her the rest of the day. We had planned on going to see stuff around Auburn, but I was tired and decided it was better to take it easy. And we don't see Kristina that often, so it was nice to catch up.
|Lovely drive on Highway 49|
The next and last day ended up being kind of busy, but so much fun. We took Highway 49 (which dawned on me afterwards it's called 49 because of the 1849 Gold Rush....the 49ners...). It is a beautiful drive, lovely trees and hillsides. Almost made the trip worth it alone.
Our first stop was the Marshal Gold Discovery Park.
|My husband likes to point at things...|
It's the site where James Marshall found gold in the American River and started the Gold Rush in 1848.
|The spot where Marshal found gold|
and change California history
|Replica of Sutter's sawmill|
And they offer a gold panning lesson with a Park Ranger. It costs an additional $7 fee, but you get to keep anything you find that fits in the vile they give you.
|Two big garnets, a few gold flecks, pyrite, |
smokey quartz, and a few other lithic wonders.
It was getting on in the afternoon, but we both still wanted to check out Empire Mine State Historic Park. It was an hour drive, but we didn't mind since it was so beautiful.
|The mining yard with the old equipment on display.|
Empire mine was one of the most successful mines in California, operating up until the 1950's.Though, in the end it had to switch from gold to other rocks and minerals to stay profitable.
|This picture doesn't even come close to showing the depth.|
|A scale model of the Empire/North Star underground mine system. |
People actually worked daily in it!
And it has a huge, elaborate under ground mine system beyond just the entrance shaft.
|The mine owner's cottage, so beautiful.|
|Totally how I felt walking down the hall with my swollen legs.|
Want to hear the best part? We did all this for around $400! That's right a mini-suite, a fancy dinner out, and a good amount of site-seeing without breaking the bank. Here are my tips on how you can have a fun little babymoon (or any vacation) on a budget.
Babymoon Budget Tips:
- Don't do things you can't actually afford. There is a difference between we could afford it (by maxing out our credit card) and actually affording it (we have enough in our savings or we will pay off the credit card easily in a month or two).
- Do some research. Try Expedia, Orbitz, Travel Zoo & etc. Don't just settle for the "best price" listed on one site. Shop around and compare.
- Consider staying just outside the area you are visiting, if practical, where the hotel rates tend to be cheaper. Just make sure you are not so far away that you waste time/ gas getting around.
- Take advantage of free things at hotels, like continental breakfasts or breakfast buffets (just make sure you pick healthy options).
- Look up all the things to do in the area, and prioritize what you really want to do. Sadly you can't do everything so this allows to budget for the things you would be truly sad if you missed.
- Not everything needs to cost a lot of money. Consider National Parks, State Parks, smaller museums, or even simple walks or hikes. Sure, take that $100 white-water rafting trip one day, then maybe the next explore a local historic site for only a $5 donation. If you are going to splurge on a nice meal like we did, try to keep your other meals simple and less expensive. Not every meal needs to be over-the-top. There is no shame in ordering a pizza to your room and watching HBO in your pajamas.
- Research things to do for free along the way to the expensive places too.
- Factor in all the little stuff. Admission fees, gas cost to get there, and any trinkets you may buy from the gift shops. These can add up to a lot in the end.
- Bring your own drinks and snacks (very important to have on hand while pregnant), gift shops and little stores charge a lot for even a small bottle of water.
- Don't force yourself to stick to a strict schedule if you are tired or not feeling well (especially if it involves walking a lot while pregnant). There is no point in wasting money on gas, admission, food & etc. for something when you will only remember how miserable you were there. You and your baby's health is more important. And you never know, you may find some totally awesome low-key thing to do that ends up the highlight of your trip.
I would also like to mention the recipe contest I have running on my food blog, All You Eat is Vegetables?. Submit recipes that reflect my future son's multi-racial heritage, and you would win an Amazon gift certificate! Check out this link for more details and look out for more contests coming in the future.