Babymoon On A Budget

I don’t recall how, but a few years ago I first heard the term babymoon. It’s a vacation you take with your spouse before the baby is born to relax and enjoy each other’s company before the baby is born. Similar to a honeymoon right after a wedding. I loved this idea! Taking time to focus on your love and crazy journey you two are about to embark on.

Map of California’s Gold Country.
source

We dreamed of a vacation back to Hawaii where we met, but sadly that was not going to happen. We need something relatively nearby, so we didn’t need to take off work or be too far away from areas we knew if something happen with my pregnancy. We also needed something inexpensive so we could actually afford to buy diapers later on. But still worthwhile so we didn’t feel like we wasted our money. Then it dawned on me we could do that Gold Country trip we have both been dying to do for over a year now.

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.

All the places in Gold Country we wanted to see were within a reasonable driving distance too. I have no complaints about this hotel and would stay here again if we did another Gold Country trip.

So much fun to get all dressed up for once! Dress from Old Navy.

We splurged on a fancy dinner one night in Sacramento at Pilothouse and then walked around Old Town afterwards. It was really fun to dress up and feel all pretty for the first time in awhile.

Aren’t we cute? Michael was very happy because
he just ordered his steak dinner.

We kept it simple for food the rest of the trip. Plus, the hotel offered a great breakfast buffet so we saved money on one meal a day. Check out my food blog for reviews on the restaurants.

I don’t know why Michael didn’t zoom
in more, but that’s me and my bump.

On Sunday we checked out Fort Sutter in Sacramento. I loved that this historic site was preserved/restored despite being right in the middle of prime real estate in the city.As we walked into the park, we noticed the State Indian Museum. Michael is a part Native American so he was interested, and I love any kind of history so I was too. The museum is small but has a lot of artifacts and stories. Right when we walked in a docent greeted us and explained some key things. Being from Oregon, I didn’t know much about California Native history so I loved the mini lesson. This little place is worth checking out, only took us an hour to look through. We also found the trickster graphic novel we wanted to buy for our son in the gift shop! I am sorry I don’t have pictures from inside, no photography was allowed.

Inside the Fort, the building in the center
is one of  Sutter’s original structures.

Then we went into Fort Sutter. It is your standard restored pioneer fort. But this fort and John Sutter himself played a very important role in the California Gold Rush. It took us another hour to leisurely stroll through fort.The museum and the fort provided great background information the original Californians and how the Gold Rushers settled once they arrived.

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

He was building a sawmill for his business partner John Sutter (who needed wood to build Fort Sutter) when he suddenly spotted something flashing in the water.

Replica of Sutter’s sawmill

The park consists of a replica of the original sawmill, some restored/rebuilt homes and business, the visitors center, and easy trails to various important sites (like the site where Marshal found the gold).

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.

We were the only adults without children doing it—and to be honest it probably wasn’t fair for two people with degrees in geology to do it. But it was so much fun! We didn’t find that much gold, but a lot of garnets, pyrite (fool’s gold), and smokey quartz.

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.

We got there an hour before closing, and sadly missed all the tours. But it was still really cool to see on our own. The main mine shaft was insanely deep and insanely steep from even just the top! It’s crazy to think men went down there everyday to work.

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.

And the breath-taking cottage and surrounding gardens of mine owner was worth walking my pregnant butt up the hill to see. Shows you the difference even back then between the working and upper class.

Totally how I felt walking down the hall with my swollen legs.
source

That concluded our Gold Country Babymoon. We both really enjoyed the whole trip. The only problem was when I woke up Tuesday morning with legs swollen up like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man from all the walking we did. I had to call in sick to work because I could hardly move. Guess this pregnant lady had too much fun! However, it was nice to spend some quality time together doing activities we both enjoy. It also made us excited to take Jack to these places when he is old enough. I am totally going to dress him in a flannel shirt, jeans, and boots when he pans for gold. Mommy’s little 49ner!

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.

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