Duluth trip to the North Shore

We had planned a trip to our favorite vacation spot Isla Mujures but with the [insane] overall lack of knowledge about the level of risk of Zika virus there (I called around for all the medical and statistical details I could get my hands on!) we had to cancel as soon as we found out I was pregnant. #sadface We were sooooo looking forward to some island time! But, that had to wait until I was no longer splitting cells.

That’s not Mexico! 🙂

Luckily, it’s shockingly easy to be refunded for flights to regions affected by Zika when you have a doctor’s note indicating you are with-child. I mean, no cancellation fees, no waiting period, like IMMEDIATE REFUND. Where does that even happen…immediate refunds?! I can’t think of one instance. Actually the refund came in quicker than the actual credit card charge came due, which confused me for awhile because it threw off everything by a few thousand that month and the following! We hadn’t even been charged for the flights and already had a plus on our Amex. I think that’s one of the only by-product-good-things I’ve ran into during pregnancy. We were loaned a large credit on our credit card for one month – woohoo.

The long view of Two Harbors from our cabin

So instead of beachfront, we swung the pendulum over to the North Shore beachfront. It was local and there were no mosquitoes in sight, ha! We stayed at Grand Superior Lodge in Two Harbors. This was no ordinary “lodge” however– we stayed in their beachhouse. The beachhouse was an amazing cottage that was perched direction on the shore. I mean directly. You could hear the waves all night long, it was amazing. Super romantic, unless you have kids in tow! But seriously, we had an awesome time. Ross was less than confident we were all going to fit comfortably in the beach house but I called ahead and they assured us a pack-and-play would fit fine. He thought the boys would get bored in the small space, but the exact opposite happened. They piled up next to the window and watched the waves come in – they never got tired of it! There was a red rock in the waves they named Lightning McQueen – kids are so creative aren’t they!?

We used the pool in the lodge one day and luckily the hot tub wasn’t boiling hot so Georgie and Julius were able to dip their toes in with us for a minute. We took turns getting massages and ate at the restaurant one night. All in all, it was the perfect vacation for us at that time. But we are going back to Mexico next winter –sorry Two Harbors! We need to warm our old bones. But oh, how we love #Minnesnowta

View of the shoreline from our window

Lake Superior’s biggest fans

George slept in a sleeping bag and Julius slept in his pack-and-play

Our little cottage was so cozy and comfortable!

The (late pregnancy) family vacation to Isla Mujeres – so apropos.

Oddly enough, it was my husband who suggested we take a tropical vacation to Mexico over a year ago (usually I dream up our vacations and he goes along for the ride – like our honeymoon to Fiji ♥). I jumped all over his suggestion like white on rice, and thanks to TripAdvisor’s ever-honest forums came up with the destination of Isla Mujeres, which is called the Island of Women. With historical references to the Maya goddess of childbirth, it is rumored that women would visit the island to honor Goddess Ix Chel in hopes of achieving a successful pregnancy and healthy birth. Oddly enough, we planned this vacation before knowing I was pregnant! Karma or whatever you want to call it…#strange.

So we paid and planned…and planned…and planned. I made a long list of things to do places to eat. We got a passport for Mr. George and renewed my passport. I mapped out every destination on a map I printed – but soon enough said screw that noise and bought a $17 MapChick Guide – which was so much better. We researched traveling abroad with children and discovered the best apps for making plane rides bearable. Not surprisingly, George wasn’t all that interested in apps but mostly enamored with pictures and videos of himself. Early selfies if you will. Then, around Thanksgiving, we got our first huge snowstorm in Minnesota and IT. WAS. TIME:

Time for Isla!

The weather was perfect – only slightly cloudy on the day we arrived and the day we left! The only negative of the whole trip was the fact that I couldn’t drink – but I could eat. So I ate and ate. I really can’t complain about the non-alcoholic piña coladas, either. Something about the fresh pineapple and fresh coconut made me not-so-forlorn. George was an all-star traveler – the only rough patches came when we were leaving the beach for naptime. We travel lightly – carry-ons only, so even travel days went really smoothly. George insisted on pulling my luggage which was so adorable. I love this kid.

The best thing about this destination was (of course!) the beach – so we spent as much time as possible there. The water is amazing – crystal clear, calm and deserted (if you’ve found the right corner of the island). This picture and video really show the clarity and calmness of the ocean:

Seriously deserted, seriously beautiful beach

Seriously deserted, seriously beautiful beach

We could wade almost all the way to the hotel on the opposite side of this inlet. It was the perfect depth for small children. And drunk adults.

Our daily routine always started with walking (or driving the golf cart) to breakfast  – Mango Cafe was our favorite and I wish we’d eaten there more often. The food and coffee couldn’t be beat. We also wish we’d asked about purchasing their coffee instead of the mundane variety we bought at the Chedraui. It was the best coffee we’ve ever had, and we’ve tried coffee from all over the world (we buy bulk and roast our own beans via Sweet Maria’s).

I didn't teach George cheese-face, but it does come out on occasion.

I didn’t teach George cheese-face, but it does come out on occasion.

After breakfast we’d head to the beach. For the first few days we visited the beach right outside our hotel, Hotel Ixchel, but after massages at Spa Onali the owner advised us to try the beach by Mia Reef Club, which was calmer. His advice was golden – we drove our golf cart to that beach from that day on. The last day we decided to try the hotel pool which was a lot more thrilling than we ever imagined – George practically swam by himself with his puddle-jumper life vest. We had the pool to ourselves, and we used the floaties we brought to laze around, taking turns swimming with George.

When George was ready for a nap, we would go back to the hotel and shower, nap and get ready for dinner. Lola Valentina was one of my favorites – we both really enjoyed our meals and had a delicious dessert which was some kind of traditional Mexican chocolate-filled tortilla.

Lola Valentina

Lola Valentina

Mamma Rosa was one of my favorites – I had an amazing pasta with white sauce, but Ross was not happy with his sausage pasta. We also shared a tiramisu which was exceptional. This restaurant had a great location right in the middle of town and it was fun and lively. Dad bought George a toy monkey from a street vendor which at first interested him then terrified him. That monkey didn’t make the trip home.

Mamma Rosa

Mamma Rosa

Abuelos was a wonderful locally-owned restaurant that had delicious food prepared in the nearby kitchen. You could smell, hear and watch your food being prepared and you could tell ingredients were fresh. We ordered the featured fish entrees which were perfect.

Abuelos

Abuelos

It was a perfect, low-key vacation for a budget-conscience family with a small child and pregnant mommy. We were very happy with our decision to visit this small island and with our minimal investment in a week of relaxed beachfront fun!

Mom at Bally-Hoo beachfront restaurant

Mom at Bally-Hoo beachfront restaurant