Friday, 17 August 2012

Last week in California

After our quick trip to Las Vegas, I had a day to rest while my husband and his friend went golfing. That evening my husband and I made a maple ribs along with a side of coleslaw for dinner.  The following day we went to two vineyards for wine tasting.  It's disappointing that the Kohler vineyard doesn't ship to Canada.  I really enjoyed their 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon.  I also enjoyed the Kohler Riesling as well.  We then went to the Firestone Vineyard which had been featured on "The Bachelor" in 2005 (I think that's the date).  We managed to arrive at a most opportune time as a tour of the winery was just about to begin.  So we were able to enjoy a tour and then the wine tasting.  There are many, many vineyards throughout the area we were visiting.  Many of the vineyards are planted on the sides of the mountains in order to allow the rains to drain away so the grapes are not affected by mold.  I was quite interested to know that the vineyards are not affected by insect damage like here in Ontario.

My husband and his friend went golfing on again on Thursday, August 9 while my friend and I took our daughters shopping in the local village.  We visited Ross, Walmart and the 99 Cent Store where I bought my daughter some clothing that is not available in Canada.  That evening we went to San Luis Obispo to the open air market.  This was a much larger market than we saw at Avila Beach.  I had my first authentic burrito and it was wonderful!!  I don't handle hot spices well so I opted for a beef, rice and bean burrito topped with salsa and guacamole.  I then had a grilled corn on the cob with melted butter, lime juice and parmesan cheese.  It was okay but I think I still prefer the traditional boiled corn on the cob.  I might sprinkle freshly grated parmesan cheese on it so that the cheese melts on the hot corn.  I finished off my meal with a funnel cake topped with strawberries and whipped cream.  Needless to say, I was very full after all that food.  It was a good thing that the market was long so I could walk off my meal.  There were different restaurants and bars/saloons represented in the market.  We saw a real show at the booth for F. McLintocks.  It was set up right in front of their restaurant.  They had a Santa Maria grill which is a round grill over charcoal.  The grill is raised and lowered by hand using a crank system which is on the side.  We saw succulent artichokes being grilled alongside rib eye steaks and beef kabobs.  The employees would call the orders out in rhythm.  Apparently the line ups start for their booth even before the market opens.  Our friends told us that there are easily 50 people in line before the market opens and that people wait in line for up to an hour and a half in order to put in their orders.  It was fun just to watch the employees "perform".

The guys went golfing again on Friday, August 10 which was our 21st Wedding Anniversary.  My friend and I enjoyed a day lounging in the sun on her patio.  Our friends live close enough to the Pacific Ocean that the weather doesn't get too hot.  As a result, we did enjoy sitting on the patio while we sipped our iced tea.  That evening, we went out to dinner to a place called AJ Spurs.  I loved their Vaquero Soup which we topped with tequila black beans and salsa.  The soup was fantastic!!!  I easily could have had a full meal of just the soup.  However, I did have a chicken oscar which was also delicious.  We ended the evening at the Chumach Casino in Santa Ynez.  The following day my friend and I went for a full body massage at the Spa at the Chumach Casino.  I have sensitive skin and I knew that we were going to be having this special treat so I had brought my own massage oil that I discovered my skin could handle in May 2011.  My masseuse really enjoyed working with my oil and asked for a small sample at the end of my massage so she could share it with some of her co-workers.  When I looked at my bottle, I realized it is manufactured and distributed from a place in San Diego, California!  Anyway, I really enjoyed my massage and felt so relaxed afterwards.  We were allowed to use the spa's "Quiet Zone".  This very soothing room had a waterfall on the wall, soothing background music and comfortable chairs where we could sip a variety of teas.  I had a cup of blueberry tea which was very soothing.  After our visit in the quiet room, we headed for the steam room.  After our morning at the spa, I was totally relaxed for the rest of the day.  For dinner, my friend made tri tip on the BBQ along with baked beans and garlic toast.  It was fantastic!!!!  We finished the evening off with a small campfire in their backyard firepit.

The following day (Sunday, August 12) we drove north up Highway 1 to Hearst Castle.  This is an estate that was built by the newspaper baron William Randolph Hearst.  I have never seen such opulence!  There were tapestries from Europe on the walls.  There were wooden choir seats from cathedrals in Italy from the Renaissance era and the Gothic era which were used to decorate the walls.  You would walk into the entertainement room and there were Renaissance choir seats along the length of 2 walls just for decoration.  In the dining room there was the same thing but the seats were from Italian cathedrals from the Gothic era.  The gardens were huge with marble statues which were brought in from Europe.  As you came around a bend in the pathway, you would be surprised by statues set in little nooks.  My favourite statue was of a woman holding a cob of corn out to a goat.  There were tennis courts where Charlie Chaplin had learned to play tennis.  William Randolph Hearst had even had animals shipped in from all over the world to create his own private zoo.  He lost a fair amount of money during the stock market crash in 1929 and had to sell most of the animals.  There are still wild zebra and elands roaming the pastures and mountains surrounding the estate.  These animals are descendants of the original "zoo animals".  The modern day animals are not looked after and are wild animals.  We saw the elands on our bus ride up to the castle from the "visitor's centre" and then we saw the zebras on our way back to our friends' home at the end of the day.  After our visit to Hearst Castle, we went to an elephant seal vista point just north of San Simeon.  There we saw male elephant seals, females and juvenile elephant seals on the beach as they rest and molt.  During July and August, the subadult and adult males molt their skins.  Then they return to the ocean.  We saw two adult males laying at the ocean's edge and as the waves washed over them, they would turn and inch their way into the ocean.  It was interesting to see the subadult males who are still white laying on the beach with bits of their skin hanging off them.  It was the same with some of the adult males that were further up on the beach away from the water.  All these seals will return to the ocean once they've shed their skins.  I didn't want to leave to go back to the van.  I could have spent hours just watching the elephant seals on the beach.  However, we did have to get going and so off we went south down Highway 1 which is also called the Pacific Coast Highway.  As we drove along, we saw zebras grazing among the cattle on our left.  We turned around and went back to take pictures of the zebra.  Then we were back on the road heading to our friends' home.  What a beautiful drive it is to go down the coast line!  You have mountains on one side of you and the ocean on the other.  Unfortunately, the marine layer started to come in and it made it more difficult to see the views.  I never got tired of seeing pelicans flying along the coast.  That was the end of our exciting Sunday.

On Monday, August 13, we took our daughters shopping in Solvang which is a community settled by the Dutch and Danes. You can see the influence in the architecture of all the buildings in the community.  The town is filled with unique little boutiques.  On our way to Solvang, we stopped at an ostrich and emu farm.  This is quite the venture as it is a farm where they raise the ostrich and emu for meat.  People pay admission and buy feed to feed the animals.  We enjoyed the visit and the farm is nestled in a valley surrounded by mountains.  After visiting the ostrich farm, we went to Quicksilver Ranch which is a ranch where they raise miniature horses.  They were so cute!!  I loved the little colts that were laying in the shade as it was a hot day.  The miniature horses are sometimes used as therapy animals in hospitals and retirement homes.  When we finally got to Solvang, the temperature was much hotter than at our friends' home closer to the Pacific Ocean.  I loved the little boutiques but part way through the afternoon, I started to feel ill from the heat.  We visited a few more stores and then treated ourselves to gelato.  I had a cafe mocha gelato in a waffle cone.  It tasted wonderful as we ate in the shade.

The following day, Tuesday, was spent doing laundry and getting ready to return home from our vacation.  On Wednseday, we had to be at the Los Angeles airport for 1:30 at the latest for our 3:30 flight home.  Our friends drove us to L.A. and stopped briefly in Santa Barbara so we could go down to the Santa Barbara Pier for some quick pictures.  Then we continued on our way to L.A.  We made it in lots of time and our flight took off on time.  We arrived in Toronto at 11:25 p.m.  By the time we made it to our hotel, it was 12:30.  Our son picked us up yesterday and drove us home.

Today, my husband and I participated in a fundraising golf tournament for breast cancer.  I have not golfed in years and really am not very good at it.  However, I did have fun and met a wonderful couple who we were paired with.  I'm thinking it might be nice to learn to golf properly.  Maybe next year I'll take some lessons and start golfing at the local golf course on Ladies' Night.  We'll see.

In the meantime, we've had a very busy last two weeks and I'm feeling tired. 

1 comment:

  1. Your trip to California sounds like it was wonderful. It is a vacation that I'm sure you'll remember for a long time to come. I think that we sometimes spend too much time planning for the future rather than living in the moment, so when we're able to take a trip in the present rather than planning for it in the future, we should. Because we don't know how far the future may be. Better to live life to its fullest while we're in it. You are doing so well, and I'm sincerely happy for you. I wish for everyone battling cancer, and for anyone who may one day battle cancer, to conquer it and LIVE! Perhaps one day cancer will be completely cured for all. Let's pray for this to happen.