Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Vacation - Part One

It is difficult to summarize the events from the last four days. Every moment was filled with so much life it is difficult to even focus on the "dull" moments. There really weren't any, I can honestly say I was never bored. We were up each morning around 6:00 or 7:00 AM and were hitting pavement shortly thereafter. We wouldn't end our day until it was dark or a few hours after, usually collapsing into our hotel bed around 10:00 or 11:00.PM.

I took a ton of pictures and while I would love to post them all (got to learn how to post pics on flickr) I had to choose my favorites. We started our journey last Friday morning, around 9:00 AM and hit the highway; we flowed right through L.A. and arrived in Santa Barbara quickly. We decided to eat at one of our favorite places for lunch close to the Paseo Nuevo shopping center - the name of the restaurant escapes me. The ambiance is amazing however - lunch is not their strong suit as they were pushing the buffet and we had our first meal on the road turning out to be just so-so. Our stop in SB was pleasant and gave us the reprieve from the road, greatly needed.

Cobblestone pathways lead to the restaurant in Santa Barbara - this one is lined with flags.

Traveling by car affords one the experience of seeing things in a completely different perspective. Once we hit the road from SB, we can see the Pacific Ocean's wide expanse. It's beautiful, huge, blue and magical. We talk about the time we went camping at Refugio State park and a floodgate of memories accompany us on our drive from that moment forward. We drive through the tunnel that goes through a huge rock or mountain so we can get to the Central coast and the road is windy all the way to Los Olivos. We pass Buellton, goosebumps are on my arms. Is is too much forced air conditioning or the memory of the rain pouring down sounding like it was coming down fluid as if being poured from a bucket instead of tiny raindrops. I was on my way to Southern CA for one of our many visits to prepare for our wedding and wondered if I would make the drive. Scared out of my mind I drove through and probably should have pulled over, that drive took years off of my life.

Big blue peace sign at the Peace store in Santa Barbara. There is a price to pay for peace and here on State street where the rent is expensive you could not find one shirt under $50 bucks.

Now the memories of comfort join us on our journey. We pass through Santa Maria, when we lived in Paso Robles, this was our closest Costco and Del Taco. For those living outside of Southern CA, Del Taco is inexpensive, Mexican fast food that has a distinct and addicting flavor. It was one of the few drive-thru's my parents would take my brother and I through. For many years, Ryan and I would beg my mom to take us through McDonald's. My mom was wise, she would always tell us it was closed and the reason why there were so many cars is because it was the cleaning crew.

We pass Santa Maria, continuing North and a huge cloud of fog covers everything as far as the eye can see, we are in Arroyo Grande. The temperature gage decreases from 89 degrees to 70 and the sun is nowhere in sight. These dramatic temperatures are good for the grapes grown in this region. The fuel gage buzzes and we exit Higura street in San Luis Obispo. Too many memories to mention. The farmer's market we would visit each Thursday evening, Mo's BBQ - pulled pork sandwich, Muzio's Italian deli and the stationary store where we spent a rainy afternoon deciding on which wedding invitation to select. We fill the tank, curse Dub-Ya, hit the road and pass over the Cuesta grade, Atascadero and Templeton before exiting onto the 46 East where some of our favorite wineries are placed on the Central Coast.

The vineyard at Eberle Winery

Our first stop a few miles down the 46 East is Eberle then onto Tobin James, we drink wine, relax and call our friends to meet for dinner. They live on our old street so we get to drive by our old house. The current renters are not as tidy, the house is dirty yet the yard is empty. Our little city in the vineyards has a different pulse, it has exploded. The A & W root beer where they would walk your food to your car and place it on the handy little tray that attaches to your car window has been torn down along with numerous other mom and pop places now replaced by struggling realty companies, the roads are filled with super sized vehicles towing water toys to Lake Naciemiento.

A micro-bin soon to be filled with one half ton of grapes.

We visit with our friends and are amazed at how their beautiful little girls have grown so quickly. The food is good, the wine is great however visiting with our Paso friends is what is making the evening memorable.

We hit the road early Saturday morning because the wedding starts at 3:00 and we want to get to the hotel by noon. D and I both sigh heavily as we enter the 101 North lane. I wait patiently for the coffee to hit my veins and D drives onward. Quickly, we pass through San Miguel and then we enter Steinbeck country. Driving through King City, Gonzales and Salinas we watch the hard working migrant farm workers - so many don't want in our country to pick our fruits and vegetables. Funny, I don't see people bidding for these jobs. It is not difficult to see why this area inspired Steinbeck, so much of the human condition to observe. I'm reminded that I want to re-read East of Eden.

We pass a beautiful row of trees and are no longer in the central part of our state. We pass Gilroy, Morgan Hill, San Jose and make really good time. We approach Oakland around 12:30, meet up with family and look forward to the wedding.

Enough for tonight.

I'll post part two soon.


Io said...

Wow - great pictures. It sounds fantastic. I think the saddest thing about gas prices is the fact that it's so expensive to do a road trip now - there is nothing so freeing and eye opening and gah! Now I want to road trip!

Barb said...

Beautiful! Sounds just like our type of vacation!

kate said...

Pretty pictures! I love the flags over the pathway.

It sounds like your trip was perfectly lovely. I, like Io, miss being able to take road trips. We take mini-trips to wineries and state parks, etc., but there's just nothing like the leisurely wandering to be had when you just drift someplace that's far enough to warrant a "journey" status, but close enough that you don't have to worry about racing through to get to your destination before you die of exhaustion.

Ah, yes. That wine country looks like a place I'd LOVE to call home. And even though NC is ridiculously boring in comparison to Las Vegas, I think that it may have to be the eventual site of a blog-chick-gathering, especially for those of us that are nuts about wine. There are just so dang many of them, all less than an hour from my house.

It's always weird seeing your old house when you don't live there anymore. There was one place I lived in back in Texas that I was particularly fond of, and I didn't like thinking that someone else was living in MY place, you know?


I'm eagerly awaiting part 2...

Emily (Apron Strings) said...

Wow. My dream vaca ... pacific ocean and wine country ... sigh!

And the irony? Don't drink much wine (funny, I just typed whine instead of wine ... wonder where my mind is?!), but I just love the landscape and the climate of wine country.

Except in MI, our wine country is probably the size of a postage stamp, compared to CA!

Eagerly awaiting part 2 .... :-)

Jules said...

I'm so glad you had such a great time. The Mister and I need to make a trip like that. It all looks so lovely!

Jules said...

I forgot to mention that your pictures look great! The new camera is doing its job quite well. :)