Just sitting here thinking about how lucky I am to be living in this fabulous country on a day that will forever be etched in my mind. Every generation has one of those days that they will forever remember... where they were... what they were doing... who they were with... how their heart felt. September 11th is that day for me and many others. So, hug your loved ones a little tighter and honor the flag that flies high above your city or town. Remember how lucky and blessed you are.
The picture above was taken on our latest road trip to California. It's the outer building at Point Pinos Lighthouse in Monterey County. I love the way those flags are waving in the breeze. My America!
And so I go....
Feeling the need to get out of the heat of Phoenix, hubby and I planned a getaway with Wyatt to the central coast of California.
First stop - lunch with my nieces and nephews in Bellflower at Johnny Rebs (www.johnnyrebs.com) Great company, great food, and great service. Try their peach-lemonade for a refreshing treat. We enjoyed the little outdoor patio which was dog-friendly. Maybe next time Rusty will come and eat with us too!!
Quick Pit Stop - Santa Barbara to wander State Street and also stop into McConnell's Ice Cream (www.mcconnells.com) for a sample of their "Top 10 in the U.S." scoops. They weren't kidding!! The flavors are unique, cooly refreshing, and so creamy. Their lemon-blackberry ice cream and coconut-pineapple sorbet were about the best I've tasted anywhere. Well, except Florence, of course.
Once we get to the coastline, I'm instantly refreshed and relaxed. There's just something about the water that causes me to breathe deeply and let go of the gunk. Shoulders relax, neck muscles unclench, and we can live and let live.
On to Solvang - love this little Danish town. We have been through Solvang at least 50 times together and it never fails to disappoint. I love the ableskivers and Danish pastries and the sausages too. We stayed at the Royal Copenhagen Inn (www.royalcopenhageninn.com) this time because it was centrally located and dog-friendly. It's a clean and quiet place with an extremely reasonable overnight rate ($85/night.) It was the perfect location for us to venture next door to the Solvang Brewing Company (www.solvangbrewing.com) and all over town for great eats and a little shopping. We also drove out to Buellton Figueroa Mountain Brewing Company (www.figmtnbrew.com) for great beer sampling and also Firestone-Walker Brewing Company (www.firestonebeer.com) for a few good samples and a delicious dinner on their dog-friendly patio.
My favorite lunch of the trip were the fresh tacos at a little hang-out called El Sitio in Buellton. They don't have a website my friends, but visit them you must! Hand-made corn tortillas filled with your choice of just about any meat from chicken to steak to lengua to fish to veggie fillings too. It's on Highway 246, just west of the freeway - keep your eyes open so you don't miss it on the north side of the street. YUM.
We headed up to Lompoc for an afternoon of wandering their downtown. Stopped into SouthSide Coffee for a quick hot cocoa before wandering. I cannot find their website, maybe they are new?? But it was a quaint older building refurbed as a coffee shop. Loved the friendly vibe.
Heading back on Highway 246, we stumbled upon a sign for a cemetery. Up the street and in we went to an historic little plot-filled cemetery. Very cool and not too creepy. I just can't resist.
On our way to Carmel and the Lamplighter Inn & Cottages (www.carmellamplighter.com) where we stayed for three lovely evenings. This place is so welcoming, with a fantastic location - close to shops, restaurants, and the dog-friendly beach too. I love the architecture in this town, namely the historic fairy tale cottages.
The Tuck Shop
We walked, we shopped, we ate, we recharged our batteries near the ocean. I can't wait to return.
Check out these photos taken on the 17-mile drive between Carmel and Monterey. It's hard to ignore the beauty of the coastline.
The Ghost Tree
The Lone Cypress
Our afternoon in Monterey took us to the Cannery Row Brewing Company (www.canneryrowbrewingcompany.com) for some great local beer and a superb lunch. The service here was attentive, and the food was unexpectedly delicious. The burger was grilled perfectly in the California style with bacon, avocado, and onions. The fish stew was loaded with fresh clams, mussels, calamari, cod, and mahi-mahi. I can't say enough good things about this visit.
This little enclave in central California is such a haven and the visit was over far too soon. We rode through Los Angeles on our way home and cannot stand the traffic. It was a ridiculous bumper to bumper ride through the valley and L.A. - about three hours worth of driving 15 miles per hour. I hate to end on a down-beat mood, but L.A. traffic is just depressing.
What's on the horizon for us? A trip to NOLA for Halloween! I can't wait.