Monday, April 29, 2013

April 28, 2013 – day trip north

First destination, Guadalupe, CA (west about 12 miles from Santa Maria, then west further to the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes Complex – home to the highest dunes in the Western US and the most biodiverse coastal dune-lagoon ecosystem on Earth.  Reaches 18 miles of shoreline and was used as a backdrop of the 1923 The Ten Commandments movie.  Mussel Rock Dune reaches 500’ high.  It is home to several threatened and endangered bird species including the California least tern, CA brown pelican and the Western snowy plover.  It was cloudy, cold and windy so we ate our picnic lunch in the truck watching the waves splash/crash in.  Did get out for a bit and spotted a humpback whale spout – quite a ways out.

Estuary – Santa Ynez River as it meets the dunes and the ocean.

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Rangers were using shovels and wheelbarrows to clear the parking lot and the road in/out was sand-covered and deep in some areas.


As we leave…dunes and wildflowers.

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Main Street, Guadalupe, CA


On Hwy 1 as we go further north


We stop at Pismo Beach Rec Area and pay $2.50 (with our discount pass) to drive on the beach.  This is ATV/dirt bike paradise…and very busy on a Sunday afternoon.  Without 4WD, we wouldn’t drive our RV on the beach, but it was packed.  Chilly and windy.

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Back on 1 going north, we find street signs for Pacific Coast Highway…Pismo, Shell Beach, etc.

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We check out Avila Beach area near San Luis Pier.  $35/night to camp

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Back south – beautiful views and beautiful homes.  Touristy towns.

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Stopped in Guadalupe to eat at the Far Western Bar and Grill, once featured on Bobby Flay’s show on tne Cooking Channel.  Closed and a sign on the side of the painted faded red brick building declared it a hazard in an earthquake.  So on to Santa Maria and stopped at BBQ Land for more Santa Maria BBQ, cole slaw and pinquinto beans. 

Sunday, April 28, 2013

April 27, 2013 Santa Maria to Solvang; Hwy 101 to Hwy 1


It is a beautiful, sunny, coolish-warmish day (Warm in the sun, cool in the shade).  About noon we head out for fuel and then take Hwy 101 south.  It is three, then two lanes of highway.  Along the way are mission bells, some with signs “Historic El Camino Real.”  “The mission bells seen on the 101 Freeway and other locations have been in place since the early 20th Century to mark the original route of El Camino Real (Spanish for Highway of the King or Royal Highway) from San Diego to Sonoma. The 700-mile-long El Camino Real linked California's 21 missions, which were founded by Father Junipero Serra and spaced approximately one day's journey apart by horse. Over the years, El Camino Real gave way to modern highways, principally Routes 101 and 82”.


Lots of fields of strawberries and grapes along with yellow ice plants and other pink flowers blooming profusely.  Here and there, cattle graze.  Very peaceful settings among the green mountains.

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At Buellton, we turn off Highway 101, go over the Santa Ynez River and enter the town which sports “Avenue of the Flags.”  Buellton is “Home of the Split Pea Soup.”  This Santa Ynez Valley boasts of their perfect weather – Summer temps 70-80 day/50 night with winters around 55/33, 9-17” of precipitation and smog-free. 

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We head from Buellton to Solvang, three miles east on a tree-lined highway.  Solvang is a Danish community and has many clues as to it’s heritage, from the names of the streets (e.g. Copenhagen), names of businesses, architecture, and food choices.




Some of the sights we see as we drive through Solvang.  We find a place to park easily and are greeted with sweet bells ringing at the 1 PM hour from this beautiful bell tower. The street leading to the bell tower is closed off to traffic and is packed with Datsuns for a car show.  They are lined in two rows a block long and gleam in the sun, their proud owners glad to talk about how they found their particular gem.


We find Solvang Restaurant which we had picked out from many choices. 


We choose some Danish choices:  Jerry had the Danish hot dog topped with French friend onions and a curly cucumber (in vinegar) garnish in a paper cup.  (LOL he said they could have skipped that it was so small…)  I had the Danish meatball, sliced on a croissant with Tilsit cheese (very creamy with a tang).  Yummy.  For dessert we had to try their famous Aebleskiver (a round pancake served warm with raspberry jam and powdered sugar.  Delicious.  They sold the pans and mix if you wanted to try to make them at home.


This windmill was another sign of Danish heritage.


Jerry looked at the cars while I browsed the shops nearby. 

Then we cruised around the area, finding lots of crops and harvesting operations.  I spot kale, cabbage, lettuce and ???  Skirted Vandenberg AFB and some NASA buildings.


Found Highway 1 – our first glimpse of this famous road.


Here is a typical scene of strawberries grown under plastic pup-tents and grapevines on the hillside.


Back in Santa Maria, we see the First Methodist Church – beautiful building. 


More exploring tomorrow!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

4-26-13 – a very busy day

Left the Bakersfield Elks about 10 am.  They were sure nice folks.  We took Highway 99 south to pick up Highway 166 – a designated scenic route in parts of it.  And it was…

The first part was flat farmland with mountains on two sides.  Saw alfalfa, fruit  trees including orange trees being trimmed to be square for easier picking.  Lots of new fruit trees, roses at the entrance to a trucking company.  Oil wells, skinny sheep, pinto ponies and birds nests on the top of poles were in our sights.  There are lots of wells (oil or gas) and very few signs of people.  We skirt the Carrizo Plain National Monument on the east side and then the south side.  After Maricopa (900’) 83 miles to go it is 2:10 pm.  Pink oleanders bloom profusely along the edge of people’s properties.  A large M on the mountain proclaims Maricopa is alive and well.  Oh, oh – up we go – steep incline ahead!  We should have guessed with a sign outside Maricopa that 166 was open…lol.  It doesn’t look very steep in this pix but we had to stop about five times to let truck cool down as it was overheating.  We would go up about 145’ in .4 miles and beep, beep our overheat signal would scream at us.  Egads.  Took us over a 1/2 hour to get up this huge grade with very little relief of flatter land.  Finally at the top at 2:54! 


Stayed on the high desert flatland for a while.  Saw more farming with irrigation pipes, workers walking along rows of plastic tending new plantings.

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Near Curyama, saw these trees trimmed.  Why?  Curyama had a hardware store and elementary school – that’s it.  Then a large estate with horses in the field which is ringed with tall poplar trees.  Four huge harvesting machines are in the next field.  Wonder what they are picking?

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New Curyama is a bit larger with high school, library, two eateries and a motel. 


Fifty miles to go and we start downhill gradually.  We see jersey cows, ranches, ads for Branger bulls, green mountains replace the beige and we skirt Las Padras National Forest.  We had a “dirt devil” swirling around and actually hit our truck with a bit of debris it picked up.  That’s a first!

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Now  black cattle replace the rich brown ones and then white cattle.  This ranch house was right close to the road.

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Look – it’s a DQ rock – looks like a chocolate twist!  LOL


Lush greenery with all shades of green from the very light new tree growth to the dark green of live oaks.


Yes!  We are finally here!


Beautiful Elk’s Lodge in Santa Maria, CA.  Got set up and registered.

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We are in the parking lot but have water and electricity @ $20/night.  No other RVs here but regular RV lot with sewer hookups is full with a dog show this weekend held on the Elk’s grounds.  May peek at that tomorrow or Sunday. 

Went into the Lodge for dinner.  Cook your own meat.  This is a huge lodge with 4500 members!  They had the food set up in the dining room, but after you picked out your meat (J and I each chose huge rib-eyes…off my diet for tonight!).  We put wooden markers with our name on them into our steaks. Then we took the plates out to the grilling room on the patio.  This is a separate building about 80’ square with a huge grill pit in the middle!  The grill was probably 18’ x 6’ and the pit bottom was probably 3’ lower.  The huge metal grate already held lots of meat being cooked.  They had sections designated for beef, pork, chicken and fish.  A chef periodically checked the pit and added more wood.  WOW!  What a setup.  There was a bar in this room as well as tall round cocktail tables to sit at while you waited for your meat to cook.  After grilling, we went back inside the dining room and picked up the rest of our food.  They had salad bar with lots of choices, baked potatoes sour cream and chives available, steak fries, pinquinto beans (famous for them here in Santa Maria along with tri-tip roast.), and garlic toast.  A lot of food for $13!.  I brought half of my meat and 2/3 of my potato home.  A full and blessed day.  Our truck didn’t burn up (as we saw a large scorched area on the road up the grade.)  And we met some really nice people and we had a scrumptious dinner.  Off to explore tomorrow!  Yippee.