....I mean Murrieta...
Our vacation this summer was to the Central Coast. It's one of my all time favorite places. In 1990, I moved from Bishop to San Luis Obsipo to go to college, and fell in love with the area. It was so different from the Eastern Sierras where I grew up. The sagebrush, mountain ranges, lakes, and bristlecone of my home town were replaced with coastal dunes, rolling green hills, beaches, and oak trees. Life on the central coast was never dull. There was always farmer's market on Thursday nights, where I'd buy dried flowers and a plate dripping with BBQ. There were all of the adorable shops downtown, crammed together just waiting to be explored. On any given break, my friends and I would explore Cambria (the haunted graveyard was the best!), Morro Bay, Avila, and Highway 1. We would journey to San Francisco at a moment's notice, or hit Santa Barbara for a show. Although it was time to leave San Luis Obsipo when I did, I still have a heart for such a lovely place, and going back there provided a memory around every corner!
Jeff and I decided to stay in our trailer at a campground outside of Solvang so that we could be central to everything. We spent the first two days in Solvang eating and shopping. Solvang is known for its Aebleskivers, so of course we partook in the round, donut-like treats...the homemade raspberry jelly was phenominal (and I'm not even a jelly person!) We rode a surrey around Solvang as well (the crazy, four-seater bike that you peddle.) Jeff Smith proved to be a wild driver and we blew through quite a number of stop signs in order to gain momentum. Jeff found it hilarious that even though my steering wheel had no control (it was "fake"), I steered the entire time we rode the surrey (just like the kids in the fake car carts at the grocery store.) We also visited a miniature horse ranch (I want 90 of them!) and an Ostrich and Emu farm.
I've decided that ostriches are the strangest creatures I've ever encountered. I'd never given them much thought (other than a funny incident with Matthew when he was little and we were driving to Bishop for our wedding...more on that another time.) Seeing an ostrich up close is SO random! They are prehistoric! Their necks are loooooong, which makes their heads look rather small, other than these huge eyes, with thick, fancy lashes. Their feathers are puffy and elaborate, and then stretching down to the ground are these gigantic, dinosaur-looking bird legs with crazy dinosaur bird feat. They are mad for food...aggressive. I was obsessed with touching one even though the sign said they bite, so I tricked it into eating out of the dish and stealthily moved my hand around its head to stroke its neck. The ostrich didn't seem to care as long as it was stuffing its beak with FOOD. Although not as fancy or interesting looking, the emus were much more gentle and easy for the girls to feed. My assessment was that the ostriches were of very low intelligence and very high self regard, like some people. :) It made for an interesting visit.
The rest of our trip consisted of clam chowder at the Pismo Pier, walking and shopping in San Luis Obsipo (along with a driving tour of all my old haunts), and a trip to Santa Barbara for Mexican food and shopping on State Street. (Note: Carlito's Cantina in Santa Barbara across from the theater on State Street has awesome food. Jeff and I considered eating both lunch AND dinner, but thought otherwise when the girls said if they ate one more bean and cheese burrito they would DIE.) We had Split Pea Soup at Andersons (not as yucky as we remembered it from years ago...very cheesy/touristy, but the girls loved it.) Nicki and Kit, the American Girl dolls, got dressed up and accompanied the girls on many dinner dates and excursions.
I asked Grace to sum up our trip in one sentence, so here it is:
"We saw the gum wall and we shopped and we saw the emus...I was scared of the ostriches....and we went to the park at the campground but there were mean kids there, and my favorite thing was that we saw goats."