Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Travel: A few days on the central coast of California

I recently had the chance to take a few days off and decided to escape from the city!

Day 1

Me and my buddy left LA after work and settled into the Quality Inn in Lompoc.

Day 2

The next morning, we headed off to Gainey Vineyard which was recommended by Professor Bainbridge.

The winery offers a guided tour of the grounds and some of the facilities. It is a nice little boutique winery.

We then went to Los Olivos. It is a cute little town with a one street commercial area. We had lunch at Panino. The more famous locale is Los Olivos Cafe popularized by the movie Sideways. However, we weren't quite willing to part with that much cash just for lunch. Panino offers up good but affordable salads and sandwiches.

We then headed up to the Foxen Canyon Wine Trail and visited Zaca Mesa. Their wine tasting facility was a bit larger than Gainey. Zaca Mesa was recommended by Bainbridge as well as two of my co-workers.

To finish off our wine tour, we decided to visit one of the big corporate wineries. We stopped at Fess Parker. I passed on getting any of their wines but inside the bag was some chocolate covered fruit I bought at their store!

We drove back toward Lompoc and decided to stop off at the La Purisma Mission. There were 21 missions established by the Spanish when they controlled California. Each mission was a self-sustaining community. La Purisma was restored during a depression era work project and is now maintained as a state historic park. It was great to wander around and see the buildings inside and outside and the animals that would have been part of their daily lives.

We got back to the hotel room to rest a bit before we headed off for dinner.

If you are going to eat dinner at the Hitching Post in Buellton, get reservations. We didn't and they said the wait would be two hours! Thus, we went next door to A. J. Spurs where I had a filet mignon and my buddy had a rib eye! Yummy!!

Day 3

We drove up to Montana De Oro State Park which is south of Morro Bay.

After looking around there, we drove to the famous Morro Rock. I snapped this photo of one of the gulls in flight. There was a birder at the parking lot explaining to people that he had his binoculars trained on a pair of Peregrine Falcons which are the world's fastest birds. They were much too far away for me to photograph. Even with the birder's binoculars, they were pretty small and not easily seen as they blend into the color of the Morro Bay Rock.

Here is part of the Morro Rock!

Had dinner at Great American Fish Company. We had a bucket of clams, I had the sole and my buddy had the shark! Terrific!!

We stayed the evening at the Morro Bay Econolodge. The Quality Inn of Lompoc would be a high two star hotel while the Econo Lodge in Morro Bay would be a low two star hotel. In both cases, the affordable options!

Day 4

Walked over to Shoreline Calvary Chapel for Sunday worship. It is friendly little church that I'd visit again should I be in Morro Bay again.

Had a nice big breakfast at Carla's Country Kitchen.

Properly fueled up, we went kayaking! It was my first time. Lots of fun even if it was a tad windy that day. Being inside the bay, the water is pretty calm.

We then visited the Morro Bay aquarium where they have a few seals. They are kept because they were injured and nursed back to health but probably wouldn't survive if returned to the wild. This one was a showman barking a lot to get people to toss some fish. Talking about singing for your meal!

We then went to the Monarch Butterfly Grove in Pismo Beach.

They cling together and hang amidst the branches of the trees!

Before they become butterflies munching on milkweed ...

Went to the Pismo Beach pier.

Had dinner at Splash Cafe, clam chowder, of course! BTW, you can find their clam chowder at Costco.

Day 5

Drove back to LA with a stop in Santa Barbara for lunch.

Went to Santa Barbara Shellfish Company on Stearns Wharf. We went for this restaurant because it was profiled on Rachael Ray $40 a Day.

Had a mess of mussels and a crab sandwich. Delish!



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