Sunday, January 3, 2010

Travels: Coastal Driving and Wining

This holiday seems to be about flexibility as all the major departures have been somewhat delayed.  Unfortunately, the morning of the 26th featured some really difficult times (of which I'm slowly blogging about).  But, the rest of the vacation was still ahead of us.

December 26 - On the Road with 2 Doggies
My sister's newly adopted puppy is teething.  We've learned that he has a fondness for shoes, even when they're still on feet.  Our older doggie, however, was thoroughly enjoying the ride.

Garrison taking in the sun.

Most of the ride, I caught up on the sleep I'd been lacking in the past couple of months.  But I was still able to catch a couple of gorgeous sights.

Central Valley of California

As we were driving up the 5 Interstate Highway on our way to Santa Cruz, where I spent 4 years of my educational life, we were able to stop at the famous Casa de Fruta.  I love this place!  I love that they didn't stop using the theme of "Casa de..."  So, there's a Casa de Petting Zoo, Casa de Choo Choo and Carousel, Casa de Restaurant, Casa de Deisel, Casa de Sweets, Casa de RV Park, and Casa de Wine.

Santa Cruz Memories
It was wonderful to stop at Santa Cruz and visit some of my old stomping grounds.  My boyfriend finally got to see this small city that I talked about a lot.  My parents also enjoyed visiting and reminiscing.

Clockwise:  Cafe Brazil - best brunch! Mystery Spot Car.
Porter College and Monterey Bay...what a school to attend! The boyfriend and I getting ready to have our minds blown at the Mystery Spot! 

At first, it was a little tough finding places to eat.  From the last post, you probably know that my family is very connected to our dogs.  We made sure to find places that have outdoor seating, but there were times when we didn't have much of a choice.  It was a learning curve for the family, that's for sure.  By the end of the trip, the family did a better job of learning to leave the doggies in the car.

But the poor teething puppy was a rowdy one!  The video came out dark when I uploaded it, but he's basically trying to dig the minivan floor, proceeds to squirm under the seat, and finally settle down.

Napa Valley
After Santa Cruz, we headed up to Napa Valley.  For some reason, I always assumed that Napa was in Central California, where the United Farm Workers began.  But, it's actually north of San Francisco, and much closer to Sacramento.

We were lucky to find a Holiday Inn Express that allowed pets in the room, but I was excited to finally see a Sonic right next to the hotel!  They show commercials all the time on tv...but I brushed it off as a myth as I'd never seen one in the cities I've lived in.  But they do exist!


I'd have to say that my first time in Napa Valley was truly memorable.  I knew that my dad had reserved a hot air balloon ride for my siblings, my boyfriend, and I.  So we were all very excited about this trip.

I never thought I'd ever ride in a hot air balloon, and the idea never even crossed my mind.  The first thing I think of when it comes to hot air balloons is The Chipmunk Adventure, where the Chipmunks and Chipettes are racing around the world in hot air balloons (great movie!).
It was amazing!  There were moments when I would get nervous about the height, but the views were just so awe-inspiring. 

What a gorgeous way to start the day!

Flying over the highway and valley.

Do you see our shadow?

Blowing bubbles to see where the wind is blowing.

Trying not to look down

After the balloon ride, we were treated to a fabulous brunch with the Balloons Above the Valley company. Who knew that hot air ballooning would make you so hungry?

When we rejoined with my parents and the doggies, we proceeded to drive up toward Callistoga to see one of the three Old Faithful Geysers.

But the best part of this attraction was seeing the famous Tennessee Fainting Goats!

So hilarious..and sad at the same time...

And of course, we couldn't leave Napa Valley without hitting up a wine tasting.

Central California and Morro Bay
December 30th was my mother's birthday, but it was also the day we drove back down to Los Angeles.  Again, it was a lot of snoozing in the car, but there were beautiful views not to be missed.

Central Valley

My mom requested that we have lunch in Morro Bay, another location that I've never been to.  Interestingly, Morro Bay was a location where many Filipino immigrants jumped ship off a Spanish Galleon.  While the city was named because Morro Rock resembled the turbans worn by the Moors in North Africa, there are also the Moro people in the Philippines.

Morro Rock 

Seals chillaxing

Weather vane at dog-friendly Tognazzini's Dockside Restaurant.

As the sun set on the final leg of the trip, I couldn't help but feel this love for California.  The terrain is so beautiful, and really quite different.  Most people think that California is all beach and sunshine and plastic surgery.  But clearly, it's so much more and beyond.

 Up Next on the Itinerary:  New Years


  1. How cool! Used to live on a boat and I remember the seals, though they never came up on the dock like that where I lived. They were always hanging out on a bouy not far from us though.

  2. Hi Gale!
    That's such a cool memory! Did they used to sing you to sleep? Or...bark you to sleep?
    Heheheh...I once lived across the Santa Cruz Boardwalk, so I had the pleasure of hearing the seals talking to each other quite a bit :)
    I miss that...


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