California Highlights

Trip Start May 01, 2003
Trip End Sep 01, 2003

Flag of United States  , California
Thursday, May 8, 2003

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Santa Cruz Boardwalk, header with telephone pole, jellies at Monterey Bay Aquarium, Coach Tina Vindum's Hotel Room Workout, kite flying, Rosina's Mile High Cake, the magnificience of GPS, no-go hearst castle, elephant seals, ostriches, pea soup, santa barbara B&B (with toddlers in tow), central coast vineyards, new age ojai, getty center, hippest Santa Monica kitchenette, Comfy B&B bed spreads and the wedding parties' look of fear, Glimpse of Irises and Haystacks in between Isabelle trying to launch herself off the deck into the city of LA

Our trip from San Francisco has been wet, wild and wooly, with a very late season storm keeping us company down the coast.

May 1 (Day 1): Mill Valley - Santa Cruz - Monterey
Took on treacherous Highway 17 to bring the girls to their first Santa Cruz boardwalk experience. Being the off-season, there were more boardwalk bums than riders, but we went for the brass ring on the carousel and treated the girls to caramel apples. We then hopped down Highway 1 to Monterey. We had the biggest piece of cake ever at Rosine's (thanks to Laura for the recommendation) and a low key night.

May 2 (Day 2): Monterey - San Simeon - Cambria
Took a beautiful run along the bay with the girls. It's aquarium day in Monterey. For those of you who have not been to Monterey Bay aquarium, it focuses on the creatures local to the California Coast. In other words, the fish who need an 8 mil wetsuit to brave the 55 degree ocean waters. The highlights of the aquarium were the giant octopus and the jelly fish exhibit. Oh, on the way to the aquarium, Isabelle ran full speed into a telephone pole (yes, she saw it coming). Why don't I have the video camera ready when I need it?

We headed down Highway 1 to Cambria, just south of Hearst Castle. The rain squalls were howling, but the Big Sur coast is still magical. We had never driven south of Big Sur, but portions of that coast remind us more of the Big Island than of California. We came across a most amazing sight just south of Point Piedras Blancas. A massive colony of elephant seals, fighting, bellowing, spooning, playing and sleeping. Wall to wall blubber.

Day 3 (Day 3): Cambria - San Luis Obispo - Buellton - Santa Barbara
We stayed at the Cambria Pines Lodge, which I would give a one star rating (lets say a little thread-bare). We gave four stars to Linn's Main Bin, a wonderful bakery in downtown Cambria, with warm Ollalieberry scones (a local specialty). We tried Hearst Castle, but the combination of torrential rains and no food/no backpacks would have made it difficult to get the girls through the tour, so we will wait for a better time. We stopped instead at a children's museum in San Luis Obispo (wonderful, compact and better than Discovery museum). Stopped at Andersens in Buellton, a Danish stronghold famous for Pea Soup and I must say it was good (but what can you really do with Pea Soup?). We have included pictures of our trip to the Ostrich Farm. Ostriches are mean, strong and smart. Our first bowl of feed the ostrich took out of Jocey's hands and downed with one gulp. A final observation on the coast down here, it seems there was very little zoning or development control. Morro Bay was just sprawl, right down to the beach. I will take Stinson Beach or Bolinas any day...

Day 4: Santa Barbara - Ojai - Santa Monica
Finally the weather clears. We stayed at a wonderful B&B (Hotel Upham) in SB. Kirsten particularly liked the sheets. The girls continue to sleep well (11 to 12 hours per night) and are adjusting very well, regardless of venue. We enjoyed State Street in SB, although the girls got a little too boisterous for the locals and we drew a few of the usual child friendly California glares. Ojai was new age beyond belief. Chris wanted to travel to Ojai because he remembered that was the hometown of the Bionic woman. Unfortunately there were no plaques commemorating that event. What we did see were many folks named Krishna and lots of tie dye and beads. We went to Bart's Books, an outdoor used book market and picked up a few ragged but interesting tomes for pennies on the dollar. Very interesting farmers market, we were the only ones without peasant garments. Bluegrass jam band on a Beverly Hillbillies pickup had the girls dancing. Our final stop of the day was the Getty Center Museum high atop a Santa Monica ridge (amazing views of LA). The Getty is unusual in that the collection is divided among at least 6 structures with a bright vast plaza between the buildings. This made for much romping among the fountains by the girls, but we had trouble figuring out what was really in the collection. We retired to the Hotel Oceana a great, bright boutique hotel right on the Santa Monica Beach. The girls roughhoused in the suite and we ordered dinner in for a quiet night.

Day 5: Santa Monica - Palm Desert
Kirsten ran along the beach and Chris took the girls to play at the beachside park. We left the California Coast for a long stretch in the desert. GPS came in handy for negotiating the maze of LA freeways. Drove out to Palm Desert (85 degrees and sun, ahhhh). We checked into the Mojave Hotel (thanks Mike and Kristen), a fun 40's style hotel with the classic Palm Springs feel (black and white desert shots on the wall, Nehi soda in the mini bar). The girls splashed in the pool in the courtyard and we watched Sound of Music before bed (Jocelyn was riveted).

Day 6: Palm Desert - Wickenburg, Arizona
We headed out to the Living Desert. This is a fascinating "living museum" that replicates the flora and fauna of every major desert in the world. The girls saw coyotes, and then a short walk to giraffes. The girls loved the animals, of course. We then got going on our drive out of California, the longest to date at 250 miles to Wickenburg, AZ. See you in the fall, California.
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