Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Updated September 21 at 7:00 a.m.

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~Photos~

Photo one is a pedestrian bridge in Dana Point, just after leaving I-5. Photo two is a beach scene in Orange County a few miles north of photo one.

Photo three is lunch at a restaurant in Huntington Beach. Much different than lunch on day three in San Francisco, but the food was just as good.

Photo four is a beach scene a few miles north of Malibu, it is becoming more like what we are used to in Northern California. Photo five is a ways up the road from photo four and shows how the hill was cut away to make way for a wider road. The original road can still be seen (not in the photo, but at the site) going around the knob on the water side.

Photo six is from a view point of CA 154. CA 154 climbs away from Santa Barbara up over the hills to then travel north in the Santa Ynez valley.




~Narrative~

I had expected to leave San Diego by 8 a.m. However, due to one last stop to help our daughter get our granddaughter read for preschool we left an hour later. Since the plan is to drive some backroads, we drove historic highway 101 up to its northern end point at the south side of Camp Pendleton where the only option for travel north is I-5. The traffic was flowing a snail's pace for the entire distance across the base-no signs of a reason. It just suddenly began to flow and shortly we found the exit onto CA 1. In Southern California it is more commonly known as the Pacific Coast Highway or PCH.

PCH through Orange County and the majority of the distance through Los Angeles County is urban. The going is slow due to so many traffic lights. But so many of the houses have beautiful lines, style, and landscaping, that if you enjoy that sort of thing the time needed to cover the distance is worth it. Although some of route does go through somewhat depressed areas, this just helps to bring a common working person back to earth-perhaps it is not so bad where I live after all.

We decided to seek a seafood restaurant for lunch and soon we found a place named Fish Camp. It is both a restaurant and a fish market, we later saw many more. The food was every bit as good as what we ate at Alioto's, but at a much lower cost and of course the view was nothing to mention.

Soon after travelling under LAX in a tunnel, we drove through another tunnel to emerge near the ocean at Santa Monica. Here the road began the winding trip north on the CA 1 we are more used to. Soon we passed Malibu and more beautiful homes along the shore. CA 1 and US 101 share the asphalt north of Oxnard for a ways and since it was becoming late and I was becoming tired of the road I was toying with the idea of staying on the freeway the rest of the way to Buellton. The sky had been mostly overcast all day, but by the time we reached Santa Barbara it was clearing to the north and east. Soon I saw the exit for CA 154 and left the freeway.

Discipline forced me to leave the freeway behind for the joy of a two lane back road, but soon came upon a long line of cars behind a semi load of baled hay trying to climb up the mountain. Had it not been for being tired, I would have been annoyed. Soon we were able to pass the truck and return to cruising speed and the joy of the winding road.

We turned onto CA 246 to head to the three towns of Santa Ynez, Solvang, and Buellton. The last being where we had a motel reservation. After checking in we headed out to find a meal. We decided steak was in order and stopped at A. J. Spurs. Even though the parking lot was nearly full (can be a good sign), we decided to check it out. This place is one of four in the chain and sports a tremendous decor of cowboy memorabilia and mounted wild animals. The manager, Keith, directed us to the bar where there was immediate seating for dinner. Soon the bartender, John, provided drinks and Liz, our server, took our dinner order. The amount of food provided in a meal is not for the faint of appetite! First comes a pot of 'hearty Vaquero soup', a small bowl of tequila beans, and some home made salsa. The idea is to mix them to your liking in your soup bowl. This I did and it was good! Salad was next-I was glad to see the portion was smaller. Then came the steaks, I had a rib eye while Diana had a flat iron, along with rice pilaf, AJ's spuds, and bread. All included with the meal and to finish it off was our choice of rootbeer float or an after dinner liqueur. At $26.99 for the entire meal (a 14 ounce steak) it was a bargain. The flavor was wonderful-it was cooked just right. It was one of the best rib eyes I have had-no joke as I have paid more and enjoyed it less!

We intend to spend a couple of hours exploring Solvang on Wednesday and then head north again to explore more of the area's hidden secrets on its back roads.




~Statistics~

Today's starting point: San Diego, California

Today's departure time: 8:55 a.m.

Today's end point: Buellton, California

Today's arrival time: 5:45 p.m.

Miles driven = 248.9

Elapsed driving time = 7 hours 37 minutes

Average speed = 32 mph

Average miles per gallon = 37.2

Route followed today: Historic 101 to I-5 to CA 1 to US 101, CA 154 to CA 246 to Buellton.




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