Sunday, May 07, 2006

The San Francisco Vacation Part 1

A couple of weeks ago (April 20-23) Jacki, Darian and I went our first driving trip through California. It also turns out that this was our first family vacation outside of visiting relatives in a year and a half.

We started off mid morning Thursday and headed towards Santa Barbara. It took us about 2 hours to get there and along the way we begin to see the many cities I had heard about but didn't know where they were. Thousand Oaks, Oxnard (home of dw drums), Camarillo (heard about via a Zappa reference) and others quickly passed by. About 1/2 way to Santa Barbara I recalled one of my business partners at Helio had headquarters in Santa Barbara. After a couple of phone calls driving north on the 101 we were able to get some easy directions that took us to the shopping district of the city.

One thing we noticed along the highway were the numerous bells on poles. Not sure what these are for, but later in our trip there was a vague reference to earthquake bells. Perhaps these had a practical purpose at one point but now are simply used to decorate the sides of California highways.

We made it to Santa Barbara and did a little shopping and ate at Santa Barbara Brewing Company. Darian bought some sun glasses and Jacki bought some shoes at the little shops. Because women can never have enough sun glasses and shoes. Good thing Darian didn't get the feather boa.

We spent about 2 1/2 hours in Santa Barbara and decided to get back on the road. At this point it was probably 2 in the afternoon. Our next destination was Hearst Castle.

We spent a few hours driving up the 101 towards San Luis Obispo. Since I had never done so, I decided I wanted to check out a winery. Every so often you would see highway signs saying, "... vineyard ahead." Being from Texas I'm used to seeing signs for sausage smokehouses, fresh fruit and vegetables, maybe even peanuts but never a vineyard. We stopped at Laetita Vineyard just outside of San Luis Obispo.
We did a little wine tasting and checked out the scenery. And yes I confirmed that I still don't really like wine. Since we did the "free" wine tasting and not the paid wine tasting I do have to assume that I was getting what I paid for. It was an interesting experience and at least now I can say I did it.

It was now about 4pm and we knew that if we wanted to make it to Hearst Castle we better get going. We continued driving north on the 101 through San Luis Obispo, and then cut over to Highway 1. We arrived a little after 5pm.

Since we arrived so late there was only one tour left for the day at 7pm. The night tour. We purchased tickets to a movie about Hearst Castle and then went on the night tour. I must admit my expectations were very low for this part of the trip but the castle was amazing and is highly recommended. Definitely one of the highlights from the trip.

Here is our complete journey mapped out. See Yahoo Map.

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