Sunday, November 7, 2010

Santa Barbara

We were able to stay in town this year, only a mile or so from Kathy and Dan, which was very convenient and gave us lots of opportunities to have fun!
We spent an afternoon at the Harbor and Seafood Festival. In addition to some great food, shopping, and cooking demonstrations we were able to visit the Maritime Museum which was pretty impressive. We then went up to an overlook on the roof of the musuem for some fantastic views.

One of our all-time favorite dog beaches is Arroyo Burro in SB. It was 5 minutes away from our RV park so we took Tilly several times. One new thing that we loved was the self-serve dog wash in the parking lot. It was a bit expensive but well worth it since we were able to get the sand and saltwater off with a minimal amount of fuss.

On one of the days when Kathy and Dan had to work we headed up to the Santa Ynez Valley to visit (you guessed it) some wineries. The drive was beautiful and we loved exploring this area.  

Paso Robles

Another of our favorite places in California is Paso Robles, which is about halfway between San Francisco and LA. There are over 180 wineriesand over 26,000 acres of vineyards in the area. Zinfandel has had a huge influence in Paso but there are other varietals as well.
We were still hoping to experience some of the harvesting and crushing of the grapes. The weather cooperated in Paso when the temperatures shot up into the low 100s for a few days. Suddenly everyone was doing their best to get the grapes in and we were able to view some of the crushing at Opolo Winery.

Winemaking is a very complex process and we watched only the beginning. Briefly, the grapes are either picked by machine or by hand, and come from the vineyards in huge trucks and bins. Then they go either to a machine which separates the stems and leaves from the grapes or they are hand sorted. Following this they are crushed and the juice is sent to vats for processing into wine.
Paso Robles has a lot to offer in addition the the wineries. There are good restaurants and shopping. It's only a 30 minute drive to Morro Bay which has a great dog beach. Often when we are driving over the hill to the coast we can see the marine layer, which was just burning off on this beach trip.
Hearst Castle is also a 30 minute drive from Paso and is another amazing spot. We have been twice and will go again. There is a magnificent 115-room main house plus guesthouses, pools, and 8 acres of cultivated gardens. The Castle is part of the California State Park system. More information and better pictures than I took can be found at
All of the gold around and in this pool is real.  It's interesting to learn about all of the people who swam in this pool and visited the Castle.

There is an elephant seal beach just north of the Castle past San Simeon. There were hundreds of them soaking up the sun and we were even able to watch a couple of them bellow at each other.