Monday, May 30, 2016

The Remainder of the Trip

I share with you photos and random thoughts for the rest of our biking holiday in the Santa Ynez Valley.  We did the same routes we've done in previous years but in reverse, and that was a treat.  Things appeared differently of course and it was loads of fun descending with a tailwind after struggling with headwinds in this gorgeous valley of vineyards.

Each day we increased our mileage eventually doing close to 60 miles the last day.  It was a good plan for me to get back into biking after a winter of rain and uneven exercise. 

Tuesday was a weird day, after a lovely quiet ride on a back road and then realizing that biking along Highway 1 might prove dangerous, so, we changed course and ended up on a road undergoing construction.  Our peaceful morning turned jarring but these things happen, right.  The photo above has nothing to do with this particular rambling.  I just liked the shot I took.

Wandering into little towns, wondering what surprises await makes biking holidays wonderful.  A cafe we visited each time in Los Alamos was no longer but we discovered another place to eat and had a good lunch.

The wind is always a factor here.  But this year, it was also a wee bit chillier and our mornings began with cloud cover that eventually broke into warmer sunnier afternoons.  Wednesday morning it rained for an hour but we were able to ride once it stopped.  A valley of vineyards, with patterns to delight the eye.

A valley filled with canyons to delight the eye.  Cat Canyon, Drum Canyon, Ballard Canyon, all beautiful.  It truly was a delight to coast down some of them rather than climb as we have in previous years. 

A valley with farms to catch the eye's attention.  I never tire of these patterns.  I'd like to return at another time of the year to see this area in a different light.

Thursday was our last day in Solvang.  After the ride, we ate a quick meal at Starbucks and proceeded to our next destination -- Cambria.  We drove along the coast, passing Morro Bay.  Alas, we had car trouble.  The Boyfriend was brave and quick thinking, trying to get us to Cambria; we fell short about a mile from the outskirts of town.  Thank you AAA.  A tow truck took us to our hotel, by this time, 9pm.  The towing guy picked us up again Friday morning and took us all the way back to the Bay Area.  He was an interesting character and I quite enjoyed his company.  He lives with his family in Big Sur.  I'm jealous. Anyway, not exactly how we planned to end our holiday but all that really matters is that we had a romantic fun filled trip and we got home safely. 

And Now for Something Completely Different

Monday, May 23rd

Thanks to the cyclist we met atop Gibraltar Road, we stopped to view the rock art attributed to the Chumash Native Americans at Painted Cave State Historic Park on Painted Horse Road.

What a special and surprising treat.  A beautiful area with a great descent, too.

I mentioned that I bought a Pendleton wool blanket from the Pacific Northwest Trading company in Solvang. The shop owner, a woman who moved to Solvang from L.A. 25 years ago, also showed me Native American blankets with their story lines woven in the wool; fascinating.  She also gave me an earful about the controversy surrounding the Chumash Casino Resort in Solvang.  It is an eyesore upon the bucolic landscape. 

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Get Up Gibraltar Road

Monday, May 23rd

The pros from the 2016 Amgen Tour of California tackled Gibraltar Road; time for Weenie Woman and The BF to give it their best shot, too.  Want a blow by blow account of this ride in Santa Barbara  -- then check out this super blog.  Also, if interested, consider the Santa Barbara 100 ride in October.

The Boyfriend drove us to Tucker's Grove Park in Santa Barbara.  We proceeded along Cathedral Oaks to Mountain Road to the climb.   It's a deceptive climb, starting out easy with stunning views.

Moi, with the Santa Barbara coastline behind me. 

We climbed and climbed, thinking easy peasy, noticing wildflowers including this lovely cactus bloom.

Stunning as we continued.  We met a few cyclists along the way. 

As we neared the top, we saw hang gliders taking off.  Every turn was spectacular.  Here's a video from GCN capturing this climb.

Eventually we made it to the top, though this shot is not of the top.  I was plum pooped out.  We met a local, a guy impressed by our ages and that we did it.  He was only dressed in a cotton t-shirt whereas I was decked out in wool and arm warmers and jacket at the summit.  He suggested we descend Painted Horse and check out the cave paintings.   The descent was wonderful.  Much reminded me of Mt. Diablo and Fremont Peak.  It was the highlight of our trip because we'd never done this climb; and also, because it was breathtaking.  28 miles.  Next up, Painted Horse.

Oh wait, dinner later on was at Cecci in Solvang; wild boar sausage pizza, a first for me.

Hej from Solvang

Sunday, May 22nd

Hello from Solvang.  The Boyfriend and I are here once again for a much needed holiday, albeit biking not wine tasting in the lovely Santa Ynez Valley, but, I forgive him.

Ah, Solvang, a quaint town if ever there was one.  Old world charm at its touristy best.  Years ago, I bought the creepy fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm.  Sigh, our favorite coffee place, The Bulldog Cafe, is no longer.  Still, I've lost track of the times I've visited Solvang but each time brings something new for me to appreciate.  Take the time to look at the Elverhoj Museum website

This time, I was able to do some shopping.  I bought souvenirs for co-workers from Rasmussen, in business since 1946.  I bought a Pendleton cotton wool blanket from the Pacific Northwest Trading company (not exactly Danish but hey, I helped the economy....).  I did eat a few danish pastries. 

One afternoon, I strolled along the boulevard and met two gentlemen who declared that my shapely legs were much too white to be from California.  Hmm. Okay. Sorry that I use suntan lotion because I don't want to get skin cancer....  I discovered an English pub that we would eat at later in the week and I also visited the farmer's market.  This market's produce is exquisite.  I should have taken photos.  I bought the best carrots I have ever tasted, for only $2.  And I also bought several lavender products from a swell looking farmer from Lucky Dog Lavender.  I did not have time, yet again, to visit Ostrichland, one of the treats of Solvang, a site we bike past on many a ride. 

Meanwhile, after settling into our hotel, we set off to do the Amgen Tour of California time trial (held several times in Solvang), a lovely 15 mile route that includes Ballard Canyon with its bison.  Here's one video to watch of the course.  Meanwhile, The Independent has a great page of rides to do while in the area.  Tonight we ate at the Solvang Brewing Company; I had a delicious ahi tuna kale salad.  Tomorrow we start our journey, and as you can tell, the weather for the week is a mix of clouds, sun, wind and temperatures in the 60s. 

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Animal Crackers

Zoo time!  Been awhile since I've visited the SF Zoo.  This is not the baby born last month though we did see her.

Do a little dance, make a little love, get down tonight ... okay, so the gorilla probably had something else playing in its mind, and no doubt whatever was in that bush was a tasty treat.

Yes, I ponder the meaning of life while I sit in the shade.  Be sure to snap a good photo of me contemplating.

Please, I'm napping.  

Stop looking at us.

Please, I'm shy. 

Why must I be a teenager in love.

Lush.  Steamy in the tropics.  Now I must visit Oakland's zoo.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Free on Fremont Peak

Free at last to go on a bike ride.  Off to Fremont Peak in San Juan Bautista.  We had 20+ riders on the club ride, including Tom and Carole!  Good weather, too.

What's not to like about this ride!  Oh, I know, it's a 10 mile climb.  How fun!  Said no out of shape cyclist ever. 

I rode and chatted with Tom and Carole for awhile.  They turned around at mile 5 leaving me to climb alone.  I was smack in the middle of the riding posse.  I surprised myself by getting to the top with little whine.  My back ached a bit but I kept pedaling away.  A steady 5 mph for most of the climb, dipping down to 3.5 mph in the steepest bits.  Not going to win any medals but who cares.

At the top, I met, wait wait for it, a woman.  She was amazed that we rode up.  She asked my age.  I said 12.  Then I told her I was one of the younger ones and that just blew her away. I flew down the mountain to warm up and a good chunk required no pedaling.  That was fun.

We went through town to go to Aromas but I lost interest.  The wind kicked up and I found myself more interested in visiting San Juan Bautista Mission (and location for Hitchcock's Vertigo).

I said farewell to Donny and Joan as they continued on the ride.  I slept poorly the night before and found myself struggling to stay awake driving home.  22 miles and 3822 feet of climbing.  Happy.