Sorry, but it’s a long one this time!!! 🙂
On the 30th of March I was driving pretty much all day, going from Zion National Park towards Lake Tahoe. I knew I wouldn’t make it all the way there, since a 10 hour drive by myself would be a bit much, but I tried to do as much as possible. After 7 hours driving I ended in Hawthorne, and spent the night in a very crappy motel, but it was just to spend the night and then go again.
The following day I only had 3 hours to drive and I arrived in Lake Tahoe, after driving through stormy winds on the plains of Nevada. At Tahoe it was snowing a little, and the lady at the reception of Capri Motel (a very nice place – especially compared to my motel in Hawthorne, hahaha!) told me that there was more snow expected later that day. So I decided to have a quick snack in my room and then go for a half-way around the Lake drive. As I drove up north along the east side of the lake, I decided to keep on going until I would be in the North of the Lake, at Incline Village, have lunch there and hopefully have some better views on the way back. After a delicious burger at the Wallflower Café, I started my drive back: In a full on snow storm! So far for the great views of Lake Tahoe! I did take some photos, but the visibility wasn’t that much! Back at South Lake Tahoe I parked my car at the motel and decided to walk around a little bit through the snowy streets. I walked through 2 casino’s on the Nevada-side of the town and then to Heavenly Village, the shopping part of the city. I ate dinner there at a Mexican place and then walked back through the snow on my (luckily pleather, so a bit waterproof) sneakers. I was happy to be back in my warm motel room!
On April 1st (no joke…) I had to drive to Sacramento and with all the snow the day before I was told that I would probably have to drive with snow chains (according to the lady at the reception), but luckily the clear skies and the sun made sure that the pass at Echo Summit was snow free again. So no snow chain adventure for me this time! After the windy roads through the mountains the rest of the drive was easy to the airport of Sacramento. I dropped off my car (after checking a couple of times that everything is okay, no hidden costs afterwards…) and went over to terminal 1. While I was waiting in the sun for my friend Laura to finish work, I had a little chat with the sheriff there. The pavement is actually only for dropping off, so anybody waiting there is being asked why they’re still there… Anyway, after I explained why I was waiting, he decided to just chat with me instead of going back inside again. The weather has been a bit cold and rainy in Sacramento before as well, so he was happy to stand in the sunshine for a chat. Then I finally saw Laura again after 3,5 years. The last time was in Munich, Germany in July 2008. We drove over to her house with a little sightseeing tour of Old Sacramento, then had a glass of wine at her place and decided to stay one night in Sacramento before leaving for our coastal road trip. We had dinner at a very nice sushi-restaurant. Laura asked the waiter if I could spin the wheel (usually for birthdays and so), and hoped that the waiter would just give me a souvenir shot-glass or so. But the spinning showed a bag of rice, so I got a bag of rice. It didn’t quite fit into my backpack, so I made Laura happy with the rice. Then we went for a few beers to De Vere’s, an Irish bar, and then an English pub. All in all a great night out.
The next day we started our road trip, first we got a cup of coffee at Laura’s favorite coffee place and then hit the road. In about 3 hours we drove to Monterey, a beautiful bay. At Fisherman’s Wharf we had delicious clam chowder at Old Fisherman’s Grotto. We wished we knew the chowder would be so creamy and filling, because we couldn’t finish the sandwiches we ordered with it! So we took that with us, and didn’t have to worry about dinner anymore. After parking our car at the hostel we were going to stay at, we walked to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. This place was really amazing, especially the jelly fish (and the Jellies Experience!) and the sea horses (and the leafy sea dragons, Laura’s favorite). After walking around at the Aquarium until closing time, we walked back to the hostel, where we checked in and then ate our lunch sandwiches for dinner. After dinner we just relaxed at the hostel (Laura did some studying and I was catching up on my blog).
The third of April we continued our way down the coast of California via the 17 Mile Drive, a beautiful track with a couple of interesting viewpoints. A famous one, was the viewpoint of Pebble Beach, with the Lone Cypress, so of course we stopped there to take a photo of it. The drive took us to Carmel, a very cute little town, where we walked around, had some coffee and browsed in the shops. Then a little stop at Julia Pfeiffer State Park to take a photo of the waterfall there, which fell right onto the beach. Very interesting, I never seen that before! We had booked a tour at Hearst Castle for 3.50pm, but about an hour and a half before that we got stuck at Lucia, because of a rock slide or so. The police officer told us that the road would be open at 4pm for one group of cars (just everybody who would be there at 4) and then it would be closed again. Hmmm, interesting. We drove back to the village of Lucia and wanted to phone the Castle to let them know that there would be no way that we would be there on time. Unfortunately we didn’t have any reception on our phones and the two pay phones (yes, they still exist) didn’t work. Somebody at the shop told us that just around the corner, about a mile away, there was some reception on cell phones, so because we had to wait for about an hour and a half, we decided to just walk there. The walk was nice, along the cliffs and ocean, but we didn’t find the spot where there would be any cell phone reception. So we walked back again. It was 3.30 by the time we got back to the car and were told that it would indeed open up at exactly 4pm, so we got in line with all the other cars. Being too late for the Castle, we phoned them and arranged we could do our tour the following day at 11.10. We continued our drive to San Luis Obispo, where we had already booked a hostel-room. On recommendation of a friend of Laura’s we had dinner at Firestone. We expected it to be a grill restaurant, but it was more a kind of a fast-food place. We ordered the special, tri tip, and it tasted very good!
As I said, the following day we could go on the tour to Hearst Castle. At the entrance we parked our car, picked up our tickets at the ticket booth, posed in front of a green screen for a photo and took the shuttle up to the castle. At least we were well on time this time! Our tour guide, Beverly, took our large group around the castle, which the owner, William Randolph Hearst, called his ‘Casa Grande’. After the tour I tipped her a couple of dollars, you know as good karma since I’m also a tourguide, but apparently not many people did. So she gave me a big hug and kiss on the check and said I was such a lovely young lady. Awww… Very sweet of her. Anyway, as we walked around the rest of the ranch of Mr Hearst, we bumped into her a few more times and she showed us some more things we had to see. We also saw the Neptune pool outside, which was just a stunning pool, inviting us to jump in if we were only allowed to… And the indoors pool, with 24-carat gold leaf on the tiles. Pretty impressive! After the Castle we drove back to San Luis Obispo (S.L.O.), where we watched Bubble Gum Alley, an alley way that has chewing gum all over the walls. Not a place to get stuck… Then some lunch and a bit of shopping in S.L.O. As we crossed a street, Laura was trying to figure out what the van was saying that had to give way to us. So as the guy in the van kept waving his hand as in ‘go on, I’m giving you way’, Laura was slowing even more down and figuring out what the van was from. It was something with Fig Mtn Brew. After S.L.O. we went to Los Olivos, a town known for the wine tastings. The main street has all little ‘shops’ next to each other from vineyards, so instead of having to drive to all those vineyards, you can do the tastings door-to-door. We were a bit late, so we could only do two shops, first Daniel Gehrs and then we went to the world’s smallest tasting room of Carhartt, where the lovely hostess Robin offered us to share one wine tasting. Well, not bad. As we finished one round of wine tasting together (6 different wines), we weren’t sure which wines we sould take. So Robin poured five of the wines again for us. Haha, double wine tasting for the price of one! Robin also suggested for us to go to Buellton, to the Figueroa Mountain Brewery, to do some beer tasting. Of course, Fig Mtn Brew, that was Figueroa Mountain Brewery! Okay, done. So after a short stop in the town of Solvang, a Danish town, we went on to the Brewery. There we walked in the middle of a pub quiz and only Laura could answer 1 of the questions. Good that we weren’t playing. We tasted 4 of the beers and had another one after that. The Brew Master AJ gave us a tour through the brewery and then went with us to Solvang to go to the Solvang Beer Brewery bar for a beer. We spent that night in the Viking Inn in Solvang.
With all the wine and beer tastings I woke up with a terrible hangover the following day. Pfff, never again am I going to mix those two together! Our drive that day was to Santa Barbara and a little walk on the beach made my head bang a little less. On recommendation of Robin we went to Opal on State Street for lunch. The place looked really fancy, with wine glasses on the table and so, but was very reasonably priced! Laura had one of the daily specials with taco’s, and I had a delicious Bay Scallop salad. We then went back to the car and continued to Los Angeles to Laura’s sister, Kari and her family. I met Kari and Bob four years ago on my world trip and now I also got to meet their son Joe, who is only 10 days younger than my niece. A very cute boy and very funny. As we sat down he started taking all of his toys out of their boxes and as his mom asked what he was doing, he answered with a straight face: I’m making a big mess. And then continued. Hihi! You gotta love them, the terrible two’s… 😉 We ordered some pasta’s for dinner and had that with Kari and Bob.
On April 6th we drove in the busy L.A. traffic to Venice and Santa Monica’s beaches. Both are so different. Venice more the artsy, graffiti and lots of homeless people trying to sell something (we even saw one selling ‘bum’-signs for $1: cardboard pieces with texts like ‘please give me some money’… It’s an original business idea! Hahaha!). At Santa Monica we walked on the beach and went over the pier of course with the fun fair on it. In the evening we went to L&E Oysters, an oyster bar close to Kari and Bob’s house. We had to wait a little for a seat, but then we saw two spots at the bar and decided to have our dinner over there. We ordered a couple of different dishes, so we could both try a lot of different things. It wasn’t cheap of course, but just for this once it was great to try it all out.
The next day it was Rollercoaster day!!! Brad gave me an early Birthday present (my Birthday is in August…) and said I could go to a rollercoaster park with a friend here in the States. Well, Close to L.A. there is Six Flags Magic Mountain, so me, Laura and a friend of her, Karen, went there that Saturday. After breakfast with Kari, Bob and Joe we went to a coffee place nearby to pick up some coffee. Karen accidentally picked up something more… As we were about to leave the place, there was a woman looking for her keys but couldn’t find them anywhere. As we got to the car, Karen wanted to grab her car keys and got a completely different set of keys out of her bag. Huh, where did they come from? Oh sh*t, that woman in the coffee place was looking for those… Hahahaha! That was really funny! Karen quickly ran back to drop of the keys, while Laura and I kept on giggling. A funny start of the day! Being a Saturday and Easter Weekend and Spring Break in a part of California didn’t help much with shortening of the lines in front of the rides, but ah well, we still had a good day. We went into the X2 (a five dimensional ride where you sit next to the rail in seats that flip over as well… so you go forwards, backwards, upside down, normal, and have no idea where you’re going anymore), Viper (7 times upside down with loops and corkscrews),Ninja (not too exciting and the girl at the ride wasn’t too excited about it either with her ‘Ninja-ha-ya’), Tatzu (hanging underneath the rails with belly down, as if you’re flying) and Goliath (incredibly high and very fast). It really was an amazing day! On our way home we stopped at a Mexican place to have a late dinner and then back home again. I was totally tired of waiting around the whole day so I fell asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow.
Happy Easter! On Sunday morning Joe was searching for the eggs that the Easter Bunny had hidden in the garden and found almost all of them. Just like the morning before I went for a jog around the reservoir that is close to their house, and then had breakfast with Kari, Bob and Laura. Then Laura and I started packing all of our stuff again. Laura was going to drive back to Sacramento that day anfd I was picked up at 18.00 by my friend Colette. So after this great coastal road trip I had to say goodbye to Laura again. But I have the feeling we’ll be going on another road trip someday in the future again! As Laura left I went to the coffee place of the day before again, LaMill Coffee to have lunch and a cup of coffee and I got to see the Scavo-boys (the grown-up ones) from Desperate Housewives as they had lunch there too. Stays kinda funny. So my friend Colette, who I met 4 years ago, picked me up from Kari’s place. We had a beer at a hipster café and then a glass of wine (I guess I never learn…) at Figaro’s, where we also had some crab cakes as a snack. Then to a great Thai restaurant. In L.A. there are quite a few places that are hole-in-the-walls: it doesn’t look like much from the outside and is usually squashed in between a Laundromat and a shoe repair place, but the food is great and quite cheap. We shared a Pad Thai, because we already ate the crab cakes and the portion was big enough to share. And in the meantime of course we did a lot of catching up!
The past few days I have been (window) shopping in the streets of West Hollywood where Colette lives: The Grove, Farmer’s Market, Melrose Avenue. And a bit of pampering like a manicure, pedicure and a haircut. I had a really sweet hair dresser, Jaz, who told me I looked 22 (yeah right), like Charlize Theron and Blake Lively (yeah no) and that I could be a model (I don’t think so). But she said she couldn’t be lying since the mirror we were in front of didn’t break. Hahaha.
On Monday evening Colette and I went to a screening of Who framed Roger Rabbit at the Director’s Guild of America. It was wonderful to see the movie again, there were so many jokes I probably didn’t catch the first time (not in the least because I was reading the subtitles instead of listening to English at age 9). And of course the whole thing about a freeway through LA through Toon Town that would end all the problems with the traffic in L.A. (ehm, not, the traffic is still a nightmare here). The jokes were quite funny, watching it with people from LA. After the movie we went to yet another hole in the wall, this time for some delicious ice cream.
And in the meantime I booked my next ticket: on Thursday the 12th I’ll be flying to Texas again, this time to Houston.
Lots of love,