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Sunday, June 24, 2012

Santa Barbara Area

With all of our necessary family business completed (or at least all of it that was actually going to get done this time) we are heading north toward Santa Barbara, CA.  Here in California the speed limit when towing is 55 mph … of course in California the speed limit is only a suggestion, so we were passed by almost everyone on the road, including locals with their RVs racing off to their favorite campgrounds.  I used to be one of the racers, but since we’ve retired, 55 seems just fine and I can enjoy the scenery too!

We arrived at Thousand Trails – Rancho Oso at around 3 p.m. in the afternoon.  The entrance road to this preserve is not wide enough in most places to accommodate two RVs (much less two big rigs) going in opposite directions.  Therefore, we strongly suggest that when going to this park you arrive after 1 p.m. in the afternoon and leave before 11 a.m.  It might be a good idea to call the ranger station as well, before starting up.  The road is passable, but windy … just take it slow and watch for opposing traffic.  Once you arrive in the park, you will find it was worth the harrowing trip up.  The park is nestled in a lovely valley with horses available for riding and activities a-plenty, including wine tasting, horse demonstrations, meals on the weekends, and all of the other amenities.  The rangers are extremely friendly … and even better … they are competent!  You don’t have to run back up to the ranger station with your site number, they will find you and make a note themselves … we even had our paper delivered without a hitch.  During our stay we noticed that our electric was shutting off at the post; we notified the ranger and the entire electrical panel was quickly and efficiently replaced.  This is a very well run park and it is obvious that the manager here in Rancho Oso is both caring and competent. Unfortunately there was no 50 amp service, so we can only give it a “9”.

Horses at Rancho Oso

Horses at Rancho Oso

View of Rancho Oso from entry road

The Rancho Oso Valley
Our friends, Dave and Issy from England found us again at this park.  Naturally, this resulted in a few excellent it’s five o’clock somewhere sessions complete with interesting conversation.  Among other mutual activities, they joined us for the wine tasting held at the adult lodge at the preserve … it was great fun seeing them … and we are traveling to our next preserve on the same day, so we will continue to have fun together.

In addition to the Preserve’s activities, there is a lot to see and do in the area.  We were lucky to be here during Santa Inez days (the 50th anniversary) and enjoyed the street booths of arts and crafts and the friendly people.  From Santa Inez we drove through Solvang, which we decided to save for another day, and over to Buellton, CA to Pea Soup Anderson’s for the best split pea soup anywhere.  For $9.50 you can have all the soup you can eat, plus bread and a drink (including a milk shake, if you like).  When we waddled out of the restaurant we cruised around their country store and then took a couple of pictures.  I don’t think we ate again for a couple of days!

Pea Soup Andersons  at 101

The Pea Soup Chefs
Goleta is located just north of Santa Barbara and is actually the home of the University of California at Santa Barbara.  It has a Costco (yeah!) and a really nice beach.  We ate at the Seaside Bar and Grill right on the beach and had fish (what else?) and clam chowder.  The food was average and the prices were above average, but the atmosphere was first rate!  There are great places for a picnic here as well, and we would recommend that you pack a lunch and come and enjoy this beach.  Up from the beach is a lovely estuary with wildlife galore.

Seaside Bar & Grill

The Pier off Goleta Beach

Lynda plays in the water ... cold!

The Estuary

A Heron looks for fish

Wikipedia notes that Solvang was founded in 1911 on almost 9,000 acres (3,600 ha) of the Rancho San Carlos de Jonta Mexican land grant, by a group of Danes who traveled west to establish a Danish colony far from the midwestern winters. The city is home to a number of bakeries, restaurants, and merchants offering a taste of Denmark in California. The architecture of many of the facades and buildings reflects traditional Danish style. There is a copy of the famous Little Mermaid statue from Copenhagen, as well as one featuring the bust of famed Danish fable writer, Hans Christian Andersen. A replica of Copenhagen's Round Tower in the scale 1:3 was finished in 1991 and can be seen in the town center.   We stopped at Mortensen’s bakery (we like it better than Olsen’s, but one could go either way) for morning pastries and coffee … absolutely delicious!!  After taking a walking tour of the town’s unique shops and architecture, we ended up back near Mortensen’s at the Greenhouse Restaurant for lunch.  Lynda tried a sampling of Danish sausages, while I had the herring.  The fish was delicious, but Lynda was a bit disappointed in the bland flavors of the sausage.  The service was great and we would definitely dine here again.  However, with dozens of eateries, if we return we may try something new.

Loved this thatched roof!

Lynda at the Shoe Shop

Horse drawn Tours of the Town

The Round Tower


The Greenhouse Cafe

We returned to Santa Barbara and visited Stearns Wharf.  There is parking on the wharf, but we parked nearby and walked to the shops on the wharf.  There is also a nice museum on the wharf and, of course, a few good restaurants.  We stopped at a little “hole-in-the-wall” place for fish and chips.  The fish was thick and crispy and the fries were excellent.  This bird thought so too!

Waiting for the Fish & Chips

Waiting for the Fish & Chips

Santa Barbara is a great place to walk about and visit the many unique little stores that line the streets near the wharf … Of course there are three Starbucks located within a few blocks of each other, so one can be assured of getting their caffeine fix.

Closer to the Preserve, down stagecoach road are two unique sights.  First is the longest single span steel bridge in California.

Second is the old stagecoach stop that ran along this route in the mid to late 1800s and early 1900s.  The Cold Spring Tavern has been serving guests there since the days of the stagecoach and is a unique place to have a nice lunch.  The prices are reasonable and the food is good!

The old stagecoach stop

The Stage Drivers Bunkhouse

Front Door of Stage Drivers Bunk House

Bear inside the Cold Spring Tavern

Inside the Cold Spring Tavern

Inside the Cold Spring Tavern

Inside the Cold Spring Tavern

Another small dining room inside the Cold Spring Tavern

There is a lot more to do in this area that we just didn’t get to this time, but we will put them on our list for our next visit here!

Until next time, keep doing what you love!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Southern California 2012

We left Pio Pico and headed up highways fifteen and two fifteen to Thousand Trails – Wilderness Lakes in Menefee.  Our stay in Menefee was uneventful.  We used the time to stock up on supplies, get the annual maintenance done on our coach at Mike Thompsons, started the rounds at dentists and doctors, and did a little writing.  In fact this blog has been delayed, in part, because I’ve been writing other things.  In case you haven’t heard, two of my short stories are now available on Amazon for Kindle.  The two are: Beauty is in the Ear of the Beholder and Subtle Mortality.  Both are written under my name “K. Patrick Moore” and can be found by searching under Kindle by author or title.  In addition, I have an author page on Amazon that tells you more boring details about my past.  Each title is a short science fiction story that can be purchased for your kindle at the low, low price of $0.99.  I tried to get Amazon to throw in a Sham Wow … but they wouldn’t go for it …  J

The highlight of our visit to Wilderness Lakes was the warm welcome provided by Dave and Issy, the Pond Hoppers from England.  We had quite a few very nice “It’s 5 O’Clock Somewhere” gatherings and Dave treated us to a wonderful curry one evening complete with carrot cake and ice cream for dessert …  YUM!

Unfortunately, our friends left before Memorial Day and they were replaced with a cadre of noisy, rude, urbanites, who apparently celebrate the holiday weekend with excess drinking and loud music.  Too bad!  I celebrated by remembering those who gave everything they had for our freedom.  I listened to the President’s speech regarding Vietnam Veterans (it actually was quite good) and then immersed myself in heroic movies (Midway; Tora, Tora, Tora; They were Expendable; In Harms Way).

Thousand Trails Wilderness Lakes is a nice park with canals running behind the camping sites.  They offer a nice pool and a decent miniature golf course.  The manager went out of his way to assist us in extending our stay.  However, since they lack 50 amp service, and allowed a rather rowdy bunch in over Memorial Day Weekend, have a severe ant problem, and occasional unpleasant aromas and flies from the neighboring dairy farm, we would give this park a “7”.  We look forward to returning for a non-holiday visit.

Here is a picture of one of the herons that fish in the canals at Wilderness Lakes.  Also at the park ducks, geese, and a great variety of non-water fowl.

From Thousand Trails Wilderness Lakes we, reluctantly, ventured to Thousand Trails Soledad Canyon.  This park is a wonderful place to put a full time trailer, but it’s a lousy RV resort.  The full-time residents are abundant and have very nice grassy sites surrounded by a beautiful white rail fence.  All of the nice-sized corner sites are permanent as well as any in the top section with a nice view.  I would describe Soledad Canyon as a typical Los Angeles Trailer Park where they reluctantly allow the visiting RVer.  Members who pull in for a few days or a few weeks are definitely not made to feel welcome.  They park toe to head and share a very shallow porch area …  and since these spaces are dust, dirt, weeds, and stickers, they are not even worth sharing.  Even VIP members who should receive a newspaper daily must trek to the ranger station each day to request one.  After looking at the numerous complaints online from members regarding this park, members can only conclude that ELS couldn’t care less … perhaps this is the future they envision for every park … Turn them into little trailer parks for permanent residents and provide only the barest of essentials for visiting members.  Furthermore, the security at this park is scant to lousy with the gate being either open or the ranger too lazy to stop cars to insure the park’s safety.  The corporate types at ELS have definitely demonstrated a Laissez-faire attitude toward this park and its manager.  Until they choose to act … he won’t either!  Enough said:  we rate this park a zero “0”.


So why did we spend any time there?  Our granddaughter graduated from High School in the high desert and the park put us close enough to attend … perhaps next time we will try WalMart!  We stopped in Littlerock as we motored back and forth and found two great things:  (1) Wonderful sausages at The Hungarian Sausage store and (2) a great place for wind chimes and whirly gigs called Penny Lynn Wind Toys.  We stocked up on great sausages at the Hungarian and purchased a very unique bamboo dragon wind chime at Penny Lynn.




On our final day at Soledad our son Jason, his wife Jen and their two children Brayden (age 4) and Brynn (age 2) stopped by on their way back to the airport to return to East Timor for the rest of the school year (about two weeks).  We had a very nice picnic and it was great to play with the kids … wow … do they have some energy!!


Kaitlyn, our granddaughter, had a wonderful graduation.  Shane (our middle son), his wife Dee and their two children Aedyn (age 4) and Connor (age 3) drove all the way up from Riverside to attend Kaitie’s special day.  Aedyn and I were able to have a short enjoyable conversation about his new sword.  It was great to see all the young grandkids in one place (we have eight grandchildren in all: Nina (22) who is married to Brian and lives in North Platte, NE; Kaitlyn 18 who will be attending Northern Arizona State in Flagstaff this fall; Amber 18 who is living and working in Apple Valley, CA; Willow 11 (almost 12 she informs me) who is living with her mom (Charity, our youngest) in Dothan, AL and will be in the eighth grade; and the four little ones mentioned above.


Here are pictures of our granddaughter on her happy day.




Until next time ... Keep Doing What You Love!!