Friday, February 23, 2024

2024 California Road Trip - Day #12 - Pasadena

I did a 20 minute Peloton strength workout and a 20 minute low impact bike ride. The Courtyard had a Peloton bike that needed to be activiated. We had breakfast at the hotel [oatmeal and frittata].

After breakfast, we headed to the Nixon Museum and Library in Yorba Linda. It was a liitle bit of a slog to get there. It took about an hour and forty-five minutes to drive 77 miles. SoCal traffic is a subject for another day...

Like Reagan, I haven't read a book about Nixon on my journey to read biographies about all of the presidents. After visiting the two museums, I am more interested in reading about both of them, particularly Nixon.

While the Reagan Museum was more impressive with its views from the hilltop, I think that the Nixon Museum did a better, more thorough story telling job. The museum starts with a film that highlights Watergate at the beginning before providing an overview.

I enjoyed the fact that you could walk around in the Oval Office replica at the Nixon Museum. The Oval Office is bigger than I expected with a higher ceiling.

Following the section on Nixon's accomplishments as president, there was a detailed and comprehensive look at Watergate. It was a lot of information. [Note to self], Sharon suggested that we watch All the President's Men.

The museum includes a section about the Vietnam War. I didn't realize that the troop levels reached 550,000.

We ended up taking a break after about an hour and a half and going to a nearby McDonalds for a quick lunch. Surprisingly, there is no food on site.

Both Sharon and I enjoyed the site. With the break for lunch, we ended up spending over four and a half hours at the Nixon Museum.

In the late afternoon, we wound our way to the Langham Huntington Hotel. We stayed at this hotel once when Jack played in a baseball showcase. We are spending two nights.

After getting settled in the room, we had a cocktail in the Tap Room. For dinner, we took an Uber to Cafe Santorini. I was done with driving for the day. We split Santorini's Grilled Calamari [grilled baby squid served over fields greens & tossed with lemon herb dressing]. For entrees, I had red curry seafood risotto [black mussels, shrimp, clams, spinach & red onions], while Sharon had a sea bass special.

Getting an Uber back to the hotel, we finished the day watching an episode of Outlander on the AppleTV.

Thursday, February 22, 2024

2024 California Road-trip - Day #11 - Simi Valley

Sharon and I had breakfast at the hotel (breakfast burrito). Afterwards, we got bikes from the valet. We ended up riding almost 9 miles in about an hour and thirteen minutes. We rode from the hotel to the harbor and back.

It was a short one hour hop from Santa Barbara to Simi Valley. We made a quick stop at a Best Buy in Oxnard to look for a new kindle for Sharon; it appears that she left her old one in Pismo Beach.

The plan for the afternoon was the Ronald Reagan Presidential Museum and Library. I have been to Simi Valley for work a number of times in the last ten years, but never visited the Museum. It is located on the top of a mountain overlooking the Simi Valley; the view is amazing.

Although I have a project to read biographies of all the presidents, I have not read anything about Reagan. The museum did a nice job telling the story of his life before he was governor of California. Sharon and I often talk about how social media curates people's lives. It was interesting that there was no mention of Reagan's eight year first marriage to Jane Wyman or much acknowledgmeent of his five children.

There is an older Air Force One on site in an impressive setting that you can tour. It is a Boeing 707. I was shocked how small it was. It is only 1,000 square feet. The current Air Force One is a Boeing 747 and is more than 4,400 square feet. There was a map of Reagan's overseas trip in the plane. I was surprised that he never visited Africa.

We took a break about halfway through the museum and had lunch at the onsite cafe. We both had tuna melts.

Both Sharon and I really enjoyed the site. I need to read a book of President Reagan at some point.

After touring the museum, we checked into the Marriott Courtyard Ventura Simi Valley. We are spending one night. We had a quick dinner at Red Robin. I had a chicken wrap, while Sharon had a veggie burger.

We finished the night watching the finale of season four of True Detective: Night Country on the AppleTV.

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

2024 California Road Trip - Day #10 - Santa Barbara

The day included:
  • I started the day with a great workout. I ran 3.5 miles on the treadmill in 47 1/2 minutes. Afterwards, I did a 20 minute upper body Peloton strength workout. I miss my regular workout routine...
  • After getting cleaned up, Sharon and I headed to the Funk Zone in Santa Barbara. The Funk Zone is a vibrant and lively waterfront neighborhood known for its wine bars, art galleries, shops, and restaurants. Once an industrial area, it has transformed into a popular destination for both locals and tourists. We wandered around exploring the area.
  • We had lunch at Flor de Maiz. The server at Rancho Sisquoc had recommended the restaurant. I had Pulpo Al Ajililo tacos, while Sharon had Salmon tacos.
  • Sharon and I wandered up State Street.
  • We did a nice wine tasting at Riverbench in The Funk Zone. The server was Brad. We visited this winery in Foxen Canyon in 2011.
  • Heading back to the hotel, we did a long scenic drive around Santa Barbara.
  • We had dinner at Bettina. The server at Riverbench had recommended the restaurant to Sharon. We split Whipped Ricotta & Focaccia [pistachios & golden raisins] as an appetizer, a Root's Baby Gems salad [pickled onion, goat cheddar & ranch] and a PROSCIUTTO DI PARMA pizza [mozzarella, fontina, castelvetrano olives, rosemary, garlic, chili oil]. It was a nice change from some of the more elaborate meals that we have had over the last ten days.
  • Sharon and I finished the day watching episode five of True Detective season four.

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

2024 California Road Trip.- Cay #9 - Montecito

Breakfast was included with the room at the Cliff Shore. After breakfast, we walked along the cliff. There is a colony of peligans below the hotel. Access to the beach and a longer trail was closed due to the hazardous conditions.

Leaving the hotel, we stopped and got some sandwiches at Depalo & Sons Deli. We also made a quick stop at a Vons in Grover Beach for an ice chest, ice and a case of water.

The plan for day was wine tasting in Foxen Canyon. Sharon and I explored this area during our 2011 anniversary trip. Our first stop was Rancho Sisquoc. Sharon had been there with Janie. We had a very nice tasting sitting outside. Sharon talked alot to the server (Cheryl) about traveling the world.

Afterwards, we made a quick stop at the Chapel of San Ramon. This is a California Historical Marker site and part of the Rancho Sisquoc property.

The second stop was Demetria. This winery was two plus miles off Foxen Canyon Road on a twisting one lane road. Although it was windy, we sat outside. The wine and the service was not as good as Rancho Sisquoc. We did enjoy the views while eating our deli sandwiches.

From here, we rolled towards Montecito. We got to the Montecito Inn about 3:30 pm. We are spending two nights there.

After getting settled in the room, we did a walkabout. There are more shops and restaurants than I remember from our visit here in 2011.
We had dinner at Lucky's Steakhouse. We ate here during our 2011 trip. It is next door to the Montecito Inn.

We shared a grilled artichoke. For entrees, I had Sauteed Dos Pueblos Abalone, while Sharon had a Petit Filet Mignon. We split a baked potato and some brussel sprouts.

Sharon and I finished the night with watching The Daily Show on the AppleTV.

Monday, February 19, 2024

2024 California Road Trip - Day #8 - Pismo Beach

Sharon really disliked the room at the Cambria and Landing Inn & Suites. She was glad to be moving on...

Packing up the room and loading the car, we had a lazy breakfast at Creekside Gardens Cafe in Cambria. We both had vegetable omelettes. After a quick stop at an odd California Historical Marker, we headed towards Pismo Beach.

I had picked out a hike at the Pismo Preserve. When we got there. it is was closed due to the rain. We pivoted to a hike that included the Monarch Butterfly Grove. We ended up hiking more than three miles in about an hour and forty-five minutes.

I was very surprised by the Monarch Butterfly Grove. There were lots of butterflys moving back and forth though the property. Like the Elephant Seal Vista Point on Sunday, this stop exceed my expectations.

After the hike, we wandered around downtown Pismo Beach looking for some possible alternative places to have dinner. We ended up stopping for a glass of wine at Tastes of the Valley.
From there, we headed to the hotel to check-in. We are staying one night at the Shore Cliff Hotel. It was a very nice room with views from the patio along the coast to both the north and the south. We sat for a long time and enjoyed the view.

We ended up having dinner at the Ventana Grill. It was next to the hotel. We split Halibut Ceviche [Lemon-lime marinade, papaya habanero mustard, cucumber pico de gallo, avocado, romaine lettuce petals, served with corn chips]. For an entree, Sharon had Enchiladas Suizas [Shredded chicken, mixed mushrooms, roasted poblano, tomatillo cream sauce, white corn tortillas, chihuahua and cotija cheese, English peas, micro cilantro, habanero pickled onions, and avocado. Served with side of rice and beans], while I had Coconut Halibut [Pan-seared fresh halibut filet, coconut braised French green beans, tomato, corn, red onion, bell pepper, caramelized plantain. Served with side of rice and beans].

We finished the night watching this week's The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and the end of the Saturday Night Live that we started on Sunday.

Sunday, February 18, 2024

2024 California Road Trip - Day #7 - Cambria

The plan for the day was visiting Hearst Castle. After a quick breakfast at the Cow Tipper [bagel and oatmeal], we headed to the Hearst Castle visitor's center. We did the 9 am Julia Morgan Tour. This tour includes only eight people! The Julia Morgan tour is an in-depth look at the life and career of this extraordinary woman. She was the first certified female architect in California and the first American woman to head her own architectural office.

The tour was very good and well worth the extra money. It lasted over two hours and included two of the cottages, the key parts of the main house and both of the pools. The guide (Chuck) was very good. Sharon has been to Hearst Castle a number of times and felt like it was the best tour that she has ever done.

For lunch, we had a quick expensive sandwich at the cafe in the visitor's center. I had booked the Building the Dream Tour for the afternoon. After some debate, we decided to skip that tour; it covered some of the same ground as the morning tour. Instead, after a quick stop at the Hearst Ranch Winery, we headed north along the coast to the Elephant Seal Vista Point at Piedras Blancas. I was shocked at the number of elephants seals; there had to have been thousands of males, females and pups. This was an unplanned stop that I enjoyed alot more than I expected.

Heading back to the hotel, we walked for two miles along the Moonstone Broadwalk. We stopped and had a glass of wine at Madeline's on the Beach.

We had dinner at the Sea Chest Oyster Bar. The server at the Pear Valley Winery had recommended it. The restaurant is unique in that it does not take reservations or credit cards. People start lining up before it opens at 5:30 pm. Sharon and I got there about 5:15 pm. There was already a long line. Nevertheless, we were seated just after 5:30 pm. After sharing a few oysters, Sharon had sea bass and I had swordfish. The food was solid.

Sharon and I finished the day watching The Daily Show with Jon Steward and the first part of a Saturday Night Live. When we travel on road trip, I usually bring an AppleTV so that we can watch anything that we would watch at home. I just hook it into the hotel wifi.

Saturday, February 17, 2024

2024 California Road Trip - Day #6 — Cambria

We had breakfast brought to the room for the second day in a row (scrambled eggs). Connecting with Debbie, Jim and Murphy after breakfast, we walked around Carmel Beach to the Carmel River Beach. It was raining lightly off and on. In total, we covered three miles in one hour and seventeen minutes.

Today is moving day. We are going to make a jump from Carmel to Cambria. Packing up the room and loading the car, we were on the road before 11:30 am. It rained hard for most of the drive.

Sharon's old law clerk had suggested a number of places to wine taste near Paso Robles, but we couldn't get a reservation at any of them. We ended up at Pear Valley Estate Wine. With a quick stop in Soledad at Taco Bell, it took us about 2 1/2 hours to get there.

When we got there, the place was overrun with people. There was live music playing. Along one wall, it looked like a group was having a kids pizza party! Nevertheless, although it was loud, it turned out to be a nice tasting. The wines were pretty good and the person serving us (Simon) did a nice job. We ended up buying a couple of bottles to take with us.

From there, it was another forty-five minutes to Cambria. We are spending two nights at the Cambria Landing Inn & Suites. Sharon was grumby about the hotel; it was not up to her usual standards...

Sharon and I had an early dinner at Madeline's. We split a Madeline Salad [Lettuce, red onion, Granny Smith apples, goat cheese, roasted beets and hazelnuts with a apple cider vinaigrette]. For entrees, we both had the fresh fish special with flounder.

After a very late night on Friday, we crashed very early. We watched Four Weddings and Funeral while we were falling asleep.

Friday, February 16, 2024

2024 California Road Trip - Day #5 - Carmel

Sharon and I had breakfast brought to the room at 7:30 am. Afterwards, we connected with Jim and Debbie. The four of us plus Murphy wandered down to the Carmel Beach. Jim, Murphy and I walked on the beach along the water, while Sharon and Debi walked along the street. I was shocked at the damage. Large sections of the beach no longer exist. Most of the stairways down to the beach were closed. Jim, Murphy and I had to climb up one of the staircases that was closed to get back to the street. We ended up walking around to the Carmel River Beach and covering about 3.4 miles in an hour and twenty minutes.

The five of us had an early lunch at Porta Bella. I had a Flambé Jumbo Shrimp Salad [grapefruit wedges, avocado, cherry tomatoes, roasted pumpkin seeds, mixed greens, orange segments, honey tarragon vinaigrette], while Sharon had a Blue Cheese Burger [Angus beef, Roquefort cheese, caramelized onions, greens, and tomatoes].

The plan for the afternoon was to explore the Monterey Bay Aquarium. We haven't been there since 2006. We watched them feed the South African Peniguns and the Sea Otters. I really enjoy the two big tanks: the kelp forest and the open sea.

With an hour to kill after the aquarium closed, Sharon and I stopped at the bar in the Intercontinental Hotel on Cannery Row.

Sharon and I finished the day with dinner at Mark and Jeanne's house in Pacific Grove. Sharon went to law school with Mark. We haven't seen them since April 2011. It was a very nice evening. Mark cooked a couple of steaks. The four of us spent hours catching up. It was after midnight before we left their house and wandered back to the hotel.

Thursday, February 15, 2024

2024 California Road Trip - Day #4 - Carmel

Up and moving fairly early, Sharon and I did a 10 arms and light weights Peloton workout. Afterwards, I drove to Starbucks for breakfast.

Sharon's old law clerk stopped by the house briefly. Packing up and loading the car, we headed to Carmel. I don't think that I have ever driven the section of Highway 1 from Santa Clara to Carmel.

As we were driving towards Carmel, Sharon suggested that we take 17-Mile Drive. We entered from the Highway 1 Gate. We parked at the Restless Sea parking lot and then hiked along the coast past the China Rock parking lot. We ended up walking about 1 1/2 miles in about 45 minutes.

We stopped for lunch at The Lodge. We had a great table outside at the Stillwater Bar & Grill with a view down the 18th hole at Pebble Beach. I had a LOCAL CAUGHT SWORDFISH CLUB SANDWICH [grilled marinated swordfish, bakers cut bacon, lettuce, tomato, avocado crema, remoulade, brioche bun], while Sharon had a DUNGENESS CRAB SALAD [little gem lettuce, avocado, tomato, radishes, capers, egg, grapefruit, russian dressing].

We are spending two nights at the L'Auberge. The room wasn't ready so Sharon shopped on Ocean Avenue, while I did a walkabout.

The room was ready about 2:30 pm. After we unloaded and got settled in the room, we wandered up to Cypress Inn. It just so happened that our neighbors Debbie and Jim were in Carmel this weekend. We met them for a drink in the bar.

Getting cleaned up, Sharon and I finished the day at Chez Noir. It is a Michelin star restaurant. The restaurant holds a One Star rating in the MICHELIN Guide USA, indicating "High quality cooking, worth a stop!"

For starters, we shared CHICKEN LIVER MOUSSE [Port Wine Jelly, Mushroom Conserva, Ad Astra Baguette] and CHILLED OYSTERS [Ruby Beet, Horseradish, Vodka]. We also had the wine pairing with every course.

For the first course, we shared DOUBLE 8 DAIRY STRACCIATELLA [Spade & Plow Red Cabbage, Walnut, Borba Dried Apricot] and SALT COD & WINTER CITRUS SALAD [Saltspring Mussel, Hama Hama Clam, Bottarga Aioli].

We both had DUNGENESS CRAB TORTELLONI [Fennel Soffritto, Wild Sortel, Oloroso Sherry] for the second course.

For the third course, Sharon had GRILLED MT. LASSEN TROUT [Kandarian Lentil, Saffron, Olive Relish], while I ROSE VEAL LOIN & SWEETBREADS [Green Asparagus, Artichoke, Burgundy Snail]. Up to this point the food had been very good. Unfortunately, the skin on Sharon's trout tasted like rancid oil. Sharon said something to the waiter, but no one ever followed up to ask any questions. Given the price of the meal, we were both very disappointed in the entrees.

For dessert, we shared ÎLE FLOTTANTE [Winter Citrus, Almond, Tahitian Vanilla] and PARIS-BREST [Chocolate, C&E Pistachio, Seville Orange Marmalade].

Wandering back to the hotel after dinner, I was surprised how quiet the streets were. I crashed very hard, while Sharon watched returns of the Big Bang Theory for a while...

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

2024 California Road Trip - Day #3 - Santa Cruz

Up and moving early, Sharon and I drove to Starbucks for breakfast; I had oatmeal for the second day in a row. Afterwards, I did a 10 minute Peloton core workout.

The plan for the day was hiking with Laura. With rain forecast for the afternoon, we started early. Laura took us to The Forest of Nisene Marks State Park. We hiked the Aptos Creek Fire Road to the Loma Prieta Grade Trail. We looped back to the Fire Road on the Mill Pond Trail. We ended up hiking just over five miles in two hours and ten minutes.

The three of us had a late lunch at Erik's DeliCafe. I had a Sea Dog [tuna salad with cheddar cheese, avocado, tomato, onions], while Sharon had a Baja Fiesta Salad [Grilled chicken breast over romaine, baja bean salad, cheddar, avocado, red bell pepper, tomato, with jalapeño ranch dressing and tri-color tortilla strips].

After lunch, Laura gave us a quick tour of Capitola. We stopped at a viewpoint to watch the repair work on the damaged Capitola Wharf.

Sharon and I spent a lazy afternoon doing some additional planning for the trip. We were trying to figure out a winery stop between Carmel and Cambria. Unfortunately, it is Saturday of a three day weekend and many places don't have any available reservations...

Sharon and I finished the day celebrating Valentine's Day at Alderwood. The meal and the service was very good. The waiters name was Brian. Although it is early in the trip, this is the best meal of the trip. Sharon's superpower is finding great restaurants!

We split Parmesan Popovers [house-made finocchiona • mango jam • smoked butter]. For entrees, I had Grilled Scallops [mushroom fumet • portuguese kale • king trumpet • nori oil], while Sharon had Filet Mignon [beet jus • smoked carrots • shiitake • sweet potato puree • fennel].

For Valentine's Day gifts, Sharon got me a bottle of Harris Gin. I got her a Garmin golf watch, some golf markers and heart socks.

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

2024 California Road Trip - Day #2 - Santa Cruz

Planning a slower morning, I wandered down to the fitness room at the Courtyard Marriot Sunnyvale Mountain View. I ran 2.3 miles on the treadmill in 35 minutes. Afterwards, I did a Peloton 10 minute chest and back strength workout.

We had a late breakfast of oatmeal at the hotel. Packing up the room and checking out, we headed towards Santa Cruz. We made a quick stop at Dick's to buy some light free weights that we forgot to bring with us.

It was an hour jump to Santa Cruz. Sharon and I met one of her former law clerks at his house. We are staying two nights at his place. The three of us drove to the Hideout in Aptos and had a leisurely lunch. I had a Sesame Seared Ahi Salad [field greens, soba noodles, sashimi-grade ahi, roasted peanuts, sweet peppers, radishes, pickled ginger, honey-soy ginger dressing], while Sharon had a Bay Shrimp Louie [field greens, cherry tomatoes, egg, cucumber, radish, carrots, Thousand Island dressing].

After lunch, Sharon and I did a short hike along coast. We hiked 2.3 miles along the West Cliff trail in about an hour. I was surprised at how much damage there was from the 2023 storms. There are several sections where they are fighting to replace the street.

We finished the day with dinner at Shadowbrook with Laura. Sharon has known Laura since grade school at St. Mary's. It is a unique restaurant that includes a cable car to get down the hill to the restaurant. Sharon and I split a little GEM salad. For entrees, I had BLACKENED LAMB [House spiced loin of lamb, roasted garlic, beurre rouge, mushroom bread pudding, Citrus glazed carrots], while Sharon had GRILLED SALMON [With Hollandaise, roasted red potato, green beans, cherry tomato and basil in a tarragon vinaigrette].

We dropped Laura at her house nearby and crashed early.