stuff and things

23 September 2010

Santa Ynez panorama, by Andy Rathbone

Yesterday's post featured a rather anemic version of the panorama shot. Thanks to flickr, you can click the photo now and it appears on flickr; click it again to see the gorgeous, large version. It's worth seeing! More about the trip to come ...

22 September 2010

We've Been on Vacation!

Breaking news: The Rathbones allegedly left their house and took a vacation! Film at eleven.

I joke, but clearly we don't get out as much as we should. Our recent road trip to the Third Annual Wine Country Ukulele Festival, packed with picnics, wine tasting, scenery, good eating, heaps of ukulele, and camping, was just the getaway we needed. Oh, and we survived the Bates Motel (Hitchcock's setting for Psycho), too, but that's another story.

We don't do airplanes. Andy's mom, a constant traveler, thinks we're Luddites. But at this stage in our lives, fortunately, we're not needed anywhere we'd have to fly, so we confine our travels to places we can drive. Maybe country music star Ray Stevens puts it best: "I don't think God intended for man to fly. It says right there in the Bible, 'Lo, I am with you always.' It don't say nothin' about high."

With us, it's not exactly fear; instead, we feel that flying the unfriendly skies has become demeaning, uncomfortable, tense, tedious, and just no fun anymore. So we drive.

Day One:
Usually we get a late start because there's so much to pack into the SUV. We always bring food and provisions: a cooler; a burner; a casserole for our first night's dinner in our motel room (usually a boeuf Bourguignon, the classic beef/wine stew); dishes and cutlery, and wine. This time, we also schlepped a tent, sleeping bags, and things like tarps and axes, hoping to sample some campgrounds on the way back home.

This trip, amazingly, we were ready to head out by 9 a.m., until our white kitty, Lotus, proved impossible to find (they're indoor cats). We searched, cruised the neighborhood, and notified our neighbors and mail carrier. We called and cajoled. We shook treats harder than Brian Jones on the tambourine. Our moms drove over to help search. Three hours later we found her on a closet shelf we must have missed. She stared back at us, like, "What's the big deal?" Cats!

So it was that we passed Santa Barbara pretty late, around four p.m. At the shortcut suggestion of Andy's Droid phone, we spurned our usual coastal route and turned east on 154 just north of Santa Barbara. I thought it'd be strip malls and ugliness, but as we headed through the San Marcos Pass into the Santa Ynez valley, we were stunned at the wildness of the place. Another lesson on not giving into my expectations, as we found it so unspoiled, and such a beautiful hour to be cresting the pass.
Heading toward Los Olivos via the San Marcos Pass
We decided to make time for the vista point shortly ahead. Andy's phone has a panorama feature that can "stitch" several photos together, so he captured the scene below, looking north back towards the coast.
View of coast (to left) and the Santa Ynez Mountains
As the sun started to set, we arrived hungry in Los Olivos. We settled on the old stagecoach hotel, circa 1886, now Brother's Restaurant at Matteis Tavern. We shared two soups: fresh corn, and a wow! heirloom tomato; then sipped a glass of local Brander Sauvignon Blanc with our pear/pecan salads. Did I mention the huge plate of at least six types of home-baked breads and butter that came with the table? Mmmmm. Duly fortified, we headed on up the road to Paso Robles, a surprisingly longer journey than I'd pictured. Stay tuned, and please leave a comment.