On the Road

Ahh road trips. I must say, after traveling via plane to other countries there is indeed something comforting and fun in the simple notion of packing all of your stuff in the car and hitting the road (no need to worry about that stupid 3 oz liquids rule or checking your luggage etc.)

And on a self-analysis side note, I am noticing more and more, that I find a new found fascination and appreciation for exploring local places. Heck I recently took the train (for the first time!–at least in the U.S., not counting subway trains of course) from SD to LA for a work meeting, and it was so fun gazing out the window seeing the beautiful beach views–even the industrial urban views were interesting to see. Plus the fact of beating horrible traffic, free glass of wine, snacks, and good coffee on my morning ride–Amtrack is awesome!

Paso Robles (or as the local gringos call it, “Paso Ro-bulls”)

SO! To extend our celebratory second year wedding anniversary, we decided to take glee in discovering our own home state with new eye balls. Last year, having celebrated our first year wedding anniversary with a wonderful food filled and vino filled trip to France, we decided to do a more low key economically appealing trip.

Let me first wax poetic on the scenery –though blistering hot, it was beautiful sunny and blue skies with paint brushed white clouds gently sweeping whimiscally across the sky. The land–golden warmth, rolling undulating hills dotted with evenly spaced, deep woody green roundish walnut trees and oak trees. Driving to the wineries in the west, a manual-driver’s dream with winding two laned roads, through tunnels of dark forest oak trees whose branches hang pale green moss (or some kind of symbiotic plant) Truly, in So.Cal, how often do you ever find yourself driving along a road where on both sides you have trees? (Palm trees don’t count 🙂

The scenery seems to halt your frame of mind to the speed of molasses: “Stop thinking about what you have to do and just absorb what you are seeing and doing” seems to be the message. On the way to Tablas Creek winery we see a family of deer…peacefully grazing along the side of the road, partially hidden beneath drooping tree branches—daddy deer with his beautiful antlers and a baby bambi deer who still has his spots.

Brush stroke clouds on an azure vibrant sky—with lovely golden fuzzie hills
Golden hills with dark green fuzzie walnut trees

We stopped by the winery Eberle where a kind English chap was our wine pourer, guiding us through their wines.

J.Lohr–now we were very pleasantly surprised about this place–tried some amazing wines and the tasting was complimentary! A moment here….I must say that although yes Napa is beautiful and a wonderful place with great food and wineries—BUT there is a level of innate pretentiousness and assumed expense which in our experience, though limited, usually results in OK wines for the wine tastings, and if you really want to try the good stuff you need to pay a pretty penny.

Adelaida– We did the “Green Room tasting” which was awesome—it started with a lovely tour of the grounds, and up to a peak of one of those rolling golden hills—with a beautiful spanning 360 view out to Morro Bay then inland. The best part, they left us in a cute little room, filled with the best olive oil (locally made of course, and so darn good I almost poured a wine glass full for myself!), french bread (baked locally too), delicious cheeses and almonds and walnuts (grown locally!–heh first time i’d ever seen a walnut tree too). But the highlight was the various reserve wines in decanters in which we were truly free to pour ourselves!

Delicious spread at Adelaida’s Green Room tasting

All in all, Paso Robles makes us imagine how Napa used to be—rustic, down to earth, the wine staff pouring the wine because they’re eager to share their passion for their wine…vs. the more large scale commercial feeling wineries of most of Napa where you pay the fee and you get poured your 2 oz with a limited and dry explanation of the wine. The caveat of course is that perhaps this was just OUR experience…and of course everyone (on a side note that is an interesting concept huh…when you really stop and think about it, its true—no one person’s experience traveling will ever be the same as someone else traveling to the same exact place. And this again reflects how duh, everyone is different…so sometimes I feel wary of gushing about a place because I anticipate that what I experienced may not be replicated in the next person’s experience).

Well all I know is my own darn experience so I’ll keep going 🙂

Anyways food is awesome there as well. We had a lovely dinner at the restaurant Artisan, known for using fresh local ingredients in creative ways.

Rich duck pate with locally made sausages
Fresh lump crab with mixed greens in a vanilla scented vinagrette dressing
Octopus “bolognese”
The most juicy flavorful duck breast with perfectly crisped skin
Poor thumper…but boy he was yummie

Then we drove up along the 1 winding pacific highway along the gorgeous cliffs and crashing waves below on the random mounds of rocks seemingly keeping watch along the coast…initially during our drive, the marine layer provided a nice respite from the heat inland. Then the sky completely cleared as if nature was showing off, and humbling us that indeed one need not travel internationally to appreciate and see nature’s gorgeous beauty. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, nature, the ocean to me, has always provided a meditative perspective for me on life..helps me to re-ground my thoughts, and most definitely fuels my gratitude for life.

Stunning coastal views up the 1 Hwy–beauuuutiful

Pt. Lobos Reserve

Amazing hiking—absolutely the best hiking travel I’ve ever hiked (well…not that I”ve hiked a lot of trails but still!). I enjoy hiking by the sea and this one really blows all others (at least the ones that I have been to in SD and OC area) out of the water.

The best hike I’ve been on due to the gorgeous sea-side scenery, dramatic rocky cliffs, gnarled trees with branches that look artfully carved.
A lovely stop during the hike–peeking through the branches

Monterey

And last but certainly not least–we made our way to Monterey, the quaint little town by the sea. Summarized by yummie seafood and scenic beachside walks. We could almost imagine during dinner one night on a balcony overlooking the ocean, that we were in Italy 😉

Our lovely view from our hotel room—Truly able to fall asleep to the lulling crash of the waves
Crystal clear waters–hard to believe this is the Cali coast!
The BEST clam chowder–in an unassuming little place–the flavor perfect balance of briney rich clam/seafood flavor without being overly creamy heavy (as most clam chowders tend to be) and with that perfect spice of pepper
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