Friday, June 2, 2017

First California Field Trips

We  learned that one of Chatsworth's (or maybe its only) claim to fame is Stoney Point Park, it having provided the backdrop for many movies. We took a short drive there to walk/hike around. It was definitely a one and done. There are no groomed trails and the walk around is very uneven. It is a better location for those interested in rock climbing, not hiking.

As I explore the area and learn my way around, I've been keeping my eyes open for things that are different here than other places I've lived. One of them is vending machines for water! I haven't used one of these machines, but have watched others. The customer brings containers and pays to refill them from the machine. I suppose this is an attempt to discourage or reduce purchase of bottled water.

Since the move west, we've both spent significant time on the east coast and not with each other! That's made exploring our area a bit harder to schedule. When Tom was away on business in March, a long time friend, Pam Wilt, was in CA and we were able to spend some time together. I was very happy to have a familiar face join me in an unfamiliar place. 

Santa Barbara harbor

First, Pam and I headed to Santa Barbara.

Santa Barbara Mission

mission courtyard
selfie with Pam
The national parks of the west are definitely calling to us. Pam was happy to accompany me for the first visit to the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.

There were plenty of groomed trails and it was fun to walk around some California landscape, but I have to disagree with the label "mountains". They look more like hills to me.

first view of the California poppy
When I initially saw this flower, I did not know it was called the California poppy or that it was the state flower. I just thought it made a nice picture with the flower in the foreground. Later, I would learn more.

Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area has a very long name, but luckily it's only a short drive away from Chatsworth - I'll be back with Tom.

In the Antelope Valley (true name), there is a Poppy Reserve to protect the native wildflower in its natural habitat. I was anxious to see what they looked like in large quantities. Pretty, but nothing compared to tulip fields. We still had a nice day out.

Poppies exist in orange, yellow and white although we only saw one yellow among many orange.

only the orange is poppies

"Will you take our picture?" After passing numerous signs  "stay on the trail", there was little motivation to cooperate. We told them no and that they shouldn't be there. Maybe we've become a bit Swiss.
poppies scattered among yellow "goldfields", another wildflower

funny flowers called fiddleneck

Our first wine tasting weekend since the move was to Paso Robles basically because of location. We'd heard good things about the wines from the region and it is much closer than Napa or Sonoma. We drove up on Friday evening allowing us the whole weekend for "play". 

state animal in mosaic

Los Padres National Forest offered some scenic views along the way to Paso Robles. 

Conveniently, Paso Robles had a craft and flea market where there were also vintage cars and motorcycle sidecars on display. It was a fun way to wander around the main square before our scheduled tour. 


We had signed up for a food and wine tour, but unfortunately we got off to a rough start because the tour guide was not at the meeting point at the appropriate time. They finally returned our calls 30 minutes later just before we left and went off on our own. 
Clarabelle at the designated meeting spot

Along with four other people, we went off to do some tasting. Our first stop was Halter Ranch.

vineyard outside the tasting room

A new experience for us was olive oil tasting. We tasted the oils both plain and with a variety of herbs and spice mixtures. There were also several kinds of infused oils for sale afterwards.

olives growing

Next up, a second wine tasting at Brecon. 

We tasted some good wines, but nothing called to us - no purchases made. 

A cultural difference between east coast and west coast became evident on this tour:  we do not share the same opinion about personal space. I felt myself backing up as people stepped closer to me than felt comfortable. The tour guide and others in the group also touched my arm repeatedly during conversation which is not normal in the east with someone you have just met. Also, our B&B hostess told me I had an "east coast vibe". I have no idea what that means or if it is a compliment. Hmmm.

The town of Paso Robles has quite a few restaurants and both we tried were very good. After another hearty breakfast served at our B&B, we left Paso Robles. We opted to stop in Ventura on the way home for Tom's first visit to one of the California Missions. 

Mission San Buenaventura

It was definitely not as nice as Santa Barbara's mission, but a convenient stop on our way. We do not plan to visit every mission!

Tom and I will be together in California for a month before we head back to Switzerland for a visit. Hopefully, there will be time for some more new and interesting experiences. Stay tuned.