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Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Santa Barbara Wine Country

I have been a little slack lately with my posts on here.  Apologies to family & friends waiting for updates! Although I am sure all of you are keeping fairly up to date with our 'happenings' here through all of my Instagram pics :) In-between my weeks of finding a new swim school & daycare for Kayla (& dealing with the fact that my daughter doesn't care if I'm around or not...more on that later),  we have had some very fun filled weekends & no time for a post....although maybe there was some spare time, but I've spent that being addicted to shopping online on my new Zulily app or catching up on TV Series. Priorities people!!!

So last you heard we had made a trip up to Santa Barbara County for an Easter long weekend getaway.  We had some funny moments on that trip which I didn't get to share on my last post. One being that we were attempting to save some money & thought we'd test out the discounted accommodation on the military bases over here.  The first day involved a fairly long drive to Ventura after Jase finished work, which included a stop for dinner at a very tasty Wood-fired Pizza restaurant where I had a delicious cocktail!!! An Apple Cider cocktail with Agave Nectar rim. Yummo!! Due to the late start on the trip, awesome LA traffic & our dinner stop, we didn't arrive out our accommodation until 8.30-9pm that night. We pull up at the base entry gates & find out we weren't going to be let on base...at all....something about top secret stuff & foreigners not allowed on that particular base! Hearing that made me want to get on even more, I hate secrets...or not being in on them anyway :) So after a talk with the guards we learn that there's a Holiday Inn Express down the street & off we went to find a place to lay our heads that night.

Check in was easy enough, the rooms nice, clean & HUGE! But getting a toddler to go to sleep in a one bedroom suite? Not easy! There's Kayla standing up in her cot screaming for us. The solution? Her cot was moved into the open plan walk-in robe/wash basin area :) Don't worry, the toilet/shower area was separated by a door. It worked though! She was asleep in no time. Yay for us!

We woke to a pretty crappy overcast day & Jase being the lovely hubby he is, drove us to the shopping outlets at Camarilla! One word. Amazing!! I would have to say the best outlets we have been to so far. Just when I thought we were half way through I find out we weren't even a quarter of the way through! So a few hours of shopping turned into an entire DAY of shopping. Kayla scored big-time & I scored a few nice things too.  Hubby on the other hand, carried our shopping bags with no new goodies for himself. What a gentlemen :)

Dinner that night was interesting too.  Hubby looked up some places online that were a 'must' to dine at near our hotel.  So we walked across the road to this tiny little place that was famous (or infamous?) for it's 'broiled/deepfried chicken'. Everywhere I looked while standing at the counter placing our order I saw something that could do with a really good clean.  Let's just say that after watching many episodes of 'Kitchen Nightmares' with good ole' Gordan Ramsey recently, I wasn't too keen on eating there (NO it's not my OCD kicking in). But we did... The food wasn't too bad but I was just happy it had been deep fried to hopefully kill of any nastiness. We didn't get sick! Bonus!

The next day we had breakfast down at the Ventura Wharf at a cute little French Cafe.  I think we were the only people speaking English in that place that morning.  French customers everywhere, drinking their morning champagnes. I was excited as I figured the place has to be good if the French like to frequent there! It reminded me...I have to sign up to learn French soon! Anyhow, delicious croissants! No champers for us though...a little too early. There was a cute little girl sitting at the table beside us & Kayla made friends with her...briefly.  It was comforting to see another child Kayla's age being difficult with what she ate. I'm not alone! After this we drove into Santa Barbara & had a beautiful sunny day! We visited Santa Barbara Zoo which is a must see for anyone travelling through. It only takes maybe 2-3hrs to walk the entire park! A big plus when you have a toddler!!

We stopped off at Santa Barbara Pier for a bite to eat! Beautiful scenery & a tasty lunch with friendly staff. We experienced our first deep-fried twinkie. I wasn't that much of a fan as I don't particularly enjoy twinkies when they're the standard out of the packet kind either, but Jase loved it...& Kayla. A quick look around the pier at all of the goodies & of course a stop off at the 'Penny Press' for a souvenir then we were off.  From here we drove out to Vandenberg Air Force Base with our fingers crossed, hoping they would let us on to stay the next couple of nights.

The Deep Fried Twinkie... I liked the Ice-cream more!
Kayla & the birdies aka Pink Flamingos
Rolling her Santa Barbara penny for our collection :)
Family Pic at the Zoo. Kayla looks a little stunned!
Checking out the Giraffes
I found the entrance of the Vandenberg Air Force Base to be pretty cool. A long driveway lined with flag posts & a massive rocket standing tall at the end. The accommodation was clean & they even had a nice little playground for kids which Kayla enjoyed. Although we booked a one bedroom suite as the family suites were all booked out, we were lucky enough to have a big enough washroom (which consisted of a basin & linen cupboard) for Kayla's cot to fit in once again :) I got very used to her being in there at bed time & even started calling it 'her room'! We did have to sneak past her if we needed to get to the actual toilet or shower after 7pm...by sneak past...I mean I had to suck in my stomach to creep between her cot & the wall :) Ahhh the things we do to get a decent nights sleep!

Day three was a lot more fun! Of course! It was EASTER!!! Yay! The Easter Bunny found Kayla (& me) & delivered a few chocolate goodies as well as some fun new books for her.  Although the Easter Bunny was a little slack with 'dropping' some eggs on his way back home, so Kayla would have to wait until the afternoon for her Easter Egg Hunt.  We blamed the wet weather as I'm sure the Easter Bunny did too!  With it raining that morning we thought it was a good day for a road trip to go & check out the Vineyards & dabble in some wine tasting. Well, I dabbled...Hubby drove ;)
Easter morning. Kayla didn't waste anytime learning how to unwrap those easter eggs!
She obviously takes after her Mummy :)
Turns out that Easter Sunday isn't the best day to go wine tasting in a town that was founded by Missionary's. Especially before lunchtime when the entire town is at their Church Easter Sunday Service. Hmm...so we stop off at the Ostrich & Emu Feeding to kill some time. So much fun!! And scarey. No not for Kayla...for me :) Those Ostrich's are crazy when they want the food pan you're holding out.  Pecking away, pushing other long necked birds out of their way to get to you. Surely those fences are not high enough to stop gigantic birds getting to you? Kayla loved those scarey giant birds though. She also got to see an Emu for the first time! Weird that it is in another country other than Australia though.
I think the pictures say it all :) 

We ended up spending a bit of time in Solvang. A little Danish Village in the middle of wine country. It brought back memories of one of our previous USA Trips (prior to moving here), where we took a drive out with our good friends Cousy & Lori in their sweet ride, & enjoyed lots of window shopping & taste testing the delicious pastries. All the more reason for Hubby to not want to go 'window shopping' this time round, but we were still up for a stop in at the delicious Olsen's Danish Village Bakery.
Our gorgeous happy traveller! Wandering the beautiful gardens at the Winery.
After another drive around looking for some little spots that our new friends had recommended, which were once again closed...we stopped for lunch. Where? Back in Solvang :) A bonus on the trip was doing some sight seeing of some famous 'movie locations' from the movie 'Sideways'.  We all know how excited I get with seeing things that are 'just like in the movies' too!!! After lunch at Solvang Restaurant, which was in the movie 'Sideways', we had a little more luck & were able to enjoy one vineyard which was open. It was worth the wait. Delicious wines & a beautiful garden setting. Friendly staff. Generous wine tastings...always a plus! It also lead to buying a couple of bottles. We tried searching for the brewery after this but it was also closed. We called it a day after that & went back to our hotel to do the Easter Egg Hunt with Kayla which had been delayed long enough. Good thing she's only 1... the Easter Bunny will have to lift his game next year!

Family happy snap. Such a wonderful day & such a tasty tasting :)

The official Easter Egg Hunt! So much fun!!
Side note: The weekend before Easter there was a family 'Easter Eggstravagazna' (their words not mine) on at Hubby's work for all of the kids. So following that event we had numerous Eggs Hunts around our house with the plastic egg cases  that they have here to fill up with goodies to hide.

It turns out that all of those 'practice' hunts paid off! Kayla was a pro when it came to the real deal on Easter Sunday :) Such a gorgeous moment seeing your little one so in the moment of something they find so much fun!  With her basket full of goodies we headed back inside out of the cold & had a nice relaxing family afternoon watching movies while it rained outside.

The next morning we packed up our things & as it was such a nice sunny day outside we thought we'd make the most of it! We made our way down to Santa Monica Pier for lunch before making the drive home.  A not so nice experience at the Mexican Restaurant that is at the end of the pier...I won't name names...but our food was delayed SO much that we cancelled it & settled on our entree of guacamole & tortilla chips for lunch. If you're after freshly made gauc & chips then I highly recommend you stop off there...but unless you have over an hour free to wait for your meal I'd go to the awesome Bubba Gumps instead! So...after a little wander down the pier for some happy snaps in the sunshine, it was homeward bound!!

A beautiful day to end a great weekend getaway!
It looks like a little person needs some little sunnies :)
I just love that America has so many Piers! It sets such a holiday feel for me.
Everyone is out having fun & barely any grumpy people in sight!
A fantastic mini-getaway in Santa Barbara County!

xoxo T


  1. Great to read what you've been up to! You've inspired me to be more of a tourist here in Victoria. Miss you xoxo

  2. Candice it's great to hear that my blog has inspired you to get out & about in your new home town. I can't wait for the update from you & to hear all about your adventures. Miss you more xoxo