Forget Disneyland! We’re going to WINE COUNTRY!
Yes we did. My favorite part of our entire trip (besides seeing my bosom buddies in Vegas) was the very pleasant surprise of the Santa Inez Valley – aka The Central Coast – aka The Poor Man’s Napa.
Or, as I like to refer to it, the place where Sideways was filmed!
The Santa Inez valley is located 2 hours north of the LA metro-blob in beautiful Santa Barbara county.
On the way up to the rural area of the Central Coast, we stopped in the city of Santa Barbara which was deliriously lush and sunny…
We stayed the night at an extremely overpriced Motel 6 which was close to the ocean but severely short on space.
We had a fun time getting lost in the Hollywood Hills on the southern California portion of out our recent Epic Road Trip. It was a little bit mesmerizing for a country/Colorado/Canada girl like me… okay, I was totally starstruck!
BUT FIRST, before we descended into the dizzying monstrosity that is Los Angeles, we took a slight detour to Big Bear Lake. On a whim, I said “let’s go check it out and stay there the night to avoid the LA traffic for another day”. So we veered off the freeway and climbed up, up, up over 6000 feet above sea level in a very short amount of time into the San Bernardino Mountains . It was like ascending on an airplane. We went from balmy, seaside weather to alpine terrain in a matter of 45 minutes!
It was well worth the detour – Big Bear Lake and surrounds are stunning! It reminded us a lot of Colorado so we felt like we were “at home” that one night out in California.
This is part 2 (of 4) from my Epic Road Trip series.
Vegas was… Vegas. Overstimulation from lights, sounds, tastes and strange sidewalk characters dressed as Mickey Mouse smoking cigars, etc.
We stayed at Circus Circus on the 27th floor and had a nice view of the Vegas strip…
My kids loved the on-site circus attractions so it was a wise choice as far as the kiddos were concerned.
I met up with two of my oldest, dearest friends in Las Vegas who flew down (sans kids) from British Columbia – which is where we met many moons ago while living on the same dorm floor in our first year of university.
Vivian (far right) studied pharmacy and went on to become a pharmacist… Lillian (center) studied anthropology and went on to become an urban planner…. I studied women’s studies, fine art, and history and went on to become a… what is it that I do exactly? Obsessive housepeeper extraordinaire?
Hey, remember Route 66? It’s still here!”
- Lightning McQueen in Cars
If you have little kids then you’ve probably seen the movie Cars and are familiar with the story of Route 66. When the movie first came out in 2006, we fell in love with the idea of Route 66 and we decided that we would one day travel the Mother Road - or what is left of it.
Historic Route 66 was one of the original highways in the United States, dating back to the year 1926. It is now a series of Interstate highways, 2-lane frontage roads, bumpy country lanes, and much of it has even been torn up. But there are still several portions of the former Route 66 that you can traverse and many of the small towns and pit stops along the way now cater to Route 66 “nostalgia tourists”.
We started out on Route 66 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Route 66 runs right through downtown (as Central Ave) and westward, parallel to Interstate 40. We got out of the car and walked along Central and came across the famous KiMo Theatre.
The 1927 building is one of the most iconic structures in Albuquerque. The KiMo’s very unique architectural style is called Pueblo Deco.
Had a fantabulous vacation!
Much of The Epic Road Trip was a dream come true for me. Some of it was not so great… like having a severe allergy attack in Las Vegas and being stuck in LA traffic for hours with whiney kids… not to mention the whole ‘don’t drink the water’ issue because it may gut your intestines.
But there were many, many highlights as well. So I’ll share a few with you - in a bit. First I have to sift through some 2,500 pictures I took with my trusty little point & shoot cam.
Here’s just a sneak peek:
Route 66 & the Grand Canyon:
Las Vegas & the Hoover Dam: