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Published: February 12th 2008
On Monday, 02/04/08, we jumped in to Hannah's car and began the trip up to Northern California. The purpose of the trip was to drop off her car at her dad's place up in Paradise, California (right next to Chico) and to also get our Indian visa from the consulate in San Francisco. Also, Hannah had never made the 'touristy' drive up the coast so we took the scenic 1 highway up through the Monterey area. And, I've always wanted to do some wine tasting in the Paso Robles so we threw that on the docket. Finally, this was our last chance to say goodbye to some friends and family up north before our big adventure.
First stop was Solvang, CA, a small Danish town a few miles north of Santa Barbara. I had been talking about their famous Danish pancakes for a while so we were ready for some good breakfast... and we got it at famous Paula's Pancake House.
After Solvang we stopped at the famous Madonna Inn. This was a really neat, albeit slightly tacky, hotel that was built by Alex Madonna many years ago. I say tacky because many of the decorations were colored in
Pepto Bismol pink. Also, the men's bathroom was very cool and a wall of water would automatically come down whilst standing in the urinal! I made Hannah check it out once the coast was clear.
Next stop was wine tasting in Paso Robles. We hit up three vineyards: Eberle, Tablas Creek, and Justin. The wines were very tasty and since we were there in the middle of the week, there were hardly any people there.
After wine tasting we headed to the Hearst Castle in San Simeon but because we arrived so late we were unable to do the tour. That night we stayed in Monterey and had a fantastic seafood dinner at a local restaurant... yum!
Next stop was Santa Cruz. We met up with our friend Elisa, who goes to school at UCSC. We checked out the surfing at Steamer's Lane (I wish I had my surf gear!) and then went for a hike on the east side of Santa Cruz. It was very scenic. Afterwards, we found this fantastic wine shop that only served wines from the greater Santa Cruz mountain areas and did some tasting. That night we checked out Elisa's apartment on
campus and then headed off to Palo Alto, where we stayed with my buddy Marc.
The next day we headed into San Francisco to get our India visa. It took us about an hour to drop off our application. On the way out, Hannah noticed that one of ladies at the office was having a hard time filling out her application on the computer so she decided to help her out. Afterwards, three more people jumped at her asking for more of her help! So, she recruited me and we spent the next hour or so helping out some of the people with their online application. Hannah considers it a good 'mitsva' (karma) that will come back to us when we need it during our travels .
Afterwards, we went to China Town. Coincidentally, it was the Chinese New Year so there was a lot of activity. We met our friend Galen and checked out some great beers at the Rogue Brewery. He also drove us to Ocean Beach where we met one of his friends and checked out the cool scenery. That night we went out to an Indian restaurant in Palo Alto with Marc and his
girlfriend Christina to celebrate our successful Indian visa!
The next day, Christina, Hannah and I headed to the Golden Gate Park and saw some great art at the de Young museum. Most memorable for me were the contemporary pieces.
That night we went to Sacramento and stayed with Hannah's grandma, Oma. Oma and her friend Phil treated us to a nice dinner at a cute Mexican restaurant.
The next day we went to Paradise, CA to meet up with Hannah's dad and step mom, Louis
and Amy. They took us out to the Sierra Nevada Brewing Company (in Chico) where we tasted some awesome beers. My favorite was the Bigfoot, a big barley wine from Sierra Nevada that was very tasty. Hannah's sister Sarah and her husband Steve also joined us for lunch and then for a pub crawl within Chico afterwards. It was good times with the Wilner family!
The next day we went for a hike at Table Mountain, a trail about 30 minutes from Louis and Amy's house. Caleb, Hannah's younger brother, also came along and enjoyed running around the trail and picking salamanders from the stream. That night we met Sarah's numerous
chihuahuas (all named after rappers!) and then went to a great Mongolian BBQ dinner. Afterwards, we said our goodbyes to Louis, Amy, Caleb, Sarah, and Steve as we headed to Oma's house for our last night.
Our final day with Oma was mellow: waking up late, heading to the airport, and saying our goodbyes.
Back in San Diego we only have a few days left until THE DAY, Sunday, 02/17/08!
Next stop... Japan!!
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