weekend trip to california in review

We decided to pick up a little point & shoot, Nikon L22, and took some memorable photographs.  Here’s the link to the gallery:  http://gallery.me.com/paulamckinney#100057


sunday at sea and on land

Okey and I woke up “early” and rushed over to catch the ferry at Dana Point Harbor. It was six thirty local time, which meant we were more rested than the locals.

The trip to Santa Catalina Island was an hour and twenty minutes long across very choppy waters. The fog hadn’t entirely lifted and our stomachs were always about to cave into seasickness. Fortunately, we had brought some things to distract us from the uncomfortable trip. Okey had his book, and I had my knitting needles. The dolphins didn’t seem to mind the weather; I spotted a few showing off with spectacular jumps.

The island reminded me of a Caribbean island. The tourist shops and markets were there along the harbor in what is the city of Avalon. The warm sun was shining there. We walked along the streets for a while and ended up in a Los Angeles park extension advocating island conservancy. It was a neat little building talking about island dwarfism and gigantism.

We headed back to the harbor where we enjoyed brunch at Coney Island West before renting a golf cart for further exploration. We took the cart up some steep roads and took in some magnificent views of the eastern half of the island. As we drove back down, we saw some people going down to the beach on a series of zip lines. It was very fun to watch, but I’m not so sure if I could stomach the adventure myself!

We spent a total of about five hours on the island. Catalina Island was one of those things you can cross off a travel to-do list. I don’t know if I’d want to return unless it was to cross over to the western half and watch the bison.

The return ferry trip was less eventful. The sun was out and the water was calmer. I slept the whole way back.

For dinner, Okey and I walked into the city of Dana Point. We were eager to et at Thai This, but we were disappointed. The menu was interesting and garnished a few laughs with categories called “Go Fish,” “Hog Wild,” and “Eat Bush and Leaf.” The food was however disappointing. I ordered the Clumsy Cluck, but it wasn’t savory and I feel some of the ingredients were left out. Okey’s meal (#34) was only a little bit better.

On our walk back to the hotel, we took in some amazing views of Dana Point Harbor. Unfortunately it was again cloudy, so I was unable to see the sun set on the Pacific Ocean. Yet it was another beautiful and satisfying trip to California.

day two of take two: the two breweries

On Saturday we drove down to Escondido and had lunch at Stone Brewery and World Bistro, the fourteenth largest craft brewery in America. After our fancy lunch (BBQ duck tacos and chicken tiki marsala), we walked through the beautifully sculpted grounds then got a tour of the facility by Phil and Jim.

I learned that the brewers have a sense of adventure. We saw some beers aging in Heavenly Hills whiskey barrels.  They’ve recently experimented with a tobacco brown ale. Don’t worry, I don’t think it’ll go into production… I did taste their smoked porter with chipotle and another with vanilla beans. These two have made it on their tasting menu.

The brewing facility was enormous. Their current annual production is 120,000 barrels. They have a capacity to do 250,000! I really hope they stay successful.

For dinner we drove up to Tustin Brewery and dined among some lively Northwestern fans. Tustin Brewery is a perfect neighborhood pub; it was really enjoyable. Unfortunately, because they are small, their regular beers won’t always be available. I had been looking forward to trying their award winning Golden Spike but went with their seasonal Oktoberfest instead. I also got to sample their coffee blonde which was a light ale infused with coffee beans! Tustin beer is distributed by Stone Brewery but I don’t know if we can get it back East. 😦

california, take two

Okey and I are finally in the land of smiling hippies. We left home at 3:30 EST this morning so needless to say we are exhausted. That hasn’t stopped us from making the most of our day though. Okey popped out to go to work for a couple of hours, and I crossed the street to soak my toes at the beach.

Attached are some pictures of the very sandy Doheny State Beach. As you can see, it is impossible to sit on some of the benches. And if you want to play horseshoes, you’d better bring a shovel!

Unfortunately, the Hoff was nowhere to be seen as all of the lifeguard towers were closed.

I’m devastated that we forgot the good camera. Hopefully, the iPhones will step it up as we have a full itinerary this weekend.

It is much warmer here in Los Angeles than up in San Francisco. It’s a wonderfully comfortable 81 degrees!! I think I might actually get to swim in the Pacific Ocean after all this year.

day nine

Jenna and I parted ways where we met, at the AirTran shuttle. I’m so happy with how much we accomplished on this trip.

We didn’t do it all. Mostly because we couldn’t, so that leaves places to see and things to do the next time. I guess my only regret was not seeing the sun set on the Pacific Ocean this trip, but it was almost always overcast here so there was no window of opportunity.

I’m looking forward to my return to home comforts and most of all seeing Okey!

I had a great travel companion and wonderful friend on this trip, Jenna. Thanks!!!

day eight and goofs

There was an earthquake in the early hours this morning!!! Too bad I wasn’t at home to experience it…

This morning we went to Del Dotto Winery in Napa Valley! The wines here are definitely a different caliber compared to those found in New York and Virginia which are generally sweeter, fruitier and cheaper.

After returning our camping gear to REI, we drove down to our final hotel for the vacation. All in all, we have had an extremely active and amazing week in California.

Here is a list of things I didn’t want to share with my family so they wouldn’t worry for me (un)necessarily. Since the trip is nearly over, here it is:

1. Lost valet card needed to retrieve rental car
2. Majorly stubbed left toe on uneven sidewalk
3. Left credit card at restaurant
4. Shut car door on cell phone losing it temporarily (but didn’t damage it!)

I can’t wait to head home tomorrow and see the hubby!!