Crossing things off a list feels so good for my OCD self. It is almost a quarter of the way into my year and I’m not a quarter of the way through the things on my 25 by 25 list; a little daunting to say the least. My OCD self is crapping its pants.
Good news is I did just cross the second full thing off my list! Road trip taken. Boom.
Last week I had a mate from Australia stay with me on his way back to New York City, where he is living now. After sitting on a plane for 14 hours, I thought what better thing to do than sit in a car for a few more hours, or not. We took a quick pit stop at mine so he could freshen up before grabbing a bite to eat at a local café and hitting the 101.
The Webster’s New Millennium Dictionary of English defines a road trip as: a journey via automobile, sometimes unplanned or impromptu, or a journey involving sporting game(s) away from home. I also asked multiple friends what constitutes a road trip to them. Things such as needing a full tank of fuel, stopping for greasy highway food and not having a set agenda came up frequently. Using both the dictionaries definition, and my mates advice, we set out to have a wicked road trip adventure that would qualify under both definitions.
Solvang was my road trip destination of choice. It’s located a short two hours drive out of Los Angeles in the Santa Ynez Valley, which isn’t really far in road trip standards. There are a couple of routes you can take to get there, but as I did as least planning as humanly possible (just throwing a change of clothes into my overnight bag), I briefly google mapped it then followed my nose up the 101 North. It’s a pretty easy drive from LA. We took the inland route on the way up, CA-154 W/San Marcos Pass Rd, which was beautiful and windy in parts. As we were driving along we could see a lake to our righthand side. It was raining cats and dogs but we made an impromptu stop at the next entrance to Lake Cachuma anyway. We parked and legged it to the closest tree by the water’s edge, though it was a short dash, we were satched from the pouring rain. Like magic, as soon as we made it to the shelter of the tree the rain stopped.
After our frolic in the rain, we were back on our way to Solvang. Neither of us had much of an idea of what to expect as we drove into the town. The two things I knew about Solvang was that it was a very small Danish town and it had great wineries, what else would you need to know. Driving down Mission Blvd, all architecture changed, as if we were literally driving into Denmark.
The town was so small we almost drove right through it without realising. Walking is the best way to get around Solvang, at a snails pace it will take you maybe 5 minutes to get from one side to the other.
First thing you will notice other than the architecture is the windmills. They are everywhere! Apparently there is 6 in total, however we were only able to find 5, odd considering the town is about the size of a pin. Strolling around the town midweek, you would think it is a ghost town. Everything shuts down at about 4 or 5pm, that’s including the bakeries, wineries, museums, antique shops, and, well – that’s all there is there!
Every second shop front is a wine tasting room from the vineyards around the area. We popped into the Lucas and Lewellen Tasting Room and had a taste and a chat with Louis Lucas himself. It was mighty hard to walk out of there with only 4 bottles of wine, it’s not surprising they are one of the most awarded wineries in the region. Our bottles of choice were a few of the 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon, Special Club Reserve (if you come across this wine, grab yourself a bottle or two – it is amazing) and a bottle of the 2008 Pinot Noir. When you book into a hotel in Solvang, generally they will give you free or discounted tasting to a lot of the wineries. We stayed at the Hadsten House Inn & Spa, it has some great packages that include dinner and a spa treatment. Dinner included in the package was a 3 course meal at the Hadsten House’s own restaurant, which we thankfully used; I’m not sure any restaurants in town would have been open to eat at.
For such a small town Solvang has three museums. We were able to partly visit two of them. The Elverhoy Museum just closed its doors by the time we meandered down there on Monday, and was closed for business on Tuesday. It looked great from the outside though. Hans Christian Anderson also has a museum dedicated to him in Solvang. Hidden in a small room above a quaint little bookshop, The Book Loft Building. The museum looks like a grade eighters school project, word documents and photos were stuck onto posters to display all the information. Poor bloke lived a life of unrequited love, and now his fabulous works are displayed with the class of a 12 year old, shame. We also discovered where all retired pirates live, AaRS street.
With no time constraints it was fun to stroll around the town at a leisurely pace. We wandered off to a church that over looked a big field and mountains, I imagine in the springtime it would be beautiful and lush. Wandering further we found the towns sole post office, I mailed a postcard to myself for laughs. It arrived in LA before my mate even went back to New York City! Food stops included coffee and sweets at a one of the many Danish bakeries and lunch at the local pub, a Bit O’ Denmark. The frikadeller (meatballs) and medisterpolse (sausage) plates were apparently traditional Danish meals, and pretty decent too.
Like any good tour guide in Southern California, I had to take my friend to In n’ Out, so it was our second to last stop on the way home. Granted it was in Hollywood and not off the side of the freeway, I think it was well worth the compromise to give him his first In n’ Out experience. (#2 with no onions and a chocolate shake for the win.)
Number 14 is done! A tank of fuel, many bottles of wine, silly tourist trinkets and photos, lots of laughs, an In n’ Out pit stop, finishing it off with a late night stop along Mulholland Drive to see the views, and I’d say I’m pretty darn stoked with my road trip adventure.
To move, to breathe, to fly, to float,
To gain all while you give,
To roam the roads of lands remote:
To travel is to live.
– Hans Christian Anderson –
It has been almost a fortnight since the road trip and the travelling bug has got me. I may just become a travelling gypsy… We will soon find out!