October 2, 2009

After a perfectly gorgeous drive especially the miles along route 46 from Paso Robles, we arrived in Cambria at our home for the next few days.
And dinner at the cafe overlooking the sea. Oh yeah.
October 3

First thing this morning we're off to Hearst Castle to use the passes from Ben and Bonnie (thanks B&B!) for the Experience Tour, and it was great fun as always, as many times as you go.
Here are a few shots from the tour.
It really is worth seeing.
WR Hearst, a guy who made a castle, fitted it out in world class treasures, and made it home.
What follows are my two favorite rooms - the grand living room in La Casa Grande, the big house...
...and the dining room connected to it. I live in 280 square feet now but I could also live here.
From the Hollywood Mogul style theater.
And the legendary indoor pool.
That's it from the bus on the way down.
We then took a short spin up the coast to see the Elephant and Harbor seals.
They really are entertaining...
...the way they flap the sand over their bodies and inch their way towards shore and sleep in these giant piles.
A little yin-yang going on.
And then after a good lunch and a long rest we went to the one street town of Harmony California to see the glass artisans and pottery makers.
The town had a lot of this going on.
The sunset view from our 'partial-ocean-view' room.
October 4

Today was one of the most bird-a-delic day Ever in my whole long life. So many many...many of them and many different kinds.

These were pelicans skimming across the waves in exact lines and the lines waving up and down like a roller coaster. It was the first thing we saw first thing in the morning and SO much more to follow.
There were these guys lolling around on the poop rocks and then in a few hours the surface of the sea was black with migrating flocks.
Hanging out by the dozens in the bushes. There were also flocks of small birds like the parrots around Big Sycamore.
The ever present demanding from the flocks of 'Mine Miiine'.
And then look at these amazing guys. Wow. I missed a shot of several different kinds, like the long legged long beaked sandpipers.
Not to miss this little cutie (or his several dozen pals) even though he has no wings.
We had a nice wine tasting at the Harmony Cellars Winery just down the road from Cambria and just up the hill from the glass blowers and the pottery work shops.
And more of the loveliness of Moonstone Beach.
October 1 (before arriving in Cambria...)

On the way from Death Valley to Cambria, rather than doing an 8-9 hour drive, we stopped for the night in Bakersfield.

That is correct. Bakersfield. Because I wanted to go there. For what seems like forever I've been wanting to eat in one of the many Basque restaurants in Bakersfield. And I'll tell ya, Bakersfield is full of Basque restaurants.

The restaurants most commonly mentioned (and I should add that most are within walking distance of each other) are Wool Growers, Benji's, Chalet, Noriega, and Pyrenees.

(I got these logos and pics from the internet.)
We chose Noriega's (also called Eskualdunen Etchea-The Basque People's House) and it was swell. You sit family style down the length of a huge table and pass the dishes as they come pouring out of the kitchen. There is always more of whatever you want near at hand.

The menu: salad, soup, beans, bread, pickled tongue (quite tasty and a favorite of many), cottage cheese with herbs, salsa, pasta and red sauce, french fries (very excellent), carrot salad, cauliflower with vinegar sauce, blue cheese, beef stew (yum), baked chicken, dessert. Bottles of house red wine line the center of the table.

And what might be missing in quality (the meal costs $20 total) they make up for in charm. Everyone, including our table mates were entirely delightful and every one was from Bakersfield or the surrounding area. Truly, we were the only genuine tourists we could find and that was most surprising of all.
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