We had a double whammy with weekends away this month from Mexico to a mini family vacation just north of Santa Barbara! A few weekends ago, Mike and I met my grandparents, my mom and Andy, my stepdad, down in Solvang, CA. We took a half day off of work on Friday to beat the traffic and headed down around 1pm. The drive was mostly boring except when we were driving along side the ocean and I was reminded how beautiful California is.
Mike and I arrived at the airbnb we were staying at shortly after my grandparents had. We took a quick tour of the house and I was obsessed!
When I booked our accommodations a few months ago when I had read reviews about chickens living on the property and – more importantly – the fresh eggs that were supplied. Being a health nut, I couldn’t wait to try organic, free range (backyard?) eggs AND meet the chickens who produced them. Sure enough, there were about 2 dozen fresh eggs waiting for us in the refrigerator; plus, organic milk, almond creamer, bagels, cream cheese, orange juice, and organic coffee. Peter and Beverly (the owners of the house) were clearly my kind of people!
Since my mom and Andy were still a few hours away and the four of us were hungry, we decided to check out the Firestone Walker Brewery. Mike and I love trying news beers and this place did not disappoint! I ordered the Easy Jack IPA (yum, yum IPAs!) and Mike got a seasonal sour. For food, my grandma and I spilt the ribs (with mashed potatoes and veggies) and a small plate of mac n’ cheese. Mike ordered the flank steak and my grandpa got a burger with fries. The meal was decadent, delicious, and A LOT of food. (I think it’s fair to say Mike helped us eat a good amount of the ribs and mac.)
After dinner we stopped at a local store for a sweet treat. Armed with 3 different cookies, we headed back to the house and waited for my mom and Andy. My grandpa and Mike are both engineers and get along well. It is always nice for me to sit around with my family and Mike and simply just chat. Some of my best adult memories so far are having my grandparents over for the weekend and spending lazy mornings around my kitchen table, drinking coffee (for me and my grandpa) and tea (for Mike and my grandma) while talking politics (luckily we all generally agree with each other!).
Shortly after my mom and Andy arrived we all went to bed, full from cookies and conversation.
On Saturday morning, between cups of coffee and getting ready, my grandma and I went outside to meet the chickens on the property. Then it was time for some FRESH EGGS (that only Mike, Andy, and I felt comfortable eating). I buy “cage free” eggs at home and hate to admit that – at ~$5 a dozen – organic eggs just seem too expensive… I think this was my first time having an actual organic egg where the chicken was free-roaming. (There was even a little feather leftover on one of the eggs as a reminder!)
After breakfast, we drove into downtown Solvang. Solvang is a cute little Danish town that – in Mike’s words – resembles the ride It’s a Small World at Disneyland. We popped into a small nature museum to start the day. The museum had a scavenge hunt for certain paintings and facts about California’s national parks. To be honest, the scavenge hunt was the only thing that kept me engaged during our museum trip. It was fun to run around the room with Mike, looking for answers, while trying to hide our findings from my mom and Andy.
After the museum, my mom was hungry but – having had a later breakfast – Mike and I were no where near ready for lunch. So, instead, while everyone got a bite to eat, Mike and I went exploring. A few streets away we found Copenhagen Sausage Garden and spilt a grapefruit beer (and a few sweets) while sitting outside on the patio. This beer tasted more like juice than a brew and was perfect for a before noon drink.
We met back with my family to go on a trolly tour of Solvang next. The trolly was $14 a person for a 25 minute tour in a trolly car lead by 2 horses. At first I thought the price was a bit expensive but we learned on the tour how well the horses were treated and I was glad to support that. We also saw a building with a roof made of grass (that, if done properly should last 200 years) and, legend goes that when it rains, outdoor pets will climb to the top of these roofs and start digging and digging to get inside where it is dry. If they were successful in digging, it would be “raining cats and dogs.”
After the tour, Mike and I were ready for lunch. We went back to the sausage garden and spilt a grilled pølse (a red sausage) and a charcuterie board. The board had our favorite cheese, humboldt fog, and different salamis and sausages to dip into mustards. It was a lot of meat and dairy for one meal but worth the splurge!
Next, my grandma, mom, and I hit up a few thrift stores, which is one of the most environmentally friendly things you can do(!), while the guys went to check out a motorcycle museum. We were all pretty tired after so went back to the house for some quick power naps before dinner.
We were celebrating my grandpa’s birthday so went to a nice Italian place nearby the house called Trattoria Grappolo. My grandma and I spilt a Cesar salad and the spaghetti and meatballs (can you tell I love to spilt things?!). The food was good but after eating my first meatball, I realized how much meat I’d had that day. I couldn’t stomach another meatball and stuck to the noodles instead.
The rest of our evening was mellow back at the house, turning in again for another early bedtime.
On Sunday morning, Beverly (our airbnb host), taught us all about the chickens on the property. We were able to feed and massage them too. (Who knew chickens love a good back rub?) After our lesson, we packed up and headed to OstrichLand.
OstrichLand has both ostriches and emus. You are given a bowl of food to feed the birds. The bowl is glued to a metal dustpan and you hold it out, with your arms all the way extended, so the ostriches and emus can stick their beaks in and munch. The ostriches are way more aggressive when eating than I thought so I stuck to feeding the smaller emus. We were only here for about 20 minutes but I recommend going. It’s cheap and cool to see those massive birds up close.
Next we went to Anderson’s Spilt Pea for lunch. Mike and I weren’t hungry this early again so we sat and enjoyed the company instead. (Though I did snag a bowl of Anderson’s famous spilt pea soup!) After lunch it was time to say goodbye and get on the road. 😦
Since Mike and I hadn’t eaten lunch we decided to stop at the other Firestone Walker Brewing Co location in Paso Robles (different location, more north). I ordered the Pivo (and liked it so much we bought a 6 pack to take home) and we spilt a chicken burger and the mac n cheese (again).
The weekend was a huge success with a great place to stay, some of my favorite company, and really good noshes. What else could a girl ask for?!