As I posted previously we had some friends come out from H-town to go to the Santa Barbara area to do a Sideways type tour of the wine country just north of there. More specifically this is the Santa Ynez Valley area 30 miles north of Santa Barbara and the vicinity consists of three towns: Buellton, which is pretty much the suburban area where everyone lives, and Solvang and Los Olivos. We stayed in Solvang – a lovely little Danish enclave which is about 3 square miles of gingerbread. It was founded by three Danish guys in 1911 – I had no idea it was that “new”. Frankly all three towns are within a stone’s throw of each other – and this, along with the wineries scattered about the beautiful countryside, is where the movie occurs.
We started Friday night with dinner (for the 12 of us) at the Hitching Post. This is the restaurant where Miles and Jack meet up with Maya in the film. Our table wasn’t ready when we got there so a number of us stood outside for a while. I got a kick out of looking at the restaurant’s sign as dusk gathered that is so synonymous with the film. And the Rio Vista Chevy dealer sign just down the road.
As usual, the restaurant is much smaller than on film (anybody been to Cheers in Boston? Happens all of the time.) And I mean really smaller. And the place is packed on a Friday night. Nothing really remarkable about the meal which is no surprise because trying to have an affordable good meal in California is almost an unobtainable pursuit. We paid our $110 for a dinner for two (with a bottle of wine) and got out of there. Good to be there though.
The next day we had a van pick us up to take us to the wineries. I would have much rather preferred to drive ourselves and spare that expense but it did keep everyone together and going on to the next spot in a fairly efficient manner. If we all had separate cars we would have argued endlessly about where to go – so while this cost another $100 per couple it was somewhat well worth it. We went to Kalyra first (where Jack picks up Stephanie). We then hit five other wineries while stopping to have lunch at Rusack which has a nice deck and garden for everyone to spread out. In the end this was a lovely afternoon. Really nice. That evening we had diner in Los Olivos where Miles drank-and-dialed. Deborah cased the joint and promptly announced to everyone that there was NO PHONE in the back of the restaurant. Another film fabrication. But other than that this place was pretty much just like it appeared on film. Again nothing remarkable in the food department. And another hundred bucks. Welcome to California y’all.
Previous to all of these wine country events our friends Mark and Rita flew in to LA and spent the evening with us prior to driving up the next day. This was the first time any of my friends from Houston have come out to visit me in the eight years since I moved here. This was remarkable. I picked them up at LAX Thursday afternoon and toured them own the coast before we got to home at harbor town San Pedro. On the way we stopped in Manhattan Beach and at Donald Trump’s National Golf Course in Palos Verde which is just around the corner from us ( yes the one that actually was prize job in the first season of the Apprentice).
We had dinner at home that night and set out to wine country the next day by stopping at Rodeo Drive. I thought they would get a kick out of it, but when I noticed Rita really spending time contemplating spending I knew we had to get out of there in time to make it up that coast that night in order to make the Hitching Post. We virtually spent an hour in the Ralph Lauren store with Mark (a former Michigander) buying some fu-fu loafers on sale. Man, everyone was going Hollywood.
I mention this because on Saturday morning while we were waiting for the van to pick us up and tour wine country Mark comes out of his room in silly cargo shorts and one of the worst brown and blue plaid shirts you will ever want to see. I mean, he was just buying sort of cool shoes on Rodeo Drive and now he looks like Farmer John. None of the group could figure out why this was a wine country outfit – or garb for any type of activity except plowing the back forty. Rita explained he did all of his shopping at Old Navy. Well maybe the Army surplus store. Nevertheless it was interesting to see what a bunch of Texans viewed as acceptable wine country attire. Myself – Hawaiian shirt, shorts and sandals of course.
We didn’t’ let up later that night and while having beers in the hotel courtyard after dinner Mark had had enough ribbing. He set fire to his shirt, and man, it lit up like the fire hazard it was. He put the fire out before I could run and get my camera – but here is the grate we set the fire upon, the day after.
Another wardrobe malfunction remedied. And no one, to my account, drank any fucking merlot.