Monday, September 26, 2011
Boutique hotel - [boo-teek * hoh-tel] noun - A small stylish hotel, typically one situated in a fashionable urban location, which is usually independent of other hotel chains, and is initmate, usually luxurious and/or quirky. Number 155 on my Bucket List.
In one of our many stops road-tripping up the California coast, we got all of the intimate luxury and none of the quirkiness at a little boutique hotel in Santa Barbara called The Canary. The Canary caters to your every whim, and we -- that is to say the Diva and I -- love to be catered to. The rooms have hardwood floors and four-poster beds, which our husbands (the Doc and Sarge, respectively) sorely needed after riding in the car with the two of us on a three-hour trip that should have taken one hour. But I get ahead of myself, and that's usually when I trip and fall over my own feet.
Speaking of feet, as soon as we pull up in the covered driveway, the Diva -- with one foot on Santa Barbara soil and the other not yet out of the car -- asks the valet, "Where's the bar?" Well, it was 3:30 in the afternoon, but it was 5 o'clock somewhere, and that is the witching hour for cocktails at the Canary. The Diva even persuaded Jeff-the-Bartender (and new best friend) to give us the happy hour rate thirty minutes early. He also served us gourmet chicken nachos topped with a chipotle sauce made of butter and cream, my two favorite ingredients. I started humming I'm in Heaven, partly because of the appetizer, but mostly because Santa Barbara has an old timey feel to it with its Spanish style architecture of smooth stucco walls and red tile roofs, with a touch of blue Mediterranean accents here and there.
We saw a sea of red rooftops from our room as we freshened up for dinner. If you stay in downtown S.B. proper (that's anything off of State Street), everything is within walking distance: restaurants, shops, theaters.
Did I mention how friendly this town is? Everyone gives you a sincere greeting as you pass. Maybe Disneyland isn't the happiest place on earth; maybe it's Santa Barbara. Why wouldn't you be happy living so near the beach? I'm guessing that's why celebrities like Rob Low, Jackson Browne and my BFF Oprah have homes here. Although, why she won't give me her address, I don't know.
If you ever get to Santa Barbara, you must eat at The Palace Grill. I won't be able to stand it if you miss out on this experience. Their Cajun cuisine is exquisite. Some people drive up from L.A. on a turnaround just for dinner. Yes, it's that good. And the wait staff bursts into song at different times of the night, either a Billie Holiday tune or a Louis Armstrong song. What a way to top off your evening. That, and the desert, that is.
After dinner, we spend time soaking in the rooftop hot tub where we meet a lovely couple from Northern California by way of Manchester, England who tell us we simply must dine at the Moss Beach Distillery when we get to Half Moon Bay. "It's haunted by a blue ghost," they say. They had me at "haunted." Hello! Look for the blue ghost in an upcoming post.
Friday, September 23, 2011
Fab 5 Friday is not so fabulous today because Facebook got a facelift, and here are the 5 reasons why it's a botched job:
1. Top Stories - I'll be the judge of that, not you, FB. Don't pretend you know me.
2. Recent Stories - "Top Stories" only now they're in chronological order. Redundancy regurgitated. You're not fooling anyone, Zuckerberg.
3. Frickin Friend Ticker - in the upper right corner is like FB inside FB. Isn't the same thing in my newsfeed?
4. Subscribe Button - where even non-friends can subscribe to your feed. Yes.
5. The Smartlist - Where Facebook insults your intelligence. They analyze your work, school and family history, which determines who will be added to the smartlist they then create for you because you can't be trusted to do it correctly.
Those are my 5 pet peeves of the new Facebook. Help me find something good about it.
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Monday, September 19, 2011
Subtitle: See the ball. . . be the ball. Lucille Ball, that is
Here's my story, and I'm sticking to it:
The new and improved Ricardos and Mertzes -- (it ain't in black and white anymore, baby; we've added some color!) -- took a road trip.
I played the role of Lucy, which meant that The Diva was Ethel by default. She inhabited the role, too. Believe me, she put the kick in sidekick, while I was Lucy doing all the 'splainin' to Ricky and Fred, er, I mean, Sarge and The Doc.
Our goal was Number 147 on my Bucket List: drive up Highway 1, which traces all the scenic ins and outs of the Pacific Ocean coastline. We planned to stop here and there willy-nilly wine tasting, or whatever else our hearts desired, but instead of starting out wine and roses, it sparked guns and roses:
Sarge and The Doc had the nerve to make The Diva and I ride in the back seat!
I said, "What is this, 1950?" That's for little old blue-haired ladies wearing black orthopedic shoes with their nylons knotted at the knee."
"Well," said Sarge, eyeballing my gray hair.
"Fine," I said, "but only if you two wear matching powder blue polyester all-in-one jumpsuits."
Score 1 for the men.
Sitting in the back seat heading up the coast, The Diva and I had our purses primed to spend at the Camarillo Premium Outlets. Somehow, Sarge passed the exit and then, oops, couldn't maneuver the car over for the next five miles.
Men, 2; Women, 0.
As we passed Neiman Marcus's Last Call teary-eyed, we soon rolled into Santa Barbara for an overnight stay (next week's post). The following day, we toured Hearst Castle in San Simeon (last week's post).
On the way up to Santa Cruz wine country (a future post), we stopped at Ragged Point Inn for lunch. Nothing ragged about this resort or the restaurant. The burgers were HUGE, with beef supplied by the cattle kept at Hearst Castle.
We then drove through Carmel hoping to catch a glimpse of Clint Eastwood, but by that time I was so dizzy from all the twists and turns of the road, I slept the through the whole town.
Big Sur was beautiful, though. There's just something about living in a place with mountains on one side and the ocean on the other; it's like the best of both worlds.
Our ulitmate destination was Half Moon Bay (another future post), a quaint little town you run smack into before you get to San Francisco. There, Sarge tried to have The Diva and I arrested for indecent disclosures, so he could throw us into their one-room jailhouse.
Flipping the script, I tried to leave him in the hands of the monks at the San Miguel Mission.
Score 1 for the ladies!
It was quite the adventure riding the roads with our best friends. I hope you delight in reading about it as much as I did suffering through -- abiding it -- enduring -- I mean enjoying it.
This is me rammming Number 147 off the side of Bucket List road.
Friday, September 16, 2011
What are the five best things about a road trip?
1. It's a good time to catch up on your sleep. (This is for the passenger, not the driver.)
2. Perfect time to play the "First time I ever. . ." game, and then argue about it with your spouse.
3. Stopping along the highway to eat at random restaurants.
4. Spontaneous arguments over whether or not to pick up a drifter.
5. Being with your best friend(s). (Hopefully, you aren't traveling with your enemies.)
Posted by MsALWalker at 5:27 AM
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Monday, September 12, 2011
William Randolph Hearst was a bad, bad boy. (So Sarge is not alone.)
His family already owned the 250,000 acres and 14 miles of San Simeon coastline on which the Hearst Castle now sits, but before it was built, his parents forbade him from using family funds to build a home for himself because they knew his tastes ran to the extreme. A good parent knows her child.
So, surprise (!), not even three weeks after his mother's death, WR broke ground on what was to become a 68,000 square foot home with 38 bedrooms, 42 bathrooms, 30 fireplaces, 3 guest houses and 2 pools.
Not your average dream house.
The now state-run castle is so huge, tours have to be broken down into forty-five minute increments. Upon purchasing our $25 tickets for the Grand Rooms Tour, Sarge and I (along with The Diva & the Doc, our road trip companions) took the ten-minute bus ride from the gate to the mansion, and then made the hump up 106 stairsteps to the grand entrance. I was tired before the three-quarter mile walking tour had even begun.
(Note to younger self: travel now!)
The assembly room where WR Hearst gathered his guests (and you'd better not be late) was incredible.
(That's a double mantle.)
The refectory (dining room to you and I) was exceptional.
The billiard room (where even women were allowed to play - gasp!) was amazing.
The pool was magnificent.
And all of the rooms were decorated with antiques of the six-figure variety.
Ever since I can remember, I've wanted to go to Hearst Castle, and now I've been. Thank you, WR, for letting me walk Number 133 off my Bucket List.
P.S. The view was fantastic!
Friday, September 9, 2011
Fab 5 Friday is where I list the top five things on my mind right now. I recently went on a roadtrip with our favorite couple to go on a date with, The Diva and The Doc. So.........today, it's the Top 5 Things To Take On A Roadtrip.
1. Duct tape - for those times when you just want quiet in the car.
2. A hitchhiker - could be fun, unless they turn out to be a serial killer, in which case, use said duct tape.
3. Red Bull - unless you want to fall asleep at the wheel.
4. A camera to take a pic of that bull you saw mounting a cow on the roadside.
5. Patience - for the many people who will inevitably cut you off on the highway. It's your vacation. . . don't let them get to you!
Posted by MsALWalker at 7:44 AM