Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Solvang, CA Revisited

For our 43rd Wedding Anniversary Betty and I went to one of our favorite towns in California. It holds many endearing memories all the way back to when we were first married and without kids. We first went there with my folks and sister back in '63 or '64. We loved the food and shops themed on our "heritage" Scandinavia...Denmark. We are 1/2 Swedish and yet so many things there are the same or very familiar. Betty has been to this part of Northern Europe during her college days. I haven't yet. I'm looking forward to a grand tour including the Fjords. Betty's mom was born in Sweden and spoke Swedish. My mom was first generation and spoke Swedish especially when she didn't want me to understand what she was saying to her friends. She annually cooked Lutfisk and Smorgasbord. We had fruta soupa and limpa regularly usually around Xmas. So it was quite natural to just "love" this little village north of Santa Barbara and just east of Lompoc and Buellton. Yes, at one time we were tempted to buy a second home there. I wish we had now...$$$.

We always go early in the morning to miss the traffic and arrive for a late breakfast/brunch at "The Little Mermaid" or "Van's Belgian Waffles"...well, things have changed over the years and drastically of late. "Brigadoon" it is not! We have been there enough times to witness the slower changes but not the most recent. We were rather shocked. We were expecting the many "Outlets" that had moved in and we thought would be thriving. Wrong! They are all gone. Lots of quaint, Danish storefronts empty and boarded up. Somewhat sad but we could've predicted it. This is a very conservative community of "shopkeepers" and if you drive around the immediate area you can see the "50's style cottages". The surrounding estates and wine vinyards and ranches on the rolling hills have little to do with the village.

The verdant hills and foliage were a real treat for our "desert-eyes". The drive from the coast at Gaviota area inward to 246 was so reminisent of the hills of Scotland or the Appellachians with "Rocky top" type outcroppings of vertical strata...even a face or two. This was pre-wildflower time but the hill were dotted with live oaks and the contours were highlighted with recently sprouted mustard yellow. Gorgeous! We took our time coming back too. He hadn't started to rain again. Along the coast, 101, the sea/waves had an almost muddy hue as we ploughed through the downpours homeward. I tried to count the "Historic Camino Real" bells.

I've included some of our favorite places/sights. We have picture of our boys in the little red clog on the corner. It is amazing they fit in it. We didn't find the "pebble people" sign but the store is still there. Betty's favorite store, Mortensen's Bakery, is still going strong and hasn't changed, not even a new coat of paint. Their danish is to die for. We always bring some back to our family. Svendgaard's Motel, where we stayed many times, is still there in all it's pea- greeness. We would all fit in one room with cots and we loved the complimentary breakfast. "Bjorn Bunny" even visited us there one Easter. The toy stores are still there where each boy had $10. burning a hole in their pockets. Oh, the decisions ie. some bought too soon, some too late. Viking swords, helmets, armor, Swiss Army knives...etc. This time we had a granddaughter to lavish. As doting grandparents, we have to "spoil" our only granddaughter and she loves to dress up and play with dolls. We just had to go to the Book Loft and H.C.Andersen Museum. This time we were able to resist all the tempting books and games.

This time, we discovered two new delightful attractions. We started to take a walking tour of the "Tasting Rooms", some complimentary, of the local wineries. The first one that had stools to sit and taste got our vote. "Lion's Peak" has some delicious varietals and we stayed on and on talking to the owner/president Tony and a lovely young couple next to us. She was a student teacher/psychologist so we had alot to talk about. I think they were newly weds. We saw them later at one of the only "quality" restaurants "Cafe Angelique" with california cuisine. We ended up joining the club at Lion's Peak which is one of the oldest wineries in Paso Robles. We had a wonderful evening after all that "wine tasting"...believe me. The other new departure was the Chumash Casino. Wow! Last time we peeked into it, we were repulsed. ie. low ceilings, smoky, crowded. This time, a resort! Bigger than our local casinos here in the desert. Betty was the winner this time, we usually take turns and balance out our losses. We checked out the buffet and passed, not that fresh or popular when we checked. This "minor city" complex is only 5 minutes away from Solvang in Santa Inez. It has made for some "problems" in the area creating a whole new "neuvo rich" class of valley residents who are not "accepted" by the long-time Danish pioneers in the area.

Although it rained all day the second day, we had fun in and out of shops and restaurants with our umbrellas. We were on "a mission" to get certain gifts and mementos. Mission accomplished. Tak! Bob


At 11:24 AM, Blogger BOB! Your Life Preserver said...

A couple things I neglected to mention that deserve note: The "Mollenkron" a favorite restaurant upstairs across from the gigantic windmill (mollenkron means windmill I think) is now El Rancheo and we had some delicious nachos up there and remembered our boys smorgasbord eating habits up there...gross... Also the place, mid-block, mainstreet, where we lost a couple boys one time, (Trev and Brett, I think) is still a toy store but without the taffy puller in the window. I suppose the all-town loudspeaker still works too. The outdoor theatre (Shakespearean in the round)looks to have had a great season, (closed now) with current plays by Steve Martin and older ones too. We just froze at night there but we saw "One Flew Over the Cukoo's Nest" there and a live sighting of Eva Marie Saint's director husband who taught my class at the Music Center subsequently. Bob


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