11:00am – Left San Jose, CA
Cows. Oh, look! More cows.
Tip: Radio reception is the suck. The only stations that come in decently are the Spanish talk and music channels. Make a playlist that can be played from your phone, burn a CD, make a mixtape, whatever.
12:15pm – Lunch at Salinas City BBQ
Wow – great BBQ! As a Bay Area native with access to a myriad of options for great food, Salinas City BBQ did not disappoint. The meats were tender and flavorful, staff was attentive, and though the restaurant itself from the outside looks like someone’s home, The place was packed for lunch with hungry patrons.
4:00pm – arrived at the Haunted and Historic Santa Maria Inn
First impression – These people dig Halloween. Creepy figurines everywhere. Hotel is too large to call it charming, but is definitely distinctive with the feel of a bygone era, and seems to be slightly careworn. At the reception desk, we were greeted by a platter of oatmeal cookies (too healthy for me), and the staff was efficient and professional. The junior suite and standard room in the tower room were both spacious and clean, with comfortable bedding and the usual amenities of a 3-star accommodation.
6:00pm – arrived in Solvang Danish Village in Solvang, CA
Dare I blaspheme? Holy vindmølle!
Adorable Danish town in traditional stylistic architecture with bakeries, fudge shoppes, trinket stores, a store with a gigantic clog, and you guessed it – hella windmills. Christmas must look amazing here. We arrived as many of the shops were closing, so the streets were largely empty, except for the errant tourist here and there. We headed over to our dinner reservation to meet up with the rest of the gang.
7:00pm – dinner at Succulent Cafe in Solvang, CA
Succulent Cafe is right at the outskirts of the Danish village, and boasts a good-sized outdoor patio framed by succulents. There seems to be a pig theme with the decor. We were glad to be seated inside as a couple of mosquitoes were chasing Miso around.
We ordered in 2 groups (Samara, SR, Miso and Flambé and his husband), and as the food started arriving at our table it became apparent to the staff which group the health conscious were, and which were the animal consuming fat-asses. Who ordered the quinoa and garbanzo salad? “Ugh, those guys” I said, as Miso and I waved away the offending veggies and grains. Mac and Cheese covered in crumbled bacon? Put that right here! As the food arrived, the staff made it a game on guessing which group had ordered what. They got a little confused by the brussel sprouts, until they realized the gobs of crumbled bacon and cheese clearly indicated that Miso, SR, and I could have only ordered that. Overall, food was delicious, well-prepared and presented. Flambé’s husband even found his hair twin!
8:30pm – dessert at the Sweet Spot at the Chumash Casino Resort in Santa Ynez. A little gambling, of course.
At the Sweet Stop:
Flambé: “I need chocolate!”
The Sweet Stop: NO
I bought a cake push pop – totally meh. At least they had a Starbucks in there.
The casino – lots of people, the crowd tended a little to the geriatric side, even at 9PM. The slot machines are overall on the newer side, I won about $85 on Mystical Unicorn (penny machine), and promptly lost most of it on Texas Tea, making my overall winnings a whopping $35.
11:00pm – explored the Santa Maria Inn and the haunted Santa Maria High School
We headed over to the historical portion of the hotel with our gear and checked out the haunted floor (rooms 210, 211, 221). We haven’t analyzed our data yet, but can’t really report anything spooky, except I almost broke my ankles coming down the stairs and missed a step. Whew!
The Santa Maria High School was gated, so obviously no entrada. So, we lurked around the outskirts and examined Miso’s flaring zit with the thermal imaging camera.
Stay tuned for our haunting results!