In Paradise
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I've been itching to check out the wildflowers this year.  I decided to visit Carrizo Plain National Monument, investing 2.5 hours each way.  The drive there was pleasant - I really enjoyed the stretch on highway 58!  It started off tight and winding, with shady trees.  Then it turned into straightaways through gentle rolling hills.  And finally, I arrive in the plains.  I get so engrossed in the beauty of the land where I live; it's easy to forget that California has so much variety to offer!

My intent was to focus on one specific area in Carrizo Plain that I'd read about - a trail (I didn't want to wander through the long grass and surprise a rattlesnake) that included a short hike uphill.  I found the spot (there were other cars there already), and had high ambitions to get to the wildflowers.  I was wrong!  Hiking up hills is never a great idea when you're terrified of heights as I am.  I made it as far as I could manage (it was steep and started getting too high for my comfort), so I turned around.  

My takeaway?  I shouldn't have to work so hard to get to the wildflowers.  Next time, go earlier in the season when they are plentiful in the plains and don't require a steep hike!

Still, it was totally worth it!

Vineyard hikes

One of the MANY benefits of being in wine country is the opportunity to participate in vineyard hikes.  Stolpman Vineyards in Ballard Canyon AVA hosts these on a regular basis.  We get to spend a couple hours amidst the vineyards -- the start to the lifecycle of wine -- but we also learn a tremendous amount about how the land, the soil, the microclimate, the wind, the sun, the dry farming, the vines, the growing, the training, the picking, the pruning, the discing.  And by the end of the hike, my phone tells me "flights climbed:  13 floors"!  So all in all, good for the soul, good for the mind, good for the body.  

Where does bacon come from?

One of the special things about Santa Ynez Valley is the ability to enjoy locally sourced products. One example is Valley Piggery, which is the source of the pork found at Industrial Eats (Buellton) and Full of Life Flatbread (Los Alamos), according to Santa Ynez Valley News.  Today, Valley Piggery hosted an "open ranch" and we got to meet several pigs up front.  I never knew that pigs can get so large, but then again, I've never met a heritage-breed pig before.  We didn't know what to expect of the open ranch event but were so glad we went!  


Sunrise after the storm

We had a wonderfully stormy day and night, with periods of heavy rain, lightning, and thunder.  It was followed by a beautiful morning with strong winds, warm temperatures, and stunning clouds.

Deborah ChadseyComment
Scarecrows in Solvang

This is the 7th annual Scarecrow Fest!  It started in Solvang in 60 businesses participating in 2010, and now has grown to nearly 200 businesses that span Solvang as well as its neighboring towns of Los Olivos, Buellton, Ballard, Santa Ynez, and Los Alamos.

People are encouraged to vote for their favorite scarecrows, under several different categories.  In Solvang, there are 6 categories:

  • Best scarecrow photo op
  • Best use of recycled materials
  • Best use of business theme
  • Most Danish (this is, after all, the heritage of Solvang)
  • Spookiest
  • Most humorous


Deborah ChadseyComment
Orchids are blooming

I've always thought that orchids were difficult to maintain and keep alive, so last year, I bought a small one just to see if I could keep it alive.  I was encouraged when the little plant brought a second blooming, and so I ventured to buy a few more. After their initial blooms faded and dropped, I've been patiently waiting for new blooms to arrive, and voila, they are here!

In pursuit of clear ice

Just received our new Wintersmiths ice chest yesterday, and we put it to the test.  Here is the first clear ice sphere. It has a small cloudy area, but the others that came out of the same batch were clear through and through.

We ordered an ice chest for my brother too - can't wait for him to try his out!

Oh, and one more thing.  This was also my first support of a Kickstarter project.  

My first clear ice ball, thanks to Wintersmiths!

Last day of November

What a beautiful last day of November!  And to think I almost didn't go out...  Notice the distinct layers of clouds that were all riding the wind, each layer at its own pace.

Multimillion dollar view!

Deborah ChadseyComment