Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Breakfast in Buellton

Ongoing adventures in California...

We were fortunate, on our quite enjoyable ride on the AirBus from L.A.X. to lovely Goleta (not being snarky; it is funky and crammed with many little businesses and light industrial, but it really does have its own charm and the residents are fond of it too), to chat with the Arlo Guthrie-looking driver, a retiree having a great time taking people out of the insane Route 405 traffic who had tales to tell.  We wouldn't have known, for example, when we were passing the hundreds-of-acres estate of Ty Warner; he described the humongous mansion that sits on it, mostly empty, while its owner is elsewhere.

I'm pretty sure if we had such an estate, we'd be enjoying it along with the numerous on-site staff and not wandering around looking for even more fabulous places.  Come to think of it, being one of the employees might be an even better job than piloting a bus one round-trip a day along the coast, entertaining the rubes from Pennsylvania.  But either one would beat most jobs.

Our driver said he lives in Ventura, and has for decades, due to a good long-term "career job," as he called it.  Good for him.  I continue looking at the real estate pages in the newspaper and the many free publications, and still can't figure out how millions can afford to live here.  But we're going to enjoy it temporarily, as very happy transients.

He gave us one tip we could use:  asked us if we were going upcountry to the Santa Ynez valley wineries, and we assured him we were.  He urged us to stop for breakfast at Mother Hubbard's in Buellton, right where we would turn off U.S. 101 onto California 246.  This morning we did (45 miles to breakfast? we've done goofier things than that), and with its cheeful and quick owners, red cedar interior, and very well-fed customers around us, Mother's was well worth the trip.  We also noted the absence of something along the way there, thanks to a long-deceased lady named Pearl Chase, whom I almost thanked out loud.  No highway billboards, which in our home area are appearing within yards of each other by the thousands.  Only an unobstructed blue sky, brown grass hills, and sturdy rounded Coast Live Oaks studded about like emeralds.  If you have the radio off (like I always do these days), there's no advertising filling you with anxiety.  Like Eddy Arnold's character in "Green Acres," I say give me the cows and the crows.

We visited an old fave, Sunstone vineyard, designed and built like an ancient farmstead in southern France, and left with a bottle of pinot noir they had only made two barrels of.  They have an album of photos of weddings held there -- comic actress Courtney Cox attended one recently.  And compared to the people in those pictures, she would have only been average-looking! 

On the way back we stopped and hiked up to ancient Nojoqui Falls, a pretty wild place where mountain lions roam.  This being a California summer, though, very little water was coming down. Then back home along the coast, spying the empty isolated beaches like El Capitan.  Someday we'll have to figure out how to get there -- there's always a locals' secret about these things that you can dig out.  Six lanes of insanity on the Four-Oh-Five on one hand and the bright joys of the country and shore on the other:  California's a beauty, and a beast.



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