26 September 2011

Calfornia Dreaming - Part Duex

The road trip out west was short (3 days) but I covered a lot of ground, so I have a few more road nuggets to pass along (things you see or do or experience that are not in the normal tour books).  I do a lot of trips for my company and, if I can control the agenda, I try to get in some local "flavor".  Life's an adventure, if you know where to look for it.

The Hearst Castle was totally off the hook amazing.  Seriously.  If you ever get out to the west coast, you gotta take the side trip out to take the tour.  Allot yourself about 1/2 day to take it all in.  I can personally guarantee it will be worth the effort/cost.  My parental units were out on the east coast this summer and they toured the Biltmore Estate in North Carolina and I hear it rivals this place.  According to Wikipedia, it is one of those placed built back in the "Gilded Age".   

While we were out touring the west coast, we ate/drank at various local venues.  Remember, from my earlier ramblings, I am on a mission to try local breweries wherever I visit.  So far, I ain't been disappointed in my exploration. 

Paso Robles is a nice, if not expensive community about 1/2 way between LA and San Francisco.  In the middle of the upper wine country with a bunch of wineries, it can make for a nice vacation destination spot, but I am not sure I would rate it highly for a family trek (unless you throw in a side trip to Disneyland California).  Nice town for a visit but not convenient to fly into.  We could have flown into Bob Hope airport and drove the 3 hours up the coast but, being the trip leader, I booked my ticket into San Luis Obispo and we drove up the 25 miles from there to Paso.  San Luis Obispo is an interesting little town that boasts the most "livable city" or so the car rental agency guy told us.  Lots of local restaurants and shops.  We stayed in Paso for the two nights, but I would have moved us south to San Luis if I had known the local story.  We drove back down on Thursday to catch our noon flight out of SBO (tiny airport) and had some time to kill.  While touring the "downtown area" looking for a lunch gig, we uncovered a number of shops & restaurants that looked really enticing.  We also discovered that they have a small creek that runs through the downtown area that they built up various shops/restaurants overlooking. 

While exploring the area, we came across a couple of interesting sights (aka road nuggets).  First we ran into a quasi parade with a number of fire engines/equipment.  This had a number of old time horse drawn equipment and firemen on display next to the city hall.  We thought we had stumbled onto some kind of town celebration, but it turns out to be a funeral for a local fire chief.  The entire fire department had turned out for the funeral of an older, much beloved fire chief.  I got my intel from one fireman who was tending to the station Firedog called "Blaze".  A rescued Dalmatian that has been part of the department for 10+ years.  Really compelling story, amazing sight.  I swear you cannot buy this on any local tour.  Bonus points for anyone who can tell me anything unique about Blaze.

 Our second road nugget wasn't quite as compelling.  IMHO, it sorta borders on the gross.  While checking out the local shops, we stumbled across Bubble Gum Alley.  This was a narrow alley between two store that was, ISYN, covered with old, used bubble gum up to 10 feet high.  My coworker wasn't as impressed as I was, but I had to go back to the car to get my camera to document my find.  Where was this site in the Fodor's guide? 

Bubble Gum Alley

Yes, it is what you think it is
Gross or Art?


meleah rebeccah said...

Um... Personally I think Bubble Gum alley is kinda gross!!

Abby said...

Great photos and commentary! But yeah, I coulda done without the close-up of BGA *gag*. I know nothing unique about Blaze.

terri said...

I am oddly fascinated by Bubble Gum Alley. Maybe I could start one in my home town!

Blaze is beautiful! I guess I won't comment as to her uniqueness as I already know from reading backwards.