Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Groundhog Day 2016 in Solvang, California

Unusual Family Traditions . . .

Most families have them and we are no exception.

It all started in 1968 when I was attending and Laurie was working at the University of Washington. We had a quarrel over who knows what at this point and made up on February 2nd, Groundhog Day.

Ever since then we have observed Groundhog Day instead of the somewhat more traditional Valentine's Day as the day to celebrate our love.

In the long run we have found that this practice saves us money on hotel reservations, flowers and restaurants, rather than how people are gouged on February 14th.

This year we opted to celebrate Groundhog Day in the Santa Barbara County's picturesque Wine Country around the Danish themed city of . . .


Solvang was founded in 1911 by three Danish-American educators who believed that their culture could prosper near the California's central coast. The settlers thrived in Solvang while carrying on Denmark's traditions of language, folk dancing, music and cuisine. 

 Our Hotel was a bit foreboding but . . .

We found it to be quite nice after passing by these stocks.

 LOTS of Windmills in Solvang

 That reminds me . . .

 How did this place get into Solvang?

 Holger Danske

Legend has it that this sleeping Viking will awaken anytime that Denmark is threatened to protect the Mother Country. We saw the original statue in Denmark.  Quite impressive in the dark recesses of a castle.

The Movie "Sideways"

A fun movie that used the local Wine Country as the basis of its story.  We had breakfast in this booth and noticed the plaque. 

 We noshed from time-to-time
as it turned out

 Aly's for Groundhogs Day dinner?

It was recently named one of the USA's 100 Most Romantic Restaurants. It was the obvious place for us to dine on this glorious day!

Except that they are not open on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday during the Winter.

What do we do now?

 Also a "Sideways" movie sight

They plied us with what we both agreed were the best BBQ sirlion steaks that we had enjoyed in a long, long time. 

 Another Windmill

 A replica of Copenhagen's
Little Mermaid was a MUST!

 Father Junipero Serra founded
one of his Missions long before
the Dane's arrived

Wednesday's Sunrise near the Mission

Cold, but I liked it

One more breakfast nosh and
our two night Groundhog Day
getaway was complete

It turns out that we like our goofy Family Tradition a lot!

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Life in Camarillo Continues to be Sleepy

It has been quite some time since I've posted, mostly because we have been in "tranquil mode" with much of our time being taken up with babysitting duties for Jacob and Mary.

A night at the Conejo Players Theatre 

We have come to really enjoy a night out at one of the many small theater groups scattered throughout Ventura County. 

On Friday night we were joined by Mike and Vanessa for a dinner-date with one of our all-time favorite characters, Sherlock Holmes. 

Our dinner at Bandits BBQ Bar & Grill was delicious but, unfortunately, the play was just not up to snuff. While the actresses in the play did an overall good job, the same could not be said about any of the male actors.

This will not deter us from future plays as it was the only sub-standard one we have attended in the last few years.

Reading Is FUNdamental

If you are at all interested into History and are planning a trip to Barcelona anytime soon, then this book about the Spanish Civil War in the city is for you!

It is the long awaited book written by Barcelona's Spanish Civil War tour guide Nick Lloyd. We have been on his tour twice and he is ever so passionate, thorough and detailed in his presentations.

So is his book.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

The Holiday Bowl in San Diego and a Trip to Las Vegas

Going into the New Year's Day weekend, Mike and I decided to drive down to San Diego while Laurie opted to fly to Las Vegas to be with Andy, Jenn and Kevin.

Why San Diego you ask?

For the Thirty-Eighth Annual Holiday Bowl

It would be a 9-3 Wisconsin Badgers squad from the Big-10 playing against the USC Trojans of the PAC-12 who checked in at 8-5 on the season.

We got to San Diego early in the morning so we had a lot of time to kill before the 7:30 p.m. kickoff.

Old Town San Diego . . .
a perfect spot to greet the morning Sun!

Old Town had a church!

Not too fancy inside

They also had a great Mexican restaurant with a bevy of tortilla making beauties on hand!!!

Soon to be the LOS ANGELES Chargers???

The festive lobby at our
Courtyard by Marriott hotel

The hotel had some nice maps too

Loved their old-school letter chute

Dome of the Balboa Theater in
San Diego's Gaslamp District

Good sized crowd at the old ballpark

We had a good time tailgating with the Wrout family and the extended Abellera tribes before the game.

Wisconsin in the red on offense

Mike and I enjoying the game

It was a good game with Wisconsin eking out a 23-21 victory.

The next morning Mike boarded the train back to Oxnard so that I could drive directly from San Diego to Las Vegas to join Laurie at Jenn, Andy and Kevin's new home.

It was a great New Year's weekend visit with them as we just enjoyed the warmth of their new house and of being with family watching a LOT of football games on TV.

Of course, being with grandson Kevin was THE highlight of the weekend!

Good times INDEED!!!

Reading Is FUNdamental

It is 1895, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and his side-kick Oscar Wilde are scouring foggy London in search of a robotic, zombie-like assassin, what's NOT to like?

Monday, December 28, 2015

Christmas 2015 and the Washington Huskies Bowl Game

As is tradition, Christmas Day was spent at our home exchanging gifts, dining and enjoying the friendship of the Contreras side of the family. 

 Laurie set out a fine dinner table

She also set out a hearty snack table

Jacob opening the first of his many presents

The family gathered in the living room

Jacob is all business with his gifts

Cousin Max was in the house!

Max's Mom, our niece Lauren,
was happy

Jacob and Mike fighting over a gift

Jacob happy with a
"Magic Wand" from Spain

My sister Marilyn got just what she wanted

With my sister Linda and Jacob

With Mary, Lauren and Jacob

Cousins Max and Jacob both
looking WAY to innocent

Jacob in jail

My Mother and Mary

Mary checking out my reading glasses

Dinner with Mom and Linda

Linda, Laurie, Vanessa and Mary

Laurie did another amazing job organizing, decorating and cooking on this wonderful family occasion!

Thank you!!!

The day after Christmas was the day of the Washington Huskies' bowl game. The 6-6 Dawgs were playing the 9-4 Southern Mississippi in the Heart of Dallas Bowl.

With a properly attired Jacob and Mike

We gathered at our house to watch the game. It was an entertaining contest, especially because . . .


Reading Is FUNdamental

 Yet another fun read from the
Master of the Sicilian crime genre