Originally, we had intended a trip to Italy for our summer vacation, but airline tickets were very cost prohibitive this year, so we decided to stay a little closer to home. Thus was born the California road trip.
We spent some time researching roadside attractions. There were so many to choose from that we ended up with a list that was ambitious to say the least. We researched menus of restaurants in each locale to ensure that we would have enough vegetarian fare to choose from—we ended up eating a lot of pizza. We made reservations at all the hotels ahead of time, and they ran the gamut of super fancy to super low budget.
I also catalogued three boxes of CDs (turns out we have 532 discs) in alphabetical order so we could expose the boys to all the music we used to listen to, you know, the stuff you loved enough to buy an actual CD. I then created a playlist of 732 songs on Spotify from the CDs (plus a few new favorites to keep the boys involved). It was time consuming, but fun to travel down memory lane.
The Road Trip Soundtrack
The good folks at Kia set us up with the new Kia Niro for our trip. It’s a smaller car than we are used to, but it is a crossover and we wanted to explore what that would mean for our road trip, i.e., gas mileage, roominess and storage capacity for all of our packed stuff as well as any souvenirs to be added (the trunk is bigger on the inside, like the Tardis!). Spoiler: It was great.
We were ready, set, go . . .
We left bright and early Sunday morning to avoid the traffic to the Ventura beaches and headed north to San Luis Obispo to have breakfast at a little cafe before our real first tourist stop at Hearst Castle. What an interesting place that is. We went on the “Grand Rooms” tour and learned so much about the art on the walls, why he built his “castle” where he did and what an interesting person he was. He collected some of the most interesting art. He had a specific aesthetic, but collected along that line from different periods and different cultures. The boys thought it was cool, so I count that as a win.
Next stop, Salinas, CA.
We stayed at an inexpensive hotel that had a pool, so that’s where we spent our evening. Well, there, and the amazing Mexican restaurant in the parking lot.
The restaurant was so authentic, complete with finely dressed Mariachis performing during dinner. We researched their suits and learned that they are called Charros and that there is some question of where the word Mariachi originated. Some think it was from the French influence, but that is contested and most people say it has native roots. We like to sneak educational stuff in as often as possible.
It was fun to watch the boys listen to and watch the Mariachis. It’s always fun to expose the boys to different cultural aspects of society in the wild, not in a canned cultural environment like Disneyland or Olvera street (we enjoy those places too, obviously).
Dinner was over and it was time for bed (Whit stayed up to work a bit and only drank half of the beer I bought from the bodega across the street). Day two promised more fun to come.
Read more about our road trip: