We left Gilroy and drove 200 miles down Highway 101 through the coastal valley. This route follows the Historic El Camino Real that connected the missions from San Diego to San Francisco during the times of Spanish occupation. Santa Ynez is the mission closest to Solvang. and it has been an active Catholic Church since 1806. The route is marked with mile posts that are real bells. This was from the days when they would ring the bell to let those in the towns nearby know that people were arriving. For the first 150 miles we passed thousands of acres of everything from Artichokes to Zucchini growing in the fields. Then as we turned west towards the coast, nut trees and grapes became the prevalent crop. Chances are you have something in your refrigerator or pantry that was grown in this area. It takes a lot of water to grow all of these crops and as you know California is in a prolonged drought. In the last picture below you can see just one of their reservoirs and it is only one fourth full. They need rain and lots of it. With all this agriculture in the area we just knew the Solvang Farmers Market would be a good one. We loaded up with all sorts of good things, even pastries, olive bread and beer.
We stumbled upon Solvang many years ago on one of our summer trips. I was looking for a Yellow-billed Magpie and the California Birding Guide said it was easily found on Golf Course Road in Solvang. We were surprised to find a quaint town that was founded by Danish immigrants, and we only had time for a delicious Danish Pastry before we had to move on. We always said that if we ever had the time to visit longer we would. One of the first things we did was buy a Danish at Mortensen's Bakery. All the way on the drive south we saw signs for Pea Soup Anderson's. Turned out it was a restaurant right next to the RV Park. It is famous for its Split Pea Soup. They have been serving it since 1924 when Mr. Anderson had a lot of left over peas he did not know what to do with, so he made pea soup for his customers. They sell over two million servings a year now, so we had to try it. Josie got a bowl of it and I got the bread bowl. It does live up to its hype although we believe its the first time either of us had eaten pea soup. We also had to checkout the local Solvang Brewery in the windmill and we were not disappointed with their great beer and food. A few evenings later we had dinner at the Firestone Walker Keg Works Brewery. They specialize in aging their beer in wine kegs. I later purchased a 12 pack of their Double Barrel Ale at the farmers market. I had the very tasty Fish and Chips and of course Josie ordered the shrimp.
We drove over to the Chumash Reservation on Saturday and attended the Inter Tribal Pow Wow. We attend our first Pow Wow in Montana a few years ago. This one was five times larger and had many more dancers. The tribal dress, dancing, drumming and chanting were impressive.
I went out birding one day, which gives Josie some time by herself. I found some great birds. I will put a few pictures on the blog for those of you who don't see them when I post them on Facebook. I also added a picture of a Monarch Butterfly. I saw thousands of them. The town of Santa Maria is only a few miles up the coast and it is known as Butterfly City because they get so many Monarchs at this time of the year.
Tomorrow we drive back to Arizona for the Winter.