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  • Writer's pictureRuth Mcbride

I think we need to stop!

We were in no real rush today to get to our next destination, so we got ready this morning as we felt like it and we were on the road by 9:55am. We seem to have fallen into a pretty good routine about what needs to go where inside Newman as we travel, so its easy to pack and unpack Newman on our travel days.

Today we only had one stop planned along our route, but we decided to make a few stops along the way as we saw things of interest.

I just ran out of probiotics this morning so I told Richard we needed to make a stop at a health food store if we saw one along the road. Just as I said that, I looked over to the right side of the highway and saw ‘Lassens Natural Foods & Vitamins’ in San Luis Obispo or ‘SLO‘ as the locals call this City. Without having a tow car, Richard was quickly able to get into the right hand lane to exit off the highway, and turn right, and wait for me outside the mall, in the bus stop section of the road. Lassens also sold groceries, so I was also able to pick up a few more things for us while I was in the store. My quick trip to the store took about 10 minutes and then we headed back to the highway.

This bench was next door to Lassens Natural Foods at the barber shop. I thought the expression on the bench was kind of interesting and definitely from another time!

Our next stop was going to be tricky. The town we were looking for was called Pismo Beach, which was 27 miles south of Morro Bay where we stayed for the past two nights. Pismo Beach is very touristy, and it is very busy on weekends. We needed to be able to find somewhere to park Newman in a very small area. Luckily, there was an entire shoulder off the road that no one was parked on, and Richard stayed in Newman while I went to take some photos.

I really wish Richard had gotten out of Newman to see what I saw today! It was amazing and a marvel of nature! I’m so glad we stopped!

Pismo Beach Monarch Butterfly Grove. Monarch season is late October through February.

I went to see the monarchs with my 35mm lens on my Fuji XT-4 and people were trying to take pictures of the butterflies which were very high up in the trees, with their cell phone cameras. Someone looked at me and said “I wish I had a zoom lens”, so I immediately walked the two minutes back to Newman and changed my lens to my super zoom lens. I’m so glad I did the lens change to be able to capture these beautiful monarch butterflies so close!

The Pismo Beach Monarch Butterfly Grove is one of only five sites in the state that has counts of over 10,000 butterflies annually. Each year thousands of vibrant orange and black Monarch Butterflies flock to Pismo State Beach, a location essential to their successful migration, seeking shelter from the freezing northern winters. From late October to February the butterflies cluster in the limbs of towering, majestic Eucalyptus trees flanking a riparian estuary that flows to the Pacific Ocean. The current monarch butterfly count as of December 1, 2021 is 22,445!

Beautiful monarch butterflies. In our backyard in Fort Erie, Ontario, I planted a number of butterfly bushes on both sides of our back yard. I so enjoy floating in the pool on a hot summer’s day watching the monarchs flit and fly from one side of the yard to the other, resting on the beautiful purple butterfly bushes.

This photo, which is not very good, was with my cell phone. What a disappointing photo!

I took a video too, which I will post on Facebook.

What a treat to see the monarchs today at Pismo Beach. How cool is it that the monarchs know to migrate to the same spot every year in California?!!!

As we headed back onto Hwy 101 South, driving through the Santa Maria Valley, we felt like today was the first real day we have had some heat in the sun! I was able to go the entire day without a coat! The temperature got up to 17C today.

We saw quite a few different crops being grown in the Santa Maria Valley, and of course we started to see grape vines. The Santa Maria Valley is unique in that it has an East West orientation, and is a wide open valley with rolling hills - like a funnel- which means cool winds and fog flow in freely from the Pacific Ocean, settling most noticeably in lower-lying areas. The result is a Mediterranean climate that lengthens the growing season and contributes to the acid/sugar balance in the grapes form Santa Maria Valley’s 7,500 acres of cultivated vineyards. The grapes grown within the area are on the valley floor at an approximate elevation of 300 feet and on the slopes and rolling hillsides up to an elevation of 800 feet. Due to the cooler climates, the valley is renowned for producing some of California’s finest Pinot Noir and Chardonnay wines (Richard’s favourite…DIRT as our friend Miss H likes to call it!). Here are some of the best wineries in Santa Maria, California as rated by Trip Advisor if you are looking for some Pinot Noir or Chardonnay to try: Presqui’ile Winery, Rancho Sisquoc Winery, Foxen Vineyard, Riverbench Vineyard and Winery, Cambria Winery & Vineyards, Kenneth Volk Vineyards, Bien Nacido Vineyards, Tres Hermanas Winery, Core Wine, and Costa de Oro,

As we were driving along Hwy 101 the Manager of the RV Park we were staying at this evening called us. I missed the call, so I called back. Apparently the spot we are booked in this evening is quite a difficult spot to get into, so we were to call 10 minutes before we arrived so she could send her husband out to help navigate us into the spot. Oh dear. I wonder what our spot will be like tonight?

It was just before lunch today and we kept seeing signs on the Highway for this restaurant that had been serving customers since 1924! I looked at Richard and said “If they are still in business after 97 years, this is a restaurant we need to stop at!” Richard agreed with me, so I punched the new destination into our GPS. Our new destination was in Buellton, California!

Pea Soup Andersen’s was our destination!

Before we could turn right at the traffic lights though to look for a parking spot, there was a lot of commotion on the side of the road!

Oh my! A head on collision right in front of Pea Soup Anderson’s!

We aren’t sure how a head on collision occurred because the speed on this section of the road, just off the highway, is quite slow. One car was flipped over in the back of the photo, and this car will be a write off too!

We turned on the side street and were able to take up 3-4 parking spots and walk to ‘Pea Soup Andersen’s for lunch.

Heading to our booth for lunch.

Pea Soup Andersen’s lunch counter.

Somebody loves pea soup and can’t wait to see what Pea Soup Andersen’s is all about!

You can read the history of Pea Soup Andersen’s above on the menu. Imagine serving over 2 million bowls of split pea soup a year! How random to have an entire restaurant built around a bowl of soup!

We were advised to order the split pea soup with ‘all the fixins’ so that is what we did. The bowl of split pea soup comes plain.

And the ’fixins’ are brought to add into the soup.

All the fixins’ are now in our split pea soup!

The soup also comes with homemade onion bread for dipping in the soup.

Good to the last drop! ‘Hap-Pea’ and ‘Pea-Wee’. The original owner’s son after graduating from Stanford University with a degree in business, nicknamed himself ‘Pea Soup Andersen’s and he also established the tradition of billboards up and down the state of California. He also acquired the rights to a cartoon called “Little Known Occupations”, which showed comical chefs splitting peas with a hammer and chisel, and turning them into the restaurants mascots shown above. Apparently the restaurant we stopped at today was listed for sale in January 2021, for $4.7 million. The restaurant definitely was a blast from the past, with well worn bench seats, in the booths we sat on, but the food was great and we couldn’t beat the price.

They are pretty good with their marketing strategy because you don’t pay your server at the table. You have to go by the bakery to pay for lunch at the bakery counter. Of course Richard couldn’t get past the bakery counter without buying a fresh, homemade cherry danish! I’m so glad we stopped at this unique spot for lunch!

We got back in Newman after our quick lunch at Split Pea Andersen’s and headed back down Hwy 101 South.

The Santa Ynez Mountains were encroaching on Hwy 101 as we drove south.

The terrain was quite interesting as the mountains were so very close to the road in this section of Hwy 101.

Just as we had come through a bumpy section of roadway, Richard looked in his rear view camera and saw that Newman’s back engine cover had popped open. We needed to stop quickly to get that cover closed! We saw a sign for a ‘Vista point’ but we were able to find a place to pull over before the Vista Point.

North of Santa Barbara on the West Coast of California.

If you look far in the distance there is an oil rig off the coast of California. Apparently the Biden administration announced its intent to decommission oil and gas drilling platforms, pipelines and wells off the coast of Southern California in July 2021. There are 23 oil and gas platformas and associated wells in federal waters off So Cal.

Richard is at the back of Newman, trying to fix the engine cover so it won’t pop open. We started driving down Hwy 101 South and after we went over another bump, the engine cover popped open again. Richard and our neighbour in Fort Erie, Horst, had worked on the rusty engine cover in the fall before we left on our trip, so Richard was very familiar with the engine cover, but we had not experienced it popping open until a few days ago on our journey down Hwy 1. We stopped again at another roadside turnoff and Richard got some bungee cords and bungeed the cover to stay closed. We didn’t have too much longer to drive today, but I’m glad Richard stopped and secured the engine cover so it wouldn’t open again.

We got to Sunrise RV Park in Santa Barbara, California at 2:30pm and the Manager’s husband was waiting for us to help Richard back into this very, very tight spot. I had originally booked us in a spot at the front of the RV park, but because we were only staying for one night, the RV park switched us to spot 33 beside Highway 101 North.

Oh my. What a tight squeeze and so close to the highway too! All we can hear is traffic, traffic, traffic!

If you want to know what the next exit is, just look up!

Richard immediately went to work on the engine cover of Newman, while I walked up to the office to get the information on the RV park. There are only 33 sites at this park and it is the only RV park within the City of Santa Barbara. We had hoped to perhaps explore Santa Barbara, but with the need to fix the engine cover, we ran out of daylight, so we won’t be exploring Santa Barbara on foot, in the dark.

This pin wasn’t catching.

Before Richard fixed it.

Richard had to add two washers behind each screw, so the plate wold accept the pin that goes in, to hold it all together.

The guy at the RV park gave Richard two washers, which was nice of him to help him get this fixed.

While Richard was working on Newman, I was securing us another rental car in Palm Springs. We’ve found that the closer you wait ‘til your rental date, the cheaper the price is. Our next destination is Palm Springs and instead of getting a car tomorrow when we arrive, I’ve booked us a mid-sized car from Monday morning ‘til Friday morning. Richard will have to take a Lyft to get the car, but it will allow us the flexibility to get around and sight see in Palm Springs.

I was also working on getting our Covid 19 vaccine booster appointments for Palm Springs as it will be exactly 6 months from our 2nd shots, on Thursday December 16th and I was lucky enough to be able to find two back to back Pfizer appointments for us at the Walgreens in Palm Springs on Thursday morning. We are definitely happy about being able to get our booster shots while we are visiting Palm Springs, knowing that we needed them as soon as possible after 6 months of getting our second dowe.

Today was a great day to stop and ‘smell the roses’. We could have driven straight to Santa Barbara and been here a lot earlier, but then we would have missed out on seeing the monarch butterflies, and enjoying some world class split pea soup! It’s nice to be able to ‘make it up as we go along’ instead of having to stick to a rigid itinerary that we are so tied to, that we don’t experience the neat little things we see, do and eat along the journey. We’re very happy to be getting our Covid 19 booster shots soon too! I know everyone back home in Ontario will be eligible to book their boosters on Monday, so I wish you all the best in getting your appointment times as soon as you can!

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