Friday, September 21, 2012

Ride the West - Day 20, Santa Maria California to Solvang California

Today we finally had the opportunity to start riding with only 1 layer of clothing, however I didn't trust it and so I also wore my jacket on top. By the 7th mile I was quick to remove it, as it was starting to make me boil. I guess, starting tomorrow, I will be willing to dress lighter than the usual amount, for the last 2 weeks.

Today was to be a short cycling day, as far as mileage is concerned, however we certainly took our time riding the 42 miles into Solvang. Baltimore Mark, Joe and I targeted 3 wineries that we wanted to sample some wine at, that were mostly along the way. As we made our way out of Santa Maria, we passed more crop fields growing various vegetables, including green and red peppers.

Green and red peppers

Along the route, some others saw large tarantulas crossing the street. Joe and I were at the front of the riders, and we never came across any, much to my dismay. However, Toronto Mark and Baltimore Mark came across a really fast one crossing the road. They stopped for a picture and lay down near it in this street, to get a good look. They didn't realize that these large tarantulas are really fast and can also jump quite far. Phyllis came along and warned them, probably just in time. Once at the SAG stop, they shared their exciting tale with the rest of the group, just as we saw a wild boar go running across the street into the adjacent field. This boar must have been about 300 pounds, and was quite fast.

Baltimore Mark getting a bit close to the Tarantula (photo credit Toronto Mark)

After the SAG, we continued with the climbing that had started some miles earlier. The top came after a few more miles, with a nice downhill run. Along the downhill, I came across the Fess Parker Winery and stopped for a visit. Baltimore Mark and Joe came up a bit later and stopped too. We went inside with one goal in mind for the day: to see if we can talk our way into getting a free sample, instead of paying the tasting fee these wineries normally charge. We weren't interested in trying several wines as we had to ride many more miles. Our schmoozing seemed to work on Jack, the Fess Parker Winery server, and he let us choose a wine to be sampled. By this time, Toronto Mark and “The Duchess” came in and participated in our clever schmoozing strategy.

At Fess Parker Winery - Jack on the right serving us a sample

After our free sample, we headed off to the next winery on our list, the Curtis Winery. When the 3 of us arrived, we saw Toronto Mark and “The Duchess” already heading out. It was way too fast for them to have tried any wines. The sign outside said closed, but Joe did some investigation and found that it really was open. It was only the sign that was wrong. We went inside and tried our schmoozing strategy once again, as we were starting to feel like we were becoming good at this. Nancy, the Curtis Winery server, fell victim to our clever talk, and also poured us a free sample too.

Nancy at Curtis Winery serving us a free sample

The 3 stooges were on a roll, so we were then off to out next victim – um winery, Firestone. The Firestone Winery was about a mile off the route, so we were hopeful this ride wouldn't be in vain. We did the climb up to the main building and went inside, feeling that we could be successful once again. I'm sad to say, that schmoozing does not work at Firestone and we left empty handed and kind of bummed out, saying “I guess we won't be buying any Firestone wine anymore”. Well, 2 out of 3 isn't so bad.

Firestone Winery, the cheapskates

As the sadness of the last rejection hit us, we cycled in towards Solvang, a town in California that has Danish roots and is another of the many tourist traps awaiting any visitors to California. Although it is very quaint and a pretty place, I've been to Copenhagen a couple of times and this looks nothing like it.

Quaint stores in Solvang

Baltimore Mark, Joe and I headed out for lunch after quickly changing into street clothes. We walked along a couple of the main streets and saw a few of the stores.

Typical building along Mission Drive (the main street) in Solvang

Let's see what tomorrow brings.

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