Thursday, June 30, 2011

Coastal Cali Part 2: Rustic Endeavors

California has some great cities but the countryside holds its own. First on that agenda was a stop in Paso Robles wine territory. The region truly exemplifies the state's Mediterranean-esque beauty with twisted, dark green oaks against golden yellow, grassy hillsides. And the fact that it is still relatively undiscovered certainly ups the quaint factor. We made it to Adelaida, Halter Ranch, Whalebone, Tablas Creek, Peachy Canyon and of course the the local brewery, Firestone Walker. 
Next, my wildest dream came true - I rode a horse on the beach! Talk about crossing something off my "things to do before I die" list. The entire endeavor came together at the last minute. One second I was in the hotel room pondering dinner options, the next we were harnessing up. With the assistance of our rancher guide, we took an leisurely ride through the surf and sand. It was one of those instances when everything is perfect -I am pretty sure the earth was  smiling upon us because the beach was pristine, sunny, and deserted. Besides a few sandpipers darting into the waves, there was not another sole in sight. How perfect is that? I hear there are week-long trail ride trips though Southern Spain...this will be looked into.

One the last day before heading to San Francisco, savorng some California bounty straight from the source was in order. Hello farm stands! If a road sign advertising deep fried artichokes at the next exit is not enough to make one pull over, I am not sure what is. Not only did we try this local delight but we also hit the big time with the tacos and tortas that were on hand. Since the tiny eatery (read: taco truck) was situated adjacent to miles of artichoke fields, I got to see the plants up close. They are truly beautiful, elegantly spiky little things. It also came to my attention that the flowering plants are equally exquisite . So many shades of purple! It certainly helps me understand artichoke hearts better. Yum.
Images via: Me, High Tailed Adventures (purple flower only)

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