Catching Up

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If you guessed our lack of posts has been because we have been busy…you would be right! Let’s get caught up on life on the central coast.

During our blog down time I have been busy job hunting. I am happy to report that, after a couple of months off, I am employed once again. I am working at an independent grocery store in Solvang, CA called, El Rancho Market. I am working at the meat counter, and although I am still getting my feet wet, I can tell that I am going to love it. My co-workers are great and the product that we are selling is simply beautiful. El Rancho does everything you hope a grocery store meat market would do. They cut and grind the meat to order, and they stock anything you can think of. I am having a great time making dips, learning new cuts of meat, sharing my knowledge on the seafood counter, and helping customers.

I hasn’t all been work though. During Chrysa’s down time we have been exploring the area and getting involved in local activities. One of the first places we visited was the little town of Los Alamos. The town is about 35 mins away, and the drive is…exciting to say the least. We left Lompoc and decided to follow internet directions to Los Alamos. The directions took us to town via Harris Grade Road. We were basically going one valley over by going directly over the dividing mountain. It was a piece of cake compared to some of the roads we took in South Dakota, but we weren’t expecting some of the hair pin turns.

When we arrived we hit two of the top destinations in town. The first was Bob’s well Bread. Bob’s is a top notch bakery that we had seen mentioned in Food and Wine Magazine. We were certainly not disappointed. We got there a little before closing, but they still had some items to choose from. I opted for the flakiest and most delicious croissant I have ever had, and Chrysa got cookies. Since we were carbed up it only made sense to do some more eating. We decided to head over to Bell Street Farms to see what they had to offer. Gourmet sandwiches were on the menu, and after chatting with the owner for a sec, and getting a complimentary glass of wine, we ordered a roasted fennel and goat cheese sandwich topped with arugula. Another glass of wine went perfectly with the sandwich. I can understand how this placed is one of the top cafes nationwide on Yelp.

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On one of our first trips to Pismo Beach, Chrysa noticed a sign for the upcoming Clam Festival. Both of us really like clams so it was a must see for both of us. I have to say that it really wasn’t what I expected. I was thinking there would be multiple booths, each selling a different clam specialty. I wasn’t that at all. There were only two clam booths and the rest was other types of non-clam foods, jewelry, local products, and clothes. It really was the least clammy clamfest I have ever seen. We did shop around and listen to the live music while eating our clams. Chrysa went with the clam chowder, and I went with the steamers with a sundried tomato topping. Although these were the only two options, they were very good. Despite the lack of clams, the experience was well worth the drive. It was wonderful to be eating outside, in the sun, next to the ocean in October. It was heaven for a Buffalo boy like me.

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A highlight of our recent trips is the City of Santa Barbara. Chrysa and I took a day trip without any real expectations. We knew we were going to check out the pier, but that was about it. We ended up staying the whole day. We departed Lompoc and arrived in Santa Barbara after about an hour in the car. We parked near the pier and walked the short way to check it out. As it turned out, we stumbled onto the exact right place to be. There is a greenway that runs right along the water, so all we had to do was follow the path. The pier has a number of restaurants and shops on it as well as a museum. We walked all the way to the end so we could check out the stunning scenery. Looking due south we could see the Pacific Ocean and the Channel Islands in the distance. To the north we could see beautiful Santa Barbara. The tree lined streets and the houses perched on the mountainsides are a sight to behold. It really is a pretty city.

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After popping into a couple shops on the pier, we made our way further along the greenway. We headed to the marina in search of more scenery, and possibly a beer and some snacks. As you can tell from the pics below, we found both.

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We were in Santa Barbara but we still hadn’t seen the actual town, just the fringe, so we decided to walk into downtown. We were there on a Tuesday, which happened to be famer’s market day! It was great checking out all the beautiful produce in the stalls that lined the street. We also ducked into a couple of the brick and mortar stores. While on our downtown adventure we made notes of places to come back and visit. My mother is coming for a visit this Thanksgiving. Santa Barbara is definitely a place we will have to show her.

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I ended up finding my job at El Rancho on Craigslist. The instructions on the site were to apply in person, so I took an afternoon drive into Solvang to do exactly that. When I approached the town I was blown away. Solvang is set up to look like a town in Denmark. It’s a very odd look when you compare it to the surrounding architecture.  The town is full of unique shops displaying Danish heritage. After my interview, I knew I had to bring Chrysa to see the town. I don’t think she knew what to make of it at first, but I could tell she liked it. While walking around we stopped to watch traditional dancers, and grab a beer and a sausage plate at the local brewery. I think it’s going to be fun working in Solvang and living in Lompoc. I can bring home fun and interesting items from my store and the other stores in town to cook up for us.

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Sure, things have been busy. They have also been exciting! We also have more on tap. Chrysa and I have signed up for some races, and we will be hosting my mom and Aunt Debbie for Thanksgiving. Plus whatever else we discover along the way.

Stay Tuned!

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