The Back Roads of Buellton


Buellton is a small town off Hwy 101 in the heart of Santa Ynez Wine Country. Yep, more winery’s to visit…oh darn!!! The Santa Ynez Valley is producing some amazing wines but it is often overshadowed by Napa and Sonoma who seem to get all the hype. While Buellton itself has very little charm (in my humble opinion), the location couldn’t be better for exploring this stunningly scenic area. All you wino’s will remember that this region was made famous after it was featured in the movie Sideways and many people like to visit the different spots that were in the movie.

With only four days to explore the area, visiting the Sideways haunts wasn’t high on the agenda. Honestly, we were feeling a bit wined out but hey, when in Rome… We decided the best way to spend our four days was to intersperse some wine tasting with some back roads driving and a few trips to the beach. We are definitely water people so any excuse to get our feet in the sand is gonna happen. Bentley was in total agreement about the beach too.

Our first stop after we got set up at the the Flying Flags RV Resort was the Figueroa Brewing Company in Buellton. In need of a brew and some chow, this was the perfect place to spend a few lazy hours, listening to some local music and sipping some local beer. We sat with some nice locals who shared their deep fried Mac and Cheese bites with us and we talked about beach fishing. Wish I had gotten the guys name but what a sweetie, he offered to lend us some fishing gear and told us all his favorite spots.

Cold brew and music… a great way to soothe the driving aches away!

We promised Bentley a trip to the beach so we took a drive looking for a dog friendly beach, which in California isn’t always easy. Most state parks don’t allow dogs on the beach – not sure why, seriously, the birds poop everywhere and don’t pick up so what the heck. Thanks to a nice ranger at the Refugio State Beach, we found a place to bushwhack down to a deserted beach. Bentley wore himself out frolicking and running so he barely had the energy to bushwhack back up to the car. A tired dog is a happy dog for sure!!!!!

Yikes that was a steep climb!!!

Feeling rejuvenated and ready to taste more wine, our plan was to visit the tasting rooms the next day in Los Olivos which is just 6 miles north of Buellton. This tiny historic town is home to about 1,400 people and has all the charm that Buellton didn’t get. Dozens of wine tasting rooms, great restaurants, boutiques, art gallery’s, hotels and Airbnb’s make this a great destination. If only they had an RV park, we might never have left!!!

Los Olivos …you are a charmer!

In 1885, Alden March Boyd, of Albany, New York, paid $8,000 for 157 acres, together with the original and only dwelling house in the area. What an investment!!! He planted five thousand olive trees and called it Rancho De Los Olivos.  We saw plenty of olive trees still being farmed but grapevines have definitely become a primary crop in this area. There are however, several places to taste olive oil that is being made locally.

Olive orchards at Rancho Olivos (photo courtesy of Rancho Olivos)

Foxen Canyon Wine Trail starts in Los Olivos and stretches north, winding its way through beautiful wineries and vineyards. Even if you are not that into wine, this beautiful area is a feast for the eyes. Driving the backroads in the Santa Ynez Valley and finding all the hidden gems can be a great way to spend a day, or two, or three….we spent hours just toodling around through the rolling hills.

With such lush grass, that’s one happy cow, yep, its a female. I checked it out!!!

From Los Olivos, a great driving loop on Hwy 154 /256 takes you through some incredibly beautiful country. You can stop along the way in the sleepy little town of Santa Ynez or the super touristy town of Solvang. Just be advised that the mega tour buses roll into this little Danish town and traffic can get backed up…we were there during the week but I can only imagine what its like on a busy weekend. My idea of hell actually…

We have been to Solvang when we were living in SoCal so we didn’t feel the need to relive that with a walk down memory lane. Solvang means “sunny field” in Danish in case you were wondering. This hamlet was founded in 1911 on almost 9,000 acres of the Rancho San Carlos de Jonata Mexican land grant, by a group of Danes who traveled west to establish a Danish community far from the midwestern winters. Boy, did they find a paradise for sure.

We did however find a neat mission just on the edge of Solvang, where we were able to take Bentley for a nice walk while we explored the grounds.

Solvang for sure!!!

We lived in SoCal for 5 years and Santa Barbara was one of our favorite beach towns. Many times, we hopped the Amtrak Train from Glendale and rode through the rolling hills, coffee and newspaper in hand. A walk on the beach, lunch on the pier or at one of many awesome restaurants, then back on the train we would go. Great day trip, so we had to revisit SB for at least one afternoon.

Oh Santa Barbara, we missed you!!!

Santa Barbara is just 43 miles from Buellton so we of course took a longer scenic loop and made a stop to hike at Cachuma Lake. This is a holding reservoir for water in Santa Barbara County and thanks to the record rainfall in Cali this winter it was full, lush and green.

Could this be a prettier area to hike???
Back in Santa Barbara, we found plenty to keep us busy for the afternoon.
Farmer Market…oh yeah. Fresh heirloom tomatoes…oh yeah!!!
I LOVE LEGUMES….so many to choose from…oh yeah!!!
So much fresh produce, we also scored some awesome small artichokes and beautiful strawberries….OH YEAH!!!

Another great drive we took from Buellton was to Jalama Beach County Park. Finally a beach where dogs are allowed to put their paws on the sand…well, at least while on a leash with their humans. If you walked far enough down the beach you could accidentally, not on purpose of course, drop the leash and let Fido run free. Shh….

Getting to Jalama Beach is an adventure in itself …A sign 4.5 miles south of Lompoc off Highway 1 will direct you onto Jalama Road. We followed this scenic, often narrow and windy 14.5 mile road to the coast. The park entrance will be at the end of the road, seriously this is the end of the road. Jalama is subject to high winds and rough surf but boy is it beautiful. There is also a rustic campground, store and grill that serves a mean cheeseburger.

A true gem, this funky little store was a hoot to poke around in while I waited for that awesome cheeseburger.

I hope that cute pooch got a bite of their burgers!

If you don’t mind a funky, rustic vibe and a hell of a drive if you have a big ass RV, this would be a great place to stay for a few nights. Think big ole bonfire on the beach at night with very few people around. The cabins in the picture above sit high up on the bluff with an awesome ocean view. There are also some non-beach RV sites up there.

Back in Buellton, we still had some wine tasting left in us so we decided to finish our four, whirlwind days with a cruise down Foxen Canyon Road. Back Roads Rule!!!

Tiny little grapes starting to set already.

I was fascinated by the wine growing AVA’s and the influence the ocean has on farming in these wild hills and canyons. Pinot Noir loves the cool affect that the ocean can bring in but there are also hot areas like Happy Canyon that support growing the Syrah grape varietal. The microclimates in this area are crazy.

Zoom in to check out the different grape growing areas and their varietals.

This beautiful area of California deserved more than a four day stop and it sure kept us busy. No shortage of things to see and do, no shortage of great restaurants and certainly no shortage of world class wines. Our four days of backroad adventures were definitely a 10!

Delicious oysters at Industrial Eats in Buellton.
Just a few bottles to add to our wine rack!
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A “Winey” Week in Paso Robles, CA


Seriously, we have been whining for a week… I can’t possibly drink another glass of wine, I am wined out, I am sooo corked, yes, it’s a tough problem to have!

We spent eight days at the Cava Robles RV Resort which for some people is a destination by itself. The resort is built in the rolling hills just outside Paso Robles and its natural setting offers more than views…which are just beautiful. The resort boasts numerous amenities, including pools, spas, fire pits, a wellness center, walking trails, a bistro, a small store and dog parks. From wine tasting to outdoor movies, there’s something for everyone to do.

Cava Robles was the perfect place to base camp with our friends Donna and Steve who drove down from Portland Oregon in their new Serenity coach to explore the area wineries and the food scene with us.

Not only did we see the Golden Eagles at Cava Robles, we saw loads of other species, like hawks, buzzards, western bluebirds and finches, just to name a few.
We enjoyed the walking trails and did 2-3 miles of walking with Mr B everyday.

We love having friends join us along the way and its always great to spend some quality time together. The four of us are major foodies ( with a big wine drinking problem) so not only did we enjoy some nice meals out but we also crafted some great meals together.

Celebrated Steves birthday…Grilled Herb Crusted Lamb Chops served with Rosemary and Garlic Potatoes and a Artisan Lettuce Salad with Blue Cheese.
Pear and Gorgonzola Pizza hand crafted and cooked in our Uuni Pizza Oven.

I gotta say I tend to fall in love with a lot of places we travel to and start day dreaming about living there some day. Paso Robles was no exception …it meets a lot of our VIC (very important criteria) for potential places to live someday.
Small town – check … 32,000 people.
Friendly – check…everyone we met was happy to share their favorites places or tell us about the area.

Food scene – check …no shortage of great places to eat or drink. Did I mention an amazing ice cream place.

Sitting outside at Jefferys BBQ…so yummy!
We had a great meal at Hatch Rotisserie too.


Happening – check… Art festivals, wine festivals, farmers market, a local coffee roaster and a vibrant downtown area.

The Art in the Park featured some great artists doing iron works to photography.


Weather – mostlycheck …low amounts of rainfall, mild autumns but kinda hot in the summer. It was a bit windy while we were there and the evening temps really drop.

Wine – CHECK… YEAH, baby does Paso have wineries!!!! Brewery’s and Cider Tap Houses too.

And boy howdy did we taste wine…Onx, Halter Ranch, Cass, LXV, Lazzzare, Diablo Paso, Bodega, Monochrome, Adelaida, Hermans Story, Tobin James, just to name a few!
Yeah, we might have bought a little bit of wine…this was just one days worth!!! Don’t get all judgy now!


Natural Beauty – CHECK …thanks to a very rainy winter in CA Paso was especially green and lush.

So green…
The art at Sculpterra Winery was just beautiful. This is the place to bring a picnic and spend the afternoon sipping wine.

On top of all that, Paso is only 32 miles from the beach which Bentley greatly appreciated. The sand dollars were everywhere on the beach, tiny but everywhere. Some great shells and barnacles too. The Paso area also has some great hiking nearby, which we didn’t have time to do thanks to all those damn wineries…whine, whine.

Bentley went crazy on the beach at Morro Bay. He was so excited when he smelled the ocean and couldn’t wait to get down on the beach.
Morro Bay is a great little beach town just off Hwy 101. Stop at Taco Temple for lunch…fresh, a local seafood – ling cod tacos!!!

Our eight days went far to fast and I honestly could have stayed in Paso for a month or two. I feel like we just scratched the surface of all there is to see and do in this area. Definitely have to come back and stay longer next time!!!

Fire pits with real burning wood…YAY!!!


Bye, Bye Paso…we will definitely be back.

Making Lemonade from Lemons – A unexpected stop in Riverside CA


One thing we learned from this mobile lifestyle is to expect the unexpected. Even though we do plan our travel, have routes we want to take and reservations for places we want to stay – sometimes S*it happens!

We had an oil leak on the coach motor when we arrived in Palm Springs last November and we had (okay, the mechanic) thought it was repaired. Turned out that wasn’t the problem… when we got to the staging area by the exit at ORPS where we hooked up the car, Wally noticed the dripping had started again. DAMN IT…we were right on time to breeze through LA before rush hour traffic ensued DAMN IT!!!!

Luckily, we were able to get ahold of the mechanic and he came out to check it out. Okay, so we sat there for over an hour waiting but he did show up. Seems after some inspection, the oil cooler housing gasket was really the problem. After some phone calls, we were told that the gasket kit was available in Riverside CA (no where else BTW) at the Caterpillar Dealer. The other good news was that they had time to look at the coach that afternoon and could most likely get the repair done the next day. All good news so far…

The mechanic who did the work for us felt really bad that he missed the real issue and helped us get on the road to Riverside. He paid for the gasket kit ($40), wrapped an absorbent diaper around the housing and zip tied it on. This temporary fix would help keep the oil from getting all over the front of the car which is towed directly behind the engine area.

We made the short 55 mile drive to Riverside, saw the engine doctor and were put on the schedule for Friday am. At that point we were hopeful we would be back on the road Friday but had to rearrange some reservations and find a place to stay the night. We had plans to meet friends in Paso Robles on Sunday and had decided to leave a few days prior to that …just in case! Sometimes intuition is spot on!

We spent the night at a expensive and somewhat divey RV park just 5 minutes from the Caterpillar Dealer in Riverside. Didn’t even bother to put all the slides out or hook up the sewer as we knew we were leaving at 7am the next morning! The area we stayed in was in a very industrial area right off I215.


But I was hopeful we could find something to occupy us the next day while the coach was being worked on. Love the Trip Advistor App.

So this is when lemons started turning into lemonade…We had a great burger and beer for dinner at Heros Restaurant and Brewery in downtown Riverside. Turns out we were within walking distance to the very old, historic Mission Inn so after we tucked in all that food we took a nice walk around the area. Who’da thunk Riverside had such a cool old downtown. Apparently, this part of town has gone through a resurgence…use to be all you would get in Downtown Riverside was stabbed! Ya, thats a fact as told to me by some locals.

The grounds are at the Mission Inn are absolutely stunning…

Bellies full, we went to bed early. 6 am came and we were up getting ready to take the coach to the doctor. Now remember, we have two pets who can’t stay onboard the coach if work is being done. After loading Bentley in the back of Ernie and Sucia in her big travel crate with a litter box and food, off we went to drop off the coach. Yikes, its early…and coffee was the first order of business after we left the Road House. Yay, for Starbucks!!!

Fueled up from coffee and somewhat awake now, we decided to head over to the California Citrus State Historical State Park for a walk.

We got there at 8am and were the only ones on the trails…what a hidden gem this place is. This 300-acre park preserves some of the rapidly vanishing cultural landscape of the citrus industry and tells the story of this industry’s role in the history and development of California. There are fruit tastings and guided tours at museum/visitor center.

Bentley hiking…what???

In 1873, the U.S. Department of Agriculture forever changed the history of Southern California when it sent two small Navel orange trees to Riverside resident Eliza Tibbets. Those trees, growing in near perfect soil and weather conditions, produced an especially sweet and flavorful fruit. Word of this type of orange quickly spread, and a great agricultural industry was born.

Ah, the good ole days when most of Southern Cal was orange groves …can only imagine how beautiful it was.

In the early 1900s, an effort to promote citrus ranching in the state brought hundreds of would-be citrus barons to California for the “second Gold Rush.” The lush groves of oranges, lemons and grapefruit gave California another legacy – its lingering image as the Golden State – the land of sunshine and opportunity. It was awesome to be in the middle of these lush groves and see how the city has grown up all around them. Love it that this bit of Cali history is being preserved.

Bentley enjoyed a long walk in the orchards while Sucia stayed in her kennel in the car. Thankfully it was a cool day so the she could enjoy all the great smells with the windows cracked. The orchard were all blooming and the sweet smell of citrus wafted all around us as we hiked around and through orchards. So many varietals of fruit…lemons, oranges, grapefruits and even an avocado orchard. I can’t say enough about this fantastic park….if they only had overnight RV sites, it would be heaven!

As it turns out, the museum wasn’t open yet…seriously, we were there at 8am…so not like us! I was optimistic that the coach would be done by noon and really wanted to see the UC Riverside Botanical Garden so off we went. Will have to see the musuem another time!

So many varietals of oranges

Love tangelos…so hard not to sneak in there and pick a few!

Fruit trees take a lot of water and all of the canals like the one in the picture in the right were originally dug by hand. The picture on the left is of a water control channel which keeps the whole damn place from washing away in big rain storms. Guessing that wasn’t there in the early 1900’s.

We drove back roads through some beautiful neighborhoods, turns out Riverside has some lovely areas and is not just a industrial blight with a violent history!

I had no idea how huge and sprawling the UC Riverside campus is…there are 40 acres of botanical gardens containing more than 3,500 plant species from around the world. Located in the foothills of the Box Springs Mountains on the east side of the University of California, Riverside Campus, the Gardens covers 40 hilly acres.

We wandered over the four miles of scenic trails and really enjoyed hiking the NW trails up into Box Springs Mountains… the views were stunning over the mountains and back down onto the campus plus we got a serious cardio workout!

Great hike up above the botanical gardens

Back at the car, I was sure the coach must almost be done so we made a quick call only to find out that they didn’t actually start working on it until almost 11 am…how rude…why were we up and at the service desk at 7am?

Well, so far the lemon of a day was all lemonade and we were starving by then so lunch was in order. Wally was craving pizza and we thought it was only fitting to go to the California Pizza Kitchen! Yes, it’s a chain but I gotta say the grilled artichoke, goat cheese and arugula salad with a champagne vinaigrette was delicious.

After a long lunch, we still had some time to kill and the world’s biggest paper cup was not far away so why wouldn’t we go check it out?

So its not actually paper…huh?

Turns out it was just down the street from Quinns Caterpillar and by now I was getting a bit anxious to get on the road. Driving in rush hour LA traffic is something we occasionally had to do when we lived in SoCal but wasn’t high on either of our bucket lists of things to do in a big ass RV.

As we rolled into the Caterpillar lot…Lo and behold there was the Road House rolling out of the work bays. Fingers crossed she was done and good to go! Yep, $794 later we we ready to roll. But to where one might ask…not back to the divey RV Park down the street for sure. We decided the traffic on the 210 looked doable and the route to Paso Robles (258 Miles) on google maps suggested going I5, over the grapevine and cutting over to Hwy 101 just south of Bakersfield.

We have never seen the southern california hills so green!

Long story short, we drove through some beautiful mossy green rolling hills, dusk turned into darkness and by the time we drove into Cava Robles RV Resort it was way later than we ever like to be on the road. That said, we backed into our site, put our the rear slide, took a long, hot shower and crawled into bed. Dang…we were just happy to be there!!!

Were our eyes really getting this fuzzy???