I'm turning over the Café reins today to Scott, my favorite photographer (best buddy, husband and cohort in crime also). ~ Chris
Hey Crew! Scott here!
Since The Café has just returned from our California Coast Road Trip, we thought we'd share some simple, practical things that were helpful to us as we traveled throughout California and Arizona these past two weeks. Along with some "Travel Tips", we'll also share some pictures of the incredible experience that these two states are; lands of extreme beauty and extreme contrasts.
Getting ready for a road trip is definitely tricky. For this one, we had to plan for warm weather, cool weather, beach and mountain climates, hours in the car, a wedding, two family visits and publishing The Café along the way. We wanted to travel as light and efficiently as possible, but needed a lot of "stuff" to make sure we were prepared for all contingencies. We got it down to two suitcases each, a backpack with day clothes changes, photo shoot items, computers and cords and my camera bag ..... oh, and a tripod! Here's our short list of travel preparation suggestions.
- Bag It! - Before leaving for the trip, separate a lot of the smaller items in your suitcases with ziplock bags. This makes finding things; phone chargers, computer cords, socks, undies, shower toiletries (ick! - who needs a bottle of shampoo "exploding" in your suitcase?), etc. We use different size bags for each task - it really saves time when you're living out of suitcases for an extended period of time.
- Cool It! - A collapsible soft-sided thermal cooler bag is great for a multitude of purposes. We picked up one early on in the trip and, together with two small refreeze ice blocks, it was storage for cheese, yogurt, soft drinks, a bottle opener, napkins, apples and anything else we needed to keep cool. With tempertures in the 100˚+ range in central California and Arizona, it was essential.
- Pack It! - When you won't be staying more than one or two days in any place for two weeks straight, keep it simple by using smaller "carry on" suitcases for these nightly stops. Packed with toiletries, beauty stuff, jammies, tomorrow's clothes and shoes, you can roll right into your hotel quickly and efficiently, instead of schlepping the whole deal in and cluttering up the hotel room with unneeded stuff. Keep large suitcases in the trunk and use them to "feed" the smaller day suitcases. Unneeded clothing, dirty clothes, etc. can stay in the car and out of your way! It's also a lot better on the old back, right?
- Snap It! - One of the great things about the twenty-first century is digital photography. You can shoot for 12 straight days (we're talking raw photo quality - these are huge memory files) on one 32 gig camera SD card; how cool is that? So capture everything you want! Don't hesitiate, unless your spouse is tapping his/her feet, looking annoyed that you've just taken your 300th shot of seagulls or something. Better yet, let them snap away with their smartphone to share with the world via iMessage, Instagram and Pinterest! Always make sure to back your photos up each day on your computer or iPad; memory cards can be a little persnickity at times and, I don't know about you, but I misplace those little critters quite often.
Since I love photography, I'm constantly looking for unusual shapes, textures, colors, people and scenes - not just the standard tourist shots. And they're everywhere, if you just look a little harder. Here are a few shots from the first seven stops on our trip.
Newport Beach We started the trip with a visit to my brother's home in Newport Beach. Pete and his gracious wife Patti, introduced us to the wonderful laidback "Southern California" style of living. Newport and the surrounding area is filled with beautiful beaches, funky restaurants and loads of photo ops. Here are just a few.
Avocado Groves of San Juan Capistrano The second day of our California Coast Road Trip, we toured one of the fabulous California Avocado Ranches with Angela from The California Avocado Commission. For more pictures and information, see Chris' earlier post on How Avocados Grow.
Pasadena This western-influenced town at the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains, is warmer than coastal Southern California and it's a fun, busy city, filled with lots of Spanish-influenced architecture. We attended our niece, Katherine's wedding there, and had a blast seeing all the relatives; not to mention all the fun things we saw along the way.
Santa Barbara Since I had already been to Santa Barbara years ago, I knew that Chris and I were in for a real treat. But we had so much fun the first day, we decided to extent our visit to a second day to take in more that this wonderful city has to offer. Highlights? I'd need to write a book about this town to do it justice. Let's take a look!
Los Olivos This fun little town is on the way, from Santa Barbara up to Pismo Beach. It's smack dab in the middle of the Central Coast wine area, and full of fun wine tasting rooms, funky little gift and craft stores and lots of Western charm.
Solvang Chris fell in love with this adorable, Danish town right in the middle of California! Maybe it's her summer's in Europe when she was a teenager. Or maybe the Danish bakery goods!!
Buellton This little town wasn't in the original road trip plan. As we were heading towards our next stop, Pismo Beach, our grownup son, Nick texted us from North Carolina and said, "Oh man, you're going to be four miles from one of the best craft beer companies in the US!" I guess you could say he lived vicariously through us that day, as we were treated like royalty by the staff of the Firestone Walker Brewing Company and gastropub. Thanks everyone at FW .... you made our ... and Nick's day!
P.S. Check back on Sunday for Scott's second road trip post; vineyards, Big Sur, Monterey and then on to Arizona where my sister, Dana lives.
We loved spending time with Dana and her husband Jerry. Dana's an amazing cook and makes entertaining look like a breeze! She's got a zillion little tricks and tips, and I love to soak it all in. She had a fun dinner party while we were visiting, so we could get to know some of their friends. It was an amazing meal with everything prepared in advance and each course perfectly orchestrated.
Dana shared the super simple recipe for a delicious appetizer soup she served that evening and Scott was able to shoot a few pictures of it. I'll be sharing the recipe tomorrow here on The Café, but here's a little tease; check out her beautiful presentation!