Category Archives: California Adventures

Berkeley Botanical Gardens

This weekend Robby and I went to the Berkeley Botanical gardens. It was incredibly  beautiful.  They have an amazing diverse collection of plants from around the world arranged by geographical origin. There are nine major geographical regions which include The Mediterranean, Asia, South Africa, New World Deserts, South American, Australasia ( Australia, New Zealand and high elevations of islands in the South Pacific.)


If you have a chance to go to Berkeley I recommend checking it out!


Protea & Elephant ears
 Prickly Pear Cactus
Cactus Pear
Water Lilies
Fern Tree

We stopped in downtown Berkeley and when I opened my door this is what
I saw. : )   I will leave you on that note!
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Old Santa Barbara Mission

The Santa Barbara Mission was the tenth of the California Missions to be founded by the Spanish Franciscans. December 4, 1786.


The original buildings were made of adobe.  Over time three adobe churches were constructed on the grounds, each larger than the one before until the fourth and present church was built in 1820.


The earthquake of June 29, 1925 caused considerable damage.  Restoration work was completed in 1927, and the towers were reinforced in 1953.


The original people were the Chumash Indians who inhabited the land from Malibu to San Luis Obispo.


They were hunters and gatherers.  They made baskets, stone bowls and tools. They also built plank boats (tomols), which used to travel to the Channel Islands.


In 1807, an Indian Dam was built to bring water thru an aqueduct.  There were also cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, mules, and horses in great number.  In 1809, there were 5,200 head of cattle and in 1803 11,221 head of sheep.


 The Franciscans taught them how to grow wheat, barley, corn, beans, and peas.  They also grew orange trees, olive trees, and grapevines.


When the Mission period ended, the buildings were used for a number of purposes.  From 1868 until 1877, the Franciscans conducted a high school and junior college.


For the full story behind the  Old Santa Barbara Mission check out their website


Santa Barbara Adventures

Santa Barbara is a beautiful city full of amazing Spanish architecture with tons of phenomenal restaurants and gorgeous beaches.  There are lots of fun things to do like the wine tasting on the wine trail, shopping in downtown, rent bikes to ride on the bike path, natural history museum, botanical gardens, whale watching and so much more!

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Donati Family Vineyard Paso Robles California

The Donati Family Tasting Room resembles a European Chateau


I love how they are doing sustainable farming, allowing for natural predators and reduced use of pesticides.  It is a hospitable environment for vine and fruit growth.  They regularly hand-tend each and every vine, the family is gradually learning that effective and efficient sustainable practices can indeed make a significant difference in both the local environment and in the grape and wine quality.  Hopefully one day they wont use any pesticides.


                                                        The Tasting Room

They produce a variety of wines; Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Syrah, Pinot Grigio, Pinot Blanc and Petite Verdot.


Cool Door in the Tasting Room


I bought the Chardonnay, it is unoaked which is harder to come by.  It is a crisp wine with a bit of citrus, pear and honey.

Located on the corner of Highway 46 West and Vineyard Drive nestled in the hills of Templeton, CA.

Donati Family Vineyard
2720 Oak View Rd.
Templeton, CA 93465
Phone: 877-511-WINE (9463)
Local: (805) 238-0676

Eagle Castle Winery

Eagle Castle Winery has an extraordinary tasting room with a view from their terraces overlooking the Santa Lucia Mountains of Paso Robles.



The tasting room was built to replicate a European castle, with a moat


The Estate vineyard is three years into a four-year plan to becoming Organically Certified



Tasting Room



This sparkling wine is really nice and refreshing

I am usually not into Chardonnay’s but theirs is a nice crisp Chardonnay without the overly oaky flavors.

3090 Anderson Road Paso Robles, Ca 93446


Cambria is a quaint town off Hwy 1 with lots of restaurants, shops and antique stores. Robby and I particularly love the Indigo Moon Cafe.






There are so many cute squirrels along the path


There is a great wooden trail called the East West Ranch Bluff Trail that follows the edge of the ocean bluffs for 1 mile.  There are several benches to enjoy the views of the ocean and tide pools.



It was a bit overcast at first, but it was still enjoyable with the beautiful rocky cliffs


You can find Sea Anemone in the tide pools




Every year Cambria businesses and artists make and display over two hundred scarecrows.  The businesses portray their owners or the product they deal in.  The artists compete with each other for most creative.


On our way home on Hwy 1

San Simeon

In San Simeon, right across the main entrance of the Hearst Castle is a California hidden gem, the Sebastian’s Store!!!  They serve Hearst free-range, grass-fed beef hamburgers that come from cow’s raised on the Hearst Cattle Ranch and they have tons of other great sandwiches.



 In the same building as the Sebastian’s Store you can also find the Hearst Ranch Wine tasting room.


A Spanish building across from the Sebastian’s Store.


Just up the coast is a beach full of Elephant seals, a must see!!!




Hearst Castle “An American Palace”

My dad and step mom came to visit Robby and me.  We spent the weekend in San Simeon and took a trip to the Hearst Castle.  This place was spectacular, with all its exquisite detail and amazing sculptures everywhere!


In 1919 William Randolph Hearst hired Julia Morgan to design a main building and 3 guesthouses for his ranch.  Hearst had been staying on the ranch in platform tents and wanted her to build “something that would be more comfortable”


Julia Morgan was an architect from San Francisco, and throughout her career she designed nearly 800 projects in California and Hawaii.


The Castle took over 28 years to build; Morgan oversaw almost every aspect of the construction at Hearst Castle.  She also purchased everything from Spanish antiquities to Icelandic Moss to reindeer for the Castle’s zoo.  She personally designed in detail most of the structures, grounds, pools, animal shelters.


Hearst had created the largest private zoo in the world.  There were several species of African and Asian antelope, zebras, camels, sambar deer from India, red deer from Europe, axis deer from Asia, llamas, kangaroos, ostriches, emus, Barbary sheep, Alaskan big horned sheep, musk oxen, yaks and giraffes.


Hearst named the land “La Cuesta Encantada” – The Enchanted Hill.  In 1947, the estate was created, and this consisted of 165 rooms and 127 acres of gardens, terraces, pools and walkways.  The main house, named “Casa Grande,” and the three guesthouses are of Mediterranean Revival style, and a Spanish cathedral inspired the towers.


Marble Relief at entrance

All the details are amazing


Hearst loved to host parties, he had guests like the Mayor of New York City, Hollywood movie stars from Charlie Chaplin, Clark Gable, and the Marx Brothers, not to mention politicians like President Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill.  They would fill the castles 56 bedrooms.  After dinner the guest’s would dress up in colorful costumes and danced, as a band would play under the stars.  At midnight there would be a fireworks show.

In the morning the guest’s would enjoy the gardens, play tennis, swim in the Neptune pool, go horseback riding and feed the animals.


Hearst called this room the Refectory, the term for a monastery-dining hall.  This is where all the meals were served.  This was his favorite place in the castle.

The huge table sat 80 people.  Mr. Hearst sat in the middle, his newest guest sat near Hearst so he could talk to them.  Every night the guest would move down a seat and when a guest would reach the end they new it was time to go.


The Castle was decorated with actual ceilings, doors and walls from European churches, monasteries and castles.


One of the guest houses, amazing!


Guest houses


Robby and I




Sculptures all around

The Neptune pool is the largest heated pool in the world and took 12 years to build.

It is 104 feet long, 58 feet wide and 95 feet wide at alcove. It holds 345,000 gallons of water and it has oil burning heating system.

Decorating the pools and colonnades is light-veined Vermont marble , and four 17-century Italian bas-reliefs on the sides of the colonnades.


The David Fountain


Marble relief to the entrance of the Neptune Pool


The Roman Pool is a tiled indoor pool decorated with eight statues of Roman gods, goddesses and heroes.

Designed after an ancient Roman bath.  The pool and surrounding room were built from 1927-1934.  The statues are rough copies of ancient Greek and Roman statues.

The roofs and dome are covered with mosaics of night blue, powdered with stars.

The pool is decorated from ceiling to floor with 1″ square mosaic tiles.  These glass tiles, called smalti, are either colored (mainly blue or orange) or are clear with fused gold inside.

Street Art In San Francisco

Some friends and I took a day trip to Mission St. in San Francisco for lunch at Foreign Cinema and a little shopping. While walking around I noticed all this great Street Art and had to share it with you!





If you’re ever on Mission St. check out the alley of Clarion, between 17th and 18th St.  There is street art down the whole alley on both sides.  The art changes as artists paint over previous paintings, which has been covered by amazing local artists since 1982.  This is a magical gem not to be missed!!!







xOx Steph

27th Annual Ohlone Day at Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park

Robby and I met up with some friends at Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park, for the 27th Annual Ohlone Day. The Ohlone people also known as The Costanoan are a Native American people of the central Californian coast. They arrived in the late 18th century and inhabited the area along the San Francisco Bay through Monterey Bay area to the lower parts of Salinas Valley.  Every year the Ohlone people share their traditional basketry, songs, musical instruments, stories, traditional dancers, tools, language, and history with the public.  What a great place to bring your kids!!!


  Erin & I












xOx Steph