Day # 33 We arrived in Vegas early afternoon and it was HOT. We were looking for a place to eat and found a BBQ spot on the outskirts of town, which was featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. After some laundry and a quick swim to cool off, we decided to go onto the Strip and stop first at the Aria Resort and Casino. We had arrived early enough to grab a drink, walk around, and buy a pair of tickets to see Cirque du Soleil-Zarkana. The show featured some of the best acrobats in the world, and we would recommend it to anyone. After the show we finished out the night by taking a tram over to the Bellagio to walk around for a little.
Day # 34 Eager to make it to California, we packed up early and made a B-line to LA, and pulled into Dockweiler RV Park--which is located near LAX between Santa Monica and Manhattan Beach. We met up with our longtime friend from our hometown Mike Hart, co-founder and general manager of Titan Contracting Services. Mike is a true entrepreneur who in his mid twenties packed up and moved his life to LA to start a high-end contracting and remodeling service. Three years after he headed west, he has created a team that specializes in renovating some of the highest-end homes in Beverly Hills and Hollywood. He’s been a huge supporter for us when we were originally thinking about transitioning into HUNTERRA full-time. Once we got settled, he took us on a tour of some of the homes he has been working on, and dinner at Manhattan Beach’s Rock’N Fish.
Day #35 Started it off with a run on the beach, and we worked all day with the salty Pacific Ocean breeze blowing right through the Mobile Map Cave. Bucket list item checked off. That night we hooked up with Mike again, and hit up one of the best sushi restaurants we have ever had, The Izaka-ya.
Days #36 and #37 We headed north to Ventura, where we met up with my family from Moorpark, CA and Honolulu, HI! The first night my Aunt Deb and Uncle Jim drove to Ventura Beach, where we celebrated seeing them with some wine in the Mobile Map Cave and dinner at a quaint Italian restaurant. The following evening we were invited over to their house for dinner, it was great catching up and relaxing.
Day # 38 I woke up at 4 am to pick up my cousins Chris and Amy from Honolulu, HI--who decided to visit us over the weekend--at the LAX airport. Once we made it back to camp, I pulled Ben away from the computer so we could take Lyle to the beach. Another great meal at my Aunt and Uncles ended with an early night, because the next day was going to be our first winery tour!
Day # 39 We have never been wine tasting in California so we were very excited for our drive through Santa Ynez wine country...first stop Rancho Sisquoc--a 37,000 acre cattle ranch, vineyard, and winery. We enjoyed some great wine, cheese, and beautiful views for a few hours before visiting the infamous San Ramon Chapel that sits on the property. Next stop was Firestone Vineyard. As if wine tasting wasn’t enough excitement for the day, I had my first In-N-Out Burger! The evening ended with a campfire, popcorn, and great company with family we don’t see often.
Day # 40-41 Our trip from east coast to west coast hit 5,000 miles, so we dropped the Super Duty off at the local Ford dealer for an oil change and headed for Rock & Roll Pizza, a hole in the wall joint that hosts rock bands every week and specializes in making nothing but NY-style pizza. After that, we took a day trip up to Venice Beach and Santa Monica to do a little people watching. That was an interesting trip to say the least. The following day we had a wonderful tri-tip dinner with Aunt Deb and Uncle Jim, and said our goodbyes to Chris and Amy.
Day #42 We continued our journey up the Pacific Coast Highway through Morro Bay where we stopped for lunch on the water and continued on the white-knuckle route through Big Sur, until we finally set foot in Carmel for three nights. The drive was breath-taking. We saw elephant seals, flocks of pelican, and amazing cliff side views.
Days #43 and #44 We had to catch up on work the majority of the time, which didn’t allow for much sight-seeing, but the last night we were there we got to meet up with another hometown friend and her husband for dinner at Corked in downtown Carmel.
Day #45 I was very excited about the next few days, for Napa Valley was in our future! That first night we battled through San Francisco traffic until we finally pulled in to the Napa RV Park. We had arguably the best meal of our entire trip at a tapas restaurant called Zuzu’s, and if you find yourself on Main Street in Napa, go there.
Day #46 Started with more HUNTERRA, until the afternoon where we visited Robert Sinskey’s, a winery recommended by the owner of Zuzu’s. The wine tasting included small bites to pair with the wines, which is how they recommend drinking their wine, as the wine maker’s wife is a chef. Next stop was Mumm Napa, and we finished out the tasting at V. Sattui Winery where we had a picnic out on the lawn.
Day #47 To our surprise, my cousin Becky flew in from Texas for a release party at her relative’s winery called Monticelli Brothers. We met up with her and cousin Traci at a little Italian restaurant in downtown for the release party and then were fortunate enough to have been invited to Mario’s (one of the wine makers) house, where we ate, drank, and danced the night away. A once in a lifetime evening to experience, and we were just flat-out lucky to have been a part of it.
After an awesome two weeks in California, the end of our trip was growing near. Our next blog entry will sadly be our last one for the Great American Map Tour, but will be a good one for sure.
— Kate Harshyne