The hubby and I finally took our first official vacation since having Amelia! Since we weren't traveling for a conference this time like we did last April in Florida, I'm counting this as our first actual vacation-only trip. So where did we choose to go on our first vacation post-baby? LA! - because the Gophers played USC over Labor Day weekend - so where else would we go?!?
We flew out Friday morning, did the kitchy-tourist stuff around LA: Rodeo Drive (we didn't last long, but it was fun to see in person!),
Robertson Blvd, which was much more to our taste - we even ate at The Ivy, (but didn't see any celebrities),
and of course, Hollywood Blvd (which I loved - too much fun! and way less fancy!). We found miss Mia some Minnie Mouse stuff to bring home with us (she is in LOVE with Minnie Mouse right now!) at the Disney studio shop, which was great.
Oh, and did I mention that we drove around town in a Ford Mustang convertible?!? It was fabulous. We were going to rent a Jeep with a soft-top, but opted for the Mustang since we could get a good deal on it (trunk space for luggage and an automated top goes a long way to making things easier on us!). Oh, and we had to stick a big M on the trunk!
Here's the HOLLYWOOD sign - if you look really closely! We didn't try to get any closer, but it was fun to look up and randomly see it!
That evening, after checking into our motel near the USC campus (the Vagabond Inn - cheap, but clean, thank goodness!), we ventured out to find a wonderful Mexican restaurant nearby (La Barca, which had great food and good margaritas), then mustered up the energy (we had been up since 4:30am our time!) to get all dolled up and go out downtown. We hit up The Edison, which is a prohibition-style lounge in downtown LA that had a dress code, a bouncer that was enforcing said dress code, and a $50 per person minimum to get a table. Lucky for us, we had already eaten, so we headed down to the bar and enjoyed a couple of prohibition-style cocktails before deciding we needed to get some sleep. I would HIGHLY recommend this place, and if we're ever back in LA, we'll be making reservations and enjoying some more time there.
Saturday started out with a FANTASTIC breakfast at Jack's and Joe near the USC campus (OMG. Amazing food. Cute spot. I want this in my town!) We sat at the breakfast bar (on tractor seats!)
and watched them make the food.
The place was full of USC fans, but we were welcomed anyway. Then we sweet-talked our motel into letting us leave our vehicle parked in the lot until after the game, walked across campus, and met up with the rest of the 3,000+ Gopher fans, about half of which were at the alumni tailgating party, which was inside a park on campus.
The lines for alcohol were long, and they ran out of tequila, but the food and company were great! We even ran into friends from Trimont - Adam and Eve - (also UMN alums) and got to catch up with them for a bit! Then it was onto the Coliseum for the game.
The seats were great, the fans were loud, the USC student section was impressive (wow), and the game was close - what more can you ask for, besides what would have been a stunning win for the Gophs?!
Between the 3rd and 4th quarters, a guy (dressed as a Trojan) rode a horse onto the field and the torch was lit!
Oh, and we saw Glove Guy! This guy sits in our section at the Bank, and always wears these ridiculous maroon and gold gloves. He was about the same distance in front of us here as he is back home!
After the game, we picked up our car and took the coastal highway up to Santa Barbara to enjoy the rest of the weekend. The coastal drive was beautiful, and well worth the extra time.
That night we got settled into our B&B and walked down to the Brewhouse, which was a nearby brewpub (because who doesn't want to end a day of football with beer sampling and fried apps?). On Sunday we drove about 30 minutes into the mountains to the Santa Ynez wine region. With good intentions to take a more complete survey of the vineyards in the area, we started in Solvang and never left! Solvang is a Danish touristy town that has 6 or so wine tasting rooms (most of which are from vineyards that aren't open to the public). We started the morning off with delicious Danish pastries and coffees at Mortenson's Bakery, then hit the following:
1) Lucas & Lewellyn (recommended by Adam and Eve and the best wines overall, they had the best merlot and cab sauv by far!)
2) Sevtap (cool vibe! the winemaker was actually doing the tastings, and he was one crazy and entertaining Turkish guy! I loved the old half wine barrels to hold the wine and the chalkboard walls! This one also had a stage for live music.)
3) Carivintas (all proceeds go to dog rescues! cute place, great watercolor-type labels of different dogs for all of the wines!)
4) Lion's Peak (recommended by a cyclist that David knows)
Lunch (finally!), and then...
5) Tocatta (we didn't really love this one, I think I was getting burned out from all of the wine!)
We grabbed a coffee and some water and headed out of Solvang in an attempt to hit Gainey Vineyards before heading back to SB, but they closed early and we missed out (evidently the owners of Gainey are originally from Owatonna, MN!). Instead, we made the trip back to SB
and hit one of the many wineries in town - Carr Winery (which, as I was numbering these, I realize is 6 wineries. That was too many!). The tasting room was actually in the warehouse with all of the wine! They also served wine on tap, which we were fairly fascinated by and ended up grabbing a bottle of their "sparkler" to take back to the B&B with us.
We hit up State St, which is the main street for restaurants, shops, and bars in SB, grabbed sushi at Arigato, headed home to drop off the car, and then walked back to State St to grab a beer at another brewpub (and happened to catch part of the Vikings/Texans game being replayed, which was random!). Monday we were moving a little slowly after all of the wine and sun, but we ran up to UCSB and picked up my cousin, Taylor, who just started college there and took her out for a quick lunch.
This is the beach just down from her campus. Ridiculous, right? She said they don't go to this one because they have their own private one - ON CAMPUS!
After that it was back to the road for us as we had 4 1/2 hours to drive back to LA, turn in the rental car, catch a shuttle to the airport, check in, and get on our plane to come home! It was touch and go for a bit because of all of the holiday traffic, but we made it with a little bit of time to spare! All in all, it was a fun trip, but went by too quickly and we came back feeling like we needed another vacation already! Luckily, we had taken the next day off, so we could play with Mia, unpack, do laundry, mow the lawn and do other various things that need to be dealt with when you return from vacation. Now it's back to the grind, which is why I haven't posted this for over a week!