Five COTV sweetheart couples (the Glenores, the Weeks, the Sommars, the Webers and the Hackworths) met at 9am Thursday, February 12, at a most romantic place, Douglas Burgers in Lake Elsinore, to depart on a 5 day Valentine’s trip. Vickie Hackworth and her intrepid Valentine, Al, arrived on time to lead us on a real adventure of side trips and diversions with historic and Valentine’s trivia included at no extra cost.
The first part of Thursday’s trip was a hard slog through commuter traffic on the 91, 71, 210 and 101 freeways, until we finally broke free as we got to our first stop in Calabasas. While on the 101, Vickie and Al thought they saw someone they had met on their African trip driving beside us in his Cobra, but could not verify the sighting. Our arrival in Calabasas signaled the first in a series of “wrong turns” by our fearless leaders and a true illegal u-turn by our ex-cop, Don Weeks. After our break, we headed west on Mulholland Highway, a real driver’s road, with a stop at the Rock Store. Although it was not open, the owner, Vern, was there and we got a private tour through the buildings to see all the historic photos, etc. One of the owners was kind enough to take our group photo as well. After the photo op, we headed further west through the twisties and turned north on Pacific Coast Highway to Neptune’s Net where we joined the throngs of folk enjoying the temps in the high 80s in February in Malibu and ordered fish and chips for lunch. Vickie’s plan had been to continue north on PCH, but a mudslide had closed the road and we had to reverse course to find another road further south to cut back over to the 101, which we followed up to Santa Barbara. We took the road over the San Marcos Pass, with a stop at the Cold Springs Tavern to take in the historic atmosphere, and then up to Santa Maria for a gas stop for the thirsty ZR-1. Anyone who has traveled with the Webers knows that some cars have to stop more often than others.
Although we had planned to arrive at our first night’s stop, the Apple Farm Inn, in San Luis Obispo in time for the guest wine reception, our early morning traffic issues and our slight diversions had lengthened the drive time a little. The Inn provided us with wine upon arrival anyhow, so all was well. The rooms are delightful with fireplaces and comfortable beds. We checked in, freshened up and crossed the driveway to the Inn’s restaurant, where they had set us up in our own private room for dinner. Vickie had already been over and added Valentine’s decorations to the table before we even got there. After we dragged Don and Jim away from their checkers game, Vickie made presentations to each couple of funny Valentine gifts. Jim and Diane got the “Clueless Suckers” package of heart headbands and candy suckers. Rob and Daryl got a romantic themed dart board for darting through the traffic. Doug and Marilyn got a romantic prize for best communications for Marilyn’s phrase, “Copy That” which echoed over the wavelengths for the length of the trip. Don and Bev got a sweethearts award….and you will have to ask Don to model his half of the prize. We ate the Inn’s comfort food and headed to bed to store up some energy for our 9am departure the next morning. Yes, that’s right, 9am two days in a row for the Sommars and the Hackworths!
Friday saw the 5 Corvettes heading up the coast, through Cambria to the Piedras Blancas Overlook for a viewing of the elephant seals. It was a first for Doug and Marilyn. Again, the weather was forecast to be in the 80s, even on the coast. We did a rest stop in Lucia and then arrived right on time at noon for lunch on the deck at Nepenthe. Everywhere we went we saw crowds of people out for a holiday weekend in the sun. After lunch we continued up the coast and did another diversion to the Santa Cruz Boardwalk for an ice cream treat. After Santa Cruz, we hit lots of Friday/Holiday Weekend/Commuter traffic on the way into San Francisco and again arrived at the Tuscan Hotel, near the piers, after the guest wine reception. Again, they came through with wine for all, so everyone was happy. Vickie had not made formal dinner plans, so we were all on our own. The Sommars and Hackworths took a cab to the Tadich Grill, which has been open in San Francisco for 166 years. You cannot make reservations and the waiters are grumpy, but the food and atmosphere are good, so they had a great time, even during their 40 minute wait. The Glenores, Weeks and Webers took a shorter route, across the lobby to Pescatore, where the wait was about 40 seconds. The atmosphere was not as historic, but the waiters weren’t too grumpy and the food was pretty good, so lots of laughs ensued and the short trip back to the rooms was much appreciated.
Saturday, the actual Valentine’s Day, dawned sunny and bright (remember, this is SF in February!) and the Valentine Girl, Vickie, led us down to Pier 39 for an early lunch at Fog Harbor Fish House. We had plenty of time to walk the pier and check out the harbor seals, the left-handed store and all the tourist traps, before climbing up to our reserved view table. We knew we were having an early dinner before our show at 6:30pm, so tried to be reasonable when we ordered – lots of clam chowder in a bread bowl, salads, oysters and other seafood-lite. Vickie had put together a Valentine’s Day quiz and then we all told each other how we had met and got married . After lunch, Doug and Marilyn decided to visit the Cable Car Museum. Don and Bev walked back to the hotel for a nap. The Hackworths, Sommars and Webers walked along the Embarcadero, checking out the street entertainers, and ended up at the Musee Mecanique, a collection of arcade games dating back to the 1800s. We spent some quarters testing our strength or our passion (it is Valentine’s Day after all!) or just listening to the musical machines, before walking back to the hotel to get refreshed before leaving again at 3:45pm.
Traffic in SF was unbelievable and we had some difficulty getting cabs to our 4pm dinner reservation. Finally, the hotel guy flagged down a limo and all ten of us squeezed in for the drive through stop and go traffic. Dinner was a little rushed as we had to get over to the theatre to pick up tickets. We had all ordered on-line but had to get our Beach Blanket Babylon tickets at will call and then stand in line to get our seats, like on Southwest Airlines. You have a ticket in a certain area of the theatre, but no assigned seating. Vickie has been to this stage show 4-6 times and has taken Al, but it was a new experience for the rest of us….and what an experience it is. Unfortunately no photos are allowed, so Rob snuck in a few of the inside of the theater before the show and until they told him to stop. BBB has been running for over 40 years and is 1 1/2 hours of non-stop singing and dancing, with multiple costume changes of ever more bizarre outfits and headpieces. Each song is part of a topical theme like current politics or entertainment. The songs are all familiar, but the lyrics have been changed to suit the current themes. You will have to ask one of us for more detail as we all had favorite parts (ask Marilyn about the witch doctor!) All we can say is that we laughed our heads off and were totally entertained by very talented singers and the 1 1/2 hours flew by. Afterwards, we had a little more luck getting cabs back to the hotel. Some went to their rooms and some sat around with coffee on our second evening in SF.
We met in the lobby of the Tuscan at 10am on Sunday, checked out and ready to go. Vickie’s plan took us out of the City and over to Skyline Blvd through the hills and forests southward. Our tentative plan was lunch in Gilroy, but instead we got to Saratoga Village, decided it was definitely nicer than Gilroy would be, and stopped there. We happened upon a little place, La Mere Michelle, that offered brunch/lunch in a sort of French style and they were nice enough to put together tables and serve us with style. Mo, the only waiter, was pretty busy with the midday rush, but he eventually got everyone’s food to them and we had an assortment of weiner schnitzel, seafood crepes, cream of chile soup, eggs and bacon, strawberry pancakes and chicken. It was a pretty leisurely experience. After lunch we headed towards Gilroy, with plans to feed the ZR-1 in Hollister, and then take back roads to Paso Robles instead of straight freeway travel. Getting gas involved some more “wrong turns”, but we eventually got there and then did a few more “wrong turns” before getting on the 25 or Airline Hwy for miles of 2 lane roads with no sign of commercial buildings like stores or gas stations. Eventually, the 2 lane roads became 1 lane and we finally got to San Miguel, where we hooked up with the 101 for the last few miles into Paso. There was no wine reception to miss tonight, so we checked in and at 7pm headed out to Big Bubba’s Bad to the Bone BBQ, which had the advantages of being next to the hotel and having a full bar. We all ordered drinks and barbecue samplers or pulled pork sandwiches or for Vickie, fish tacos, laughed some more and called it a night about 9:30.
Al and Vickie had a party to attend in Brea at 2:30pm on Monday so were heading out early. Jim and Diane never head out early so were going through wine country on their own at their own pace. Doug and Marilyn were going to meet for breakfast but had got up and were gone by 7am. Don and Bev and Rob and Daryl shared breakfast and then the Weeks were going south to check out Cal Poly SLO, while the Webers were headed to spend the day and night in Cambria with Daryl’s Mom.
It was another great COTV trip experience. We encourage everyone who can to join us on one of these trips, especially if Vickie is planning all the fun. It is the best way to get to know other COTV members on a personal level, something that is difficult to do at meetings or Mystery Lunch Runs.
If you like to have fun, this is the place to be!!!!