Photography by Carol Moreno (unless otherwise indicated)
The celebratory road trip was a week-long excursion, full of interesting stops, from Los Angeles to San Francisco, and it was packed full of education, exercise, fun surprises and memory making experiences, all geared to amaze an eight-year old. But don’t be surprised to hear that they kept her mother entertained as well!
Solvang was the first stop, to start the day with a yummy Pancake breakfast. The fairy-tale “Danish” village in the Santa Ynez Valley was founded in 1911 by a group of Midwestern Danes who wanted to establish a colony in sunny California. The half-timbered town is full of Danish restaurants, bakeries and ice-cream parlors. The shops display Danish wares, especially beautiful ornaments one would find at a European Christmas Market. You can imagine how a village straight out of Hans Christian Anderson would delight a little girl!
The Chumash had settled the area as far back as prehistoric times, as early as 6500-2000 B.C.E., and their village was near the mouth of Morro Creek. The right of the Chumash people to climb Morro Rock for their annual solstice ceremony is now well established, but it is illegal for the general public to climb it.
While you can’t climb the rock, taking in the view and visiting the heron estuary, watching for otters, doing some paddle bording or just walking the beach is all part of the Morro Bay Experience.
And who can resist home-made Salt Water Taffy?
Footnote: A town bearing the name of Santa Inés (Saint Agnes) was to be built around Old Mission Santa Inés. Because this latter development did not materialize, the new town founded east of the Mission came to be called “Santa Ynez.” The settlers did not know Spanish, so they spelled “Inés” as “Ynez.” (info courtesy of Santa Ynez Chamber of Commerce Website)