Travel Blog: Day 7 – San Luis Obispo, California

For my last day in California, we planned on a very special visit to the one and only Hearst Castle. Now, if you have not heard of this legend of a castle then you are in for a treat! The story goes as such:

William Hearst, born to George and Phoebe Hearst, had the vision to create a hearstcastle01magnificent castle on the top of a hill near San Luis Obispo, California. William Hearst had acquired a family fortune founded by his father, George Hearst with his successful mining discovery in his early years! Along with this family fortune, William Hearst was also a media genius of his time, owning two successful newspapers, The San Francisco Examiner and The New York Journal. Because of Hearst’s fortune, he got to see the world as not many other people did. When he was a young boy, Hearst’s mother took him with her on tour of Europe. Hearst was inspired by these images and with the fortune and land he had acquired through his family and hard work, Hearst made plans to build his very own castle. He worked with Julia Morgan, an award-winning architect, a genius in her field. She supervised all of the construction with Hearst on his castle.


As soon as I walked onto those castle grounds, I felt like I was in a different world. I was amazed, speechless, bewildered, and completely swept off of my feet. My cousin, her hearstcastle03husband, and I decided to go on the evening tour which allows you to explore the Hearst Castle along with reenactors in 1920’s apparel as a part of the museum. I felt like I was literally stepping back in time. They do also have the option of the Grand Rooms Tour, Upstairs Suite Tour, Cottages and Kitchen Tour, Designing the Dream Tour, Art of San Simeon Tour, and a Private Tour.

The surroundings by me were absolutely astounding and our tour guide was so knowledgeable. I couldn’t have asked for a better way to spend my last day in California.

If you would like to read about my previous days in California click on the links below:

Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5, and Day 6

Thank you for reading about my trip to California! I hope this helps you and your future adventures wherever they may be! Cheers!

Travel Blog: Day 6 – San Luis Obispo, California

On this day, we had miscellaneous prerogatives. No clear path, just going whereversanluisobispo seemed interested. This time, we stayed near the San Luis Obispo (SLO) area. I started off my morning by walking along the foggy shore of the Kon Tikki Inn looking for little sea shells. It was relaxing to be out in the fresh air and calming to be on my own and in a search. I could have stayed there all day, but there were so many things to explore.

Our first stop was by Morro Bay Rock. When my cousin told me it was a big rock in the middle of the water I was confused and thinking why on earth she would want to take me to see a boulder in the water? It wasn’t until I got there when I knew what she was saying. The rock is actually a volcanic plug. It is absolutely stunning. As a hiker, I wanted to know if I could climb on it but unfortunately, I can’t as it is preserved by the state. None the less it was a quaint little town to visit and sight see for a bit.


applefarmOn our drive, we also decided to stop by the Apple Farm. It’s a cute little garden area where they have a restaurant, a gift shop, and an inn. It was worth a visit to do a little gift shopping and to see the beautiful set-up they had. So much of California is themed and so far that has probably been my favorite part!

For our last stop and where we spent most of the day into the evening was the SLO Farmer’s Market. Their Farmer’s Market is special to us New Yorkers because they are able to have it year round every single Thursday! It must be swell to live in California. There is so much that goes on in downtown SLO. They have bubblegumalleyamazing food vendors and great music for entertainment. Some of the shops are also still open during the Farmer’s Market. Not only is there endless entertainment but I also got to visit the famous Bubble Gum Alley! If you are a germaphobe or easily squeamish, this is not for you. A literal alleyway with thousands of chewed bubble gum pieces stuck to the wall. It started in the 1970’s and just didn’t stop. And if you’re wondering, yes, I did contribute.



It was a few short visits on this day but it was also a long day. My California trip would be coming to an end soon.

If you haven’t read my other Travel Blog in California, catch up with the links below!

Day1, Day2, Day3, Day4, Day5


A Year Abstaining from Holidays

It’s Easter morning. I’m grumpy that I have to go to Easter Dinner later today… I think to myself as I munch on my chocolate Easter bunny and drink my coffee. What a contradicting thought to have. Why do I celebrate Easter anyway? Sure, I celebrated Easter as a child because my family is of Christian faith. We would go to church, eat dinner, then indulge in Easter candy and receive the yearly toy bunny. Today I don’t consider myself a Christian, in fact, I just spent some time over the last couple years exploring my spirituality, figuring out what I believe in. So then, what do I celebrate Easter for? Is it to be with family? Is it for the commercialization of the holiday? In fact, why do I celebrate holidays at all? For the past year, I felt such a strong disconnect from holidays. I never really wanted to make the Christmas Eve photo album, I didn’t go to the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, and I stayed in to watch Horror movies with friends for Halloween. The whole time I never really understood why I celebrated these days.

I decided after this Easter dinner that I will abstain from holidays for a year. Along this journey I will continue to explore my spirituality and attempt to understand the meaning of holidays; why do they exist and why do we celebrate them?

Here are my rules:

  1. I will not accept any invites to any dinners or parties that celebrate a holiday.
  2. I will not purchase any holiday themed items.
  3. I will not wish anyone a happy holiday.
  4. I will not watch any holiday themed films or listen to any holiday themed music.
  5. I will not eat any holiday themed food or drink any holiday themed drinks.
  6. I will not take any holidays off of work.

And thus my journey begins. No holidays for a year. This better be a damn good last holiday dinner.

Travel Blog: Day 5 – Santa Barbara, California

Here we were, the biggest reason I chose to go to California in the first place; to see the dive boats in Santa Barbara where my father worked for the majority of his late 20’s. Growing up, I knew my father was one with the water. First of all, he was a Pisces, that says a lot in itself. Second, my father worked and still does on the Erie Canal boats as a dredge operator. I remember him teaching me how to swim and open my eyes underwater. I remember when we went to Disney World he surprised my sister and me by showing up in the aquarium in his scuba diving gear. As I got older he told me stories of when he worked as one of the youngest captains on the dive boats in California. He had so many crazy stories, I just had to see it for myself.

The Santa Barbara Waterfront, such a beautiful area. How lucky was my fathsantabarbra02er to live and work in a place like this? My father had called earlier letting the employees know that I was visiting. The boat that was present was called the Truth. A tiny little thing. I
was able to get a personal tour of the place; the kitchen, where they slept, a little bit of the engine. I looked around imagining my father living and working there. I was instantly inspired. If you couldn’t tell I am a Daddy’s Girl after all. When I called my father letting him know I visited and saw the boat, he said, “I’m glad you liked it! I could get you a job there in no time! Get you in there as a Gally Cook!” I laughed and promised to hopefully go on a two or three day trip with him on the dive boats.

We stopped by the pier and I looked out into the ocean. I had never seen the ocean before I came to California and I could tell the ocean was in my blood, just like my father. We tried to also go to Brofy’s Restaurant but unfortunately, they were under construction. That was where my father used to do Oyster Shooters on his days off. None the less, if you are in this area of Santa Barbara, I would highly recommend it.


Our next stop was, of course, a historical one. My cousin surprised me by taking me to the Queen of the 21 Historical Missions. The 21 California Missions sparked around the turn of the 16th century when Europe was emerging into the Reinassaince and there was renewed energy and spirit to discovering what lay beyond the Ocean shore. Europe and Asia had started a trade route but it was grueling travel, and Spain wanted to expand their country. With these facts, the King of Europe, realizing there was a large population in Europe decided to expand and colonize Spain while moving their citizens to other parts of the New World. A man named Juan Cabrillo was the one to explore what we know today as California and began to rename different harbors. Since then a few other explorers took after Cabrillo when he passed on from the grueling 6 months of travel and injuries he sustained along the way. Along with conquering a whole area, these colonizers wanted to make the indigenous people of the land into Spanish Citizens. Spain was a Catholic country and so the King decided to start what is known as the 21 Missions, each one marked by a church built by the indigenous people to protect from wild animals, provide warmth, and living and working courters. The missions ended in 1810 with the revolt of Spain in conquest to be their own independent people.


The Mission of Santa Barbra was founded December 4th, 1786 by Fray Fermin Lasuen as the 10th mission in California. The magnificent building was built by the hands of the indigenous people. The peace which was originally establish was swept away by the bloody revolt that attacked this mission and two others. The remains of 4,000 indigenous people are buried underneath this church and the graveyard may show much more. Signs of hauntings are said to populate this area which is still used today as a modern Catholic church.


One can choose from three different tours of this building. I chose the self-guided tour which is open 7 days a week from 9:00 A.M. to 4:15 P.M. ($9.00 for adults, $7.00 for seniors and military personnel, $4.00 for youth, and free for children). Another option is to go with a guided group tour which is first come first serve ($13.00 for adults, $11.00 for seniors and military personnel, $8.00 for youth, and free for children). Last but not least there is the option of a private tour which has to be reserved 2 weeks in advance and has the same prices as the guided group tour.

The tour was incredibly interesting. A lot of my information listed here can also be found on my other blog, Ghost Seekers of CNY. I recommend checking it out if you want a spooky perspective.

Overall, it was a beautiful day. I love California!

If you would like to catch up on my previous travel days in California, please follow the links below:

Day1, Day2, Day3, Day4

Mini-Adventure: Chenango Canal Towpath

I love going on mini-adventures whenever I can! One perk about living in Upstate New York is that mini-adventures are everywhere you go. I was home for a little extra time than a usual weekend and the Spring air was finally warm enough for a hike. The family and I got in the car and went off to the Chenango Canal Towpath.


miniadventureFrom 1837 to 1878 this canal transported cargo and passengers from Utica to Binghamton. A towpath trail ran beside the entire length of the canal which allowed for mule teams to pull the canal boats.

Since then the canal has been filled most of the way but you can still walk the towpath for 5 miles. Today, you can visit their museum and walk on the towpath which has an audio tour for those with smartphones.

I enjoyed the hike and the beautiful scenery, although the grass and the trees were mostly dead, it was a cool little hiking trail that didn’t take too much effort. If you’re every in the Bouckville, NY area, I recommend checking it out for a little historical experience and exercise.



Travel Blog: Day 4 – Pismo Beach, California

San Francisco was beautiful, but now it was time to make my way further down south in California. My reasoning for doing so? I wanted to see Santa Barbara, where my father lived for a good 5-years. My father told me so many stories and it was time to see it for myself. My cousin also wanted to show me a bit of San Luis Obispo. With all of these places near Pismo Beach, we decided to find a place to stay there.

Our day wasn’t full of too much activity because our drive from Pleasanton to Pismo Beach was a full three hours. We were also exhausted from our previous three days of travel. We decided to stay at the Kon Tikki Inn. Right on the Pacific Ocean with a view at every window, heated outdoor pool and hot tub, continental breakfast, wifi, a television, coffee maker, and mini fridge in every room you are getting a lot of bang for your buck here. They even have their own health center and restaurant right next door. This place is reasonably priced and for what it’s worth it is an absolutely beautiful stay.


While we stayed here I would wake up in the morning just walk along the beach and look for shells and sand dollars, breathing in that foggy morning air. I was able to fall asleep to the sound of the waves crashing on the shore every night. I honestly wasn’t even used to the fresh air so I got extremely tired within the first day. The surrounding area is a quaint little beach town with a lot of mom and pop shops that filled my heart with joy. While in town we decided to stop by Pismo Pier.

The Pismo Pier has some history as well and was built in 1881 for commercial use to save freight fees on lumber and other commodities. In 1882 alone, 38 cargo vessels were loaded at the Pismo Pier, saving the county $35,000 in freight. The pier was active up until 1890 but gave way during a heavy storm a few years later. A new pier was built in 1924 which was much longer than it is today. It extended out into the ocean far enough that even large Navy ships could tie up to it! Because of its extreme length, it sustained damage many times, but finally, in 1983, a strong storm tore up most of the pier. The Pismo Pier was rebuilt once more in 1986 in its current shape and continues to be one of Pismo Beach’s major tourist attractions. (Information gathered from Brad’s Seafood Restaurant).


It’s a really nice, cute place to visit and is family friendly. A perfect place to go for a retro-inspired beach town experience.

For dinner, we went to the Ventana Grill, a coastal fusion restaurant that overlooks the ocean. I would have taken a beautiful picture as well but by the time we go there the fog was rolling in. Instead, I would recommend checking their website here. I also didn’t like my Salmon, however, I wouldn’t put this restaurant in the dumps. In fact, they actually took that meal I had off their menu. My cousin did enjoy her meal, so, with the right weather and the right meal order, the Ventana Grill is worth a visit.

Overall, it was a great way to introduce myself to the area and I look forward to sharing more of my explorations with you!

To read more, please check out my previous Travel Entries:

Day 1: San Francisco, California

Day 2: San Francisco Bay Area, California

Day 3: San Francisco, California