We said goodbye to Uncle Brad and the cousins, and made our way north. Our first stop was lunch at Andersen's Split Pea Soup in Buellton, CA. My parents used to take us there, for the "world's best pea soup" - which is still just pea soup. But Rico gave it two thumbs up and even Punk said, "if you're gonna eat pea soup, I guess this is good pea soup." It didn't really matter how much soup we ate anyway, because all five of us were just holding out for Solvang.
Less than 5 miles down the road lies the little Danish town of Solvang. Another one of my parent's favorites, Solvang is famous for it's old-fashioned Danish bakeries. With names like Jensen, Neilsen, and Hansen posted in every other shop window, I remembered why my dad loved it so much. This tiny town in the middle of California felt like home to him. We stopped at Birkhom's Bakery in homage to my dad. It was here that he would buy his very favorite banana cake filled with heavy banana cream and covered in marzipan. It was the same cake we had flown in for his very last birthday.
We toasted Pa with forkfuls of marzipan and sauntered through little Denmark sampling fresh fudge, Neapolitan creme cakes, Bavarian custard cakes and almond cookies. Rico insisted that pastries are the only thing that the Danes were ever good at. I nodded to the statue honoring Hans Christian Andersen, and corrected him. We are good at pastries and telling stories.
What more do you need?
"Maybe a vaccum cleaner and a cure for diabetes," he mumbled, as bits of buttery pastry fell from his lips. He has a valid point. We were all terribly sticky, and pleasantly sick on our way to Morro Bay.
Morro Rock is one of those places that I don't dare write about. When I think of where my life is supposed to play out, it is somewhere like this. One side of the rock is perfect for learning to surf, wakeboard, and searching for shells and sand dollars (we found several). The other side is calm enough for kayaking, paddle boarding and snorkeling.
We hadn't even gotten our feet wet when Yoda and I found a perfect purple sand dollar. Kooka filled her hands with shells and more sand dollars. Rico found a lovely couple from Sweden to interrogate. (If you know him, you know). Of course that leaves Punk alone in the surf, earbuds firmly embedded, shouting, "Hey Mom!!! What's this?"
We walk over to find him prodding a jellyfish the size of a hubcap with his bare hands.
Me: That's a jellyfish - a big one. It could sting you.
Punk: Well, it didn't.
Me: Seriously?! ! you touched it?!! What did you think it was?
Punk: I dunno. It looked cool, so I poked it.
Yoda: Jellyfish don't sting on the tops. Dory bounces on the tops and they don't sting. Only the tentacles sting.
Me: True, but the next time a wave comes up, his tentacles will come up too.
Punk: (poke, poke)
Yoda: Then let's touch it now.
So they did.
Rico and I did not.
We could have stayed at Morro rock forever, but the tide was coming in, and so were more jellyfish, so onward ho. Oh, and remember when I said that the Marriot in Burbank was the nicest hotel we've ever been to?
We usually use Priceline for our hotel stays. But when your fabulous cousin works at an exclusive California resort, and offers to get you an employee rate at an oceanfront spa you jump on it. That's how we found ourselves at Monterey Plaza with a suite overlooking the ocean, and sea otters frolicking directly under our window.
And we finally found a way to rescue our photos, but the new blog ap, won't let me insert them into text, so here they are: