Written by mitch on. Posted in Uncategorized

We just returned home from a day out…
We left the house at about ten this morning and pulled into the driveway just after eight: a ten hour day spent wandering up and down the Coast of California.
My wife’s aunt flew in from New Jersey last Tuesday – a good week to get out of the snow and cold – and today, Saturday, was the first full day I got to participate in the sightseeing.
Of course, that was after awakening at 0:Dark:Thirty for breakfast, coffee – Java Johnny’s for some ‘real’ coffee: an espresso double-shot to get the day crank-started simply referred to by all as the “Special – to the shop for some paperwork, and then home again to begin the rest of the day!
The rest of the day started with a trip to the wine country just above Santa Barbara: the area around Los Olivos and Santa Ynez (remember the movie Sideways?). It’s what the cowboys would call a “’fer piece” from here, especially when there was a difference of opinion swirling around how to get there. I kind of remembered driving there years ago – more years ago than I can remember – through Buellton (Anderson Pea Soup?) and Solvang (Danish anything…): up the 101 Freeway to the 246 and then over. My wife insisted that we had already passed the 246 by the time we got to California 154 (we hadn’t, but I couldn’t convince her) – the route that takes you through the Los Padres National Forest and past Lake Cachuma: what I would call “the back way.”
I tried to suggest – I’m not sure convince would be the right word to use in this particular instance – that my way would be shorter and faster, but she was sure the “my way” option was literally behind us. Consequently, we got to see both the forest and the lake, which wasn’t really such a bad thing considering this was one of those magnificent February California afternoons that sets folks on the East Coast still reeling from the record snow falls to thinking about why they are living there instead of here. Or, at least, it should!
After the heavy rains we’ve had just recently everything was Technicolor perfect. The ride, even going the long way: maybe, especially because we went the long way, was breathtaking.
We stumbled upon a great little restaurant in Los Olivos: Patrick’s Side Street Café, had a great Pinot Noir, then took in the Santa Ynez Valley, made it to Solvang, Buellton and then Santa Barbara. We left Santa Barbara and worked our way through the hills of Montecito back to the freeway, through Ventura, Oxnard, Camarillo and then ‘Home again, Home again: Jiggety, Jig.’
It would probably be safe to say that my wife’s aunt was blown away by the raw beauty of this part of California. If she wasn’t, she sure should have been because I was and I’ve lived here for the better part of forty-eight years!
The only thing I could think of was that this truly is the Golden State… and, the poppies aren’t even in bloom yet!
Well, that’s not altogether true. That wasn’t the only thing I was thinking of. I was thinking of the fact that I really didn’t want to go – “other things to do” and all the other stuff we use to rationalize wrong decisions like that. But, I went anyway and became a reluctant tourist of sorts: and, in the process realized that having people come from someplace else, forcing you to show them the host of wonders we take for granted because we live here and it’s easy – the ‘we’ being just about every one of us regardless of where we live and what those wonders are – is a wonderful thing!
It’s a wonderful thing because there is great beauty everywhere that seems somehow even more delicious when confronted with it, even reluctantly: especially, when you recognize and appreciate the wonder in watching hawks circle over head waiting for their lunch to begin, the stillness of a mountain lake or the sun setting on the Pacific.
Today was one of those days I was really glad my father came home after being trapped in Brooklyn for five days during the Winter of 1962, and very quietly mentioned that we would be in California by mid-August… Certainly, a lot happier than I remember being then!

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I am a fourth generation, forty-sixy year veteran of the automotive aftermarket: an ASE Certified Master Technician, Service Consultant and Approved Automotive Manager. I grew up in this business with a passion for all things mechanical, particularly those things relating to performance. That passion grew to include all aspects of management, leadership and personal development with a special focus on every day shop operations which resulted in an eight-volume series on automotive shop management published by Cengage Learning and Thomson Publishing. I have been a trade journalist writing to the aftermarket for almost thirty years, devoting my professional life to improving both the image and experience of everyone struggling to succeed in the service industry and I've worked diligently to improve communication and increase understanding between all segments of my industry. This site and everything on it is both an extension and a continuation of those efforts

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