#28- The Gilroy Garlic Festival

Why the Gilroy Garlic Festival?  It seemed so simple at the time.  About 6 years ago, I started frequenting the Monterey region thanks to Blake- who had attended CSUMB and whose family loves the area.  Around the same time, my very close friend Teresa landed a job in Salinas as a school teacher.  Looking for MORE excuses to go down there, I saw ads for the Gilroy Garlic Festival.  What’s funny is my horrible mental-GPS for the area.

Me: “Teresa!  Let’s go to the Garlic Festival!  You live there right?”

Teresa: “Ummm,  I kind of live nearby.  That’s about half an hour away.”

(in later months)

Me: “Teresa! I’m in Watsonville right now.  You live there, right?”

Teresa: “Ummmm…. no. I live in Salinas. Watsonville is like an hour away.”

(and even more recently)

Me:  “Teresa!  Do you live in Gonzales?”

Teresa: “No. Dannah. I don’t.”

Me: “Oh…well, I still want to see you!  Let’s go to the Gilroy Garlic Festival!”

This went on for about 6 years.  Borderline embarrassed for swearing each year that I would make it to the Festival and visit with her at the same time.  Equally embarrassing is that, in retrospect, Teresa never really seemed interested in the Garlic Festival anyway. But alas, it is #28 on my list.

A Garlic Festival in Central California at the end of July is as good an idea as making a trip to Hell.  Going there when you are SUPER pregnant is like permanently moving to Hell.

Why?  Why does ANYONE go to a Festival? One with no shade? One where morbidly obese people are stuffing themselves with stinking garlic?  I’ll tell you something…. that bus ride back to the parking lot was not fun for anyone.

Yes, bus ride. First, I should say that my friend Teresa was unavailable this weekend to go.  I suppose this is one thing to consider when items on your list include a specific time frame with a specific person. But, this event is still one I wanted to attend, cause…. I like Garlic. And seeing the news reports made Blake anxious to go as well.

Back to the bus ride. Well, we can back up a little bit further and I’d like to say that this Festival was truly different from most ‘themed’ festivals I’ve been to in recent years because they really did have Garlic… cooking demonstrations, free samples, a Garlic Alley with lots of garlicky crap to stuff yourself with… garlic souvenir booths. Compare this to something like, say, the Pumpkin Festival in Half Moon Bay where… outside the record-setting pumpkins on display, there is nothing else pumpkin about it.

So, THOUSANDS of people flock to Gilroy for this event and there was no way anyone could get parking up close, which really was fine because they had a line of charter busses at the parking lot to take you to the entrance, so there was no wait time for us to get in.

HOWEVER- Blake, in all his brilliance, thought we should capitalize on my pregnant belly by jumping in to the Handicap Bus line for the ride back to the car.  This turned out to be a mistake because, in the time we spent with ‘handicapped’ people also in line, it turned out to be nothing more than morbidly obese people short of breath, sweaty, and who reeked of garlic all climbing into a little bus where there was no air conditioning. The bus driver even had to request that people shift their weight equally on either side of the bus so that we didn’t tip or something.  It was truly horrific.

I told Blake I would never attend another festival again in my life for the sole purpose of the theme at hand, and I certainly would not pay to get in or take time out of my summer to do this.  If I happen to stumble upon a Free Festival while out and about and it’s a cool misty day, then perhaps I’d consider it.

#87- Ain’t I crafty?

Like every other wine connoisseur and aficionado, we collect our wine corks like trophies of accomplishments. For me, they seem so easy to recycle yet nowhere have I come across a place that gladly accepts wine corks. I’ve seen tons of crafty things done with them, however, and one such idea was passed along to me by my friend Janine after she read my list  (#87- do something with this ridiculous wine cork collection we have) and then scoured pinterest in an effort to help me out (right? haha!).

I really liked the idea she forwarded me-  A large wood cut-out of a letter to be filled in with wine corks.  Easy enough!

Thanks to Bryan, for lending me the wood saw ‘thingy.’ Thanks to Dave for helping act as a saw horse.  Thanks to Blake for cutting the N and much thanks to Natalie for sorting our corks 🙂

The process reminded me of how many wines we’ve actually enjoyed, with the most frequent names being Mt. Aukum and other wineries from Amador County.  We lived there for so long, I started to miss the scene.  We were wine club members of multiple wineries there, of course wanting to support local business 🙂

We still have quite a few corks left over. Maybe once the collection builds back up, I might try to spell out the entire last name, or just do our other initials. IDK.

#45- a tribute to my youth

Growing up, camping was always a lot of fun for me.  But I think I may have grown out of camping when I realized how much EFFORT it takes to pack for camping. Before, my mom would spend the day packing everything while we were at school and then when my Dad got home we’d hop in the truck and go. So easy, so responsibility free. Then I tried doing it myself a few times with friends and I would forget this, forget that. I wouldn’t have the right equipment or tools to do this or do that. Ugh.

One of the places I recall camping at one time, however, is Lake Solano. Not far from Winters, I remember it being just really nice and quiet and refreshing. As I made my list, I was thinking of how to spread some activities out, and what would be something I’d really want to do during the summer? Would I want to camp?  No. Especially not when I am pregnant. But, I would want to cool down by the lake like I use to.  Would I want to go it alone? No.  I figured, Lake Solano would be a perfect mini-destination spot and dragging one of my oldest girlfriends along with me would make it all the more enjoyable, so #45- Sit on a raft in Lake Solano with Lisa made my list. Hanging out on the lake or the river was something I did a lot in my teen years.

Lake Solano was perfect the day we went (Saturday).  As we started heading out there, with the sun literally baking us and our cars, I was afraid the place would be way too crowded with people looking to cool off as well.  But for whatever reason, it was relatively quiet.  There were a few groups, but spread out enough that it didn’t matter, and a lot of people left after we got there.  By the end of our day, the Lake was empty.

The water was FREEZING cold. Wading around in the water with Natalie not even blinking at the coldness reminded me of how easy it was when I was a kid to jump into a lake, to be fascinated by the small fish swimming around and the clear water that gently pulled at your legs as the current drifted by.

Natalie & Kaitlynn spent a good amount of time playing in the mud, making “boyfriends” with their shovels and buckets. And Lisa and I spent a good 2 or 3 hours gossiping about life’s problems. It was so nice.

#12- Velkommen!

Since Solvang is next door neighbors with Santa Barbara, it seems logical to kill two birds with one stone when it came to my bucket list (#12- Visit Solvang, CA).

I’ve wanted to visit Solvang for several years. From what I could tell, it seemed almost like a theme park for Quasi-Euro-Pride Americans like myself. I’m not Danish (I don’t think?) but it’s close enough to the Dutch heritage and it’s in California. Danish architecture, Danish food, Danish arts and culture, how fun! Then I married someone who is very much Danish so it seemed like something we should do, and to instill some Danish-pride in our daughter… right?

Blake & I debated back and forth about whether we wanted to wait til “Danish Days” in September, Solvang’s yearly festival but then reasoned traffic, timing, and mingling with thousands of tourists wasn’t all that appealing. Enjoying and experiencing Solvang seems much more feasible when you’re not fighting crowds… not to mention Solvang is already a Danish town founded on Danish money so ….. how much more Danish can it get?

Solvang is an extremely quaint little tourist town.  I was telling Blake I think it’d be fun if there were more cultures out there that successfully pulled off similar towns. I mean, other than ‘Chinatown’ type districts. Imagine travelling to a city that was a minature replication of Kyoto, or Paris?

I think the downfall of Solvang is that the Danish culture, besides the architecture, isn’t all that remarkable.  I don’t mean that to be rude, but I was hoping to come across Danish crafts, Danish art, Danish music, and all that but besides the mediocre restaurants (no authentic Danish restaurants received more than a 3 star rating on yelp) and bakeries (all selling the same Danish butter cookies in buckets) there wasn’t much anything Danish inside the stores.  We browsed a lot of stores boasting a Danish business name & product…. i.e. a wine & cheese shop that sold the double-salted licorice…… but inside most of the goods were either from California wineries or imported in from France.  I suppose if you love to shop trinket stores and buy things that say “SOLVANG!” imported from China, then you’ll be right at home.

I don’t want to talk it down too much.  I think the town itself is lots of fun to just hang out in and get ice cream and stroll shady streets, and pose with different statues.  I even ran into an old co-worker/girlfriend who was there on a timeshare with her family for the week! Small world.

Not a lot of pictures, but…. I guess that means you’ll have to check it out for yourself 🙂

#47- The Mission in Santa Barbara

Who doesn’t remember the Mission project in 4th grade?  I actually think it was one of my more fun projects and still remember how I built mine from scratch- no kits- using stuff I found around the house.  Pretty pleased with my results.

I have never visited a mission.  When I was considering things that California is known for and where and how I wanted to spend some of my bucket list, missions got me thinking (#47).  And, from what I can tell, the Mission in Santa Barbara is I think the most famous for California…I think….

Santa Barbara is beautiful. But definitely a place I would never survive.  I speculate Santa Barbara is the place to go if you want to compete for having the most up-to-date fashion, expensive car, fake tan, body-fat ratio, etc.etc.

The Mission itself fits perfectly with the beauty of the area. Extremely well kept, landscaped perfectly and the historic aspect upheld.  They still hold church services, you can rent out the facility for conferences/retreats and you can even drop a few million dollars to be buried there in their cemetery.  I speculate being buried at the Mission in Santa Barbara would be the ultimate symbol of status in Santa Barbara.  Competition over.

#34- MOMA

How in God’s name do you explain to a child that this is art? I guess this artist “isn’t for everyone” but if anyone is drawn to this style, I can do it for cheap.

Sometime around the end of last year we were driving thru SF and passed the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.  At the time something awesome was being advertised on the outside of their building, tho I can’t remember what, and I remember saying to Blake, “What is THAT place? I want to go there!” (#34 on my list).

After we spent the morning hiking John Muir Woods we grabbed some fruit smoothies and headed to SF MOMA for an afternoon of strolling through Artwork.  Blake was especially excited to view a new photography exhibit.

Natalie held up well, considering a 3 mile hike earlier

I personally was hoping for something a tad more interactive.  I really like the Sacramento Crocker Art Museum, which I have found to have a little something for everyone.  Perhaps it was not the week I should have gone to MOMA, but it’s not to say they didn’t have some breathtaking and/or fun pieces.

Didn’t I see this on Pinterest?

Probably the most “compelling piece” that baffled Blake & I and left us arguing over the purpose it served was a close up photograph a young boy urinating into a bowl. Along with the photograph was a narrative of how the photographer sent the photo in for “review” by a curator who agreed the photograph of the child was one of his most favorite.  So in short, we felt like it was a little piece of porn on display for pedophiles everywhere. But again, maybe we’re just not Photography Aficionados like so many on FB are.

Creeper Creeperton?Or capturing a sweet moment?

#60- Strolling thru Muir Woods

For awhile after making my list, my memory gave me the impression that I had been to John Muir Woods National Monument sometime in my elementary school field trip days. But, once I arrived I realized this was not the case.  It made #60 on my list because I googled amazing things to see and do around California and this popped up.   Muir Woods is so beautiful, and so rich with history it’s a National Park.  I’ll save you the wikipedia summary, but will say it’s absolutely worth the trip.  So serene, peaceful, beautiful.

I would love to make somewhat more frequent trips.  Apparently there is a 4 mile trail that takes you to Stinson Beach, which just happens to be the beach that made me fall in love with “Coastside.” I would love to someday pack a beach bag, start out at Muir Woods … nap and play at Stinson Beach and then hike back.