Who knew “Little Hollywood” is in Utah?

Kanab Utah Little Hollywood sign.
The Little Hollywood sign in Kanab, Utah.

As soon as we crossed the border to Utah, a loud crack hit the windshield right at my head.
“Welcome to Utah,” Siri announced from Apple maps. Large trucks barreled by us throwing up rocks in their path.

Last time we drove home from Utah our windshield got cracked due to big trucks. We’re two for two on Utah and windshields.

We left our Sonoran desert, crossed the green forest of Flagstaff, passed by the Grand Canyon’s south and north rims across Navajo Country to Lake Powell. Once in Utah (with the cracked windshield) we drove the final one hour leg of the journey to Kanab, Utah to spend the night.

It was an adorable town of 4,998 people filled with mom and pop motels where you pull your car up to the room’s front door. The woman at the motel desk told us the town’s best restaurant was next door, “The Rocking V Cafe.” Dinner was both delicious and affordable.

Rocking V Cafe in Kanab Utah
The Rocking V Cafe at the end of the block.

We walked around town and discovered why Kanab is known as “Little Hollywood.” My husband said, “This looks like where Westerns were filmed.”

Plaque in Kanab for the Lone Ranger.
Along our walk we noticed many plaques like The Lone Ranger one above. My brother and I used to play The Lone Ranger and Tonto when we were kids. I was always Tonto of course. It was in the 1960s, so we must have been watching reruns.
Randolph Scott plaque in Kanab.
Another one of the many plaques honoring the celebrities who made movies in Kanab.
Residential street in Kanab with red rocks.
A view of a residential street in Kanab. The town was friendly, safe and I felt like I time warped to the 1960s.
Church bells in the morning in Kanab.

What sights traveling have you enjoyed? What things were new to you?

What other joys of road trips — besides cracked windshields — have you experienced?

Too much stuff

This is stuff I’m lining up for my husband to pack in the car. Missing in the photo are our two suitcases, mesh swim bags, laptop computers and all my husband’s work monitors and computers.

Just a bit of the stuff we’re taking on vacation. I miss the days when we first got married. We’d throw our sleeping bags in the car and take off.

Now we bring half the kitchen with us. That includes our small Keurig because hubby drinks decaf and I like caf. A pot of coffee doesn’t work for us and we both like just one cup each.

One of the biggest things taking up space is vitamins. We are hefty consumers of anything that promises a return to youth and the end to pain.

I also take fruit, a cooler full of condiments, frozen steak and chicken to cook in the airbnb — and sandwiches for the road. Cheese and crackers and a bottle of wine. I have to take a jug or two of water. We are traveling through the desert.

Then there’s the swim gear, hiking sticks, hiking boots, hats, sunscreen etc.

My husband likes his own pillows. So why not take four?

The computer is packed, so I’m trying to write this on my phone.

When you travel do you pack light or full on Clampetts like us?

On the way to the wedding

Taco station interior in Riverside.
We were looking for breakfast burritos and ran across the “Taco Station.” Yes, that’s a real car.

We had a seven-hour drive to get our friend’s children’s wedding in Temecula, Calif. We left Friday afternoon and drove to Riverside to sleep for the night. Saturday morning we took a walk while the temps were in the 60s. It felt wonderful. We stayed downtown in a hotel we often stayed at for CIF (California Interscholastic Federation, the governing body for California high school sports) for our son and daughter’s championship high school swim meets. It felt nostalgic. Memories surfaced about the hours spent in the hotel between prelims and finals. Our daughter would take ice baths after her morning swims and put her legs up against the wall while laying on her back. This was her way to recover and prepare for finals.

We were craving a breakfast burrito — probably because that was the staple breakfast at swim meets throughout Southern California — prepared by the hosting swim team.

We found one spot during our walk that was packed! So it had to be good. It’s called the Taco Station.

Taco Station fun interior based on filling stations.
Inside Taco Station in Riverside
The theme of Taco Station is a filling station. There was a ton of memorabilia from old filling stations.
We split this breakfast burrito with eggs, cheese, sausage, potatoes. Delicious! We bought two burritos, but I’m grateful we didn’t eat them both! They were huge. We’ll have something to munch on during the seven-hour drive home. I don’t know when we’ll be back to stay in Riverside. It’s not on our bucket list, but if we do, we’ll be back to Taco Station.

The food looked amazing.
Outside view of Taco Station.

What are some of the fun, off-the-wall diners or restaurants have you discovered? Where were they and what type of food did they serve?

A taste of the Santa Barbara Harbor

One of the best things about beach vacations to me is fresh seafood. For more than 30 years, we’ve gone to a restaurant with fresh, fresh seafood in Santa Barbara. It’s called Brophy Bros. and it overlooks the boats at the Marina.

steamed clams at Brophy's Santa Barbara
Linguine and clams at Brophy Bros. at the marina in Santa Barbara

Brophy’s added a small taco shop with outdoor tables downstairs called On the Alley.

Whenever we’re in Santa Barbara we stop at On the Alley. This past trip we went twice for fish tacos. And we took our good friends to Brophy Bros. to treat them to dinner after enjoying many of their home-cooked meals. They introduced us to the restaurant in the early 1990s!

Yesterday, my husband and I went to the Farmer’s Market and had a hankering for a fish taco. On the Alley had a huge line out the door to order. They had people milling around in droves waiting for picnic tables to sit. They held on to their order numbers, hoping to to sit down before the food arrived. I saw some people sitting on the curb.

wave crashing at breakwall Santa Barbara marina
A wave crashing over the breakwall at the Santa Barbara Marina. We walk here after meals.

My husband suggested going upstairs to the main Brophy’s restaurant. The hostess stationed at the bottom of the stairs told us it would be an hour wait for a table. But the bar was first come first serve.

Guess what? Two seats smack in the center of the bar — complete with open air marina views — were ours! We each had a cup of chowder and split an order of fish and chips. My year-long quest for the best fish and chips is over! The fish was piping hot, moist, delicious and the batter was light, crunchy and not heavy.

View from the Brophy Brothers bar
View from the bar at Brophy’s Santa Barbara where we had cups of chowder and fish and chips.

Well worth the wait — but even better without it.

Do you have favorite restaurants to go to on vacation? Or certain food you savor? What are they?

Baja fish tacos from On the Alley.
Sunset at the harbor.

To Swim or Not to Swim

I’m looking back on August’s past. Here’s a beach reflection from 2016.

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I’m a much better vacationer today than I was in my 20s. I’ve learned how to relax.

When I was in my 20s, my yearly vacation was spent going home to Washington where I grew up. I had to see and do all the PNW things. Ride a ferry to the islands, dig clams, fish, go hiking in the woods, go to the city, ride a bike around Greenlake, go to my cabin and spend the night, visit my best friend and my other best friends—and all my friends. Visit my favorite professors. I had my Daytimer with me and scheduled events by the half hour! It would drive my husband crazy and soon I made my annual jaunts home by myself.

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This year, we rented a house in a sleepy little beach town near Santa Barbara. Our good friends live close by and we had many fun meals together, planned at the last minute. We spent hours walking on the beach, riding beach cruisers through town and sitting on the beach reading. I am reading the third Neapolitan novel by Elena Ferrante and there’s nothing better in my mind than having long stretches of time to read a good book.

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My daughter came with us plus a swim friend from her age group days. Isn’t it amazing how swimming bonds friends through life? They’re both college swimmers and they ran, lifted weights, swam and got massages.

The only downfall of vacation was the spotting of great white sharks at the beach. Only two hours after the girls had an ocean swim, a 15-foot great white was spotted exactly where they had been swimming.

IMG_3338A lifeguard told me that last week, she watched a seal by the swimming dock. It was pulled underwater, tossed up and eaten by a large creature with a fin. She said it was like watching National Geographic as the water turned red.

I was looking forward to ocean swimming and kayaking. I was going to try SUP (stand up and paddle) for the first time. But, like I said, I’m better at vacations now and sitting on the beach with a book made more sense, given the great white sharks.

Video of the girls swimming before the sharks were spotted: 

What’s your favorite thing to do on vacation?

Taking a well-deserved break from crisis

IMG_6079We escaped the heat and the change of surroundings had a healing effect. I was getting riddled with anxiety sitting at home in 120 degrees with just my husband and zero outside socialization. Every day seemed the same and I didn’t know what month we were in, let alone if it was a weekend or a weekday. Way before COVID-19 hit the world, we planned a trip and booked an Airbnb in Park City, UT. We stayed there last summer, too, and I loved the fresh air, outdoor activities like hiking and how good I felt. It’s a great escape from the desert summer.

A week before our trip, the homeowner of the Airbnb cancelled our trip! He was taking this summer to remodel due to few rentals. At first I was devastated and then thought it might be for the best. Maybe it wasn’t the time to leave our home in the middle of the COVID-19 crisis. But, in the end I looked for another place and found something that would fit our needs. I needed a quiet private place for my husband to work, space for me to write and an extra bedroom for my daughter and any other family members who might join us.

As a person who literally hates to drive, strangely this time I was looking forward to a road trip. It’s a 10 1/2 hour drive, but easy with very little traffic and great views. The only rough spot is driving through Las Vegas, but this year there wasn’t the usual bumper to bumper traffic. I packed a cooler with sandwiches for the drive and off we went.

I love Park City. It was exactly the break I needed. At an altitude of 7,000 feet, it took us a few days to acclimatize. Everyday we hiked the trails on the ski slopes and walked to Main Street along the stream and forested path. I had a pool a few steps away where I swam laps. And we adventured up the chair lifts in Deer Valley. Of course, it wasn’t until the second to last day that we ventured in the hot tub in our courtyard. Wow! That would have been something to try out after the mountain hikes!

I can’t wait to go back next summer and do more exploring. I’m so thankful for the mental and physical break this vacation gave me. It was needed more than ever this year.

 

Chair lift ride in Deer Valley, UT