Spring Break Roadtripping: BBQ, Beaches and Belly Dancing

             potted plant and belly dancers

Spring Break Road Trips started in our house a few years ago when the youngest was out of diapers.   We often picked locations where we’d see something that tied into something one of the kids had been studying or could work into an upcoming project.  It has always varied between urban and rural experiences, but it always involved travel to show them more of what is out “there” for them to see.

joeytrain.jpgOn the way up the coast last week all three decided we had to stop at the Santa Barbara Zoo.  When we lived in the Valley that was our favorite day trip during the summer.  It is still one of my favorite zoos for little ones as it is small enough that they can enjoy with out whining they are tired after walking a while. 

The added bonus is that there all sorts of little diversions set up where they can just be kids.  Regardless of their age my three still stop and have their silly moments with the stuff meant for the really little guys.  Makes me laugh and just treasure their “little guy” moments a bit longer.  

seals1.jpg We based ourselves in San Luis Obispo this trip.  As a result we had a whole new seashore environment to explore.  One of our favorite stops is the elephant seal rookery at Piedra Blanca which is an easy drive up Highway 1 about 10 minutes north of San Simeon.

A new stop for us this time wasMontana D’Oro State Park.  What a treasure that was.  In all my years here I’ve never seen so many tide pools to explore as Montana D’Oro.  Both the boys and I were very excited to see all the critters in those little pools.  It is up for debate to determine who enjoyed that meander the most.

Our access point was found by following some of the locals out and watching where they parked.  The group we parked near took us to this really nifty canyon that opened right up onto some ancient sandstone shore full of fossils.  Repeat after me “follow the locals to the best stuff in the area.”

                mntdoropath2.jpg    urchins2.jpg

Several years ago when I had to travel a lot for my employer I often wound up in San Luis Obispo.  Their Thursday Night Farmers Market is among the best I have ever been too.  I always planned my trips for that area to coincide so I could have something to do.   

What makes their market special is that the local merchants move their wares to the street.  Add in the bands that are playing and ample food choices it makes for a pretty nice evening out.  This trip we were rewarded with non-st

cablonde3.jpgAmong the vendors that caught our eye was California Blonde.  My daughter spotted them first and made a bee line to their table.  What got her eye?  Their new T-shirt, black of course as blondes look best in black in my generally not so humble opinion.  So we indulged her with the little purchase.

While there I got to talk with Joy Baker who owns the business.  The usual “where are you from” lead to “OMG…we used to be neighbors”.  Turns out they lived near Burbank/Laurel about the same time we lived at Chandler/Corteen in the Valley. 

Street Fairs can have a lot of great food to sample.  My food find of the evening was Marti’s Bar and Grill.  Among the many BBQ spots on Higuera Street this is the one that got my attention. 

ribs.jpgI don’t  know exactly what they did to get my attention, likely it was their toasted rolls that were swabbed with Garlic Butter before being stuck on the grill.  Maybe.  All I know is that the thinly sliced grilled sirloin on that bun with a quick slather of their home made sauce was the best sandwich I had the entire trip.

While in line I got a chance to talk with Chef Casey and learned they do their sandwich a bit different than some of the others on the street.  The beef is coated with their custom blend dry rub.  The meat is then grilled as needed and sliced to order.  Both the rub and Chef Casey’s special recipe BBQ sauce make for a pretty terrific combo.  Irecommend grab one if you are ever in SLO.

The details:

California Blonde 1137 Garden Street, San Luis Obispo CA 93401 805-783-2890

Marti’s Bar and Grill 673 Higuera Street, San Luis Obispo CA 93401 805-544-3668

All pics by me.  The lead photo was shot bracketed for post processing through Photomatix HDR file generation and tone mapping.  I shot it on purpose to take advantage of the belly dancers movement, and sorry it is as big as it gets for the moment.  The rest are pretty straight forward images and get a little bigger with a click-a-roo.