Four days into our California road trip, we have had a wonderful time, which included some welcome surprises.

My mother and her sister, enjoying a nice conversation over breakfast.

Sunday morning began with a nice breakfast with my aunt and uncle at their house.  Then we were off to Los Olivos (again) where my cousin lives.  She invited us to attend church with her and her daughter.

Me and my cousin, Mandi.

The church is located in the middle of Santa Ynez Valley, which is horse and wine country.  Many of the people at church were ranchers who raise horses or else grows grapes.

After church, we had lunch with my cousin before heading north toward San Luis Obispo with a stop or two along the way.

Next to the restaurant, was a lovely, pink climbing rose.

Our next stop was the small town of Solvang, which was established in 1911 by a group of Danish people who wanted to live in a warmer climate rather than the Midwest.

The town is a tourist mecca, and I used to visit Solvang often while I was growing up.

Being 1/8 Danish, I like to revisit my roots 😉

Like most tourist towns, there is a large number of curio shops, but also some authentically Danish ones too.

My mother used to go to a certain shop to buy decorative trim for the dresses that she would make when I was a little girl.  It’s funny that out of all the stores in Solvang, that is the one that I remember most.

After leaving Solvang, we drove by the California Mission of Santa Ines that was established in 1804.  

Of course, like many of the California Missions, it had a lovely rose garden.

This is a characteristic vista that you will see throughout Santa Ynez Valley with rolling hills, grassland, and oak trees.  The Pacific Ocean is on the other side of the mountain range.  This valley is drier and hotter than the coastal areas.

Yes, this is another California Mission.  I have always had an affinity for them, mostly from a historical sense.

Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa was built in 1772 and is located along California’s Central Coast.
What I first noticed that it was more rustic than the Mission in Santa Barbara.  It was much smaller and not quite as grand.  I liked the painted flowers along the walls.

The wooden ceiling was scattered with star symbols.

The garden surrounding the Mission was lovely.

Pink roses lined the pathway.
Alstroemeria is quite prevalent in many of the gardens that we have seen.  This flower has a special place in my heart as they were the main flower used in my wedding.

A row of Mexican bush sage (Salvia leucantha) was in full bloom around the grounds of the Mission.

Of course, it wouldn’t be California without the iconic stand of eucalyptus trees.

As we prepared to leave the Mission, we came upon a rack with sweaters and scarves hanging from it.  Underneath it had the following inscription:

“I am not lost.  If you need this to stay warm, please take it.  Be warm and help someone else when you can.”

I couldn’t agree more 🙂

I invite you to return tomorrow when we visit a town in Northern California, where I spent a lot of time as a child.  I will also share our adventure with an unexpected hitchhiker. 

Noelle Johnson, aka, 'AZ Plant Lady' is a horticulturist, certified arborist, and landscape consultant who helps people learn how to create, grow, and maintain beautiful desert gardens that thrive in a hot, dry climate. She does this through her consulting services, her online class Desert Gardening 101, and her monthly membership club, Through the Garden Gate. As she likes to tell desert-dwellers, "Gardening in the desert isn't hard, but it is different."

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