Thanks to the parking lots that are LA freeways between 4 and 8 pm and a stop for dinner we headed directly to the Chumash Casino to see Sarah McLachlan. Cory randomly stumbled across it when looking up things to do around Solvang this weekend and I bought the two best tickets available. I hate sit down concerts but hey it’s Sarah who’s amazing and it’s a good way to kick off a romantic weekend.
The last time I was at the Chumash Casino it was a tent and in the midst of one of my favorite poker weekends ever. I had just recently turned 21, it was the fall of 2002, and I didn’t care a lick about school. I did care about surfing and whitewater rafting and poker and rebelling against alarm clocks. I hadn’t had a Friday class since my freshman year so I started the weekend with the Hustler daily $30 rebuy tournament.
Back then I thought the point of rebuy tournaments during the rebuy period was to see who could avoid rebuying. I never rebought unless I had to and I certainly never added on. Obviously I was way wrong and it’s actually a contest to see who can rebuy the most. I got heads up on my single bullet and chopped the thing for $500 or so. I also made a rack playing $6-12 LHE before the tournament started and asked for a security escort out of the place early Friday afternoon.
I had my surfboard strapped to the top of my 1995 Honda Civic which my mother still drives. I woke up early that Friday morning to go surf and for some reason or another I had decided to play poker instead. I’d like to think that the surf was flat or blown out or the tide was high but my degenerate ass probably couldn’t help but exit after I saw Rosecrans approaching on the 110 South. One of my favorite things to do back then was to take surf road trips. Depending on the season and my company I would drive along the coast either North or South and chase waves. This overcast October afternoon sent me North hoping for some good late season South swell along the central coast.
I remember catching a great afternoon session at Surfriders in Malibu followed by a sunset sesh under breaking clouds at County Line. The fried calamari at Neptune’s Net was standard and I camped somewhere off PCH toward Ventura. I had so many sweet stealth camping spots back in those days that would have me surfing with the sunrise.
It was no good that morning though so I hit the road, grabbed a cup of coffee and a donut in Ventura, and rejoined the coastline just above the harbor on 101. I love that drive from Ventura to Santa Barbara and was thoroughly enjoying the morning when I turned a corner and saw a beautiful right peeling off the point at Rincon. The water was way less crowded than it should have been, I caught a wonderful session until the tide came up and killed the wave and was pulling into Santa Barbara wondering what to do next somewhere around lunchtime.
I saw a billboard for the Chumash and the $700 I won yesterday were itching to go play some more. Turns out I arrive just in time for their $20 special Saturday tournament, $1k guarantee. At the final table they divide the prize pool by 10 and give each player that much money in real chips. Then we play $5-10 nlhe, blinds escalate normally, and anytime at the start of the hand if you have the least $ in chips you may bow out of the tournament, taking your chips with you. They missed the guarantee and I made the final table. I’m pretty sure I quit after the big blind with $90.
I spent that evening hanging in Santa Barbara with friends from Westmont College, slept on the beach again, and woke up to see bad surf. But they did have a $30 rebuy at the Hustler in a couple hours. I drove back there to play that, chopped it heads up again, and thoroughly enjoyed the Pacifico I drank on my porch off campus that Sunday evening.
All that to tell a good story and say that I really like this part of the world. Sarah McLachlan was awesome. Now I’m here with the girl that I had a crush on that weekend over eight years ago. I have the means to truly splurge on a kick ass trip to wine country. It’s going to be a good weekend.
And it was. Tasted at Lincourt, Blackjack, and Kalyra on Friday. Perfect weather, nobody out. Awesome dinner at Root 246. Tasted at Foxen on Saturday cause the Pinot we had with dinner the night before was killer. It still was to start the day but everything else sucked. We had an appointment at Demetria at 2pm and were meeting four of Cory’s friends.
This place was rad. Family owned and run, you have to be buzzed in at the gate, and then drive over a mile through vineyards and past their house to the barrel and tasting room. Sit down outside, quality live music is coming from a dude with an acoustic guitar. They bring the tasting to us as Cory and I set up the picnic buffet. Two different cheeses, salami, crackers, a French baguette, honey, and dark chocolate. We spent the afternoon feeling Italian and had another wonderful day.
Sunday we headed West into the Santa Rita Valley, famous for it’s pinot. The coastal fog and cooler temperatures are ideal for the grape and I was excited to drink some estate wine. Foley wasn’t bad and the place was too estatey for me. Melville had a great atmosphere and patio with decent wine. Sanford was our last stop and winner for best all around. The southern road is sweet, very undeveloped and full of wide open spaces.
Best wine at Blackjack. Best experience at Demetria. Sanford best overall. Paula’s Pancake House for best breakfast. Root 246 for best dinner, and the Solvang Brewing Company for best burger and beer. It was a wonderful weekend, we drove home (to the Commerce Casino) with 46 bottles of wine jingling in the back seat, eleven of which are now sitting on the floor next to my chair.
Life is good.
Peace and good luck,
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